Google has just announced that it will be rolling out a new search algorithm update in the coming weeks, allowing users to find high-quality content. The new ranking improvements aim to reduce the low-quality or unoriginal content people find on search engine results pages (SERPs) and allow them to see useful, credible and original content.
Content marketing includes creative content and descriptions about the property, its amenities, services, calendar of events, destination, local activities and attractions that are delivered to targeted audiences through various communication channels and media . Typically, content marketing does not explicitly promote a price, package, campaign or discount, but aims to stimulate interest in hotel products and services. .
Content formats include hotel website content, SEO, PR, email marketing, social media posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, articles and posts blog, expert knowledge marketing (tips, how-to’s, tips and recommendations from property experts such as golf pros, tennis instructor, spa specialist, wedding coordinator, recipes from your chef and bartender, etc.), announcements, as well as B2B marketing initiatives to engage corporate group planners, SMERFs, and temporary business trips like conferences, white papers, roundtables, participations, prize announcements, raffles by lot, etc.
Like the tentacles of an octopus, content marketing raises awareness of the hotel, its product and its value proposition and plays an important role in engaging and attracting travel consumers in the dreaming and planning phases and creating customers ready to book in the reservation phase. Phase of the digital customer journey. This type of marketing converts online travel consumers into bookings by gaining positions, rankings and backlinks in Google SERPs.
Content marketing is neither new nor free and should be an integral part of the hotel digital marketer‘s toolkit. All segments of content marketing cost the marketer money because someone has to create the content and creatives, set up and manage campaigns, monitor analytics, and prepare reports. When done right, content marketing is much, much cheaper than performance marketing like paid search, metasearch, and display advertising.
How does this new Google update affect hoteliers?
Let’s start with the hotel website: stand-alone property website, property section on large hotel chain website, small and medium-sized hotel brand site. Websites with superficial, unappealing, schematic and bullet-like content will be the losers of this new Google algorithm update, while websites with deep, editorial, narrative and original content will be the winners. .
In other words, hotel website content – textual, visual, promotional – should be unique, credible, engaging, editorial-level and should tell a compelling story about the property, convince potential guests of its proposition. of value and position it as the hero of the destination.
Take content credibility, for example. Travel consumers always judge the credibility of hotel website content through three criteria:
- User-generated content: What other travelers have said about your hotel via reviews, social media posts, etc. ?
- Professional Content: How professional travel media – travel writers, bloggers, TV, etc. – do they describe your hotel, and finally
- The “official content” of the property – How does the hotel itself describe its services, amenities, location, etc. on its website and in its media presence?
The greater the gap between “official content” and user-generated content, the less credible the official content is: travelers trust the reviews of other travelers much more than what your website had to say. Therefore, when creating content for your website, you should pay attention to both user-generated content and professional content. Ex. If past guests repeatedly describe your hotel on Google Reviews, TripAdvisor or other review sites as “an affordable hotel for families”, you’d better include the phrase “We are often described as an affordable hotel for families” or something like that in the first paragraph of your website’s homepage.
Another key point is the originality of the content on the hotel website. Original content means content that is not duplicated on another website, i.e. unique. Duplicate web content occurs when two web pages with different URLs contain “largely identical content”. These two pages can reside on the same website (internal duplication) or on two different sites with two completely different base URLs (external duplication), the property website and an OTA site, for example.
Google hates duplicate content. Why? As mentioned above, Google works very hard to index and display pages with distinct and original information. For Google, duplicate content is not beneficial to its users and inhibits user experience. In other words, duplicate content is “spam”. This is the reason why when two website pages are identified as “too similar”, one of them gets demoted and usually disappears from the SERPs.
In the hotel industry, a typical example of duplicate content is the hotel which provides OTAs with descriptive content of the establishment identical (“copy and paste”) to that of the hotel’s site. When Google discovers this duplicate content about the hotel on two different websites – the hotel and the OTA website, which takes precedence? Of course, the OTA site that has higher authority – larger user audience, higher number of backlinks, etc. In other words, Google will include the hotel OTA pages in the SERPs and ignore the hotel website.
What about hoteliers providing content to third parties?
Naturally, hoteliers cannot avoid providing content descriptions about their hotel to other sites – distribution partners, CVB, travel directories, etc. In addition to distributing the hotel’s inventory to a wider audience, some of these content listings provide additional benefits to the hotel’s own website. . Hotel listings on directories, destination sites, CVB sites, etc., that include a URL link to the hotel’s website or a citation about the property, directly affect your hotel’s ranking on Google . This search engine loves these inbound links to your site (called backlinks) because each of these links is considered a vote of confidence in your website content.
But hoteliers need to be very smart about this and avoid providing duplicate content to any external distribution or marketing partner site to prevent the hotel site from being marginalized in the Google SERPs. A list with the number of rooms and floors, amenities, square footage of meeting spaces, and hours of operation is one thing, but any descriptive content provided to third parties regarding the hotel, services, and amenities must be “significantly different”.
Unfortunately, this has been a serious problem in the industry for many years: hoteliers provide third-party sites with the same content descriptions found on their websites. Why? It is much easier to “copy and paste” than to write “significantly different” hotel and room descriptions.
The inevitable result of existing practices is that many of these third-party sites like OTAs are far more knowledgeable about content marketing and SEO techniques than hotels, and the result is that OTA listings end up higher in the SERPs than those of the property. contents.
In my 25+ years of hospitality digital marketing experience, I have rarely – if ever – seen successful content marketing driven by an in-house team at a hotel property or brand. Content marketing is simply not in the hotelier’s DNA. Very few hotel employees have ever been hired where content marketing and writing has been one of the job requirements. The optimal solution is to partner with a specialized PR or digital marketing agency that understands the intricacies of how Google’s algorithms work and provides editorial and SEO expertise in accordance with industry best practices.