Part two of our SEO for hoteliers seriesPart two of the ‘How SEO Can Boost Your Hotel Bookings’ series (part one here)

Before looking in detail at some of the effective, simple and easy steps you can take to boost how highly Google values your website, it’s important to discuss some of the SEO practices that you should avoid at all cost.

Just as certain steps can improve how kindly Google views your site, other decisions can really damage your website’s reputation, and cause it to sink down the rankings like a stone.

This is where SEO can be a little challenging, as certain practices – which were once highly effective – are now looked upon very negatively. These dark arts were effective at one time – when the technology that Google was using was much more basic, and easier to fool. Times have moved on, however, and it’s important not to be suckered into making these mistakes.

1. Backlinking

A sure fire way to make progress in the past was to simply spread hyperlinks to your website all over the internet. Thousands of shady websites were set up simply to house spammy links. These links were often hidden – using the same colour for the text as the background – or they were simply crammed onto websites with no consideration for actual human visitors who might want to read the content.

This practice can now be incredibly harmful, as Google takes account of the reputation of any website which has a link to your own site on it. So if spammy, horrible websites are linking to your site, your own reputation will inevitably suffer.

Many websites which used this practice have been irreversibly damaged by Google wising up to the tactic. Dodgy companies would – and still offer to – take money to spread thousands of links to your site high and wide across the internet.

With so many of these spammy links clogging up every corner of the internet, it’s nigh on impossible – and expensive – to delete them all, so people who’ve used these tactics in the past are finding it impossible to repair the damage that they did, while trying to take a short cut.

As we will discuss, links still play an important role in SEO – but you have to be careful. If you get the chance to post a guest blog on a high quality website – and add a link back to your site in your bio section – this can be highly effective. It’s definitely quality over quantity when it comes to links, however.

2. Weak Content

Content (think blogs, articles, videos, podcasts) is key to a good SEO campaign, but you need to be willing to put the effort in to make it worthwhile. Simply throwing any old rubbish online – or even worse copying and pasting – can be incredibly damaging.

Readers will be disappointed, and Google will notice how quickly your visitors tend to hit the ‘back’ button to escape. It’ll then use this information to determine that your site simply isn’t offering much value, and you’ll drop like a stone.

3. Black Hat Methods

At one time, simply stuffing websites with what are known as ‘keyword phrases’, was an effective way to climb the rankings. If you’ve ever stumbled across weird webpages that have bizarre phrases crow-barred in – things like ‘cheap hotels Lake District great value’ in the middle of sentences – this is the reason. Google now penalises this kind of practice.

When used properly – and with restraint – keyword phrases are still very useful, however, as we’ll discover in coming posts.

4. Keyword Choices

Keywords are basically the phrases that you are targeting. So a relevant hotel could target the keyword ‘Hotels in the Lake District,’ to try and reach the top of the rankings, whenever someone at home types this phrase into Google.

Targeting general keywords can be an error, however. In many cases, it’s far more effective to target specific keywords, as the competition for more general ones is very high. General keywords will also tend to bring in waves of users who have no interest in what it is that you actually have to offer.

Targeting more specific, well-focused keywords can be a hugely effective way to bring in more visitors, and also improve how likely your website’s visitors are to be interested in your services.

So targeting ‘Boutique Windermere hotels with pool’ may be a better idea, for example, and bring in pre-filtered visitors, who want exactly what it is that you provide. Research is required to determine the best options, and a further post will explain exactly how you can do this.

5. Rushing

SEO isn’t a short term process. It takes time, energy and commitment – but the results can be massive. It will take time to build up your site’s reputation – so don’t lose heart and give up!

This is another reason why it’s often a good idea to use a travel copywriter, or external agency. They will be methodical, and have well-tested systems in place. As professionals in the field, they’re also not going to give up until the job is done – while you, on the other hand, may be tempted to.

Social Media Considerations

It’s also worth mentioning that similar principles apply when it comes to building your social media followings. It may look great to have 50,000 followers, but if these are not real accounts, they’re not going to interact with your content.

This means the reputation of your social media accounts will plummet – as Twitter, Facebook or whichever site you’re using notice that you’re posting content that thousands of ‘people’ simply aren’t interested in.

Far better, instead, to focus on quality over quantity, and build a much smaller following that’s comprised of members of your target audience. In this way, you can build real connections, and generate real engagement, which will be looked kindly upon by the social media sites themselves. This means your messages and blog posts will have a higher chance of being displayed.

Phew!

Now we’ve got some of the most common mistakes out of the way, next we can look at some of the simple steps that you can take to make your content sparkle, and smooth talk Google into showing it to the world, and bringing you crowds of relevant website visitors.