When it comes to optimization, hotels are very similar to bars and restaurants. Although you should have a properly working site to close leads, you’re not that dependent on traditional organic search. Instead, these companies get most of their website visitors from local searches.
In other words, when a person is looking for accommodation in a city, they’re most likely to find one by scouring local maps. And while third-party aggregates remain the best method of making profits, you still need to find ways to drive organic traffic through your own platform.
In this article, we talk about SEO for hotels, potential benefits, and best practices. Check it out!
Why is hotel SEO important?
Running a hotel is, first and foremost, a digital business. Unlike brands that have traditional brick-and-mortar stores, hotels make all their booking online. While you might argue that these businesses make a chunk of their profits from tourist agencies, they’re mostly dependent on website traffic for generating new leads.
In other words, it’s not as if someone’s going to stroll into their building and ask for a room. No, the entire process is scheduled weeks in advance by using booking platforms or by directly contacting the establishment. With that said, here’s how a hotel SEO strategy can help these companies:
- Search engines generate the highest-converting type of website traffic.
- Local Google Maps help potential customers determine where a hotel is located in the city.
- Online reviews give better insights about a place.
- High rankings increase the authority and reputation of an establishment.
- Organic search allows for direct bookings, eliminating all the fees that a hotel would otherwise have to pay.
- Random visits driven by blog posts sometimes result in a booking.
Most notably, SEO allows companies to set themselves up for success. By having properly optimized pages, you don’t have to rely on online travel agencies and third-party booking sites to generate profits. Instead, you can drive enormous amounts of traffic by optimizing pages for specific search queries or ranking high in local search.
SEO for hotels brings direct traffic
Most notably, having your hotel website at the top of Google search results is vital for building a healthy brand. By ranking for certain lucrative queries, you’re able to present yourself to clients as one of the best venues in the city. In most cases, this means you’ll be shown side by side with sites such as Airbnb, Hotels.com, and Booking.com.
And here’s the kicker.
Instead of visiting these hotel aggregates, people can simply visit your platform and book a hotel room outright. These potential clients don’t have to browse other hotel directories to find the best places in the city. Instead, they can organize the entire holiday by visiting a single platform.
This kind of booking is especially fantastic for business people who don’t have time to waste browsing aggregates and instead want a quick solution to their problem. As your site is already at the top of the Google search engine, they’ll have enough confidence it’s the right choice.
Hotel SEO decreases directory dependence
If you have worked in the hospitality industry for a while, you know how much brands are dependent on other platforms. Whether we’re talking about hotels or restaurants, customers often go to large aggregates to gain information about a place before visiting it. Although this has become somewhat of a norm, it’s something that goes against you.
Generating inquiries through your site can go a long way. First off, it makes you completely independent from outside providers, their fees, and privacy policies. And while most of them are relatively lenient and don’t take much of your profit, you’d still like to avoid them if you can.
Secondly, it’s always better for hotel websites to drive direct traffic instead of relying on other websites. This simplifies and hastens buyers’ decisions by reducing their options. Ideally, you would like to compete for a specific market with just one or two venues instead of a whole bunch of them.
Lastly, when you drive traffic directly, people can get more information about your establishment as you can control what’s written on your site. On the other hand, when people browse through directories, they rely on limited information on their sites. And while the main info is still there, the aggregate might not mention your selling points.
6 SEO for hotels basics
Although it’s always better to pay for external SEO services, you might also consider doing basic optimization yourself. Depending on the size of your company, it’s not a bad idea to hire a full-time marketing team that would tackle other processes, as well. Anyway, here are some valuable hotel SEO tips that will help tell you what to focus on.
1. Technical SEO
Every SEO for hotels process starts with technical SEO. During the process, you need to make sure that the site is working as intended and is shown properly in the search engine results. Technical optimization ensures you’re not suffering from any major issues and that the users can easily browse your web pages.
