After working in the hospitality industry for 5 years, it’s been evident that search engine optimization is a practice hotels, bars, and restaurants use to generate traffic onto their websites in the aims to improve their brand equity. But, is it really that effective?
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Firstly, we need to understand what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to determine if it is beneficial. Digital tools such as paid advertisements, keyword research & selection, pay-per-click, and on-page/off-page optimization are SEO practices businesses in the hospitality industry are using to potentially increase website traffic.
The main aim for SEO is to develop an effective practice by increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic (Veglis & Giomelakis, 2020). The term ‘quality’ is equal or can be even more important than the quantity of website traffic which will be understood further in this blog.
Here is a useful guide for beginners to understand the SEO basics!
QUALITY! In what way do SEO practices affect Keller’s consumer-based brand equity model?
Keller’s consumer-based brand equity model (Keller, 2001) can be a tool used for hospitality businesses to improve the quality of search engine optimization. The understanding of how the chosen target market thinks can determine how you can implement certain practices. The website is one of the first deliverables a company has to integrate consumers into their business, which is why it can be useful to determine how to maximize practices such as on-page optimization.
SEO can affect a business’ brand identity and brand meaning in Keller’s consumer-based brand equity model. This is because brand identity (Salience) is the means a business uses to ensure their brand stands out. Regarding brand meaning, it is to create value for consumers through styles and imagery. (Liu et al, 2017)
For example, on-page optimization “includes the management of all factors associated directly with someone’s website” (Veglis & Giomelakis, 2020). The understanding of what consumers are thinking can determine factors such as how a business lays out the website, what information is provided within, and the selection of styles and images. In addition, the selection of keywords is an on-page optimization practice that can be more effective if businesses are aware of the consumers perceptions such as what keywords they typically write on search engines to deliver their desired result. Tools such as SEMRUSH and MonsterInsights may enable businesses to select the best keywords for on-page optimization.
Thus, the understanding of how targeted consumers think can be developed through Keller’s model in order to efficiently select and utilize appropriate on-page optimization practices.
Here is a useful article that can help your business utilize Keller’s Model!
How important is consumer-based brand equity for the Hospitality Industry?
Consumer-based brand equity is a model that helps businesses develop their brand. Developing a quality brand image as a business in the hospitality is important due to the fact that there is a large amount of competition and the barriers to entry is relatively low. This is the reason why quality is crucial in regard to search engine optimization as it can differentiate a business from its competitors.
What does an increase in website traffic truly encompass for your hospitality business?
A growth in viewers visiting a website is the result of an increase in online visibility from search engines such as google. However, being visible does not necessarily suggest that the hospitality business can achieve its chosen key performance indicators such as more table bookings via their website. This is because the quality of the on-page optimization practices should complement the potential customers’ expectations.
For example, a French Brasserie developed a website and they opt for keyword research and selection. However, the on-page optimization they utilized was not carefully thought out whereby, there are white empty spaces and links that are invalid. The business utilized search engine optimization, but they did not take into consideration the quality of the website. This can result in losing those potential customers as they are dissatisfied by the structure and layout of the website.
Thus, what an increase in website traffic truly encompasses for a hospitality business truly depends on how effective search engine optimization is implemented. Also, an increase in website traffic suggests that quantity does not result in achieving KPI’s since quality plays a vital role in achieving the overall aims and objectives.
So, is it effective and should you implement search engine optimization?
Yes, you should! The internet can play a vital role for a hospitality business. However, I cannot stress this enough that the quality should be taken into extreme consideration on how search engine optimization is being implemented and this will determine the effectiveness.
There is a large competition for restaurants, bars, and hotels in cities such as Amsterdam which is why practices such as on-page optimization should include additionally research as to how consumers are thinking. Once there is a clear understanding, the implementation of search engine optimization will be efficient and effective whereby, the potential consumers’ expectations are being met which can result in an increase in likelihood that they will invest in the hospitality service.
Let’s take the French Brasserie example, the target market are consumers from the ages of 30 and onwards. They are most likely expecting a simple yet sophisticated website where reserving a table is efficient and straightforward. This understanding will enable the restaurant to ensure that the website meets their expectation and encourages the potential consumers to reserve a table and purchase the product & service.
So, remember quality > quantity.
Here is a blog that can help you implement an effective SEO strategy!
Keller, K.L. (2001) Building customer-based brand equity: A blueprint for creating strong brands. Pp. 3-27. Cambridge, MA: Marketing Science Institute.
Liu, M.T., Wong, I.A., Tseng, T., Chang, A.W. & Phau, I. (2017) ‘Applying consumer-based brand equity in luxury hotel branding’. Journal of Business Research. 81. pp.192-202
Veglis, A. & Giomelakis, D. (2020) ‘Search Engine Optimization’. Future Internet. 12(1) pp. 6