Сlient and Industry

Our client is a hostel that provides individual accommodations, located in the heart of one of the world’s largest megacities.

The hotel business is very competitive. To reach a broad and consistent clientele, companies need to not only provide excellent services, but also have a superior marketing strategy.

Background

Our client was well aware that visibility in search engines is critical for the success of any brand, of any size or industry. More than ever, people rely on Google and Bing for information about travel, shopping and entertainment.

High search rankings are paramount for a hotel serving international tourists. People visiting a new country want safe and reliable accommodations that cater to their needs and preferences. They want to know that when they arrive, there will be no surprises, and they can quickly leave their luggage at their hotel to explore the city sights.

Tourists are likely to choose a hotel from the first pages offered by Google. To make their business competitive, our client needed to push their website upward in search, and appear among the first offerings. To achieve this goal, they leveraged the popular service Booking.com, and used contextual advertising and SEO.

But those promotional tactics were not as fruitful as the client expected. Despite the hostel’s favorable location, affordable prices and convenient access to the city’s main attractions, users were not lingering on the site. When the client contacted us, the site’s bounce rate was 90%, a very alarming metric.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate represents the percentage of users that abandon your website without taking any action. This often happens when people are directed from search, social media or other platforms and stumble upon irrelevant content that does not match their expectations and delivers no value. Disappointed, they leave without looking through a catalog, reading content or exploring the site’s pages.

Why Does It Matter?

A company can lure users to its site with attractive advertisements and strong keywords, but if they fail to retain the visitor’s attention, their bounce rate goes up. Without conversions, all your PPC and SEO efforts will be in vain. In addition to making a great first impression, you need to provide superior user experience and turn passive visitors into regular customers.

When people are engaged with your brand and show activity on your website, Google Analytics receives signals that your online platform is user-friendly, provides high-quality content, accurately matches search intent, and satisfies the needs of your target audience. Google rewards you by pushing your site upward in search, to help people find the services they need faster.

A high bounce rate indicates that something is lacking in the quality of your site’s content, design and usability. You may be targeting the wrong audience or using the wrong keywords to promote your services.

Is High Bounce Rate Always a Distress Signal?

It is important to keep the purpose of your pages in mind when analyzing your bounce rate. In some cases, it is quite natural for visitors to abandon your site without taking action. For example, they may stop in to scan an article on your blog or visit the Contacts page to get your phone number.

When commercial brands spend time and money on content creation, the goal is not just to inform users. Content helps you break the ice with your visitors and paves the way to sales. Strong calls to action and enticing offers embedded in informative content prevent readers from leaving the site and encourage them to make a purchase.

For a commercial brand, even informative articles should be written with the goal of sales in mind. The sales message should be subtle, seamlessly embedded in the text to pique interest and encourage further exploration.

A low bounce rate is not critical for informative pages, but it never hurts. Action-driving content will surely benefit your venture.

At the same time, a low bounce rate is a must for commercial pages, since it directly reflects your success. A catalog that generates no sales is a worthless waste of your budget.

Be sure to analyze how all changes made to your website influence the bounce rate. If you add new product photos to your catalog and visitors find them mediocre and dull, your bounce rate will go up and the number of orders will decrease. A rapid change in bounce rate may indicate that you need to hire a professional photographer and display more appealing images in your catalog.

In our client’s case, bounce rate turned out to be an extremely important metric that was directly linked to the number of bookings. Users were simply abandoning the site without spending any time there, and the hostel’s profits were critically low.

The Challenge

A high bounce rate can have several causes:

  1. Poor website design and usability. Prospects do not enjoy spending time on your pages and testing available features.
  2. Mismatch of search intent and page content. Using misleading keywords may bring visitors to your site, but they will quickly leave when they realize they were misdirected.
  3. Instant gratification of search intent. This is the opposite extreme. You should feed prospects useful information, but leave them hungering for more. Having gotten a taste, they will click buttons, follow links, request consultations or take other steps on your website that lead to a sale.

In working with the hotel, we needed to understand exactly what was causing such a high bounce rate, and what measures we needed to take to improve user engagement and increase the number of bookings.

