Hotel Internet Marketing
Expedia shares fell more than 4% Tuesday on concern the online travel company may have lost traffic to its website after being caught trying to artificially boost the traffic it gets through Google’s search engine. Expedia’s website lost 25% of its visibility in Google search between Jan. 12 and 19, according to data from third-party search analytics firm Searchmetrics. That happened while other travel sites such as Priceline, TripAdvisor and Kayak were stable or gained visibility through Google searches, Marcus Tober, founder of Searchmetrics, told USA TODAY. Searchmetrics is analyzing more data on websites that link to Expedia.com, but initial results from this effort suggest that Expedia was paying for some of these links, Tober added in an interview. More links from other sites is one factor that can boost a website’s ranking in Google searches.
Google likely penalized Expedia for such activity by removing credit for many, or all, of these links from its search engine, Tober explained. Expedia shares were down 3.9% at $67.22 in afternoon trading on Tuesday. “While we cannot verify the accuracy of the Searchmetrics report, we have seen Google penalize other companies for trying to do the same,” Brian Nowak, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, wrote in a note to investors. Start-up Rap Genius suffered similar treatment by Google in late 2013. The firm was reinstated after ending an affiliate program that encouraged bloggers to insert links to its website into their posts.
A Google spokesman declined to comment when asked about Expedia on Tuesday. Dave McNamee, a public relations representative for Expedia, said the company will not be commenting. Matt Cutts, head of the company’s Webspam team, warned this week that creating guest blogs to generate more links for a website “has become a more and more spammy practice.” For years, companies have paid so-called search engine optimization firms to help them boost search rankings for their websites. One technique involves setting up other websites that have links to the main site. However, Google requires these extra sites to be marked “no follow” so that its search engine does not give the links credit in results. When that does not happen, Google sometimes takes action and asks the companies involved to mark these extra websites properly. If Google gets the right response, it often re-instates the companies’ main sites.
SOurce : usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/01/21/expedia-google-search-traffic/4719917/
It took Google $3.2 billion in cash last week to snatch up digital thermostat company Nest. And it took a small startup about 24 hours to hack together a working equivalent of Nest’s signature product a few days later. That would be terrible news for Google – if the search giant’s chief interest in Nest was hardware. But as is the case with its purchase of robotics heavyweight Boston Dynamics, or even its dabbling in self-driving cars, Google’s acquisition of Nest isn’t just about creating new revenue opportunities – it’s about expanding the nodes and sensors it uses to collect data on our world. After the blockbuster sale, Spark in Minneapolis, a Nest competitor that makes kits so folks can build their own smart devices, managed to put together a similar Internet-connected thermostat that senses when you’re in the room. Of course, Spark’s hack isn’t as slick as an actual Nest product. CEO Zach Supalla laughs when asked where his company’s quick replication comes up short: “Lots of places.” He lauds Nest’s user interface and stylish design, but says that with more than a day’s work, many designers could get close to Nest’s aesthetic.Undoubtedly, that’s not lost on Google. There are only so many clever ways to manage the heat, and there’s lots of interest in mimicking a successful product. Numbers on Nest’s market penetration are tough to pin down, and the company doesn’t say much. In December, Nest CEO Tony Fadell told Forbes that 1 percent of American homes had Nest devices – a number worth taking with a very large grain of salt. Much of Nest’s value is in its production chain, installed customer base and the talented engineers who built the product. But from the perspective of a company like Google, Nest’s value goes much farther than that.That’s because Nest has built a following thanks to “smart” devices, which memorize users’ habits to predict what they want. “The machine learning aspect is really powerful,” Supalla said. “It observes your presence. It kind of figures you out, and makes your home more comfortable.”
But to do this?
“Sure, you need algorithms, but you really need data,” he said.
Google has been educating machines since Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed PageRank, the algorithm that basically organized today’s Internet. Google’s special sauce has always been the way it responds and adapts to human behaviors and environments as we search and surf the Internet. Becoming a company that pays the bills with advertising was simply a side effect, the best way to make money from its artificial intelligence.
