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You’ve discovered this timely SEO guide to getting your hotel or resort back in front of potential visitors and the search engines! Before you high-five yourself, some sobering thoughts.
The booking landscape is now more competitive than ever for hotels and resorts.
If you are in any of the major global tourist destinations which I focus on, such as Las Vegas, Cape Town, Siem Reap and Bangkok, then you know how tough it is to get a chunk of new business from first-time visitors who will go on to become repeat clients of your hotel. There’s a lot of growth in Asian markets, for instance, but the U.S. and mature destinations are quite cutthroat as it is.
Most hotel marketers are now familiar with the need to do regular content marketing to improve traffic and engage with your brand fans.
Many, however, are unaware just how competitive the content marketing scene is becoming and what you need to do to stand out against all the link farms cropping up over the internet, many laying claim to the same hotel keywords that you might be targeting for your SEO efforts and social media. According to IBM, about 90% of content available online was created over the last 2 years.
This means unless you are tapping into the best content and traffic developing insights, your hotel site might get lost in the flood of voices online.
In this comprehensive guide I will show you the 7 severe digital marketing mistakes that many hotels, casinos and resorts are making that cause their online marketing efforts to fall flat, why most hotel marketers are failing to grow their sites, why you might be missing massive traffic available to you, and my proven ways to solve them.
If you take these lessons and carefully apply them to your own business, you can grow your hotel or resort business with more traffic and greatly increase bookings. Then we can all go back to playing Monopoly and reading web comics about why hotel digital marketing efforts fail!
The First Deadly Sin: Your website is not SEO optimized for mobile, and is slow like 90s internet
Let’s not pretend we’re in the 90s anymore. Consumers want things fast, snappy, and, preferably, mobile!
Mobile unfriendly sites can be the death-knell for your search engine optimization efforts. Slow sites, no matter how content rich, suffer from a bad case of bounce-it-is. With a high bounce rate, visitors come to your site, then they notice how slow and clunky everything is, and they bounce.
If you are to get the hotel’s SEO house in order, optimizing for mobile traffic will take you far.
There is no excuse in this day and age to have a site lacking responsive design. If you are absolutely cheap, you can still get a fairly nice theme from a vendor or theme developer for less than a hundred bucks.
Mobile now accounts for a majority of traffic
For hotels in particular, mobile traffic accounts for as much as 50% or more of all online traffic. About 68% of travelers use a mobile device to conduct research on an upcoming trip for personal travel, and more than 53% use mobile devices to check in to hotels, cruises and flights. With so much mobile traffic and activity, you should really be laying down the infrastructure to capture a lot of that incoming traffic. Operators in niches like ecommerce and retailing have really latched onto the behavioral shift towards mobile access.
So should you.
Consumers prefer the convenience of always-on access and are researching travel destinations from every conceivable location and time. Many expect to be able to find a convenient hotel room and book it in one session from their smartphone or tablet.
The truth is, if you think this is some utopian scenario that will revert back to the norm over the next several years, you are in for a rough ride.
Expect this trend to accelerate in the next few years.
As newer devices enter the market and give visitors new options for querying the availability of travel and hospitality options, hotel brands that jump on the trends will jump-start their way to deeper visitor engagement and deeper pockets.
Your slow website messes up your UX and will be penalized by Google and other search engines
Google has placed emphasis in prior updates for webmasters on optimizing your sites for mobile access. In particular, Google will penalize sites with a poor mobile user experience. This makes sense from a usability standpoint for Google’s customers, the many millions of people who use the site regularly to find directions for travel and information sources as well as make bookings.
Your mobile customers are out there.
If you are offering them a bad mobile experience, some other web-savvy hotel or worse, an online travel agency like Expedia that has invested tons of money into offering a smooth mobile experience will hijack them.
First steps to a better mobile experience: a speed test or other performance test
Smart marketers realize that the customer experience does not begin when someone purchases a ticket on your website. Rather, it begins earlier in the process, when they click around on your site for the first time, trying to get some information or a contact.
You want to impress them at that point. So try and put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and investigate how optimal your site is for those mobile browsers that will be checking you out.
