Google’s search wizard Matt Cutts released a short video explaining the 5 most frequent SEO mistakes made by website owners and SEOs. Here they are, in order:
1. Failure to have a website, or making it invisible to Google robots.
Some hoteliers have told me that having a directory listing, or a micro-site on a franchise or brand page, is enough. But clearly, Google wants to see a unique, individual web presence for each business, which means building a domain and building a hotel website for each property you own.
2. Not including the right words on the page.
This is a great one, and simply means that you should write about what your guests are searching for. If your hotel is in Boca Raton, be sure to have articles about your hotel in Boca Raton Florida, and write articles on your website like “Top 10 Things to Do in Boca Raton, Florida”.
3. Link-building, instead of building compelling content and marketing your website .
The philosophy behind this is that if you build your hotel’s reputation online, you’ll end up building quality links as a natural consequence. But if you focus solely on link-building, then you’ll miss an opportunity to build a reputation and online awareness for your hotel–and, you’ll likely attain low-quality links that could actually harm your website. In short, focus on people, not links.
4. Not thinking about the titles and descriptions of your important pages.
These are the meta title and description tags that you can edit yourself using buuteeq’s Cloud DMS, if you’re a subscriber. One of the first places Google inspects on your website is your title tag, to see what your website is about, and then your description tag to offer a short, pithy, enticing description to users in their search engine. Write a meta title that accurately says what the page is about, and that includes the appropriate keywords you’re trying to rank for. (For example, “My Florida Hotel – Boutique Hotel in Boca Raton Florida” might be an appropriate meta title tag.) Even though Google doesn’t rank your website based on what it finds in your meta description, it still may choose to show users this description. This makes your description tag an unique opportunity to convince users in your own words to click on your website. Use it well!
5. Failure to use Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) and other webmaster resources.
WMT is Google’s direct connection to you, as I explain in my guide to Webmaster Tools for hotels. It’s what they use to communicate with you when they’ve detected an unnatural link profile on your website, for example, or if they discover that your content has suddenly gone offline due to a webmaster outage. It can provide you or your webmaster with important info about how Google sees your website, so you can make the appropriate changes.
This list is a reminder to us all that, while we could spend days, weeks, or even months tweaking little things here and there, the major issues that impact our websites the most are obvious and relatively easy to fix. While it may be a fun hobby to research the inner-most workings of Google’s algorithm and making experimental changes to our websites to one-up competitors, our time is best spent elsewhere.