When travelers are searching for their next vacation, they’re most likely going to start on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing. They may or may not have a destination in mind, but many will start by typing in something as simple as “cheap vacations” or “Florida vacations”.
As we know, this is where Search Engine Optimization, and mainly keywords come into play. If I go to Google right now and type in “cheap vacations”, paid advertising and OTAs dominate the results.
With a large marketing budget, OTAs are able to capitalize on these major keywords and drive people to their website to book vacations. As a result of these efforts OTAs are able to charge major commissions to properties that choose to list on them in an effort to fill occupancy.
Where Does This Leave the Independent Property?
As an independent property, this leaves you with a few choices. The first thought is to pump a large chunk of money into competing for these keywords and optimizing your business in the best way possible to compete with large companies (who probably have a much larger marketing budget) for a high search engine rank.
Or, you have the option to bid on other keywords that are more tailored to your property. With a smaller budget, it is easier to go after a niche market of people looking for vacations.
Long-Tail Keywords & A Long Buyer’s Journey
With an 88 day buyer’s journey*, we can assume that a traveler’s first web-session likely won’t lead to a booking. As the research continues, travelers are going to narrow down their search and solidify their plans for their getaway. This is when long-tail keywords come into play. It’s important to think like a traveler in order to utilize the right keywords for a high search ranking, leading to direct website visits and direct bookings.
If a couple decides they’re looking for a getaway for just the two of them, we can come up with some good ideas as to what they’re going to search when they’re getting ready to book:
- Romantic Midwest Getaways
- Romantic Wisconsin Getaways
- Wisconsin Romantic Resorts
- …and so on
We know that the major OTAs are not going to be bidding on these keywords, making it easier for your property to generate a first page search ranking. With these specific, long-tail keywords, travelers will land on your page at the time when they’re ready to book. This will ultimately result in a direct booking, keeping the revenue at your property instead of paying out commissions to an OTA.
Cooper Buss, Head of Business Solutions at ResortsandLodges.com, says, “Focusing our client’s keyword strategies on low hanging fruit, namely long tail keywords that contain regional terms, is a core part of our success in SEO and paid search. We don’t throw our client’s money away going head-to-head with the OTAs. If you aren’t an Olympic swimmer, don’t spend the money to go to Rio. Walk down the street to the local pool where you can win all your races.”
The Right Keywords Bring Success
By thinking like a traveler and optimizing your keywords to specifically fit your property, you’ll be able to attract the right visitors to your site at the right time — when they’re ready to book. By doing this and listing on sites that are found across multiple keywords, you’ll be easily found on the web.
For more information on SEO and keywords, contact our Business Solutions Team here.