The catalyst behind keywords
Tuesday 13th October 2015
Keywords are a central part to your website's success. So it's vital that hoteliers shift the focus from the words themselves to the motivation behind the guests who input them.
Keywords are often misunderstood and that’s because people tend to think about them in the wrong way.
Website owners often believe it’s as simple as doing some keyword research and Google will then tell them things people are searching for. From there they can then put some related content onto their website and hey presto, they’ll start receiving increased site traffic as a result.
Keyword research is more than that and it is important in order to understand the sort of content to put on your website. The starting point is understanding what are the key terms that people associate with solving their problems. So not what you should include, but what can you include to help potential customers solve problems.
Product buying cycle
Begin by categorising people into different parts of search based on the ‘product buying cycle’. If a person recognises they have a problem (making a purchase), they then look at the alternative options to solving that problem. From this they take all of those bits of information and compare them against each other, before moving onto the next level, which is ‘I’m going to buy something’. The next stages are then the actual buying, followed by reviewing the whole process, the solution that they’ve bought, before going back to the start of the process the next time they want to buy something.
To put this into the context of hotels, it would look something like this: somebody decides, “I want to go on holiday”. They will then ask the question “Where can I go?” …and do research accordingly. Following that, having picked an overall destination, they would look at which is the best region/area in that country to visit and do further research to drill down into it and establish the best place to go to. From there they would look to choose a hotel, based on all the conditions that appeal to them. Having stayed there, they may very well take the decision to review the hotel on a website such as TripAdvisor, making this a particularly relevant part of the cycle for hotels.
It’s around this process that you need to base your keyword research. Keywords are the trail that leads prospective guests to your door. Once they’ve arrived at your hotel website, it’s up to your design and functionality to hold them there and encourage a booking but it is keywords that will get them there.
Keywords are the trail that leads prospective guests to your door. Once they've arrived at your hotel website, it's up to your design and functionality to hold them there and encourage booking, but it is keywords that drive them there.
To get this process working, ensure you understand the motivation of the person typing these keywords into the computer, before putting prospective guests into those sections of the buying cycle. This will help when it comes to creating a content strategy, both for your website and off it. What does this content need to be based around to help people move from thinking “I want to go on holiday somewhere but I’m not really sure where” to the next stage?
Remember it is a cycle; each section should be followed by the next one. This is important to bear in mind when considering key terms. If they enter at any stage of the cycle, they should be moved onto the next stage as a matter of course. Key word research is the foundation of all of this, getting all of it right, drawing them in and getting them to confirm a reservation.
At the beginning you need to understand your customers, and keywords can really help you do that. Once you mix that in with what you know about your audience, their motivation and their interests, you can tailor your content to fit what it is they’re looking for, so if that person comes to your website, they don’t need to leave, therefore converting to a sale.
The intelligence of Google
When we look at hospitality PR as an example, the focus used to be on including certain words in a press release to make sure that in any journalist’s write up, those keywords are surrounding any brand mention of your hotel. Take that further and identify your keyword, look at the motivation behind it and make that a ‘topic’ that you then write around. Google is very intelligent, it looks at all of the semantics and will understand if someone is talking around a subject and that’s what the keyword would be. So it would show a piece of content to somebody because that would answer their query, providing the solution to a problem. Essentially, that’s all Google wants to do – answer people’s problems as fast as possible.
You also need to make sure your brand is associated with key terms associated with your market and niche, especially with positive sentiment. If people are talking positively online about your hotel and what it has to offer, that’s brilliant for ranking. Testimonials and reviews which talk up your brand and relay what a good job your hotel is doing will be taken into account by Google as well.
Focus on query keywords that help to answer prospective guests’ questions. Primarily for e-commerce, they also apply to hotels. A holiday or a weekend break is quite a big decision for someone and quite an emotional purchase. So, they’re likely to look for reviews and other people’s opinions to help them work out if they’re making the right choice.
People might search ‘hotel name’, ‘reviews’, ‘problems’ – as a hotelier you should understand what comes up when people search for those terms.
Above all though, you need to change your attitude to keywords. Don’t see them as just simple words – section them out into the buying cycle and understand what it is your guest is looking for.