The perfect SEO strategy is a never ending debate between marketers since forever. In the last couple of years, the importance of keywords playing a role in SEO has become more and more spoken about between digital marketing experts.
What started it all
To understand this debate, we’ll need to rewind briefly to 1995 when the meta keyword tag was first introduced. First popularised by the search engines Infoseek and AltaVista, keywords were placed alongside meta title and meta description tags in the <head> section of the website. The keywords act as important indicators to the early search engines to alert what kind of content a webpage contained.
Back in the day, search engines weren’t clever enough to interpret such complex signals compared to their modern counterparts, which now use factors that include backlinks, anchor texts, and contextual linking in order to rank a page. Search engines early in the day would only read meta tags, which means by listing your target keyword in the meta tag, you could expect your website to rank quite high.
The evolution of search and the role of keywords
Now that search engines have grown smarter, what purpose does keywords have to play?
In traditional SEO strategy of identifying non-branded keywords (keywords that don’t have the name of your hotel, for example, searching “family hotels in Bali”) and using that exact phrase within the meta tags and text of the webpage is relatively outdated, especially when you keep in mind how much search engine has evolved.
Not only are search engines now changing their algorithms religiously to provide more user relevance, advancements such as personalized search results, localized search, and the rise of voice search are turning digital marketer’s heads to rethink their approach to SEO strategies.
And to top it all off, an increased emphasis from search engines regarding paid ads vs. organically driven results means that larger travel brands with a huge expenditure can own a massive amount of real estate on a specific search results page. Hotels hoping to rank for competitive non-branded keywords have very little chance of making it to the first page of the results.
We’re not trying to say keywords are dead, it’s just unhealthy to become entirely reliable and obsessed with ranking for specific ones. Instead, even when it comes to non-branded keywords, the best strategy is to look at the bigger picture in context and topics. Let’s look at a generic ‘5-star luxury hotel in Bali’ for an example. After their brand name keywords (which is advised when it come to organic keywords for any hotel), previously they might also have focused on keywords such as:
- 5 star Bali luxury hotel
- 5 star Denpasar luxury hotel
- Luxury hotel in Bali
- 5 star Bali luxury hotel
This hotel is going to struggle to rank organically without carrying a monumental and costly marketing effort. Instead, why not localize for realistic and attainable keywords or perhaps try your hand at long-tail keywords. It will make more sense to a user looking for specific services or products. For example:
- Luxury Bali Seminyak hotels
- Hotels in Seminyak in Bali
- Bali Seminyak luxury hotels
- Best hotels in Bali in Seminyak
Should keywords matter to hotels?
The SEO atmosphere is clearly shifting its preference from specific keywords to topics and categories, and at Island Media Management, we think this shift makes perfect sense.
It was unnatural to focus on specific high-search volume keywords that most of which are dominated by OTA websites, review sites like TripAdvisor, and other major travel brands. But with that being said, we think it would be careless to stop tracking all of your hotel’s original, organic keyword rankings, particularly for those that you know are still deriving quote large amounts of well-converting organic traffic.
In a nutshell, keywords do matter, but perhaps not quite as much as they once did years ago. Island Media Management is Bali’s most trusted digital marketing agency specializing in hospitality industries of every shape and size. Being up to date with the most effective digital marketing strategies on the island, we offer your business simplified strategies that guarantee measurable results. Our mission is to establish an understanding between us and the client which is why we come up with weekly blogs to improve our customer’s service knowledge.