Welcome To Blizzard Nicole Polen!

 We’ve had to add a few new staff members as we continue to grow and change around here! 

Please meet one of our new additions – Nicole Polen!

Nicole grew up in La Crosse, WI but has called Colorado home for the past 15 years.  She started her college career at Western State College and earned her Bachelor’s in Graphic Design from Colorado State University.  For the last 9 years, she’ s been working as a Graphic Designer and Web Designer.  Her skill and passion brings some much needed relief to our Design Team!

Nicole, when she’s not working, loves to run, snowboard, hike , camp and literally anything outdoors.  Except, she doesn’t really care for climbing.  Apparently she doesn’t like heights too much! Nicole, Matthew (her husband) and Bella (their dog) are getting ready to hang their hats in the Glenwood Springs area to enjoy all that mountain living has to offer.

Please join us in welcoming Nicole!

There’s a Place in Pinterest for everything

Back in November 2013 Pinterest introduced its ‘Place Pins‘ to give Pinterest users the ability to map their favorite destinations. Pinterest developers had noticed that users were pinning, re-pinning and favoriting over 1.5 million places every day. They wanted to help inspire people to go out and do more things, explore when on vacation. Many users began creating boards centered around their next vacation, adding pins of places they wanted to visit in that specific destination locale, basically creating a mobile-friendly itinerary for themselves and their friends and family.

Photo Credit: Travel ChannelWhile Place Pins is great for the average pinner to plan and brainstorm daily vacation activities, they are also a great marketing tactic for the travel and tourism industry. Many vacation rental and resort lodging websites have pages dedicated to local attractions, restaurants, fun family activities, etc. that visitors can use to plan their trip. Why not take these to the next level and expose an audience to your activities pages through social networking. Creating a Pinterest board dedicated to your local restaurants, including a place pin for each and linking the image to your activities landing page, will not only create more website traffic but also help your customer become more familiar with the area and ease the stress of planning activities when traveling.

With Pinterest and all other social networking sites, being mobile friendly and giving access to such activities easily via a mobile device is extremely helpful when the majority of travelers are bringing along their smart phone, tablets and iPads.

So, if you haven’t yet began using Place Pins for your company’s Pinterest Board, I suggest you start. Here are  few suggestions for Pinterest board creation that can include mapping and linking. This list could really go on and on so be creative!

  1. Vacation Homes
  2. Parks/Beaches
  3. Hiking Trails
  4. Attractions
  5. Restaurants
  6. Ski Resorts
  7. Music Venues
  8. Sports Stadiums
  9. Medical Facilities

One thing to keep in mind when adding Place Pins, the ability to map depends on FourSquare’s location API. So if a local business isn’t listed in FourSquare you may not be able to ‘map it’. That doesn’t mean you can’t link your image to your website landing page to bring someone there instead. After all, that is the purpose of most social media marketing. Happy mapping!

New Year’s Resolutions for your Home Page

Sure, January is good for New Year’s resolutions and starting out fresh; but what about the home page of your website?  Doesn’t it deserve some attention?  Chances are you haven’t looked at it for a long time and yes, times have changed.  Rand Fishkin from MOZ has some thoughts about what makes sense for your home page now:

BEFORE – We used to put everything on the home page.  Looked cluttered. Promoted everything on the home page.
NOW in 2014 – Make the sections still easy to navigate and find things but we should be focused on the main thing we are selling….accommodations.  Promote the most important thing.

BEFORE – We used to focus on a lot of different keywords.
NOW in 2014 -Use one or two good keyword phrases and use branding keywords.

BEFORE -We used lots of text.
NOW in 2014 -Not as much text and more visual centric info. Quickly convey what you are about.

BEFORE -We wanted to keep as much as possible above the fold.
NOW in 2014 – Keep some page content above the fold and draw the eye down.

More of Rand’s suggestions for your home page:

A. Logo and navigation – good to keep it the same and consistent across the website.
B. Visually and easily explain what the product or service does. What’s best about why people should choose you?
C. Answer common questions that your visitor would have.
D. Give social proof and credibility signals; logos, testimonials, who recommends you?
F. Call to action – book now, check availability, search condos …
G. Is there a site map?  HTML and XML?
H. Is there a map?  People like the visuals.
I. Is there content at the top that’s engaging leaving the visitor to scroll down?

You can see his Whiteboard Friday video to get his full insights.
Happy New Year!

Words of Wisdom: For the growing vacation rental business

Our friend and long time client Amy Tran, Director of Marketing for Catalina Island Vacation Rentals decided it was time to expose the secrets of running a successful Vacation Rental Management company. As part of  her involvement with VRMA – Vacation Rental Managers Association and being a featured blogger on their site, she posted her latest entry, “Confessions of a Property Manager“, a video highlighting a few of her fellow Property Managers. In this video Amy posed three questions to her interviewees:

1. What have you learned being in the vacation rental industry?

2. What is the one thing you would have done differently?

3. What advice would you give those new to the industry?

We thought we would share these words of wisdom for all those interested or already knee deep in the growing vacation rental business. Please sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

Happy Birthday to Our Social Butterfly!

Nicole & Kathy Kappus, one of our Project Manager's outside the Palazzo on our recent RezFest Las Vegas Blizzard University Tour!

Nicole & Kathy Kappus, one of our Project Manager’s outside the Palazzo on our recent RezFest Las Vegas Blizzard University Tour!

Earlier this week we celebrated our Social Media Manager, Nicole Heisig’s Birthday!  I’m not disclosing age or anything, just wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday in another venue.  If you have a chance, send Nicole a birthday greeting.  She is a great team member here at Blizzard Internet and keeps her thumb on all the constant “buzz” in the Social Media arena.

Do you know what your Social Media presence looks like?  Nicole can help give you the details on where you should be and what tactics you should be using in marketing your business through the social platforms.  We’re so lucky to have Nicole on the Marketing Team!

September 2013 MVP

Each month Blizzard Internet Marketing elects one of our employees with the prestigious MVP Award. This months MVP exudes excellence in everything she does. For the past month Julia Taylor has managed ALL design work independently and even with the heavy work load still manages to assist sales with questions and improve upon her already extensive responsive design knowledge. We want to send a BIG THANK YOU to Julia Taylor for everything she does and the continued commitment to excellence.Julia

Google Referral Information Will Once Again Be Available from Safari Users

Since last September (almost a year ago!) it’s been a well known issue that Safari browser users in Apple mobile devices were no longer passing search terms along to publishers.  This data from the search box was being passed from Safari to an encrypted version of Google search.  This issue was causing Google Analytics to report data to it’s users as a direct visitor to a website.

With iOS 7, Apple’s update that is currently in beta, we should begin to see this referral data passed on to websites.  We can probably expect to see inflated Google referral numbers as the search entered into Safari’s omni search box is passed on to Google, however we should see a relative decrease in a website’s (direct)/(none)data in the referrals.

Referrer Information from Google Analytics

This will not be a solution to the “not provided”  issue, which is when Google will strip a search term used to find a site so that  a publisher is unaware of how people are finding them.  Google started this about two years ago and will attribute their decision to non-report these terms as upholding their privacy standards.

Expect to see some change in your Analytics Referrals reports. Starting this fall, you will hopefully experience an increase in your Google Referrer data and less visits being attributed to (direct)/(none).