SEO for hotels is outdated bullshit, not a marketing tool
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO was a big deal between the late 90’s till like 2009 but from 2010 onward its significance is decreasing.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have a nice placement in search results and appear on the top for your brand keywords but this can be done easily from your website editor by writing a title and description. No need to pay an expert to do this.
Why is search engine optimization outdated?
There are many reasons why search engine optimization became insignificant, but the biggest one is the way we use the Internet nowadays. Back in the days, everything started with a Google search. Looking for songs, topics, information, hotel bookings - everything you can imagine started by looking things up in Google.
Today we have apps and well-known platforms for everything we want to do.
Do you want to find a hotel? Go to Booking.com or another OTA. Do you want to watch videos? No need to look up titles in a search engine, you can go to YouTube. Do you see? We consume media and use the internet totally differently compared to how it was 10 years ago.
SEO in the hotel and travel industry is super competitive
Based on our research, in average 68 companies are trying to rank first for the keywords of 1 single 5-star hotel or resort. OTAs, travel agents, re-sellers, affiliate websites, bloggers and a lot more - they are all putting efforts into coming up first for the brand keywords of a hotel.
Why would a hotel brand want to put money, time and efforts into competing with all these? It’s better, cheaper and fully controllable to use Google Ads to ensure a good rank for your important keywords and ignore the rest. Let the others keep fighting with content.
Content marketing with travel bloggers is also nonsense
Everybody knows that I am overseeing the online business of some very fine hotel brands. Maldives, Vietnam, New York - you name it. This means I am receiving at least 7-8 blogger requests every week, offering articles, publications and reviews on websites, travel blogs or travel magazines.
There were times, like 2-3 years ago when partnering with bloggers indeed made a difference but today it’s just too much, there are too many bloggers and another article published about your hotel or resort will just be a drop in the ocean.
Publications and articles in mainstream media is a totally different thing. If you have the chance to get articles published on Business Insider, Forbes, Daily Mail, and similar media then it will certainly improve not only your ranking but also your brand value.
Keyword optimization for hotels to improve SEO? Come on!
Between 2010 and 2014, most of my clients had websites that had content like: The ___ hotel is a 4-star hotel in ___, among the best hotels in ___, offering accommodation in the center of ___.
This is called “keyword stuffing” and it is being penalized by Google since 2013. Since then, Google algorithms can not only detect keyword stuffing or manipulative SEO optimization attempts but can also understand full sentences and topics.
In order to provide the best experience to their users, search engine algorithms prioritize content with excellent readability and valuable information. So instead of inserting keywords you want to rank for, you want to publish real, valuable content that is useful for your audience.
Outdated PR companies and copywriters still charge extra for SEO optimization of content today. In most cases, I recommend my clients not to pay for it. In the best case, it will not have any effect on ranking, but most likely it will just reduce it.
Lastly, your hotel might rank better for some keywords but it won’t get you more traffic
Let’s say you have done some efforts to improve the ranking of your hotel website for certain keywords and your SEO tool is showing an increase! Wow, good stuff. But how will it impact your brand value or revenue? Most likely it won’t.
You might see a slight increase in organic traffic, 10-15 extra visits daily, or 100-150 in case of an established hotel brand. It won’t improve your revenue as for your most profitable keywords OTAs will bid with Google Ads, taking the vast majority of customers you were aiming with your SEO efforts. So all that time and money you have spent on improving your ranking is down the drain.
I think it is certainly important to maintain a nice listing with a well-formatted title and description but that’s it. In the best cases, SEO improvements come 100% naturally as a side effect or result of the publicity you are getting. If you are not getting any publicity then you should, as that drives a lot more attention than nerding out on keywords and writing mostly meaningless “SEO articles”
Most definitely, you should not pay for SEO services, unless it is improving your website. Forget link building services and other shady, outdated practices, as these will not make a positive impact on your webs presence and online business.
What do you think about these? Do you still invest in SEO?