Google changes its algorithm like nobody's business. Every year, they are said to alter their algo somewhere around 500-600 times!
On top of that, there is always something new in the SEO community that is vying for your attention. Someone will proclaim, "keywords don't matter anymore." Then someone will say that they do. It's about entities! It's about structure...and the list goes on.
The fact of the matter is that things change. That is why you need to make sure that you have a search engine optimization strategy that is built to withstand the times. This strategy should be able to weather any sudden changes that might spring up on you.
Keep in mind that your strategy won't just spring up out of the blue. You have to sit down and think it through. It might not be a success, but as long as you have a plan there is a greater chance that your hotel will do well.
You should also ingrain it in your mind that your strategy has to be something that cannot easily be replicated. Sure, you can do the same thing that everyone else is doing. Still, you need to understand that if you do this, you are A. most likely going to get similar results i.e., you are not going to do better. B. it will be easier for others to replicate it if they are doing any type of competitive research, meaning if you did get results, they might be short-lived.
If this happens, you will lose any competitive advantage you might have once had. This means that you have to head back to the drawing board.
In short: The more conventional the strategy is, the easier it is to lose. The more out there it is, the more significant the risks and the rewards will be.
What would a strategy like this look like
Let's say that we developed an SEO strategy to increase our local footprint to get more community involvement/transient business. Tactics involved would be:
- Start incorporating locally focused keywords into the content that is on the website.
- Execute a link building campaign to get links from local businesses
- Get listed on all of the relevant directories to provide stronger signals from the aggregators
- Focus on really making GMB (Google My Business) the best that the hotel can make it.
Get it? There is still the freedom to make decisions, but it seems easy enough to follow this strategy. If the tactics are developed, then there is no reason that your plan should not produce results for you.
I know that we touched on local SEO, just a bit, but before you get started crafting your SEO strategy, there are a few things that you are going to need to keep in the back of your mind, as they are relevant as of this writing, and I don't see them leaving anytime soon.
A Few Words Before We Get Started - Updates You Should Be Aware Of:
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you should be aware that what Google deems as important has evolved. As you are crafting your general SEO strategy, you should keep these things in mind. A lot of the recent SEO buzz deals with the structure of the page. These are a few of the more notable. Click on any one of them to read more:
There are also other essential factors to consider:
- Searcher intent is more prominent - This means that you need to make sure that you understand what the user is looking for if you are going to try and optimize for it. No matter how much you try to optimize for something, if it doesn't match up with what the user is looking for, then you will never rank well for it.
- Comprehensiveness - gone are mostly the days of 300-word churn and burns. Unless your audience has an extremely short attention span, it will be tough to rank well with something unless it is comprehensive.
Goals, Goals, Goals
So now that you know a few things that you should look out for, you can start to come up with a strategy. When you are coming up with your SEO strategy, you need to make sure that you are tying the plan into your business's goals. If you are not, then what's the point? What is it that you are trying to do with the company? Tie your SEO strategy to that. This way, you can have a real feeling of whether your SEO helped your business or not.
This way, you can improve your strategy in the years to come. If you have something that you are trying to measure and you see that you over or underperformed, then you can adjust accordingly to meet your business's specific needs. The thing about SEO is that it typically takes time to do well. But once you know what works, then you can double down on it, and when you see what doesn't work, you can cut or adjust.
You should be keeping track of all of this. That way, you know where, what, and how you were able to achieve the things that you did.
Keywords Matter, But Topics Matter More
I know that when most of you hear "SEO," you automatically think, "oh, yeah, keywords!" While that may have still been the case circa 2002, much has changed.
I still scatter key terms (and variations of the term) throughout my article and optimize for a keyword. Getting these types of variations on there helps me to future proof for the searcher. What I mean by this is that I am not sure if they keywords that people are using to search are going to change because of voice search. Since I am not a mind reader, I find it better to do things this way so that I can cover more of my bases.
I'm not saying to get rid of keywords completely. You just have to think about it more holistically, on the level of a topic that could be associated with that keyword. A recent Ahrefs study showed that the #1 ranking page on a site will also rank for about 1000 other relevant words. So since the key term for this article is SEO strategy, the topic would need to be something like how to craft an SEO strategy, what goes into a plan, etc. You might also be able to get away with something simple like "best SEO strategy," but the "best" is typically subjective.
Always Make Sure That You Are Adding Value
One thing that still bothers me in this industry is when practitioners say you have to do this or that. Sure there are the best practices, but there is also that little extra something. This is why when I hear people say that you shouldn't do guest posting, or interviews or something along those lines, I go crazzzzy. Why would you limit yourself? You can't just let anyone guest post on your website -- that is unless you want a lot of shameless self-promotion. If you can integrate these types of articles into your SEO strategy, then you can potentially have a way to get more eyeballs on you. The tough thing about this one is that you are at the mercy of the partnership. What's to say that they don't start writing for your competitors as well. You can future proof this strategy by making sure that you are only putting out the best on your blog.
The thing about adding value is that it is the best strategy. Think about it, if you are only putting out the best stuff that you can conceive, then the only thing that you need to worry about is time. You still need to do promotion, but it will be a much easier process if you have something of value to offer to your site's visitors. Communities are interesting like that. If you are doing something remarkable, then people will remark about you! If people are not mentioning you, then that might just mean that you are not remarkable.
Before I head out, I have to mention one thing. If you want to run the future-proofed SEO strategy that I mentioned above, there are a few things that you should do when it comes to tactics. First and foremost, you need to make sure that your content fits. A video may be the perfect thing if you are trying to do a tutorial or something along those lines. If you want to communicate a bunch of data in a quick, digestible format, maybe you use an infographic. Or, who knows, perhaps you want to stick with articles. I love to read, so I am okay with most information in written form, but I understand if you are not. The point that I am trying to make is that you need to make sure that you are adapting your SEO strategy to whatever medium your target audience likes best. SEO can be about keywords, but it doesn't have to be.