SEO is ever changing and we are always getting questions from our clients about the right and wrong way to strategize their SEO. It is pretty confusing and techniques that used to work really well 4-5 years ago are no longer benefiting your website. You didn’t become an innkeeper to become a digital marketing expert. But like it or not, understanding the basics of SEO is an essential part of running a business in the year 2019. If you’re confused about what practices to adopt and which to ditch, we’ve created this list of 5 no-no’s for SEO.
#1: Do Not Pack Keywords Into Your Meta DescriptionsLots of people think that the title tags and meta descriptions both affect SEO rankings and therefore they should put as many keywords in both to make their page rank higher in search engine results. This is not true. Google uses your title tags to search for search for relevant content and the keywords you utilize here will affect how your site ranks in search engine results. Meta descriptions, however, are not used in Google’s algorithm for search engine results. So why even bother? Meta descriptions are an opportunity to write a little free “ad” for why someone should click through to your page. Think about it this way:
- Write title tags for Google. This is where you want to utilize keywords… but don’t stuff keywords. Make sure you check off the basic checklist of (1) your property name, (2) your location or large attraction you’re located near, (3) some sort of lodging, B&B, hotel, or inn keyword if it isn’t already in the name of your property, (4) one or two main keywords that describe your inn and coincide with the search terms people are looking for, and (5) is short enough to display in Google results (currently 60 characters or less). Above all else – your title tag needs to be compelling enough to want to click on. If it is just a bunch of keyword-ese, it looks like junk. Check out our quick video on how to optimize page title tags and meta descriptions for SEO
- Write meta descriptions for your guests. Google does not use these for rankings, but they will bold certain words in the meta description to draw the eye. With a clean title tag, you can interest the viewer, but a well written meta description appealing to your ideal guest is what will bring them in. Write in full sentences that highlight the aspects of your inn that make it stand out.
#2: Do Not Overload Your Website With LinksLinks are important, yes. But too many links takes visitors off your website. Focus on quality over quantity. Do not put any links to other websites on your home page or rooms pages – these are your website’s “money” pages. Do, however, put links in your other “informational” pages. We suggest that you link out to two different types of sites:
- Local Sites. Look specifically for sites that are located in your area or are specifically about your area. Township event pages for example are a great link to have on your website. Search for local travel guides to add to your ‘Things To Do’ page. The Pine Ridge Inn, shown below, has inserted a few links to local restaurant guides on their website instead of crowding their restaurant page with links to every restaurant in town. Your website isn’t Yelp. Your links should be very carefully curated.
- Owned listings & memberships. For example: badges & links to the association or chamber that you belong to, or to your listings on sites like TripAdvisor or your social media accounts. These are OK to have on every page of your site, but they should be more subtle like in the footer.