Are you ready to learn about one of the most formidable tools for generating traffic to your hotel website?
If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we look at search engine optimization (SEO) for your hotel website. We’ll discuss how you can continue driving traffic and booking rooms long into the future with some easy to use tactics.
If you’ve wavered on the value of search engine optimization for your hotel, waver no more. With the growing trend of travelers turning to search engines before brand websites to find a hotel, it’s never been more important to emphasize your hotel website’s SEO.
Search engine optimization is a terrific way to get a leg up on the competition. SEO is what you do to make your website searchable by search engines so your hotel website shows up at the top of the search engine results pages.
To help you gauge the importance of SEO for your hotel website, let’s look at some statistics.
Online Booking Statistics
According to Statistic Brain, the following is true about online travel and hotel bookings:
- Nearly 150 million people book reservations online each year.
- Almost 60% of all reservations are made online.
- Sixty-five percent of same-day hotel reservations are made online using a smartphone.
- Eighty-one percent of users find online reviews important.
- More than 75% of clicks from search results are through organic results and not paid results.
The conclusion we can make from these statistics is that online booking is happening in huge numbers, and your customers are even using their mobile phones to make reservations.
If your SEO isn’t up to par, your customers aren’t going to find you, and you aren’t going to show up in these booking stats.
With billions of web searches made every day, you have to fine tune your SEO to gain an edge over your competition. That means an optimized website with fresh content to make your site more discoverable by search engines like Google.
SEO for Your Hotel
To do SEO right, you have to stay on top of it. Why? Google’s search algorithm is changing all the time.
This is why continuous search engine research is important to maintaining your hotel website.
SEO is actually a full circle. What you put on your website is what gets your hotel listed on the first page of search results and encourages searchers to visit your site. What you do with them on your website is what gets them to book a reservation. And, this is done by what you put on your site.
How Do Search Engines Work?
SEO is what you do to improve your organic, natural search engine rankings. Search engines like Google are driven by how usable, relevant and accessible your hotel website is.
The more accessible you are, and the easier your site is to navigate, the more Google will reward you with higher search engine rankings.
On the flip side, a poor user experience drops you down the list. Why does the search engine do this? Because, like you, it wants to earn the website visitor’s trust. If it provides results that aren’t relevant, users no longer want to use the search engine.
So, you can see why SEO is so important to search engines. Not only do they want to provide their own customers with relevant content, but they want to keep these customers just like you want to keep your own.
How to Appease the Search Engines
Now, let’s investigate how search engines decide what to do with your site.
Search engines crawl websites in order to provide a ranked listing of relevant, usable and accessible websites.
To be successful at hotel SEO, you’ve got to know exactly what the search engines are looking for.
When it comes to your website, they are looking for some very specific things:
- Mobile-friendly, responsive website: This is a non-negotiable must for your hotel website. If you want to have any search engine ranking power, especially on mobile, you’ve got to fix your website today. Not only will Google penalize you if your site isn’t mobile friendly, but don’t forget that more than half of all hotel searches are made on mobile so you want to provide a perfect user experience.
- Optimized keywords: Yes, keywords still matter, but you don’t want to overstuff your pages. In fact, you want to concentrate on long tail keywords as well. These are phrases your potential customers might be searching for. When it comes to keywords, do your research using a tool like Google Keyword Planner. Keywords are still vital to your hotel’s SEO. When it comes to designing your pages, don’t stuff every page with the same keywords. Keep to one topic on your page so you can highlight specific keywords.
- Create great content: Google rewards websites with unique, relevant, informative, original content. Write about things that interest travelers – tips on travel, things to do, interesting stats and more. The goal is to write longer pieces – think at least 500 words – to captivate your audience and build your authority with Google.
- Use title tags: Include original title tags inside the code on each page of your website. The tag should be under 70 characters because that’s all that will show up in Google searches. Each page of your website should have its own, special title tag.
- Complete the meta description: While this doesn’t directly affect your SEO, it does show up on search engine results pages. The rate at which people click through to your website is dependent on this description. If you write it well, you’ll get a higher click-thru rate which can eventually lead to higher search engine rankings. Keep it to 150-160 characters and use your main keyword in the description.
- Use your URL: Be very specific when naming your page’s URL. If the page is about your menu, call it by name: www.myhotel.com/menu. Don’t be vague or use something that isn’t identifiable. A good rule of thumb is to use the keyword phrase that you want to rank high for in your URL. If you do this, make sure those keywords are also on your page.
