It’s not quite “tax season”, so before you go check your personal finances, take a second and refresh yourself with what an audit actually is. An audit, in its most basic form, is a systematic evaluation of something. When breaking that abstract definition down even further, it can be ascertained performing an audit entails regularly checking the state of a system. Envision an audit like a doctor or dentist appointment. Although you may not have the time in your busy schedule or you may feel like pushing it off, medical and dental professionals recommend regular consultations for good reason. While you may feel and look fine on the surface, there may be underlying issues you would never know about had you not gotten examined. The same can be said for your property’s website. By taking a preventative approach to both your own health and the health of your site, you’ll safeguard against issues ballooning into bigger problems, had they remained unchecked.
Why Audit Your Website?
Similar to the health of a human being, although your site may be displaying correctly and functioning properly, there is always the possibility of fundamental errors existing within the technical, on-page, and off-page framework of your website. In order to alleviate these concerns or thwart any impending issues from surfacing, auditing your property’s website’s content, search engine optimization, and functionality will provide valuable insight into how it is performing. Evaluating the substance and messages present on your site as well as its technical facets will help generate opportunities to improve the traffic and conversions your website produces.
How Blue Magnet Approaches Auditing
As a holistic hotel Internet marketing agency, Blue Magnet Interactive provides a variety of services working together to cultivate your online presence and to drive revenue for your hotel. By crafting user-friendly content, procuring robust referral traffic, and sustaining a technically sound website structure, BMI delivers enriched visibility in search results. These efforts translate into amplified exposure, incremental revenue, and increased bookings for our clients.
Your Website Auditing Toolbox
You may be asking yourself, “What if my property has a very limited marketing budget and is unable to afford the services of a full-service marketing company?” Have no fear, Blue Magnet is here. Our mission is to help hospitality professionals better understand and leverage the world of digital marketing. This blog serves as one of many initiatives we have in place to aid the industry. Below is a comprehensive list of tools your hotel marketing team can use to perform an audit for your site.
Screaming Frog is a desktop program which spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective. This platform is especially useful for analyzing larger sites because it allows for the crawling of your entire website, not just a singular page. Although there is a cost ($105.40) associated with the full version, the free version will allow users to crawl 500 URLs within your site and offers the same functionality as the full version.
Google Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools)
A very powerful instrument, Search Console by Google is a free application that helps users identify issues with their website and let you know if it has been infected with malware. Once a hotel site is added to Search Console, the website owner will be able to evaluate clicks from Google search, obtain notifications for precarious errors or detected issues, and test whether one of the world’s largest search engines can effectively comprehend the content present on your property’s website.
A freemium web analytics service, Analytics offered by Google can allow a hotel to track and report website traffic. Easily considered one of Google’s most influential apparatuses, Analytics can provide various benefits to a single property as well as a management group with dozens of hotels within their portfolio. Once connected, users are able to garner a bevy of details ranging from the conversion rate of an online web store to the performance of ads in Google’s Display Network. By factoring in all of the information one can gather from Analytics, a hotel will be in a position to make the marketing and business decisions necessary to set their property apart from its competitors.
Google Keyword Planner
By supplying keyword ideas and traffic estimates, Google’s Keyword Planner allows for the discovery of local keywords at a much quicker pace, assists in the construction of a Search Network campaign in an AdWords account, and also supports the harnessing of niche markets when creating relevant content for a website.
Keyword Tool is a free online keyword research utensil that uses Google Autocomplete to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords. Understanding what prospective guests are actually searching for can pay huge dividends in a property’s quest to gain traffic to their website from top search engines. Using the Keyword Tool will afford a hotel the ability to craft content based on the relevant terms users query on a regular basis which will permit them to capture as much relevant traffic and visits to their site as possible.
Web Site Advantage Pixel Length Checker
The Pixel Length Checker lets content publishers tactically fabricate page titles and meta description resulting in aesthetically-pleasing or attention-grabbing listings in Google’s organic search results. The remunerations of this handy gizmo are twofold as an individual can assess the strength of keywords (meta titles) and the conviction of the sales pitch (meta description), but also visualize exactly how these details display to potential guests in search engine results. The ultimate goal is to snag as much significant traffic as possible, so having the titles and descriptions work in tandem is crucial to the success of not only a particular page, but a website as a whole.
This is a useful web-based gadget examining your page’s speed performance. Although it may not be completely obvious, aspects like browser caching and image dimensions play roles in page load time. Why is this important? Pages with a longer load time can negatively affect user experience by increasing bounce rates, lowering average time on page, and decreasing conversions. Site speed is also one of the factors used by Google’s algorithm to rank pages. The slower the page load time, the fewer pages a search engine can crawl. Using Page Speed and YSlow factors, GTmetrix generates scores for your pages and offers actionable recommendations on how to boost their load times.
Quirktools – Screenfly
If your hotel’s website is responsive, meaning the site conforms to fit the screen of the user’s devices, then Screenfly is something you’ll want to add to your arsenal when auditing. Test your website on any screen size–including desktops, tablets, televisions, and mobile phones–using this nifty online tool. By optimizing for mobile, you’ll be able to safeguard your property from turning away mobile website visitors while ensuring the site’s layout is fluid throughout the cross-device spectrum.
Want to ensure your business listings are correct, consistent, and visible across the web so search engines and new customers can find you? By entering a property’s name and zip code, the Moz Local tool is able to pull a collection of a particular hotel’s verified listings and provide a benchmark for performance within the local region. It is vital to have these listings claimed with all of the correct details: hotel name, address, phone number, and URL. Local listings play an important role in a property’s local search results but can also provide a bump in organic relevance. By having consistent listings across the board, search engines like Google and Yahoo will deem a hotel’s website more trustworthy, which could potentially yield more enhanced search rankings.
