Build SEO by supporting local artists

Search engine optimization (SEO) is undoubtedly a big topic these days. We’re all looking for ways to boost our’s visibility, and frankly, it’s a war zone, as there’s only so much space available on a search-engine results page. There are many tactics — some good and some bad. Countless articles have pointed to heightened exposure amongst neighborhood businesses or community organizations as a viable strategy. Indeed, Google algorithms are set up to look for these local connections and give priority to businesses with the most local activity.

But if everyone is going after the same thing, how do you differentiate yourself? My solution: a specific and dedicated strategy. And the approach today is to increase SEO by becoming a patron of the local art scene.

Unless you operate a quaint 15-room B&B, you’ll likely have a little extra space around the property for a new piece of art or two. You might decide to leave, for example, a hallway alcove — complete with neutral gray-painted walls — blank and save yourself a large sum of money. But you get nothing in return. By investing in art, it’s first and foremost an investment. Art does appreciate, after all — albeit slowly. It’s also yet another way to evoke an emotional response from your guests, another chance to generate positive sentiments and, in turn, guest satisfaction. That’s what most important.

Mind you, art can be polarizing. Let’s take this blank gray alcove, then put in a plinth and a vibrant, surreal sculpture made from blown glass visible by guests as they approach the elevators. When you think about it, which is more likely to elicit good feelings: a surreal sculpture or the naked gray nook? For every visitor this figurine might dissuade there are nine others who will feel as though it adds to the environment.

Apathy is the real killer here because it leaves no mark on the memory centers of the brain — that’s the blank alcove. Love it or hate it, art gets us thinking. And thinking is the first step to remembering and, well down the road, discussing the hotel with friends and family.

If fine art can be such a powerful yet silent advantage for hotels, then it would make sense that hotels allot budget for this — especially new hotels. The question, then, is where are you going to source your paintings and sculptures? The best answer: neighborhood artists or art colleges. By becoming a benefactor of the local fine art community, it will engender your property to an industry that is heavily reliant on Internet-based connections and sales. Artists today must all put a fair amount of time into self-promotion — think personal websites, social media and artist blogs. Having your property’s name wedged in there is exactly the sort of stuff Google is searching for.

Then there’s the prestige factor associated with being a patron of the arts. Think media buzz on top of augmenting the ambiance in, say, your lobby bar, restaurant, sixth-floor elevator waiting area, spa or main entrance. You might even host a contest among local artists for the grand prize of having their work prominently displayed in your hotel. Or, if you have enough works already installed, you might organize tours. Any way you look at it, there are lots of options and lots of upsides.