In today’s world, it’s hard to ignore SEO and what it does for any business. Increasing your hotel SEO means increasing your visibility on search engines like Google and the math is simple. The higher you rank, the more exposure you get, and the more traffic you will receive resulting in more sales.
If you’re just beginning to get into the subject of hotel SEO, this is a great place to start. We get into what exactly is SEO, why it’s important, and tips and tricks to get your hotel ranking.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or ‘SEO’ is referring to a set of processes done by a website to improve their ranking in relevant online searches. Basically, SEO is any effort by you to make your website more likely to show up higher on search engines when someone googles a phrase related to it.
SEO isn’t only one task that you can do to improve your ranking. SEO is an umbrella term and is associated with many different tasks and practices. You’ll often hear it thrown around with terms like digital marketing, keyword research, copywriting, content creation, and social media. All of these terms are related to SEO and have an indirect impact on your website’s ranking.
Why is it important for your hotel?
To explain why hotel SEO is important, think about your own online behaviour. Anytime you Google something, a page pops up within seconds producing the most relevant content based on your search. You most likely will pick among the top 3 or 5 links, spend a few seconds on each page before settling on which page or pages are more relevant to you, then you’ll likely spend a few more minutes on that chosen page. In the unlikely event that those first couple links you clicked on didn’t have the information you were looking for, you either A) look at a couple more links at the bottom of the page or B) choose a new keyword that better describes what you’re trying to look for.
If you’re a link that is closer to the bottom of the page, or not even on the first page at all, the likelihood of your content reaching the viewer’s eyes is quite low compared to the first link on that page.
The data is also compelling: Search Engine Watch notes that 33% of people click on the first link and only 5% of people click through to the second page of results.
The landscape of hospitality is very competitive. Hotel SEO plays a huge part in your hotel getting the exposure it needs when people are searching for accommodation in your city. Having a great ranking hotel website can mean the difference between you and your competitors in your city. The more visible it is, the more likely they are to book with you.
SEO is also typically less expensive than traditional marketing efforts like traditional ads. In today’s technology age, SEO can drive as much traffic as costly print ads, billboards, and TV ads. This allows hotels to better control their marketing spend and see just as much, if not more results.
5 tips for your hotel SEO
1 – Slowly but surely
If you’ve begun doing SEO research for your hotel, it can seem like a daunting task. There’s a lot to take in for beginners and the work seems endless. Start off small, and apply your learnings as you go. SEO is not an overnight miracle. It is a long-term strategy and results take weeks and months to see.
A great place to start is to work with what you already have. Start with updating your page titles and meta descriptions. Ensure that each web page has a unique title and meta description that tells people what your page is about. When you do a search, you get the page title, and then you get that 150 word description underneath: that’s the meta description. Having a clear, simple, and concise meta description that doesn’t cut off half way through a sentence will give your viewer a better understanding of your webpage and will give your website a better chance to be clicked on.
Having unique titles and meta descriptions for each page of your websites helps to improve your hotel SEO because viewers get a better glimpse of what kind of information the web page contains and they can see if it is relevant to what they’re looking for, as opposed to competitors. It is also a great opportunity to use the targeted keywords you want your content to rank for (see #2)
2 – Use targeted keywords and phrases associated with your hotel
To explain this concept, think about what you would do when looking for a hotel while planning your trip. What types of words or keyphrases would you type into the search bar to populate the types of hotels you’re looking for? Now think about your hotel website, do these words or phrases appear anywhere on your website?
A huge component of SEO is knowing the right keywords and phrases that your demographic (the type of people you want to book your hotel) will search for to find a website like yours. If there are keywords you want to rank for, but you don’t have them anywhere on your website, you are most likely not showing up in those searches.
These keywords that you thought of should be incorporated into all areas of your website: page titles, descriptions and content. It’s also just as important to do keyword research to find out what people are actually using to find hotels in your area. There are probably words and phrases you haven’t even thought of so including those in your content and pages will further optimize your website.
3 – Make sure your pages load quickly
As time progresses, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. If someone chooses to click on your website, but it fails to load quickly, you can best bet that person has hopped off before you get a chance to even say SEO.
Think about your website design: is it filled with photos of your rooms, amenities, and location? While photos are a crucial part of a website and heavily influences a purchaser’s decision, too many photos and graphics can be causing your site to load slowly, which can harm your SEO.
A component of SEO and how well your website ranks is based on how fast your web pages load. Google measures how long it takes for your website’s server to respond when it tries to load a page. If it takes a long time to deliver that page, then your ranking could decrease.
4 – Quality of quantity
A strategy to improve your hotel SEO is content creation, in the form of blogs, articles and resources that attract people who are searching for information online. At your hotel, you can write pieces related to hospitality, hotel trends, new releases and other useful resources that visitors might want to know.
When it comes to content, focus on quality over quantity. This means: writing keyword-rich, highly relevant content that is at least 500 words. The more keyword focussed your content is, the higher it will rank and more likely it will get in front of the right person. If your content isn’t long enough or isn’t engaging, Google will also measure how long a person stays on your page. The more engaged and longer a person stays, the higher your content will rank.
When considering your content plan, it’s much more effective to write 10 great well written and researched, highly optimized pieces of content, then it is to pump out 50 non-informative pieces of content that people won’t spend even 10 seconds on.
It is also important to incorporate a call to action (CTA) in each piece of content. A link that engages the reader in the form of an email sign up, or content download. Maybe your piece of content is writing about the top restaurants in Vancouver, BC. Ensure that a CTA like “Book a Hotel in Vancouver”, linking to your booking page is present on the website. People reading that web page may be people planning a trip to Vancouver and will be exposed to your hotel while doing their research, increasing your chances of being booked with.
5 – Get links built to your website from other websites
This is considered the most advanced out of the 5 tips and is meant to scale your SEO. Building your digital reputation greatly improves your chances of being ranked higher. What this means is that the more other reputable websites are linking back to your website and content, the more highly reputable your content is considered. Google loves high quality content, and having other websites linking to your website means that you have good quality content that others are recommending.
To put it into perspective, if two websites write a blog about the same subject, but website A has 10 other websites linking back to that blog versus website B who only has 1 backlink, website A will rank much higher than website B. Additionally, not all links are equal. A website like CNN linking to your content will have way more influence on your content ranked higher than a new, small blog that just got created.
This process is known as link building. Link building is the acquisition of links to your website from other sites. Different tactics include building relationships with other sites to feature your content, guest blogging and creating content that naturally attract links: think of those viral videos that blow up because millions of people are sharing that link to their social channels.
To increase hotel SEO with linking can be difficult since more hotel websites don’t feature a tonne of their own content. However, press releases is a form of content that can also drive hotel SEO that would be relevant to a hotel website. Things like renovations, new features or an expansion would be newsworthy and able to garner attention.
Now that you have a place to start, your work is cut out for you because SEO is one of those things you can continue driving and maintaining. Remember that quality is the name of the game when it comes to SEO. Having great website design, writing quality content and building quality links are all a part of a successful SEO strategy. Remember: Google can also penalize you if you’re choosing to cut corners like keyword stuffing or buying links and rank your website lower. Most importantly, SEO is a long term strategy of increasing traffic and it takes time. Results do not show up in a day. However, it is important to track inputs and measure results over a given period of time to see what is working and what isn’t.