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer can be utilized to recognize link building opportunities, investigate backlinks, catalog top pages, provide an outlook on social activity, and evaluate anchor text. OSE is a rather impressive function in the sense a hotel could feasibly discover both their Page and Domain Authorities while simultaneously gathering details about their competitors’ link profiles. Users even have the ability to compare the stats of up to five websites side-by-side.
Soaring with Eagles or Surrounded by Turkeys
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of maintaining a website, no matter the circumstance, is gauging how successful your efforts are in relation to the end goal of your website. For the purposes of the hospitality industry, growing your property’s online presence, transforming online traffic into on-property guests, and driving revenue should encapsulate the comprehensive purpose of your hotel’s website. The execution of a hotel’s all-encompassing search engine optimization (SEO) strategy plays one of the biggest roles in the success of a web page. With steep competition in each market, the proper implementation of these tactics can make or break a website. So how can a property tell if their hotel is performing or failing in this area? Continue reading to find out what metrics indicate strong performance and which designate weak execution.
Domain Authority is a score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time.
What tool can help? – Open Site Explorer
Whereas Domain Authority measures the predictive ranking strength of entire domains or subdomains, Page Authority measures the strength of individual page.
Page Link Metrics
The more unique root domains a website has, the more diverse their link profile is.
What tool can help? – Open Site Explorer
Moz Local Score
Search for your business by name and choose the most accurate listing for your property. If there are multiple results for your hotel name, address and/or phone, you’ve got a problem. That shows there is differing info across the web.
What tool can help? – Moz Local
Take note of your percentage graph in the example below:
This shows there are 52% of our listings matching the business information at the top. The goal is to have the information at the top be 100% correct, and the complete percentage be as close to 100 as possible.
Using a page title over 512 pixels will cause it to not display correctly in search engine results pages (SERPs).
What tool can help? – Web Site Advantage Pixel Length Checker
Notice the following example (page title: Hotels in Fayetteville Arkansas | The Extravagant Downtown Hotel – 528 pixels) cuts off the hotel name when a user searches for “hotels in fayetteville arkansas” and similar queries. Adjusting the pixilation could be the differentiator between your hotel and one of your competitors’ acquiring business.
Comparable to Page Titles, any Meta Description applied to a hotel’s website over 928 pixels will not appear properly.
What tool can help? – Web Site Advantage Pixel Length Checker
You’ll observe in the example below the proposed content is not fully shown for the user to see. Descriptions are vital as they act as a selling point for a particular page and property.
Meta description: Located on the outskirts of the Boston Mountains, our downtown Fayetteville hotel provides awe-inspiring scenery, luxurious accommodations, and practical amenities for business and leisure travelers. – 1595 pixels
Optimize images and specify image dimensions to decrease page load time and improve your Page Speed and YSlow scores.
What tool can help? – GTmetrix
If your website is responsive, or designed for cross-platform functionality, you’ll want to make certain it displays properly across all channels. Because our newly enhanced Blue Magnet Interactive website is responsive, our web development team checks it across multiple devices to certify there is no loss in functionality or depreciation in the quality in which it’s displayed.
What tool can help? – Screenfly
Below is an illustration of the website when being viewed on an iPhone 6 Plus.
5 Quick Tips to Soar with the Eagles
- Review copy/content of each page at least once a quarter – Update with any new photos, menus, policy changes, etc. This is especially important after any major renovations to your property. Users love imagery, so keeping those visual elements up-to-date and as crisp and clear as possible could be the difference between converting or not.
- Login to your CMS and specify the image dimensions of photos on your page–Adding attributes to your image tags (i.e. width=”450” height=”250”) will allow the page to be crawled easier and loaded faster. These elements will not only heighten user experience but also lend to your website’s SEO.
- Analyze meta tags (titles and descriptions) to certify they meet the required pixel length – Reminder: Title tags must not be greater than 512 pixels and meta descriptions no more than 928 pixels.
- If your website’s link profile is weak (very few root domains, limited links) build your profile by acquiring third party citation and competitor links – Reach out to websites with similar properties listed or local area attractions, organizations, and businesses.
- A low Moz Local score probably means you have unclaimed or duplicate listings – Find your hotel’s listing on all appropriate local listing sites (i.e. Bing Local, Yelp, ExpressUpdate, etc.) and check for duplicates. If you are without a listing, create one and claim it by using the specific site’s instructions.
Auditing specific pages and facets of your website like page speed and meta tags are crucial to the overall health and performance of your hotel’s online presence. Failing to do so on a consistent basis will not only distress a user’s experience on your property’s website, but also have damaging effects to your site’s productivity in search rankings. By employing some of the auditing tools and tips presented in this post, content producers and marketing managers will be better prepared to tackle some of the challenges associated with maintaining a hotel website. Just as the old adage goes, “an audit a day keeps the negative search rankings at bay”…alright perhaps it needs a little more time than the Welsh proverb to gain traction. The overarching point, however, is the more care and attentiveness you bring to your hotel website, the healthier it will be in the long run. Similar to cough drops for a sore throat, audits will gradually and effectively rid your website of any malicious threats or issues.
If you’d like to learn more about the facets of auditing and the importance of On-Page and Off-Page optimization for your property, click the button below or call us at 877-361-1177