Recently, SharonINK, was acquired by The Trades Publishing Company, From now on THE TRADES INK will be utilizing our Content Marketing capabilities with our parent company’s array of media, which includes two of everything: Two magazines, two websites, two eNewsletters, and two social media programs.
Our first client represented a resort’s marketing department and led us on a merry chase when they refused to recognize that managing their SEO would be their primary tool. We don’t claim to have all the answers but we do recognize that the very first thing an individual does when planning a vacation is to start making plans using Google.
Once upon a time and long, long ago, you researched your
trip to Disney World by going to your local AAA office and asking them to
customize a set of maps and destination information, called a “TripTik.” And as
far as that once-in-a-lifetime vacation in Honolulu, you would write the
visitor’s bureau and wait for them to send brochures. Today, the first thing
someone does when planning a vacation is turn to Google. If our new client was
to be responsible for attracting leads to visit his property, he needed to place
a high priority on getting his property on Page One of a Google search. In the
case of this resort, our first priority was to chisel out a list of keywords
and make plans for a sound SEO strategy.
Maybe, like me, you’re not a SEO professional. But tremble
as we might, we know the buck stops here. We need to be aware of some common
misconceptions about how Google’s algorithm works and learn all we can about
how to make it work for us. Whether
or not you’re doing the actual hands-on work, or entrust these activities to an
expert, understanding the world’s most prominent search engine is just about
the most vital thing you can do to make sure you lead that race to the top of
In the case of our new client, we offered to assist them in
reviewing their online strategy and help their webmasters improve their ranking
on Google. The first step would be to identify their optimal keywords. Gone are
the ‘90s when you could cram keywords into a page of copy. These days, keyword
stuffing’s about as passé as spats and suspenders. Various Google updates since
those early days have introduced penalties for trying to beat the system.
Today, Google algorithms are looking for 1) authority in the
form of your site’s overall strength in the market; 2) trustworthiness, as in
hosting high quality content and backlinks from reliable sources; and 3) the
relevance of your site to your product and your users.
According to SEO 2019:
Learn Search Engine Optimization with Smart Internet Marketing Strategies,
by Adam Clarke, Search Metrics (https://www.searchmetrics.com/glossary/google-keyword-planner)
provides the following short list of the top Google ranking factors:
- Overall content relevance
- Click-through rate
- Bounce rate (lower is better)
- HTTPS – security certificate installed on the
- Font size in main content area (larger is
- Number of images
- Number of internal links
- Total social media activity
- Number of backlinks
These factors are from a study released in 2016. After its
release, it was announced that Search Metrics would no longer publish their
rankings whitepapers. But odds are good that the above factors remain in effect
with the notable addition of mobile support. In fact, we’re constantly hearing
about more emphasis being placed on the need for sites to be mobile-friendly.
The Internet and Your Resort’s Marketing
Prospective customers are learning about the world around
them through the Internet every day, whether consciously or otherwise. Your
challenge is to educate them about the value of your resort and how it will
As we discussed, the foundation of an online strategy begins
with effective list of keywords. Buying a Google Ad campaign is the easiest way
to access the data behind its search box, which enables you to use their
Keyword Planner tool.
Next on your to-do list would be to ensure your site is
readable to Google’s spiders through on-page SEO. Among other tactics, this
entails using search engine-friendly URLs. Your URLs should accurately reflect
the content of your page. Next, make sure your site’s easy to navigate. “For an
additional SEO boost, include links to pages you want visible to search engines
and visitors on the home page,” adds Clarke.
If your site loads like you’re waiting for a red light to
turn green, this could hamper your search engine results. Plus, beware of
duplicate content that might cause you to be penalized. Other tricks of the
trade include controlling your site’s snippets, building backlinks, and maintaining
an active and consistent social media campaign.
Content and Your
In her book, in her book, Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish
Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business, Stephanie
Chandler notes that the number one tactic to build your audience and establish
your authority online is to produce a lot of content. “This includes writing on
blogs. And today you have to not only have your own blog – so that you can
publish whatever you want, whenever you want to – but you must also guest post
on other blogs.”
