- Part 1: SEO Content Creation
- Part 2: SEO Backlink Generation
- Part 3: Analytics
- Part 4: Social Interaction
What’s Next? SEO Content Creation
So you’ve published your hotel’s marketing materials using buuteeq’s Cloud DMS. You’re likely wondering, “Well, what’s next?” As Kevin Costner taught us in one of America’s many cinematographic classics, “If you build it, they will come”. The goal for you now is to create compelling, quality content within buuteeq’s BackOffice that you can publish to all of your online marketing channels.
There are two reasons why this is important. The first is that your guests value quality content, and they enjoy skimming websites with interesting information. The second is that Google feels the same way. They too like scanning websites with quality content, and they tend to promote those websites above others. There are three steps you should take to create compelling content; 1) Know your area, 2) Do your research, and 3) Create something beautiful.
Step One – Know Your Area
It’s your property. No one knows it better than you! Therefore, you are the only person in the world best qualified to write about your property, how it interacts with your community and what makes it special. For this step, you need to use your insight and special knowledge to understand what sorts of local attractions bring in new guests. Are there local fairs and festivals? Is there a major local attraction, like a theme park or a natural wonder? Do travelers come to party or to explore nature? Your web content needs to communicate the fact that your property will satisfy all of the traveling needs of your guests, and that it is located in the perfect place your guests want to stay.
So, you may be wondering, how does all of this advice translate into real-world action? Let’s say your property lies close to a natural wonder—a large mountain, for example. Sit down and do research all about the mountain. Is it a volcano? When did it last erupt? Are there any interesting historic characters who once lived on the mountain? Are there springs, lakes or caves on the mountain? Can people ski and snowboard? Do some research, talk to friends, and gather all the materials you need to craft some fascinating reading for your guests.
Do this for every topic that pertains to your property. Mountains, cities, monuments, fairs, theme parks, haunted houses, legends, famous battles—write about whatever it is about your property or your community that makes you stand out, that makes you special, and that makes you worth the trip.
Step Two – Do Your Keyword Research
Next comes the tricky part: do some keyword research. Keywords and key-phrases are the actual words people type into Google to find you. If your web marketing does not contain the proper keywords, guests will have a hard time finding you. Now that you know the kinds of things you want to focus on from step one, take this knowledge and think about the kinds of words and phrases guests might use to find the content you brainstormed about.
Google has released a very handy tool to help with this called Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (KWT). To use it, signup for a free Google account and go here: Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool.
Type in the word or phrase you think guests will use to find you and press search. You will see a list of search terms and then three sections: competition, global monthly searches and local monthly searches.
The competition field shows you how hard it will be for your web content to rank well on Google for that particular keyword or key-phrase. ‘High’ means that it is very hard to rank well, because so many other websites are already ranking well for those terms. ‘Low’ means that this is not a very competitive term, so it will be easier for you to rank well for it.
Global Monthly Searches is the rounded number of unique searches for that keyword or key-phrase every month. Obviously, the high the number, the more people search for it—and the more you want to rank for it! Local Monthly Searches is similar to global. We can ignore this field for our purposes.
The ‘sweet spot’ is to find keywords or key-phrases that have medium to low competition, but also have a large amount of global monthly searches. Ranking well for these words will be easier and give you the biggest bang for your buck.
In addition to giving you information about the word or phrase you typed in, KWT will suggest other ideas you may not have thought of. Some are great! Others, not so great. You really want to whittle down this list so that you’re exploring keywords that are relevant to your needs. If the ideas KWT gives you are irrelevant, try selecting “Phrase” from the Match Types field to the left and un-selecting “Broad”. This will give you a list of ideas that contain words in the phrase you typed in. If this is still too broad, un-select “Phrase” and select “Exact”, and run the query again. This will give you a more precise list of ideas containing the exact words you typed in.
You can also select the option “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms”. This will remove more outlandish results from the list of ideas presented. It is often a good idea to check this every time, especially if you know your area well and have good keyword intuition.
Step Three – Create Something Beautiful
Now that you are fully armed with information about your community and the keywords guests use to find you, it is time to weave it all into a series of brilliant, outstanding web marketing content. If you can’t write, find a family member or employee who can, and hover over their shoulder instructing them how to complete your vision. It is also possible to hire cheap writers online.
