Google Mobile-Friendly Update

google mobile updateToday is the official roll out of the Google mobile-friendly update. This means that mobile-friendly websites will get a boost in ranking while non-mobile-friendly sites will be forced to either become mobile-friendly or be dropped further down in the search engine results. According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, the boost in ranking will only be on searches performed on mobile devices, namely smartphones. Smart Insights reports that the mobile use for 2015 is very significant. Websites that are not mobile-friendly are set to lose a lot of traffic as most Internet users access the Web using smartphones of varied sizes. As many as 80% of Internet users use smartphones to access the Internet, according to Smart Insights.



What is a Mobile-Friendly Website

According to Google, a mobile-friendly website is one that, when accessed via a mobile device such as a smartphone, has readable text without requiring the user to zoom or tap the device to increase font size, linked (i.e. tappable) targets are spaced appropriately, and there is no need to scroll horizontally in order to view the entire page. In other words, the website pages must be nicely fitted onto whatever size of screen the user’s mobile device incorporates.

If you are wondering whether Google considers your website as mobile-friendly, you can use this mobile-friendly test page set up by Google.

Should SearchOps Clients Be Concerned

No. For the past 4 years, SearchOps and the parent company, TCK Media Group, has employed responsive Web design exclusively in all of our client work. Our websites feature pages that adjust to the size of any screen, from large desktops to small smartphones, while maintaining easy-to-read text and properly aligned images. If your site was built before then, please get in touch with us.

Only One Piece of the Puzzle

It is important to note, however, that mobile-friendly pages is just one signal out of many that Google uses to rank websites. Content is still the main driving force behind high ranking. Google makes this clear in their blog post, stating:

The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.

The full impact of the changes in the Google mobile-friendly update of the search giant’s algorithm will be seen after the roll out is complete.

For more info, you can check out the FAQ page that Google set up for this update.

Top 10 Travel Marketing Tips

The Web has helped open up the incredible variety of options for tourists. Today, most people prefer to search the Web for hotel, flight, and tours, and by-pass the travel agent altogether. This, in turn, has great benefits for the hospitality industry, especially the boutique hotels and tour operators. The Web offers these travel businesses a level playing field with the big hotel and resort chains. The only factors effecting the scales to go in favor of one or the other is knowledge and time. Knowledge in terms of what marketing efforts work and time, in terms of actual hours spent on what actually works. Here, we present top 10 travel marketing tips to help you succeed in your travel and tourism business online.

1. Plan Your Search Marketing Strategy Well

Don’t assume that if you have a website then people will come. Without a well planned search marketing strategy, your website will get traffic equivalent to a hotel off the beaten track without any signs leading to it. People will only stumble upon it by accident.

A well-thoughtout search marketing strategy includes natural or organic search optimization (SEO), as well as paid search optimization (PPC). Keyword research is critical for the same keywords may not be ideal targets for both SEO and PPC. This will depend much on budget. Higher competition and search volume keywords will translate into higher cost. Low competition keywords with search volume should be taken advantage of as they are generally easier to rank for well.

2. Build Relationships

Your goals should go beyond just the quick sale. You want to build lasting relationships where the guests feel like home so that they will want to return. Show that each guest is special. Even if they stay for one night at the cheapest room. This may be a way for them to test your accommodations or services. Invite their feedback, and stay in touch with them after they leave by asking them for their email address before they leave. Make sure that your website speaks like to a close friend or, better yet, a loved family member. Make sure your emails have warmth and show that you care. Keep the same spirit when you greet and take care of your guests.

3. Take Full Advantage of Reviews

Encourage reviews, especially when you receive positive comments. There are two very different reasons for someone to take the time to write a review: either they loved the experience or hated it. You definitely want to the first reason to be the key motivator. You can also encourage reviews by offering a discount for future stays or entry into a contest to win a free night or a tour, etc.

4. Use Social Media to Spread the Word

Social media is a daily part of life for many. It allows people to connect across long distances and not-so-long distances. However, if you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn accounts for your business then you are missing on a lot of opportunities to reach new and repeat customers, as well as build relationships. Today email is not the only way to stay in touch. Social media is a great way to keep your members up-to-date. You can post short comments, photos, videos, testimonials, and more. As your list of followers, likes, and friends grows, so does the level of trust in your offerings. By the way, don’t forget to follow us @tckmedia. 😉

5. Write a Travel Blog

There are many benefits to having a travel blog that is regularly updated. It can act as an inspiration to travelers. It can provide a better picture in what to expect which in turn builds confidence and removes fears of the unknown. Probably the most important benefit is that it will aid greatly in the natural search ranking of your website. There is no doubt that spending an evening here and there to add a few posts during the week is a small price to pay. Even if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, surely someone on staff or even an outside agency can do this for you at a reasonable price.