There is a wide variety of performance test tools now to allow you to evaluate your site.
Task your developers to come up with daily, weekly and monthly reports for your site speed, and benchmark them against other figures from your competitors.
Be warned though: other hotel websites might not be the best comparisons because they are so slow themselves. Pick another, more technically-aware niche, like search engines, and use figures from that to benchmark your own speed figures. You may want to test for mobile access speed as well as peak load performance, simulating when potentially thousands of prospects are hitting your site at the same time to access a hot deal.
You got some results. Now what? Optimize your site for speed, forget everything else
Armed with data from your speed tests, it’s time to take inventory and pinpoint where you are falling short. A major site overhaul may be in the works. Certainly I would not rest easy and go on with a slow site with the excuse that it takes money to revamp your site.
An investment into a mobile-friendly and faster website will pay back for itself in higher traffic and more satisfied online visitors.
Some people will say they optimize for images or some preferred vanity metric.
As far as the search engines go, however, you wouldn’t believe how much emphasis they’ve got going for your site’s speed. Everything else is secondary. However, think about how you will convert high levels of traffic into repeat visitors.
Look into using a CDN to deliver certain asset types
Hotels operators love using images in their marketing materials, and with good reason. Good images put a picture and a face to your address and claims of picturesque hotel surroundings. I’ll say images are indispensable, since visitors want to get a sense of where they will stay and decide if they can put up with where you want to put them for an entire week’s stay.
However you need to be mindful that large, high-definition images are the bane of web speeds, especially on mobile. You will therefore want to use a CDN for delivering most images and certain asset types like videos and other non-text content. Some video-hosting providers have popped up on the scene lately to deliver this service.
You should go with a good one. I should warn you, however, that some of these websites will promise you global fast load times, but the reality is that it is cheaper for them to deliver content to certain geographic areas and more expensive for other locations. Some will short-change you by loading images and video more slowly in more expensive locations other than the one where you are likely to be located.
The world of devices is yours, so test your sites on a variety of mobile devices
There’s stunning variety and fragmentation in the Android devices market, but the same is happening for iOS and Blackberry, along with the many new mobile operating systems coming out.
Be prepared to test your mobile-optimized site for all these devices and operating systems.
Consider releasing a mobile app for your hotel brand and offer it to loyal customers
To give loyal customers the most convenient access to all that your hotel has to offer, you really want to create a mobile app. It’s such an easy and obvious gain that it’s surprising how many hotel owners will resist going mobile.
In this day and age, a mobile app is a smart way to stay in your visitors’ back pocket wherever they go, and the convenience of being on their app dashboard can’t be overstated. Tie some offer into the app, for instance they get a monthly exclusive package or enter a draw when they download the app. More app downloads will lead to more interactions and deeper relationships with your customers. Then look into how to convert mobile subscribers into repeat visitors of your resort or hotel.
Communicate your brand better with nice, clean, simple designs
Don’t go for cluttered designs in your website or mobile app unless you absolutely have to. People sometimes take a look at the cluttered designs of some sites like Amazon and think they should do the same. They have good reasons for doing that.
Instead, your hotel website really needs to jump on the flat design bandwagon.
Take a page from the simplicity of Google search page.
Just a text box, a logo and a button. It can’t really get much simpler than that. If you have to be fancy, compare the performance with simpler designs first to make sure. Your customers may well prefer the simpler, easier-to-use design.
The Second Deadly Sin: You are relying on your OTA for bookings, love and everything
I hate to break it to you.
OTAs are not what you think they are. You see them as a quick way to make a buck, and they see you as a quick way to make a buck. What’s going on here, sounds like someone’s gonna get hurt!
Here I break down how this works.
Assuming you’re now done optimizing your website for mobile sites and maybe even have a brand-new mobile app using the guidelines detailed above, we’ll now turn to this traffic source that a lot of hotels think will bring them lots of free traffic instantly.
There’s a lot of these online travel agencies (OTAs) like Hotels.com, Expedia. OTAs specialize in bringing you orders for rooms at a percentage cut of the revenue from the orders they bring in. While they are fine for getting some minimum level of business coming your way, there have been a lot of complaints against OTAs, with complaints ranging from high commissions to brand erosion. These are meritable complaints.