Google, like people, loves multimedia. This means that in addition to the wonderful search-engine-friendly text you are crafting, you need to pepper your document with beautiful, high resolution photos that get people on an emotional level. Never, ever use stock photography from services like iStock or Corbis. People dislike stock photography and are likely to lose emotional interest immediately. Instead, hire a photographer or pull out your smartphone camera and take photos of your property and community yourself.
Video is increasingly becoming important. Google tends to favor content that has video. If you’re not Steven Spielberg, you can still create fun videos about your property that will make your guests laugh and give Google good content to rank. Pull out your smartphone camera and give guests a video tour of your property. Find video editing software like Adobe Premiere or Microsoft’s free Windows Movie Maker and create an image slideshow of your best photography. Interview your frequent guests and get them to sing your praises on film. Then, upload them to YouTube and insert them into your web content.
There is plenty of ongoing work to be done to ensure that you offer your guests the best experience possible. The more love and attention you put into it, the more you will get out—in both personal satisfaction and more direct online reservations!
What’s Next? SEO Backlink Generation
So your web marketing materials are in great shape and you’ve published them with buuteeq’s Cloud DMS. You’re getting traffic and bookings, but there’s always room for improvement. What next? It’s time to become a thought leader in your specific community. The benefits are many—respect, notoriety and the additional bookings that come along with it—but one of the other, more subtle benefits of though leadership within an industry is the acquisition of backlinks.
A backlink is a link on some other website that points to your website. They are valuable because each backlink offers an opportunity for a new guest to find you, but more than that, they are valuable because Google ranks websites with more backlinks higher than websites with fewer. While there are exceptions, in general, the more backlinks to your website, the higher you will rank in Google’s search engine—meaning more direct online reservations for you.
Google’s love of backlinks is no secret. Because of this, many SEO charlatans use unscrupulous techniques to gain backlinks in order to rank well artificially. Google, in turn, has developed strategies to detect and punish websites they believe are using these unscrupulous “black hat” techniques, as we cover in our article: Hotel SEO. Therefore, it is up to you to generate backlinks in an organic, “white hat” way. And you can do this by becoming a thought leader in your community.
By thought leader, we mean that when people think of ‘Pennsylvania hospitality’ or ‘inns near the Grand Canyon’, they think of your property. You can achieve this a number of ways, but each takes dedication and hard work that is worth the payoff.
One technique to establishing thought leadership is to write articles about relevant topics and get them published on other blogs. There are bound to be a dozen or so blogs out there that are popular, have regular readers, and are all about your area and your specific field. Do you know the best restaurants in your city? Write a blog post about it. Approach the owner of a blog about restaurants in your city and offer them your article. Do you know the best secret beaches near your property? Write about them, and then offer the article to an owner of a blog about your state’s natural secrets. In the article, you can include links back to your property’s website, Facebook page and more. This is a genuine, powerful way to offer new, compelling content to the web community while getting their endorsement and increasing your search relevancy.
Forum & Social Activity
There are innumerable web forum and social communities out there—there is bound to be one about your area, or about topics pertaining to your property. Google appropriate web forums and search for appropriate groups on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. Join them and be active. Don’t use the forum or group to solely promote your property. Instead, become an active member of the community and contribute. You’ll get to know other property owners in your area and learn their tips and tricks. They’ll get to know you and come to respect you for your community contributions.
Find and subscribe to blogs pertaining to your property’s interests. Become a daily reader, and engage with the blog by leaving comments. This is a great way to show off your knowledge and thought leadership, not only to the blog owners but also to the blog readers who may be tempted to visit your website after reading a pithy comment from you. Also, this is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the blog owner, who may be more open to accepting guest blog post submissions from you in the future.
Engage With Your Local Community
Go offline and make real relationships with businesses and organizations in your community. Join the PTA, volunteer for a local charity, host a city council meeting at your restaurant, become partners with a local tour guide, rock climbing club, nature society, and so on. Once you establish a real, genuine relationship, yours may be the first property they think of when a family member comes to visit, or a customer stops by and asks for the closest hotel. They may reference you in their own blog posts, link to you from their own website, or offer their own customers a special package deal to stay at your property.
Becoming an activist for your own property and a thought leader in your industry is an important step towards not only increasing occupancy but keeping it up for years to come.
