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Do Business Listings on TripAdvisor Have Any SEO Value?

Written and published by ScreenPilot.com on May 14, 2010

We have several hotel and resort clients here at Screen Pilot which allows our SEO team to consistently explore new ways to gain coveted Google back-links as well as back-links in the other main search engines like Yahoo and Bing. The primary goal for the hotel and resort industry, when talking about the internet, is to sell rooms and generate great online reputation in social and other user generated content (UGC) media. This led to the creation of many “review” sites. In the travel vertical, TripAdvisor.com is one of the pivotal players in this space. Online travel agencies (OTAs) like Orbitz have integrated proprietary user reviews into their site and vertical search players like Kayak, have integrated 3rd party reviews from service like Epinions and others. Trip Advisor’s key consumer proposition is creating consumer-facing content that other travelers deem relevant to their shopping process. Users can post reviews, rate certain aspects of a property and even share their vacation pictures. In an attempt to generate additional revenues and capitalize on their traffic volumes, Trip Adivsor, in a move away from their traditional business model, have created what’s called a Business Listing.  These listings would include a link to the hotel or resort website.  So, the SEO team here at Screen Pilot decided to have a closer look at the  TripAdvisor.com ‘Business Listing‘ option and to see if there really is any SEO value from having a business listing with them.

To begin the experiment we looked at numerous New York City hotels, that all have business listings on TripAdvisor.com, with a hyper-linked URL to their website. Next we looked up the back-links in Google and Yahoo for all of the properties. Surprisingly, none of them showed any back-links from TripAdvisor.com. On one of the properties we profiled, the Library Hotel, we did find a back-link from Trip Advisor, but it was coming from the French version of the site.  It also was part of a review that someone had embedded a link. As we could not find any back-links from TripAdvisor.com for these properties, we then went back to the Trip Advisor business listing itself and found the real issue.

Once we pulled the TripAdvisor.com business listing source code, we noticed that the actual link is not physically there but rather JavaScript code instead. This script is generating the link and its anchor text on the page. When the search engine spiders visit a page with a Business Listing on it, this script is not allowing the link to be indexed which would normally show up as a backlink from TripAdvisor.com. So, as a business owner, you are still getting the traffic from people clicking on the link in your listing, but from an SEO standpoint you are not getting the “link juice” from the TripAdvisor.coms’ 8/10 page rank!

Some might ask the question “Why not just drop the link in a review on TripAdvisor.com and that will suffice?” Well, on TripAdvisor.com you can’t do that. Unlike the French version of the website, the .com version does not allow reviewers to put hyperlinks within their reviews.

So the moral of the story is this, be sure you know the full SEO benefit you are getting from purchasing a listing on any social travel related website, especially TripAdvisor.com if that is something you think you’re getting. In their defense, we find nothing on their site that remotely even leads anyone to believe that there is SEO value in a Business Listing, it simply is assumed that because they are offering a “link” to your property website, there is inherent link value associated with it.

Published by ScreenPilot.com in May 14, 2010 – ScreenPilot has a lot of experience in amazingly successful hotel internet marketing & SEO campaigns and is a full-service digital marketing company.