By Ahmed Mahmoud
About one month ago and on 18 August 2022, Google announced on their blog a new update in their indexing policy. It’s called Helpful Content, and it significantly changes how Google bots look at websites, blog posts, and other texts that you publish. So, what’s new?
In general Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. To this end, Google is launching what they’re calling the “helpful content update” that’s part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.
Not that long ago, many SEO specialists encouraged business owners to create content just for the sake of SEO – without paying much attention to the quality or uniqueness of the final product. Now, it’s all in the past. The Helpful Content update means Google is now focusing on the quality of your texts. All texts that you publish need to be of high quality and made with the reader in mind. That means no content automation and no writing just for the search engine. From now on, if you want to thrive in Google, you have to satisfy your users with what you publish.
The new ranking improvements by Google aim to reduce the low-quality or unoriginal content that people find in the search engine results pages and allow them to see content that is useful, credible and original.
Without a doubt, for many hoteliers, this update means some major changes in their SEO/content strategies. Is your hotel ready for the Helpful Content update?
How your hotel existing content is being affected by the new updates?
For Marketers: Your hotel information/contents include creative content and descriptions about the property, its amenities, services, calendar of events, destination, local activities and attractions that are being delivered to targeted audiences through various communication and media channels. Typically, content marketing does not explicitly promote a price, package, campaign or discount, but is intended to stimulate interest in the hotel product and services, we as hoteliers produce content for two primary audiences: customers and algorithms. According to Google, some of us have ventured too far in the direction of algorithms.
This is certainly true in the hotel and travel tech space, where so much content marketing is heavy on keywords and light on helpful, original information. In fact, Google calls out the tech space as one of the sectors most likely to be affected by the update.
Your hotel might suffer if your blog posts were written by a professional and did not have a unique touch or original content.
The Helpful Content Update also avoids unoriginal pieces that only summarize what is being said by other creators without really adding value or something new.
The critical thing to remember is the relevance of your posts in answering the questions for which the keywords are optimized. If the reader leaves with many unanswered questions and searches further, this will signal low relevance, which will hurt your SEO ranking.
Remember that Google is placing priority on content written by people for people, rather than just publishing pieces for search engines. People-first content is all about answering questions and satisfying your reader.
For Revenue Management: Revenue management involves the use of analytics and performance data to help those in the hotel industry predict their customers’ behavior. The data is then utilized to make appropriate decisions in regards to pricing and distribution strategies. The ultimate goal of revenue management is to have the right room for the right person at the right time and place. When this occurs, you will be more likely to maximize your revenue, and in turn, your profit.
The information gained on how your customers think and perceive value will be ultimately used to match your supply to their demand, this data and information comes from how your hotel post content, hotel information ……etc., if this is not meet the Helpful Content Update, your hotel might be in a risk of archiving its profit goal.
The Direct and Indirect Impact of Google Helpful Content Update
Hotel Website Contents: This is a direct impact with the new updates, all stand-alone property website, property section on major hotel chain website, small and midsize hotel brand site. Websites with superficial, unappealing, schematic and bullet point-type of content will be the losers from this new Google algorithm update, while websites with deep, editorial-level, storytelling and original content will be the winners. In other words, the hotel website content – textual, visual, promotional – should be unique, credible, engaging, of editorial level and should tell a compelling story about the property, convince potential guests of its value proposition and position it as the hero of the destination
Remember that creating content that demonstrates first-hand experience and depth of knowledge requires talent and a lot of work. If marketers or whoever create the contents don’t have all the skills required, including hotels and revenue experience, writing skills, product knowledge and basic SEO skills—and few do—it must be a collaborative effort.
Hotels seeking to maximize their SEO should seek niche opportunities relevant to their theme and purpose. When content is produced by people with no industry experience or who are so poorly compensated, they have little time to spend on it, they will resort to borrowing information and ideas from other websites, adding little of value of their own. The same stale content is constantly recycled, including inaccuracies and bad advice.
Forget about ranking for generic search terms that contain hotels or accommodations, your hotel will never rank at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Instead, focus on your hotel’s niche and keyword opportunities relevant to your niche.
The foremost opportunity with this update is that hotels will be better able to stand out with their content since they are credible local experts.
Hoteliers must repurpose their SEO content and get more niche focused on original insights and first-hand knowledge. A solid local SEO strategy should support this, which will help your hotel rank well in general
Hotel Content to Third Parties: This is the indirect impact where hoteliers can’t avoid providing content descriptions about their hotel to other sites i.e., OTAs, distribution channels, travel directories, ………etc. the dilemma of this action that hoteliers in all cases providing duplicate hotel information and content to any external distribution or marketing partner site, as this action might marginalized the hotel in Google’s SERPs.
We all understand that the hotel number of rooms and floors, amenities, square footage of meeting spaces and business hours is one static information and it should be posted in every website, but when it comes to any descriptive content provided to third parties about the hotel, services and amenities must be “significantly different.”
For hoteliers we all understand that OTAs know content marketing and SEO techniques far better than the hotels do, and the result is that the OTA listings end up higher in the SERPs than the property’s own content.
In all cases, the helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.
Conclusion: As a result of the large-scale industry disruption brought about by COVID-19, many traditional roles like sales, marketing, distribution, and revenue management will be consolidated under the umbrella of a commercial team. As part of this shift, hoteliers need to review the functionality of traditional departments, leading to closer working relationships between revenue managers and marketing departments in pursuit of total revenue generation and profit optimization.
In the long run, content marketing in hotels can be highly effective. So many travelers rely heavily on online content advice when it’s time to plan and book their trip, this advice mainly comes from the hotel website contents or other third-party contents. Delivering a strategic hotel content experience can make the planning process simpler and more enjoyable. Storytelling and emotions fill travels. Use it right, and through hotel content, you can help guests turn their wildest dreams into reality, in revenue management world it is called turn lookers into bookers.