The Top 10 Questions Hoteliers Should Be Asking Their SEO Vendor

By Erica Garza

With Google releasing over 500 algorithm updates each year and search engine results
constantly in flux, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices are always evolving.
And with search engines contributing at least 50% of bookings on hotel websites,
website SEO must be kept up to par via high-quality, helpful, engaging and relevant
website content.

Choosing the correct SEO vendor is a crucial factor in creating and implementing an
efficient digital marketing strategy. Consider the following questions when deciding on
the right vendor:

1. Do you have experience in Hospitality SEO?

Inherently different from the common retail site, a hotel website requires a unique set
of standards and best practices in order to function properly and accrue revenue. A
hospitality website must speak to both the travel consumer and the search engine in
precise balance using engaging, quality content that has been optimized with strategic,
geo-centric keyword terms. Users will learn about the property while being presented
with clear calls-to-action to complete the booking process with ease. Along with unique,
relevant property info and consistent brand tone throughout, the site must position the
hotel as the hero of the destination.

HeBS Digital has been consistently evolving SEO best practices for the hospitality
industry over the past 18 years and published the first white paper on SEO in hospitality
back in 1998. No one else in the industry has perfected this proven method of success.

2. Do you create engaging, quality content?

Google’s ongoing algorithmic updates dictates website content must be deep, relevant,
unique and editorial. In order for websites to avoid penalty (i.e. falling in the search
engine ranks or being trashed altogether), there must be no duplicate content, no
heavy ads and no spelling or factual errors, among many more high standards.
Creating a structured content creation plan that adheres to these standards is not just
recommended, but required. For instance, adding pages about events such as nearby
college graduations, annual happenings or popular sporting events will help to create
more depth in the site, give more real estate to targeted keyword terms and increase
PPC campaigns’ quality scores.

HeBS Digital’s team of SEO experts takes the Google pulse daily, always staying ahead
of best practices and adjusting strategies to best fit the fastidious needs of today’s
search engine.

3. How do you factor in the Hummingbird update?

Content for the hotel website must align with the standards of “editorial quality” as
mandated by the Hummingbird update. Local destination content is more important
than ever, as this algorithm means to gather better, more intuitive results for users via
conversational and destination-specific search queries. It is now crucial to overhaul your
current website by adopting the latest CMS technology and create quality content that
accurately represents your property and its destination. By doing so, Google will reward
you handsomely.

The latest Google Hummingbird algorithm update simply emphasizes the copywriting
strategy that HeBS Digital has used for years and perfected at this point. Generating
high-quality content that engages and informs users is key.

4. Do you employ page-centric vs. keyword-centric approach?

Last year Google “celebrated” the end of the keyword-centric era and ushered in the
page-centric era. This new initiative is in tune with Google Panda Update, which punishes
low-quality content that provides poor user experience andengagement. In other words,
Google shifted their affection from keyword-centric to page-centric content. Low-quality,
keyword-stuffed content is now prone to punishment at the hands of Google, while high-
quality, helpful, engaging and relevant content is rewarded with high search engine
results page placement. Any hotel website without sufficient depth of content would have
a hard time with search engine rankings.

HeBS Digital recommends a minimum of 25-35 content pages for a select service
property, and 35-50 pages of content for a full-service property website. A large full-
service hotel or resort’s website should begin with 100 pages of content. Utilizing the
website’s CMS platform, create landing pages for each hotel special offer, package or
promotion, as well as for events at the property or in the destination.

One of the first steps in ensuring quality, page-centric content is to hire professional
SEO copywriters that are knowledgeable in the hospitality industry and well-versed in
Google’s latest practices. But that’s not all. They must also be capable of producing
engaging, fresh, appealing content that users want to read. HeBS Digital’s team of
experts can be called “travel writers” in their own right, seamlessly creating unique and
compelling content that appeals to both the user and Google.

5. Is all SEO, copywriting, paid search, design and development done in-

Many interactive and digital marketing agencies outsource their services, resulting in
subpar SEO practices as well as delays that will cost your business precious traffic and
dollars. With today’s complex, three-screen (desktop, mobile, tablet) digital
environment that integrates social media and must adhere to the constant changes in
best practices, you need a partner who fully understands these complexities and knows
how to maximize revenues from every angle of the property website.

You should choose a full-service digital marketing partner that has extensive in-house
expertise in everything digital. For example, here at HeBS Digital we do not outsource
any of our marketing efforts. From website design and development to paid search,
social media and, of course, copywriting and SEO, we have complete control over the
entire project from start to finish and can implement best practices and latest
technological innovations throughout the whole process.

6. How do you tailor SEO for mobile devices?

With the explosion of the three screens, hoteliers must now manage campaigns for
desktop, mobile and tablet devices, with each device requiring a different approach,
strategy and tactics. Like desktop, quality content is the biggest necessity 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. But, users
favor content that is short, concise and easy to navigate.

