Great piece this from Mr. Larry Mogelonsky – CHA on Hotel Interactive on the importance of SEO. Though some dispute the importance, it is worth taking note!
“It never ceases to amaze me as to how many unsolicited emails my clients get from companies promising to do wonders for a hotel’s web site in terms of search engine optimization. Usually, these missives are well written in an onerous tone that has GM’s questioning their web site, their web agency, their director of marketing and usually all of the above. What’s a GM to do? Just how important is SEO, and can a “specialist” company really help? Above all, is there any value to the whole exercise in terms of true revenue generation?
First, some notes. This article focuses on Google, which at this current time processes roughly two-thirds of all search activity. For those who purchase Google Ad Words, these appear as sponsored links on the right hand side or top of the page and are not influenced by SEO tactics. Positioning your product in this arena, combined with SEO is called Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, and is a whole other discussion.
Why is SEO important?
If a person is looking for a hotel in a foreign city, doing a Google search is the easiest way to find accommodations. Surely every GM knows that this is not the only approach that a potential guest would undertake in their quest to find the perfect spot to rest their weary legs. But it’s typically the first. Other resources include travel agents, OTAs, Facebook, other social media, other travel sites, hotel chain sites and association sites such as Preferred, SLH, or Leading.
With so many methods to find your hotel, being in first place for a broad Google search is far from being the panacea to your occupancy challenges. In fact, it may be almost insignificant depending upon how relevant new customer search is to your marketing strategy. Certainly, it cannot hurt to be in the top two or three as a matter of search results, but it is not Armageddon if you miss this spot.
The rationale here is simple: the more “optimized” your site is, the more relevant it is within the Google search algorithm, resulting in a higher placement for all posted results. But Google rankings cannot be fooled! Don’t think that hiring some third party sales company can take you from an eighth ranked page to a top three position in a matter of days or weeks. It doesn’t work that way. Moreover, Google is wary of some tactics that these proverbial snake oil salesmen utilize and likely has algorithms that negate such surreptitious tactics.
Take the Initiative Yourself
A basic optimization strategy is quite easy to do internally. Review your web site as you do your property, both strategically and tactically. Here is a typical checklist of what you should look for before seeking external help.
A flawless site, with clear text and no internal errors
Correct and accurate tags (title, keyword, page and headers)
Optimized images with photo alt tags
Fully linked and active blog
Fully linked and active social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter, but don’t forget Google Plus and Pinterest)
Your URL registered for at least 24 months before it expires
Active RSS feed
At least one data collection form
Clear navigation structure of indexed pages with sitemap files
A number of quality in-bound links