The Undying Importance of SEO: How to Actively Maximize Your Search Engine Presence.
By Asher Fusco
Tuesday, 2nd July 2013
Generating engagement via social media channels and creating unique experiences for website visitors are important aspects of digital marketing. It's also important to remember the basics – namely SEO – when building a marketing plan.

A good SEO strategy attracts qualified traffic with intent to book.

With more potential travelers than ever using Google and other search engines via the three screens – mobile, desktop and tablet – hoteliers should make every effort to fully optimize their websites. The difference between appearing on the first and second page can add up to thousands of dollars of bookings and RFP submissions.

A recent study by online ad network Chitika reaffirmed the importance of SEO efforts, showing just how crucial it is for a site to appear within the first page of search results.

Sites appearing on the first page of Google search results receive 91.5% of the traffic that filters through the search page. This staggering number compares to just 4.8% for page two, 1.1% for page three and 1.2% for pages four through ten combined.

Traffic Share per Page (Pages 1-10):
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No two positions on the first page of search results are created alike. The first overall position is much more valuable than the positions directly behind it. In fact, the first search result draws 18 times as many click-throughs as the tenth search result, according to a study performed by Slingshot SEO.

This dynamic is in a state of constant flux because of Google's ongoing adjustments to the layout of and content within its search results, but as a general rule, the better the ranking, the better the click-through rate.

Traffic Share (%) Per Overall Search Ranking (First Page):
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Across HeBS Digital's client portfolio, an average of 33% of website revenues came as a direct result of SEO. That substantial figure, combined with the information above, provides ample reason to consider refreshing your site's SEO strategy to meet Google's stringent and always-shifting standards.

By optimizing various onsite aspects of your website (content, meta data, structure, etc.) and ensuring your digital marketing strategy covers external factors such as link-building, social shares, and authority levels as measured by Google PageRank, hoteliers can strengthen their organic search revenue stream.

Simple Steps Toward Maximizing Your Search Engine Presence:

Redesign Your Website

Bolster SEO performance by developing site structure that organizes relevant content into easy-to-follow funnels, leading to bookings. Shore up the technical aspects of your site by updating Meta data, XML site maps, canonical tabs, and more. The hotel website should also load quickly – download speeds factors into the hotel's SEO performance.

Create Engaging, Quality Content

Google's ongoing Panda Update mandates website content must be deep, relevant, unique and engaging. Search engines are now looking for strong editorial content, as quality content has taken center stage over the past 24 months, making it imperative to have strong copy supported by a focused SEO strategy.

Develop a Content Creation Plan

Building additional content does three things for your site:
  • Creates deeper content
  • Gives you more real estate to target segmented keywords
  • Increases your PPC campaigns' quality scores and lowers their cost per click
A structured content creation plan can help you capture incremental revenue by creating pages about events such as nearby college graduations, annual happenings or popular sporting events.

Employ Professional Copywriters

In the world of content creation, you get what you pay for. Cheap copywriters typically provide thin, lifeless content that does little more than take up space on a page. Take the time to find professional copywriters with experience in both technical SEO and hospitality marketing that can be called "travel writers" in their own right.

Optimize Your Site for Mobile Use

Quality content is the biggest "must-have" for a mobile site. The Google Panda algorithm updates favor mobile websites with rich visual and textual content that is fresh, engaging and optimized for search engines.

Devise a Quality Inbound Linking and Citation Strategy

Google's latest Penguin update (2.0) further penalized link farms and purchased links. Generally speaking, paid links have very little SEO value. Pursue unique "organic" links with relevant anchor text, such as editorial links and mentions of the property, listings on local CVB websites, local colleges, and nearby convention centers, theme parks and attractions.

Remember: bloggers are your friend, so work with local bloggers to have your hotel mentioned and linked to in their blog postings.

These are just a few of the dozens of ever-evolving factors search engines take into account when determining rankings. To stay on top of all the latest algorithm updates and search trends, partner with a digital marketing agency that stays abreast of all things search-related. Learn more about how to protect your hotel website from Google's latest Penguin update.

To learn more about SEO services offered by HeBS Digital, contact us.

Asher Fusco is Senior Copy & SEO Specialist at HeBS Digital, the hospitality industry's leading full-service digital technology and marketing firm.
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