SEO Strategy For Hotels|”It’s Time To Burst The Hotel SEO Bubble”

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By                 :  Vikram Singh 
Category    :  SEO Strategy For Hotels

SEO Strategy For Hotels
SEO Strategy For Hotels

Hotel search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most debated online marketing techniques in our industry; that’s because its efficacy is hard to prove, and techniques have to constantly change to outmaneuver Google’s updates. Google maintains strict control and secrecy about how they manage and update their search engine results pages. Of course, there are guidelines posted on their Webmaster Central product, and a few utterances here and there. This leaves the floor open for some serious speculation… Cue in the SEO “experts.” I am not an SEO expert, nor have I played one on TV. But I am definitely a trained SEO observer who has been in the industry for a decade, and a huge fan of web analytics and data-driven decision making. It’s sad to see articles like this circulated in the hotel industry: “Google and SEO: what you should do, should not do, penguin, panic, panda, algorithm,” followed by “please hire us, we have the answer.” These articles are usually written by the SEO Manager of a big WalMart-style hotel marketing agency. Agencies also circulate baseless, misleading and ridiculous statistics, like: ”56% of hotel revenue is from SEO.”

On the other side, there is a counter-culture saying that SEO is dead and has been dead for a while. Both camps are wrong. Extreme views and made-up statistics like these are harmful to the hotel industry. So, when did it all get out of hand? What should hotels and travel websites really be doing to improve their Google organic (SEO) revenue? Let’s start by taking a look back …way back. There was a Golden Age of Hotel SEO You better believe it! It was 2000-2010. I vividly remember it. A hotel could not only get placement right on the very top left of the screen for hyper-competitive terms like “hotels in NYC” or “hotels in London,” but could also get hundreds of thousands of visits and millions of dollars in revenue. There were no maps, no carousels, and no hotel finders. Now guess who really capitalized on SEO during this Golden Age. If you guessed hotel brands, you are wrong. OTAs like and ruled in the US; in Europe made millions. (Their success continues to this day.) Brands like Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and IHG, to name a few, were actually busy shutting down their property-level websites. Hotel marketing types refused to believe in online marketing; they were so caught up in their own hype that they missed the boat to the greatest hotel revenue party on the planet. It was a blunder that is painful for me to bring up, but for the sake of history I must.

Fast forward to today. OTAs still rule Google and rank for some heavy-hitting terms. However, Google any “hotel + city name” term and you will no longer see an independent hotel, or a brand site, show up on the top half of your screen. Google has taken a machete to the traditional organic results page to push the products that make them money. Now it’s all about the Benjamins (Google Map Ads, Google Hotel Finder Ads, and good old PPC). 2013 might not be the Golden Age of Hotel SEO, but there is much you can do. “Optimize everything” is my philosophy. Here are some things you need to consider if you are serious about improving your hotel’s website’s organic rankings and online revenue.

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