Travelers report search engines are the premier destinations for booking accommodations, and brands need to catch up.

Companies across industries understand the web is becoming one of the most important ways to reach prospects and customers. People are looking for product information online, and the organizations that are there to provide it with custom content will establish trust early, stay top of mind and ultimately, win sales. Travel is one field that’s making a tight shift toward search as empowered consumers increasingly start (and finish) their bookings online.

A Kenshoo report that focused on the travel industry found 60 percent of all leisure travelers look to search first when planning their accommodations. The same is true for about 53 percent of people traveling for business.

If travel brands want to reach the majority of their customers, they need to create search-optimized web content that will rank in SERPs, but more importantly, engage readers. A content-for-SEO approach appears to be a better route than joining online travel agent sites. These are the go-to sources for less than half of people surveyed (48 percent of leisure and 47 percent of business travelers).

The transition from traditional print to digital publishing shouldn’t be too much of a mind shift for travel companies, which have generally embraced journalism as a way to promote their destinations. However, they must keep their sights trained on relevance rather than volume, or they risk alienating readers.

60 percent of all leisure travelers look to search first when planning their accommodations

A blog penned by a Brafton content editor discusses how to straddle the demands of an SEO strategy with obligations to readers. She advises that brands publishing content online be careful not to come across as too promotional in their posts, because skeptical readers may lose trust in the company’s sincerity. It’s best to be honest and straightforward, with a keen eye for users’ needs and desires. A three-star hotel might not have a gourmet brunch menu or designer sheets, but it has the affordable price tag some families want.

Web searching isn’t a flash in the pan for consumers, and travel brands – both large and small – need to get serious about their content marketing strategies if they want to stay relevant and profitable.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.