The case study will be helpful to owners of hotels and restaurants and marketers in HoReCa. Let’s talk about how important it is not only to listen to the advice of experts on optimization and the creation of sites but also to hear them. And implement recommendations in time.
Business description and client’s tasks
Client: the owner of the resort hotel in Zatoka. The hotel has three buildings on the "first line" - directly by the sea. Competition in the niche is very high: in the search, you need to compete with the price aggregators, like Booking.
Hotel infrastructure: two swimming pools and a children’s pool, a restaurant, and a fully equipped private beach. In summer there is a children’s animation.
Client’s task: promote the hotel website, and provide reservations from it.
When contacting SPRAVA, the customer’s site was outdated.
Data by February 2014:
- Attendance: 7,100 visitors per month (May-June 2014)
- Bounce rate: 13,1%
- Devices: 76.6% were from PC
- Keywords: the hotel was well known by name. Thus website visitors were those who searched the hotel name directly or those looking for recreation centers.
Website’s CMS - Joomla. This CMS is old and difficult to program. Here are the technical problems on the site:
- It was impossible to make SEO-friendly URL;
- There have been persistent problems with duplicates and technical bugs in the formation of third-party pages, which caused periodic clogging of the site index in the search system;
- Implementing all the desires to improve usability was also tricky, as the site could fall irretrievably. Therefore, there was only basic work.
We have started work on website optimization and promotion.
The promotion was very traditional and not tricky, as at that time:
- The competition was not yet so developed in the search;
- Starting the Ukrainian resort in 2014 was extremely profitable - popularity has grown frequently. Zatoka became the resort #1, replacing the Crimea;
Work done on the website:
- semantic core collection and clustering
- technical bug fixing after development
- creation, filling, and optimization of landing sites.
The results of our work by 2016:
As you can see, in 2016, the share of mobile traffic increased significantly.
Oops № 1
The customer updated the site and put us before the fact, so we had to do optimization from the beginning.
Oops № 2 Project challanges
In 2018, the customer moved the site to WordPress.
At the end of 2018, we saw a new site. We were warned that there would be a new site but transferred the data without optimization, and we were faced with all work needing to be done again.
A company that does not deal with SEO has developed the website. Therefore we’ve met the following challenges:
- tab pages are available for indexing
- archived pages are also in the index
- media - all separate URL-addresses
- text content not transferred and no new one to replace
- a lot of attention was paid to the visual part, however, neglecting necessary elements for SEO
- optimization wasn’t moved, nor was the number of landing pages
- many modules that slowed down the site.
We had to fix everything on the active site without checking and transferring optimization on the subdomain. It led to a fall to almost zero positions. It was a period of January holidays; Ukrainian tourists do not book summer vacations. So we had time to carry out work and restore positions.
But the difficulty was that the visual part was important for our client, so he refused most of the SEO and usability recommendations, which entailed unsatisfactory results on reservations.
For the new site version 2018-2019 - we updated the semantic core and revised priority clusters and keywords to match the demand. If in 2014, at the start of the works, the main request was "rest in Zatoka," then since 2018 - the main keywords for promotion were "hotel in Zatoka/ hotel at the seaside."
Competition has grown, and the fight for traffic has won.
At the beginning of the summer’19 season, the client reported that the website is visited not completely by its target audience but by those looking for a vacation at lower prices. Consequently, many people, instead of studying the site, simply left. However, the bounce rate did not include such withdrawals because one had to look for accurate price information.
The customer realized that a beautiful website could be a better tool. Competition for tourists increased. In the middle of the summer of 2019, we were allowed almost everything to help fill the hotel. And we:
- Actively began to refine the landing pages and optimize the texts for them to meet the needs of users;
- Launched ad campaign in search, Google Ads.
In parallel, the client launched advertising on social networks.
And in September 2019, we revised the core for the 2020 season and included keywords in Ukrainian;
We started developing a new site on SPRAVA CMS. This CMS meets all the requirements of SEO. The new site structure was based on the client’s tasks and requirements of search engines.
Development of a new site on SPRAVA CMS
We launched a site with a new CMS by the beginning of 2020. The main reason for developing the new site was the constant cracking of the WordPress admin panel. Since the summer of 2019, we have noticed an ever-increasing load on the server. Earlier, we faced such a situation, and the reason for such a load was always the site's admin panel. In 90% of cases, developing a new website on a new CMS is much cheaper for the client than finding the cause of this load and trying to eliminate it.
But in this case, the client partially solved the problem by increasing the hosting package. It was enough to finish the active sales season, but the site was later hacked twice a month. At that time, we had already started the development of the new site. But it took a lot of time, at least, to restore the site's functionality. So part of the work on moving the optimization from the old site to the new domain had to be declined. And transfer optimization was already done on the domain when the new site was launched. It was a huge risk, but under the circumstances, it was the only option in which we would not lose all the site positions.
When the site was hacked (November-December 2019), there was a decrease of positions in total by 10%,
After the site was moved to the main domain, we recorded a drop of another 9% before the completion of work. However, the operational work of the SEO department allowed us to restore the position the following month after the completion of the work. For the next two months (February and March), the ranking recovered by 18%, almost complete, and we returned the site to the desired indicators.
It is also worth noting that the development added two more language versions, Ukrainian and English. According to the Law of Ukraine, "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language," we set the Ukrainian version as the main, which also affected the overall percentage of keywords in the top 10.
This is what the site looks like now.
Timely, beautiful, functional - take a look.
What happened to the website, 3:0
At the start:
- Developed a detailed semantic core;
- Clustered keywords;
- Further, once a year, we revise and update the core.
- We constantly worked on-page optimization - changed emphasis and algorithms and had to react, change and adjust continually.
- We also worked on off-page optimization:
- anchor list development;
- extension of the link profile based on the anchor list;
- checking backlink donors and declining low-quality ones.
For all the time of promotion, we were actually given "freedom of action" only when developing a new site on our CMS.
- We did all work on usability
- Additionally created new pages for new keywords
- We ordered many articles for landing pages from the copywriter
- Placed and designed pages based on the content that was before. For example, it was impossible to get new photos at the development stage, as the hotel was closed due to the lockdown, and we had to wait for its end.
- Also, in 2020, we implemented an extended snippet for the pages of the site (which are in the TOP 10):
Summary by the end of March 2020:
Of course, a lot of traffic was lost during the work and challenges, such as a refusal to implement our recommendations and the development of new sites (which were put on the domain and then reported to us without any optimization). However, the site's position is good and finally, after many years has the opportunity to develop without losing what is already there.
As of March 2020 (we just moved the new site to the domain and finished transferring SEO optimization): 38% of keywords in the TOP 10.
For example, the TOP-2 on the keyword "Hotel in Zatoka 2020" among sites-catalogs such as hotels24.ua, booking.com, etc.
As of January 2021, 73% of the keywords in the TOP 10 have been reached: on many leisure requests. For example: "rest in Zatoka 2021", "rest in Zatoka Odesa," "rest in Zatoka with swimming pool," "... with meals", and “... with children" - in Russian and Ukrainian variations.
This case shows how important it is for the client to inform the SEO specialist about his plans to work with the site before implementing, to follow the recommendations not based on the wishes of a particular person, but on the experience gained from their implementation. After all, if the client followed them, from 2014, the site would only increase traffic and bookings. And in this case, we returned several times to the beginning.
Do you know how much it took the client on another development (just one year after the previous one), Google Ads, and on advertising on social networks to fill his hotel?
And client could just "hear" the SEO specialist and give it to him before he put it on the domain. He could follow the recommendations and get the same traffic only 3-4 times cheaper.