SMBs in the travel industry are using web marketing to capitalize on increased interest this summer.

Consumers looking for the best deals and information on the travel and hospitality industry are increasingly using search engines to do their bidding. A report from iPerceptions suggests that search engines are one of the most popular tools for Americans when they’re looking for hotels, restaurants or other businesses.

During the fourth quarter of 2011, 27 percent of website traffic for businesses in these industries came from search engines. This was bested only by the 28 percent that came from direct site visits. Small businesses should consider that this means search engines – and SEO – are essential to discovery; direct searches indicate the shopper already knows where he or she wants to go, but search represents opportunities to reach new prospects (and search discovery can fuel subsequent direct website visits).

With so many consumers turning to search for travel and hospitality information, there are a number of methods SMBs in these verticals can use to attract new customers. Creating a content marketing strategy that focuses on improving search standing can be especially beneficial.

Articles or blog posts that discuss the SMB’s location, attractions and other topics related to the region along with relevant links to travel information can make a site more appealing to search crawlers and – more importantly – useful to visitors. While SEO is important to improving search standing, it’s increasingly important for SMBs to remember that delivering a high-quality user experience is as critical as any keyword strategy to gain visibility and it’s ultimately more important in terms of converting prospects.

ContentLEAD recently reported that Google rolled out a search algorithm update aimed at bringing high-quality website content to its users. Among the issues Google’s Matt Cutts discussed motivating the roll out was too many sites exploiting SEO best practices with poor linking strategies and overly aggressive, irrelevant keyword strategies.