Information the goal
Michael Mace, founder of informatics outfit Zekira, noted on Monday in a blog post that “Google’s mission statement to ‘organize the world’s information’ is no longer a meaningful guide to its actions. To me, the company looks less and less like a unified product company and more and more like a postmodern conglomerate.” But information is the unified product. And laying claim to the pipes, whether smart thermostats or Google Fiber, to route it all back to Mountain View is its game.Google says it will be hands-off with Nest’s brand and strategy; the company of 200 already knows its business. As always, Google will stay out of producing the hardware. Remember, this is a company that gives away its Android operating system to smartphone makers and outsources construction of Google-branded Nexus and Chromebook products.
Google doesn’t want to make machines, it just wants the ones and zeros that come out of them.
But let’s not assume that knowing whether your toes are toasty is the limit. Power consumption habits say a lot. In 2011, a group of University of Washington researchers showed they could figure out what programs you were watching on television by the patterns of energy coming into the home. Such data would be invaluable for anyone in the information business, whether it comes through a Nest device or a homemade one. “That’s the kind of thing you can’t build in a day,” Supalla said.
Source : sfgate.com/technology/article/Google-buys-Nest-to-feather-its-data-trackers-5160286.php
Two years after they paid $42 million for the Rittenhouse Hotel and its adjoining apartments and parking and began spending $10 million on upgrades, Philadelphia-based brothers Jay and Neil Shah are offering some of the most expensive hotel rooms in the city. For $1,100 to $1,700 – enough to rent an apartment for a month in many city neighborhoods – you can spend the night in one of the Rittenhouse’s five new Park suites. For $3,000, you can stay in the Presidential or Chairman suites. (Other rooms list as low as $299 a night.) In recent years, Hersha has sold dozens of suburban hotels and acquired midmarket and pricier ones in New York, Miami, Boston, Washington, and Southern California. It’s a step up for the Shahs’ publicly traded hotel company, Hersha Hospitality Trust, which operates 50 hotels with 8,000 rooms for Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and other chains across the United States. Hersha was launched by their father, immigrant engineer Hasu P. Shah, who moved to Pennsylvania for a job in state government, bought his first motel in Harrisburg in 1984, named the company for his wife, and still chairs the board.
The 116-room Rittenhouse – sometime Philly home of visiting entertainment personalities (Bruce Willis, Mick Jagger, Oprah Winfrey) under past operator David Marshall – is “our first luxury hotel,” and a model for more, said Jay Shah, the Cornell and Temple Law/M.B.A. grad who serves as Hersha’s CEO. “Philadelphia is a challenging hotel market,” said his brother Neil, a University of Pennsylvania and Harvard graduate who is Hersha’s chief operating officer. “It hasn’t had the corporate demand that produces the high rates and revenues you need to justify major investments, and it hasn’t had nearly the growth you see in New York, Boston, L.A., or Miami.”
Investing in the Rittenhouse, the brothers are betting on their expertise, the hotel’s modest size, its location in the prime residential-retail-restaurant Rittenhouse Square neighborhood close to offices and tourist sites, and their cultivation of their neighbors in the local business elite.
How’s that working?
