Tag: visibility

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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…

Your Webmaster Should Take A Look At This

Yesterday (16 July 2012) Google's Webmaster Central Blog published a post explaining "semantics" (more about that in a moment) of web pages, urging sites to use semantic markup (specific types of HTML), and several "Do's and Don'ts". Could this be a signal of an upcoming algorithm change? A Bit of Background This will be the geeky part, but a bit of background will help understand what may turn out to be significant about the Google Webmaster Central post mentioned above. If you prefer, just skip to the last section for the punch line. The code used to create web pages, generally speaking, is HTML. The actual "tags" used to designate elements (headers, paragraphs, blocks, etc.) is called "markup." There are standards for properly creating pages with HTML, and those standards change and are updated as new browser features and other online capabilities become available. Google (and other browser and search firms) are usually represented in the updating and standards for HTML. The latest version of the HTML standards was HTML5, which was not officially released. One group has gone forward with it, while another has renamed HTML5 as HTML and continues it as a work in progress. We'll refer to both interchangeably as HTML5, for purposes of this post. HTML5, not fully supported by all browsers at this time, replaces some generic markup with "semantic" markup. For example, before HTML5 you might have a section of your HTML markup called a "div" - a generic block that could be used for any purpose. One div might be your navigation links, and another might be a feed from your blog. These could be differentiated by an "id" so a div with an id of "nav" might be your navigation links, and a div with an id of "feed" might be your…

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…

BBOnline – Now We’re Really Worried

Recently we posted about a very significant decline in the amount of referral traffic we had observed coming from BBOnline.com. Several innkeepers posted in the comments, some noticing similar drops. Some, like ours, have been enormous, while others have been "only" 40-50% (during a time when referrals from most other directories have increased!). We have not heard from anyone who has observed anything other than a significant drop in referrals. As we had mentioned, we had written to BBOnline to ask if they were aware of this, and if they were doing anything to rectify it. Since the article appeared we have received a reply, which scares us all the more. [pullquote]To say that the reply from BBOnline is disappointing is an understatement.[/pullquote]To say that the reply from BBOnline is disappointing is an understatement. Since we have no desire to be seen as attacking BBOnline, and we do not intend to embarrass the writer of the email, we'll only share excerpts of the reply. Our original email to them was simply a report of our Analytics, showing the huge dropoff in referrals dating from the time of their website update (December 7, 2011), and asking if they were aware of it, and asking for assurance that they were working on a solution. Disappointingly, the reply was more notable for corporate sales-speak than for content. BBOnline's Response, Point-by-Point 1. We have taken many steps to improve the SEO of the site. BBOnline states that their "brand new features", constant changes of the way listings appear, and tracking of user behavior has improved the SEO. Wow, where do you start? It is true that many articles on SEO best practices will talk about keeping your content fresh, but other than that, where is the genuine SEO work? Are title and meta tags…

Pinterest: Not Just YASN (Yet Another Social Network) for B&B’s

We've been hearing a lot of buzz about Pinterest lately, but surprisingly little of it comes from within the Innkeeping community. I say it is surprising, because Pinterest seems almost as if it was made for innkeepers - it is easy to use (we jumped in for our Freeport Maine B&B, and were happily pinning away in minutes), plentiful graphics grab the attention of the visitor, and it is so addictive that users stay connected for a long time. According to comScore, Pinterest ranks just behind Google+ in number of visitors, and third (behind Facebook and Tumblr) in the amount of time a visitor spends on the site. This is very impressive for a site that is not yet open to the public (you can join using a Facebook login, or you can request an invitation on the Pinterest home page). So what is Pinterest? Pinterest describes itself as a virtual pinboard, but we think it is being far too modest. From where we sit, Pinterest is a fantastic tool for sharing interests, or ideas, with others. It seems to be a combination of bookmarking sites (like StumbleUpon, Digg, or Reddit) with photo sharing sites (like Flickr, Panoramio, or Photobucket), with the added ability to comment, share, etc., that you find on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Why do people share? The reasons for sharing seem as varied as the backgrounds of the people sharing. Some are sharing their own memories or activities, much like other sites. But since Pinterest allows (even encourages) sharing of sites you visit (they retain info attributing the original source), you can also share your interests, dreams, and ideas. Why would an Innkeeper use Pinterest? There are several reasons to use Pinterest. First, as Heather Allard notes, "If you had the opportunity to make your business…

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