A first step is to begin by producing and distributing
content: press releases, feature-length articles, and blog posts. It may be
that your local chamber has additional tools at your disposal, especially if
you are a member. One of our clients, located in Tennessee, has access to that
state’s tourism site, https://www.tnvacation.com,
for example. The client’s sales team can use the site in various ways, such as
helping visitors plan their vacation and promising free tickets to events.
How about having your satisfied customers tell their story
through personal testimonials in the form of Case Studies to use as articles
and blog posts. Once these are posted on your own blog site, they can be
offered to prominent (and not-so-prominent) travel bloggers to use as free
content. Don’t forget about curating content for your blogging and
micro-blogging from other sources.
relationships. Put together a proprietary database of media contacts for
your local media as well as media in your target markets. An extension of this
effort would be to build backlinks to publications’ and organizations’ websites
and connect with editors and publishers through LinkedIn. Using a media CRM
such as Cision comes with a $2,000-plus price tag, but is great if you can
competitors. Utilize Google Alerts and other means to track online activity
of your competitors. Chandler writes, “You don’t have to contact competitors to
learn from them.” She recommends reviewing their on- and off-line materials,
studying their services, and paying attention to how they promote themselves.
“Pay attention to where they advertise and what kind of
media coverage they have received.” She
mentions that being aware of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will
also help you respond to any questions you might get from prospective clients.
“Many of the independent studies on Google’s ranking algorithm show a large
correlation with high-ranking pages having strong social media activity,” says
Clarke. “While the official stance from Google is that they do not directly use
social signals in their algorithm, the SEO community pretty much agrees it is
certainly a factor in achieving rankings.”
Blogging and Other Secrets
As I wrote in my May 2018 Resort Trades article, “4 Reasons Why Blogging is Still Relevant” (https://resorttrades.com/4-reasons-why-blogging-is-still-relevant),
blogging helps you 1) optimize your website, 2) connect with the right
customers and connect more frequently, 3) maintain archived content that continues
to work for you, and 4) connect with customers.
Remember to focus on quality, not just volume. In my
September 2018 Resort Trades article,
“Online Lead Generation: Pipe Dream or Full Pipeline?,” I discuss
ideal article lengths by referring to an article in Forbes written by John Rampton in 2016 (forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/05/05/7-seo-trends-every-small-business-needs-to-know).
Rampton says, “Searchmetrics, for instance, found that the top 10 pages
contained an average of 1,285 words. serpIQ, on the other hand, has found 1,500
words to be a good target length.”
Another article suggests the number may eventually change as
more readers sign on with mobile devices. According to a post by
snapagency.com, (snapagency.com/blog/posts-2018-whats-best-length-seo), “In the
past couple years, the best post length for SEO was around 2,000 words. Longer
blog posts ranked better, but evidence also seems to suggest that readers don’t
typically want to read posts this long.”
“One of the most powerful on-page SEO strategies is adding
more unique, fresh content to your site,” observes Clarke. “If you consistently
add new pages to your site, you are going to receive more traffic. In fact, not
only can you increase your traffic, you can receive an exponential traffic
increase as you publish more content.
“It’s a no-brainer when you think about it. This is why
blogs, publishing, and news-type sites consistently get good results in search
engines. More contact means more rankings, more visitors, and more sales.”
Finally, a word about quality: If you’re planning to handle
the creation and distribution of content, yourself, you may wish to reconsider.
Are you going to be able to produce and distribute quality materials consistently?
You may well have the intellectual capacity to research, write, post and follow
through with the various tasks to optimize your blogging activities. But,
before tossing a new, and fairly weighty, additional burden into your
in-basket, make sure you have the time to make it a priority. Otherwise, you
may be better off outsourcing your company’s online content production.
Scott Wilson is Publisher of Resort Trades and
Golf Course Trades magazines. Her firm, SharonINK – providing clients with
B2B and B2C content – recently became a subsidiary of The Trades Publishing
Company and is now called SharonINK/THE TRADES.