Every day Google releases at least one update to improve the search results returned to users, essentially ensuring when you Google something, the results that pop up make sense, are helpful, provide quality content, and lead to trustworthy sources.
In the fall of 2018, Google rolled out a broad core algorithm update (in English: an update impacting most websites) that digital marketers refer to as Google’s E-A-T update, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
The frustrating part was many marketers noticed drops in their rankings after this update, even if they were playing by most of Google’s rules. In Google’s own words, “There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content.”
The point Google was making here is that there is no shortcut for getting your website to perform well, other than putting as much time and effort as necessary into creating high-quality content reflecting Google’s E-A-T standards. Digital marketing expert Nick Schäferhoff points out this investment benefits hoteliers, because it means including the quality signals your visitors are attracted to.
So what does this mean for you as a hotelier, and how can you make sure your website keeps building great content? Below we will discuss what E-A-T is and provide practical tips for how to increase your website’s chances of being prioritized by Google in the search engine results page.
What does E-A-T Mean for Hoteliers?
While “broad-core update” might sound intimidating, E-A-T is nothing to be scared of. Google’s E-A-T rollout mainly impacted the rankings of YMYL (your money, your life) websites like health websites, financial websites, and any websites where visitors were taking actions that could impact their money or their finances.
As a hotelier, your website is among those “your money, your life” websites, since booking a hotel room involves spending (what some would consider) a significant amount of money. Callum Scott, Senior SEO Analyst at Marie Haynes Consulting, points out:
The good news about E-A-T? Many websites have already been using the common-sense practices this update favors.
How to Demonstrate Expertise and Authority on Your Hotel Website
The best way to build your online credibility is to view your website content as you would any other marketing collateral in your hotel’s marketing mix. Instead of looking for a ”silver bullet” to increase your rankings and traffic, pay careful attention to how you present your brand online, from the way your site is coded to your branding and PR strategies.
For businesses like hotels, creating content about the area they are serving is a great way to help build expertise and authority, especially through location-specific information like:
- Recommended nearby restaurants
- Unique attractions close to the hotel
- Bars with great happy hours
- Good running / exercise routes
- Nearby shopping areas
The best way to do this? Add pages that specifically address the top attractions and events in your area.
Add a Page About a Local Attraction
Capitalizing on a popular, nearby destination does not just help your visitors — it also helps your website appear in the SERP for any hotel near + [local area attraction] searches your guests perform. A page like the this Richard Nixon Library page demonstrates this Brea, California hotel’s expertise on the local area by not just listing the attraction, but by going in-depth with a full page dedicated to it, telling visitors helpful information like hours, ticket prices, fun facts and more.
Add a Page About a Popular Event
Do not dismay if there are no major presidential libraries within walking distance of your hotel. Popular nearby events are also great search traffic magnets that can funnel more traffic to your hotel for out-of-towners looking to attend the event. The best part? The information on the page does not need to be lifeless and encyclopedic. You can build expertise and trust with your readers by demonstrating knowledge in the style of the event they are attending, like this renaissance faire page.
As a hotelier, you and your frontline staff already have a good sense of your customers’ and the locals’ favorite haunts. Include this information on your website to boost your hotel’s E-A-T with Google and your visitors.
How to Demonstrate Trustworthiness
Trustworthiness is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your website. To foster trust with your visitors, you must ensure their experience with your website is seamless.
Again, building trust with your prospects is largely common-sense steps, like asking customers to post reviews, responding well to any negative reviews posted about your hotel, and building a website that stylistically looks professional, with quality photography, clean copy, and no spelling errors.
Building Trust through Reviews
Jesse McDonald of Search Engine Journal explains when a customer leaves a public-facing review of your business, Google gets a better understanding of what customers think of your hotel. This helps your brand build more authority, which can lead to better performance in the search engine results pages.
In fact, the folks at Google had a similar point of view in the E-A-T guidebook they released (Section 2.6, if you are interested) advising that when a website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, visitors should go with the external sources. In addition to reviews, the stones that make up the foundation for trustworthiness are:
- What real users and experts think about a website
- Recommendations by experts
- News articles
- Other credible information created/written by people about the website
For hotels, there are many sources of reputation information and reviews, including Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Google reviews, and reviews on social media sites like Facebook. And if you need the skinny on how to respond to negative feedback, check out our best practices guide to responding to online hotel reviews.
Make Your Website Secure
Think about it: If your customers do not feel secure, they will not respond to your offers — and they certainly won’t spend money on you. In fact, a lack of security symbols and features lowers your conversions.
Even if your hotel does not conduct monetary transactions on your domain (i.e. you link to your brand’s booking engine or a third-party reservation system), having a secure website will protect your visitors from browser attacks, server attacks, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Wondering how to secure your website? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this article.
Include Quality Photography
A recent Cornell study illustrated (pun intended) image quality and credibility go hand-in-hand in your users’ online experience. Not only do your visitors expect your images to add context and meaning, but poor image quality hurts your conversion rate by driving visitors away.
Your photos should ideally be taken by a professional with good lighting, composition, retouching, and professional editing. Good hotel photography helps your hotel on many levels. It is a vital investment for successful marketing.
Eliminate Spelling Errors
Spelling errors in your copy can quickly erode trust with your visitors. In fact, as many as
59% of your visitors will be scared away from your website or marketing materials if they notice a spelling error.
Poor grammar on your website scares 59% of visitors away.
When the error is prominent, bad grammar and spelling mistakes reduce sales. Over time, it results in reduced trust for a site or marketer. And we get it; proofreading and re-proofreading your pages is time-consuming. These proofreading tools cut down editing time so you can spend less time poring over copy, and more time running your property.
Don’t Skimp on the Good Stuff
When it comes to your hotel’s website content, quality is king. As Google’s John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trend Analyst puts it, “There’s no minimum length, and there’s no minimum number of articles a day that you have to post, nor even a minimum number of pages on a website. Don’t fill your site with low-quality content, instead work on making sure that your site is the absolute best of its kind.”
Not every hotelier has the time to dig into the guts of their website and make it a lean, mean, booking machine. If you are looking to take your digital marketing to the next level, get in touch with the Blue Magnet Interactive team and learn how we can help you.