By Josiah Mackenzie
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of making your
hotel's website easier to find in search engines. With the majority of
people beginning their travel planning process with a web search, SEO
has become an increasingly important discipline for hotel marketers.
However, there is some misinformation floating around the web,
being propagated by quack "gurus." Some of these myths are outright
lies, but they are more likely to be tactics that no longer work:
constantly-changing search algorithms make SEO a rapidly changing
science. I want to debunk some of these myths before they hurt your
Basic Tactical Myths
Myth: Adding a lot of
keywords to your page's title will help rankings
Fact: Stuffing the title with keywords will give the
appearance you are a spam site. Since Google will only display up to 68
characters in the title tag (cropping to complete words), I recommend
you write a short, people-friendly title that contains one or two of
your most important keywords.
Myth: HTML META tags such
as keywords and description are very important, and
should be stuffed with as many keywords as possible
Fact: Meta tags don't play that big of a role, and again you
definitely don't want to stuff your tags with keywords if you want to
avoid being penalized as a spammer. You do, however, want to write a
compelling Description tag. That's what people see when they perform a
web search, so you want to encourage clickthroughs with a strong
Myth: Adding every
keyword to every page is good
Fact: Doing this confuses search engines - and your guests -
about the purpose for each page on your site. Instead, group your
target keyword list into themes - and use one theme per page.
Myth: Trading links is a
Fact: Exchanging links may be a good idea for referral
business, but don't do it for SEO purposes. Google's Matt Cutts has
explained they don't reward reciprocal links like they do one-way
links. Instead, create great content that naturally attracts links.
Myth: You should submit
your site to search engines
Fact: That may have helped 10 years ago, but today search
engines can find you. If your website has existed for more than a week,
there is a strong chance Google has already found you. A better
strategy is to get links from existing websites. I've taken several
brand-new websites to Google PR4 (a ranking importance measure) in less
than 3 weeks.
Myth: Submitting your links
to directories is the best way to improve your ranking.
Fact: Google frequently penalizes sites that get listed in
shady directories. Since it can be hard to determine the legitimacy of
a site, pursue a better way and create some great content. If you're
publishing great stuff and interacting with other people online,
getting backlinks is only a matter of time.
Many of the above myths have been debunked by others, and
thankfully are becoming less common. But every few weeks I still hear
someone asking about these tactics, so I wanted to put them to rest.
Let's move on to more high-level misconceptions.
Dangerous Strategic Errors
Myth: SEO is a hoax
Fact: As we see success stories from companies of all sizes,
this is less common than it used to be. When done correctly, natural
search engine optimization can be your most effective method of
bringing new visitors to your website.
Myth: SEO is a one-time
Fact: The notion that you can improve your search ranking by
just changing a few website components is false. Today, search engines
look at dozens of factors to determine how relevant and useful your
Myth: Your goal is #1
ranking for your top keyword
Fact: While you should aim for the top position
for a popular keyword, your real goal should be to rank near the top of
results for dozens (if not hundreds) if different keyword combinations.
A quick review of your website analytics will reveal that people find
you through hundreds of different search queries. For this reason, you
need to build your internet presence to be as large as possible.
Myth: Search optimization
is a job for the web designer
Fact: Optimization is a strategic marketing function, and
has nothing to do with design. It requires comprehensive keyword
research, a knowledge of branding, and careful targeting of guest
Myth: It's all about the
Fact: It's actually all about how many qualified
potential guests you bring to your website, and how many of them book a
room. Rankings and overall traffic are meaningless unless you can
convert that into sales.
For tactics that work, read Josiah's popular SEO Guide for Hotel Websites on the Hotel
This article was written by Josiah Mackenzie, Managing Director at Gradigio Hotel