Don’t Get ‘Scroogled’ By Google’s Latest Keyword Changes

Have you read about Google's recent announcement to make "keyword (Not Provided)" 100% of all organic referrals? As a hotel marketer, you may be wondering what you can do to make sure you don't get "Scroogled."  Google has been gradually moving in this direction since 2011 so it shouldn't be a total surprise to online marketers, yet many hotel websites that are built around keyword centric SEO models will be impacted.  By "bucketing" all the organic keyword search data into (Not Provided), Google is essentially telling us to move from a keyword centric marketing approach to a more engaging content/page centric approach. Don't panic just yet. Let me help to clarify what savvy hoteliers can do to make sure they don't get Scroogled on this latest Google algorithm change.

The good news is that Google hasn't yet rolled this out to 100% of the web just yet, and if the past is indicative of previous algorithmic updates, it could take a few months to fully deploy. In fact, we are seeing many client websites still detailing the organic search terms in their analytics reporting. NOW is the time to make sure that your "house is in order" and that your hotel website content is up to snuff.

Keyword Stuffing is Dead: Really Dead

Google's latest move is in keeping with the previous Panda Update which effectively degraded websites that had low quality content and poor user experiences. If your hotel's website is stuffed with keywords in an attempt to "game the system," you should be concerned and should move quickly to develop quality content that adds value to your website visitors.  Lodging Interactive has had the foresight and understanding that quality content will always trump keyword rich content 100% of the time. Over the last couple of years, we have invested heavily in building up our CoMMingle Social Media Marketing division by hiring many professional copywriters. Our in-house copywriters are utilized for client blogging, social media engagement and the development of quality website copy for our clients. Blogging, social media engagement and quality website content is what Google is telling us websites need in order to succeed in the post keyword SEO era. As a savvy hotelier you should sit down with your website agency and review the freshness and quality of your website's content, making sure it adds value to the reader and not just the search engines.

Content is King: It Always Has Been

It’s been said many times in the past, and it is imperative now; Content Is King. Not only will quality and engaging content provide better organic results for your website, it will also help your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns.  How you ask?  When Google deems your content as “quality content,” it will increase your overall PPC Quality Scores which in turn means lower cost-per-clicks (CPC) and higher page displays for your ads.  So by taking the time to develop quality content for your website visitors, you will benefit from lower CPC’s and better paid advertising conversions.

What Can Your Hotel Do Now?

If you are fortunate enough to have in-house copywriting skills, you should revisit your website copy and make sure it still offers value to your targeted readers.  If you were reading it for the first time, would you find the content fresh, relevant and engaging?  If you don’t, hunker down and start re-writing your copy.  Here are some overall recommendation to guide your efforts:

● Establish a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page for your property.  Be sure to go beyond the obvious of check-in/check-out times and consider including FAQs related to local attractions and events. Also include FAQs about babysitting services, gluten free options, local transportation costs, etc.  Lodging Interactive offers hotels which can help you manage your comprehensive FAQs.

● Create dedicated landing pages for your promotions and specials throughout the year.  Have a Thanksgiving package/promotion?  Create a new landing page and name it Rinse and repeat the process for each package/promotion you have on your site.

● All major events, attractions & exhibits also deserve their own dedicated landing pages.  Remember to use the web page naming convention mention on the previous bullet.  By adding dedicated landing pages, your website page count will increase dramatically which tells Google your site is seriously committed to providing quality and engaging content. 

● Be sure to add content gradually over time, do not create all your landing pages at one time.  Google’s sophisticated technology will detect this and may flag your site unnecessarily as a spammy site.

● Launch a blog for your property and include various departments as editors. You may consider your General Manager, Catering Manager, Front Office Manager and Concierge as weekly contributors to the blog. Include all hotel constituencies in your social media / blogging content plan to ensure consistency of posts and topics complement each other.

● Just as you create an annual Sales & Marketing Plan for your hotel, get into the habit of creating a content acquisition plan. This will enable you and your team to stay focused on building your quality and engaging content. 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

If you’re considering hiring the professional services of an outside interactive agency to develop your landing pages and engaging content, make sure they’re exclusively servicing the hospitality industry so you don’t spend time “teaching” them your business.  Also make sure they have the technology and tools in-house to monitor your website content for effectiveness and suggested changes.  Lodging Interactive has partnered with leading content marketing platforms and intelligence tools to enable our search engine marketing teams to analyze page content for quality and effectiveness.  It is a combination of marketing technologies and human copywriting skills, exclusively in hospitality, that enables Lodging Interactive to ensure client websites are well positioned for Google's latest algorithm change.

Keywords Are Still Effective . . . Well Sort Of

While Google has made the shift from being keyword centric to now being pages/content centric, lets not forget that keyword research is still an important aspect of effective SEO.  Keyword data can still be obtained by running Google AdWords campaigns.  By running Google PPC campaigns your hotel is still able to obtain keyword level data. You can use this data to guide your organic content writing initiatives.  Additionally, your keyword level data can be useful when creating landing page and content themes for your new website content.

In Conclusion: The Times Are Changing, But There Is No Need To Panic

Be sure to monitor the effectiveness of your landing pages and monitor not only the inbound traffic to those pages, but your bounce rates.  A lower bounce rate indicates your visitors are seeing value in your content and are clicking through to the rest of the site. Also look for what we call “content opportunities” on your top landing pages. These are landing pages that have high engagement (ie. highest number of visits and the lowest bounce rates) in comparison to their share of total website traffic. Continue tweaking and fine tuning these pages to improve the overall engagement over time and monitor any new landing pages you have created for their effectiveness.


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