Here are some of the main things you should focus on during the process:
First off, you need to add an XML sitemap, which compiles every website URL. Sitemaps help point search engine crawlers in the right direction by allowing them to go from one section of the site to another. That way, they can properly index all content on your platform without missing anything.
XML sitemaps allow you to classify pages, tags, articles, and images. With this system, all your pages are connected with internal links creating a logical structure that the robots can follow. And while, in theory, a site doesn’t need XML sitemaps, they are important if you don’t want to miss anything.
Speaking of crawlability, you also need to add a Robots.txt file. This document tells robots what they can access and what to avoid while going through your hotel site. Not implementing the file can lead to some major errors where Google adds pages that serve no value, getting you in trouble along the way.
Structured data is vital for getting featured snippets in the Google search engine. It provides additional information about your site and pages, which is crucial for things such as recipes, product descriptions, and other forms of non-textual content. Among others, structured data allows your hotel to get star ratings and reviews, something that is crucial for this industry.
Your marketing team should go to Schema.org and get a structured data markup from the site. Adding this file will significantly improve your ability to rank in Google for rich results. Most notably, it’s a vital prerequisite for local SEO.
By now, most companies have implemented a secure protocol for their site. Instead of having traditional HTTP, you need to implement HTTPS. You can do this by adding an SSL certificate to your site.
Using HTTPS protocol ensures that all data within your computer network is secure. In other words, each time someone logs into your site and tries to make a reservation, you can rest assured their data is protected. HTTPS is a vital ranking factor, and lacking it can seriously hinder your SEO efforts.
Nowadays, if you wish to get to the top of search engine results pages, you need a really quick site. According to several studies, people will close your website tab if they’re forced to wait for more than 3 seconds. So, by improving your website’s loading speed, you can ensure that more users land on your pages.
Given that the loading speed is important for users, search engines also prioritize it as one of the critical ranking factors. You can hasten your site by removing heavy files from your pages, in other words, images and other large digital solutions.
With the rise of mobile devices, mobile-friendliness has become one of the major factors.
Basically, you won’t get far if your site can’t open properly on iPhones and other phones and tablets. So, make sure to use a page structure that can adapt to the size of the screen. Furthermore, avoid using pop-ups, banners, large fonts, or anything else that might interfere with the page presentation.
During technical analysis, an SEO expert will take a look at the current organic traffic and hotel SEO keywords you rank for. Most importantly, these professionals make sure that you don’t have any glaring content errors.
For example, many sites suffer from duplicate content. Basically, this occurs when you have several versions of the same page presented in different site categories. The problem is especially common for platforms that use product and service pages. Aside from this issue, you need to ensure there aren’t any dead links on your platform, something that could hinder user experience.
Technical SEO is heavily reliant on optimization tools. During the process, you’ll need programs such as Screaming Frog and Google Search Console to assess the state of the site. You’ll also have to visit several third-party platforms to get other files and add-ons.
2. Online bookings
As a hotel owner, your main task is to showcase your brand in as many places as possible. While booking aggregates take fees for their service, they’re a necessary evil. In other words, even if you have a fantastic SEO strategy, you should add your business details on as many external sites as possible.
Although this isn’t necessarily a part of the usual SEO routine, as it doesn’t provide organic traffic, it’s still vital for your business. In other words, it’s a process that increases overall awareness leading to more reviews and, thus, better local optimization.
Aside from creating accounts on third-party booking platforms and directories, it’s also crucial that you improve your own booking page. Many companies use custom-built systems that allow on-site conversion. So, even if you’re a small local hotel, you might consider investing in such technology.
Create profiles on external platforms
When inputting data into various hotel directories and booking sites, it’s necessary to add as much information as possible. Aside from your business name, you must always add the location, business hours, contact data, and description. Adding your social media handles, when applicable, can also be nice for building a social network presence.
It’s crucial that your data is consistent on all platforms. Besides increasing conversion and authority, this information helps search engines determine that you’re a real business. Keep in mind that, depending on the platform, you can tweak your prices.
