Superbreak – SEO case study 3

Background

As part of Delineo’s ‘Are you being found online?’ search marketing report, we’re pleased to launch the third in a series of 10 case studies focussing on various industry sectors. The purpose of our research is to establish:

• Examples of good practice in the field of search marketing.
• On-site and off-site factors which influence and affect keyword rankings
• How successful companies implement these factors to enhance relevant, targeted traffic.

Introduction

Superbreak is a major UK hotel short breaks operator and has been established for over 25 years, with over 1,200 hotels throughout Britain including 170 in London, plus over 100 at UK airports. As part of Holidaybreak, Superbreak is owned by Cox & Kings Limited, one of the oldest and most recognised travel operators in the world, based in India. The company specialises in providing short breaks within the UK and have become the market leader in this sector, with a turnover of £462 million last year, employing more than 3,000 staff.

Superbreak Online

Firstly to understand the traffic levels Superbreak experience, research was conducted into organic search behaviour. Our research reveals over 74,000 global monthly searches on average. This research data has been produced using the branded search term ‘Superbreak’ only and does not include misspellings and variations, as well as ‘Superbreak + location/product/service’.

When compared with major retailers such as Thomson and Expedia, it’s possible to see the search hierarchy and who clearly performs better for branded searches.

Superbreak Search Behaviour

www.superbreak.co.uk performs particularly well for the vast majority of products/services on its website, with multiple numbers of page one positions for very competitive terms, such as city breaks, breaks in London, mini breaks, uk hotels special offers etc…

To research these keyword terms further, we have chosen to focus on a particular offer (a variety of competitive ‘short-break’ related terms) and compared this against our set of rankings correlation data.

It is important to note, the above collection of search data only represents a proportion of Superbreak’s products/services sales, but it certainly does show that Superbreak ranks well for a variety of search terms relating to its core offers. The majority of “break” permutations and associated terms are well covered by the company’s search marketing plan and this is reinforced by the focus on these keyword terms.

Superbreak Paid Search

It is not unreasonable to suggest that Superbreak possess an extensive Google AdWords campaign and budget implemented to target the large range of “breaks” and other associated short break offers.

Here, we can see Superbreak utilise optimised ad text to focus on highlighting non-branded search queries. The overall search strategy almost certainly targets any search terms based around “breaks” and reinforces this by adding the Superbreak brand. The location of the specific break, part of the overall Superbreak proposition is also included in the ad, the UK and European breaks, as can be seen by the above ad text. Interestingly, the search term focus for AdWords does not appear to feature any “holiday” queries such as [uk holiday deals], [uk holidays] or [european holidays] and this may simply be due to the high level of competition within this sector. After highlighting this approach, it is clear to see that Superbreak predominantly focus on “breaks” and other associated short break offers.

What influences organic search for Superbreak?

As mentioned in the Argos SEO case study, high quality links are influential for gaining page authority, as they assist in good keyword rankings. Superbreak is linked to from 7,707 good quality unique sources, including links from other travel/holiday providers and this assists in the overall development of Superbreak’s site authority in Google. This is crucial in a particularly competitive marketplace and adds significant authority to the search strategy.

However, the basic structure of the website must be up to standard to support the efforts of the link building strategy. This involves elements such as the internal link profile of a website and is just as important as anything else and www.superbreak.com does not disappoint (for a greater and more in depth overview of site architecture, read our post on Pets at Home SEO).

Targeted links and relevant keyword terms are well covered not just on the homepage but throughout the site using a front/client facing sitemap at the foot of site pages. This approach provides the search engines and web users access to crucial areas of the website and allows for the reinforcement of keyword terms. This front facing sitemap (below) is clearly structured and groups plain anchor text in a well organised categorised list. This also highlights the structure to search engines when indexing pages and content, and benefits the user as relevant links will allow them to navigate to the desired page, no matter the page they are on.

The navigation toolbar compliments this approach further and uses an extensive categorised list of anchor text with each sector clearly defined, for example Top UK cities, Hotels, again benefitting the customer and making it particularly simple for search engines to crawl and understand (see below).

Superbreak: timely content and multiple ‘calls to action’
www.superbreak.com is similar to Argos in that the site is regularly updated with timely content focussing on the seasonal offers and times of the year, for example, school and public holidays and theatre performances. This is done to capitalise on the timeframes ensuring that the company benefit from the offer and sales targets are met. Another factor which forces these regular changes is that all offers are subject to price change depending on the time of the year and this forces Superbreak to become pro-active with managing the web content. Offers will be updated constantly to make way for new promotions and calls to action to entice the user to engage with the content

Looking closely at the homepage we can see the following calls to action:

• Find hotel breaks
• Breaks (many permutations of ‘break’)
• Exclusive deals
• Offer ends (on such a date)
• Join Superbreak
• Hotels

F shaped heatmap

Heat maps are used to represent the visitor’s activity on a particular webpage or in other words, the map is a graphical representation of how visitors behave on a web page. Heat maps use different colours to document this activity; a red colour highlights areas of the highest visitor attention and mouse hover.

These diagrammatical web page maps can be particularly useful in developing a web page layout or measuring the success of the present one. An ‘F-shaped’ heat map is the result of a study carried out by Jakob Nielsen about how people read web content. The study claims eyetracking visualizations show that users often read web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe. Looking at the Superbreak website, it is obvious to see that www.superbreak.com pages have used this method in presenting content in this format whereby users focus on the most relevant content.

Conclusion

Superbreak is a large, well-structured retail website with a wealth of short break related offers and possesses a significant presence in Google. As discussed previously, Superbreak appears on page one for the majority of short-break related terms.

As with any other knowledgeable commercial operation, Superbreak has studied its web traffic and identified how to convert these users into sales. After looking at the homepage, the user is greeted with a variety of short break offers, weekend breaks, theatre packages all with strong, time-sensitive calls to action. Reinforcing, supportive messages put the user at ease such as ‘Honest Prices – no credit card or booking fees’ are placed at the centre of all of the offers and promotions to reassure the user of their purchase.

The site architecture has clearly been structured with search in mind, with the navigation clearly defined, allowing the user to move throughout the site with relative ease. A logical and methodical approach has been taken and this is reinforced when looking at the URL structure, allowing search engines to easily understand the site hierarchy and what content requires indexing. Below is an example of hotels in Manchester

http://www.superbreak.com/manchester-hotels-CN5.htm

After looking more closely at the other elements of search optimisation, Superbreak have fully optimised the title tags and meta descriptions of each internal page. This is a nice touch as it provides specific information about the content on the particular page in returned search results. This approach ensures that any relevant search queries are captured and served up as a relevant option for the user, increasing the likelihood of the user clicking on one of the pages to browse the offer.

Whilst the Superbreak website performs very well in many different areas of search marketing, such as a solid prominence on calls to action, seasonal awareness with competitive pricing, an array of relevant offers, there are still areas where it underperforms.

Superbreak could compete for more competitive and popular search terms, such as, ‘holidays in …’ as the site does not attract traffic for these phrases. There is also the potential for Superbreak to pick up on long-tail phrases that qualify products in terms of a ‘cheap holidays in …’ or ‘last minute holiday deal in …’

Superbreak should be more pro-active in this approach or risk losing out on a high amount of relevant traffic to the site and ultimately, a lower amount of sales.