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Posted by on Dec 12, 2017 in All Matters SEO

Video Best Practices

The landscape in which marketers are able to reach an audience is constantly evolving. Electronic billboards replace the once-static ads that used to hang in their place. Watches that, until recently, strictly told time, now accept phone calls and house apps. And the adaptive Facebook Newsfeed is littered with marketing videos that catch viewers’ eyes where images once reigned supreme.

As a result of the noticeable shift toward interactive advertising, videos are becoming an increasingly popular marketing tool. They create an emotional, engaging experience that attracts viewers in a way that stationary images cannot.

Planning for a video shoot is essential to a successful result. Consider these video best practices before ever hitting the Record button.

Tell Your Story

Online consumers are bombarded with text and advertising every time they open a new browser window. When done correctly, videos are a popular option to cut through some of that clutter.

As marketers, we’re always trying to sell something. This may cause us to lose sight of what we should be focusing on – the human element of a sale. The Digital Marketing Institute warns that producing content that is overly “salesy” can actually repel customers, rather than motivate them to act the way we’d like.

Instead, the Institute urges marketers to put an emphasis on the story. What will connect with your viewers on a more relatable level?

Imagine you are a hotel owner who wants to create a video to increase bookings. Before simply showcasing the different angles of your hotel guest rooms, consider your audience. Is this something that would compel the consumer to book? Now, narrow your audience to a more specific subset and let that group determine the story. If you are trying to attract families on vacation, plan a marketing video that highlights some of the family-friendly activities offered on the property or nearby.

Invest in Quality Production

While still in the preparation stages, invest in high-quality production. Videos professionally shot and edited are more enjoyable to watch and appear more reliable. If the viewer is watching a video that was shot on a phone with a shaky hand, odds are, that viewer is moving to another video relatively quickly.

Do your research on the production company before scheduling them. Watch examples of their work, confirm that their quality aligns with your brand and make sure the videographer is willing to sign the correct usage-rights documents that you’ll need for marketing purposes.

Once the vendor is secured, clearly define your script and shot list before the day of the shoot. Determining exactly which spaces you’d like to highlight can cut down on the time and money spent on production and editing costs.

Keep It Short and Sweet

People are busy and constantly multitasking. They’re willing to watch content online for only short periods of time before losing interest. A video’s length is essential to keeping the audience engaged.

According to Brightcove, research demonstrates that the most engaging online videos are typically between 16-seconds and two-minutes long.

Define Clear Next Steps

By following these best practices, you will create a great video that captures your audience’s attention. At the end of your two minutes, a closing image of your logo scrolls across the screen. Now what?

Brightcove suggests that telling your audience what to do next is equally as important as the story. Plan to incorporate a call-to-action at the end of each marketing video with clear next steps.

Whether you’re suggesting that the viewer “Book Today” or link to supporting documentation (like a related blog post you’d like to promote), take this opportunity to gently nudge the viewer in the direction of your choosing.

Before organizing your next video shoot, contact your Digital Client Services Manager for more video best practices and Marriott-specific guidelines.

Video Best Practices(Image Source Pexels)

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Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in All Matters SEO

Putting Your Audience First: The Importance of Creating Engaging Content

As the digital landscape continues to develop, it’s more important than ever to focus on creating intelligent content. Having strong content on your website is a solid foundation for all other SEO efforts; content that is not engaging will not capture and convert your audience or help you position well in search engines. Though Google continues to change the search engine landscape, content remains the vehicle that drives consumer interactions, engagements and conversions. As seen in the below graphic from Search Engine Land, content quality is one of the top factors for SEO success.

The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors(Image Credit: Search Engine Land)

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) founder Joe Pulizzi, our goal should be, “creating content that has the primary purpose of improving the life of [our] user and a secondary purpose of driving the sales pipeline.” According to CMI, to create engaging content, we must first understand what our audience wants- content that is relevant to their lifestyle- and then optimize for discovery.

The key to success is to align your content with the needs of your audience. It’s too easy to consistently create content from a brand perspective which results in too much of the same. By considering your audience’s journey, you are better aligned to attract an audience that not only invests in your product, but is loyal to your brand.

In a recent article, CMI gives several ways to help position your brand’s content with your audience’s needs. They all focus on targeting a specific audience and then creating a focused marketing program based on that group. For example, CMI suggests that instead of saying: “We’re going to target this audience,” we should be asking “Who can we help?” Your audience doesn’t necessarily need to be demographically similar, they just need to have a similar need or want. By understanding exactly who your audience is, you’re more equipped to create content that resonates with them, instead of content that is strictly brand-focused.