Create an internal booking system
Unless you’re a small hostel, it always pays off to create an internal system on your site. This would allow you to convert website visitors instantly without them having to contact the establishment.
If you don’t have enough money to create a system from scratch, you might consider using some of the readily-available online APIs. They can significantly hasten and simplify the entire process while allowing you to save lots of money along the way. Small companies might even consider going with booking plugins.
Track and monitor conversion
Creating a booking system is a step in the right direction. However, you should also analyze whether this page is converting as intended.
The best practice is to have a booking bar and calendar on top of your homepage, just above the fold. That way, as soon as a person lands on your platform, they can instantly get a room. However, don’t stop at that; you can place the booking bar on top of every major category page.
Google Analytics can be of major help with this particular task. The software specializes in assessing website traffic, demographic data, and funnels. That way, you can tell from where the best-converting visitors are coming and on which pages they are most likely to book a room.
Occasionally, when you create a platform from scratch, you might encounter massive errors preventing users from finishing bookings. In many cases, you won’t even realize this unless someone informs your staff directly. So, it’s important to test these landing pages and see if they’re working as intended.
3. Local SEO
No matter the size of a hotel, local SEO should always be your top priority. Even before you implement traditional SEO tactics, such as keyword research and link building, you need to add your business data to Google My Business. Not only will this increase your online visibility, but it also allows you to get featured in Google’s Three Pack.
Here’s how a SEO for hotels can implement local optimization:
- As mentioned, start by adding your company to Google My Business. This will confirm that you’re a legitimate business.
- Aside from using Google’s business directory, you should create an account on all major booking and tourist platforms. Once again, you need to provide basic data about your hotel that would help search engines, but also users, find you online.
- When it comes to local optimization, consistency is the key. Your business data should be the same across the board on all external platforms. If something changes, whether that’s your working hours or your email, make sure to modify the information on all sites, not just one.
- You need to add Schema markup to your site to get shown on Google Maps and to increase the likelihood of getting other featured snippets. Among others, it will set the basis for collecting online reviews.
- Focusing on local long-tail keywords can grab the attention of numerous readers who are interested in a specific destination. In the end, users who are interested in a specific location are more likely to book a vacation at that spot.
- The best way to boost hotel website performance in local results is to get more and better reviews. As far as we know, this is the most important ranking factor. The general rule of thumb is that solid businesses get lots of visitors and, thus, a constant stream of positive feedback.
In many ways, local SEO should be the focus of your digital marketing. However, that doesn’t mean you can slack with other optimization strategies. In the end, you’ll still need lots of high-quality content and numerous external links from reputable sources.
4. Keyword research
Finding the right keywords is one of the pillars of search engine optimization. Your task is to find search queries that the ideal customer persona is using when planning a trip. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to convert organic traffic that you get from Google and other relevant search engines.
Besides user intent, you should also focus on keyword difficulty and volume. Basically, each phrase gets a certain number of clicks every month. Ideally, you should rank on top of that Google for all these keywords. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because these lucrative keywords have high competition making it hard to get any traffic.
So, your task is to find an ideal combination of volume and difficulty. In other words, you’re looking for phrases that get enough clicks, and you can realistically rank for them. Of course, this is on top of the fact they’re relevant for your users and have a high chance of converting.
Understanding search intent
Before you start using keyword research tools to find relevant queries, it’s important that you understand user intent and ideal buyer persona.
In a nutshell, your target audience is people looking for a vacation venue in your city. However, by analyzing data in Google Analytics, you can get a better understanding of who these people are, where they come from, and how much money they have. As for keywords, we classify them into four categories based on search intent:
- Informational keywords are the most general category of phrases. When people browse for these queries, they’re actually looking for answers to the most mundane things. In terms of hotels, that can be something like “Top 10 things to do in London.”
- Navigational keywords are used when a person already knows what they’re looking for on a site, and they just want to find it quicker. For example, “How to cancel a room on (Site name).”
