“Search Engine Optimization” (SEO), can be labelled as the procedure of obtaining “traffic” from natural search results from search engines. SEO is mainly used to enhance the quality and quantity of “website traffic” by increasing the visibility of a particular website or webpage. According to Baye, De los Santos and Wildenbeest (2016), majority of the retailers and business organization receive bulk traffic through organic or unpaid clicks and therefore advertisers generally involve in SEO to enhance the “organic clicks”. The online ranking of a business is a necessity that drives the organic clicks (Kriechbaumer and Christodoulidou 2014). A user will barely click on the links apart the first search result page and therefore, enhancing the “search engine ranking” becomes a necessity for business victory.
Gudivada, Rao and Paris (2015), has indicated that search engine ranking (SER) has become indispensable for strategic marketing and sales. Securing a high spot in search engine result is important for increasing sales. Therefore, SEO has an important role to play in optimizing the sales of hospitality industry. It is clear that a website of a hotel cannot drive conversations if it is not properly optimized (Semeradova and Vávrová 2016). This is prominent from the fact that almost 60% of the vacation traveller and 55 percent of the business nomads make use of search engines to design a trip. Therefore, the hoteliers who have not thought about search engine optimization are facing serious loses. Internet is a very important sales channel and therefore, SEO is necessary for boosting the sales.
The aim of the research is to study the use and the need of search engine optimization for boosting sales in the hospitality industry
The objectives to fulfilled in the study are indicated as follows-
- To understand the concept and functionality of SEO
- To analyse the link between SEO and increase in sales in hospitality industry
- To understand the working process of SEO for hospitality Industry
- To recommend effective SEO tools and resources that can be used by hospitality industry to boost sales
The research questions that this particular study will retort are indicated as follows-
- Why is SEO an important considering for increasing traffic?
- What are the key necessities of securing top spot in Search Engine Results Page (SERP)?
- How does SEO helps in boosting sales of hospitality industry?
- Why has SEO become a necessity for boosting sales in hospitality industry?
- What specific SEO tools and Resources can be used by hospitality industry to ensure a good SERP rank?
The undertaken study should be capable of finding answer to the above identified research questions. The research will be successful only if the findings from this study is able to get answer to the above identified research questions.
SER are gradually becoming a vital need for planned and digital marketing and sales. Therefore, it is essential to identify the benefits and the need of SEO in boosting sales. The SERP ranking is associated with certain complex algorithm that takes into consideration 200 factors to regulate whether a particular user can visit a particular page. Therefore it can be said that SEO has a key role to play in driving the traffic to a particular website (Popescu, Nicolae and Pavel 2015). With the enhancement of the usage of internet and internet search before travelling, the hospitality websites are required to maintain a good SEO ranking to boost their sales. Information Technology has a significant effect on the hospitality sector. Hospitality is more or less aligned with tourism (Bowie et al. 2016). The rapid development and increase in popularity of the search engines is significantly affecting the way in which people plan their travel and book hotel. This has given rise to several online hotel booking platform such as booking.com. The traffic of this websites generally comes from their Search engine ranking (Pan 2015). Therefore, lack of proper search engine optimization can give rise to a problem of business loss. Hence this research study is undertaken to analyse the role of SEO in boosting sales of the hospitality sector.
Aims and Objectives
Rationale of the study
The increase in the use of internet has significantly affected the traditional travel distribution. Until just a few years ago, hotel bookings were either done through tour guides or directly from the hotel reception. However, this is an era of online bookings by analysing the sales and the public reviews of the hotel. Therefore, it can be indicated that SEO play a key role in increasing or decreasing the sales in the hospitality industry. The research aims in evaluation of the process in which SEO can help in increasing the sales of hospitality sector (Anderson and Cheng 2017). Therefore, this study is important to know the procedure in which SEO can be optimally used by the hospitality industry to enhance their customer reach and to increase the online bookings. It is essential for a particular hotel to maintain a good SEO ranking so that it is placed in the first page of Google search and is visible to the user (Seymen 2017). SEO works on basis of a particular algorithm and therefore, it is needed to know the concept and working principle of SEO. This research is justified as it aims in understanding the concept of SEO and its use in hospitality industry in boosting the sales.