“They are now the primary hotel we use for visiting clients,” William Sasso, chairman of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young L.P., a 200-lawyer corporate firm based in Philadelphia, said of Rittenhouse’s Park rooms. “If a partner with a big new client wants to showcase Philadelphia, I don’t have any hesitancy saying, ‘Be on Rittenhouse Square, in this world-class hotel.'” “When we have people coming to town, where do they stay? It’s a two-horse race: the Rittenhouse and the Four Seasons,” said banker Richard Green, chief executive of Whitemarsh-based Firstrust Bank, the biggest bank based in suburban Philadelphia. “At the Four Seasons, the restaurant is spectacular,” with its Fountain Room views of the Parkway museums, “but they know the hotel could use a little freshening,” Green said. “Lately, the Rittenhouse is where everybody wants to stay. I think this will prompt the Four Seasons to respond.” Indeed, the Four Seasons said Wednesday that it planned to move out of its 357-room space into a 200-room home atop Comcast Corp.’s proposed tower, the highest in town, scheduled for 2017. That “hotel in the sky” will cost an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 per room to build, implying room rates above $500 a night, said commercial real estate broker Robert Fahey, executive vice president at CBRE Inc.’s Philadelphia office. That’s more like Manhattan than Center City. “The lobby is going to be perched on the top floor. It will take Philadelphia hotels to a new level,” said Ann Armstrong, Four Seasons’ marketing director. Record room rates, too? “We haven’t gotten into pricing,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of studies.”
The Rittenhouse site “has always been superior to the Four Seasons’ location on Logan Square,” said Joseph Pasquarella, senior managing director at Integra Realty Resources, which advises institutional investors and banks on Philadelphia property values. He says he expects the Rittenhouse “will continue to gain market share” with the Shahs’ company in charge. But the Four Seasons’ planned move to the $1.5 billion Comcast tower means that hotel, part of a Toronto-based international chain, “will likely lead the market,” charging the city’s highest room rates “for years to come,” Pasquarella added.
Is there room for both – and other recent and planned high-end hotels?
“I don’t view Philadelphia as having nearly as rich an offering of hotels as most cities I go to,” said Richard Vague, a former bank and energy-marketing firm CEO-turned-venture capitalist who lives near Rittenhouse Square. “You have the Four Seasons, and a lot of times the function rooms are booked. And you have the Rittenhouse, which was in need of attention, and which Jay and Neal Shah are really taking up a couple of steps,” with its “intimate” Library bar, in-house restaurants, and pending renovations to its spa and other amenities, Vague said. “The Rittenhouse has started putting together the best rooms in Philadelphia,” said developer Mark Nicoletti of Gladwyne, who said the Shahs had advised his Philadelphia Suburban Development Corp. in its own hotel venture. “Philadelphia loves the Four Seasons. We’re there all the time for weddings, we meet important people for breakfast there, the location is perfect, the execution flawless,” but it has become “predictable” and “less energetic,” Nicoletti maintains. The new Hotel Monaco draws both “high-level CEOs and young, cool people; it is like being on vacation.” The Ritz “has a nice lobby.” All are part of high-service multinational chains.
But Hersha “is onto something special” with the Rittenhouse, Nicoletti added. He cataloged the extra touches: Its new bathrooms are oversized, like in today’s high-end new residences. The furniture seems individual; the room art feels distinctive. “It’s like the Shahs are sharing their living room, establishing an example,” Nicoletti said. There’s also a bit of hometown pride at work, he concluded: “I don’t know the people who own the Four Seasons. I don’t know who owns the Ritz. I know who owns the Rittenhouse. They’re based in Philadelphia.”
Source : philly.com/philly/business/20140119_Rittenhouse_Hotel_moves_up_under_its_new_owners.html
Among the countries in the region, Russia reported the largest number of rooms under construction (11,372 rooms). Following are: United Kingdom (10,285 rooms); Turkey (7,806 rooms); Germany (6,465 rooms); and the Netherlands (2,795 rooms). The Europe hotel development pipeline comprises 864 hotels totalling 142,953 rooms, according to the December 2013 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report. The total active pipeline data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages but does not include projects in the Pre-Planning stage.
Among the countries in the region, Russia reported the largest number of rooms under construction (11,372 rooms). Following are: United Kingdom (10,285 rooms); Turkey (7,806 rooms); Germany (6,465 rooms); and the Netherlands (2,795 rooms).
