NB: This is an article by Carolyn Murphy, Marketing Specialist with Revinate
We’ve written a couple of times on the importance of a holistic search engine optimization (SEO) strategyand some best practices on the important elements of SEO. For hoteliers, search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t have to be hard. But, finding the right keywords is a critical and often challenging part of this process.
Choosing the right focus keywords is really what makes or breaks most web content and SEO strategies. Pick something too broad and you’ll get lost in the crowded online market of hotels, B&Bs, and more. Pick something too specific, and you risk wasting your efforts and even alienating prospective guests looking for an experience like the one your hotel offers.
Finding the best keywords for your strategy is like Goldilocks picking the perfect bowl of porridge. You’ve got to find the keywords that are not too hot, not too cold, but just right, or your SEO strategy will fall flat.
Once you have the right keywords in hand, the actual act of optimization is easy.
3 types of keywords that can get your hotel’s website found faster
There are a number of different ways to choose your focus keywords, but in this article, I’m going to focus on three types that are particularly effective:
1. Long-tail keywords
2. “Trending” keywords and current events
3. Already-ranking keywords
Disclaimer: Since Google works tirelessly to ensure that marketers can’t game their system, keywords like these can only help you work your way onto page one of search results. They’re not the whole solution. The only truly reliable way to rank in the top 10 search results on Google is to consistently create quality content that is relevant and useful to your guests and prospective guests.
By focusing on the quality of your content and targeting the keywords listed below, you are almost guaranteed to get your content discovered on Google faster than ever before.
1. Target Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are search terms or phrases that are more detailed and descriptive than most.
For example, it’s the difference between:
“golf club” and “left-handed titanium golf club”
“hotel in Cabo” and “all-inclusive luxury resort in Cabo”
While it’s possible to rank for shorter, more competitive keywords, it won’t happen overnight. Depending on what your hotel has to offer and the competition in your market, it could take months of building up quality content with your long-tail keywords. But the process of getting found can be far more efficient using popular long-tail keywords than shorter, more competitive terms.
Long-tail keywords give you the opportunity to rank higher in search results more quickly because they’re more specific and in turn, have lower search volume. Prospective guests who are searching for something specific know exactly what they’re looking for and will take action when they find it. And, when your hotel can offer that specific thing, these customers are more likely to be your ideal guests.
As a hotel marketer, you should be more concerned with attracting your ideal guests (i.e. those who will appreciate what your hotel has to offer) to your website than attracting just anyone in hopes of hitting high traffic numbers. It’s better to have 10 people on your site that are ready to book your hotel right now than 1,000 people that are only vaguely interested.
How do you find long-tail keywords?
This requires a bit of research on your end. But, it can help to target the actual language your prospective guests use. This serves as an effective way to uncover how they are describing their needs and the words they would type into a search engine in order to fulfill them.
It can help to study your online reviews to get better information on this. Look at what specific language your guests are using to describe your services and amenities. This can be one way to find long-tail keywords that will be successful. You should also look at how people are describing your competitors.
2. “Trending” Keywords
Another strategy to get your content ranked on Google quickly is to target trending topics or current events. When we attended the Content2Conversion conference in February, David Meerman Scott referred to this strategy as Newsjacking. Essentially, the idea is to be one of the first sources of information on a breaking topic or event, while journalists are still scrambling for details.
Newsjacking can be hit or miss, depending on various factors, but it can help in a couple of ways to get your hotel’s website discovered on Google very quickly.
First, when you create content on trending topics, it is more likely to show up in the Google News section above the organic search rankings. If you can accomplish this, Newsjacking will pay off in a big way with a flood of fresh traffic to your site.
Second, even if it doesn’t show up in the News section, content you create on trending topics may also get picked up in Google’s organic rankings quickly because their algorithm is constantly searching for content on trending topics and pages that were most recently updated.
Third, if you can be one of the first sources of information on that event when journalists are scrambling for details, and your site ranks high in organic rankings, you may get a lot of referral traffic from articles that quote your content as a source of information.
Again, this can be a little tricky. You won’t be the only one creating content on these trending topics so you’ll want to make sure you’re not just spitting out the same information as everyone else. You need to inject your reporting with your own unique insights and point of view on the subject.
One example of successful Newsjacking
Here’s one example that David Meerman Scott likes to use when illustrating how Newsjacking can work.
When President Obama visited Australia in 2011, a local insurance company gifted him with free crocodile insurance during his stay. Essentially, the second the President set foot on Australian soil, they put out a press release saying that they’d pay out $50,000 to Michelle Obama if her husband were attacked by a crocodile.
The result? They got 4,969 mainstream media stories written about their gift and their company, and it didn’t cost them a dime.
This is Newsjacking at its finest because it was an unusual juxtaposition, so it attracted a lot of attention. But it was still in line with the insurance company’s product and brand (they had actually been offering the policy for over 20 years).
How do you find trending keywords/topics?
The way to beat the competition for trending keywords is to be proactive and stay ahead of the game on trend. You can find out what’s trending right by looking at Google Trends, Twitter Moments, and Facebook Trends, for example. Then, think about which of those topics are top of mind for your guests. Keep in mind that you will be competing with other publications, and that time is of the essence. But, it doesn’t hurt to try, especially when the potential payoff in terms of site traffic and bookings is so enormous.
3. Already-Ranking Keywords
If you’ve already been creating content for your hotel’s website for a few months or several years, you have a big advantage because you likely won’t have to start from scratch with new keywords. Chances are, you’re already ranking for keywords that you never specifically created content for.
Google Analytics can help you figure out what these keywords are. Look at the search queries in your analytics dashboard that have resulted in your organic traffic. Make a list of the following items:
- Keywords that are relevant to your hotel’s amenities and services, but you haven’t created content for just yet
- Keywords you’ve written about that still have potential for more content
- Keywords that are similar to existing content, but haven’t been specifically targeted
Your hotel’s website is already getting traffic from these keywords, meaning people are searching for them and you’re already ranking for them. Use these to your advantage! Not only will your new content rank quickly for these keywords, but your existing content that contains the same or similar keywords will likely get a boost as well.
Time + Keywords = Traffic
SEO compounds over time, so the sooner you start using the types of keywords that your guests and prospective guests are using to search for a hotel, the better results you’ll get over time. Improving your hotel website’s search ranking for these terms will not only improve its overall authority, but it will also help increase the rank of your other keywords in the process. More traffic to your website will help your hotel get more direct bookings, so there’s no harm in giving it a try!