As an owner or operator of a hotel, you know that your website is one of your most valuable assets. It's where potential guests can learn about your property, view photos and videos, make reservations, and more.
You know your online presence is crucial. That's why it's essential to optimize your website and web pages for search engines so you can rank higher in the search results and get more traffic from potential guests. SEO for the hospitality industry is different than SEO for other industries. That's because the hospitality industry relies heavily on online bookings from potential guests.
It's crucial to understand the workings of SEO to improve your SERP (search engine results page) and rank higher than competitors. This guide will explain everything from keyword research to on-page optimization to link building.
So we've got you covered, whether you're a new digital marketing specialist looking to learn the basics or an established hotel looking to up your game. Note that when we talk about search engines, we'll focus on Google instead of Bing or Edge. Google is the king of the internet and offers valuable tools like search consoles to assist your SEO practices.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It's the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in the search results for relevant keywords. When potential guests use Google or another search engine to find hotels in their desired destination, they'll see a list of results.
SEO aims to get your hotel's website to appear as high up on that list as possible. Hubspot tells us that a staggering 75% of searchers don't scroll past page one of the SERP. SEO strategies help boost your chances of ranking on page one.
SEO is a complex algorithm that takes into account many factors, including the content on your web pages, the structure or schema of your website, how fast your website loads HTML, and more. It's constantly changing, so hoteliers must stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices to ensure they're doing everything they can to improve their ranking.
What are the benefits of SEO?
While the ultimate goal of SEO is to rank higher on SERPs, there are many benefits to increasing your SEO strategy. SEO isn't just about getting potential guests to click through to your website from the search results. It's also about getting them to stay on your website once they arrive.
Visits coming from a Google search for a term you rank for is called organic traffic, and it's the most valuable type of traffic because it's more likely to result in a booking. Think about it: these customers have intent to buy and are warm leads, directly interested in what you have to offer.
You'll see more organic traffic from SEO efforts than anything else you do online. According to Bright Edge, SEO drives 1000% more traffic than social media alone. You'll also have increased brand awareness when you focus on SEO digital marketing efforts. When potential guests see your hotel's website appearing high up in the search results, it increases your brand awareness and can make you seem like a more credible and trustworthy option.
SEO will also provide an improved user experience; a well-optimized website provides a better user experience, leading to more bookings and less bounced traffic. You'll see higher conversion rates because when guests can easily find what they're looking for on your website, they're more likely to convert to actual guests.
Finally, you'll see more traffic overall to your website by potential guests. By appearing higher in the search results, you'll get more clicks and traffic to your website. This can lead to more direct bookings and less reliance on OTAs (online travel agencies).
Crucial SEO Factors
Search engines take hundreds of ranking factors into account when determining where to rank websites in the search results. However, some factors are more important than others for SEO. Here are a few of the most important ranking factors:
Website content: The content on your website needs to be well-written, relevant, and keyword-rich. This will help potential guests find your hotel when searching for hotels in their desired destination. Consider working with a marketing agency to create content for your hotel; they have the experience to work with keywords without keyword stuffing - the practice of loading as many target keywords in the content as possible without much thought of how it reads.
Page titles and meta descriptions: The title tags of each page on your website and the meta description should include relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand what your website is about and increases the chances that potential guests will click through to your website. The page title is the blue link that appears in the search results, while the meta description is the black text beneath it. Using keywords or phrases in your titles and meta descriptions is ideal. The search engine will read these first, so it's crucial to have SEO-friendly page titles and meta descriptions.
Page speed: A fast-loading website provides a better user experience and tells search engines that your website is high-quality. This can help improve your ranking in the search results. Most people won't wait for a website to load, even if it's their first choice. A lack of responsiveness from your website will likely increase your bounce rate.
Mobile friendliness: More and more people are using their mobile devices to search for hotels. This means that it's essential for your web design to be mobile-friendly. If it's not, you could be losing out on potential guests. Google is starting to reduce the chances of being found through searches for those websites that aren't optimized for mobile. If you're unsure where to start, simply Google "Mobile-Friendly Test," and their website checker will confirm that your site is optimized effectively.
