How to connect your hotel brand to your customers in the world of semantic search

With the introduction of semantic search at the end of 2013, Google changed the way customers find hotels and services. It changed the information that we receive each time we search. The upshot: the hotel industry needs to profoundly change the way we market our hotels and manage our online presence.

Now, it’s all about the user experience, which is increasingly mobile. Google is predicting that mobile search will overtake desktop search queries by the end of 2014. We increasingly use voice search and talk to our mobile like we would our best friend. We ask it about the weather, best restaurants and the best hotel to stay.

Last year, an SEO checklist consisted of back links (from anyone anywhere), on-page SEO, domain names, hosting location and link structure. Practices were easily gamed by building artificial links and stuffing poor content with keywords, most of it focusing on desktop search.

A year on, things have changed enormously. However, at we don’t see much movement in travel industry and hotel marketing strategies. The industry doesn’t ‘get it’ yet. They should.

Take it from David Amerland, author of Google Semantic Search. He told “Nowhere is reputation more important perhaps than in the hospitality industry. Thanks to the widespread prevalence of reviewing systems such as TripAdvisor and Yelp and the use of social media to share experiences, the hotel industry can finally begin to win attention and market share by doing what it does best: focus on providing great service and the best end-user experience possible.”

Accordingly, here are four tips from that will help hotels be found easily on the semantic web:

1. It is more important than ever for hotels to have clarity in branding and positioning. Consistency in messaging is key to you being presented when a user is searching. The search engines need to see you as an authority in your market. This means consistently talking about similar things.

2. Concentrate on your area of expertise. Don’t try to be all things to all people. View yourself as a publisher of compelling, relevant content. You should strive to become a trusted authority of sound reputation and influence in the eyes of the search engines. We are starting to see this in destination marketing, but not so much in hotels.

3. Understand the importance of social media beyond posting pictures. Strive for engagement, interaction, sharing and retweeting. Search engines are increasingly using these signals to help establish your influence and relevance to the user search.

4. Focus on the 4 ‘V’s: Variety of content. Include a variety of output such as images, stories and videos. Volume of content. Content should be delivered on a regular basis. Velocity. Content should be delivered quickly and the more content is shared, retweeted, commented on, the more likely search engines will take notice. Veracity in authenticity.

The above is excerpted from the presentation Bronwyn White will give at the PATA Travel Mart and Board Meeting (Hospitality Industry Session), 21 September 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. for more

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