The undertaken study aims in evaluation of the process and techniques that are undertaken by hospitality industry to increase the traffic of a particular hotel website (Benea 2014). With the increase in use of internet and online booking features, it is evident that SEO can significantly help in increasing the profitability of the business of hospitality industry and hence, this research is undertaken.
The undertaken research will help the hospitality industry understand the need of implementation of SEO in optimizing their SEO ranking. SEO optimization is necessary to enhance the sales of hospitality industry. The undertaken study will evaluate the process in which SEO can be used in optimization of the sales of hospitality industry and also for boosting the profit of hospitality industry.
Structure of the Study
The structure of the study are indicated as follows-
Chapter 1- Introduction: The first chapter of the dissertation gives a knowledge of the aims, objectives, rationale and the implication of the study. This chapter is significant to let the readers know about the key focus of the research and the need of executing of this particular research.
Chapter 2- Literature Review: This chapter of the dissertation analyses the secondary sources to obtain secondary data. The research journals and the literatures are reviewed in this chapter to collect evidences that will help in fulfilling the objectives and in answering the questions associated with the research. Literature review chapter documents the work of other authors in this field and hence this is an important chapter of the study.
Chapter 3- Methodological Discussion: The methodological discussion chapter is the third chapter of the undertaken research study and it identifies the major tools and techniques needed for completion and execution of the research. The methodological discussion provides an overview of the techniques chosen for obtaining and examination of the research data. The tools to be made use of for gathering and examination of the data is documented in this chapter. This chapter provides a summary of the process in which a research will be conducted.
Chapter 4- Empirical Data and Research Findings: The fourth chapter is one of the most vital chapter of dissertation as it delivers an evidence of the collected data and examination of the obtained data. The data acquired from this chapter will help in evaluating whether the key research objectives are achieved.
Chapter 5-Analysis: The data obtained from the chapter four is analysed to check if the research aim and the objectives are fulfilled. This chapter is a significant chapter of the study as it provides evidence of the undertaken research, data collection and data analysis.
Chapter 6- Conclusion: The last part of the dissertation summarises the key conclusions of the entire research and links the conclusions of the study with the identified research objectives. This chapter gives an overview of the future scope of study by listing the major limitations. The conclusion chapter marks the end of the research study.
The intention of the literature review chapter is to discuss the findings of the previous researches in the field of the proposed research study. Literature review play an important role in understanding the relevance of the proposed research with the problems identified. This chapter provides a foundation of knowledge on the concept of SEO and its role in boosting the sales of the hospitality industry. This extensive literature review is undertaken to reflect on the existing literature and identify the inconsistencies in the previous literature that can be addressed in the planned study. Literature review is significantly important for understanding the major research problem that is being studied. This is possible since the work of the previous researchers and their findings are critically analysed in the literature review. This chapter provides a comprehensive idea and understanding of the concept of Search Engine optimization, which play an important role in boosting the sales of the hospitality industry. The purpose of the literature review is to gain an acceptance of the prevailing research that is relevant to a particular research. This chapter will help in building knowledge in the field of search engine optimization. Hospitality industry is largely driven by online sales and online booking and therefore maintaining a high SEO ranking becomes essential. The literature review chapter recognizes the importance of SEO and the need of the hospitality industry in maintaining a good SEO rank. Evaluation of the researches in this field will help in critical identification of the necessity of having a good SERP ranking and the tools that can help the hospitality industry in achieving the same (Popescu, Nicolae and Pavel 2015). Furthermore the research gap and the theoretical framework to be followed in the study is further discussed in the literature review chapter.
Rationale of the study
Search Engine Optimization
Baye, De los Santos and Wildenbeest (2016), state that search engines are a vital way of gaining evidence from the internet. Search engines are used by majority of the people to navigate their web searches and therefore, search engines act as an important link between users and the business. Gudivada, Rao, and Paris (2015), indicate that one of the primary reasons that organizations are making web central to their mission and vision is because, customers are reliant on the search engines to gather necessary details of a business or a product. Search engines are efficient in creation of indexes by generating direct surrogate page representations. Search engines are the foundation to SEO and optimization of the SEO is necessary for enhancing the business functionality of an organization. Search engines are efficient in enabling a web search by creation of a process that is transparent to a user.
