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Hospitality SEO – Is It a Dark Art That Has Died?

29 May 2014


SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, the phrase that has been the bane of hospitality marketing managers for years. Is it a dark art that is no longer relevant?

 One of the big questions we get asked at Umi Digital is, “How can we get to number 1 on Google?”

Our answer: have a website that has engaging content that people want to view, read and share and you will rank better and better over time. We also like to remind people that there can only be one number one, so you need to look at the bigger picture of your general visibility to make sure that people know your brand and product and again you will more than likely get the results you want.

In the old days, SEO was a dark art. Link building through link farms and putting in a high density of keywords into pages that to a human eye made no sense but to a spider crawling your site made it look like you had some god-like website! But in reality those techniques were about getting around Google’s algorithm rather than working with it.  As with all things, if you cheat the system, the system catches up with you eventually, and the Google Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird algorithm updates were how Google cleaned up their directory, punishing websites with links from link farms and those who tried to cheat the system.

I think the basis of SEO is really quite simple in regards having a website that Google can find is well structured from a content and engagement point of view and also one that has regular updates to the site content. This has not changed since Google transformed search many years ago. The difference now is social media and the way that can aid online visibility plus the importance of the “shareability” of your site affecting how it ranks. The demands on marketing teams or individuals to constantly produce engaging content is a challenge. It’s also necessary to make sure that the site content is put onto a website that can capture and engage the customer enough to get them to purchase, book or become brand loyal. With the explosion of smartphone usage, it means that content is not only written but visual through photographs and videos. This provides huge opportunities to hospitality businesses, since hospitality businesses can have amazing visuals that customers love to see. The other change with regards to content, is that it doesn’t have to be created by the business any more but can be generated by the consumer. User generated content, whether it is a review, a photo or a tweet, can really boost the visibility of a website and in turn improve its rankings.

In short, SEO as a dark art is dead, and it is now just a principal of site structure; one part of a larger and more rounded marketing strategy with your website as the focal point for it. Making sure content is fresh and engaging, socially “shareable” and allowing the consumer to engage and easily purchase the product for sale are all part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Investing in team members that can produce the content is essential in order to have a site that ranks well and ultimately delivers the results that you are looking for from a website. It’s not an art, it’s keeping things simple and real.

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