6. Build an Affiliate Network

There are many high quality websites that rely, at least in part, on affiliate sales. If you can tap into these sites then this can lead into potentially a lot of bookings. Websites that are ideal for affiliate sales include travel blogs, comparison sites, online travel guides and other niche travel sites. You can contact them directly to build your own network, or join an existing affiliate network such as Commission Junction or LinkShare or similar.

7. Have Consistent Online & Offline Marketing

Ensure that your marketing is harmonious across all media, be it print, video, radio, Web, and otherwise. This means have your website and social media url’s on all collateral and clearly visible. Most people use multiple media devices at the same time such as TV and tablet or computer. Encourage them to get more info online.

8. Build an Email List

In the course of a day, week, and month, you may run into a lot of people. Some may book with you, most probably won’t. Some of those that won’t may be shopping around, or you may meet for other reasons. Whatever the case, make sure you collect business cards, ask for email addresses and have an email subscription form on your website.

9. Personalize

If you personalize your emails to the interests of the recipients, the more likely you will get positive responses and less likely your email will be marked as spam. For example, a couple without children will not be interested in family vacation packages, and a family with kids will not be interested in adults only resorts.

10. Make it Easy to Book

One of the biggest mistakes would be to get the visitor to your website and then make it difficult to book a reservation for him or her. It is, of course, important to have a phone number clearly visible on all the pages but also it is important to have an easy to use online booking form.

Domain Names and SEO

There are many factors effecting search engine optimization and ultimately placement in the search engine results pages. One of the most overlooked factors is the domain name. Too many businesses don’t spend the necessary time and resources to research the best possible domain for their business. This is a very important step since the domain name is the identity of the business or company. A website may undergo a number of changes and redesigns over the life of the business but a domain name will stay the same. It should because changing a domain name will impact any SEO gains, at least in the short term, or permanently, if the switch is not done correctly. Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a domain name:

1. Age of the domain name

It is a very well known fact that an aged domain name, or a domain name that has been registered for a number of years, will be treated very differently than a brand new freshly registered domain. Due to the fact that so many domains are registered for a year and then dropped, many by squatters and spammers, Google keeps domains that are less than a year old in what is referred to as a “sandbox”. That is, way down in the search results and of low importance. The older the domain name, the more credibility it will have with Google.

The question then is, how do you acquire an aged domain name? There are many options available. You can hire a domain broker to research best possible options for you in the aftermarket. A domain aftermarket is where domain owners put up their registered domains for sale. If you find a domain that would be a perfect fit for your business and it is not being fully utilized (or has a for sale sign), you can reach out to the owner. However, be warned that aftermarket domains are not cheap. Your best option again would be a domain broker to negotiate the best possible deal for you.

2. Length of domain registration

Domains that are registered one year at a time and renewed one year at a time are treated with caution by Google since there is a strong possibility that the domain is registered for short term and may be dropped or forgotten to be renewed. Domains that are registered for multiple years at a time demonstrate that the owners are serious about building a brand around the domain and it will be around for a long period of time. Again, this builds credibility. Any website built on a domain that has a renewal period of 5 years, for example, will be taken more seriously by Google than one that will expire in 1 year.

3. Length of domain name

If you are an established company, then the choice of the domain name is pretty clear: it should match the name of your company. What if there are other companies that have the same name operating in different parts of the country or the world? In this case, you can add ‘inc’, ‘ltd, ‘int’ or ‘group’ or something else that makes sense. You can also look at other extensions such as .net or your country’s extension (i.e. country code).

Another option is to choose a domain the exactly matches the description of your services. For example, if your business name is PV Estates and you sell real estate in Puerto Vallarta but the domain is taken by a realty in another part of the world. You may opt to acquire as a descriptive name that would make the perfect choice.

The caution here is to choose as short as possible domain name. Ideal is exact match of your company name or exact match of your services. Do not exceed more than 3 words in the domain.