Egri and Bayrak (2014), define search engine optimization as a work that encourages research for improved ranking of the search engines. SEO is directly linked with the “page hit ratio” and the occurrence of hits in that particular page. Therefore, it can be indicated that search engines play a vital role for the business and websites to reach a higher number of customers. Therefore, search engine optimization has become an important need for the business organization to drive customers’ traffic in their website.
Research methodology aims in identification of the appropriate tools and methods that enables a researcher to fulfil the main aims and the objectives of a research work. The significant of the methodology lies in solving major planning and operational problems that might affect the normal execution of a research (Bryman 2016). The aim of this study is to study the use of EEO for enhancing the sales in the hospitality sector. The research is based on evaluation of the facts and data that is available in relation to the business operation of the hospitality industry (Bell, Bryman and Harley 2018). The methodological discussion chapter for the study aims in identification of the appropriate methods that can contribute to the accurateness of collection of data for the study and examination of the collected data. The specific procedure and the technique that will be used for selection, processing and analysis of the information about chosen topic are evaluated in this chapter. This chapter is important for critical evaluation of the validity and reliability of the undertaken study. In the following sections, the process is which data is chosen for the study along with the techniques used for gathering the required data are discussed.
Data Collection Process
Secondary Data Collection
Data Analysis Process
Table 1: Demonstrating the Methods chosen for the Study
The table above identifies the research methods that are chosen for execution of the proposed study in an operative manner. The researcher has opted to collect secondary data for the study. The secondary sources will be evaluated to gain a detailed understanding of the process in which SEO can be used for increasing the sales and bookings in the hospitality sector. The literature review has given an extensive idea of the key concepts related to SEO and its use. The identified literature gap will be evaluated in the study and for that, the above indicated methods are opted. The justification behind choosing all the above identified methods are discussed in the following sections.
The process of gathering data for a particular study is mainly outlined in the research philosophy. The choice of an appropriate philosophy is necessary for the researcher to correctly analyse and use the data collected for the study (Patten and Newhart 2017). Epistemology is a branch of research that is disturbed with the possibilities of nature, sources and limitations of the study. Epistemology give rise to two research philosophies, which include interpretivism philosophy, and positivism philosophy.
Interpretivism include the researchers to interpret various fundamentals of a study and this philosophy is known for incorporation of human interest in a specific study (Tuffour 2017.). This particular philosophy generally emphasizes on incorporation of human interest in a study. This particular philosophy mainly emphasizes on the use of qualitative methods in accomplishing the research results.
Positivism Philosophy is associated with the use of factual knowledge for execution of a research and mainly focuses on observation of a researcher. The collection and interpretation of the obtained data is mainly done in an objective way in this philosophy. This philosophy comes into play when empirical evidences is needed to fulfil the research objectives. In this study, the researcher’s role is related to gathering and understanding of the collected data.
As indicated earlier, interpretivism approach is chosen for gathering and examination of data in this study. The main idea behind collection of this data for the study was to make use of qualitative data to obtain the findings from the literature review (Singh 2015). The positivism philosophy would not have been appropriate for this particular study as empirical data is not used in the study. The research involves collection of qualitative data and hence the choice of the interpretivism philosophy for the study is justified.
Structure of the Study
Research approach enables a researcher to plan the gathering and examination of the research data in a suitable manner. Correct identification of the research approach enables the researcher to detail the technique of collection and analysis of research data. There are mainly three types of investigation approaches, which are “deductive approach, inductive approach and abductive approach”.
The Inductive approach in a study is mainly used for gathering and examination of qualitative data. The qualitative research does not involves any statistical analysis or testing of hypothesis and therefore, in such study the inductive approach is used (Jebb, Parrigon and Woo 2017).
The deductive approach is used for exploration and testing of a known phenomenon in a study and hence it requires formukation of hypothesis. The deductive approach therefoe is associated with development of research hypothesis which is generally not present in inductive approach.
The abductive research approach is set for considering the key weaknesses that are linked with the “inductive and deductive” research approach. This approach is mainly used in studies where the problem is not clear and involves the use of “surprising facts”.
The approach that is opted in this study is inductive approach. This research study is based on the use of qualitative data and therefore, does not involve formulation or testing of any hypotheses. The study is not associated with any empirical analysis and thus, the choice of inductive approach for the study is justified.
