Thursday, 23 December 2010

Facebook Places and Geo-Location Networks

How Hoteliers Should Use Geo-Location Networks to Market Their Services!

For many months online buzz has surrounded Foursquare and Gowalla. Major retailers including Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Gap are offering discount vouchers on Foursquare to generate business to their outlets.

In mid-September, Facebook launched Facebook Places in the UK, a feature that lets users share their location via their mobile phones. This launch puts Facebook in competition with other location-based social networking sites like Foursquare and Gowalla. Facebook Places is now available in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom and is expected to spread across the world soon.

While Foursquare and Gowalla have relatively fewer users than Facebook, they have more established geo-locality expertise and their user-base is increasing every day. Facebook with over 500M users will have a major impact on geo-location marketing and is expected to take it to the next level; if it gets it right. From a consumer’s point of view however, there are privacy concerns and Facebook is reasonably thorough in explaining how the Facebook Places feature will work and how to ensure your privacy is maintained.

From a brands perspective the geo-location feature offers countless opportunities. Like retailers, hotels can benefit immensely by using such features to promote their services and connect with fans/followers who are close by. The question is how can a hotel develop a geo-location strategy.

Geo-location like any other form of marketing requires proper planning. To use Facebook Places, you must firstly have a Facebook page. Facebook Places, like Gowalla and Foursquare, allow smart-phone users using the geo-location applications to check-in to Facebook Places and let others (friends, colleagues and people in their network) see where they are. In Gowalla and Foursquare it is possible to see comments and reviews posted by people who have visited listed restaurants, pubs, etc. This provides invaluable and timely marketing for your business which is much more effective than traditional review sites.

Based on users’ locations, a hotel can implement a timely and well executed strategy to target them and create interest for their different facilities. This provides a unique opportunity to reach and interact with your followers in real-time. Some of the benefits in using Facebook Places and other geo-location sites like Foursquare and Gowalla are the ability to:

- Promote last minute offers;

- Create demand for additional services such as restaurants, bars, spa etc.;

- Identify yourself and give close-by users a reason to experience your services;

- Create real-time communication/marketing;

- Share the guest’s location with other friends creates buzz and give them reasons to visit your hotel;

- Offer discounts and vouchers to make your products and/or services more appealing; and

- Create a daily campaign/s to drive interest to your specific products and services in a specific location – especially if you have more than one property.

Location has always been one of the most important components of a hotel marketing strategy. New tools and geo-location based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and now Facebook Places, have made it easier to integrate all marketing and communication efforts to create attractive campaigns to reach your target audience in real-time.

It is time to formulate an effective geo-location marketing approach that will benefit you the most. You must be aware of where your guests are and how to make your services more appealing to them on the go. Experience is everything and as a hotelier you must be ready to provide consistency across all channels. It is still in early days however retail industry explored the potential of this type of marketing with promotions and related messages and managed to increase the footfall to their specific branches. Hoteliers can follow the suit however need to spend more time in the planning and offering more relevancy and personalised offers.

Not sure where to start, get in touch ith us. We will help you plan and develop your location based marketing tailored to your needs.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

SEO Friendly Flash Website Design

Flash websites have become an important part of web development projects for many businesses. They are very attractive and significantly more engaging. However a Flash website design project requires more detailed planning than those using full HTML from both search crawl-ability and SEO points of view. Search engines spiders have not favoured Flash for a long time but recently, changes in search algorithms have reversed the trend and Flash websites are again ranking highly on search result pages. Google now indexes textual content in Flash sites, however, if sites use Flash files and imbedded text only, Google still cannot recognise them. Yahoo on the other hand is working closely with Adobe to increase the Flash website crawl-ability. The results indicate increased ranking for Flash sites.

To overcome such hurdles, we recommend engaging expert support from a professional web development company like e-HotelServices. To get your Flash site indexed by search engines spiders you must start with the basic SEO implementation, removing the unnecessary scripts and codes but also keeping your website updated in response to constant changes in the search algorithms. Below, we have listed some recommendations that will help you increase the SEO-friendliness of your Flash website.

Creating an SEO Friendly Flash Website

Basic SEO

You must ensure tags such as title tags, alt tags, headlines, text and file names are relevant and properly drafted. It is even more important to do the basics right in Flash website as it does not have the flexibility of a full crawliability like HTML sites??


Single version URL issue makes it harder as search engines can only see and index one page. It is also risky as the ranking given will be most probably relevant with the keywords and title of the homepage. To overcome these issues use short URLs and with no sessions or many parameters is important. However search engines robots can index long and dynamic URLs, using short and the most relevant version will make it easier from crawliability point of view??

Title & Meta Tags

You must create the most relevant homepage title and meta tags for your website. This will make the process easier for search engines to spot your website and categorise it.

HTML Version of Your Site

To make sure your website does not miss any SEO related ranking; you should consider building your website in both HTML and Flash. This will make life easier for search engine spiders when indexing your site. It will also give choices to the website users on how to choose to view your website.

Loading Times

According to the recent attempt from Google, page loading speed is getting more and more important from ranking point of view. If your website is flash the loading time will be inevitably longer than the HTML version and that could be cause a problem in addition to the flash from seo point of view.

It is important to think about your target audience and how your website will interact with them. If your target audience are more likely to be interested in the visual aspects and willing to wait until the page is loading then developing a flash website makes sense. More importantly if your flash website does not have high ranking or developed in seo-friendly manner you will be losing business. We recommend analysing the situation and looking from different perspectives to make sure your site is build within seo in mind to get the desirable ranking. In an ideal world a website visitors decides whether or not to spend time and view other pages within the first 5 seconds.

SWFObject 2

SWFObject is an easy-to-use and standards-friendly method to embed Flash content, which utilizes one small JavaScript file)
This is another method of using Flash replacement to make your website more visible to search engines spiders.

Flash Site Tracking

Google currently offers the capability of tracking Flash content embedded in a web page. To use Flash tracking in Google Analytics there are two options:
- Using the visual tools inside Flash; and
- Setting up the tracking object in the code (your webpage/s code).

There are different ways of setting up tracking. For more information please refer to Google Analytics Flash Tracking to find out more.

For Google Analytics Tracking for Adobe Flash please visit to get more information.

To build (in Flash) or Not to Build

When building a commercial website as a general rule it is recommended that you build it in HTML. Although Google and other search engines have increased their indexing capabilities for Flash sites, they are still facing technical problems and more technical improvements are needed to overcome this issue. Our recommendation is to use HTML for content and navigation to make the website more accessible and search engine friendly. Always add textual content in flash files including menus, buttons and banners of flash websites to increase the crawliability. Many flash pages load via Javascript which makes it difficult to search engines notice the text and index the website.

Before building a Flash website you must have an understanding of how Flash sites are ranked and you must monitor the changes in the search algorithms regarding flash and other coded functionalities. Working closely with a digital web development agency like e-HotelServices will give you the opportunity to update your website according to the most recent changes in search algorithms keeping it SEO friendly. From coding to content plus on-page and off-page activities, many improvements can be made to increase the ranking of your Flash website.