- Optimize your images: You are able to set an alt and title tag for your images. Make sure you complete this information so that your images have a shot at ranking on Google image searches. For example, if the photo is of guests on the lanai, be sure and give it that information in your alt and title tags.
- Fine-tune internal links: You’ve probably heard that external links are important to your SEO, but did you know internal links are important, too? Use keywords/phrases to link one page to another page on your website. This helps search engines recognize which of your hotel website’s pages are the most important.
- Use a target keyword in your headline: This is often overlooked, but important to your overall SEO. Using a proper headline with a targeted keyword improves the user experience and scanability of your landing page. Website visitors immediately know they’re in the right place, and this increases your search engine ranking factors.
- Make your website secure: Google uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. It’s a good idea to make your website secure for Google and for your users. It’s a vital component when taking credit cards and for your SEO. It also goes a long way to increasing the trust factor.
- Include a sitemap: This is the search engine’s road map to your website. It tells them what they are crawling and helps them find relevant content on your site. Make sure that your site’s navigation is top notch as this helps build your sitemap.
- Include reviews: The number one way to build trust on your hotel website is with customer reviews. This can also give a huge boost to your search engine ranking. In fact, Google values all of your reviews. It makes sense that while most of your reviews are positive, some of them may be negative. People, and Google, just might get suspicious if everyone thinks your hotel is perfect. So, if you get a bad review, leave it. Just be sure to respond to it in an empathetic fashion. Google will look at your reviews from your website, Google+, Yelp and TripAdvisor. Encourage legitimate reviews to give your hotel site a boost in SEO.
The SEO tactics we just discussed are for on your actual hotel website. Next, we look at what you can do away from your hotel website to help your search engine rankings.
Much of your SEO success depends on off-page optimization as well as your on-page optimization.
To boost your website’s SEO, you want to establish your site’s authority off-site. This happens through link building from other sites to yours. The more inbound links to your hotel site, the more important Google perceives you.
External links help search engines evaluate your authority and rank your website.
One of the best ways to build your inbound links is to provide relevant, valuable content that other people want to link to.
You could partner with area organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, your city’s travel website, local attractions and area restaurants. Offer to share their content while they share yours.
Other places include Google Business pages, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Facebook and other social media. Generate and share content with links back to your website.
Measuring for Success
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That is true of social media as in other hotel marketing tactics.
SEO is an ongoing process. You can always improve on your hotel website’s SEO. But, how do you know what to improve?
You can measure your SEO through your Google Analytics by tracking your rankings, referrals and links.
Here are some stats to monitor on a monthly basis to see where you can improve:
- The number of referring visits to your website: You want to see where your traffic is coming from. This will tell you how much of it is natural, organic search traffic sent from a search engine, direct traffic from people entering your domain name in the address bar or bookmarks, and referral traffic from links across the web such as outside websites, branded campaigns and social media. This helps you identify areas of weakness and improve your SEO and marketing tactics.
- The number of search engine referrals: More than 95% of the search engine traffic in the United States comes through Google, Yahoo! and Bing. It’s important to analyze and measure the traffic coming from each of these search engines. This is good for noting drops in search traffic from one of the search engines. For example, if Google traffic drops but Yahoo! and Bing don’t, you want to review your SEO as it pertains to Google.
- Conversion rate by search term: Conversion is what matters most to your hotel website. This is the number of people that take the desired action on your website. So, you want to know which search terms convert the most website visitors. By watching this, you’ll see which keywords lead to more conversions. This enables you to focus on improving the specific keyword’s position. You’ll also see which pages your visitors landed on so you can improve their experience on that landing page.
- Number of pages getting visits by search engines: You want to know how many of your pages get search engine traffic. If they aren’t getting any, it’s time to revisit your navigation, sitemaps, content, meta data and link building.
Monitoring and measuring your SEO allows you to modify your keywords and your content to increase the number of people who convert to paying customers and learn what led them to do so.
The number one thing to remember when it comes to your hotel’s search engine optimization is that search engines like Google rank your site by the relevancy and authority you build through your site’s content.
Your short and long tail keywords as well as your fresh, valuable and relevant content show Google that you have provided a good user experience for your audience.
Important to remember as well is that you aren’t doing all of this strictly for the search engines. You are building a mobile-friendly, well-optimized hotel website ultimately for your hotel guests.
If you concentrate on providing a website that is easily navigable, interesting, linked-to and relevant with clear calls to action, you will invariably attract the attention of the search engines.
Finally, you want to note that SEO is not a short-term strategy for your hotel. Search engine optimization is an ongoing part of your hotel’s marketing strategy to be fine-tuned and finessed.