It is easy for hotels to look too broadly at their audience and thus create very general content. However, travelers will only continue to expect a more personalized experience, making defining and segmenting your audience even more critical. For example, the business and leisure traveler both have different desires when looking for hotels. If you are trying to target business travelers, content that focuses around your family-friendly pool is not going to entice them. However, if you can create content that discusses your business center, high-speed internet connectivity and the large work spaces in each guestroom, you are demonstrating your hotel’s ability to enable a successful business trip. If you’re enrolled in MDS, we take the time to ask the right questions that will uncover your specific audience (or specific audiences) and then tailor our strategy to make the most of your content.

With content and SEO, it’s critical that these two marketing pillars are not thought of as individual silos. When bridged together, they can strengthen one another to improve your visibility and attract a strong, loyal audience. SEO will help get your content in front of your audience, but strong content will help you build authority and position well in search engines. Moreover, if you know your audience, your SEO efforts will be more seamless; it will be easy to weave keywords throughout your content because they are directly correlated to your specific audience. According to CMI, “combining your SEO best practices and content marketing process is easily the most important initiative today if you want to win tomorrow.” By focusing on intelligent content that caters to a specific audience, you are building a stronger customer experience and are better prepared for tomorrow’s digital marketing landscape.

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Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in All Matters SEO

Breaking Down the 2017 Local Search Ecosystem

Have you ever wondered where search engines all pulling your business’ information from? The answer is complex, as local SEO data sharing is in constant motion within the local ecosystem. Nonetheless, the new US 2017 Local Search Ecosystem gives insight into specific relationships across the local space of digital.

What is the Local Search Ecosystem (LSE)?

The Local Search Ecosystem (LSE) is a visual explanation of the complexity of local data relationships*, and why incorrect data so often finds its way to the front page of Google or Bing. It was introduced in 2009 by David Mihm and has updated every two years.

Why is it important?

Understanding how the local search ecosystem works is important for successful UNAP consistency, which will result in better rankings and user experience. A business listing that appears to be correct on the surface might become incorrect later due to inaccurate incoming third-party data, or inaccurate data that already exists within another listings database, but has not surfaced yet.

The 2017 US Local Ecosystem

Whitespark and Tidings teamed up to create a new local search ecosystem, bringing attention to specific site relationships by hovering over and clicking the site segments on the chart. The circle shaped chart is set up with three relationships classifications:

  • Confirmed Relationships- Relationships that were confirmed either by the data aggregators’ distribution lists or by the business directories (or by both)
  • Likely Relationship- Relationships that were reported by the business directories
  • Unconfirmed Relationships– Relationships that were reported by the data aggregators in their distribution lists, but were not confirmed by their study

WhiteSpark and Tidings also noted the following categories in the circle:

  • Primary Data Aggregators –Businesses whose model consists of collecting and regularly updating and enriching business data, and then selling it to other companies, including business directories. They have the most influence in the ecosystem. IE. Infogroup
  • Core Search Engines – Most important display platforms that receive information from a number of different sources. IE. Google and Apple Maps
  • Key Sites – Sites that serve either as actual data providers of lesser significance, IE. Foursquare, or as important display platforms, IE. Facebook or as both. IE. Yelp
  • Other Sites – All other important business directories in the ecosystem that either receive, or on rare occasion provide data from/to other sites

The 2017 US Local Ecosystem(Image Source: Whitespark)

What Your Hotel Should Know

The chart helps us understand where to focus on in order in ensure our hotel’s URL, name, address and phone number (UNAP) are consistent throughout local search. But there are also some other findings and areas our hotels should note:

  • Proprietary Data –Some sites, such as the major data aggregator TripAdvisor, are not displayed because they generate listings based on business data they collect on their own. They use different methods of collecting such data, such as directly calling the business or using information found on their websites. Be sure that your associates are aligned with the correct data to give these sources and your hotel website accurately represents the hotel. Digital Services claims our hotels’ TripAdvisor pages so we can input correct data into the platform.
  • Less Significant Sources – There are hundreds of other data sources sites use. For instance, Factual has a feature called Crosswalk, through which they collaborate with business directories and display links on to third-party pages for the same business on their listing. Even if they are less significant, they are still appearing to users, and therefore should be entirely correct for your hotel’s credibility. Digital Services conducts a citation audit for hotels enrolled in our program to ensure UNAP consistency across sites like Factual, CitySearch, etc.
  • International Hotels– If your hotel is outside of the US, you may be wondering about your country’s local ecosystem. In their release, they stated that they will be releasing local search ecosystems for Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and Brazil in the coming months. There are local ecosystems in every country and you should be keeping your hotel’s UNAP consistent no matter where your hotel is located. International hotels enrolled with Digital Services are set up with a Yext account to ensure the correct UNAP is being pushed to the countries’ specific local ecosystem.
  • The Dirty Four– Overall, Yelp, Yellowpages, Foursquare and CityGrid could be viewed as the “Dirty Four” – a secondary group of 4 semi-data-aggregators that seem to be as important as the primary data aggregators. For instance, Yelp can feed review and business data to Bing, Apple Maps, Yellowpages, Yahoo! Local and MapQuest. Yellowpages can feed to these sites as well. Therefore, it’s important to not neglect these sites and making sure they are optimized with your hotel’s correct information. Hotels in Yelp supported countries that are enrolled in Digital Services are provided with a paid Yelp listings as well as optimizations to ensure the profile accurately represents the hotel.

