by Giles Longhurst, Frommer’s Unlimited

High-quality, SEO-friendly content can improve much more than your hotel website’s organic ranking. I have created content for a number of leading hotel clients and have found that targeted content can reduce bounce rate, increase basket size, conversions and customer retention, as well as develop that all important trust between company and customer.

With this in mind, I have put together my top tips for hotel website content creation that I hope will allow you to maximise performance and increase those bookings.

1. Analyse
Before developing new content review the existing content on your site. Pinpoint where users have been falling out of the purchasing funnel by asking yourself the following questions:
- What types of content currently exist and why, e.g. hotel property descriptions, destination content, promotional copy, brand and marketing copy?
- Are some pages driving a lot more traffic than others?
- What is the bounce rate for specific page types?
- Is your content truly relevant to what users are searching for?

2. Understand your customer
This is the moment to really step into the shoes of your potential customers so you can match the right content to your target audience(s) at each stage of the user journey. When should your content inspire your customers and build the brand, and when should content direct them straight towards a booking? Consider where else your potential customers book and learn from your competitors. Analyse their websites as keenly as your own – but dare to be different. Your new content should show how your brand and product is unique.

3. Question your resources
Be realistic about how much budget you can invest and whether or not your content can be created and kept timely and accurate in-house or outsourced. Factor in appropriate update cycles for different content types, e.g. frequently for seasonal offers and promotions, annually for hotel descriptions with ad-hoc updates. Take everything into account, including which markets and foreign languages you choose to prioritise.

4. Content & site taxonomy
If you want a user to make a booking (and to return to your site for future bookings as a loyal customer) make it simple to navigate at every step, from researching a destination to browsing hotels, making a booking, and sharing inspiration for the next trip. Ensure effective interlinking between the different sections of your site to avoid content and product silos. Provide relevant content for multiple entry-points.

5. Effective set-up
Key branding messages, objectives, audience demographics, content structure and technical delivery must be defined first so that a unique editorial brief for your brand and work flow can be developed, leading to a unique content product. Clarifying these points before project kick-off will allow a strong brand image and smooth user journey to be conveyed via your website and other digital platforms.

6. SEO strategy
A carefully defined SEO strategy should be integrated at this stage and keywords targeted naturally within your content. Don’t forget multi-lingual SEO if translated content is in scope. Consider different levels of keyword density according to the objective of each content type but don’t forget the customer experience. Users expect online content to be up-to-date and this will also boost your organic search rankings, so don’t let your website go stale – plan how you will keep your content dynamic.

7. Content style
Content should always have a strong, unique style and personal feel that inspires customers to visit a destination and book their hotel. Offering exclusive tips and insider information is an excellent way to engage with customers and reinforce brand loyalty and trust. Make sure the content is credible travel journalism that never over-promises what customers should expect when they visit your hotels. Avoid garbled SEO-content leading to high bounce-rates and off-putting sales-based marketing speak at all costs!

8. Chunked content
Don’t cram too much content on one web page. Chunk the content into digestible nuggets with clear sub-titles to draw the user’s eye to relevant information. Maintain interest with call to action phrases, and guide the customer towards a booking with internal links to deeper content and product pages.

9. Image-rich content
An image speaks a thousand words so make sure you integrate inspirational images and video clips into your narrative content. Video tours around a destination and in different hotels, and/or image galleries, will build customer confidence to book. They’re also a great way to generate customer participation and content sharing.

10. Professional on-brand content
Create content in word files, xml or with a custom CMS. Make sure it’s fully sub-edited and proofread before it’s published – typos and incorrect information are not good for brand image; make sure you triple check everything!

Download the whole presentation at http://www.frommers.biz/service/documents/presentations

Giles Longhurst is Director of Frommer’s Unlimited®, EMEA the B2B business of Frommer’s, a branded imprint of Wiley. Frommer’s Unlimited specialises in providing custom hotel, destination & events content and digital services to the online travel industry. For more information visit http://www.frommers.biz.