SEO FOR HOTELS IS DYING
SEO for hotels is different than SEO for other industries. The difference is in the level of competition online and the design of the search results in Google. You might wonder in what kind of state is SEO for hotels today? Well, SEO for hotels is very competitive, especially in the Western countries where almost every 4, 5 star and a lot of 3 star hotels are paying for ongoing SEO services year after year. Most hotel digital marketing agencies are doing the same thing for years when it comes to SEO optimisation. Having that in mind, can you expect great growth?
"SEO competition is coming from 3 sources: 1. OTA's pages about hotels in the area, 2. Travel articles about best hotels in the area 3. Other hotels pages. "
There is an article in Forbes about "The dirty truth about SEO" specifically talking about SEO for hotels. "Hotels were some of the early adopters of SEO practices around 2003. Back then, you could simply place keywords in a non-visible tag on your homepage and Google would index your hotel for those keywords in a couple of months. But everything is different now...". This article was written in 2017. Even some local hotel digital marketing agencies in Ireland mention the ranking problems indirectly. Net affinity/Avvio subtly moving focus away from SEO. But I don't think anyone will come to you and say, "Look SEO isn't working for you, please stop paying us 300-1000 EUR a month." 🙂 A great question would be, why have we been paying you so much all this time then?
"The truth is that OTA's pages are more useful for people searching for "hotels in city", because they offer the option to see and compare all the hotels in the area instead showing just your hotel's site. "
The phrase people still use and think that "SEO is important for your hotel because more than 50% of your traffic is organic" is just wrong. Or the phrase that "organic is SEO traffic". SEO traffic is by defention related to non brand organic traffic. Those are the click you get for keywords like "hotels in..", "weddings in.." etc. Most of hotel's organic traffic comes from brand traffic. You would get brand traffic anyway. Because you rank 1st for your own name.
If a hotel can have 50% of their traffic coming in as non brand, then their SEO is doing really well. Unfortunately that isn't the case for most hotels. Plenty of hotels have no or 5% non brand traffic coming to their hotel site. That means there is almost no SEO value.
"Today you can rank in top 3 positions for "hotels in" only if the place the hotel in is smaller and less competitive location."
From my experience SEO for hotels had its "hay days" until approx 2014. Before, you could rank much easier for the main keywords like "hotels in x location". From then onward we have noticed a big increase in SEO competition for hotels and OTA sites getting better and better position, overtaking hotels in the top 10 results for the most searched and most relevant hotel keywords such as "hotels in x", "best hotels in x".
When I looked at some old (2012) keyword rankings for hotels, they were impressive and unbelievable from today's point of view. Ranking in top "3 for hotels in ...".
Today you can rank in top 3 positions for "hotels in" only if the place the hotel in is smaller and less competitive location. In such situations you hotel SEO will be quite valuable, because OTA's don't have as much power there SEO wise compared to medium, big cities. The hotels with the best SEO in a smaller place will win the search results.
That leads us to a very important questions, one you should be asking: "When is SEO valuable for a hotel?". Well, hotels got A LOT of value from SEO in the past, a truth be told a hotel will get less value now compared to then. Simply because of the growth in OTA's SEO ranking power and other hotel digital marketing competition.
"How to know if your hotel's SEO is working at all !??"
As always, don't look at words, look at actions and results. How long have you been paying for SEO? If it is more than 6 months, then it is time for you to evaluate the SEO results yourself. Again, don't just look at Google analytics for "Organic traffic" because organic traffic is a mix of a lot of brand and non brand keywords. SEO can help you get more organic traffic by improving CTR and that is great, but let's look at non brand traffic.
Go to Google Search Console and look at last 28 days under performance. Export the data and see how much clicks did you get from non brand keywords. This will give you an insight of the state of your current SEO performance. How much of that extra traffic is SEO bringing to your hotel. Please note that these clicks are not a completely accurate measurement. Feel free to add some 30% on top of the click that you see. Check which keywords are getting clicks, are you getting traffic for hotel keywords or some irrelevant ones like "parking". If you don't see much non brand clicks (contact us to know how many clicks are good) then it is time to evaluate SEO.
"Measure the quantity and quality of your non brand traffic."
QUANTITY of SEO traffic - measure how much clicks o you get and how much of your total traffic keyword clicks are for brand and how much for non brand search.
QUALITY of SEO traffic - as said before, check the keywords that bring clicks. You can be getting clicks for weddings, parking restaurant or hotel non brand keywords.
Some hotels have potential to grow their SEO and beat OTA's rankings. The results will depend on a few factors like location and competition, so every hotel's SEO potential is different. Today's SEO for hotels will give results in traffic for weddings, afternoon tea and similar keywords that are not so difficult. Find out how you really stand by contacting us today.
Sometimes you have to decide to quit on SEO or change providers depending based on the results you are getting back. Hotel SEO isn't for everybody and it is ridiculous and scammy to pay for a service for years while there were no results.
if the results that you are getting form SEO aren't satisfactory, you can: get a new provider or invest that money into something else. Like social media, PPC or a new video production!