The Facts That Every Hotelier Should Know about SEO vs. SEM

A hotel’s online search ranking is an important tool for gaining more exposure. The higher up your website is displayed on search results, the more likely they are to click on your site.

NB: This is an article by SocialTables

Having said that, hoteliers need to know the main benefits of SEO vs. SEM, both of which are important methods of becoming properly ranked in search engines.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. With SEO, it’s all about optimizing your website to get better rankings in the search engines, such as Google. This form of traffic is “free” since all of the traffic generated is from a person’s search query. Having a strong SEO strategy means that your website is easily crawlable by search engines. This, in turn, increases your chances of ranking higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

There are two main pillars of SEO, which includes on-site and off-site SEO. On-site SEO is parameters or rules that you can apply to your own website or blog so that it is considered search engine friendly. This can include using optimized titles for specific keywords, strong descriptions that are relevant to the keyword, correct use of headings, all of which can be found on a website.

Off-site SEO consists of getting votes from other websites that increase your website’s perceived trust and authority from the search engine. This includes links that come from other websites, especially sites that are relevant to your industry or niche. This is usually referred to as “link-building”.

What are the benefits of backlinks?

Getting links back to your site shows strong authority in what your page is all about. This can help your site rank higher in SERPs. However, it’s not as simple as getting a ton of links to point to your site. The links you gain have to be relevant within that space. For example, a strong link would be from a famous travel blogger who ‘reviews’ your hotel and links your hotel’s website on their site.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is a wider branch that covers SEO, but it’s still a part of a hotel’s overall internet marketing strategy. The goal of SEM is to gain more visibility on search engines through free traffic (which is SEO), or through paid traffic (paid search advertising).

Paid search advertising consists of buying advertising real estate in search engine results. Basically, instead of taking time to slowly gain traction through SEO, you can pay your way to the front of search results. The best method of paid search advertising is through Google AdWords. Through this advertising platform, you can get your ads to show in Google Search Results, where you only pay for the advertisement when someone clicks on it! The process is called PPC (Pay-per-click), and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo also have it, though it’s nowhere near as effective.

What are the benefits of paid search?

Using paid search advertising helps get your hotel’s name on the front of search results. This is a great way of increasing traffic from potential customers if your site is pretty new and your SEO strategy hasn’t really kicked in yet.

The easiest way for a new hotel to gain traction is to find the specific niche that you fil. You can do this by doing keyword research on your target audience and to target your ads to that specific demographic. This is a great way of gaining targeted traffic through SEM.


When it comes down to it, SEO falls under SEM, and SEM is an important method of marketing for your hotel. In our day and age, if you don’t have a strong online presence, it’s incredibly difficult to gain customers. Make sure you establish a strong SEM strategy that incorporates both paid ads and SEO tactics!

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