Research

Keywords

We began our research with keyword analysis. It turned out that short-tail keywords were used for both SEO promotion and contextual advertising.

Short-tail keywords consist of one or two words, and have a vague and general meaning. For example, “apartment” and “book a room” are short-tail keywords that may be used by a broad range of companies within the industry. It is difficult to outpace strong competitors and rank high with generic keywords.

You also run the risk of attracting the wrong audience. If your hotel is located in New York, people looking for a room in Washington will quickly abandon your website, giving you a high bounce rate.

We decided to use long-tail keywords to successfully promote our client. They consist of three or more words, accurately reflect the specifics of commercial offers, and help search engines distinguish users who seek services like yours. Long-tail keywords improve the quality of your target audience, attracting visitors who are ready to place orders.

The long-tail keyword “hostel near Central Park in NYC” is targeted at a narrow audience who wants to stay near Central Park. Your traffic may initially decrease, but this is not necessarily a negative change. You are simply sifting out users who are unlikely to visit your hostel, so you can pay more attention to real prospects. Always prioritize quality over quantity, so you don’t waste your promotional budget on the wrong people.

Another advantage of long-tail keywords is that they give you many more options. They allow you to combine, change, eliminate and add words in a single query.

For example, the short-tail keyword “hostel” can only be used at face value. By contrast, the long-tail keyword “hostel near Central Park in NYC” can be transformed into “hostel near Central Park in New York,” “room with a view of Central Park in NYC,” “book hotel room near Central Park NYC,” etc. Your website will rank for all those queries and attract genuinely interested users in each case.

Feedback

Our research showed that the client had not been monitoring customer reviews, and had paid zero attention to managing its reputation. Since every brand depends on customer satisfaction, building a warm and lasting relationship with your target audience is a must. Here are three key reasons to closely monitor customer feedback:

  • It helps you understand the needs of your prospects and what products can simplify their lives.
  • You can detect shortcomings in your shopping process, eliminate them, and simplify customer interaction with your company.
  • Responding to customer feedback lets people know you value their opinions and are doing your best to address their concerns. It generates trust and adds stars to your reputation.

We found negative feedback and justifiable criticism of our client’s hostel across the network. These negative reviews had gone unattended, and the hostel had taken no action to fix their mistakes.

The Solution

Semantic Core Assembly

First of all, we selected long-tail keywords that matched the needs of the client’s target audience.

The hostel was designed for individual clients who travel for work or tourism. We created a profile of the average client and carefully selected of keywords to target them.

There were a number of factors to take into account. Despite the fact that each visitor had their own room, which was an important advantage over other hostels, they had to share a bathroom.

Since most hotels offer private bathrooms, we had to use caution with queries that included the word “hotel.”

In addition, since the hostel provided only individual accommodations, we had to bypass queries most often used by couples and travelers with young children, or apply them very carefully.

After we assembled and clustered the semantic core and distributed keywords among pages, we conducted a competitor analysis, which helped us refine the client’s unique sales position.

Content Update

Our next step was to update meta descriptions and texts on the site. Our content creators highlighted the client’s merits and advantages, to present the brand as trustworthy. Information was partially provided by the client, and the rest was based on our competitor analysis.

In addition, we updated texts of contextual ads and the keywords for which they were displayed, to avoid getting clicks from the wrong audience.

Reputation Management

We brought negative reviews to the client’s attention and provided instructions on how to monitor customer feedback in the future. Existing reviews were thoroughly analyzed and used as benchmarks for improving the quality of service. The hostel published information on the site that customers had struggled to find in the past.

Results

The measures we took paid off, especially the use of narrowly-targeted long-tail keywords, and we achieved outstanding promotional results. Within our first 3 months of working with the client, their bounce rate decreased from 90% to 20%, while the number of room reservations increased by 40%.

As search engines get smarter and incorporate a broader range of metrics in the ranking process, primitive promotional tactics like keyword stuffing are losing their power. Brilliant content that is relevant to the needs and search intents of the target audience, and superior user experience, are the keys to high conversions.

The Clever team is committed to creating high-end websites and helping brands reach their prospects through the most powerful online channels. If you need advice from seasoned digital marketers, contact us today and begin your brand’s journey to the top of SERPs.