Google Page Speed Update: Will Your Hotel's Website Be Impacted?



Search Engine Land and our agency Google representative have confirmed that Google’s Page Speed Update is now being released to all users.  As of July 9th, 2018, Google “has begun incorporating the new Speed Update algorithm in the mobile search results as a search ranking factor”.

Google has confirmed that right now, the update “only impacts the slowest of sites on the internet”. But….what does Google consider slow or the slowest in terms of mobile site speed? Our Google agency representative stated that RANK COULD BE AFFECTED FOR PAGES THAT LOAD SLOWER THAN 3-4 SECONDS. In addition to page rank and organic performance, it’s also important to understand that pages with slow load times also impact your paid advertising performance. How much of the traffic from your hard earned paid advertising dollars are bouncing from your site because the page takes too long to download? This can add up to a lot of wasted advertising dollars.

How do you know if Google’s Page Speed Update could impact your website? In Google’s most recent blog post on the Page Speed Update, they state that, “Although there is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor, here are some resources that can be used to evaluate a page’s performance.” These include Google’s Test My Site Tool.

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Our Google representative encourages immediate action to improve page speed if your site is loading slower than 5 seconds. Back in May we dove into the importance of mobile page speed for organic search rankings. Now is the time to act, don’t wait until your site is negatively impacted. Chances are, it is already seeing the negative impact of advertising dollars wasted on site visitors that bounce.

Reach out to GCommerce today to inquire about how we can help improve your site’s page speed.

How to Win on Mobile: The Increasing Importance of Mobile Speed for Organic Search Rankings



Google recently came out with a new tool to help companies compare their mobile performance against their competitors and measure the impact that decreasing mobile page load times can have on revenue. It’s not surprising to anyone in the marketing world that the results are significant. Users are increasingly demanding of websites to load as fast as possible, with slower websites experiencing noticeable increases in bounce rate as well as drops in other engagement metrics like time on site, pages per session and event/goal completions.

This move by Google is the latest in a series of initiatives by the tech giant to emphasize the increasing importance of mobile experience in the modern internet landscape. Looking back to April 2015, Google updated their algorithm in a release dubbed by webmasters as “Mobilegeddon”, giving priority in their SERP rankings to mobile- and tablet-friendly websites when the query was made on a mobile device. In May of that same year, they released a statement saying that mobile searches exceeded those of desktop in 10 countries, including the US & Japan. In November 2016, they started experimenting with mobile-first indexing, wherein a site’s mobile version, if it had one, would be used as its primary version, with the desktop version being displayed only if a mobile version was not available. Those sites without a mobile version would most likely see a decline in their SERP rankings while sites with a mobile-friendly experience could receive a boost in rankings regardless of the device on which the search is being made. Fast-forward to January 2018, Google released a statement explicitly calling out the fact that page speed will now be a ranking factor on mobile searches like it has been on desktop starting in July of this year.

One question you may be having is why Google is taking such a strong stance on mobile. The answer is multi-faceted, but it all comes down to providing users with the best possible experience, which ultimately benefits both users and Google. By optimizing your site for a mobile user, using techniques such as responsive design, fast page load times, utilizing caching and providing high quality content, your site is more likely to be engaging to users and therefore rank higher on Google’s SERP. Google benefits by providing users with the highest-quality content in the top positions which builds trust and makes users more likely to use them in the future, while you benefit with increased website traffic, higher conversion rates, and more engagement with your site. It’s in Google’s best interest to keep this feedback loop continuing and to get webmasters to perpetually try to optimize their sites for an optimal user experience, which is why we’ve seen this progression from merely stating that mobile experience is important to announcing to the world that it is definitively a factor in their rankings and providing businesses withtools like the Impact Calculator that should encourage them to make strides in the short term to that effect.


Back to Google’s new mobile tools for a second. The top section of the page allows you to compare your site with those of your competitors to see how your mobile speed stacks up. This is a great tool for benchmarking and assessing if you’re currently ahead of, in line with, or way behind your competition. In the below example, we would recommend to our client that they make immediate changes to their website to get on level terms with their competition as they are lagging behind all but one of their competitors.


