Finding the right SEO partner may take time, but in the end hiring the perfect agency can lead to massive increases in sales for hotels and other tourism related businesses. ZOG Digital’s Jason Squardo explained to Toonz the 5 questions that every travel marketer must ask before hiring and SEO partner.
By Jason Squardo, Cofounder and Executive Vice President of Optimization at ZOG Digital
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective digital marketing tools available to hotels and other tourism related businesses looking to increase web traffic and sales. In 2013, 68 percent of travelers went online for before making decisions about where to go on vacation, where to stay and what to do. Research done by Google shows that hotel websites are the second most used resource in 2013 by travelers; second only to search engines.
SEO is important because it improves the ranking of websites, putting them front and center during these tourism-related searches. Every increase in ranking is important because of the dramatic drop-off in clicks after the first position. According to Compete.com, the first organic ranking receives 53 percent of clicks, the second gets about 15 percent, and the third just 9 percent. For tourism brands and businesses, using SEO to move from the third to first position means more visibility, more web traffic and more sales.
With thousands of SEO agencies available, both large and small, it’s important that tourism businesses ask the following 5 questions to ensure they find the right partner that will achieve maximum results.
- What is your SEO process
Reputable SEO agencies will be answer this question quickly and honestly. While there may not be a magical SEO solution with guaranteed results, there are repeatable processes that drive search traffic. When answering this question an SEO partner should be able to lay out its auditing process, its on-page and off-page SEO strategies, a timeline and goals. Each SEO agency may have a slightly different answer, but the best potential partners will have a thought out, comprehensive answer that shows how they plan on reaching intended goals.
- What are your off-page SEO standards
Off-page SEO, commonly known as link building, is one of the most effective techniques SEO agencies can employ to improve search rankings. However, when done without upholding best practices, link building can actually have a negative effect on search engine rankings. Businesses should demand an SEO partner that focuses on earning inbound links from established and respected websites through the use of quality content, which is in line with the best practices set forth from Google and other search engines. Tourism businesses should avoid SEO partners that put the focus solely on the number of inbound links without talking about the quality of links, and from agencies that don’t have a strategy that connects quality content with link building.
- How do you measure SEO success
There are dozens of metrics that SEO agencies can use to measure a campaign’s success, but quality partners should be willing and able to individualize reports to fit the desires of each client. Metrics that tourism and hotel businesses should want to be able to track include website traffic, keyword rankings, referral traffic, bounce rates and conversions. Marketers should be sure to ask how often these metrics are going to be shared, and how this data is used to optimize SEO strategies throughout the process. SEO is not a quick fix, when done correctly by a reputable and reliable agency is builds on itself over time, creating lasting, cumulative results.
- What is your client communication strategy
Marketers should specifically seek out SEO partners that have a defined communication strategy and experienced contact person for each client. Hotel and other tourism related businesses should avoid SEO agencies that don’t respond in a timely manner to questions or aren’t willing to commit to a set communication schedule. The potential SEO partner should have a client services department that is willing and able to answer questions about what is happening at any given time in relation to the overall SEO strategy.
- Can I see your references/case studies
SEO agencies with a track record of success will be more than happy to share referrals and case studies with potential clients. When contacting the references, marketers should ask about strategies, communication, and results. This question will also help businesses weed out SEO agencies that are making unsubstantiated claims about results in the past. It’s important for marketers to remember that they’re looking to hire an SEO partner, so the happiness of references along with previous results should play an important role when making a final decision.
Marketers should look for transparent firms that can show a clear strategy, a history of open communication and a track record of success. Finding the right SEO partner may take time, but in the end hiring the perfect agency can lead to massive increases in sales for hotels and other tourism related businesses.
Jason Squardo is the executive vice president of optimization and a founding member of ZOG Digital. Squardo has worked with many leading brands, including American Airlines, Fairmont Hotels, FedEx, Sears, Bank of America, Nine West, General Motors, Toyota, and MasterCard. For more information, please visit https://www.zogdigital.com or follow us on Twitter @ZOGDigital.