4. Extension of the domain name

It is clear that .com is still the king of domain extensions. The original three extensions, .com .net and .org, still have the most value in search rankings. If you do business mainly in your country’s area then a country code extension for your country would be on top of your list of options. It is yet unclear how Google will view the new alternative extensions such as .guide, .services, .club, .agency, etc. If you decide to register a domain name with one of the new extensions be sure that the right of the dot matches a word in your company name or description of your business. For example, if your name is Global Ventures, then it makes sense to acquire Global.Ventures as your domain. But would not make sense. If your business is financial services, then it makes sense to acquire Financial.Services but not


It is important to note that the domain name is only one factor of many. A domain name alone will not guarantee good search engine positioning. It can help however. At the same time, a poorly chosen domain name does not spell poor search engine positioning either if SEO is done very well.

If you are looking for the perfect domain name for your business then Search Ops can research for you the best possible options.

Dot Com Has Reached 30 Years. Will It Last Another 30?

Exactly 30 years ago last Sunday (March 15th, 1985) was registered the very first dot com domain: Symbolics. It was registered by a computer tech company that has since long gone bankrupt and today it is owned by investments. They have built the site into kind of an Internet nostalgia website. has published an article on the 30th anniversary of .com. It highlights how the Internet went from being so obscure in the early to mid 1990’s to a household name today propelled by the popularity of the .com domain extension, or suffix. Only some five other domains joined in 1985. By 1987 just 100 .com domains were registered. During the so-called “dot-com bubble” between 1995 and 2000 registrations sky-rocketed from 9,005 to over 20 million. Today, the Internet impacts global economy into the trillions of dollars, mainly led by the dot com.

The dot com domains continue to go up in the price and sell at premium while other extensions trail far behind. However, the CNN article raises the question whether the release of many new extensions into the market such as .club, .guide, .media, .money, etc., etc., spell the slowing of the .com popularity eventually leaving it behind in favor of the newcomers. The domain news blogging website,, even posted an article quoting the CNN piece with the title: Will .Com Even Be A Thing in 50 Years? Our title here kind of blends the titles of the two articles mentioned. Then an article at asks: Will the world’s best-know web domain soon be obsolete? Here is why .com will never fade into obscurity, or become obsolete, but rather will continue to be more popular than ever.

Do you remember Internet catch-words that defined certain eras in the history of the World Wide Web? Words like “virtual reality”, “web-sticky”, “cyberspace”, “chat room”, or “information superhighway” have had their day but were short-lived and become obsolete. BBS, or bulletin-board system, that was so popular in the 1980’s and early 90’s, only lasted about 18 years until the Internet made that system obsolete. Then too were other extensions released after .com but that never took off, such as .mobi, .name and .us. The fact that .com has continued to not only maintain it’s position as KING of domain extensions but continues growing in popularity for over 30 years is a true statement to its durability and staying power. In addition to the test of time, .com has also survived the crisis of the dot-com bubble bust and has risen out of the ashes, as it were, stronger than ever.

30 years later, extensions are as important as ever in connecting the offline and online worlds together. So important, in fact, that the internet industry regulator ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is in the process of accepting applications and granting rights to certain organization to operate new TLD’s (top-level domains or extensions) numbering in the thousands, to account for future growth. Many are available today for the public to register, such as .club, .guide, .media, .luxury, .photography, .pub, .solutions, .technology, .restaurant, .today, .guru, .tips, .estate, .zone, to name just a few. However, .com continues to be the leader and best known suffix with no signs of slowing down.

When Should You Consider a Website Redesign

A well built and designed website should last and be an agent of profit to a company for years. Now, whether this is few or many years really depends on the company itself and the changing winds of its goals, market needs, competition, offerings, etc. However, there are times when a redesign should be considered imminently. Here are top 5 reasons why a company should consider a redesign of their website.

Reason #1: Cheap Web design or DIY service was used

This one is quite obvious and happens too many times. A cheaply done website feels just that: cheap. It is usually boxy, has poor color, layout, minimal content, to name just a few things. Above all, these websites get very little results on the search engines. When a company opts to use a DIY (or Do-It-Yourself) service, the resulting site is usually bare in content and looks like it was built on a cheap or free template. Furthermore, such a company likely has zero knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so traffic from search engines will be non-existent or extremely low and non-targeted at best. If this was your first option, then having a website redesigned by a professional can have monumental benefits to your business: search engine traffic, professional design across all platforms, much higher conversion rate, project an image you can be proud off.

