In October 2011, I blogged a 3-part series I titled The Centroid Battle for Las Vegas. The first part of the series highlighted the 7 pack and Google place pages for Las Vegas Hotels. In part 2 we investigated reasons particular hotels might not be appearing in the seven pack results. In part 3 of the series we further dissected Google place pages that showed inconsistencies with hotels being listed, versus those not appearing in top search results for the keyword Las Vegas Hotels.
Is it good or bad SEO advice for a business to use their predominant industry keyword as their brand?
Our hotel location is 2.2 miles away from where Google says the current Las Vegas centroid is positioned (intersection of Las Vegas Blvd & Flamingo Road). Did you guess the name of the hotel? If not, I’ll give you a hint. It’s off the strip and has direct access from the Las Vegas Monorail. It’s also located adjacent to the North Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Address is 3000 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, Nevada 89109.
Surprise! Our focus for this post is the Las Vegas Hilton, or more specifically, what was once the Hilton, but has now been renamed the Las Vegas Hotel (or LVH). What? I’m sure more than one SEO is reading this and perhaps thinking this is a very bad idea. The cool thing is it’s going to provide us some great industry-specific local search material to study (perfect for PubCon Las Vegas 2012).
At first I thought this was a rebranding attempt by Hilton, but after further research I discovered the Hilton name had to be changed, effective January 1, 2012. The news had been circling around the local Las Vegas press for a while.
Hilton Worldwide said that as of Jan. 1, its franchise agreement with Colony Resorts LVH Acquisitions LLC, owner and operator of the Las Vegas Hilton, will have been terminated, forcing the off-Strip hotel to give up the Hilton name and loyalty program.
I was on the property after January 1, and the rebranding by the hotel’s current owner (Colony Resorts LVH Acquisitions, LLC) is currently underway, at least in the physical world. Aside from a new website, and PPC advertising, online is a completely different story. For one, the LVHilton.com domain name goes nowhere. Understandably, because the current owner can no longer use the Hilton name. But how about 301 redirects?
Take a look at the page metrics in open site explorer, ouch. Take a look at the whois record, I suspect it may not even get renewed. As link building guru Todd Malicoat mentioned on twitter, it’s ugly and it can take years to build that type of profile.
Not only has the Hilton name come off the marquee (the largest freestanding sign in the world), rebranding changes can be seen in the surrounding Las Vegas areas. The photo above shows the monorail station rebranded as LVH Station (the stop in between Sahara and the Las Vegas Convention Center). I imagine the confusion has already set in, not only in the online world, but in the off-line world as well.
Tourist to taxicab driver: Can you take me to the Las Vegas Hotel? Taxidriver: Which one?
What we can expect to see now (off-line and online) is a continued branding effort of the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. I’m just not sure if they’re going to use TheLVH or the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino combination. The hotel’s current owner did register theLVH.com in September 2011, one week after a foreclosure notice was filed on the Las Vegas Hilton.
You’d think a hotel property valued near $250 million (give or take several million) would have created a Google place page so interested guests could find the hotel among others in Las Vegas. Then again, you’d think a multimillion dollar hotel property would’ve hired at least a beginner SEO when they realized they’d have to change the property name and domain. Why am I not surprised?
The above screenshot (edited to fit in one image) shows my most recent results when searching Las Vegas Hotel. I’m automatically presented with the plural key phrase, with 3 organic results of the top (advertising removed), a map to the side (I moved it to the middle), and the beginning of what was once a Las Vegas Hotels 7 Pack, currently now a very interesting 4 pack.
Nice work Google. Of course I didn’t want listings for the Bellagio, Bally’s, or Caesars Palace, when searching Las Vegas Hotels, I wanted a rental car company. Nice user experience for local search, not.
There are place pages for the property at 3000 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, Nevada 89109, just not the one we’re looking for. Take a look at the one below, and pay particular attention to the red arrow.
Reviewing the above screen shot and you can see the domain is for the Benihana restaurant, located on the hotel property, and therefore sharing the same address. I showed a similar example of this for the Paris Hotel and Eiffel Tower Restaurant Place page. Basically there’s lots of confusion, and SEO Local Experts have continually been pounding the drum, asking businesses and Google to clean this mess up. To confuse potential travelers that are searching online even more, there is a place page for the Hilton, also sharing the same address on Paradise Road.
How do you think this name change is going to work out for the hotel? Think there could’ve been a better strategy? Either way, I think it’s going to be an interesting process to study. Terrific material for those interested in local search.