From a hotelier’s perspective, in an ideal world there would be no OTAs and you would manage relationships with your hotel or resort’s visitors yourself. Why rely on someone else, a third party with different motivations, to stand between you and your customers?
You need to invest in traffic and revenue channels that leave you in firm control of your brand and long-term relationship with hotel visitors.
The reality: OTAs limit your relationships with your customers
OTAs promise that they will give you visibility on their websites with images, videos and customer reviews being showcased to communicate your message clearly to customers and get repeat bookings.
Well the reality is that by allowing the OTA to go find the customer on your behalf, you’re surrendering the upper hand in the relationship. This would be a marketer’s deadliest sin back in the offline world, except you expect the OTAs to hand over the customer conveniently to you and bug off! No way.
These are smart organizations with smart agendas and backed by millions in venture backing or with deep pockets comparable to online giants like Google and Apple.
By having skin in the game, they are making sure they will always have a say in what your customers do and where they go to spend the night. And, increasingly, unless you’re very smart, they will control the relationship between you and the customer.
More, OTAs limit your rates
OTAs are notorious for forcing on you best-rate guarantees, which they then turn around and sell to their customers as the best thing since sliced bread. The bit about the best thing since sliced bread might be true, not for you, but for the customers!
You on the other hand, get nothing more than a steady stream of cheap customers from the OTA, all trained to hunt for the best bargain, and unwilling to book at higher rates, because “a better deal is sure to come along”.
OTAs limit your growth as a brand because you under-invest in marketing
Along with catering to the OTAs bargain customers, you’re now distracted trying to match every other hotel’s low prices in the neighborhood. You are not spending much attention or dollars on your own marketing. Need I tell you that this is a bad idea?
Perhaps you expect the OTA to market for you.
This is bad for multiple reasons. If the OTA ever decides you are not complying with their terms, conditions and whims, then all of a sudden there you are, out in the cold. Inventory management for hotels need not be this random and risky. Where are you going to drum up the visitors overnight that you had come to rely for on the OTA and you under-invested in your proprietary marketing mix?
First of all, use multiple distribution channels.
The path to better sleep at night and greater hotel profits in the future lies in maintaining a proper customer acquisition mix that involves your own marketing message and assets. You will want to have multiple distribution channels for your tickets, think about comparing among multiple OTAs, and having a variety of affiliate partners that can all handle your excess inventory.
That brings me to another point.
Ideally your distribution would be so ship-shape that you don’t need OTAs and affiliates except seasonally, for offloading excess inventory. Then you can make peace with cutting temporary deals for specific times and customer segments. Most hotels are a long way away from this ideal, but you should aim for it, and begin developing your marketing today to get there. It’s not as impossible as it looks
Evaluate distribution channels based on performance and be prepared to negotiate
Look periodically at your distribution channels, and be prepared to bump off the ones giving you a mix of the lowest prices and the worst repeat customer conversion rates. Don’t forget that the goal is not customers at all costs. So if a channel is particularly low-end, like a lot of OTA programs are tending to go, put less emphasis on it and look for alternatives.
“But where do I start”?
Fire up your social media accounts so your customers can know you better
Social media is not a quick-fix to your traffic and bookings problem. It’s something larger than that. If you take away a single point from this section, this is it.
Social media is a way to communicate with your customers and get them to know you better, while you get insights from them about exactly how they are wired, what they want most and the sorts of things they care about. Think of it as a way to grow relationships with many people at the same time, who all happen to like something you have to sell, and you will begin to approach it effectively.
Engage in native story-telling around your brand.
Are you close to a mountain-climbing area? Then show customers a bit of your company’s soul by showcasing what goes on up in the mountains and what travelers say when they come back to the hotel at night.
If you are near the beach, you can leverage that for telling stories on all the major platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. You should probably have someone responsible for every major social media platform.
The risk of not doing so is that you are missing attentive customers who are on these platforms looking for you.
