Google makes waves in e-commerce
 
Google makes waves in e-commerce
25 NOVEMBER 2013 7:28 AM

Recent changes from Google will impact e-commerce business—for better and worse.

Recently Google has made some fairly large game-changing moves that will impact your e-commerce business. Some of these changes are for the better, while others are for worse.

Search encryption
In a move that is incredibly unpopular to every online marketer, Google has continued its expansion of encrypted search. According to SearchEngineWatch.com, Google is making a move toward 100% encryption of its search business.

Google has been slowly rolling out search encryption during the past few years by covering signed-in users and slowly adding more and more products over the years. This privacy was denoted with an “s” in the web address (https://google.com). Today it appears that all traffic is being redirected from the “http://” to Google’s “https://” address.

For search-engine-optimization and pay-per-click campaigns, this is a massive blow to measuring success. For example, over a period of a month, the search term “pet friendly hotel nyc” might have produced $3,210 in revenue, indicating it was an important keyword that should have been maintained or even purchased through Google AdWords. This new encryption has the unfortunate side effect of cloaking the keyword responsible for a visitor’s entrance to your website. It will instead appear as “Not Provided.”

Cloaking keywords also will have devastating impacts on measuring the success regarding all of your SEO and PPC campaigns. One of the greatest marketing changes in the past 100 years was having the ability to completely measure the return on investment of your ad spend. Google’s changes might effectively end that ability for hotel marketers when it comes to PPC and SEO campaigns.

There are several tools that can be used to “guestimate” attribution, such as Google Webmaster Tools, which shows your rank and number of clicks on a keyword over a trailing 90-day period of time. However, the time of knowing precisely what was effective is over. Other techniques include placing clusters of keywords into small PPC campaigns, although it is too early to comment on the effectiveness of that technique.

Google ‘Hummingbird’
Google recently updated its world-famous algorithm to further help its users find the best websites they want. The problem, though, is those websites are getting more difficult to find.

As a recent Biznology article explains, Hummingbird “is going to make old-fashioned SEO tactics (such as link-buying, manipulating the HTML coding behind webpages to get an edge in the search rankings, and larding webpages with keywords) obsolete.”

In addition, content marketing just became more difficult. Thus, you should make sure your content is grabbing your audience’s attention and engaging them. Give the site a social element if possible. One way you can test the algorithm is to test a query in your area. Don't just look at the front runner but also look at what articles are appearing under the front runner. I am noticing Google is placing my articles with my Google Author information loaded over more popular pages.

If your firm is large, Biznology suggests hiring someone on your team specifically for content creation in the voice you want to articulate your business. I’m not sure what the going rate is for a “content strategist,” but it sounds expensive. I am consulting my team and other companies we work with to combine hotels under one domain to compete against the big guys. Take a look at the newly redesigned Morgans Hotel Group website for an idea on a site structure of one domain supporting multiple websites.

Google Analytics updated
Google’s redesigned Analytics page focuses more specifically on conversions. Some of the older tab names have been changed, but navigating the new dashboard is simple.

The best part about the new analytics is it has become much more user friendly for new users. Every section now has a brief intro on what the tool does, how to use it and other helpful information.

What I particularly like is the new “Page Speed” section, which gives your webpages a grade from zero to 100 and provides tips on how to improve a page’s speed. A grade of “one” means the page needs much improvement, while a grade of “100” means the page is perfect. The tool provides tips and grades for mobile and desktop sites, which is very helpful. Thanks to the new tool I was able to clean up an HTML error of which I was not aware, and my page-load time has reduced drastically.

If you haven't already, ensure that you have proper coding in order to measure and analyze transaction data. This can be accomplished with most of the major Internet-booking engines. Some are more helpful than others, and many webmasters do not have much experience in JavaScript. However, the data you will extract with the new tools will help you make informed business decisions.

Want to know what Google is up to? Follow my Twitter feed @sammy_miami, where I share data concerning lodging e-commerce.

Samuel Trotter is portfolio eCommerce Manager at Boutique Hospitality Management. Besides focusing on website revenues, Sam dives into how technology can positively influence a hotel's business. A self-confessed data junky, Sam Trotter provides news and analysis on website design, applications, marketing programs and other digital trends that are or will affect a hotel's business. To continue the dialogue or for the latest technology news that impacts your hotel, follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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