Local SEO: If you want to rank higher in the search results for local keywords (e.g., "hotels in New York"), you need to optimize your website for local SEO. This includes claiming your Google My Business listing and building citations from high-quality directories. Your Google My Business should be up-to-date with your hotel's name, address, phone number, and hours of operation.
Link building: Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to yours. To start link building, reach out to other hoteliers, local businesses, and tourism boards in your area. This helps improve your website's authority and can lead to higher rankings in the search results. You can also create great content that other websites will want to link to.
How to Improve Hotel SEO
Now that we know the basics of SEO for hotels and the intricacies involved, you're probably wondering what your hotel SEO strategy should look like. Here are some tips to get you started:
The first step is to identify relevant keywords that potential guests are searching for. You can use a tool like Google's Keyword Planner or Moz's Keyword Explorer to find hotel keywords. Start to think of what words you search for when planning a trip. Are you searching for just the word "hotel," or are you searching for "hotels in Los Angeles" or "inexpensive hotels?" Narrow down the keywords that work for your property. What are some unique features of your property? Use those in your target keywords; think like "hotel with a beach view" or "hotels with the best amenities."
There are a few types of keywords - broad and long tail keywords. Broad keywords are single search terms like "hotel" that have a high volume of searches but are very competitive. Long tail keywords are more specific, like "hotels in Los Angeles with a beach view" or "New York hotel with skyline" view," and have lower search volume, but you're more likely to rank for them because they're less competitive. Your hotel SEO strategy should focus on a mix of both broad and long tail keywords.
Once you have a list of relevant keywords, you can start incorporating them into your website content, titles, and descriptions and even alt-text on photos. Include these keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and H2s. The H2 is the subtitle for any piece you're creating. For example, the H2 for this portion is "How to Improve Hotel SEO," and the H3 is "Keyword Research."
As we mentioned before, on-page optimization is crucial for ranking higher in search results. Make sure to include relevant keywords in your website content, page titles, and meta descriptions. You should also focus on creating high-quality content relevant to potential guests. When creating content, always keep your audience in mind. Write interesting and informative content, and make sure to include call-to-actions (CTAs) throughout your website. A CTA is a statement or button that tells the reader what you want them to do next. For example, a CTA on a hotel website might be "Book Now" or "Check Availability." An effective content marketing strategy includes valuable content shared with potential customers.
Another important factor for SEO is external links. The more websites that link to your hotel's website, the higher your website will rank in the search results. According to BackLinkio, the #1 result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-#10. You can increase your chances of getting external links by creating great content and reaching out to other websites in your industry. Even better, work on partnering with local businesses. Not only will this significantly increase your chance of getting external links, but often these partnerships are beneficial to both parties. A word of warning, never buy links. This is against Google's terms of service and can result in your website being deindexed, or essentially taken offline. While some companies may claim that they have a loophole to that, it's never worth it to test Google.
While you're focused on external links, also check your internal links. Make sure they're live and valid and that you're not sending potential guests to a broken page. Every link should work and take the guest to the appropriate page they're looking for, or you're directing them to.
Social media can be a powerful tool for hotel SEO. Posting relevant and engaging content on social media can help increase your website's authority and improve your chances of ranking higher in the search results. You can use the same keywords you've researched to start using on social media. In addition, focus on creating great visuals and tagging relevant people and businesses in your posts. As with external linking, don't buy followers or likes. These are against the terms of service for most social media platforms and can result in your account being suspended or even deleted. You can also use social media to build relationships with other hoteliers, local businesses, and potential guests.
Technical SEO can be a bit daunting, but it's essential to understand the basics. By improving your website's technical SEO, you can see a significant increase in your organic search traffic.
Here are some tips for improving your hotel's technical SEO:
- Improve your site's speed. Google has stated that page speed is a ranking factor, so ensuring your site is as fast as possible is vital. You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to test your site's speed and find ways to improve it.