Communicate your value to clients, hire a copywriter if you have to
Pay close attention to your copy on your landing pages and on your home-page. Consider hiring a professional copywriter tasked with improving the performance of your website copy every so often, like every quarter, or every month. A great copywriter can greatly increase the stickiness of your site, and visitors’ propensity to place bookings through the site.
I don’t want to go off into copywriting techniques in this traffic-focused post, but invest in this aspect of your business to communicate your value clearly and optimally to visitors.
Get to grips with SEO, Facebook, Social Media, it’s the wave of the future hotel marketer
Some hotels have been slow to embrace social media, SEO and the “new marketing”. Many think Facebook performance is not a good yardstick for their brand.
“We’re a premium brand and don’t really need to go there.”
But your neighbors are going there.
And they are cleaning up. If I can say a word on this, you need to embrace Facebook marketing, PPC, SEO and the new tools that allow you to reach an online audience 24/7. It’s the future of hotel marketing, you need to roll with it.
The Third Deadly Sin: You are not optimizing your email capture efforts to get customers on your email list at every turn
It seems counter-intuitive, but if you are not optimizing your email capture efforts to get customers on your mailing list, the battle is just about lost at this point.
You are not alone.
The third deadly sin you will have to address is something that most newcomers to the hotel marketing scene will struggle with well for a good long while.
No, Email isn’t dead
Despite some beginner marketers’ proclamations to the contrary, email isn’t dead.
Email marketing is alive and well. Yes, customers are still eager to hear from smart, helpful marketers in their inbox, as long as they can deliver messages of substance and value in every interaction.
What customer doesn’t want to wake up and see beautiful images of some far-off destination posted from the balcony of their favorite vacation hotel?
That has to be your premise!
Why the smartest hotel marketers prefer email
The smartest marketers leverage email marketing to its best effects and get oodles of traffic for their sites and delighted prospects visiting their hotel sites for more bookings.
Email is more personal than being in a group on Facebook or following some company on Twitter.
When a customer decides to give you their email, that’s permission for you to market to them over and over again. Now, do not abuse this responsibility and this enormous power. Email once a week, if that. Any more frequently, and visitors are likely to unsubscribe.
Email drives conversations and promotions
Be conversational in your emails. I like receiving emails from email marketers like Daniel DiPiazza and Amy Hoy covering everything from startups and self-development because these two write conversational, first-person emails.
I’d suggest studying the email marketing of some first-rate email marketers, and pairing that up with some examples of good hotel copywriting.
You want a personal tone in all your emails so you don’t come off as some stiff, bureaucratic hotel email system, or worse, some hack who’s trying to foist their products on an unsuspecting public.
So take some time. Hire a professional email copywriter. The return will make up for the cost as you increase conversations and profits from multiple email-driven promotions.
Use A Lead Magnet
Great, you say. But how do I get those visitors into my email list?
You need a nice, juicy piece of goodies that your prospects can look forward to when they share their email with you. Give them a sample of the value they are going to get from your email updates. That’s the lead magnet.
How about you offer them a weekly roundup of the best room deals available on each Thursday? Then, if they are traveling, they can get a timely deal booked for the weekend.
Or a special series of travel guides to their favorite travel destinations where you go in-depth to uncover the hidden locations that offer tourists the most bang for buck in experiences and sights.
Something cozy and valuable like that.
Design a nice landing page
Along with your lead magnets, you will want to optimize your landing pages to put maximum emphasis on the value of your lead magnet. Landing pages are an art form in their own right, easy to make but hard to make work well. I recommend getting a CRO expert to design your landing pages and another expert to write the copy.
Don’t go cheap and throw up some random gibberish. That will just disappoint you and make you forswear landing pages altogether.
Use A Mailing system
With tools like MailChimp and AWeber, developing an email sequence, lead magnets and landing pages is now somewhat easier than before.
You still can’t beat talent, however, so get some people who have been around the block to optimize your email marketing setup and communication. Make sure you put your personal touch on the brand message, however, so visitors see you communicating with them and engaging from the front-lines.
The Fourth Deadly Sin: You have lost control of your unique hotel branding message and are becoming a commodity online
While taking your hotel online brings so many promises and you’ve bought into the message, perhaps nobody told you about the dark underside of all this online opportunity.
