When it comes to SEO, some things are widely accepted as fact. But the SEO universe is vast and changes rapidly. Unfortunately, our perceptions don’t always keep up. If you own or operate an independent hotel, check your knowledge against these SEO myths:
Myth #1: SEO doesn’t matter anymore. Has SEO changed greatly in the past 5 years? Yes. But it still matters. If you want your hotel website to show up in search results, you need to pay attention to SEO.
Myth #2: There’s no way independent hotels can compete with chains and OTAs when it comes to SEO. This is an understandable assumption, but it’s not true. To prove it, I just Googled “boutique hotel Portland downtown.” The second result was a hotel website. Three more hotels showed up on the first page. Chains and OTAs are formidable opponents, but small hotels can rank high. Take the time to create a strategy, focus on local SEO, and research long-tail keywords.
Myth #3: I don’t need to worry about SEO if I use Google AdWords. SEO relates to how your website ranks in organic search results. Organic = not paid. So whether you buy lots of ads or none has no effect on how your website shows up in organic search results. Really.
Myth #4: I can make my site rank higher by cramming lots of keywords in it. “Keyword stuffing” is gross. An irony of creating SEO-friendly content is that in order to please the machines, you should write for humans. Search engine algorithms are pretty good at identifying bot-created content these days; you don’t want them to penalize you because they think your website is spam.
Myth #5: I can pay someone to magically make me rank in the top spot, guaranteed. No.
Myth #6: The copy on my hotel website is perfect, so there’s no reason to update it. First, congratulations! That must be some mighty fine copy. But search engines, and people, like content that is recent. Say you search for “how to create a hotel content strategy.” Which result would you choose: The blog post from 5 years ago, or the one that was published last week? (Hopefully the more recent one, unless you forgot to add “vintage” to your query). Blogging helps here, if your blog is part of your website (it should be; we’ll cover that in another post).
Myth #7: SEO is only about what people see on my website. Nope. Copy, design, and content are critical, but so are a lot of “back-end” components. The structure and speed of your website matter quite a bit, as do the quality and number of websites linking to you (inbound links).
Myth #8: SEO is way too complicated for me. The SEO landscape is, admittedly, immense. But you don’t have to be an expert to do some stuff. There are a lot of excellent resources out there. Google has an interactive SEO overview that is worth a look. For more recommended reading, see Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO.