Travel.com.au was one of the case studies at the Search Engine Room Search Engine Optimisation Conference in Sydney 20-21 March 2007. They say that they have boosted their unique visits by more than 30%.
Now a search engine conference should be showcasing top SEO, so I looked at the site with anticipation only to be sorely disappointed.
Why only 30% increase - I have achieved a 156% increase for one client.
I needed to book a Sydney Hotel, and the travel.com.au Sydney page was not top ten.
I had a look at their Sydney Hotels page - many basic SEO and usability issues on the page. Certainly not a showcase page.
- Sydney Hotels Title has “Sydney Hotels” at the front of the title - top marks. But does not make the most use of the phrase “Hotel Sydney” or “Hotels in Sydney”
- The meta description is the same as on most other pages, and has not been specifically crafted to include the search phrases of the page.
- No H1 on the page
- No opening paragraph, no text on the page for the phrase “Sydney Hotels”, nor “Hotels in Sydney”. Yes, most of the hotels had the text “Hotel Sydney”, but that is not a highly searched for phrase. It is not ranked in the top 50 for “Hotel Sydney”.
- A Google PR3 on the page, not too bad.
- Google has cached the page recently.
- The http://travel.com.au page correctly 301 redirects to http://www.travel.com.au/
- I wanted a Darling Harbour Hotel - the Sydney Hotels were not listed by suburb, rather were all on the same VERY LONG page.
- The page is using gzip compression, but this is to reduce a page from 1.7meg to 125k. Still a very large page.
- The text link on the site from http://www.travel.com.au/hotels.html used the phrase “Sydney Hotels - 4 star fr.$99” - not the optimal for getting ranked for the more exact “Sydney Hotels”
Now that was one page, but I found the same issues for other pages on the site. I didn’t find one page well SEO’ed
- “Australia Travel” http://www.travel.com.au/australia/r_aus
- Good title and meta description, however, no h1 nor opening paragraph.
- There are h2’s, but these do not include the main search phrase of “Australia travel”.
- The phrase “Austrlia Travel” is only mentioned once on the page, and this is almost at the bottom.
Update subsequent to conference
I had a talk with Tim Macdonaly at Search Engine Room, and an email with Zak Asani of Found Agency. They explained how travel.com.au had not yet rolled out the vast majority of its SEO recommendations. I talked with a number of other SEO consultants at the conference, and heard similar comments; that it is not easy to get the big corporates to implement SEO recommendations. A number of SEO Consultants are instead concentrating on Search Engine Marketing - Cost Per Click Google Adwords, Yahoo and MSN.
So the above analysis is not so much a study of bad SEO, but failure somewhere in the corporate will to implement. As SEO consultants, we should continue to push hard at getting SEO implemented, and not just settle for Google adwords accounts.