6 Common SEO Mistakes from the Hospitality Industry
- Posted by Nick Gallagher
- On October 17, 2017
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), at its core, is anything you do to your website to make it as easy to find organically online. It’s a little bit art, a little bit science, and always evolving.
As the value of organic traffic continues to become more apparent, more and more hotels and resorts are investing in SEO. Growing and leveraging the organic traffic coming to your site can provide great ROI, but here at Screen Pilot we still see many hospitality websites leaving organic revenue on the table.
After more than a decade in hospitality specific digital marketing, here are the six most common SEO mistakes from the hospitality industry we see – and how to fix them:
1. Slow Site Speeds
Google has confirmed that exactly how fast the pages on your site load is a ranking signal, meaning that if your site is too slow to load, it will be more difficult for you to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than faster sites.
There are a variety of reasons for a site to load slowly, but un-optimized images are definitely the biggest culprit on hotel and resort websites. All of those vibrant images, showing off the property’s beautiful accommodations and views, could really be hurting your SEO.
Make sure that all of the image files on your site are no bigger than they have to be – and that they’re optimized for the web. Optimizing the images on your website will increase page load times, send a positive ranking signal to Google, and help improve SEO mistake no. 2.
2. Non-Mobile Friendly Sites
Mobile traffic across the Internet surpassed desktop traffic for the first time in 2016. Google is rumored to be introducing a mobile-first index in 2018, meaning Google’s store of all the information it can find on the web and how it ranks websites in SERPs will prioritize mobile over desktop for the first time. Mobile is already proving to be a huge force in the hospitality industry, dominating last minute bookings and continuously growing its share of total bookings.
So, what do you need to be ready for the mobile-first world? A responsive website.
For a time, many businesses were creating clones of their websites designed specifically for mobile, but those sites were found to cause more issues than they solved and they required double the design work. Responsive websites recognize the device a user is visiting your site with and adapts to that format. Eventually it will be almost impossible for a non-responsive website to rank in a Google SERP, so get ahead of your competition now.
3. Thin Content
It is very difficult to get a page to rank in Google SERPs with less than 500 words, and even then, it’s still tough. The higher a page’s word count, the more content you have to tell Google what your page is about and what it should be ranking for. Google can also mistake pages with low word counts as spam.
Many hotel and resort websites are designed to be more visual, with lots of fantastic property images to feature the amenities and experience of a stay, but it’s important to also get written content on the page. Keep the user’s experience in mind, though, and be sure to break up large sections of text with headers, bullet points or other creative ways to display text.
4. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the extremely outdated SEO technique of including your target keyword as many times as possible on the page, whether it makes sense or not. Google has released many updates to its ranking algorithm penalizing sites using this tactic, not to mention it makes your pages look awkward, at best, to users.
Google has said for years to optimize for users, not search engines, and that’s a good rule for SEO practitioners to live by. Don’t include a target keyword unless it makes sense in context on the page.
Google also continues to update its algorithm, improving its ability to identify semantics and related terms. If you want to rank for “best Florida hotels”, but it makes more sense to use “Florida’s best hotel” in one sentence on the page, use the version that fits with your content. Google will recognize that “Florida’s best hotel” is a similar query to the keyword you want to rank for and know that people searching for “best Florida hotels” will be interested in that content. Be sure to include your target keywords wherever you can, but don’t sacrifice the user experience.
5. No Link Building Efforts
Links are one of the strongest rankings signals you can send to Google. Google views links from other sites to yours as an endorsement. The more trusted sites you have sending links, or “endorsements,” to your site, the more Google will trust you and therefore rank you better in SERPs.
Many hotels and resorts don’t perform any kind of link building. While links that come organically are great, one of the biggest SEO boosts you can give a site is new inbound links.
Links can come from any website, so don’t limit your outreach. Look for partnerships with local businesses and organizations or research applicable business directories and chambers of commerce. Another great way to attract links without manually performing outreach is to create quality, engaging content. Easier said than done, we know, but the more quality content you have, the more quality links you’ll attract.
Be wary of buying links, as Google will penalize that kind of activity harshly if discovered. Also, one quality link from a reputable site is worth much more than 20 low quality links, and many different websites giving you one link is better than a few sites giving you many links. Remember quality over quantity when it comes to link building.
6. No Image Alt Tags
Image alt tags are text you assign to an image to describe it. Google doesn’t see images when it crawls your site, so it uses the alt text to determine what the image depicts. While hotel and resort sites are so visual, many don’t have alt tags on any images across their whole site.
At best, this is a missed opportunity. An alt tag is a great place to include your target keyword on a page, letting Google know you have text and visual content about that keyword and you should rank for it.
At worst, missing alt tags could land you in legal trouble. Alt tags are also used by text readers for the visually impaired, and while the exact rule is currently unclear, not including alt tags with your images could result in an ADA violation.
While these SEO mistakes are common, especially in the hospitality industry, many of them can be fixed quickly and make a big impact on your site’s SEO. If you’d like to learn more about these SEO tactics or how SEO can improve your bottom line, get in touch!
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