You've created a glowing, sparkling website for your business. You wrote descriptive captions about your tours. Uploaded eye-catching photos. Curated captivating content for a blog. SEOed to nth degree. And it's working. You're appearing high-up in Google search results, garnering high click-through rates, and growing your customer base.
Now don't undo all that good by ignoring smartphone and tablet owners using their devices to book their next experience. Especially considering this: The latest results of a study from Moovweb reveal that after some recent Google algorithm changes, sites without a mobile-friendly version available lost their Google search rankings for certain keywords. That's because Google's latest algorithm changes include a site's "mobile-friendliness" as a factor for ranking. You can check to see if your site is considered to be mobile friendly by Google by taking a closer look at the search display results.
So here's what tour and activity operators need to know to prevent slipping down Google rankings.
Improving Search Engine Rankings with a Mobile Site
When a traveler turns to Google to search for tours and activities in your area, what do they see? If your site is not appearing on the first few pages of search results, there's a good chance that this traveler will never even find you. Moovweb points out that losing even one spot or dropping out of the top 3 positions can mean up to 90-percent fewer visits to your site.
Since Google now accounts for mobile-friendliness, it's even more important to set up a mobile-friendly site for your prospective and current customers. What's more important is that your main site—the full version that contains all of your company information, tour and activity descriptions, contact information, and booking buttons—maintains a high ranking on Google search. You can do this by implementing some basic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Make sure every page has been optimized for search by adding content with keywords that your customers are searching for, while also ensuring the titles and headlines of your website clearly communicate what you're offering. Take a look at our 10-point website checklist to make sure your site is both user-friendly and optimized for search.
The Case for Mobile-Friendly Websites
According to results of the Travel Weekly 2014 Consumer Trends Survey, approximately 38 percent of travelers have used a mobile device for a travel booking. This means more than one-third of travelers are likely to make a reservation and complete a booking using their smartphone or other mobile device. Your customers need to be able to read tour and activity descriptions, see a few photos, and book directly with their smartphone or tablet computer.
In order to capture those customers, the mobile user experience has to be a smooth and hassle-free one. Travel industry experts at Tnooz reveal that, “two out of five mobile shoppers have abandoned a travel booking on a mobile device due to poor user experience."
If your mobile site isn't easy to navigate or the user encounters any type of error when navigating the pages and checking out, there's a good chance they'll just leave altogether—and possibly make a reservation with one of your competitors.
Tips for Creating the Ideal Mobile Booking Experience
Tour and activity operators can implement a downsized version of their regular website for mobile devices. The only major changes between the regular site and the mobile version are fewer images and words for easy navigation, direct booking buttons, and clearly visible contact information.
Michael LaVista, founder and CEO of Caxy Interactive, tells CIO.com that simplicity is key: “Remember that you only have a few seconds to convey who you are as a company. This is true for any website design, but is particularly important when you are designing for smaller devices."
We shared some valuable website design tips from a webinar conversation with one of Apple's early designers, Johnni Manzari, here. He pointed out that prioritizing the components of a mobile experience is essential when designing the site, and that business owners need to put themselves in the customer's shoes and "think about it on a small screen."
You also need to make sure the user can go through a streamlined checkout process without having to turn to a desktop computer. When you've captured their attention with the mobile site, the next step is to walk them through the booking process and complete the reservation. Make use of an online booking software program like ZOZI Advance to place large "Book It!" buttons on your mobile site that lead the user directly to a secure checkout page. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the user to make their reservation.
Google has already prompted many website owners to meet the needs of today's mobile customers. If your tour and activity business website isn't designed for mobile devices, you may be missing out on a wealth of revenue opportunities. Set up a mobile-friendly website to complement your existing site and implement an online booking process so that visitors can make a reservation within a few clicks or screen taps.