A blog can be a great way for hotels to engage potential customers and help drive brand awareness about your hotel and the local destination. But maintaining a good blog isn’t as simple as posting generic travel stories on the website and expecting the clicks to come rolling in. In fact, posting this type of content can often be a waste of valuable time and resources. Here are some tips and reminders on making your hotel blog a success:
Quality is job #1
Some professionals believe that in order for a blog to be successful, it needs to be updated at a frantic pace with a constant stream of content. This leads them to focus on quantity at the expense of quality. While it’s true that media entities such as Buzzfeed establish their readership by generating content seemingly in seconds, your hotel isn’t a media entity, and the same rules don’t apply. (Not to mention you don’t have the same kind of budget to create content at the speed that they do.)
So what’s considered “quality content”? Well, the SEO experts at Moz like to promote what they call “10x content,” which they define as content that is 10x better than what the top 10 companies are producing on any particular key phrase or subject. This is certainly a lofty objective, but hotels need to remember that any content they create automatically competes with hundreds (if not thousands) of travel media and blogs out there. For good content to be great, it needs to either 1) tell a story that has not been told before, or 2) tell a story better than anyone else has told it before.
Take a reasonable approach to SEO
Despite the frequent assertions that traditional SEO is dead, it is still an important practice for hotel marketers to master. The key is to employ SEO keywords naturally, in a way that enhances the value of the post instead of being awkwardly shoehorned in for the sake of themselves. We’ve all seen company blogs that do SEO poorly, and they are always conspicuous in their agenda. Practices such as inserting the name of the city before every activity, in order to rank highly for that city’s searches, are more common than you’d like to believe (e.g. “Our Louisville hotel is in the perfect location for when you want to plan Louisville horseback riding or Louisville bourbon tastings”). You want to give your readers a reason to keep coming back, not scrambling to click the close button as soon as they see the page.
Find your focus
The best blogs in the world (not just hotel or business blogs, but all of them) succeed in part because they have some sense of focus. It doesn’t have to be incredibly narrow, but it is important for your blog to have a theme at its base that you can build off of as you begin to generate content. For example, Island Outpostings, a blog for Jamaican hotel group Island Outpost, covers creative untold stories about Jamaica’s local culture, art, and food. It delves into a scene beyond that of the pristine resort photos, giving readers a more nuanced view of the island. Generator Hostels has taken an almost Vice-like approach with Parallel, a blog that covers a European hipster scene.
Publish on a manageable schedule
While it’s not necessary to post at exactly the same time whenever you’re ready to go live, regularity and consistency do let your readers know to expect great content from you at certain intervals. The key in the early going is to find a schedule that will allow time for engaging content creation and your other duties without becoming overwhelming. Try to build up a library of posts that you can deploy strategically, so that you won’t fall behind your schedule and be forced to rush something that doesn’t provide value to the audience.
Partner with other organizations
Collaboration is the future of digital marketing, and it’s also a great way to ensure that the well of ideas never runs dry for your blog. Work with your local vendors to promote their products, or partner with local influencers to have them share their tips and views. CitizenM, for example, works with local writers (“Citizens”) to product articles for their blog CitizenMag.
Invest in good blog design
This goes for your website design as a whole, but it’s just as important for your blog. Clunky interfaces and non-mobile-friendly design will lose readers no matter how compelling your content is. Work with a design agency that can help you build out a blog template that is photo-centric, easy on the eyes, and has a responsive template that will work across any device.
Promote the heck out of your blog
If you’re going to spend the time and money to produce a blog, you’ll need to invest similarly in getting the blog out there for the world to see. We’ve detailed some tips on promoting your blog here, including social sharing, newsletters, public relations, and more.
How to tell if your hotel blog is successful
As a hotel manager, there are often far more pressing concerns than managing the day-to-day publication of a blog. That’s why it’s common to hire a content manager or work with an agency to do the writing and production. But from a management perspective, here are some key performance indicators that you can use to evaluate the success of your hotel blog:
Use Google Analytics to check the key metrics for your blog (and hotel website in general). Over the long term, are you increasing overall traffic to your website? How much traffic is your blog contributing to the total traffic?
Use tools like BuzzSumo to judge the virality of your content. How often is your content getting shared across social media?
Look at the blog’s comments. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got Disqus or Facebook comments installed. Do people comment on posts? You know that a good blog is great if you’ve got an engaged readership willing to share their thoughts and feedback