Trip Advisor lists 395 hotels in Orange County. There are also 37 B & Bs, 42 specialty lodgings and no less than 644 Vacation Rentals. Where ever you fall in that mix, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
We put together this list of best practices – for SEO and for conversion optimization – whether you’re running a small Orange County hotel, or managing a slew of vacation rentals. Orange County is a complicated place – that’s why we love it – but it’s also highly competitive in both senses of the word. If you can make it, you can definitely make it here.
1. Your Website is so 2014, again.
If you’re still making do with your old website, that’s ok. If it’s the one you’ve run for years, then you probably ought to look at re-launching. If you’ve had some experience doing SEO, then we’ll double down on that recommendation. (see the next point). That short time when all of your SEO was done off-site on referral and review listings pages has come and gone, and today, more than ever before, you need a smart, intuitive and engaging sites that draws people in and keeps them coming back.
2. Get your Copy Written Professionally!
Spammy old sales copy not only doesn’t work, it makes Google hate you. Worse than that, it makes potential customers and guests hate you too. You want to use them not only for your website copy but to help you to…
3. Understand Marketing
This really doesn’t get said enough. Marketing is the creation (and maintenance) of an environment where sales are more likely. It’s not about doing sales, and it’s not about talking up your discounts either. It’s more about being cool (or chic, or warm, or inviting) company. That company may very well employ like-minded people – or it may have the best of the best, but it’s not about doing sales. Work with a writer who engages with your angle and who can present it, on your website and off your website. Internet marketing is about marketing first, because it has to be, and then about conversions.
4. Generate Unique Content (do Marketing, not Promotions)
The mere idea of a “blog” is still anathema to many in hospitality, but that’s primarily because so few hotels engage in marketing that most of them misunderstand the meaning of the word right off the bat. Even seasoned hotel pros have never worked for a hotel which does any marketing. Many of them do only advertising and promotions when excess inventory demands it. That’s not marketing, and on the Internet, it’s really not a ticket to success.
5. Manage Your Content Better.
You really do need to be able to not only put up more, but to keep it up to date. Doing less than that means you’re not really using the Internet the way the Internet is supposed to be used. That isn’t something sales people determined. It’s not what a user-group in Belfast decided. “The way the Internet is supposed to be used” is something that Google determines based on their own experience and their considerable weight in the market. Love them or hate them, when you’re that big, you can make such determinations. The rest of us have to play along.
6. Plan your Content (even just a little bit).
Make a calendar for your content, like social, blogging, and special outreach (events). Site manager often don’t realize it, but filling out a calendar is really just “making a list.” Deeper content requires that you build up to it. And when we say “make a list” well some of you might, but by and large, lists need to make sense over time and let’s face it: over time, lists get lost. Some things change but a calendar is a better planning and implementation tool than a list. Keeping a calendar and sharing it with your copywriter is an incredibly valuable way to support content creation.
7. Understand the New Keywords
For most hotels, keywords all come mostly down to locations, nearby attractions and events. Repeating the same place names, though, is never going to cut it. Today, more important than having your keywords indexed is having them in a dynamic, well-visited, well-liked and well-shared environment. Google can see that and will not reward the right keywords if they’re set, even perfectly set, in a dowdy, boring environment. That’s why you need content.
Pull up your site on your phone and tablet. If it looks bad, then you definitely need – NEED – a responsive new design. It’s affordable, fast and it gives you access to a whole ton of new traffic. And it will convert them better.
Believe it or not, SEO for Hotels, today, is a lot more like straight content creation and management than it is about technical insight and expertise. It is about a few of those old chestnuts too. You need an XML sitemap and your metas need to be well written – but more important they need to be more frequently written and for an increasing number of pages. We’re the go-to experts for Orange County Social Media, too, and that’s important for SEO. But you need to start building the content first, and then regularly sharing it. Social goes a lot easier that way!
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