- Make sure your pages are indexable. Indexability refers to how easy it is for the search engines to crawl and index your site. You can use the Google Search Console to submit your sitemap and check for errors.
- Fix any crawl errors. Crawl errors occur when the search engines have difficulty crawling your site. This can result in lower rankings and less traffic. You can use the Google Search Console to find and fix any crawl errors on your site.
Google My Business:
If you haven't claimed your Google My Business listing, now is the time to do so. Google My Business is a FREE directory that you need to be on. This is a free service provided by Google that allows you to manage how your hotel appears in the search results of local searches and provides an address on Google Maps. You can include important information such as your hotel's name, address, phone number, and website. You can also add photos, hours of operation, and pricing. Imagine Googling a hotel and there being no official Google My Business listing; you'd likely avoid that hotel as it doesn't seem as legitimate as those with one.
Google itself has a list of valuable SEO tips to incorporate through your listing. One of their biggest tips is to respond to reviews left on your Google My Business page. This shows that you value your customers and are willing to respond to their concerns or thank them for their glowing reviews.
One of the most important aspects of hotel marketing SEO is content creation. As we mentioned, your website content should be high-quality and relevant to potential guests. In addition, your content should be keyword-rich to improve your chances of ranking higher in the search results. When creating content, always keep your audience in mind and write interesting and informative articles. Include call-to-actions (CTAs) throughout your website to encourage potential guests to book a room or learn more about your hotel.
Some ideas for content include:
A welcome message from the hotel owner or manager
An overview of the hotel's history
A virtual tour of the hotel
A list of the hotel's amenities
Information about the local area
FAQs about the hotel or the area
Continuing SEO Practices
SEO isn't a one-and-done practice; it's an ever-evolving process that takes time. The hospitality industry is constantly changing, so your SEO strategy should be as well. Google's algorithm is continually being updated, so it's crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest changes. In addition, new hotels are always popping up, and you need to make sure your hotel is still ranking high in the search results. The best way to do this is to continuously monitor your SEO efforts and make necessary changes.
Once you've worked on your hotel SEO strategy for a while, it's time to review your metrics. It's essential to track your metrics on an ongoing basis to have a solid overview of what works and what's not. Keep in mind that you won't see results overnight. It takes practice and dedication to make the most out of hotel SEO strategies.
SEO Metrics to Monitor:
Search engine rankings (SERPs)
Organic search traffic
Time on site/pages per session
New vs. returning visitors
Conversions (bookings, newsletter signups, etc.)
There are a number of tools that you can use to track your SEO progress and metrics. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides insights into your website traffic. Another option is Moz, which offers a free trial and then paid plans starting at $99/month.
When to Outsource Your Marketing
Outsourcing your marketing can be a great way to save time and money. It's important to know when to outsource and when to do it yourself. There are several factors that you should consider before deciding to outsource your hotel SEO strategy.
Some things to keep in mind:
Your level of expertise
The time you have available
The size of your hotel and hotel rooms
If you're just getting started with SEO or don't have the time to dedicate to it, then outsourcing your SEO efforts is a good option. Hiring an agency or consultant can be time-consuming, but it's worth it if it means getting results.
An excellent way to determine whether or not you should outsource your SEO is to consider your goals. Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Drive more traffic to your website? Get on the first page of Google? If so, then outsourcing your SEO efforts is a good idea.
Outsourcing can be a great way to get the help you need to improve your hotel's SEO. However, it's essential to do your research and find a reputable agency or consultant that offers SEO services. There are a lot of people out there who claim to be experts but don't deliver results. Make sure you read reviews and ask for referrals before making a decision.
SEO for the hospitality industry, or hotel industry, is a process, but it's worth investing in. By following the tips and advice above, you can create a solid SEO strategy that will help your hotel rank higher in the search results and attract more guests.
What are your thoughts on SEO for the hospitality industry? Let us know in the comments below!
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