My personal blog, MattMcGee.com is ranking in the Top Ten of Google’s search results for at least one keyword related to a major hotel resort on Maui. It’s not because my blog is some SEO powerhouse; it’s because the hotel committed a common SEO mistake: It didn’t dive deep enough with its keyword research and on-site optimization. Come along with me to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, won’t you?
When you stay at the Sheraton Maui, you have six buildings to choose from and from looking at the property map, you can tell that the experience can be dramatically different from one building to the next.
The buildings point in all different directions. Some are close to the pools and restaurants on the property, while others are further away from the crowds and offer more privacy. And obviously, the views are different; someone staying in a room with a view of trees and the pool is going to have a different experience than someone staying in a room where dolphins go swimming by your lanai.
In other words: For some visitors, it’s not just about the choice of hotel; it’s also about the choice of building at the hotel.
When Cari and I got back from our first Hawaii visit last month, I wrote a series of blog posts recapping our adventures. In the very first one, I wrote about our arrival at the Sheraton Maui and mentioned some of the different building options:
I had called a couple weeks earlier to let them know this was our first visit to Hawaii, a celebration of our 20th anniversary, etc., and that we really wanted to be placed in building 4 out as close to the beach as possible. If that wasn’t possible, Cari and I were planning to pay for an upgrade to a deluxe oceanfront room in either building 5 or 6.
That’s the only place in the entire post that mentions “building 5,” but have a look at Google’s search results for “sheraton maui building 5.”
As you can see, mixed in with Hotels.com, Fodors.com, Yelp and TripAdvisor is my humble little blog. Fortunately, my blog post is flattering overall to the Sheraton Maui … but the next blog post that someone writes about a specific building may not be.
The SEO Lessons
Obviously, this is a long-tail search term and probably not very high-volume. But, it’s probably safe to say that the only people searching for this term are highly interested potential customers who are deep in the decision-making process. I think there are a few lessons here:
1. The hotel didn’t dive deep enough in its original keyword research and/or its on-page optimization.
Like every hotel site, you’ll find plenty of information about the different room types at the Sheraton Maui. But there’s no information about the different buildings. A page for each building, with photos showing the rooms and views and other details, would be a nice addition to the hotel website.
2. The hotel hasn’t been using its internal analytics for keyword research.
Surely some searchers are finding the official site on search terms like this. (On Bing, the official site ranks #2 for this same search phrase.) Monitoring the keywords that drive traffic often opens up new opportunities for improving content.
3. Depending on where they are in the decision-making process, people have different search habits.
It’s doubtful that anyone would search for “sheraton maui building 5” without being this close to making a reservation, or having already made a reservation. The hotel should want to have its own website showing up for a term like that because, either way, those are important searchers.
So for small business owners, the takeaway from all of this is pretty simple:
Think about the different types of phrases people might use depending on where they are in the buying process for your products/services. Then dive deeply enough into your keyword research and on-site SEO to make sure you’ve covered all the terms where you should be showing up in the search results.
Need to learn on-page SEO? If you’re looking for a starter guide that covers everything you need to know about on-page SEO, try my highly-rated e-book, How to SEO Your Site in 60 Minutes.