Revenue Directors and business owners will most likely be more intrigued by the Impact Calculator, though. It will ask you for data regarding average monthly website visitors, average order value, and website conversion rate. Based on this information, it will give an estimate of how much incremental revenue can be generated by lowering your site’s mobile page load time on a scale in increments of 0.1 seconds from your site’s current load time down to their minimum threshold of 0.6 seconds.

If you play around with the slider function, you’ll notice that the faster a web page loads, the more incremental revenue it is expected to produce. We noticed that the relationship did not appear to be linear, so we tested a couple of our clients on the tool and found the following:


Client 1 (Original Page Load Time of 5.0 Seconds)


Client 2 (Original Page Load Time of 2.8 Seconds)


As you can see from the graphs, incremental revenue starts to increase exponentially as page load times approach the minimum of 0.6 seconds. While that minimum isn’t currently attainable for many websites, it’s certainly something everyone should be striving for given the potential payoff.

The nice thing about decreasing page load times is that it positively affects other metrics that you may not have thought about. It’s obvious that bounce rate would decrease while time on site and pages per session would increase, but could this affect organic search results, too? While no one knows exactly what’s in Google’s search algorithm, we already know that they have come out and said that site speed is a ranking factor and that mobile page load speed will be a ranking factor starting in July. It’s also been shown through independent testing that the top positions in organic search results typically have lower than average bounce rates and higher than average time spent on that page. By increasing your mobile site speed, you’re helping your site’s pages rank better for organic results, thereby supplementing your other SEO efforts. As mentioned previously, higher organic rankings should produce higher website conversion rates and therefore more revenue, something every business owner can get behind.


You may be thinking that this all sounds great but it’s not currently a priority, and you’d rather focus budget and time on channels with predictable ROIs. The thing about that is, you’re wrong. Mobile traffic is increasing every year and has accounted for the majority of worldwide searches since 2015. Most of your users are most likely on mobile devices or will be in the near future. Also, in preparing for Google’s eventual worldwide switch to a mobile-first index, it’s even more important to have a mobile-friendly website and for mobile page load times to be lower, since a domain’s mobile site will be used as the primary site in Google’s search results. They are making it clear with their actions that this is the direction they want websites to move towards, with those who don’t comply being penalized and pushed further down the SERP, never to be seen again. It’s in your best interest to take the necessary steps to optimize your site for mobile now, and make a concerted effort to keep it that way moving forward. Mobile traffic and faster speeds are the future.


Get in touch with us today if you’d like more information on how GCommerce can help you gain incremental revenue from increased mobile site speed and optimize your site for a mobile experience.

A Hotelier's Guide: How to Optimize for Voice Search


Voice search is the latest buzz in the digital marketing community. With companies like Gartner predicting that by 2020, 30% of searches will be voice, hotel marketers are eager to know if their businesses are optimized for this new channel.

While it may be the shiniest new marketing object to catch your attention – it’s important to first understand what this technology is, how it works and how it may disrupt the market in order to determine how it will (or won’t) change the way you need to approach your hotel’s digital marketing strategies.


When people use the term “voice search” they are usually speaking of one of two different areas –home assistants (think Google Home, Amazon Echo with Alexa) and voice search using your phone’s technology such as Siri to return results on a screen. The latter technically being defined as “dictated search”.  We’ll dive into both to make sure your best prepared for the latest disruption in search engine marketing for hotels.


Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home are currently leading the market for voice assistant devices. This area of voice search is, at its core, screen-less. That means one-answer responses, not a list of responses presented in search engine results format. It wasn’t until Amazon launched its Echo Show that home assistants started to incorporate screens into their devices. Now more home assistant devices, like Google Home, are incorporating or planning to incorporate screens into home assistant devices.


The other area included under the topic of “voice search” is search that uses voice command to pull up search engine results on a screen. This is more accurately defined as dictated search. This includes the use of Siri on your iPhone or Google Voice Search on your android or other devices. Does the use of voice dictated search change the way Google returns results?

