SEO - Do the work not the 'voodoo'

In our short history we have seen many of our hotel customers insist on engaging SEO companies, only to part company with them some 6/9 months later mainly due to a lack of clarity over what has been achieved.

So we thought we would throw some oil on to the fire.....

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation, it literally means presenting or optimising the website in such a way that the Search Engines can access the website content, and so give you a decent Search Engine Ranking. In the early days of website design this area was somewhat neglected as designers focussed on website look and feel. However nowadays hotel websites tend to be provided by specialised website design companies, and many of the standard techniques used to help SEO (Metatag Optimisation, Search Engine Submission, Internal Links etc etc) are taken care of AT THE START, when the website is released. This tends to reduce the need for pure SEO work on an on-going basis.

We tend to find however that hotels hold a nagging suspicion that there are magicians out there that can voodoo them to the top of Google with very little input from themselves. They slip them a monthly cheque and up they pop at the top of the listings. Nearly every hotel owner can tell a story about a hotel that is further away from the city centre themselves yet has a better ranking.

Cold hard logic should tell us that this is not the case. On the day that Google allows companies with poor websites to 'voodoo' their way to the top of the rankings, they will start presenting rubbish in search results to their viewers, and people will start switching to other Search Engines. You can bet your lunch that Google literally has thousands of people working away at their search code to catch out and penalise people who are trying to voodoo their way to the top.

So what does Google want to see?. Logically they want to give good rankings to hotel websites that are informative, with a good quantity of updated, relevant content. Hotels tend to focus to the 'n't degree on describing their own hotel, but neglect to update their website with local attractions, things to do, upcoming events etc etc. In simple terms Google is rewarding hotels websites with fresh, relevant content.

Better still the content updating should be matched to an Online Marketing Plan. Let’s take the example of the hotel that has a festival coming up. A joined up Online Marketing Plan would look something like this;

1. Create an Offer or Package for the event (ie Promotion Code)
2. Create a Press Release/News Article on the website about the event.
3. Create an Adword Campaign for the event.
4. Post a status update on FaceBook about the event.
5. Create a FaceBook Offer.
6. Change the FaceBook Profile image to reflect the event.
7. Post an offer on Tripadvisor Business Listing Page.
8. Distribute an E zine
9. Post a Press Release/News Article in Google Places.
10. Create an Advert for the Mobile Website
11. Create a 'Pop-up' for the front of the website.
12. Create a YouTube Video Advert.
etc etc

With the above it should be coming more obvious that what most hotels need is Online Marketing, not the more vague form of SEO. Some hotels are capable of doing Online Marketing in-house, and others benefit from out-sourcing this function. In our experience it really comes down to the skills and expertise of the hotel reservation or marketing staff. Either way, it is the hard work, not the 'voodoo' that counts.