About STR Global
STR Global provides clients—including hotel operators, developers, financiers, analysts and suppliers to the hotel industry—access to hotel research with regular and custom reports covering Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and South America. STR Global provides a single source of global hotel data covering daily and monthly performance data, forecasts, annual profitability, pipeline and census information. STR Global is part of the STR family of companies and is proudly associated with STR, RRC Associates, STR Analytics, and Hotel News
Source : hotelnewsresource.com/article75889.html
When our internet-connected gadgets and home appliances all learn to talk to each other, Google wants to be at the center of the conversation. This imagined future is still a few years away, but Google is already preparing with its $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs. The surprise deal announced earlier this week will provide Google with more tools to build a valuable hub for homes. It’s a world of network-tethered toasters and tea kettles, or a so-called ” Internet of Things,” that is destined to reshape society, experts say, in the same way that smartphones have done in the seven years since Apple unveiled the iPhone.
The research firm Gartner expects more than 26 billion objects to be connected to the internet by 2020, a figure that doesn’t include personal computers, smartphones or tablets. That would be a nearly 30-fold increase from roughly 900 million internet-connected things in 2009.
Google established itself as an instrumental player in smartphones with the 2008 release of Android, a free operating system that runs on more mobile devices than any other piece of software. Now, the company is gearing up for the advent of the smart home with the help of Nest Labs, a 300-employee company started in Palo Alto, Calif. less than four years ago. Tony Fadell, Nest’s founder, is an Apple veteran who helped design the iPod and the iPhone. As influential as smartphones have become, their role in understanding people’s habits and preferences could be eclipsed once everything in the home has a computer chip and is connected to the internet.
“Google bought Nest in order to learn about this world where even more information is going to be accessible by computers,” said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett.
Nest Labs quickly won over gadget lovers with its 2011 release of an Internet-connected thermostat that learns to cool and heat homes to suit the needs of the inhabitants. Late last year, the company followed up with a smoke and carbon-monoxide detector equipped with voice technology and the ability to communicate with the company’s thermostat. Nest hasn’t said how many of its devices have been sold, though analysts believe they are in just a small fraction of homes. The products have only been available in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Google hasn’t disclosed its specific plans for Nest, but analysts anticipate an entire line of internet-connected home products will be coming to countries around the world. Some of those Nest devices could be melded with existing Google services in an effort to make people’s lives easier. Such a move also would provide Google with the means to gather more insight that could be used to sell the digital advertising that generates most of the company’s revenue.
In a blog post about the Google acquisition, Nest Labs co-founder Matt Rogers promised that customers’ personal information will only be used for “providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change.”
But that pledge won’t preclude Google from incorporating its services with Nest’s products, said Gartner analyst Angela McIntyre. For instance, Google already makes a digital assistant called “Google Now” that strives to learn what its users like and where they tend to go so it can provide helpful information without prompting. McIntyre believes Nest’s products will teach Google Now to become more helpful so it can increasingly take over more of the mundane tasks in people’s lives. “They need to gather as much information as they can to understand the context in how we live our lives,” McIntyre said.
Google also could plug its digital mapping software into Nest products so it could learn the layout of a home, said Brian Proffitt, a technology analyst who is also a management instructor at the University of Notre Dame. That knowledge could then be deployed to delegate such household chores as vacuuming to a robot that would be able to rely on the interior maps to navigate its way through an entire home without human help, Proffitt said.
A Google division run by Android creator Andy Rubin is working on various ideas for robots, though the Mountain View, California, company hasn’t shared many details about its goals. Google’s expansion into robotics is also being bolstered by a spate of acquisitions that included the recent purchase of Boston Dynamics, a US military contractor that has already built a variety of contraptions that can be programmed to run at rapid speeds, leap high into the air and climb rocky terrains. Even as it explores various technological frontiers, Google still makes most of its money from advertising tied to search requests. Acquiring and developing products with internet connections and environmental sensors can only help Google get an even better grasp on people’s interests.
Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/internet/Why-Google-acquired-Nest/articleshow/28875849.cms
Nest Labs is a connected device company responsible for the Nest learning thermostat and the Protect smoke detector. Google has just announced its acquisition of Nest Labs for a whopping 3.2 billion dollars. Nest, founded by iPod creator Tony Fadell, creates connected devices for the home, such as the Nest learning thermostat – a thermostat that learns your heating and cooling habits and uses them to save you money, and the Protect smoke detector – a smoke detector that can tell you exactly where and how a fire is breaking out in your house.
Nest will continue to operate independently following the accquistion, co-founder and CEO Tony Fadell told the Verge. He says that co-founder Matt Rogers will make the move to Google, while he will stay and manage Nest. He also confirms that Nest will continue to support Apple and iOS products going forward.
Google Ventures had already invested tens of millions of dollars in Nest, so the company has been on Mountain View’s radar for some time now. It says the acquisition should be finalized over the next couple of months. It’s unclear what Google plans to do with Nest, but with the emergence of products such as Google Glass, I’m sure it will be able to find a use for Nest’s devices and technology.
“We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!” said Google CEO Larry Page in an official statement. I’ve never really heard of Nest until now, but if Google seems to think that it’s worth $3.2 billion, it may be a company to keep a close eye on.
Source : escapistmagazine.com/news/view/131286-Google-Buys-Nest-Labs-For-3-2-Billion#AfPEkrgHsW68XPgI.99
Is having an active Google+ profile and linking it to the content you post online, an identity-verification process known as Google Authorship, worth the effort? “Yes,” say some search engine optimization (SEO) experts. Among SEO trends anticipated for 2014, it will be “absolutely critical” to invest in your Google+ presence, says Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of content marketing/social media marketing firm AudienceBloom. DeMers cites Moz’s 2013 SEO ranking factors study, which suggests Google+ is playing an “increasingly significant” role in search engine rankings. “Establishing Google Authorship of your content and tying it to your Google+ account,” DeMers says, should be “an immediate area of focus.” “Yes,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. In his 2013 book, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Schmidt writes about the importance of being a verified, trusted author in the eyes of Google’s search engine: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.” Schmidt writes. Here”s the kicker: “The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
“Not so much,” counters Shari Thurow, founder and SEO director of Omni Marketing Interactive and author of When Search Meets Web Usability. “I wish someone would put a gag on Eric Schmidt and shut him up,” she joked during a session at September’s SES 2013 San Francisco conference. Thurow says Google+ and Google Authorship aren’t necessary to achieve high Google search result rankings and increase click-through rates to your content from search results. She also says Google Authorship tends to elevate people who are better at self-promotion over true subject matter experts, which is who Google Authorship is supposed to showcase. So what’s the fuss about? Here’s what you need to know about Google+, Google Authorship, Google Author Rank – which isn’t the same thing – and SEO.
The Back Story on Google Authorship and Google Author Rank
Google introduced its Facebook competitor, Google+, in 2011. The same year, it came out with Google Authorship. Link your Google+ profile to your content via Google Authorship, the idea goes, and you help Google verify your identity – and build your brand as a subject matter expert. Google Authorship adds a thumbnail of your Google+ profile picture to the search result “rich snippet” for your content, such as a bylined blog post:
A rich snippet provides more detail or context than a standard snippet. (Google’s Webmaster Tools offers more explanation about rich snippets.) In theory at least, the presence of a person’s photo in a rich snippet can encourage searchers to click through to the content, thereby helping it gain more exposure. In short, Google Authorship tells Google who wrote which articles, says Eric Enge, CEO of digital and content marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting. The biggest known, current benefit to Google Authorship, he adds, is having your picture show up in your content’s search results. Then there’s Google Author Rank. It’s a term the SEO industry uses, but Google does not. As Enge explains, the thinking goes that Google Authorship is now, or in the future will be, a valued search engine algorithm signal, not unlike PageRank, that can impact search result rankings. (Google uses hundreds of algorithm signals that determine how a piece of content should be ranked based on a search query.) If Author Rank exists, or will exist, down the road, then linking your Google+ profile to your content could help elevate that content in search result rankings. “But to date, there is no evidence Google has truly begun to use Author Rank, and Google also publicly denies [it’s] using it,” Enge notes. In other words, Google Authorship is simply the linking of your Google+ profile to the content you publish online. Google Author Rank is a possible algorithm signal that may impact the search engine ranking of content verified via Google Authorship.
