Connecting Search and Social Marketing
By Richard Walsh Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Travel Marketing Dynamics | February 05, 2012
While hospitality marketing will continue to evolve in the coming months and years, there is one constant and that is the value of interconnecting each marketing initiative. In their order of importance, the marketing initiatives that will determine your online success are: website, search, reputation, social, online advertising, mobile website and print. To produce the best possible returns on your marketing investments, you need to apply QR codes and print to reach out to new prospects and SMS text messaging to pull in prospects from your past guests, website visitors, social networks and followers.
Your website is your storefront and it need to remain clean, fresh and informative. Your content should be written with your target market(s) in mind and edited accordingly. Your site should also prompt visitors to navigate through your pages. Make your toolbar page descriptions easy to understand, keep your booking widget along with your toll-free phone number on all pages, offer onsite guest reviews and avoid widgets or links that will take your site visitor off of your website. A photo gallery and a video to show the property features are great, but keep in mind how if you use flash it may inhibit certain consumer access methods. You want your website to be accessible for all prospects including those who have slower mobile access, weaker computer connections and other connection considerations.
Plan to upgrade or replace your website every two to three years. This is necessary to have the latest coding and to be compatible with all access channels. Keep your connecting widgets current and make sure there are no broken links. Include your own guest review system into your website for better reputation management direct guest communications. Remember: social engagement widgets should not take visitors to anther website.
The core optimization of your website is essential and it requires frequent submissions to the leading search engines, unique meta title, meta description and meta keywords for each page. Keeping the keywords in your source code in synch with text on the webpage is also important. Optimizing the site will require some ongoing changes, as the search engines implement new methods of searching and prioritizing your content. So, clearly, this is not a one-time operation.
Search marketing is the most important aspect of your online marketing initiatives and how you connect these initiatives will determine how you connect with prospective customers. Content must be refreshed frequently; your optimized content should connect all channels including your website, blog, guest reviews, social and mobile. A blog is an advantage because it provides easy frequent optimized releases that are preferred by the search engine that are hungry for fresh content. Your goal is to relate your hotel website, specials and services to your location, value, local events, local attractions and other demand drivers relevant to your market. Consumer search phrases will continue to grow and will relate to more than your hotel's name and location and this will require major changes on the large database driven systems.
The websites with database driven systems that accommodate multiple hotels located in a widespread set of diverse markets, are OK as brand-driven directories, but not so much for more local or geo-driven requests and searches. The hotel's Places profile content and its incoming links are also important for effective search optimization. Keep the profile information current, and where possible, negotiate incoming links. Purchasing links or adding links that do not relate to the hotel or local demand drivers may be considered black-hat marketing practices and this can hurt your search rankings and even result in restrictions from the search engine provider.