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Exclusive Guide: How To Fix The 7 Deadly Sins That Can Wipe Your Hotel’s Search Traffic and Repeat Bookings

You’re in for a lengthy post, so buckle up!

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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.

competitive hotel online marketing

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!

mobile hotel SEO

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

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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

OTA

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”?

attract hotel guests

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  

 email marketing for hotels and resorts

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

CREATING HOTEL LEAD MAGNETS

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 

 brand management for hotels

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.

last-minute-vacation2013-lowest

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.

link-building-services

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.

 Google-Panda

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: seotomahawk@gmail.com

Or leave a comment below

 

Want to learn more?

Sign up for the Hotel Value Signals newsletter to discover elite hotel marketing techniques used by the best experts.

Sign up for the free 12 page report on optimizing your hotel’s social media communication for maximum bookings, covering all the major social media channels!

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Do-It-Yourself SEO tips from a SEO Consultant

When thinking about what advice to give my clients as a SEO Consultant, I’m focused on giving advice that can hopefully educate them and teach them something about the Search engine optimization process.

The same applies to Social Media Strategy. By teaching them and educating them whilst working through a site optimization, I want to enable them to be able to apply the ideas themselves in a latter setting.

In other words, not just give the man a fish, but also teach him how to fish so he can go fishing himself next time he sees something worth optimizing.

Here are some of the recurring themes that you will want to keep in mind as you try to optimize your own web site for Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Yandex and any of the other major search engines.

Learn SEO from a SEO Consultant

Learn SEO and social media strategy

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 1: Watch your competitors closely

You need to think like a sniper in Marine warfare. A good sniper keeps careful track of his enemies’ positions and their movement. When they move at last, he wants to already be a step ahead.

If you’re running an commerce store on Shopify, focused on, say, men’s clothes, well, you have a ton of competitors.

That’s not all negative. On the plus side, you have a ton of SEO case-studies. You want to figure out which of this subgroup of competitors is doing best in your niche, and then examine their tactics closely.

Then turn around and implement the same tactics yourself. Are they getting media coverage by contacting press and showcasing unique products? Well, you start doing exactly that. Do this, and you’ll likely see an outsize boost in your results.

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 2: Don’t just produce content. Spend even more time on promotion

Along with blogging, you’ll typically want a solid social media strategy that could involve Facebook, Twitter and Vine. With every blog post, you create related content and promote it on these or other social media networks, and drive some traffic back to your main content.

I also suggest reaching out to bloggers in a variety of fields, and impressing them with your content so you can get editorial links. Also promote content actively to your email list and personal network. Some of your own friends who work in the space could benefit from tips that you release in your content. Share widely, and share generously.

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 3: Self Education is the key to becoming a better SEO 

Like many entrepreneurs and business-people, you might have very little time to focus on search engine optimization, but the fact remains that you do need to invest in your own education. This will yield rewards in the long run.

Good SEO knowledge and staying up-to-date with effective techniques can grow your business so much faster than just focusing on “operations”, all those other things you do in order to run your business.

Carve out an hour or two each week, preferably each day, to learn some good SEO tips and other information.

Practice SEO, Become Better at SEO

Practise SEO, Become Better at SEO

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 4: Good SEO is practical SEO

That said about learning search engine optimization techniques, you’ll want to experiment with the new techniques you learn. This is the only surefire way to reinforce the learning, and on the pure alpha side, to reap the benefits of all your newly-acquired knowledge.

Keep your mind sharp, and your practice even sharper, through constantly putting into practice all your newfangled knowledge.

SEO practice makes you better

SEO practice makes you better

What do you think of these do-it-yourself SEO tips? Post in the comments below or reach out to me on email: seotomahawk@gmail.com

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3 Keys to Growth Hacking

As an entrepreneur, I’ve been growing this blog as well as an ecommerce site for face masks, beauty products and other projects I do for clients.

You can check out some of my previous pieces on this blog on the topics of how to succeed as an entrepreneur, SEO and social media strategy.

One challenge I’ve come across and which a lot of readers might be trying to solve is: how do you grow significant amounts of traffic to your site in a short amount of time?

It’s a real challenge, especially for a busy entrepreneur. That’s why I offer growth-hacking and SEO consulting so readers can have a knowledgeable SEO Consultant to help.

growth-hacking

While each business is different and you need to be creative, these are 3 key foundations I’d pay attention to if you’re growth hacking your product or website:

Growth Hacking Key #1: Release a flood of Useful Content targeted at your target market.

This is absolutely key.

You want to commit to a regular publishing schedule.

I know, I know, I can imagine some busy reader protesting: “How do I find time to publish content, let alone USEFUL content?”

Think of it as an investment into your business. In past you’d hire a salesman to peddle your wares door to door.

Now you let your content do the engagement with potential customers for you. Your words are the salesmen of the internet.

Publish sound, useful content, and your target market will start taking notice, and reaching out for your help and to use your products.

Growth Hacking Key #2: Share your content WIDELY

Publishing great content is only the beginning.

To be a competent growth hacker, you need to get in the sharing mindset.

Yes, that means you need to cold-email people and others in your niche, and share all your new content with anyone who will listen.

You never know, the right share can result in a high-profile link and grow your audience in a huge way.

Many people have not been trained in this way. You just need to treat your content like how you’d react in the early days of the internet when you came across a funny Facebook post. Back then you shared it with everyone of your Facebook friends

Growth Hacking Key #3: Be Smart and Measure Your Progress

I prefer to use an Analytics tool like Google Analytics to figure out how the market is responding to my actions.

That way I can see how my audience is growing, or, possibly, shrinking.

Then I analyze what I did before my audience increased significantly.

