Post by Kathryn P. Jones, Director of e-Commerce, Hospitality Ventures Management Group
Before we can broach the subject of why Search Engine Optimization is important, let’s discuss what exactly it is. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page on search engines (such as Google and Bing) via un-paid search results. Each search engine has its own “magic formula” for determining your website’s placement, and the latest statistics show that Google utilizes hundreds of criteria when returning search results.
Have you ever heard the term “Page 1 placement?” Does your hotel website have Page 1 placement? If not, then you need to work on optimizing your hotel’s website in order to gain better results on the search engines.
Why is SEO important? Imagine that you are going on vacation to New York City. How would you find a hotel in New York? Would you go to your trusty search engine and type in “hotel in New York”? How many pages deep would you go to find that perfect “hotel in New York”? One? Two?
As a hotelier, imagine that your website is on Page 5 for the search term “hotel in New York.” Imagine also the missed revenue opportunities because your website has not been optimized to achieve Page 1 placement. Today’s contribution numbers estimate that anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of a hotel’s revenues come from the hotel’s brand website. I’d venture to say that your hotel cannot afford to miss out on such a large percentage of revenue.
So how do you optimize your hotel’s website? Start with the little things.
Content is king. Start with Keyword Research to determine the best keywords to use. If your hotel is near Times Square, be sure to optimize for hotels near Times Square. If you are located in Manhattan, Manhattan hotels would be a great keyword phrase for which to optimize.
There are many Keyword Research Tools that will help you determine the best keywords to use. Choose words that are relevant to your hotel, but have less competition (like “hotels near Times Square” or “Manhattan hotels”), since these keywords are easier to achieve Page 1 placement.
Title Tags also play an important role in SEO. A title tag is the text that appears at the top of your website in the “blue bar” that is located above the URL. Use relevant keywords in your Title Tag, as well as your hotel’s name, but remember there are character limitations to Title Tags.
Another of the major search engine logarithms includes relevant keywords in your domain name (example: www.HotelNameHotelNearTimesSquare.com) and length of life for your domain. Linking is considered to be a large part of SEO, whether inbound links, outbound links, or internal linking (linking from one page of your website to another). But remember, only relevant links to your website.
Other optimization tactics that we use at Hospitality Ventures Management Group (HVMG) include press releases, blogs, directory listings, and general posts about your hotel. Remember, the search engines like fresh content. Don’t be afraid to change up your content on a regular basis. Keep it new and the search engines will continue to find you “relevant” to the searches that are being made. And don’t be afraid to experiment with your website to see what works. If everyone knew exactly how to get Page 1 placement on the search engines, we’d all have it! Play around with the content, keywords, etc. until you find that perfect mix!