What I’m seeing now, is a general widespread commoditization of many once valuable hotel brands.
Hotels are having a tough time standing out in the consumer’s mind. It kind of makes sense. When they’ve given over the reins to the OTAs and are barely active on social media, it makes sense that consumers are going where the conversation is, and joining the OTAs networks.
Commoditization or competing on price
That might be all dandy and fine for the online travel agencies and the big search companies like Google and Bing, but you’re playing in shark-infested waters now.
Consumers see you on the OTA, and they decide they can get all the information they want about you from the OTA’s website. After all, there’s about 500 other hotels that all look exactly like your own, and no-one is saying yours is special in any way. So you can imagine what customers are going to do.
That’s right, they toss a coin and pick the one with the lower price. Talk about a race to the bottom.
Commoditization leaves you where you don’t want to be, and that’s competing on price with every other hotel offering rooms in the neighborhood.
What success looks like in the commodity world
In the commodity world, you are kind of doomed if you do, and doomed if you don’t.
When you succeed, you get to have more bookings, at a nice, overall lower price.
What’s not to like?
You won’t necessarily make up the lost revenue from charging lower prices. It’s a bitter truth of the online world and in particular coming to rely on OTAs and search channels to do all your marketing for you.
I can’t stress this enough, so I will repeat that statement for profundity:
You won’t necessarily make up the lost revenue from charging lower prices. It’s a bitter truth of the online world and in particular coming to rely on OTAs and search channels to do all your marketing for you.
For your hotel to succeed in the brave new landscape, you need a better approach.
Don’t do this: How it ends and how you lose either way
As a commodity, your best hope is to break even. You won’t really grow.
That means when a catastrophe happens to the entire industry, like the last recession in 2008, you get a haircut like everyone else. Most likely you won’t survive.
The Red Pill: What it takes to get your brand back on message and on track
It doesn’t have to end this way. Give it another shot.
For struggling hotel owners out there, let me be honest and say: it will take a different set of actions and marketing outlook to get back on top than the easy actions it took to get stuck with low growth and low occupancy.
If you have to, get a new person in charge of marketing, and make sure they know all about digital and how to thrive in the space.
You will need to spend money, good money on fast-response strategies like PPC and social media ad-spend, and invest in strategies like local search and long-tail keywords for your hotel. In particular, I see a lot of opportunity for creative hotels to really dominate on new channels like SnapChat, Vine, Pinterest and Instagram. So maybe you missed the Facebook bonanza but that doesn’t mean the bounty is gone from you.
Yes it will be a long, hard slog at first.
But it will be so worth it when the returns come in. You will capture traffic share back from your competitors, and chart a whole new destiny for your resort or hotel brand.
The Fifth Deadly Sin: You are allowing in last-minute deals that disadvantage your most loyal customers who book in advance
Imagine this outrageous scenario which takes place in the hotel search industry:
You’re a loyal customer for Holiday Inn or another big chain.
More, you’re even on their rewards program and are collecting points like crazy.
On a whim one night when you’re checked in, you go online on one of the deals sites.
There you see them offering the same room you checked into or the room next door for a fraction of the price that you, a loyal customer, are paying to get the same sort of room. And they are offering better deals to total strangers who haven’t spent a dollar with them before.
And you, dear reader, are stuck paying higher bills to a hotel chain that doesn’t appreciate you anymore.
Which is when a lot of hotel customers decide to jump ship and go with the OTAs. After all, if the hotels can play this game, they decide, they can play it too.
Last minute deals set the wrong expectation
When your customers see a last-minute deal on on some OTA, and they snatch it up and get a great return on their investment, next time around they are going to skip the whole ticket search and wait for the special deals.
If you are not offering them, they will simply look around for someone else who might be offering a cheap last-minute deal.
And because the industry as a whole is all too eager to oblige, customers are educated to wait last-minute to book. They’ll get the best deals that way!
Offloading excess inventory all the time is the wrong strategy
The other major problem with last-minute deals is that hotel owners are having last-minute deals all the time.