The research design generally outlines the framework of conducting the study. It integrates different components of a study that allows a researcher to put forward certain coherent and logical arguments in analysis of the data (Mayer 2015.). The methods and procedures that can be used for gathering and analysis of the research is generally outlined in form of the research design.
The research design that is mainly used in academic research include “exploratory research design” and “conclusive research design”. As the name suggest, the “exploratory design” is used for exploration of certain specific aspect of the study. The conclusive “research design” on the other hand, provides the researcher with an insight to certain important factors or specifications linked with a study (Johnston 2017.). The conclusive design can further be subdivided into two categories, which are descriptive design and casual design.
The proposed study requires analysis of the use of SEO in increasing the sales and profits of the hospitality sector. Therefore, it can be indicated that the study involves exploration of the specific use of SEO in boosting the sales. Thus, “exploratory research design” is chosen for this particular study. The choice of exploratory design for the study has permitted the researcher to analyse the key concepts of SEO, its working principles and the process in which SEO has contributed in increasing the sales and bookings in the hospitality sector.
Data Collection Process
Academic researches involves gathering of primary data and secondary data. Data collection is a necessary need of a research study.
Primary Data Collection Process: - The process of primary data collection requires collection of data by the researcher directly from the individuals who might have knowledge about the research subject. There are several approaches that can be used for collection of primary data. The methods include interview, survey, focus group and observation.
Interview is a technique of collection of primary data. In this method, the researcher interviews the certain chosen respondents to gather the necessary information needed to the undertaken study. The collection of data through interview can be showed either face to face or through telephone. However, the authenticity of data collection from face to face interview method is higher.
The gathering of primary data through survey is another effective method of data collection from primary sources. This technique is operative as it enables the researcher to collect data from a great number of individuals in a short time, which is not possible through the method of interview (Sylvia and Terhaar 2014). The survey can be carried out in a manual process or can also be carried out online. The online survey is quite effective as it saves both time and money of the academic expert.
The focus group method is predominantly used in the researches that requires collection of data from a particular group of individual, like an expert judgement. This method does not involve data collection from individuals other that the chosen group of people.
The observation is a method of primary data gathering, where the researcher observes certain phenomenon and the findings of that observation is incorporated in the study.
Secondary Data Collection Process:
The secondary data assortment process involves the collection and gathering of research data from the secondary sources. These sources include books, research journals and literatures. Thus, this method mainly deals with assortment of data from the sources that has been already published or the data that are publicly available (Cheng and Phillips 2014). The secondary data collection method therefore involves use of data of previous researches that has already been published (Gibbs 2018). One of the key advantages of this particular method of data collection is that a large quantity of data can be easily obtained from secondary sources.
This particular study has made use of secondary data and therefore, secondary data obtaining method is chosen. The use of this method is justified as the research requires evaluation of the working principle of SEO and the process in which SEO is integrated with the business operation of hospitality industry to increase the profit. As a part of collection of secondary data, a literature review has been undertaken that has highlighted certain key aspects of SEO and its use and application in enhancing the sales of the hospitality sector. The researcher has further collected secondary data on basis of the literature gap to evaluate the findings of the literature review to fulfil the research objectives. Therefore, the choice of secondary data for the study is justified.
The recommendations on basic of the finding of the study are illustrated as follows-
- On basis of the working process of booking.com, it can be recommended that in order to maintain the top spot in SERP rank, it is necessary to properly manage the SEO tags and update the content in a regular manner
- It is further recommended for the websites to make use of real and unique content in describing the services offered in order to enhance the chances of receiving organic traffic
- It is recommended to invest on proper digital marketing strategy to enhance the customers’ reach
- It is necessary to offer excellent services so that the public reviews received are goods. It is recommended that a website should have good public reviews to enhance the competitive advantage
- It is recommended that the social media pages that are associated with the website should be well maintained and its content should be updated regularly.
Limitations of Research
The following limitations were faced while undertaking this study-
- Time limitation was a major factor in this study. The study could have been more informative if a larger amount of time was allocated.
- The study could not collect primary data mainly because of the pandemic COVID-19. The use of primary data would have enhanced the results of the study.
Future scope of the study
Further studies can be conducted in this field by making use of primary data and undergoing statistical data analysis which could not be covered in this case mainly because of the time constraint and due to the unforeseen circumstances faced because of pandemic COVID-19.
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