Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial to your hotel’s online visibility across search engines like Google. SEO can seem a little scary and complicated, and it's constantly in flux, but don't panic - we've broken it all down for you in this article.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to 'expand a company’s visibility in organic search results'. This will help to attract more visitors to your website, which will hopefully increase your conversions and ultimately, your revenue.
Your SEO will tell search engines everything they need to know about the quality of your content, its relevance to specific topics, and how much your content can be trusted. It's all related to your organic presence - not paid.
The quality of your SEO performance hangs delicately on these three elements:
- The structure of your website
- Your website’s content
- Your site’s relative authority based on who is linking back to, and mentioning, your business
There needs to be a combined effort between the behind-the-scenes technical and your front-end content in order for your SEO strategy to soar.
People's online experience with your content is key. If they don’t like the content they come across, or are having trouble navigating, Google will know and your website will suffer. Search engines have the ability to analyse the 'relevancy' between someone's search query and your content, and the 'authority' you have in relation to this query, which they measure by your website’s online popularity.
In the same way you put your marketing strategy together, you should also put an SEO strategy together to make sure you're boosting your SEO efforts as much as possible. An SEO strategy should look like a comprehensive plan for attracting more visitors to your website via search engines. It should include on-page strategies (which use intent-based keywords) and off-page strategies (which earn inbound links from other websites).
Why do I need to optimise my website?
If your website isn’t search-engine optimized, you will struggle to have your website appear in search engine results organically.
Imagine searching your hotel’s name in Google and appearing on the third or fourth page - rather than right at the top. Your brand's website should be the first result when people are searching for your brand name.
What SEO terms should you be aware of?
Metadata is the text that informs the search engine of the content of the page. It is mostly invisible to users, hiding behind the scenes in your website’s HTML. Your metadata is important - not only because it informs the search engine to your page’s content - but also because it often appears as the page preview text blurb in search engine results. The meta title is what appears first, followed by the meta description. Make sure that your hotel’s name and essential keywords appear in these fields.
Links are golden as far as your website’s SEO is concerned. Backlinks (other websites linking back to your site) are very important.
More is not always the merrier with these. Accumulating a large number of backlinks from reputable and respected sources will skyrocket your own authority, but be aware that even a small handful of backlinks from spam-filled or untrustworthy sites can be highly damaging to your overall ranking.
SEO is constantly changing and evolving to keep up with technological developments and trends. The latest (and perhaps greatest) shift has been regarding mobile activity. Google, the world’s largest and most frequented search engine, has placed the importance of being mobile-friendly at the top of the list.
A responsive website is one that is easily accessible and capable of adapting to different devices, something that is now absolutely essential to successful SEO. Failing to have a responsive website or one that specifically caters to mobile devices could spell the end of your search engine visibility.
Crawl and Index
In order to gather all the information it needs to correctly identify and rank your website, search engines must first crawl and index it.
The crawl is the process of going through every page, word, link and element in your website. The crawl is done by what is called a spider or bot, which is just a fun name for the system that carries out the crawl.
Next comes the index, which is essentially the result of the crawl: a complete database of everything found. Your index is an important thing to keep track of in order to ensure everything is accessible and that search engines are getting all the information you want them to. Small snippets of code like robots.txt or noindex that can be added to HTML will stop the page at hand from being crawled by the search engines. Pages worth hiding are thank you pages, error pages and those still under construction.
Your website’s sitemap is a comprehensive guide of every page your site contains and its overall structure. Usually it comes in the form of a list of all the pages on your website that are accessible to both crawlers and individual users. This is important in relation to your SEO because it's essentially a roadmap to your site for search engine crawlers.
Keywords are arguably the most important aspect of SEO. Keywords and terms are the foundation of search engines, and therefore an important element to your SEO. Having the correct plan for research and implementation of keywords is central to proper keyword use. A solid research foundation can help you determine the most important keywords for your hotel. Even the smallest variation could make the difference. It may surprise you to know there is a big difference in terms of SEO between “hotels ireland” and “hotels in Ireland”.
Your website needs these key terms and phrases to help the search engines return your pages for specific queries. Keywords are complicated, and it’s definitely worth talking over your keyword strategy with a marketing professional.