Once you open that door, it’s hard to close it again. An easy, quick flood of hotel bookings and new customers.
Except, it quickly dries up.
Once something becomes available all the time, visitors are desensitized to it. They take it for granted, like the laundry machines standard in every chain hotel.
Pretty hard to stand out for your laundry machines, isn’t it? But that used to be a special feature.
Then why would you offer standard deals and price cuts, all the time?
Your secret backdoors are not so secret
Well maybe you are sneaky and go through some back-door like OTA-only pricing.
This is the internet, and tech-savvy customers are going to find out. And when they do, they are going to be righteously angry and indignant.
And they will tell the whole Twitter-verse about it, and their friends will, too!
When you mistreat your best customers, you can kiss repeat bookings goodbye
The result? You are going to be facing a massive exodus of your most loyal customers when they discover loyalty doesn’t count for much anymore.
And that’s the end of all those repeat bookings you thought were going to make up for the lost revenue and all the hassle you had to go through to get this far.
Special programs should be special
If you’ve got some once-off deals, make sure they are once off deals. Nothing cannibalizes your online brand and reputation more than your own ignorant trashing of your brand, sometimes in the false hope that you’ll make up for your sins later.
Beware of special programs.
Don’t just run special programs because you need to offload some rooms.
Do a good deed to offload excess inventory, then get publicity for it
What’s your alternative?
Glad that you asked. There are plenty of good promotional programs that won’t cannibalize your brand.
You can get more bookings to offload excess inventory, and you can get a good name in the media whilst you are at it. More of your regular customers will come back to check out all the buzz, and you’ll get more bookings to boot.
You should look into running a social promotion with some good deed to it, like a special 2-week promotion for veterans.
Now who doesn’t appreciate military veterans?
Or a budget program for students during the first weeks of the summer.
Create a lot of buzz around the promotion. Get media outlets to cover it. Get all your best people on the ball.
This will be way better than running another lame duck special and hoping for the best.
You get to fulfill your business goals, but you get to help out a group that needs, and appreciates your help. And you add value to your brand in the process.
There is enough demand out there. Don’t drop prices just because it’s easy to do
I can’t emphasize enough the need to be creative in your hotel and resort online marketing!
The big bucks are going to be made by hoteliers and resort owners who take big bold steps to separate themselves from the pack and stand out in building communities of happy, delighted repeat visitors.
So there is demand out there for your hotel’s inventory. You just need to know where to look.
Don’t be the one-trick pony that thinks of cutting prices whenever it looks like you won’t make your occupancy targets.
The Sixth Deadly Sin: You think that link building is for startups only, and like to keep your hotel employees in the shadows
With semantic search moving forward and the seeming decline of link-building on the radars of expert marketers, it’s little wonder many in the hotel industry thought you really don’t have to build links.
In reality, that’s a dangerous myth to believe.
If, like many, you’ve decided to leave link building to Silicon Valley startups and big media companies like BuzzFeed and Mashable, I’m here to shatter this myth. Don’t believe a word from the naysayers.
You need to start building high quality backlinks to your hotel or resort website.
It’s still the surefire way to assure long-term traffic and visibility, second only to having a vibrant audience across multiple social media channels.
The other related mistake you might be making here is not having natural conversations with your readers, because you’re keeping your hotel personnel in the shadows and not leveraging them to connect with visitors, who are, after all, living, breathing human beings who connect best with other breathing, living human beings.
No links equals little authority in your field
When the search engines evaluate your hotel website, they compare it against others in your niche to determine who is the big fish who can best answer organic search queries with their content.
If you’re in a competitive area, like, say, New York, and you’re trying to rank for “best hotel close to Times Square”, well you’ve got literally hundreds of other good quality properties targeting the same competitive keywords.
Search engines are going to look past your content and try to determine which of the hundreds of competitors is the most authoritative site on the topic, based on the number of references to your site found across the internet.
That’s where links come in.
You need links because they are currency
Links are therefore a vote or endorsement for your website. When another webmaster links to you in an article or maybe a resource listing, it’s a sign that they trust your site and your information for quality and for being able to provide value to their visitors whom they’re pointing to you as a source.
