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Should you outsource your hotelís Search Engine Optimization or keep it in-house?

December 8, 2009 - Mumbai.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential to any hotel’s internet marketing mix. If you do not optimize your hotel website, you will not achieve a high page ranking on search engines, and will fail to capture the attention of quality traffic (travelers looking for hotel accommodation). As an hotelier, focused on achieving high occupancy levels, you are already aware of these facts. So, the only question is, do you keep your SEO efforts in-house or do you outsource?   

There are pros and cons to keeping SEO in-house and outsourcing SEO. The end decision depending on the goals you want to achieve and the resource, skill and time available. Here is an easy reference table to ease your decision making process:

An in-house SEO team lets you maintain complete control over your SEO activities. Outsourcing all SEO tasks saves time and allows you to focus on other key issues that impact your hotel's performance.
Cost Effective. You do not have to adjust your marketing budget to pay an outside firm to conduct your SEO activities but you will need to allocate or hire resources for the same. Hiring a SEO firm will require some amount of investment.
SEO is a specialized field and you have to develop or hire new resources. Any individual managing your SEO efforts has to have an in-depth understanding the industry - how search engines work, factors that affect ranking, how to use programs such PHP and HTML to alter things on your website instantly etc. SEO firms already have the expertise. Once you sign up for their services, they will manage all your SEO activities for you. You can focus on your key competency – delivering an excellent guest experience.
For your website to deliver maximum results, the individual managing your SEO efforts should have an excellent understanding of the hospitality industry and your hotel in particular. You are the person with that knowledge! SEO firms are experts in their fields, they stay updated with the latest trends, they have in-depth knowledge of the internet, the way search engines functions and how people search online. They might able to expand your reach based on this knowledge. Additionally, they work in conjunction with you and such can draw on your experience of the hotel industry.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to keeping SEO in-house and outsourcing SEO. A third option is straddling the fence. Keep some SEO activities in-house while outsourcing the remaining. For example, you can keep content development in-house while outsourcing activities such as link building, directory listing and keyword research. To elaborate, here are two SEO activities that are necessary for any hotel and the pros and cons of keeping them in-house vs. outsourcing.

Content Development
As an hotelier, you know precisely ‘what’ appeals and attracts guests. If you can translate that knowledge into interesting, sale generating content, then keeping content in-house is an excellent idea. However, if writing is not your cup of tea or requires too much of your time, it may be better to outsource.
Note: If you are keeping content development in-house, make sure that you update your content on a regular basis as out-dated information repulses prospective guests.

Keyword Research
‘Keyword Research’ sounds simple and such, it is very tempting to keep it in-house. However, this action is ill advisable, unless you have the knowledge and the skill required. Keyword research is vital to your profitability, as the right keywords will drive quality ‘revenue generating’ traffic to your hotel website. Most of us have pre-conceived notions about what kind of keywords will attract quality traffic, and these notions often restrict our market reach. By working with a SEO firm, you can expand your market reach to include new audiences. If you do not have the funds to sign up for a SEO firm, a thorough research of keywords and competitors is vital.

To conclude, SEO is a challenging and time-consuming process that requires a certain level of understanding of the search engines, their ever-changing algorithms and how it affects ranking. To maintain a high page ranking, any individual managing SEO will have to keep abreast to changes and adapt accordingly. So, when deciding which option - in-house or outsource is right for you, keep all the above listed pros and cons in mind.

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