Marketing Matters - Hotel Owner

Our very own MD Angie, who in her free time is also long term resident to Hotel Owner's very own Agony Aunt panel on all things hospitality and marketing. Writing a quarterly article tackling issues in the industry and offering specialist advice with her 25+ experience, she knows just about all the in's and out's of everything in the leisure industry, reminding hoteliers and sales managers that if there is a will, theres a way!

This time round, we felt the subject was particularly relevant to today's market in all topics and wanted to share with you a glimpse as to some of the important issues we tackle on a daily basis on behalf of our wonderful clients. 

Q: By 2020, 50% of all online searches will be done with voice. Do I need to do something differently to optimise my website for voice search?

This is a common statistic that was originally predicted by Andrew Ng at Baidu in 2014 stated that “In five years’ time, at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech. ”It wasn’t just about voice search but about the use of imagery too." The quote headlined into the “Internet Trends 2016 report” by Mary Meeker, who predicted 2020 as a figure, but as with many things, theres no need to panic as five year predictions are often just that – predictions. 

Voice search is proving more difficult to benchmark usefully, mostly because the data has not yet perfected the metric reports so that we exclusively know what and how is being searched. Instead we have to assume that voice search is going to be an important adaptation for your website. 

What do we know now?

Google suggests that 1 in 5 mobile searches are carried out by voice, and Hitwise highlight that 60% of searches happen on mobile. Therefore we can assume around 12% of all searches daily are likely to be done using voice. Smart speaker use is then recorded separately and the stats around this are a little blurred, but a well-respected article in Econsultancy estimated 26.4 million smart speaker voice searches per day in 2018. Demographic data is somewhat harder to find but Captech Consulting at the beginning of 2018 said that 53% of smart speaker users are aged 18-36, 32% are aged between 37-52, with just 13% aged 53 and over.

Determining the urgency with which you address voice search can be done by reviewing your own customers. The older your target audience, the slower the rate of adoption; but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Optimisation for voice search is a becoming must. 

How can you optimise for voice search (and image)?

Websites used to rank pretty well with the help of ‘keyword stuffing’ – adding as many keywords as possible into the coding, the page copy and the meta tags, as well as blogging and social media. The search engine algorithms soon became clever and began to recognise that non-purposeful SEO did not necessarily deliver quality search terms and results and so were adjusted to make search terms more specific and a humanising language. 

The good news is, voice search and desktop search are not actually that different, infant they are pretty much the same thing with differing methodology. Here’s what you should focus on for voice and search in general:

  1. Talk naturally and not to the bots: as per my point about the change in search, we (consumers) became used to creating terms like hotel + Cheshire + book. Now, we’re used to searching for ‘book a hotel in Cheshire in May’. This more humanised language is good for organic website ranking, bad for keyword stuffing. Think about what you would ask for in person and you’ll be pretty close to the mark e.g. ‘Find me a hotel in Cheshire in May’. 
  2. Long-tail key phrases: As a general rule of thumb, text / typed searches are an average of three words, where voice searching is more likely five or six words. The focus needs to be on long tail terms and phrases and producing regular website content helps to generate this. You might write a post of ‘Things to do in Cheshire in May’ which includes your hotel as accommodation. This new incentive gives you plenty of opportunity to focus on what people are specifically searching for, without irrelevant information coming in. It is worth noting that the change to ‘naturalised language' does mean that there are more search terms and higher competition, but the downside is that if your website doesn’t have an exact pairing, it won’t rank as high as one the one above it does. 
  3. Don’t make it complicated: When it comes to hospitality, there’s a wide understanding of what you are purchasing. The most common mistake being made by content marketers is writing about particularly complex topics in a bid to gain search authority, Backlinko found that the average spoken search uses the reading level of a 14 year old, i.e. straightforward and to the point. 
  4. Have listings online: Investigate your Google My Business account and make sure your business is being listed on the map and in Google search. A lot of verbal search is associated locations and this is a quick and easy way to help optimise your business. 
  5. Include local content: Search and voice search is becoming increasingly locally-focussed, so your content needs to be too. As with the long-tail keywords (above), regular content allows you to optimise for local settings and adding place names, local times and information into whatever you are writing. This will support with better overall search. 
  6. Ensure your website is performing: The same as text search, voice search also prioritises websites that perform well. Keep tabs with your web developer to make sure your page loading time to a minimum, optimise your images, and generally ensure your website is behaving tip top. 
  7. Add alt-tags:Images should be uploaded to your files with keywords in the title e.g. ‘Places to Stay in Cheshire’ or ‘Where to Stay in Cheshire’ and then images should also have an ‘Alt-tag’ added in the coding. This doesn’t strictly help with voice search as the user can’t see the image, but it does support ranking and authority. The prediction about image searching is also highlighted the importance of image optimisation, so you can improve this in anticipation.

This is not the complete ultimate list of things you need to do, but its a good start. There are lots and lots of nuances you can take advantage of, but unless you have big budgets for SEO and ads, you'll get less of a return from optimisation. Focus on getting the basics right and the rest should fall into place. 

If you enjoyed this article from Hotel Owner written by our very own MD, Angie Petkovic. Check out some of her other fantastic articles here.

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