What is the first thing that you think of when you think of SEO?
For most, what comes to mind are links and possibly keywords. That is not a bad first guess, and it is technically not wrong. It is a little short-sighted, though. Yes, links matter, but there is a whole lot more that needs to happen before you can start getting those links. Yes, keywords matter, but is your keyword targeting being wasted? As with any other type of "building work," you need to make sure that you have a proper SEO foundation set.
You need to ensure that this is the case because you want to make sure that your efforts are not wasted. I cannot tell you how many times we have gotten a hotel's website that is riddled with 400 errors and redirects on the site. I am sure that whoever was doing the marketing spent a reasonable amount of time getting those visitors over to the website. Why would you waste all of the efforts when a user clicks on a link, and it goes to a dead page (404, not found)?
What about your site structure? Is everything easily and logically laid out for the user? If you were not familiar with your website, could you find what you needed? Is the user going to be confused when they click a link on your site? Are they even going to be able to see what they need? In the following article, I will show you the reasoning behind why you should make sure that these are in check before continuing with your hotel SEO efforts.
On the internet, websites change, and they change pretty frequently and for various reasons. An SEO must make sure that they are keeping up to date with these changes. I use a tool called Screaming Frog, as well as the Google Search Console, to find these errors. The main one you will focus on for your job as an SEO is 404 errors.
400 Errors or 404's more specifically
A 404 error is when a user clicks on a link that does not exist. This could happen for many reasons. Maybe you changed your site structure, the user could have mistyped the address, or perhaps you made the executive decision to delete the page, and didn't double-check your internal links.
404's are such a buzzkill for user experience. Let's say that your marketing team has done their job, and they are sending traffic to your website. The prospective customer is reading an article on your hotel's blog about the "Best Hidden Gems for Foodies." They click on a link that says "learn more" about the restaurant in the article, and it throws off a 404 not found error. That user is left with a bad experience because they can't "learn more," because your SEO hasn't done their job.
Since 404's are inevitable and are just part of the job of the SEO, this is what I would recommend. First, make sure that you fix 404's internally. If it is a link on your site that you can change, then do so. Next, adjust the external 404's since they could contribute to poor usability. Once you have all of the 404's taken care of, let's try to get some SEO value from future 404's.
How can you do this? You need to create a custom 404 page that will keep potential visitors on your site, and help them look for what they were initially seeking. Check out our example: https://www.e-marketingassociates.com/sdfsd. You could replace the "sdfsd" at the end of our domain with whatever you'd like. Not only have you fixed the 404's that used to be a liability, but you have turned it into an asset that will produce SEO results.
Click Depth & Internal Linking
Content is king! I am sure that you have heard that before, if you are using content marketing in tandem with your SEO (which you should). Good content is worth its weight in gold. Because of this, many people think that this means that they should create MORE content. While that may be good, some potential issues can arise. If you have the same people writing the content, that are doing the SEO, or social, or one of the many other marketing tasks that are so often done together, there is a higher chance that they might miss an internal link. This could cause the content to be orphaned, or it could end up getting buried by other material. This could render it useless.
This wouldn't be anything too detrimental to your efforts, but these mistakes will prevent you from maximizing that piece of content.
How you internally link your website content, and how you structure your website will have an impact on your SEO efforts. In my opinion, if a piece of content is more than 3 or 4 clicks away from the homepage, then it is almost useless. It is not entirely meaningless, but it is more like you are flipping a coin for that piece of content during every search. Heads you get the search traffic, tails you don't. There is very little control the further the material is from the home page.
If you properly use internal links, you can guide the user where you want them to go, and you can keep them more engaged. This is because you can have more control over the user's experience. If I have a piece of content that is 10 clicks away from the home page, then there is a slim chance that anyone will ever see it. Now, if I link from a page that is two clicks away from home to that piece of content that is ten clicks away, I can give it a shot to succeed. If you do this across the board and make sure that you keep it to 3-4 clicks from the home page, you can increase your traffic substantially, in some cases, double it.
Technically, Technical SEO
The two issues that I discussed are a form of technical SEO. They are things that help Google (crawlers) interpret the SEO of your site. While this is where they find their home, there is a case to be made for their impact on usability. That is what I am after.
Once you have these two simple issues taken care of, you can go out and build your links. You can also begin the process of refining your keyword strategy. In this way, you can help to maximize your efforts and get the most bang for your buck (or time for that matter). Depending on the size of your site, this can take as little as a day or as much as a few days. So, grab a cup of coffee, make sure you have your eyeglasses, and get started.