Home assistant devices and dictated search through Siri (and other mobile devices) are two very different voice search experiences. One relies on providing a variety of results on a screen and one relies on voice responses to answer your questions. Next, let’s dive into how consumers are using voice search with each of these device types.


Voice assistant device voice search has been hard for marketers to break into considering there’s limited space available for exposure with only position O returned as a result and no space for advertising like the typical SERPs provide. The lack of screens have also made it difficult for consumers to perform travel research since they depend on imagery and visiting multiple sources for information before they are ready to book. For this reason, voice assistants haven’t made a huge impact on how people book hotels and travel. There is a possibility that this will change soon as both Amazon and Google are launching voice assistants with screens to provide more options and the opportunity for advertisements, just like the standard mobile SERP. This article from Lisa Lacy at Search Engine Journal does a phenomenal job at diving into how this changes the optimization game.

People are using voice assistant devices for everything from playing music, controlling home gadgets to ordering products online.  But, how are they using these devices to plan travel or book hotels? With one-answer response capabilities provided by voice home assistants, the experience isn’t great. Maybe you’d have success using the device to book accommodations if you knew exactly which hotel you wanted to book at or if you were just looking for the nearest, last minute hotel. But in our experience testing voice assistant devices to research hotels, interacting with these devices for travel research is extremely frustrating.


Let’s get down to the question that every hotelier wants to know, how exactly can hotels optimize for voice search?

The truth is, hotel marketers should be focused on a multi-device optimization strategy.  The success factors you were focused on for your overall strategy previously are the same ones that you’ll need to focus on for voice searches. Yes, the way people dictate search and the devices used changes the game slightly but you shouldn’t ignore other, more lucrative channels in favor of changing everything for voice search. A few ways to expand your multi-device strategy to incorporate more voice search specific optimization includes:

  1. Well built out and optimized FAQ pages and website content – being the content selected for Google’s answer boxes has long been touted as a solid strategy for being selected for that “position zero” spot. Hotels should focus on building out a FAQ page that answers questions about the hotel, the local area and any other common questions related to the hotel.
  2. Targeting question keywords and near search terms – a large portion of voice search is presented in the form of questions or consumers looking for local/nearby businesses. For hotels this means that they need to expand content on their site to answer questions (i.e. FAQ page) and to target “near” search terms such as “hotel near X” to qualify for these types of searches.
  3. Local Search optimization (local listings/GMB/reviews) – The capabilities voice assistants can offer for hotel related search seem to be limited to displaying hotel information in the form of local listing profiles such as Google My Business. These means your local search optimization game needs to be strong with a huge focus on encouraging guest reviews and up-to-date, accurate listing details.
  4. Using Meta Search – Currently Kayak offers the only voice command to book a hotel through Alexa, which actually books it’s inventory through or Seems like one of the only ways for hotels to be visible on voice home assistants currently is through participation on OTAs and Meta Search engines.
  5. More focus on tracking calls as conversions – other than Kayak offering ways to book hotels through voice assistants, the only other type of conversions presented for this type of search is to ask for directions or to call the hotel. As more and more traffic shifts to mobile and voice-activated search, hotels can no longer ignore that accurate call tracking solutions must be used to ensure you can optimize your campaigns and strategy effectively.
  6. Make sure your site is secure – upgrade your hotel website to HTTPS now if you haven’t already
  7. Implement Structured Data Mark-up on your site
  8. Ensure your hotel website is mobile friendly


Depends on what type of voice search you’re referring to – dictated search or voice assistants. Currently there are no options for paid search ads on voice assistants search. One way to pay and be visible in this space is through metasearch (i.e. Kayak – Alexa). Since using dictated search (i.e. on Siri) pulls the same displayed SERP results as when you type your search queries this allows for the same advertising capabilities and paid text ads will be shown.


Hotel marketers should keep in mind that “voice search” is just a new interface and that the same elements that were vital to success before will continue to be vital for success in voice search. Focus on mark-up, focus on making your site secure and mobile friendly and make sure local SEO is a cornerstone of your strategy and you’ll be well positioned for success with voice search.

