To succeed in the ever-evolving SEO landscape, hoteliers should adopt a proactive approach to content creation, marketing and optimization.
SEO continues to play a critical role in hotel digital marketing success, with at least 30% to 35% of hotel website revenue generated as a direct result of organic search engine referrals to the hotel website.
Every year, Google’s algorithm changes more than 500 times. This past year was no different, with Google throwing a major curveball to mobile sites with the Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update in April 2015, a change that resulted in a 21% decrease in non-mobile-friendly URLs appearing on the first three pages of search results (BrightEdge).
In 2016 and beyond, hoteliers and digital marketers should make data-driven, analytical decisions based on measurable results and research.
They should stick to proven best practices, updating these tenets as needed.
And they should think of search engine optimization (SEO) as a living, breathing, ongoing effort.
1. Create conversion-minded, hospitality-specific content.
Hotel websites are inherently different than common retail sites, demanding unique approaches to copywriting, content marketing, and SEO.
A hospitality website should inform and inspire the travel planner, educating them on the value propositions of the hotel and the destination as a whole.
A hotel website should create engaging content that targets a specific subset of users: conversion-minded, qualified users in various stages of the travel planning process.
In addition to supplying the information readers seek when shopping for a hotel, high-quality content leads to more robust user engagement: longer website visits, more pages visited during each session, and fewer single-page bounces from the site.
These user engagement metrics send positive signals to search engines, which rely on these cues to decide which pages to rank prominently.
2. Inform your content strategy with user engagement insights and traffic metrics.
Creating high-quality content is a critical first step toward generating visibility and traffic via organic search.
Utilizing rankings visibility tracking, user engagement insights, and organic traffic to gauge the success of that content and additional optimization opportunities is the second – and equally important – step.
Adopt a proactive approach to performance tracking via an array of analytics tools: Drive content creation and optimization decisions with consistent monitoring of keyword ranking visibility on a platform such as BrightEdge.
Stay current on organic traffic and user engagement trends by consulting industry-leading analytics platform like Adobe Analytics.
Conduct technical SEO spot checks and assessments using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Perform regular, ongoing inbound link profile assessments using a fresh web explorer such as Moz Open Site Explorer.
3. Devise a plan for proactive, ongoing SEO and content recommendations and updates.
In order to keep up with Google’s consistent flow of algorithm updates and changes, a proactive, ongoing approach to SEO is a near necessity for hoteliers dedicated to driving direct bookings.
The centerpiece of these efforts should always be the creation of high-quality content that informs and interests users.
In addition to focusing on producing engaging content, SEO efforts should prioritize quick and effective reactions to shifts in search engines’ algorithms, user search demand, and the competitive market.
Monthly reporting and recommendations, weekly data-gathering, and ongoing optimization efforts should be placed at the forefront of any hotel digital marketing strategy to maintain organic search traffic, conversions and revenue.
4. Utilize an industry-leading search visibility platform.
A robust performance and search visibility platform lies at the heart of any effective SEO strategy.
One such platform is BrightEdge, a multi-faceted SEO analysis tool centered on tracking the organic search performance of digital content.
The service allows the hotelier and digital marketing team to identify high-performing pages, search visibility opportunities and successes, top traffic and engagement sources, along with in-depth performance analysis versus a pre-set group of competitors.
A hotel digital marketer should take into account a number of factors, based on the results shown in their search performance platform.
For instance, BrightEdge provides the streamlined information necessary to make data-informed content recommendations and optimization suggestions.
By targeting high-value keyword terms, tracking performance on an ongoing basis, and continually assessing past optimization efforts, it’s possible to improve visibility, traffic, and ultimately revenue via organic search.
5. Ensure content complies with Google’s new Mobile-Friendly Algorithm update.
Mobile search is here to stay.
A high-impact and fast-emerging traffic channel, the mobile web now accounts for 32% of website visits across HeBS Digital’s hotel client portfolio.
Mobile and tablet traffic combined were responsible for nearly 45% of all visits, nearly 21% of all bookings, and more than 17% of all revenue, portfolio-wide.
It’s easy to miss out on this critical source of traffic and revenue: Google’s stringent Mobile-Friendliness Algorithm update – rolled out in spring 2015 – left many slow-to-adapt hotel websites lacking for traffic and searching for answers.
Meanwhile, sites that relied on Google-compliant content management technology enjoyed traffic bumps as a result of additional mobile search visibility.
Hoteliers and digital marketers should remain attuned to the latest developments in mobile search.
The ability to adapt via rapid-fire CMS updates or content strategy shifts will pay off in the form of visits, bookings, and revenue as the mobile channel continues to expand.
6. Secure key local listings and ensure the consistency of online citations.
Maintaining a uniform local search presence is one of the most important components of a comprehensive SEO strategy for hoteliers.
A high priority in 2016 should be correcting any inconsistencies within the hotel’s local search presence, reducing duplicate directory listings, and ensuring streamlined and optimized local search information.
Maintaining these online citations is a key piece of satisfying ranking algorithms across both Google and Bing/Yahoo.
Citations from well-established portals aid in increasing the degree of certainty that Google and other search engines have about your business’s contact information and category.
Local search optimization efforts should include verification and maintenance of local profiles across a variety of listing platforms. These outlets include high-visibility services like Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing, as well as local citation sources such as CitySearch, Superpages, Yellow Pages, 411.com, and more.
7. Adopt a proactive defensive link management strategy.
Search engines learn more about specific pages and sites by conducting sophisticated analysis of the links pointing to the page or domain.