Reason #2: Your website is too difficult to navigate

Sometimes websites are so rushed to completion or built back when user experience took a back seat to page prettiness. The result is that content has been placed in a non-coherent or non-logical manner that makes it very difficult for visitors to find the information they are looking for. Additionally, years ago the prevalent practice was to make text and navigation elements small resulting in making these very difficult to read, especially on smaller screens such as tablets that are in popular usage today. Another problem is with outdated code on navigation that makes it difficult to click on drop-down menus, etc. If any of this is the case with your website, then updating the design, content, and navigation will make sense and result in greater conversion rate as well as better search engine indexing.

Reason #3: Your website is too difficult to update

If your website is a static design then updating the content is difficult and expensive because you need to call your Web designer every time you want to update your site. Today content is more important than ever and should be updated on a regular basis to keep the website fresh and climbing on the search engine results pages. For example, you may want to have a blog section on your website that you can update weekly or daily even, you may want to update the website with most recent products or customer testimonials. In such a case, it makes sense to redesign your website and having it built on a content management system (CMS). A CMS will allow you to access your site and edit the content without effecting the design elements. This also will make the site less costly to redesign in the future, if you wish, since all the content will be preserved as it will be kept separate from the design aspects.

Reason #4: Your website has old code and error pages

Was your website designed back when Web standards were weak and not followed very often? Have some pages been removed over time due to them being irrelevant and no longer needed while the links have not been updated? Has some of the code stopped working because the server side language has been updated many times over the years (i.e. your contact form)? If this is true in your case then a complete redesign makes sense. You can take this opportunity to build a fully functional website that is Web standards compliant and has code that is compatible with today’s much more secure sever side code.

Reason #5: Your website was hacked

This may be a complete hack where your website has been totally defaced or, it may be the more common hack where code has been injected into your site or unwanted links placed to unsavory websites (such as pornographic or gambling sites). If this is the case then your website is very outdated and has very poor security. Strong measures must be taken, which should include redesign consideration.


These are just 5 reasons where website redesign should be considered. There obviously are more but these are the 5 we feel are major reasons and probably most common ones. The final decision lies with you whether redesign is right for you. Timing and your marketing strategy will have a lot of weight on your decision. As in anything in life, the old adage is also true in Web design, “You get what you pay for”, so a thorough research should be taken of any company considered to redesign your website. You need to ask yourself: “Would I prefer to burn $300 or invest $3000?”

Why Monthly SEO is Important

There are over 1 billion searches performed a day on Google and an overwhelming 94 percent of these click on organic search results. With Google changing their algorithm on a daily basis and competitors doing regular on-going SEO, agencies have a challenge to keep their clients on top of the results with limited budgets and limited time frames. It is important for clients to understand that monthly SEO is critical to their short and long term success.

There is a reason why the organic search results are called just that, organic. Because like organic things in the real world will wither and die if they are not fed regularly, so too will any organic search results gains wither into nothingness if they are not fed with a consistent and significant SEO program. Some or many companies like to keep their website’s search ranking on constant life-support by doing SEO once or twice a year. However, the reality is that the first results served by the search engines such as Google and Bing are the most trusted by searchers and receive the majority of business from these search engines. These are the results that will make or break a business, that will separate the successful company from their struggling competition.

What is included in the monthly SEO?

  • Ranking report
  • Analytics report
  • Traffic audits (keyword vs conversion tracking, counter measures, etc.)
  • Building high-quality incoming links/removing low-quality links
  • Building social media presence (growing likes/links/followers/etc.)
  • Competition monitoring (is competition moving up/down, taking counter measures, etc.)
  • Content SEO (checking bounce rates, tuning on-page SEO, implementing needed changes, keeping content fresh, etc.)
  • Countering changes to search engine algorithms

The monthly SEO should be aggressively constant until the number 1 position is reached. However to ensure continued success, at the very least, monthly reporting and traffic auditing should be made and any counter measures implemented right away as a result.

When you consider the cost of reaching the size of audience you can find online to other forms of media, such as print or television, SEO and organic search results is by far the most cost effective and most valuable marketing option. As a business owner and advertiser, you simply could not and should not ignore this fact. If you are not fully taking advantage of this venue then you are spending way too much on advertising for the results you’re getting or you are not making much money with your website.