Next, keep an eye on this evolving technology. Consumers depend on visual elements to properly research and book travel and hotels. As more voice activated home assistants incorporate screens into the mix it will offer more opportunities for hotels to participate.

Finally, the consumer demand for using AI and voice commands are going to expand to interaction with your hotel directly.  Technology such as chat bots and ways to ensure customer service expectations are being met or exceeded through any method they want to interact with will become more important

Have more questions about how voice search works and how to prepare your hotel for success? Reach out to the team at GCommerce today.

Are you showing up in local search results when it matters most?



The local search marketplace is extremely competitive, making it important to ensure you’re using advanced local SEO tactics to compete for visibility to help drive qualified traffic and transactions. 46% of all searches on Google are local. With only the 3 top results are shown in a consumer’s initial search (see screenshot below), do you want to risk the chance of someone clicking “more places” in hopes they find your business? Let us help guide you through the world of local search and tell you how to best optimize your hotel.



Local SEO is an online marketing approach to target locally based searches and to get businesses in front of potential customers when it matters the most. This includes Google My Business (GMB), which is housed in search results, Google+, and Google Maps. It also includes citations, consumer reviews, on-page optimization, links, and social signals. Consumers utilize local search results as a way for research and to make purchase decisions.


Hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment type businesses are listed in a Local Snack Pack on Google. These are very basic results showing star ratings from reviews, pricing, and a picture with a couple of amenities. There is no address, phone number, website link, or directions associated with these listings.


The local ABC packs are for branded search terms (Starbucks, Target, etc). These results do not show reviews, but are more for a direction/more information based search. They include a link to the website and directions with a phone number, hours, and partial address.


The local pack is for your broad category search terms such as lawyers, dentists, etc. These give the most information in the results to include reviews, phone numbers, address, hours, links to a website, and directions.



The local search landscape is constantly changing and evolving, as are the ranking signals Google uses to deliver results. The following are the top ranking factors for local search, in order of importance, for 2017 via the Local Search Association:

  • Google My Business 19.01%
  • Links 17.31%
  • On-page optimization 13.81%
  • Citations 13.31%
  • Reviews 13.13%
  • Behavioral 10.17%
  • Personalization 9.76%
  • Social 3.53%

Let’s break down each ranking signal:

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS is a tool offered by Google for businesses to manage their presence online within Google Search, Maps, and Google+. It allows you to manage the information that is seen by users as well as the products or services that you offer. According to Google, businesses that have claimed and verified their information with Google My Business are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers. Google My Business also allows for reviews and photos on your listing. When adding photos to your business listing you can increase your driving direction requests by 42% and clicks to your website by 35% compared to businesses who do not include photos.

CITATIONS are mentions of your business name and address on other websites and do not need to include a link. These are usually seen on, but not limited to, sites like yellow pages directory and chamber of commerce sites. Simply put, citations help search engines (Google and Bing) verify and validate that a business is real. By having other sites mentioning your business it tells the search engines that you are a part of the community and to help verify your business’s contact information and categorization. Citations are a key component in the ranking algorithms for both Google and Bing.

ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION is a marketing tactic to help the search engines understand what your business is about, where it is located, and what you offer. The only way a search engine can display your website on searches you wish to be visible for is if those search engines can understand this information on your site. The goal is to ensure you are targeting the most important local keywords that are going to get the most qualified traffic, which in turn, leads to reservations and money in your pocket! Who doesn’t love free traffic?

LINK BUILDING is one of the most overlooked local SEO tactics, but it is incredibly important. Local SEO links are a tad different than standard SEO link building. When it comes to local links, you want them to come from local businesses in the community that are talking about things similar to what you do and/or offer. High authority websites are obviously helpful, but not as important in local links. So what are some examples of “community businesses”? Local events are a great way to start. Partnering with local event sites to get travelers of the event to see your hotel is an easy way to get exposure and an opportunity for a local link. Conventions, meetings, business conferences, local expo centers, and other venues can be a great avenue for new business.

