Pillar 1 | Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is one of the main foundations for website success as it drives bookings at the lowest CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) and therefore helps maintain profitability.
Over time, we have seen how Google has made changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with the intent to monetise it as much as possible. Increased number of ads placed above organic search results, greater integration of Google Hotel Ads within the SERP, and demotion of organic search results show that pay per click (PPC) is their priority. However don’t think SEO is dead – it remains equally relevant, if not more so. A study conducted in 2018 found that 70% of link clicks from search still go to organic listings (see figure 1a).
Our own figures in Bookassist support this research finding. Based on data from our partner hotels, organic drives 38% of overall website traffic and accounts for approximately 45% of all bookings and revenue we handle for our clients (see figure 1b). SEO is most definitely alive and thriving.
Figure 1: (a) Data on SEO adapted from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/24-eye-popping-se-statistics/42665/ , (b) data from Bookassist partner hotels.
Getting SEO Right – The SEO Pyramid
For a hotel website to gain a high volume of SEO traffic, the site needs to be listed on page one of the search engine results page (SERP), as most users don’t look beyond first page results (especially on mobile). Unlike PPC where you can pay to be seen on page one, with SEO search engines will only list organic website links if the website is seen as an authoritative site. To be regarded as an authoritative site takes considerable time and effort.
Understanding the SEO Pyramid is the key to building an authoritative site (see figure 2). Good SEO begins with a website that is designed so that it can be easily read by both potential customers and search engines. It’s important to keep both these audiences in mind as the ease with which they reach and navigate your site, combined with the frequency and length of their interactions, are what define an authoritative website.
Figure 2: The SEO Pyramid (adapted from https://seocustomer.com/how-to-use-the-seo-pyramid-strategy/)
Second, you need to focus on keyword research and on-page optimisation. Keywords for a hotel can be broken into two main categories: brand and non-brand terms. Non-brand terms can be further broken down into key hotel selling points such facilities, local attractions etc. These segmented terms should form the basis of page content that can be further optimised to ensure that your site ranks organically on search engines.
Third is link building, which involves getting a backlink from another relevant website with a key term or phrase related to your brand, e.g. “hotels near Dublin airport”. Every backlink you get is like a vote for your site on that specific term. The more backlinks you have, the more votes you have, the more recognition your site gets for that term. The more backlinks your site has, the higher a search engine will rank your site.
Google does not rank every backlink in the same way. You will be penalised if you get a backlink from a site with low quality content, a site that is not relevant to your users, or for buying links. So build relevant links from high authority websites and target those that add value to your customers.
Fourth and finally, the use of social media builds social authority. Social media does not directly impact your organic ranking on Google or other search engines but it does give a boost to your ranking.
Follow the principles of the SEO Pyramid for a structured and long-term SEO strategy. With 70% of clicks still coming via organic channels, a focus on SEO will lower your direct CPA significantly. It’s a no-brainer for digital marketeers.
Rumenigo Fernandes, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.
Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.