‘How can I increase my rankings in TripAdvisor?’
If I had a one dollar coin for every time someone asked me that question, I could buy lots of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Here’s the answer: understand what TripAdvisor wants, and give it to them. When you give TripAdvisor what they want, they will return the favor (hopefully!).
So what does TripAdvisor actually want? Let’s start with the obvious: the #1 thing that TripAdvisor wants is more profits. TA’s profits come from having active users — when they have active users, they make money. Their stock market valuation goes up and down based on how many active users they have. It’s a big deal! In fact, ‘active users’ is one of the key metrics for all social media websites including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Because of this, there’s a lot of pressure on the CEO of TripAdvisor to get and keep more active users. Keep the CEO happy!
There’s two ways for TripAdvisor to get an active user: sign up a completely new user or convert a currently inactive user into an active user.
Following on from active users, the #2 thing that TripAdvisor wants is useful information. If a user is on their website but clicks away, that person is lost. To keep them, TripAdvisor needs valuable content! This means that TripAdvisor will reward you for keeping their users active and getting them to post content.
Here are the three main ranking factors on TripAdvisor for tour operators according to them:
- Average review score (far and away the most important!)
- Quantity of reviews
- Recency of reviews
This is important to understand: TripAdvisor will reward you for keeping their users active and happy. So, what do you need? A steady stream of reviews. Obviously, these are not the ONLY three factors in the TripAdvisor algorithm, as anyone who has ever analyzed the TA rankings will know. However, they’re the major three.
You Need a System
Do you have a system for generating reviews? Many operators don’t. Your TripAdvisor rankings – and thereby, a potential large source of your revenue – depend on it. Their statistics show that listings with 11+ reviews receive 26% more engagement, so clearly they are going to reward that.
Before I finish, you may be aware of certain websites which have been engaging in conspiracy theories about TripAdvisor. Please don’t listen to them. While they are able to show some strange movements in the TripAdvisor algorithm, what can you do about it? It’s a computer. Of course it will throw out strange results from time to time. Avoid the whiners, stay focused on doing a great job, and you’ll win eventually as TA’s systems become more refined.
Buying advertising won’t help your rankings, either. It’s actually illegal in the USA for a website to change its rankings in a paid way without disclosure, and this is something that the FTC polices strictly. If you’re thinking of engaging in paid advertising on TripAdvisor, only do it if the actual spend makes sense for your business.
After The Trip, Get That Review – Stat!
As you’d know, TripAdvisor doesn’t allow you to offer incentives to get reviews. As much as they want active users, people won’t stay active for long if one can’t depend on the information and reviews provided on their website.
What you can do, however, is follow up with an email just thanking your guest for coming along and asking for a review at the same time. That’s not so hard.
If you follow up with photos of their trip in that email, this will work even better for you. Because they have just received a bunch of photos, they have a reason to be grateful. This is more or less as far as you can push it when it comes to more TripAdvisor reviews, but it’s perfectly fine. Just make sure not to present the delivery of the photos as something you did in exchange for a review.
Deliver the photos and at the end of the email say, ‘If you had a great time, could you leave us a review? Our business depends on the 5 star reviews we receive. Thank you!’
The great thing is, if you upload the photos to Facebook as part of your process, you can include a link to your Facebook page in the automatic email that comes out to them after the trip. This is a capability that most tour booking software operators provide, which means you can execute this process without any additional work.
When should you send the email? Now that people check their email more or less every day, I’d recommend sending it as soon as possible after the tour so that their great memories with you are still fresh and front of mind.
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