Search Engines account for a significant amount of web traffic for any business and as part of the booking process a large percentage of your potential guests are going to start their journey on sites like Google.
With more than 90% of all traffic going to the websites in the first page of search results, appearing as high as possible in search results should be a goal of every hotelier.
What’s the best way to ensure you appear as high as possible? By implementing some SEO practices as part of your ongoing activity.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO as acronym loving Marketers have shortened it to, is simply applying certain practices to your website to help make sure you appear as high as possible on the competitive first page of Google search results.
Even though we love an acronym as much as the next person, it would probably be more accurate to refer to SEO as ‘Making Google Happy’.
With all search engines, including Google, constantly updating their algorithms, commonplace inconsistent practices and guests using a variety of different devices to search it is difficult for hoteliers to easily understand what is working and what is not.
To try and help, we’ve put together a few simple practices that will help you to start ‘Making Google Happy’.
Set up a Google My Business account for your Hotel
Google My Business is a free service from Google that can immediately make your hotel more accessible to guests searching for accommodation on Google. Not only does it include basic essential information like your property address, phone number and website you can also make sure your Google Map information and geo-tagging are correct, as well as include information about your amenities, pictures of your hotel and show reviews.
It doesn’t take long to set up but can pay dividends in increasing your presence within search results.
Google listings also offer the ability for guests to ‘see inside’ from the Google listing. You can upload a 360 degree image of the interior of your property. A professional photographer will be able to help with providing high quality imagery.
Monitor search volumes
When working on and planning your SEO approach it is important to keep in mind that it is an ongoing process.
As a hotelier you will need to keep on top of changes in trends that could affect your ranking in the search results. Google, and many third-party Search Engine Marketing (SEM) solution providers, offer tools that allow you to monitor search volumes for particular keywords. This can help you gauge demand based on changes in search intent.
If you run offers, or vary packages that are offered to the market throughout the year it is important to remember to update your monitored keywords.
Keeping one eye on the search trends of travellers will mean you can effectively plan and make informed decisions on the content of your website.
Content is King
Googlebot and the spiders (which despite how it sounds is not a glam rock band) are constantly crawling over your website, indexing as they go, and they absolutely love content. Not only are Google’s algorithms pleased by high quality content, it will also help you to increase chances of converting site visitors when they are on your website.
Running a blog is an easy way to make sure you are regularly putting out fresh content, with a post a week being manageable for most businesses. Content like this has application outside of simply keeping Google happy – you can also share it on your social media pages, as well as use it in email campaigns to your marketing database.
Content doesn’t mean you are confined to just writing paragraph after paragraph of text, you can be creative and include visual content as well.
Imagery on your website draws the attention of the visitor and can increase engagement and dwell time on pages. You can also assign keywords to your imagery which can help with your ranking.
Make reviews a priority
Guests, more so first-time guests, will always trust the opinions and experiences of other guests over and above what you tell them about your hotel.
Verified reviews, visible on search engines on sites such as TripAdvisor, are essential. You should consider responding to all reviews that come in for your hotel, this will help with your brand credibility as well as showing that you value the experience of your guest and their feedback.
There are many tools available as part of an integrated tech stack to help you manage your feedback, such as GuestRevu.
Map out your Keywords
When looking at the keywords you want to make sure appear throughout your website to help with your search engine ranking, put yourself in the shoes of your guest.
You need to think about what a guest will be searching for as you develop your keyword list. Once you have a list of initial keywords that you think could help drive traffic and increase your ranking, make sure you use Google’s tools to check the search volumes for each.
Google Analytics is your friend
Google Analytics is an essential, free, tool for hoteliers.
Analysis is essential for any activity you implement in your business and with Google Analytics you can assess the volume of traffic from the keywords you have been using in your content, as well as track page views, where the traffic is coming from and even the devices visitors are using to access your website.
Google Analytics can also allow you to track revenue collected via your website, or booking engine, back to its source, whether that is your email marketing activities or Google Ads.
By understanding what traffic sources and activities are giving you the best return, you can make informed decisions on what is working and what is not.
No instant fix
There is no instant fix for SEO and your Google rankings, and neither is this an exhaustive list. To maintain your SEO and ranking in Google, or to improve it, will require regular and consistent effort.
By analysing your efforts as you go however, you can be assured that your time is well spent, and you are focusing on the activities that deliver traffic and conversions to your website.