Tips: What 3 Big Google Updates Mean for Your SEO Strategy
It stands to reason that Google+, a Google product, offers some benefits to its users in terms of search engine rankings. “Google+ is the social network Google has direct access to,” Enge says. As a result, Google+ posts tend to get indexed in real-time by Google search engine crawlers. By comparison, Enge explains, Google doesn’t have full API access to Facebook and Twitter. “Google will use Google+ data first as it begins to use social signals more to determine search engine rankings, and it’ll use Google+ to help verify author identity.”
The Arguments Against Google+ and Google Authorship
Google Authorship “is a form of validation,” Thurow says, but “that’s all it’s good for.” Otherwise, she says she doesn’t see the benefit. As an example, Thurow cites a test with a healthcare client with a nationally known website that attracts 10 million unique visitors monthly. Thurow’s client was an early Google+ adopter and had linked the Google+ profiles of doctors contributing to the site to their content via Google Authorship. “We measured everything to a ‘T,’ and we found there was no difference in click through rates” as a result of Google Authorship, Thurow says. In terms of driving click through rates, the presence of a relevant keyword in search result snippets was far more important than author thumbnail photos, she adds.
Tips: 8 Things You Need to Know About SEO Now
Aside from not delivering more traffic to your content, Google+ and Google Authorship seems to be saying that, “in order to rank in Googles search engine, you have to do what we say. You have to use Google+ and link your profile to your articles,” Thurow says. “But most experts have more important things to do, like being experts in their fields,” she continues. “So in order for Google Authorship to succeed in its mission, genuine experts have to participate. And guess who doesnt care about Google+ and Google Authorship?” Instead, Google Authorship tends to showcase people who aren’t true subject matter experts – but are expert at building their own online profiles.
With Google Authorship, There Are No Guarantees
Of course, there’s no harm in being active on Google+ and linking your content to your profile. For some people, Thurow says, being active on Google+ and establishing Google Authorship might make sense. Examples include entertainment industry professionals and those whose clients are big Google+ users. If you’re truly an expert in your field and you publish good, useful, original content, your articles will most likely rank well on their own, Thurow adds – without Google+ and Google Authorship.
How-to: Deal With Panda, Penguin and Other Google Algorithm Changes
On the other hand, just because you have a Google+ profile and link it to your content, Enge says, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed better rankings – or even that your Google+ profile photo will accompany your search results. That’s because many people are using Google Authorship to promote spammy or useless content in search results. Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s Webspam team, recently announced that Google is working to keep authors who publish low-quality content from receiving the “rich snippet” treatment in search results. Cutts estimated this would affect about 15 percent of Google+ profiles authenticated with Google Authorship.
When in Doubt, Stick to SEO Basics
SEO tactics such as using Google Authorship come and go. The best long-term strategy, Thurow says, is staying focused on the four SEO basic building blocks: Keywords and labels for content, navigation, and documentation should be easy for both humans and search engines to understand. Site architecture, design and accessibility should make sense to people and computers. Your site should receive validation from objective third parties, such as links and social shares from other sites. Take into account searcher behavior when developing your site and its content. Know the most common searcher behaviors and create content and a labeling system that allows searchers to easily complete their goals. These building blocks haven’t changed since the early days of the Web, Thurow says. She recommends that marketers and online publishers always “look at the big picture” instead of getting distracted by such things as thumbnail profile pictures in search result snippets.
Source : cio.com.au/article/535311/does_google_authorship_matter_seo_/