In case you haven't heard, this week Google released Panda 3.9, the 14th iteration of the initial update released in February 2011. A tweet from the company stated that the update will affect roughly 1% of searches. So what do all these algorithmic updates mean? And more importantly, how can hoteliers maintain and increase their SEO performance in the wake of these updates?
Each iteration of Google Panda has focused on lowering the rank of "low-quality sites" or "thin sites" to promote sites with high-quality content. Google's official Websmaster Central Blog has made it easy to determine what counts as a high-quality site.
Some of the questions they suggest answering when assessing a site are as follows:
Does the site have duplicate, overlapping or redundant content on the same or similar topics?
Does this article have spelling, stylistic or factual errors?
Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
There is more guidance on Google's official blog, but these questions underscore the importance of unique and relevant content. As we've written before, content is king - but how do you go about creating this royal content?
With the help of a website content and digital marketing asset management system like the HeBS Digital CMS Premium, hoteliers have the opportunity to manage content on the fly as well as create fresh, engaging and unique content on the site by adding landing pages, blog posts, upcoming events and more. These pages create more opportunities for search engines to crawl and index your site for relevant keywords and see it as the authority on all things relating to your area.
The result? A typical single-property website has 30-60 pages of content indexed by Google. The HeBS Digital CMS Premium allows clients to build a multitude of new landing pages and fresh content over time, and typically has over 2,500 - 4,500 pages of fresh, relevant and deep content indexed by the search engines.
Campaign marketing and landing pages allow hoteliers to target long-tail keywords and speak directly to a customer segment or event. For example, if there is an annual marathon in your city, why not build a landing page devoted to the marathon compiling all the information everyone would want to know when running in or watching the marathon? In addition to becoming the authority on guests traveling to your city for the marathon, any marathon-related SEM campaigns that point to that landing page will have a higher quality score, resulting in a lower cost per click.
Blog posts offer many benefits, but for now we'll focus simply on SEO. Fresh, frequently-updated content is crawled more often by search engine bots than stale content - so keep blogging! Blog posts can also be optimized for a variety of terms that will help users stumble upon your blog because they were browsing WordPress for "dream getaways" or something similar.
All content for your website, whether it be a blog post, new landing page, or simply updated copy, should follow the guide provided by Google above. Your website should have a unique value proposition; something new to offer to a user. If it does, you will be rewarded with higher ranks, more traffic, and higher conversion rates.
By releasing so many versions of Panda, Google has made it clear that unique, relevant content is paramount. If you haven't done so already, find a digital marketing partner that can work with you to create quality content that will drive your bottom line.
About Sue Wiker
Sue Wiker is Manager, Copy + SEO at HeBS Digital, the hospitality industry's leading full-service digital marketing and direct online channel strategy firm, based in New York City (www.HeBSdigital.com).