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Advising the hotel industry how to increase their online revenue

Software Review: Advanced Web Ranking

Advanced Web Ranking LogoThis article talks about a very useful tool in the field of search engine optimization (SEO) which I would like to recommend to anyone interested in this area of online marketing or who would just like to analyze and improve their search engine rankings.

Advanced Web Ranking has been developed by Caphyon and is a comprehensive analytics tool for web projects to boost website ranking.

The software comes in 4 different editions:
1.Standard
2.Professional
3.Enterprise
4.Server

For private use, the Standard edition should be sufficient. Professionals who want to generate reports and print and email them to their clients, will at least need the Professional edition.
Advanced Web Ranking and it’s twin tool Advanced Link Manager, are relatively cheap alternatives to other, more costly search engine optimization analytics instruments. Both tools are easy to use, almost intuitively.

The main selling point for me, however is the tool’s search engine friendliness
Search engines don’t like automatic search requests. Sometimes using automatic tools for SEO projects can be penalized with a drop in rankings. Advanced Web Ranking however is search engine friendly. It simulates manual search queries by pausing in between. The software is written in such a way that its operation is indistinguishable from that of a browser.

Advanced Web Ranking uses the following method:
1.It queries a certain keyword from the search engine
2.The search engine returns a number of pages
3.Advanced Web Ranking downloads these pages and analyses them locally
These 3 steps are being repeated for each query.

Advanced Web Ranking for Mac

Advanced Web Ranking for Mac

Below follows a short description of how to use the software in its Enterprise edition:

Starting a new project
First of all, you need to set your preferences in terms of which search engines you would like to analyse. Most of the time your preferred search engine will probably be Google. However, don’t neglect Yahoo, Bing or other search engines, especially when working on projects that target countries outside Europe. The tool also allows you to set preferences with regard to countries or languages, for example if you need to analyze rankings in google.co.uk rather than google.com. In total, there are 1000+ search engines to choose from.

The next step involves entering the keywords you would like to analyze. These may also be imported from a website, file, Google Suggest or Wordtracker.

Next, the domain needs to be added. If your are planning a competitor analysis, the domains of your competitors should also be entered at this point. Comparing your results with competitors or similar projects could be extremely useful for your search engine optimization strategy. Using Advanced Link Manager in combination with Advanced Web Ranking, obviously increases effectivity. Domains can be color-coded, so they are easier to read and can easily be distinguished in reports, charts etc.

Now start the analysis. Depending on the number of keywords and domains and your internet connection, the analysis may sometimes take several hours to run.

Once complete, just choose keyword and search engine in order to view the rankings. Of course, you can also compare positions between search engines, between different domains or both.
Advanced Web Ranking generates the following data which can now be viewed: current ranking of domains, keyword rank, ranking in different search engines, competitor top pages for a given keyword and the visibility of your domain or domains.

When updating the project later on, all previous data or data of a chosen time period are being compared. That way, the development of your project over time becomes visible and optimization activities can be measured and controlled. Project updates may also be automized.

All data can be summarized in comprehensive reports and saved to a local directory or per FTV on a server as well as sent by email. The following formats are available: PDF, XML, HTML, Excel, Text and CSV. It is also possible to have the tool create directories based on the date a report is being run.
Reports can be individualized for your clients and contain logos, contact details, name of project etc. There are numerous report templates for you to chose from. Bespoke reports may be generated, too.

Special tools that come with Advanced Web Ranking are:

Keyword Research Tool
A comprehensive keyword analysis is the most important part of each search engine optimization project. The Keyword Research Tool included in this software is essential for this. The most important step when developing a search engine strategy is defining keywords and keyword phrases for which good positions should be achieved and are achievable. At project start, there is often a keyword list already. However, whether these keywords are usable needs to be analyzed and depends on search volume, search trends, niches etc.
Advanced Web Ranking helps to find additional keywords and keyword combinations. The Keyword Research Tool uses for example Wordtracker or Yahoo Search Marketing data. However, already when starting a new project and entering keywords, Google Suggest is being used.

Keyword Builder Tool
Another useful tool is the Keyword Builder. Here, relevant Keyword combinations are being generated when entering keywords for example from your keyword list. Advanced Web Ranking automatically creates a list of all possible combinations for a keyword or keyword phrase concept.

Google Preview Tool
Google displays different results in different countries. Most of the time it is impossible to see the exact results from your client’s browser if your are not using proxy servers.
The Google Preview Tool will help you create a report with the exact results as seen by your client in a defined region.

There is a 30-day trial version of Advanced Web Ranking which can be downloaded from their website at: http://www.advancedwebranking.com/download.html.

Advanced Link Manager

Advanced Link Manager Logo

Advanced Link Manager is another tool by software company Caphyon which helps you to find out who links to your website and what keywords they use.

Advanced Link Manager analyzes link popularity and also helps you keeping track of your paid links. Back links can be tracked over time and nicely visualized in charts. This is particular helpful when analyzing the success or failure of link-building campaigns and to control the development of your website’s link popularity. Moreover, the tool also enables you to analyze the quality of one or multiple domains of potential link partners.

Advanced Link Manager for Mac
Advanced Link Manager for Mac

Similar to Advanced Web Ranking, comprehensive reports can be generated and amended for your clients to contain logos, contact details, name of project etc. There are numerous report templates but bespoke reports may be generated, too. The following data can be displayed in reports: domain Page rank as well as URL Page rank, Alexa rank, number of links on the page, links with nofollow attribute and much more.

There is a 30-day trial version of Advanced Link Manager which can be downloaded from their website at: http://www.advancedlinkmanager.com/download.html.

Filed under: Search Engine Optimisation - SEO, , , , , , , ,

What are the most important search engine ranking factors in 2009?

