Google Analytics and Your Booking Engine

Several of our previous posts on analytics have dealt with the "how to" aspect of setting up various things you might want to track across your website and your booking engine. A recent online forum discussion among innkeepers about this topic prompts an overview of what things you can track, why you might want to track them, and some potential problem areas. 1. Is your site set up to use Google Analytics? [pullquote]Does your booking engine support ecommerce tracking? Is it set up correctly?[/pullquote]Do you have Google Analytics set up on your website? It should appear on every page (any page that doesn't have it, will not be tracked). How do you verify that it is set up? Open your favorite browser and visit your website. In most browsers, you can press Ctrl-U on the keyboard to view the source code of the page you are viewing. On all you can right-click on the page and select View Source (or something very similar) to see it. Look through the source (or press Ctrl-F to search, if you prefer). You are looking for code which will include "_gaq". By the way, if you find code that includes "_gat" you are using the older, slower, form of Google Analytics, and it should be updated to use what is called the asynchronous code. If you don't find either the "_gaq" or "_gat" sections, you don't have Google Analytics installed. Once you find the code, check to see what it looks like. Basic tracking looks like this (the XXXXX-X is your Google Analytics ID, and don't worry if the lines don't break at the same points): <script type="text/javascript"> var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol…

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…

BBOnline – Bouncing Back? Or Not?

Last April we first posted our concerns about the sudden drop in traffic from BBOnline to our Bed & Breakfast in Freeport Maine. Our traffic had dropped 95% for the first several months of 2012 compared to the same time frame in 2011. Other innkeepers reported similar drops. We followed up that article with another, detailing concerns about an email response to our inquiries about the traffic drops, then a third article about a more encouraging telephone response from BBOnline staff. [pullquote]Is BBOnline bouncing back?[/pullquote]Now that our busy season is three-quarters over, we wanted to see where things stand with BBOnline. Are they bouncing back and returning to their former spot as one of our top B&B directories? Or do they continue to languish at the bottom, sending us only a trickle of the former traffic? Bouncing Back? We began our inquiry with Compete.com, which provides traffic analysis. This type of analysis only works well for sites with heavy traffic - smaller sites usually have too little traffic for Compete to be of use. As the accompanying graphic shows, BBOnline's traffic plummeted in November, 2011, but didn't hit bottom until January 2012, but seems to have recovered well in March and April, then dropped again from May through August of 2012. This coincides with our observation in our third article, in June 2012, that there were some signs at that time of a BBOnline recovery, but it was too early to draw any conclusions. However, since the summer months are usually the highest web traffic months for B&B's (even when you take into account different seasonal traffic in areas where the weather patterns are opposite), we really need to see how this "bounce" relates to other B&B directories. Looking at Compete.com for BedAndBreakfast.com, BnBFinder.com and ILoveInns.com (the other directories have…

What Does Page Value Mean in Google Analytics?

A few weeks ago Google Analytics announced a new measurement (metric) called Page Value. Actually, it is an old metric, that had disappeared for a while, and was now reappearing, in a new and improved condition, but that really isn't the point. What is Page Value? What does it mean? Does it tell innkeepers anything useful? The Google Analytics blog post on Page Value (linked above) details the history and calculations of Page Value, for those who are interested. For our purposes, let's just say that Page Value is the relationship between (a) the values you set for things that users do on your website, and (b) the number of unique pageviews of a page. First, to be clear, Page Value doesn't consider the total number of pageviews - only unique page views. If a visitor visits page 1, then page 2, then page 1 again, page 1 has 2 total pageviews, but only one unique pageview (one user has viewed the page, even though they may have viewed it more than once). Second, the values include both the value of any Ecommerce transactions (so these only show up if you have ecommerce properly enabled on your site) plus any goal values (which means you must have Goals set up, and you must give them a value). To summarize the set up, then, for Page Value to work, you need to have: Ecommerce set up properly on your website Goals set up properly for your website Value assigned to your Goals If you have that, Page Value will measure the total "value" of a page. That is, it will notice that, on the way to an ecommerce transaction (which we usually call a booking), the visitor also clicked on links that you had defined as goals in your Google Analytics…

BBOnline Responds to Traffic Drop – And Seems to Care!

Several weeks ago we posted our concerns over the significant drop in BBOnline traffic (referrals) following their site redesign late last year. When we heard from BBOnline, the response was disconcerting, so we posted further concerns. More recently online innkeeping forums (both public and private) have had active discussions about the drops in BBOnline traffic to inn websites. Significantly, while the exact amount of traffic loss varied from inn to inn, no innkeepers reported gains or traffic staying constant from year to year. Losses ranged from about 65% to over 90%. Like many inns, historically BBOnline has been a very significant referral source for our Bed and Breakfast in Freeport Maine. As a result, we made additional attempts to contact BBOnline, to let them know what we had seen, and that others had observed similar traffic drops. That resulted in a request to have a conference call with a BBOnline Product Manager and a BBOnline Customer Service Manager. We had a very pleasant conversation. We chatted about several issues, including the challenges of changing the old site (let's face it, it was long overdue for a facelift) to a more modern look, the ability to update your own listing and photos, and the challenges of keeping search placement high after such a change. BBOnline's parent company, Internet Brands, has gone through site updates for other of its brands, and felt they had procedures in place to avoid the type of problem that we've seen as customers of BBOnline. The BBOnline representatives acknowledged that they were aware of some significant search placement losses, including for many who had spoken up on the innkeeping forums. They have already made changes to try to recover lost placement. More changes are coming. Indeed, we have seen some indications that BBOnline may be showing up…

×