Searchfest 2009 Interview: Mary Bowling
Mary will be speaking about “Small Business / Local Search” at Searchfest 2009 which will be held March 10th in Portland, Oregon. Get your tickets now.
1) Please give me your background and tell us what you do for a living.
I have been a serial entrepreneur for most of my life, owning several successful small businesses. The last time I “retired” I became a ski and bike mechanic working for our local ski area. Once I got really good at that, I became bored. So when I was offered the opportunity to enter the Search Marketing game at Blizzard Internet Marketing, I jumped on it. I naturally gravitated to the SEO side of the business and soon found myself kind of obsessed with it. (Well, some would say completely obsessed.) My personal SEO blog is Optimized!
Because travel, which Blizzard specializes in, is so location specific, I have always optimized for geo-target terms. By specializing in one industry, we are able to test and tweak our tactics across a large number of websites and leverage what we learn for all of our clients.
2) How have hospitality industry search budgets been impacted by the economic slowdown?
Travel is a luxury for most and luxuries are the first thing to go in hard times. With the advent of webinars, Go-To-Meeting type software, web cams and online conferencing, business travel is rapidly becoming a luxury, as well, and some of our clients are seeing a significant drop in bookings. However, online marketing gives most of them the best return on their marketing investment and it is also the most trackable form of advertising. It certainly isn’t the time to panic and stop advertising. Therefore, many of them are moving off line ad dollars online as a result of the slowdown.
3) There are an awful large number of powerhouse websites in the travel industry. How can a small operator gain and maintain a foothold in the SERPS?
Not too many years ago Expedia, Orbitz and other mega sites dominated the SERPs for just about every well-searched travel term, including destination names. Fortunately, this is no longer the case and if your site is truly relevant for a term, ranking well is an attainable goal. This is what I do-try to make web pages and web sites very relevant for what I want them to rank for and then conveying that relevance to the Search Engines. The most successful small operators find a profitable niche or two within the travel industry and then do a better job than their competition. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?