What’s Next? Analytics
You’re investing a lot of time and energy into your online marketing, as you should. There is no bigger advocate for your property than yourself! The next step is to make sure that the time you’re spending is being sent on the right things by monitoring your 360 Analytics, or another 3rd party analytics service.
There’s a whole lot of information in 360 Analytics. Here are some suggestions on how you can break it all down to gauge your online marketing performance.
Make sure your on-page SEO is correct by taking a look at your website traffic organic sources. These are the visits your website has gained from search engine queries. This handy tool will show you all the major keywords that are sending traffic to your website. If the keywords you are targeting show up here, then fantastic! You’re efforts are paying off. If they aren’t, or if other words are ranking higher, then this could mean that you need to revise your on-page content.
Try writing more quality text on a page that isn’t ranking as high for a specific keyword as you wish. Do you notice traffic coming from a keyword or key-phrase that you hadn’t thought of? Fantastic! You can now write some compelling content around these new keywords to take better advantage of this traffic. Maybe you spent a whole lot of time optimizing a page for certain keywords, but the traffic is very low. Well, now you know not to invest much more time into optimizing for those keywords. Instead, look for other rising stars and focus on those.
Click on Conversions and then select your Website. Let’s look at the organic pie slice again. This will show you exactly which keywords are actually converting into booked reservations. If you discover that keywords you optimized for are not converting well, then this could mean that the layout or visual appeal of your landing pages could be improved. Go back to website visits and check the bounce rate for your top organic search terms. If it is high, then this means your page certainly needs improving.
You can improve a page by breaking up the text into more digestible chunks. The last thing a guest wants to see is a sheet of text! Break it up into segments. Make good use of headers, bullets and other text organization formatting. Make sure you have many images across all your marketing pages. Websites without images do not do well in today’s online marketing world, so make sure you use them and often. Do you have any videos? Try incorporating them as appropriate on your landing pages.
Once done, wait a week or two to see if these changes have helped. Rinse and repeat for more pages until you get everything down to a science!
Are your partners actually sending you reservations? Have all those guest blog posts you’ve written and published paid off? It’s time to found out. Check out your website traffic and take a look at the Referral slice of the pie. Here you will find all of the top level domains (websites) that are sending traffic to your website. If you discover that a web community where you spend a lot of time or energy or a blog where you frequently publish blog posts isn’t sending you much traffic, then you know that you can ease up on those and spend your efforts elsewhere.
Check out the bounce rate for each domain, and then compare it with the number of conversions each domain offers you. If a certain community has a high bounce rate, then you know that this community isn’t really interested in what you do, so you can avoid spending time there. If, on the other hand, a blog where you post infrequently has a high conversion percentage, then you know that you should probably post there more frequently.
Are you running a Google Adwords campaign or some other online advertising strategy? Your results will show up here as a separate slice of the pie. Compare the stats with your organic and referral traffic. If you get more traffic and conversions from organic and referral traffic, then maybe you don’t need to spend your money on online advertising.
There is a plethora of data within 360 Analytics that, when interpreted correctly, can help you make important online marketing investments. After all, time is money—especially your time! Spend it wisely.
What’s Next? Social Interaction
Social travelers can be tough to catch in your butterfly net of online marketing. It’s just not enough to have a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest presence and never use them. Social networks are social communities and, like in real life, no one wants to interact with the wallflower who just shows up and stands there. Instead, if you want to get the most out of the social sphere, you must interact with guests there.
Create, find and share quality, interesting information. Try not to be self-promotional. Instead, be a curator of the most interesting travel information and news that pertains to your property, for example, and share it with your followers. Let them know about property improvements and include pictures. Ask questions and be provocative. Be active, and your fans will interact with you.
Updating your Facebook page once a month simply won’t cut it. Instead, you need to be consistent with your updates. Do you want to do it once a day or once a week? Both are great options—just be sure to choose one and be consistent. The more you publish, the more interactions you will get, and the more traffic you have the potential of sending to your website.
When guests communicate with you, communicate back! Part of being active in the social sphere is building relationships with new guests and old friends. Guests are more likely to be repeat visitors—and to recommend you to friends and family—if they feel like they have a relationship with you. Respond to their comments, tweets and updates. Like and +1 their photos, links and status updates. Ask for their advice and opinions, and be appreciative of their feedback.
We at buuteeq hope this What’s Next guide gave you some great ideas on things to tackle next. As always, please call or email us with any questions!