Set Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy Straight

NB: This is an article from Leonardo

The world of search marketing is a constantly evolving, and in the ultra-competitive hotel industry, properties battle not only other hotel websites and chains, but also OTAs and meta-search sites to rank well on Google.

There’s no magic formula to become the king of the hill on Google and there are many hocus pocus mistruths floating around out there to be cautious of, but what is certain is that the way in which the search engine algorithm determines quality is expanding.

This means that it’s now more important than ever to put time and effort into creating compelling content that is genuinely valuable to your target guests.

“When you do a Google search, you aren’t actually searching the web. You’re searching Google’s index of the web, or at least as much of it as we can find.” – Matt Cutts, Google

More isn’t always better.

Stop agonizing over link building. Having inbound links to your website is important, but it isn’t the be- all end-all that it was a few years ago. Today, user experience trumps inbound links.

“What’s best for users is best for Google.

Google would rather rank a webpage with no links than one that contains hundreds of links but is only somewhat relevant. In essence, the sites with the best user experience are going to win in the long-run. That means sites with good quality content, media, etc. will tend to rank better in the long-run. Plus, the sites that put their users first tend to generate the highest number of social shares and backlinks organically.

They don’t focus on manual link building; instead, they focus on providing the best user experience.” – Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar.

Forget about being first.

It’s no secret that the top three results on a search page garner more views – but this doesn’t guarantee more (or better quality) traffic to your hotel website. Consumer behavior will dictate that the top three are the most popular, but ranking #1 isn’t the Holy Grail of years past., a well-known SEO authority and software provider, explains this well:

“I really want to rank #1 for “SEO” because Moz offers SEO software. Because of our Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Because SEO is our lifeblood. But we don’t, and it doesn’t matter.

Moz typically ranks #2-3 for ‘SEO’. It sends good traffic, but not nearly as good as the thousands of long-tail keywords with more focused intent. In fact, if you went through our entire keyword set, you would find that “SEO” by itself only sends a tiny fraction of our entire traffic, and we could easily survive without it.”

Go long.

In a competitive market like hospitality, targeting common short keywords such as “hotels in New Orleans” will actually yield less qualified traffic than long tail search terms such as “luxury boutique hotels in French Quarter New Orleans.” Though long-tail keywords yield less traffic volume, conversion rates are much higher because your site will attract people who are searching for exactly what you’re offering.

You want to use a keyword (or keywords) in a way that makes the most sense to your audience. Your website will be severely penalized with keyword stuffing. This type of weak content goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Remember: the goal should be to inform your website visitors, not to inform the search engines.

When you create content that’s aimed at your guests, they’ll naturally click around and view multiple pages on your site. This tells Google that your website is helpful, and it will remember that when other travel shoppers search for the same thing.

Read more articles from Leonardo