Using Guest Surveys to Improve Rankings with Google’s New Algorithm
Some have called the recent Google algorithm changes “quality updates,” which is to say that Google is fine-tuning the way it evaluates content for web rankings. The search engine is effectively honing in on what makes a website truly relevant to users, and which one does it best.
For hotels, the key to Google rankings lies not only in having high-quality content and a well-oiled machine (think load speed), but also in having unique content. It must be fresh, but still relevant. This can be tricky. When you have a product with limits (you’ve covered all the amenities and services umpteen times, right?) how do you generate unique content?
Surveys offer a simple solution that doesn't require expensive video crews or guest bloggers. Surveys give hotels the opportunity to reach out to a guest within a couple of days post-stay for feedback while the trip is still on the traveler’s mind. The secondary purpose of surveys is to provide fresh website content that’s entirely unique to the hotel website. And as Google continues to make quality changes to the algorithm, this will only become more important.
The benefit of regular survey content may not only be in its singularity, but it may also lie in the inevitably keyword rich descriptions travelers provide: “stayed at this hotel in Boston,” “the swimming pool at this Albuquerque hotel,” “the fine dining restaurant at the Hyatt,” and so on. No matter how Google adjusts the algorithm, it will always need keywords to tell it where to look and travelers can provide these for hotels in a way that’s not forced, unlike most SEO strategies.
TrustYou survey reviews also feed into the total number reviews for a property and contribute to the hotel’s overall review scores. B&B Hotels, for example, has received tens of thousands of new reviews since launching post-stay surveys, and the scores from those reviews are 7% higher than reviews from other sources. This is largely due to the fact that when hotels proactively solicit feedback, it shows travelers that the company really cares about their opinions. It also allows hotels to receive more detailed information about its guests. It’s a win-win-win.
If these benefits aren't enough to sell you on incorporating survey reviews into your SEO strategy, there are also ways to use this data on the backend to increase your site's search rankings. Survey data, along with other review content, can easily be incorporated into a site's rich snippets. Hotels have found that by hosting these rich snippets—including the total number of reviews and the overall review rating—they have been able to positively affect Google rankings. Take the case of Meininger Hotel Amsterdam, which incorporated structured review data from TrustYou into its site's rich snippets. With these rich snippets, the hotel was able to improve its organic search rank #1, ahead of OTAs and other review sites, making it much more likely for travelers to click through to the hotel’s own site when booking.
There are many ways in which surveys can contribute to a hotel's SEO, especially now with Google's new algorithm. They provide a simple way to add more unique, relevant content to a hotel's website and can easily be tagged (e.g. via rich snippets) to improve rankings. Plus, surveys offer an added bonus of improving travel review scores, a clear benefit for all hotels.
PS - For more on how hotels can stay competitive with Google's new algorithm, check out our last post here.