 

* Local search ecosystem relationships change frequently, so it is possible that such changes occurred from the time the first audit had been performed to the time the last audit was completed. As a result, the audit analysis data might be contradictory or incomplete.

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Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in All Matters SEO

How to Write SEO-Friendly Headlines

This week, Moz’s Rand Fishkin shares his White Board Friday thoughts on creating headlines with SEO in mind, and what steps you can take to make sure you’re crafting the most SEO-friendly posts possible (Without alienating your site visitors and giving them a poor user experience).

Watch his latest video here and check out his illustration below that shows how SEO, content and social media all intersect.

Writing Headlines for SEO(Source: Moz)

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Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in All Matters SEO, Social Media

Creative Content – Maximising Outreach for Maximum Success!

Creative content, such as infographics or pieces of micro content, are a great way to promote your hotel in a visual and compelling way which really resonates with existing or potential guests. Whether you’ve just had a renovation, want to illustrate your proximity to local attractions or just want to create something fun to showcase amenities, creative content can be a great tool! Once you’ve completed the creative process and have your design, it’s often difficult to fully understand how to ensure you are fully leveraging this content to its fullest. Below is a handy guide with our top tips of how to promote your content, both online and offline.

Paid Social Outreach

One of the best ways of promoting your creative content is via paid social campaigns, run through Facebook and/or Instagram (depending on which channels you actively run for your hotel). Running paid social adverts allows you to target existing or potential social followers through specific targeting, focusing on people who follow similar types of content (such as travel, luxury, food and drink and more). Hotels whom have paid social outreach and reporting included with their Digital Services creative content development will receive a brief featuring recommendations of targeting, predicted ad reach and flight dates. Once approved by the hotel, the ads will then run and a report will be provided to the hotel post-campaign.

Go Organic

Whilst paid social is clearly an important element to really promote your piece of content, we also recommend posting organically, too. For example, perhaps running a #TBT (throwback Thursday) a couple of months after the piece was first promoted to encourage your social community to re-engage with the content. Digital Services can provide recommendations for hotels looking for social guidance on the best ways to promote their content.

Don’t Neglect Your HWS

Adding creative content to the HWS (hotel website) allows hotels’ to expand on their existing content and provide existing or potential guests with different content to engage with. By adding to the HWS, hotels will also have a dedicated URL in which they can direct social, email or other marketing traffic to.

Print Isn’t Dead!

Depending on the context of the piece, it can often be useful to have it printed and provide it to any guests, particularly for any groups or corporate travellers. Consider this as an option to provide these important guests with something different during their stay – this is particularly useful for local area focused content, such as the below portion of an infographic created for the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa.

VCEJW Partial Infographic

Don’t Forget Your Partners

Featured local attractions or partners in your piece? Or just looking for a way to better engage with partners? Ensure you distribute it to anyone whom might be interested in seeing the content. For the piece created for St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, the hotel worked to contact all featured venues in the piece, and their wider partners, to have them share within their own channels (website, social and email for example). This is a great way of increasing the reach of your piece.

Internal Communication is Key!

Perhaps one of the often neglected areas of creative content outreach is ensuring your internal stakeholders are aware of the piece and the plan for distribution. Make sure all of your internal teams are aware of how they can engage with the piece, and spread the word!

Be a Mini-Concierge

If you have created a compelling piece of local area focused content, or something hotel specific such as a piece about your dining options, why not email it to your upcoming groups or transient customers? This can be a great tool for Concierge or your Sales teams to leverage prior to the guest’s arrival.

LONPR_Infographic 2017

Marriott Marketing?

Work with your Digital Client Services Manager to determine whether there is any opportunity to have the piece featured on some of Marriott’s key channels such as the Traveler blog or in an eNews campaign. Traveler will feature destination focused content, such as this example from Venice.

No matter the type of content featured within your piece, there are some great ways to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Your Digital Client Services Manager will work with you to ensure he/she finds the best options for your hotel. Looking for inspiration? Take a look at our our creative content examples for some ideas!

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Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in All Matters SEO

Link Building Best Practices

Links are an important ranking factor on search engines. Building links to your site can seem overwhelming, but if you’re willing it put in the effort, there can be a big reward in store for your SEO efforts. Rand Fishkin of Moz explains “The 3 Easiest Link Building Tactics Any Website Can Use to Acquire Their First 50 Links” in a recent Whiteboard Friday. Watch his video below!

(Source: Moz)

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