For example here at HeBS Digital, we understand three-screen technology down to a
science, especially its newest related phenomenon, cross-device use. A study done on
cross-device use reveals that, in the span of one day or less, people are using multiple
devices to accomplish the same task, such as booking a hotel. To make the most of
this complex user behavior, be sure to partner with a team that knows how to profit on
the latest technological advancements.

7. What role does local search play in SEO?

Over a third of all searches are local in character. Hoteliers have noticed that local
search listings, such as Google Places, generate an abundance of website visits and
bookings based on a separate algorithm. The first step to securing a strong presence in
local search is to claim and optimize listings on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local
as well as main data providers. Information must be factual, verified and concise. In
addition, hoteliers can also improve their local search rankings via a robust link-building

At HeBS Digital, local search is a priority in every one of our SEO services and
campaigns. Hotels serve localized areas and by using a proper citation acquisition plan
we vigorously seek to bring that local relevance to the forefront of your search engine

8. What link-building efforts do you seek and how are they affected by the
Penguin 2.0 update?

Google’s latest Penguin update (2.0)further penalized link farms
and purchased links. Paid links now have very little SEO value. It is imperative that
hoteliers 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. It is also incredibly strategic to
developing editorial and engaging content on the hotel website, which then becomes
valuable resource to local and regional directories, destination sites and blogs. It is also
imperative to collaborate with local bloggers to have your hotel mentioned and linked to
in their blog postings.

These are just a few of the many of evolving factors search engines consider when
determining rankings. To stay on top of all the latest algorithm updates and search
trends, partner with a digital marketing agency like HeBS Digital that stays informed of
all things search-related.

9. Do you have a proprietary CMS (Content Management System) that will
allow me to keep my website content fresh?

One of the biggest factors in a revenue-generating SEO strategy is having the ability to
update website content consistently and keep the website content “fresh” with up-to-
date algorithm adjusts, new hotel offerings and packages, events or happenings at the
property or in the destination. Having a state-of-the-art CMS allows for adding an
unlimited number of pages, updating 100% of the content on these pages, changing all
photos on the site, creating photo animations on every page and creating unlimited
landing and marketing pages and promo tiles for special offers, packages and events.

Today’s hotelier must have immediate access to a Responsive Design on Server Side
(RESS)-enabled CMS technology, which allows single-dashboard management of the
website content for all three screens (desktop, mobile and tablet). This CMS must
function as the core of your digital marketing, where every website update, social media
post and image can be published with the click of a button.

For example, HeBS Digital’s proprietary CMS equips hotel clients with an award-winning,
fast, cloud-based CMS, developed exclusively for hospitality use. HeBS Digital’s CMS
provides an easy-to-use ‘Page Manager Module’ and ‘Image Manager Module’ to allow
you to manage all content seamlessly across three screens, saving you thousands of
dollars every year.

10. Do you use BrightEdge to provide ongoing SEO support after the website

Producing SEO-enhanced content that adheres to Google’s latest updates, along with
designing, building and launching your property’s new website is just the beginning. SEO
is not a static initiative, and to be to be successful, hoteliers’ SEO strategy must be
consistently tweaked and updated to capitalize on new revenue opportunities.

With as many changes that happen online and best practices consistently evolving, a
property website that is not supported by digital marketing and up-to-the-minute SEO
efforts will only last so long on the web, producing minimal revenues over time. In order
to keep online bookings coming and revenues growing, any new property website needs
ongoing SEO services to ensure the new website generates optimal revenue and
addresses the property’s business and occupancy needs year-round.

Therefore utilizing intelligent SEO technology such as BrightEdge, the most sophisticated
search engine ranking and analysis tool in the marketplace today, is essential not only
to understand what SEO opportunities your own website is missing, but what are the SEO
strengths and weaknesses of your competitors in order to capitalize on their
weaknesses and outdo their successes.

In addition to BrightEdge, it is imperative that your SEO is managed by a full-service
digital marketing firm in order to not only maximize revenues from natural search,
improve the Quality Index of your paid search campaigns, and stay abreast of all the
search engines’ updates, but also integrate your SEO efforts with your property’s
multichannel digital marketing campaigns, from SEO to SEM to email marketing, online
media and retargeting, social media and mobile marketing.

HeBS Digital’s Website Revenue Optimization Consultants and Account Managers are
intimately involved in the actual website development process, and post-launch utilize
the full digital marketing toolkit: SEO,SEM, Online Media, Email Marketing, Meta Search, Reservation Recovery Applications, Multi-Channel Marketing, Social Media, and much more, to ensure that property
websites are living up to today’s strict guidelines for SEO success and continuing to
produce revenues that grow considerably over time.

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