Go-Trippin: New Type of Promotion on Google

As innkeepers, we are accustomed to working very hard to get our websites to climb the rungs of the Google search engine results (SERPs). But the Google algorithm is a moving target, and its frequent changes mean we are constantly chasing the algorithm with our SEO techniques. Enter Go-Trippin - a new website, created by Acorn Internet Services, presenting information on local activities furnished by innkeepers. This may sound like a directory of local businesses, but it is much more than that, in its own subtle way, Go-Trippin's opportunity is entirely unique. Go-Trippin does bear some resemblance to a traditional directory, in that contributors also have a listing for their B&B on it. However, that is not the real purpose of Go-Trippin. Also, like any new directory, it is likely to be some time before that generates a significant amount of traffic to your website. The real value in Go-Trippin is its ability to promote the authority of each person who write for Go-Trippin. Every post contains special tags, identifying the author and the geographic area they have written about. As an added bonus, posts may appear on Google's Niantic Labs' Field Trip app. Available only for mobile devices, Field Trip supplies users with recommendations for nearby things to do, places to visit, and local businesses nearby. Go-Trippin capitalizes on this, as who better to tell people what there is to do in their areas, and make recommendations of local businesses than innkeepers? [pullquote]“We are doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space. It could be medical, it could be travel, whatever. And trying to make sure that those rank a little more highly, if you are some sort of authority or a site that according to the algorithms we think…

BBOnline Improving? Dubious for Most

Our recent posts wondering if our observed improvement in the number of referrals from BBOnline was a sign that the troubled directory was returning to its former status as one of the higher referring directories turns out not to have statistical support across the board. [pullquote]Far too many properties are seeing numbers that still appear to be in free-fall.[/pullquote]We asked other innkeepers to provide stats showing traffic changes for specific dates (just so we would all be looking at the same numbers). Quite a few innkeepers shared their numbers, and others were shared (anonymously) by consultants in the industry. To recap, our Bed & Breakfast in Freeport Maine had seen a drop of nearly 90% in traffic from BBOnline following their site redesign in the fall of 2011. Nearly all properties who responded to our posts at that time reported similar drops in referrals. Last month we reported that, in recent months, we had seen significant improvement in their numbers - not back to the former levels yet, but significant, all the same. We asked innkeepers to provide information to see if this was a universal improvement, or if the beleaguered directory was still in the doldrums. [pullquote]Fully half the properties responding found that their recent referrals from BBOnline had dropped to zero![/pullquote]The results we received provide a fascinating cross-section. Properties responding were from all over the USA (and, of course, some were anonymous, so we don't know anything about them). Nearly half the properties responding found that their recent referrals from BBOnline had dropped to zero! Still others had cancelled because of the declines, prior to the dates we examined. Of those still receiving traffic from BBOnline, slightly more than half are seeing increased traffic, while slightly less than half are still seeing significant declines. Overall, the average property…

BBOnline Update

Following last week's post about a possible recovery for BBOnline, we received a few emails with stats from other properties. So far the results are about evenly split, half the properties reporting have seen an increase in traffic from September 1, 2012 through April 15, 2013, similar to our own, while the other half have seen referrals from BBOnline continue to decline. That said, the jury is still out, as we need more data to determine whether anything meaningful is going on. If you're willing to anonymously share the change in your referrals from BBOnline over the period above, please email them to scott at abouttheinn.com, and we'll collect the information and share the results in a future post.

BBOnline – Could Things Be Looking Up?

Is there any new information on the decline in traffic from directory BBOnline? We've been interested to see if traffic from BBOnline has improved over time, since the huge decline observed beginning in November, 2011, and lasting about a year. If you haven't see the earlier discussion of the lost traffic (up to 90% drops, in some cases), just click on the "Directories" tab at the top of the page. Recently another property owner emailed to ask if there was any new information on BBOnline. That's normal, of course, as seasonal properties whose busy season is summer begin to get ready for the new year, and want to be sure they are spending their marketing dollars effectively. Checking Google Analytics for our Freeport, Maine B&B we found a pleasant surprise! In our stats, looking at September 1, 2012 through April 15, 2013, and comparing it with the previous year, we found that BBOnline's traffic had increased over 200% (other directories declined during the same period). Before we get too excited about that, the traffic had declined almost 90% the year before, so a 200% increase after that drop does not bring it back to its former levels. It does, however, return it to being competitive with other directories, and to a more acceptable level. Certainly, if this increase continues, we could see traffic from BBOnline getting back to the old "normal" as time goes on. Have you seen increases (or decreases) in your traffic from BBOnline? If you would like to help us provide more comprehensive information, please send an email to scott at AboutTheInn.com. We'll keep your information anonymous, but if we get enough to provide useful information, will include it in a post that updates this information.

BBOnline Traffic Results Confirmed

Last week's post, examining whether or not BBOnline's staff had been able to rectify the huge drop in referrals and bookings after their site redesign a year ago, observed that more information was desirable, reflecting the results of other properties. In the comments, Sarah provided some information, indicating a similar drop of 61.4% in traffic, noting that others had increased, while some had dropped slightly, but BBOnline's drop was the most significant - by a lot! We also were contacted by a consultant who works with several inns. He shared with us some statistics from several of his clients, and gave us permission to post them without identifying the properties. He also noted that several of his clients have dropped BBOnline's directory, so these only reflect clients who are still listed on BBOnline. These figures are all for Sept. 1, 2011 through August 31, 2012, compared with Sept. 1, 2010 through August 31, 2011, so should provide a good comparison to the figures in our previous post. Property2011 Visits2012 VisitsPct Change Property A588256-56.46% Property B1,105350-68.33% Property C883343-61.16% Property D693178-74.31% Property E937451-51.87% Property F892277-68.95% The average drop year-over-year is about 63.5%. Our statistics indicate that, for B&B directories, such as BBOnline, every 100-150 hits yields a booking. If those statistics are even roughly accurate, they indicate that these properties have dropped from getting 6-10 bookings a year from BBOnline to getting only about 1-3 bookings per year. This is consistent with the reports that have come from other innkeepers. How can you use this information? As our previous post observes, it is important to use tools like Intell-a-Keeper or Google Analytics' Multi-Channel Funnels, to make sure that credit is being given for all bookings that a directory may have helped to promote. That said, the big question, is what is the…