- Commercial keywords are a bit more lucrative than the previous two categories. These phrases have a commercial intent but don’t presume an instant purchase. An example of a commercial keyword would be “Top 10 hotels in London.”
- Transactional keywords are the best phrases to rank for. They presume immediate purchase and an example of a transaction phrase would be “Book a room at (Hotel name).”
Besides volume and difficulty, keyword length is another major consideration. In most cases, short phrases, or short-tail keywords, get much more clicks and are much harder to rank. On the other hand, long-tail phrases get fewer visits but are easier to place on top of Google’s search engine.
While any hotel would love to rank for shorter phrases and get a massive influx of visitors, it’s more realistic to rank for longer queries. Hotel SEO experts also recommend going for medium-tail keywords, which are a hybrid of the two. In theory, they would provide more visits than long-tail queries and are slightly harder to rank for.
5. Content creation and optimization
Once you create a list of targeted keywords, it’s time to create pages for each of them. As it’s really hard to rank landing pages, you’ll need to create an article for each keyword.
Keep in mind that these articles aren’t the best for conversion. People who land on them are most likely focused on the content and are less likely to actually make a purchase. Nevertheless, every so often, some of them will turn into clients. Even if they don’t book a hotel room right away, the repetitive visits can still help your brand awareness.
Here are some of the best practices to keep in mind when it comes to content:
- First off, make sure to use an intuitive content management system and SEO plugins. This will simplify the entire process going forward.
- Furthermore, we suggest that you subscribe to a good content optimization tool such as Surfer SEO or Market Muse. These platforms tell you how many words you need in a specific article and what keywords and subheadings to include.
- When creating content, it’s very important to focus on readability. Google and other search platforms put major emphasis on user experience, so you need to meet the highest writing standards.
- Besides using an easy-to-read structure, make sure to separate sections with images, bullet points, and other visuals.
- Use shorter sentences, up to 25 words, and shorter paragraphs, up to 60 words.
- Each article should need a meta description and a title tag that will properly describe the content.
Most importantly, don’t make excessive promises with page titles. While they should be interesting enough to attract clicks, they should be misleading. Your meta descriptions should also provide an accurate and concise description of the post, ensuring that the users get what they’re looking for.
It’s also not a bad idea to include numerous internal links pointing to other pages on your site. If you manage to keep the readers on the platform for a while, this will send a strong signal to search engines, increasing the article’s placement. Furthermore, a reasonable structure helps rank keyword clusters and increases the likelihood of conversion.
6. Link building
You can’t perform SEO for hotels without links. Since the inception of search engines, they’ve been considered the most important ranking factor, indicating the quality of pages.
However, not all links are made the same. Getting numerous links from smaller sites is often worse than getting one strong link from a top-tier luxury hotel. Furthermore, it’s also much better to get links from websites related to the hotel industry than those that have nothing to do with your profession.
Ideally, you should hire an SEO agency such as MiroMind to perform link building. Otherwise, you might start building links that don’t provide any value and might even get you in trouble with search engines. However, if you do decide to perform this task yourself, here are a few methods you might consider using:
- Guest posts are the easiest and quickest way to build backlinks to your site. Although some SEOs argue that this approach can be risky, we tend to disagree with this statement. As long as the link comes from a reputable source, there’s nothing to worry about.
- Organic outreach is another good way to get exposure and links. Unlike the previous method, this one is much harder to execute. Basically, not everyone is inclined to link to your site without compensation. However, if you manage to perfect this tactic, you can start getting some valuable exposure that you couldn’t get otherwise.
- Link bait content includes approaches such as expert round-ups, interviews, and case studies. With some of them, you’re betting on the fact that an influencer will link back to your article after being featured. In other cases, you’re looking to attract attention with quality posts.
Whatever the case, you shouldn’t shy away from trying different approaches. If you have enough skills, you might even consider using a combination of link-building techniques.
Lastly, if you need help with hotel SEO services, contact MiroMind today!