We’ve been asked time and time again if optimizing a hotel’s website with keyword-rich content is still a relevant SEO strategy. And our answer is absolutely yes! However, SEO has evolved significantly in the past ten years when search engines relied solely on keywords to identify the purpose of your website and black hat practices, such as keyword stuffing, worked. In recent years, search engines, especially Google, have modified their search algorithm to include several other key factors, and search visibility success has become a lot more complex. Search Engine Watch recently published an article1 sharing a few on-site optimization factors that can affect your online success, and here’s our dissection of their list:
Keyword placement vs. frequency on your hotel’s website
Keywords optimization is still relevant and we don’t see it going out the door. However, it is important to note that the placement of the keywords within your site is more important than frequency. There are several areas where keywords should be placed and here is the list in order of priority:
- Meta information (title and description tags) and headers (h1, h2, h3)
- Body copy
- Side bars and footers
Keywords and website content quality relative to hotels
Rather than honing in on a specific keyword phrase for your entire site, use different keyword themes for each page on your site. Why? For one, focusing on a specific keyword phrase can make the site content repetitive and can actually hurt your site’s SEO more than help it rank. In addition, each page on your site is essentially a separate sales person selling to different markets or keyword themes. So if you dedicate one page to target “cheap hotels in San Francisco” and another page to target “hotels near San Francisco Zoo”, you essentially have two sales persons: one selling to people looking for inexpensive rooms in San Francisco, and one selling to people looking for a place to stay near the zoo.
Keyword meaning vs. specific words
Google reads and interprets your hotel’s website content, then forms its own conclusion about what the site is about, and the products or services it offers. To further explain, Google looks for synonyms to your keywords and use that to match it to the searcher’s query. For example, “pictures” and “photos” mean the same thing in most instances.”2 That means it doesn’t matter if you use the term trip or travel, hotel or resort, lodging or accommodation. Your hotel’s website can be using the phrase “San Francisco Hotel” and still show up on search results when the query “San Francisco Resort” is used.
Semantic Search and the hotel industry
Google find meaning to user searches through “semantic search.” If Google strictly provides results based on keywords, then when a searcher uses the phrase “cheap rooms in San Francisco”, the search engine will look for any site that has the words “cheap” “rooms” “San” and “Francisco” in its content. However, with semantic search, Google looks at the meaning behind the query and looks for other variations for the term including “inexpensive places to stay in and around San Francisco”. And as long as your site content makes it seem that you offer inexpensive rooms and that your hotel is located in or near San Francisco, your hotel website can show up in the search results – even if your site content does not have the exact phrase “cheap rooms in San Francisco”.
User experience is just as important as keywords
As we mentioned earlier, search engines have and will continue to modify their algorithm to provide the best search experience to the end users. This includes the following highly important ranking factors:
- Website Structure: If your site is easy to navigate and users can easily find the information they want, then Google, Bing, and other search engines will reward your site. How to do this:
- Title your hotel’s webpages appropriately
- The header bar or main navigation should be intuitive
- Use a sitemap that lays out your hotel’s website as a whole
- Interlink inside pages to each other by hyperlinking content
- Limit the number of clicks users need to do to get from one page to the other
- Site Speed & Security: websites that load quickly will rank far higher than sites that take forever to load. Clean up your cache, vet your plugins, and improve your site speed. One online tool that we us to check for site speed and to get recommendation on how to improve is GTMetrix. You simply enter your site’s URL and it’ll give it a grade!
- Schema markup: these are html tags that help Google and search engines easily understand what your site and business is about rather than relying solely on scanning the content for keywords. It’s a way to tell them, “Hey Google! This webpage is about a hotel near San Francisco Zoo”. To learn more about schemas and how it can help boost your hotel’s search ranking, read this article: https://blog.milestoneinternet.com/industry-news/in-the-grand-schema-of-things/.
In summary, search engines are branching their focus out of just using keywords to provide the best search experience to their users. However, this doesn’t mean that keyword strategy for SEO is no longer important and should be forgotten. Rather, expand your hotel search engine optimization efforts to include other key hotel Internet marketing strategies to further enhance your search ranking.
Want more information on how to optimize your hotel website? Contact us!
Teresa Villaruz, Sr. Marketing Manager