Links come in all varieties, from low quality spammy links to high-quality editorial links from reputable sites. The better a website’s Alexa rank, the better its linking power and capability.
High quality links matter more than ever
If that’s the case, that means you want to be getting the greatest number of links possible from the best websites.
Some examples include local and regional chambers of commerce, colleges near you, professional associations, big blogs that are placing a spotlight on your geographic area, and big media journals and the like.
Try and get in the news as often as you can.
Put out press releases whenever there is anything worth publicizing going on, like if you are hosting a meeting or conference, which many hotels regularly do. Do not just mention it on your website and then leave it at that.
Have event days where you invite bloggers and members of the press to write on the events along with your own professional blogging staff.
Make your people the story
Also put a spotlight on your hotel employees. If you’re like a lot of hotels, you’ve got some pretty amazing people manning the house: chefs, line cooks, waiters, hall staff, all the way to repairmen, hotel managers and receptionists.
If you post video and other interviews with your own people on some aspect of their work, it puts a human face to your brand, and makes for particularly link-worthy and engaging content that people want to read and watch.
Do competitor analysis to see where other resorts are getting their links
Even though you might be struggling to get quality backlinks, you can trace the footsteps of other properties that have been able to get massive citations by bloggers and others in the hospitality industry.
A good SEO strategy for your hotel involves mapping out your 10 best performing competitors, and running a competitor analysis on them to find out their best linking opportunities.
You want to find out the types of content that are getting them the best links, and how recently those links were acquired.
Armed with this knowledge, you approach those linkers and highlight your own similar content.
Engage a professional link builder
If you don’t have high-quality content similar to what you find performing well, take it from me and hire a good professional link builder skilled at producing standout content.
People will generally only link to really valuable content, if they’re running a high-authority site, so go with a professional who knows how to dedicate the time and resources to do outstanding work.
A professional link builder will also know to reach out for linking opportunities, and to get your content the thousands of high quality links that it deserves.
You will want to budget some time for this, maybe 3 months is a good minimum time-frame to start seeing significant results.
What about your own links: fix broken links
In line with keeping your own content as up-to-date and authoritative as possible, make sure to fix broken links in your content.
Links break when pages get deleted or content gets moved and the original link no longer leads to the page.
A lot of broken links signify a stale page that’s no longer being actively maintained. You can imagine search engines are averse to sending searchers to such pages mainly because the page might be outdated and no longer answer the questions searchers are trying to answer. So do a bit of spring cleaning, and check links on your website and blog thoroughly for up-to-date references.
The Seventh Deadly Sin: Your content is shallow and unreadable, and might (as well) have been written by a 3rd grader
Many of the hotel operators who jumped on the content marketing bandwagon fell into an easy and deplorable trap: producing content for the sake of producing content, which nobody needs.
If that’s you, stuck on the treadmill of constantly producing poorly-conceived, pointless content, you might as well stop.
They key to higher online traffic and more bookings is not content, but great content!
Poor content should be a crime
Hotels and resorts have some of the most content-worthy environments, yet they do a bad job with content, unbelievable!
Poor content should really be some sort of crime if you’re surrounded by scenic views and occupy a spot in one of the most sought-after travel locations of the world. Paris, Singapore, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, you got hotels in all these places that have great views of oceans, wildlife sanctuaries, beaches and whatnot on their doorstep, and they are posting bland images of the corporate board on their website as their best effort!
How to devalue your brand with low-quality content
A lot of the written content online is also low quality. Good writing is difficult, takes time and costs money.
However, when your visitors visit your site and see some empty fluff, and, sometimes, a lot of typos because you couldn’t invest in well-written content, well it sends a pretty bad message about your brand.
If the copy is that careless, is that how you’re going to treat guests as well when they want extra towels in their bathroom at 7a.m before they go to the airport? Will your coffee be half-cold? And who’s in charge if they need to ask a question.
What high-quality content looks like
Having a content-rich website, supplemented with an active, well-designed blog, is a sure way to inspire confidence and spark conversations with visitors to your site.