REVIEW SIGNALS have increased over 20% in ranking importance over the past couple of years. Consumers are looking to the internet and past guests experiences to make decisions on where to stay. Google is realizing how important this is, in fact, according to BrightLocal’s 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey found that 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means that consumers are turning to Google and other major outlets for information on your business before ever considering booking a reservation with you over a competitor.
In fact, Google just confirmed changes to the way they cumulate reviews on Google My Business. They are aggregating multiple review sites (Expedia,, Google, etc) all into one. It is important that you are getting reviews, but of course, more importantly, good reviews!

Google has even gone as far as grouping reviews by type of traveler!


While Google has not confirmed SOCIAL SIGNALS as an official ranking system, it is a way to build your brand and reinforce legitimacy in the marketplace. Social also allows for another way to squeeze in your address and some branded keywords that could easily help contribute in your ranking endeavors. It is important to brand your social media profiles, be active and of course link to your social accounts on your website and from your social media accounts back to your website. Simple is best when it comes to social. This comes from Search Engine Land.

BEHAVIORAL SIGNALS include any organic interactions that are taken with your listings, website, etc. It all leads back to letting Google know that your business is legitimate. If consumers are interacting with your site and business on a regular basis, it lets Google know that you have the authority to be seen in their search results. This is where on-page optimization and social interactions really take a toll in getting your name out there and to show in search results. This comes from Moz.

Google and Bing use PERSONALIZATION SIGNALS to show relevant search results to consumers. This circles back around to using local on-page optimization and social engagement, which builds brand loyalty. Search results are based on past website visits, their social interactions (have they liked a certain page on Facebook or shared something via Twitter). This history of a user will reinforce your site to the search engines as one that should be shown more frequently. This is why it is important to stay active and continue growing your brand. This comes from Search Engine Land.



Google has used the address of the business as the number one ranking signal since the beginning of local search. Meaning if your address was not physically in the city of the search then it would be near impossible to rank.

This year it has since changed to proximity factors. To be exact the proximity of your business address to the point of search. If you notice the below search query, the top 3 results do not necessarily meet the “top ranking factors” such as reviews, websites, citations, etc. However, they are showing as the top 3 results due to the fact that they are the closest in proximity to the consumer that was searching.


Why is this important to hoteliers? Although showing a decrease of importance since 2015 combined with the proximity search, the proximity of an address to the centroid is definitely a ranking factor for businesses like hotels.

If you notice the screenshots below, when searching for a hotel in Seattle, the top results shown in the local pack are all within about 10 minutes walking distance from the city center.



GCommerce uses an ongoing management approach to optimization and uses enhanced profiles to distribute information to the top online directories, giving your hotel the best visibility in the search engines as possible.

We delve into keyword rankings and spend our time researching locally focused keywords to best optimize your website with. This includes all Meta tags and descriptions, headlines as well as on page copy, alt image text, and structured data. Structured data or Schema is becoming increasingly important in the competitive landscape of organic rankings in the hotel industry. This tool makes it easier for search engines to understand your website’s content and delivers better information to the consumer. GCommerce wants to ensure we are providing the search engines with as much on page signals as possible in order to help you rank in the local world.

GCommerce Solutions also uses electronic customer relationship management programs to send out emails your guests post-stay that include directives to post on reviews to the top online review sites such as Tripadvisor, Google, Yelp and 100’s of other local directory listings.

By utilizing our local directories on-going services we will:

  • Match, sync, and lock your listings in real time across our network of over 60 sites and apps. We will also create listings for you if you’re missing from any of our publishers.
  • Update and push enhanced content you’d like to add to your listings including photos, videos, staff bios and room types.
  • Link your featured message to a reservations landing page. We can update that featured message anytime, so let your GCommerce Account Manager/Executive know about any upcoming events or specials you’d like to highlight.
  • Detect and suppress any duplicate listings across our network.

In summary, locally related searches continue to grow and for businesses to be successful in this space it is necessary to incorporate Local Search Optimization strategies into the overall SEO and marketing approach. GCommerce understands that consumers rely on search engines to evaluate businesses and to decide upon the best purchasing option based on accurate business information, user reviews and so much more. Our Local Search Optimization service ensures that your hotel is better optimized to ensure relevant consumers find you and book with your property.