This is like a basic form of A/B Testing. You can also run a bunch of more complex analytics tests.

What channels did most new traffic come from?

At what times of the day did you post the most popular content?

What sort of content is converting best?

Is your bounce rate going up or down?

Growth Hacking on the Metal Gears on Black Background.

Growth Hacking on the Metal Gears on Black Background.

 

Keep in mind to always check your stats and query them for information that can lead you to make helpful optimizations for your growth hacking strategy.

These are just some of the keys to growth hacking. What have you found to be useful or worked for you? Leave a comment below. And as always, if you need to chat with me, drop me a line: seotomahawk@gmail.com

Launch Experts
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You! Stop Worrying and Gain Traffic Like Apple.

Welcome to a revolutionary blog post.

I mean, it’s such a small thing for something that could change your life.

“How?”, you ask.

Most people want to sell better, become a better salesman, a better organization, however they want to put it, but few actually know how to sell in a natural, effortless way that keep customers and rivals hooked.

This makes sense. If it was easy, we’d all be doing it, and we’d all be insanely, fabulously rich.

What would an extra 500 sales mean for your company? What about if you could repeat that and standardize it? What would a 50% greater brand recognition and mostly sales mean to your brand value and bottom line?

It could mean the ability to finally expand your team and pursue more ambitious global growth. Think about it. If you could invest more in your business, you could be bringing in more and more business, and reach more customers. Pretty soon, you could be a household name.

To get there requires work, but the right kind of work.

See, we’ve all been the victims of some elaborate con.

You know how most businessmen try to market their product or service. They approach some “cold” prospects like Arnold Schwarzenneger, with an equally cold offer and a cookie-cutter feature list of their product or service and why it’s the best thing the client has ever seen.

You know the result:

They totally spook their target, who run off into their competitors’ camp and loudly crow about what a mean bunch of good-for-nothings those first guys were. And “gosh, they were just after my money!”

Or some sorry variation of the above.

That’s how the standard script has been drilled into our minds: Sell, sell, sell!

And the equally standard results that can slow your new business development to a crawl even while you spend more time on it.

Confused salesman

How about that?

What’s a business to do? What am I missing

When I worked on my commerce app, HackishWord in 2014, I noticed that trying to get customers this old way is kind of broken, and a slow lane to nowhere most of the time.

We are inundated with product offers every day. Like B.B. King used to say, “The Thrill is gone baby, it’s gone for good.” So of course we ignore every product offer we get!!

See how the logic works! None of us appreciates having our time wasted.

People are only interested if they can see the fulfillment of some strong need that they have.

Wait! I want you to read that statement again, once or twice.

If you miss this key concept, you could spend years in the sales and marketing doldrums, and will wish you’d paid attention when this simple, but not easy, concept, is looking you right in the eye.

That’s Principle # 1 of all successful marketing campaigns.

If you want all the other 9 Principles, leave your email below and we’ll send you the list:

[contact-form subject=’PROJECT Contact’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

For now, let’s see how a marketing giant like Apple applies this exact principle to get oodles of online and offline traffic, in the process generating billions in revenue and brand value. Ready?

Think, for a second, about Apple. What comes to mind?

Salesmen?

I bet that’s the last thing that came to your mind.

People trying to get bucks off you?

Not unless you operate a corporate buying account and have to purchase Apple equipment for millions of dollars.

No, for most of us, whether you like Apple, love Apple, or hate Apple, it’s like we almost never see the salespeople in the process.

They are “Apple Store Assistants”, “Phone Service Reps”, “Support”, what-have you. But a guy trying to get you to buy?! Eeeuw! No.

But someone has to sell, right?! Who’s actually doing the selling in Cupertino, Calif.?

Welcome to your new bag of tricks. I want you to try this out next time you want your kid to do something for you.

Instead of saying: “Hey Pink, take the trash out.”

To the usual groans and complaints, this time take out a bag of goodies, and say something like:

“Hey honey, let’s get some of this. But oh, we need to get the garbage out of here.”

That’s bribing, I hear you say. But you’d reward someone for making effort, it’s only natural, no? Then why would your customers ever behave any different. You’re treating them like cash-machines, and not as actual, living, breathing, feeling human beings.

What’s in it for me?

That should be the question you ask for any major use of your time and effort and attention, and that’s exactly what’s going to be top of your clients’ mind when you’re walking up and trying to make your sales pitch.

Valuable brands like Apple get this tricky psychology, and it pays them well, to the tune of $40 Billion Q4 revenue in 2014.

Apple makes their product perceived benefits for the customer so top of mind, and front and center, that the actual payment from the customer is only a secondary hindrance that the customer willingly contributes so they can get their hands on all the benefits that Apple is “bundling” out to them.

What if you could sell like that?

If you can craft an offer that compelling, people start paying attention to you. Before you ever talk to them.

Before you ever offer them anything.

You become known as the guy who pulls rabbits out of a regular old hat.

“How do they do it?”

“Wow, this product is amazing!”

“I gotta tell all my friends.”

And you get people beating a path down to your door.

More people than you can deal with. Soon, you gonna need more salespeople.

But they won’t be salespeople anymore. They will be “Customer Sales Reps to support all your clients who are trooping in like the Navy Seals”.

So if there is one key take away from this post, I want you to get the benefits-for-less-than-it-costs mindset to properly communicate your brand. And I also want you to get the key to growing a huge inbound traffic flow from referrals and viral network effects based on the perceived and validated benefits of your product from people who have tasted your offer and can attest to how good your offer is.

How can I help you with your brand communication? feel free to reach out: leanstartup.space@gmail.com or leave a comment.