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November 18, 2016

SEO NOW: 4 Ways to Build Crucial Off-Site Signals


Editor’s Note: This post is part of our end-of-year “Moving the Needle” series aimed at helping hotels achieve greater success in 2017.Understanding the new rules of search engine optimization (SEO) is critical.About one-third of all search clicks go to the first Google result, according to Business 2 Community. Another 63 percent of clicks go to the second, third, and fourth results. That means all sites ranking fifth place or lower are scrapping for just 4 percent of clicks. Top search slots are more competitive now than ever before.In the early days of SEO, the words woven into the code were the key to better search performance. One could focus on manipulating on-site signals, items such as headers, copy, keyword-optimized title tags and meta descriptions. These were technical changes one could experiment with and expect results.But the webmaster is no longer at the helm.Search engines are increasingly looking to social media presence, blogosphere engagement, and links to determine rank. Why? These off-sight indicators suggest that others find your website a useful resource with valuable information that people should know about.To be competitive in search today, building off-site signals is a must.Here are four strategies for improving off-site signals.


Social media channels are prime digital real estate.

The 2015 Search Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations report from SearchMetrics found that sites in the top positions of Google search results have more social signals. In other words, they have a presence on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and enjoy online engagement (Likes, Retweets, +1s, Pins) via those channels.

To put it simply, sites tend to rank better when they also engage in social media marketing.

Google tracks a myriad of factors, such as the volume of social engagement and number of links, to determine where sites should rank in search results. The bigger your brand's digital footprint, the more signals you'll have that show your company is a credible source of information and of value to users.

Create a content calendar and a strategy for each network on which you build a presence. Make sure you have guidelines for what to publish, when to publish, how to track, and who will be responsible. The average posting rate across industries is about 10 per week, according to HubSpot, which means you should consider publishing about two pieces of social content each day.

If you're looking for some examples of hotels doing it right, check out:

You can also check out our list of “10 Hotels That Are Killing It On Instagram Right Now.”

NOTE - Don't create social accounts and ignore them in the name of SEO. Only set up social pages if you have the intention and resources to manage them. Hosting neglected accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter with little or no engagement won't help your SEO, it will hurt it.


Guest blogging can be an effective way to generate off-site signals by publishing original articles on other websites. These might be well-respected publications, travel blogs, or other corporate websites.

The strategy is an opportunity to reach a new audience, create links back to your website, and position your brand as an authority. Publishing articles for relevant and authoritative sites tells Google that you're a respected source of information on the subject and should rank at the top of results.

How does guest blogging work? First, find a publication that is a good fit for your brand. It might be a source that you personally find useful and regularly read, a blog by a trusted travel expert, a partner company's site, or a brand with values that align with yours. Get in contact with the community manager or editorial department, and offer an article that you think their audience would enjoy reading. The more exclusive it is, the better. Consider an interview with a guest staying in your C-Suite, insider tips from an industry expert, a local's guide for first-time visitors.

Once a site shows interest, write the article and include a link or two back to related articles or pages on your website, as well as one on a core keyword (e.g., The Colonnade, a Boston hotel) in the introduction or conclusion. Once the article is published, promote it on social media to drive a lot of traffic to it.


Links are one of the strongest signals that improve your SEO. Search Metrics found that the top four results in Google search have 4,000 or more backlinks, while lower-ranking sites have an average of 2,500.

Google interprets links as signals that your content is credible and useful, so it ranks it higher than similar pages with fewer links pointing to them.

One of the reasons why they're so powerful is that they genuinely have to be earned. A link will only come if you're providing quality information that someone recognizes as valuable. It's a vote for your content.

So how do you generate links? Start by creating excellent content. Distribute it through email and social media, and ask people to link to it. A one-two punch of content and outreach is the most productive method for link building.

Custom infographics are another form of link bait. Packed full of data, SEO pro Neil Patel notes infographics generate 37.5 percent more backlinks than blog posts on average. Because they contain so much information in an easily digestible visual format, the demand for graphics continues to rise.


Take your expertise online. You're already the go-to resource of information when they’re in-house. Bring that polished customer service to your digital presence and simultaneously achieving coveted positions in search.

While you may not want to give away too many insider secrets, share some of your local knowledge ...

  • "5 Attractions to See in [Chicago] on Your Next Business Trip"
  • "How to Score Discounts on [Cubs} Tickets"
  • "3 Secrets to Upgrading your Hotel Room"
  • "7 Locally Made Products that Make Great Souvenirs"

These are the types of insights your property team is already sharing with guests. When you publish them online, you're providing a level of information that your brand is uniquely positioned to offer.

That demonstrates authority. That drives clicks and generates links.

SEO isn't as straightforward as it once was … and that’s OK.While those early internet SEO “best practices” are today outdated, ineffective or, even worse, spammy, hotel teams that embrace the new rules of SEO, regardless of size or brand affiliation, have an opportunity to rise in the ranks.


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