When people talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) they sometimes equate it to SEM (Search Engine Marketing). While the two concepts are related, they are not equivalent.
- SEO refers to the “organic” or “algorithmic” search results that appear in Google, Bing, and other search engines. There is no direct way to invest in improving your hotel’s search engine ranking.
- SEM is a form of Internet marketing that aims to increase visibility of websites in search engine result pages through paid placement. This includes “Pay Per Click”, Google Adwords, Display Advertising, etc. SEM techniques involve the purchase of advertising services and can be closely monitored for results.
This blog post focuses solely on SEO—background of SEO and tips for hotels to improve SEO for hotels. SEM techniques will be discussed in future postings.
PageRank and Backlinks
PageRank is an algorithm used by Google that determines the order in which websites appear in search results. This is based on the number of quality backlinks to a website. Banklinks are incoming links to a website (also known as inbound links) and indicate who is coming to your website. The best thing a hotel can do is try to get coverage from people talking about their hotel in reputable online communities such as tripadvisor, Facebook, yelp, travel-related magazines and blogs, and mainstream press. If a very well-known and important website, blog, magazine, etc. points to your site, Google sees that and says “Hey, someone important thinks you are important, so you must be important!”
While PageRank is an important indicator of how well your site is performing relative to similar sites, it is not something anyone can accurately quantify or estimate because it is constantly changing and the real data is not published frequently by Google (currently only twice per year). The PageRank algorithm is constantly being refined as Google crawlers work continually to assess the worth and relevance for a site. For example, one day Google might pick up on some backlinks to your site and determine that your site is important resulting in a higher rank in search results. Later, Google realizes that these backlinks aren’t quality links, meaning they were not acquired naturally, and decides to dismiss these backlinks.
You can check your site’s PageRank score by using several online sites, such as http://www.whatsmypr.net. A top hotel might achieve a score of 6 or 7, while a new hotel or one with a underperforming website will have a score of 0-2. Google suggests that PageRank is only one of over 200 indicators that affect how a site is crawled, indexed, and ranked. Google recommends instead thinking about metrics such as conversation rates, ROI, and relevancy to correlate meaningful gains to your site.
Futility – Nobody Can Guarantee Improvement of SEO
The algorithms Google employs to index and rank websites remains a secret though many people have tried to reverse engineer Google’s algorithms to improve their SEO. These attempts often involve a degree or trickery and deception such as keyword stuffing, repeating meta-tag keywords, and using meta keywords that are unrelated to the site’s content. Beating Google at the SEO ranking game is usually a futile effort, as Google’s algorithms eventually discover and correct for juiced keywords by reducing a site’s ranking or completely removing them from the index.
Though no one can guarantee improvement of SEO, there are some SEO-friendly efforts that have demonstrated time and time again to improve a site’s performance in search results. buuteeq performs several important SEO-friendly actions that help to enhance hotels’ performance in search results.
buuteeq Websites are SEO-Friendly
buuteeq powered websites are built with SEO friendly industry standard technology ensuring proper indexing by Google and other search engines. In addition, buuteeq is able to localize a hotel’s website and having a localized version of your hotel’s website will do wonders for your SEO position in foreign markets. Most guests visit hotels’ websites through Google search results in their native language. What hotel owners may not realize is that Google search results are totally different when searching from other countries. Searching hotels from Spain, France, or China renders very different results. Therefore having a localized Spanish version or Chinese version of a hotel’s website greatly enhances SEO results in those markets.
Every market is different and buuteeq works to become familiar with different markets in order to make good recommendations to hotels. For example, in Chile, Portuguese is the most important language after English because Brazilians make up over 50% of inbound foreign travelers to Chile each year. Another example—over 80% of Germans that travel abroad speak English, making an investment in a German language localized version of a hotel’s website largely unnecessary. buuteeq works with hotels to help them understand which language translations are most beneficial to their website in a cost effective that allows hotels to make changes to their marketing content while buuteeq translates the content seamlessly.
Tips to Further Improve your hotel’s SEO
A good rule of thumb is to think of the end user first and foremost when creating a website and not the search engine. Real people are the actual audience of your site and if they don’t find your site useful or relevant, neither will a search engine. So be sure that your site contains rich and valuable content that people would be interested in learning about and hopefully share with their friends. Here are some tips to engage with people online that will help enhance your hotel’s SEO:
- Invest in getting reputable sites to point to you. If people find your site relevant and useful, especially if these are important people such as reputable press, bloggers, and travel industry related sites, then Google will also find your site important which can improve SEO. In order to get credible sites to point back to your site, they must also find you credible. The next two tips can help build your credibility.
- Encourage guests to write positive comments in social networks. The more people are talking about you, the more important you are. Encourage your friends and guests to mention positive comments about your hotel in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and in their blogs. Demonstrate that your site has a positive influence over many people and this can prove your credibility.
- Register your hotel with key online directories. Before people start talking about your hotel they must first be able to find you. Register your hotel with key hospitality sites such as TripAdvisor, Yahoo Directory, and Google Places. Make sure that your hotel’s information is consistent across all directories. If your hotel’s info appears the same in many different sources, this shows Google that you are a trusted brand. Registering in Google Places is especially important as your hotel will appear on a Google map which can greatly improve discovery.