SEO Mistruths and the Real Goal of Search Engine Optimization

Maybe we read that the top spot on Google is the key to success or someone told us it’s the only way to get more business. Either way, we are all so concerned with ranking first on Google but should that really be our focus? For the majority of hoteliers, the answer is no. Instead, the goal of your SEO strategy should be focused on attracting more relevant visitors to your website organically.

Mistruth #1: It’s all about rank

Rank is important, but the real question is what should I be ranking for? SEO is about ranking for phrases that match the questions travel shoppers are typing into a search engine. But trying to match for general phrases like “hotels in Seattle” (if your hotel is in Seattle) is a waste of time and effort.

You will never be able to overtake Expedia, TripAdvisor and other large organizations that spend billions of dollars annually to ensure they’re ranking at the top. Even if you did manage to knock them out of the top spot, you would certainly drive traffic to your site, but likely have very low conversion rates.

Instead you should focus on your hotel’s story to improve your SEO ranking. Your hotel’s story is the unique attributes, reviews and reasons why travel shoppers choose to stay at your hotel. Publish content that is focused on your hotel story and you will find your rankings improve for more specific searches.

For example if a travel shopper types a search like, “small boutique hotel with a pool near the Seattle international beer festival” that matches your hotel story, you will get a high ranking. You will get a lower volume of website traffic than you would for “hotels in Seattle” but it will be more relevant traffic and therefore more likely to result in bookings.

Mistruth #2: There’s a magic set of keywords

There are no set of keywords that will bring you more bookings. In fact travel shoppers aren’t so much using keywords in search engines anymore, but rather entering full phrases known as long-tail queries. Google is no longer trying to match keywords in searches to keywords on website. Google is now looking at the intent behind these long tail queries, to answer a question.

These long-tail queries will make up 80 to 90% of the website traffic you’re likely to receive. Phrases with long-tail keywords are easier to rank for and will likely convert at a higher rate than more generic searches. Most importantly, make sure you’re writing for your audience, not the search engine.

Mistruth #3: The More Content You Produce, The Better

The old adage is true, it’s quality not quantity. While you should be regularly updating and posting new content, if the content isn’t relevant it is more likely to hurt your rankings. In fact, Google punishes websites that are filled with repetitive content. Instead you should focus on creating relevant, compelling and link-worthy content that your target guest would be interested in.

The number of inbound links to your website is one of the top five ranking factors for SEO. Some people turn to an SEO expert or agency to increase inbound links, but you want to think twice before wasting your money. Agencies focus on building the quantity of links to your site not the quality and as stated above, Google places more importance on quality. If you take the money you were thinking of spending on an agency and invest that into creating high quality and relevant content, you will build more links over time.

Ultimately SEO is a Long Term Strategy

It is most important to understand that your SEO strategy needs to be long-term focused. Nothing will magically fix your SEO struggles overnight. Especially since Google makes anywhere between 500 and 600 search algorithm changes per year. Most of the updates are minor adjustments, but some like the announcement in November that Google will be switching to a mobile first index can have a major impact on your SEO.

It is important to monitor major announcements from Google, like the move to a mobile first index, to make sure you’re on top of any changes that may affect your SEO rankings. Vizlly has provided you with the ability to create mobile optimized websites so that you won’t be negatively affected by this update. Vizlly also does a lot of the heavy lifting for you by keeping up with search engine algorithm updates and technology advancements.

You just need to focus on creating relevant content that resonates with your target guest and tells your hotel’s story. If this sounds overwhelming, I assure you that it isn’t. Vizlly makes it easy by walking you through the story creation with step-by-step best practices throughout the process. You don’t need to hire a writer and the stories you create using Vizlly are optimized to be discoverable by search engines.

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