Hotel Internet Marketing|”Google Says Goodbye To Centric SEO”

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By                 :    Max Starkov & Sue Wiker
Category    :    Hotel Internet Marketing

Hotel Internet Marketing
Hotel Internet Marketing

Since late 2011, Google has been moving in the direction of secure search. Put simply, this means that Google users’ keyword searches are “protected” and are not disclosed to any website analytics tools, including Google Analytics, therefore showing up in analytics data as [not provided]. In other words, Google is not disclosing to website owners the keyword terms visitors use to find the site, e.g. “downtown Houston Hotels” or “Hotel near Times Square.” Lately, such protected searches in the travel industry hovered just below 50 percent, meaning that almost half of all traffic from Google could not be broken down to the individual keyword level and attributed to a specific keyword referral. As of this week, Google has made secure search the default, meaning that SEO marketers will no longer be able to see how much traffic and revenue were brought in to the website by specific keywords. Why is this important for the industry? In spite of all the new digital marketing initiatives that overwhelm hoteliers nowadays, search engines produce more than half of total website revenue across HeBS Digital’s client portfolio, including SEO revenues (32.7%) and paid search revenues (22.9%). Therefore it has always been of utmost importance to determine which keyword terms bring the most relevant website visitors and contribute to the bulk of the bookings.

This major shift on behalf of Google marks the end of the keyword-centric era and ushers 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 and engagement. Focusing on keywords is a relic from the days when paid search (SEM) did most of the heavy lifting for sites; campaigns had to focus on keywords within the confines of the bidding structure. While individual keyword-level reporting is gone from website analytics for Google, the sum of the data is still available. SEO marketers will still be able to monitor organic performance for Google on the whole, as well as keyword-level data for Bing and Yahoo. This information will still be valuable for generating content themes, blog posts, and other quality content with a focus on an engaging user experience. Without keyword-specific data, SEO marketers must focus on what HeBS Digital has been supporting all along: relevant, editorial-quality website content. These new policy measures by Google make keyword-centric practices utilized by most cottage SEO “experts” obsolete. Hoteliers should reconsider spending money on old-fashioned keyword-centric techniques such as keyword stuffing and mindless meta data optimizations, and instead focus on practices centered on the creation of high-quality, unique, and engaging website content that is valuable to the user.

In addition, there is a direct correlation between the quality of the website SEO and the results from your SEM campaigns. The better the SEO on the site, the better the Quality Index assigned to your paid search campaigns by Google, which means higher ad position, better conversion rates, higher ROIs, and lower cost per click. A robust content strategy, supported by adequate technology and marketing funds, can make all the difference and allow the hotel to maximize its revenues from the search engines.

Hoteliers should consider using sophisticated SEO monitoring tools that are designed to ease the transition from keyword-specific strategies to content-specific strategies. One such tool is BrightEdge, the most advanced SEO-tracking tool in the market. As a Certified BrightEdge Partner, HeBS Digital uses this advanced tracking technology to support all of our clients’ SEO efforts. One of the very useful BrightEdge features is the Page Manager, which allows our team to identify the organic performance of each page on the website and receive targeted recommendations for each one. Working in this manner, SEO tools strengthen the impact of each content page as opposed to focusing on how to achieve rankings for individual keywords.

HeBS Digital offers comprehensive ongoing SEO packages that are custom-tailored to each site’s needs. By including BrightEdge, our team has access to features such as the aforementioned Page Manager as well as a host of others that deliver invaluable insights. These packages allow our team to fluidly apply an evolving SEO strategy as opposed to delivering an arbitrary number of pages or links per month. The end result is an SEO-sound site complete with quality pages, valuable links, and an ongoing content strategy that will continue to drive revenues.

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