How To Boost Engagement With Your Email Marketing


If your business isn’t utilizing email marketing, you’re already missing out on one of your most lucrative segments of highly qualified and brand loyal customers. Think about it, these are guests who have stayed at your property before or opted in to hear what you have to say. However, often times businesses are faced with the daunting reality of designing, developing and launching email campaigns that have low engagement and, therefore, low returns. If email marketing is so important, then how do businesses ensure that their campaigns are engaging and effective?


All great email campaigns start with your email lists. Who are you sending your emails to? Are you segmenting your lists to personalize and target potential customers correctly? The number one rule of marketing is to know and speak to your customers, and segmenting is an effective way of making sure that the right message gets to the right customer at the right time. Asking yourself “Who are we targeting and what would interest them” before designing a campaign is a surefire way to kick off on the right foot. You can segment email lists based on many things including demographics, interests/behaviors, or even their position in the conversion funnel. The more relevant the message is to a customer, the more likely they are to engage with it. Segmenting correctly can increase open rates, click-through rates, and conversions while decreasing unsubscribes and avoiding spam filters. Below is a graphic (See: Effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats) of how list segmentation impacted global marketing stats for Mailchimp:

Related GComm case study:

Image: (Business)

Related Graphic:



Now that we’ve answered the first question: “Who are we targeting?” the follow-up is “What do they care about?” The whole point of segmenting is to get the right message to the right person, so what is the right message? Understanding your segments is key to sending the right information. For instance, are you targeting business or leisure travelers? Business travelers might be interested in conference rooms, technological capabilities, or app-based concierge services that can cut down on time while leisure travelers may be more interested in local “insider” information on your hotel’s locale or new services or amenities. Again, relevancy is key, and customers only care about what you have to say if it will directly affect their experience with your brand.

While creating great content is a starting point, make sure that whatever great content you’re creating shines through in your subject line as well. According to Hubspot, 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email solely based on the subject line. Keep it short, sweet, and simple while still keeping it personal by teasing what’s inside without giving it away. You can use online subject line testers that can give you performance estimates based on keywords. Utilize these services to make sure that your customers are getting what they want in your email marketing campaigns.

Related GComm Case Study:

Image: (Exploration)

Alt Image: (Local)


Instead of reiterating, possibly for the 100th time, how important mobile is in today’s digital marketing, I’m going to leave you with one statistic from Litmus: 54% of all email was opened on a mobile device as of March 2016. So how exactly do we cater to these mobile email users that make up over half of your list? The first step is to ensure that your email template is mobile responsive. Nothing is more annoying than getting an email built only for a desktop and having to zoom in and out to read and click links. Most email clients offer mobile responsive pre-built templates to make your life easier, but if you’re custom designing a template, be sure that its mobile user experience is functional and seamless. Other tips include utilizing one column layouts, limiting clutter by keeping copy simple, short and to the point, and a personal favorite: use buttons for your call-to-actions. Text links are a thing of the past, having to zoom in and tap on a single word or phrase is time-consuming and off-putting for mobile consumers, it’s also visually disconnecting. The better and more simple option is to use buttons for your primary links, and noticeably long text for your secondary links. Constant Contact reported click-through rates of up to 30% just by using a button for their primary CTA. However, buttons alone aren’t enough, be sure to stay creative when designing your call-to-actions avoiding friction phrases such as “book now” or “sign up” that can turn a reader off to clicking. (See: Most Emails Are Opened On Mobile Devices)



Email lists are one of a business’s greatest assets, providing easy access to brand loyal customers that have the potential for high return. Boosting engagement is key to email marketing success, and leveraging segmentation, great content, and mobile friendliness can help make sure that what you have to share is relevant and engaging for customers. When designing an email campaign, always be sure to ask yourself “Who am I targeting and what interests them?” to get in the right mindset for delivering the right message to the right customer, at the right time.