When I started in the travel industry, if a consumer wanted inspiration for their next vacation, they’d typically walk into a travel agency, ask friends and family, read travel mags, watch TV ads or otherwise throw a dart at a map.
Fast forward to 2015, when the consumer’s path to a terrific travel experience occurs across multiple devices, many different websites and social networks, all peppered with vivid images and rich descriptions. But the real magic of today’s research for hotel shoppers is that from start to finish, some form of search is involved.
As search gets more sophisticated, think: Google’s algorithm changes between 500 and 600 times a year, hotel marketers have to continuously stay on top of search engine optimization (SEO) revisions to ensure their property holds its own on SERPs (search engine results pages).
The fact is that 85% of travelers use the web for research and booking travel and the majority start with a search engine query. So it seems to me that the consumer’s approach to learning about travel choices is becoming more dependent upon search capabilities, not less. And that raises the question:
What is the role of SEO in today’s digital era?
With an average of three billion web searches a day, Internet search is critical to gaining an edge over your competition for every industry and especially hospitality, since more than 85% of travel planning now begins online and 90% of travelers start their search with Google, a travel site or an OTA.
The old saying that “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” applies here too: If you have a website but no one can find it online, does it really exist?
The Way We Search is Changing
The way consumers search for information online today is changing. These findings from Moz.com, a leading inbound marketing software company, speak volumes:
- Today, more than 75% of all clicks within search results are for organic versus paid links
- Content creation is becoming the predominant SEO and social media strategy because it produces the best qualitative results
- The most popular forms of marketing content are blog posts, social media, articles, guides and press releases
- Google’s search algorithm is changing between 500 and 600 times per year
- Continuous search engine research is becoming more and more important for SEO maintenance
- The correlation between social media sharing and inbound links is proof that brand social media signals are becoming a dominant force in maintaining SEO
How to Keep Up
Search technology is transforming quickly, and we need to stay ahead of the changes – and the first step is understanding what SEO tactics matter today and which ones don’t. Google’s algorithms are quick to penalize websites that don’t follow best practices and hotels marketers can’t afford for that to happen to them.
We’ve put together a beginner’s guide to SEO that shows you the essential SEO elements every website needs and answers the hot topics we’ve been asked such as:
- How social media plays into SEO
- Why mobile matters for SEO
- What is localization
- Plus the basics on SEO (page titles, meta tags, keywords and more)
You can check out the guide here to get ahead of the game – and to stay relevant in the ever-changing SEO world.
Read the Rest of the Series
This is the 3rd in a series of 4 blog articles about optimizing your hotel website to drive traffic and conversions. Jump to the other 3 articles listed below.