Is On-Page Optimization that Important to Travel Websites?
By Billy Jefferson
Friday, 26th April 2013
Today, we see more and more travel specific websites, namely independent hotel and resort websites, that lean more towards image heavy design with less—and sometimes almost no—content. 

This means they count almost exclusively on extensive link building and alt text for their optimization strategies – strategies that often fail to deliver desired natural search rankings for more than a handful of terms in this ultra-competitive marketplace. 

This issue brings to light the extreme importance of old fashioned on page optimization.

'Yes, absolutely,' says Joe Hyman, President & CEO of Vizergy Digital Travel Marketing.  "The world's most striking hotel website design—even with proper alt text on images—misses the target entirely without professional on page optimization elevating organic search rankings."

Smart Site Architecture is Vital

While search engines continue to improve when it comes to understanding the intent of the searcher, there will always need to be communication between search engines and websites (in the form optimized content) to ensure that the search engines completely understand the intent of said websites. 

These beautiful hotel  and resort sites (and many of them are, in fact, very beautiful) seem to be counting only on alt text and the content on the websites that link to them to communicate to Google the search terms for which they are relevant. 

And what we are finding, is an extreme amount of missed opportunities, specifically low search rankings for highly converting terms, less traffic, and ultimately, less direct revenue for the properties.

Content is King

For example, how is a search engine supposed to know that you have some of the most spacious two bedroom suites in Orlando if you never mention it in your site's content?  Or how will the search engine know that your Philadelphia Hotel is only a few blocks from the Liberty Bell? 

Counting on your property's address will only get you so far when the competition has dedicated a page to their proximity to the Liberty Bell. 

Specific long-tail terms like those drive engaged travel shoppers with high conversion rates, but basically no content explains to Google and Bing that your site should be ranking for "two bedroom suites in Orlando" or "Philadelphia hotel near Liberty Bell."  Counting on alt text and link building simply won't cut it, especially in major cities with saturated lodging markets.

Social is not a Substitute

Of course, you can also post about your spacious suites on Facebook or tweet about them, but while social media is a powerful supplement to a website, it is not a viable replacement for a couple of well written paragraphs on your site… especially when your ‘suites' page is actually optimized for the term (including Title, alt text, header, copy, crosslinks from other pages of your site that mention your suites, etc.). 

And this is not just a theory, it's a proven fact.  We've seen dozens of new clients' natural search rankings gradually go from several pages down to page one and two after proper on page optimization was implemented.

Build Intelligent Websites

So what are properties to do?  You want a beautiful website design that makes an instant impression about your hotel and local area, but in order to get people to find the website in organic results, you must give up some design elements for search engine optimization (SEO), right?  Wrong.  Design and SEO are not mutually exclusive. 

The copy can, and should, be incorporated into the design from conception.  The content should actually be a design element that flows with the imagery, navigation, and booking engine, not an afterthought once the design is complete.  This combination of an attractive AND intelligent website will prove to both find and impress targeted travel shoppers.

Billy Jefferson is a Senior Analyst, Natural Search at Vizergy®. The company offers award-winning website design, hotel Internet marketing, and reservation services for hotels and hotel management companies. We partner with you to maximize all digital channels to ensure the highest profits.  As an extension of your digital marketing department, we empower you and your staff through best practices, adding value with proven strategies. All backed by a team passionate about your results and providing best-in-class service.
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