What is SEO anyway? (And why you shouldn't care.)
OK – first of all, let’s get rid of the big, grey elephant in the room: SEO confuses EVERYONE! So don’t worry. You’re not alone.
Even if you know what the letters stand for [Search Engine Optimisation, by the way] what SEO actually means will vary depending on who you talk to. Here’s the good news. SEO is really not something you should worry about. Forget it exists. Because as soon as you start thinking you need to optimise your website for Google (or any other search engine) you’ve already lost the battle. Let me explain.
In the past, SEO was the name given to the efforts of geeky-web-types to get your website up to the top of relevant searches on the interweb. So if you run a hotel in Birmingham, the aim of SEO was to get your website to appear top of the results when someone typed “hotel in Birmingham” into Google.
But that was before Google got really, really smart. For a good number of years now, Google has been using information from many different sources to decide whether your website would be a good result for the search. So it’s simply a waste of time to try and optimise your website for a search engine. Even Google would say so. In fact, they’ve been saying it for ages. So what should you be doing instead?
In simple terms, make your website visitor friendly. If someone is searching for a hotel in Birmingham, do all you can to ensure they will consider you the best answer to their needs:
- Make it clear what kind of hotel you are, so that they can quickly decide if you suit what they’re looking for.
- Make it easy for them to find the information they’re most likely to want first – what are your rooms like?
- How much are they? Do you serve food? etc.
- Show off your hotel to best effect, with prominent, good quality photos, and a web design that looks modern and appealing. (These days a smart, professional-looking website can be achieved quickly and very cost-effectively. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone who can - like, ahem, us!)
- Make active use of social media websites like Facebook and TripAdvisor. (Yes, I know everyone loves to hate TripAdvisor, but please don’t ignore it.)
- Encourage and share customer reviews.
- Make it very easy for someone to book.
If you pay attention to the things that will make a prospective guest like you, then Google will like you too.
Because Google uses exactly the same things as a potential customer to work out if your website is a good result.
Admittedly they do it in a very sophisticated way, but the principles are the same.
So, make sure that your website works well for your guests and prospective guests first – and leave Google to take care of the rest.