You want regular, updated content, preferably in a variety of formats.
For resorts centered around themes like skiing, mountain-climbing, ocean-front businesses, scuba diving and like, having image galleries and spotlight images works very well for engaging visitors.
Then you want plenty of video content, maybe you can post 2-6 videos every week, showcasing some unique experience around the hotel and tourist area.
Interviews with guests are also quite good.
Long-form written content performs extra well. You should target to release destination reviews, tourist guides and first-person articles describing an experience, along with plenty of colorful images.
Go viral with better content
To get the most from your content, you should engage followers on social media to comment and share widely. Try sharing some really unique thing, like a photo-essay of your chefs preparing a birthday cake.
The best content (sometimes) goes viral. Virality is an art form in its own right, so I won’t go into it here. But if you can stretch your content marketing and produce top quality content you’ll go far.
Target the persona your hotel represents
In line with producing better content, you want content targeted at the sorts of people you resonate with most.
If your best customers are middle-aged women who like mountain-climbing, then that’s who your content should be centered around. Not kiddy videos about bicycling, unless there’s an obvious link that you’re working with.
If your best customers are biker dudes who like road trips that span the whole weekend, you want to focus on that persona and create content appropriately suited for them.
Get your best content in the hands of your best fans
Now comes the fun part.
Now that you spent a lot of time and money to create targeted content, you want to get this content in the hands of your best fans, and give them the tools to share as widely as possible.
Maybe curate the 10 best posts, and send them in a special email update, with links to sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and the like.
If your content is really targeted at your ideal customers, it will resonate and create a bit of a storm. You want to be actively engaging with the response on Twitter and all the other social media platforms.
Have real, meaningful conversations with the people who are taking the time to engage with your brand. You will build a loyal community that values what you have to share, and who want to stay at your property whenever the chance presents itself, because you have built a lasting relationship with these individuals.
Forget Renaissance art. The art should be your hotel.
Like a lot of hotels, you probably have classical art and other art types plastered on your walls. Nothing wrong with that.
But people are not lining up to watch your copies of famous art online.
Take revealing images of your hotel and showcase them on your walls. Take snapshots from your most beautiful balconies, if you overlook the city, you want to take shoots of what that looks like at night, take images from the beach, and so on. Take images from the luxury suites on the top floor, and put your hotel on show.
Let your visitors have the best benefit of the experience of staying with you.
When you see your visitors taking shots of the images on your walls in your halls, that’s a sign that you are striking the right chords with them.
Welcome to the big leagues!
Bonus: Buying links and joining the wrong link directories
Another deadly mistake some have made in the past is to fall prey to spammy link building and buying links.
If you have to buy a link, it’s probably better to skip the link altogether. Google and other search engines have cracked down hard in the past on paid-for links, and you can bet the practice could get you banned.
When you go out to build links, focus on building quality links through having the best content in your location, and the most up-to-date posts and information on your sites. In addition, reach out to quality bloggers and highlight your link-worthy content for them.
Just do not go after paid links and link directories.
These tactics do not work as well as they used to, and have undone months of hard work that some SEOs had done in the past.
What To Expect When You Fix These Traffic-crushing Mistakes
You are putting your hotel business on a surer footing for online bookings and traffic. Your fame will spread wide and far as newcomers discover you through search, editorial posts on authority websites, and word of mouth through social media and email.
Commit to better digital marketing and SEO techniques for the long haul, and pay careful attention to putting out the best content you can. If you make the right moves now, you’ll be free in the future to chart your own destiny in the online markets, and not be reliant on some fickle marketing channels that are returning low profits and not yielding high quality long-term clients.
The value of your brand will go up as you win more market share against your competitors, and you will continue to delight more and more visitors with unique experiences that only your hotel or resort can provide, and make a sound financial return on all your investment and marketing efforts.
Begin the journey today.
How my Hotel Value Signals SEO can help
I specialize in SEO and Blogging Consulting for the Hotel Industry. I’m a Hubspot-Certified Digital Marketing expert, and will help get your hotel business in front of more prospects, as well as converting those prospects into loyal customers.
You can contact me via email on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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