April 3, 2018

Top 5 Questions to Ask While Choosing Your SEO Agency

By Juan Lesmes

With Google releasing over 500 algorithm updates each year and search engine results constantly in flux, SEO best practices are constantly evolving. And with search engines contributing almost 30% of bookings on hotel websites, website SEO must be kept up to par via high-quality, helpful, engaging and relevant website content.

As hoteliers, choosing the correct SEO vendor is a crucial factor in creating and implementing an efficient digital marketing strategy. Consider the following questions when deciding on the right vendor for your hotel:

  1. Do you employ a page-centric vs. keyword-centric approach?

A good agency will not necessarily see this as an either/or scenario, but will naturally lean towards a more keyword-focused explanation. They will tell you that the core of your SEO approach should be optimizing for keywords with high search volume to build visibility across search engines. They will assure you that keyword research is done on a regular basis to leverage Google trends and that these keywords will then be incorporated into the website copy.

A great agency, though, will clarify that a good keyword strategy is carefully tailored to each client’s needs, market positioning, and industry type. They will advocate for strategic, relevant keywords – not just those with high search volume. More importantly, they will guarantee that their keyword strategy is supported and complemented by sharp, unique copy, written professionally by their in-house copywriters.

Overall, an effective SEO agency, particularly one specializing in hospitality, can easily diagnose a hotel’s most digitally-enticing unique selling propositions, online local search competition, and technical priorities. They are then able to translate all of this information into search queries worth optimizing for. 

  1. How do you tailor SEO for mobile devices?

In SEO, mobile-first means advocating for a fully-responsive website. Google’s mobile-first index means that the search engine giant will gradually rank websites based on the mobile version of the site, even on desktop. This is why fully-responsive websites serve users the same content across devices, ensuring that no duplicate content exists. If an agency lives by a ‘mobile first’ mantra, you can almost guarantee they are keeping up with Google’s algorithm updates and best practices.

  1. What role does local search play in SEO?

Local search is important, if not crucial in SEO – especially when it comes down to hospitality SEO. In an industry where destinations are a key consideration, local search demands a strategy of its own. Your SEO agency should be speaking about online directories such as Google my Business or Bing Places for Business as priorities, not recommendations. Part of their SEO strategy should be devoted to auditing your hotel’s organic and paid listings to ensure consistency and accuracy. Good agencies set up local listings, but great agencies set them up while optimizing them with valuable keywords and rich content.

  1. Do you have an analytics tool to measure SEO efforts?

Since direct ROI from integrated SEO efforts is hard to measure, an SEO agency must have an SEO platform or search software to illustrate organic KPIs such as keyword rankings, total organic visibility and Local 3-Pack performance – ideally against a competitive set. These platforms should also serve as tools to uncover the keywords and content types that are winning the top spots on search engine results pages. The best SEO agencies pair SEO tools with web analytics to get a clear view of how organic search efforts are contributing to the overall traffic, profitability, and health of the site.

  1. Why is it important to work with an agency that specializes in hospitality?

Working with an agency that understands this multi-faceted, ever-changing industry ensures a custom and effective SEO strategy. There is much more value in a group of SEO specialists that have a unique view of the top-performing search tactics for branded, non-branded, soft-branded and independent properties. Instead of implementing a one-size-fits-all approach, your SEO agency should be able to align their organic strategies with your specific needs, like occupancy or RevPAR, and with your other marketing channels, including SEM and social media. At the end of the day, there is nothing more powerful than a group of hospitality marketers working with hospitality marketers.

About HEBS Digital:

Founded in 2001, the firm is headquartered in New York City and has global offices in Las Vegas, Tallinn, Munich, and the Asia-Pacific. Through its Smart Guest Acquisition Suite, including the smartCMS®, Smart Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-service digital consulting and marketing solutions, HEBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically boost direct bookings, lower distribution costs, and increase the lifetime value of guests. Its diverse client portfolio consists of top-tier luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants, DMO and tourist offices.

Part of NextGuest Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, the most comprehensive Hotel CRM Suite today, are the creators of the hospitality industry’s first Fully-Integrated Guest Engagement & Acquisition Platform.

Contact HEBS Digital’s consultants at 1 (800) 649-5076 (North America), +64 (0) 9 889 8489 (Asia Pacific) or success@hebsdigital.com.

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Editorial Contact:

Garrick Lee
Marketing Manager, HEBS Digital
Phone: (212) 752-9425
Email: garrick@hebsdigital.com