Most search engine optimization is a process.
Yes, there are many aspects of technical SEO that you need to have to be successful.
You must make sure that you are following best practices or you could see lackluster results. On the other end of the spectrum, you could even get a penalty.
Even though there are many aspects to SEO aside from these two simple points, the fact of the matter is that at its core SEO is strategy formulation around a process.
If you have taken a shot at “doing SEO” then you know that it can be difficult to achieve results. You can put your all into it, but still, never reach the first page of the SERP (search engine results page).
There is a straightforward reason, and I’m going to tell you why.
The Process is Complimentary. It is Not Isolated.
Most people think that SEO is only about keywords.
Let's say you have the most engaging writer. They are targeting your intent-rich, bottom of the funnel keywords. In this case, you might have a shot at competing. However, there is one thing that you need to understand.
Everyone else is doing the same thing. The competition will be cutthroat for critical terms that signal that a buyer is ready to buy.
If not these key terms, then which should you be focusing on?
Well, since this is a process, I will be showing you via the AIDA model. Its focus is to have quality keywords at every stage of the decision-making journey. This will make your SEO strategy more holistic.
Your business can show up in the early stages of the decision-making process. This will get you at least some consideration.
I’ve also included percentages next to each category. This way you can visualize some terms you should be targeting for these categories.
Note: This is only an idea of a mix, and not universal. Every SEO strategy should be done on a case by case basis.
Attention – 20%
Many independent hotels have the same problem. They do not have the luxury of brand recognition that the established brands have. When someone hears the name Hilton, they know what they are going to get. If a searcher sees Hilton on the first page of the search results page when they type in the general key term “hotels in [insert your location here]” they automatically add it to their consideration set (assuming they like Hilton, it is in their price range, etc.). The same goes for the many brands that are synonymous with the Marriott name, and the list goes on.
You have to ask yourself, what key terms will get the attention of customers that are at this very early stage. Then ask yourself if you can compete with those that are in your competitive set. You can go after any key terms that you’d like. There is going to be a more substantial time commitment required to rank for more general terms at this stage.
Figure out what segment you service the best, and invest in targeting those consumers. Do this at the very beginning of their purchasing journey.
Interest – 30%
I like to invest much of my analysis time in this part of the process. Once you know what segment you are serving the best, you can add more detail to the search terms that you are targeting. If you have a beautiful pool on your property, then this is where you can choose a key term that reflects that. Let’s look at an example.
You find out that you service senior citizens the best in your area. If a key point of your hotel is your pool, diner, etc. and you know these are the people that you service the best, then you need to show that in your key terms.
You wouldn’t target “craziest pool parties” as your key term because that wouldn’t fit. The people that you service the best wouldn’t respond to it. If they do, more power to you, but know that it is a long shot. .You might target something more like relaxing pools in [insert location]. That might get you more of the people you are going after.
Once you know whom you want to target, figure out what it is about your hotel that would make them want to stay with you. This way you can pique their interest and get them to consider your hotel.
Desire – 30%
This is where the fun starts with keywords. I’m all about getting granular. The more focused that I can be with my messaging, the better off the SEO strategy will be. This is where you can start promoting your “enticing offers.” These don’t have to be specials in the traditional sense. It could be your prime location right next to a popular attraction.
You should ask yourself what it is that would increase the desire to stay at your hotel. Keep in mind the keywords that you have chosen in the previous steps. These keywords should complement the other keywords and align with your strategy. If we are following the same scenario as before, you could target a keyword like “relaxing pools closest to Disneyland.”
The definition should be pretty clear at this point. The searcher should get precisely what they are looking for.
Action – 20%
If all goes as planned, then you would have shown up a few times along the buyer’s journey. The recall for your brand name should be in high consideration for this searcher. This means that they are now in the action phase. This is when they will want to book.
Think about it this way. If a hotel keeps popping up in the search engine for the keywords I’m typing in, they are what I am looking for.
All other extraneous factors aside, this is one of the best ways for hotels to “do SEO.” Keep in mind that the landscape of SEO is changing and that this is only a small keyword strategy part.
Do you want to add fuel to your SEO strategy fire? Do a competitive analysis to see what your competitors are up to. Knowing what they are already ranking for and what techniques they are using can help. It can move this process along and prevent you from barking up the wrong tree. There are many tools to use for SEO strategy that you should take advantage of as well.
A big part of action key terms will include your brand name. If you have done your job, then people will remember who you are.