SEOmoz have just published their bi-annual study about the most important search engine ranking factors, i.e. the factors that decide over whether your website comes up on the first or last page of Google results when a user types in a keyword that is relevant to your site. The ranking factors were rated by their panel of 72 SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts. Obviously, Google can change its algorithm at any time. So even if you take all the factors into consideration and are doing an excellent job, you are not operating in a static environment in which that will necessarily be the case tomorrow.

I’m quoting the top five factors from the most relevant areas for SEO below:
(see full Search Engine Ranking Factors 2009 study)

On-Page (Keyword-Specific) Ranking Factors

1. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
2. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag
3. Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name (e.g. keyword.com)
4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag
5. Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text on the Page

On-Page (Non-Keyword) Ranking Factors

1. Existence of Substantive, Unique Content on the Page
2. Recency (freshness) of Page Creation
3. Use of Links on the Page that Point to Other URLs on this Domain
4. Historical Content Changes (how often the page content has been updated)
5. Use of External-Pointing Links on the Page

Page-Specific Link Popularity Ranking Factors

1. Keyword-Focused Anchor Text from External Links
2. External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links)
3. Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)
4. Page-Specific TrustRank (whether the individual page has earned links from trusted sources)
5. Iterative Algorithm-Based, Global Link Popularity (PageRank)

Site-Wide Link-Based Ranking Factors

1. Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains (e.g. TrustRank, Domain mozTrust, etc.)
2. Global Link Popularity of the Domain Based on an Iterative Link Algorithm (e.g. PageRank on the domain graph, Domain mozRank, etc.)
3. Link Diversity of the Domain (based on number/variety of unique root domains linking to pages on this domain)
4. Links from Hubs/Authorities in a Given Topic-Specific Neighborhood (as per the “Hilltop” algorithm)
5. Temporal Growth/Shrinkage of Links to the Domain (the quantity/quality of links earned over time and the temporal distribution)

Geo-Targeting Factors

1. Country Code TLD of the Root Domain (e.g. .co.uk, .de, .fr, .com.au, etc.)
2. Language of the Content Used on the Site
3. Links from Other Domains Targeted to the Country/Region
4. Geographic Location of the Host IP Address of the Domain
5. Manual Review/Targeting by Google Engineers and/or Quality Raters

Negative Ranking Factors

1. Cloaking with Malicious/Manipulative Intent
2. Link Acquisition from Known Link Brokers/Sellers
3. Links from the Page to Web Spam Sites/Pages
4. Cloaking by User Agent
5. Frequent Server Downtime & Site Inaccessibility

Factors Negatively Affecting the Value of an External Link

1. Domain Banned from Google’s Index for Web Spam
2. Domain’s Rankings Penalized in Google for Web Spam
3. Link is Determined to be “Paid” Rather than Editorially Given
4. Domain Contains Links to a Significant Amount of Web Spam
5. Domain Has Not Earned Trusted Links

Filed under: Hotel Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation - SEO, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why hotels need an individual website

Statistics show that travelers become ever more educated if it comes to their search behaviour.
According to a study by Ypartnership and Yankelovich, Inc. this is where travelers first go first when looking for a hotel or resort:

Web site of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity 31%
Search engine like Google, Yahoo, MSN 26%
Web site of specific hotel chain 21%
Web site of individual hotel/resort 10%
Meta search engine that compares rates 5%

(See: Travelers’ Online Search Behavior Evolves)

You may say that the figure for ‘website of individual hotel/resort’ at 10% is still quite low. However, what this statistic doesn’t cover is what people do after their first visit.
I argue, that a large number of people after doing some research on the top three – online travel agency sites, search engines and even specific hotel chain sites – will search for the individual hotel/resort website of a property they have preselected. The reason being, that all of the above, in most cases, only offer very limited information about a property and show small or bad quality photos. A traveler cannot be certain what exactly to expect at the hotel and usually, this is not enough to make a buying decision. At least not for a leisure traveler who is about to book a hotel room, mirroring their lifestyle, for a very precious few days of their life: holiday. After all, successful hotels these days don’t sell rooms, they sell an experience. 
Take a look at the following two examples rated, among others, favourite websites in an article of the Hotel Magazine and you see what I mean:

Neither of the top three places travelers initially search a hotel/resort on, could possibly cater for the experience an individual hotel website can and should create.

The second element to focus on is trust. As the above figures show, travelers have come to use online agency websites and do trust the big ones they know. Though they may not trust a site they have never used before, even if it sells rooms at a cheaper rate.
However, if they visit an individual hotel website which is professionally done, layed out well and maintained properly – i.e. they get the impression that the hotel staff is looking after it – they will probably trust this site more and prefer to cut out the intermediary. If the rate is higher on an online agency site because of booking fees or commission, the decision will be even easier.

This is exactly what I could see happening in my last position when analysing the website and booking statistics of our large network of chain, traffic and individual websites. The individual hotel websites brought in many more online bookings than for example the chain site or other sites with more than one hotel featured. Moreover, traffic very often came from the search engines where people were searching for a specific hotel name. It is unlikely that all those people would have known the hotel name from previous visits, offline marketing or friends and family. No, they have found the name on online agency, destination, review and hotel chain sites during the first step of their search and looked for a preselected property in the second step. 

This is the reason why your hotel/resort needs an individual website. Create an experience, establish trust and the bookings will flow in. – And they will also come you much cheaper than any online agency booking which will cost you around a quarter of the room revenue.

Filed under: Hotel Websites, Search Engine Optimisation - SEO, , , , , , , , , , , ,

About me

Corinna Witt : e-commerce, hotel internet marketing expert for hotels and the travel industry

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