Today, when a customer wants to find a hotel, they will often search for options online, using a search engine like Google, or Bing. Indeed, Google’s search engine is a particularly useful tool for this purpose, because in many cases it will also display reviews, room rates, availability and location information as well. For hotel owners, it pays for their hotel’s website and any associated online content to be as visible as possible when people search for terms related to it.
The best way to ensure this is through a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, so that the hotel ranks higher on Google and Bing’s search engine results pages.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short, is a practice used by online marketers to improve hotel’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). The results that are displayed on search engines like Google and Bing are ranked according to complex algorithms, and SEO seeks to optimise website content so that the website is ranked highly.
Ultimately, the higher up a website ranks in search engine results pages, the more chance it has of attracting traffic. In fact, research from Search Engine Watch shows that the typical user will not even click onto the second page of a SERP, which is why hotels need to aim to be as high up on page one as possible.
With that in mind, here are five tips to improve hotel’s visibility:
Design Your Site With Users In Mind
Google’s algorithms like well-designed websites, which are structured properly, where pages link together and where users do not ‘bounce’ off the site quickly. For this reason, it is critical that you evaluate your website from the perspective of a user and focus on making your site as user-friendly as possible.
Pages should load quickly and every page should be a viable landing page. Additionally, with more search traffic now originating from mobiles than from desktops, mobile optimisation is absolutely essential.
Embrace the ‘Content is King’ Mantra
Regardless of the other SEO practices you adopt, your efforts are destined to fail if you do not focus on producing fresh content on a regular basis, in order to keep users coming back. After all, Google prioritises websites which generate consistently high traffic and the best way to ensure this is to offer something new.
A blog connected to your website is the ideal way to add fresh content regularly, target specific keywords and share important news with visitors. Crucially, however, the content needs to be high-quality and useful to readers.
Optimise For Local Search Results
Over the past few years, Google and other search engines like it have placed a focus on local results, especially due to the popularity of mobile. For this reason, it is beneficial to optimise your site to attract local as well as global hits. There are several basic steps to follow for this.
Create a Google My Business Page and add your hotel to online directories. Format your contact details in the same way on all of these sites, and include those details on your main website too, along with a map.
Develop a Link-Building Strategy
Google’s algorithms prioritise’high authority’ websites and one of the ways the search engine ascertains authority is by checking both incoming and outgoing links. This is why many SEO experts speak about the benefits of developing a good link-building strategy.
Try to include high-authority (Websites with a lot of traffic with the same topic) external links within some of your content and try to encourage other sites to link to your website in their content. Often, affiliate programmes are the best method for this
Direct Traffic Towards Your Website
Finally, a very simple step to improve SERP placement is to encourage as many people to visit your website as possible, by actively promoting it. Your web address should be clearly displayed on all social media platforms and you should also use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share individual posts or pieces of content.
Join hotel directories, platforms like Google+ and Google Places, and clearly print your web address on any physical leaflets or literature that you hand out, so that you can get as many hits as possible from interested people.
Google Reviews Are Becoming More Important for your Search Engine Ranking.
Over the past few years, Google has given increased importance to customer reviews, and recent updates to the platform’s algorithms have ensured that these reviews now play a more crucial role in SEO than ever. As a result, hotels looking to boost their visibility on SERPs need to try to generate as many positive reviews as they can.
Customer reviews are especially important for local search results, because they are a major determining factor in which hotels are displayed. At present, Google displays a small number of the most relevant local results for users and reviews are one of the top factors taken into consideration when deciding on relevance.
The reviews that are taken into account include those left on your Google My Business page, but also those left on external review platforms, such as Yelp, Trustpilot and Trip Advisor. Moreover, the most recent Google update now also checks for star ratings left through plug-ins on your own website.
When attempting to improve your SEO results, it is important to try to get customers to leave reviews and it is also important to try and ensure these reviews are positive. However, it is absolutely critical that you do not resort to manipulating reviews, as Google has sophisticated techniques for identifying and penalizing fake reviews. With a powerful Hotel Online Reputation Management tool, you can easily track what your guests are saying and leverage the information accordingly.
Therefore, the only real way to generate positive reviews reliably, in a way which will not hurt your search engine results placement, is to provide a consistently excellent level of customer service. Then, you need to take the time to ask satisfied customers to leave reviews on the aforementioned platforms.
As an added bonus, an accumulative star rating from your reviews will be displayed next to your website on search engine results pages. Multiple studies have also shown that websites with a 4 or 5-star rating on Google’s SERPs generate more clicks, on average, than websites that do not have any reviews at all, because they inspire trust.
For more practical revenue & marketing tips about how to grow your hotel business, please have a look at the free guide of Revfine.com.
Martijn Barten has over 10 years of experience in developing, implementing and managing revenue management processes and strategies for individual properties and multi-properties. Martijn is specialized in optimizing revenue by combining revenue management with marketing and sales strategies. Currently, he is working as a freelance revenue manager on several projects in the field of revenue management, online distribution, and marketing strategies for hotel and resort companies. His expertise also translates well to other industries such as car rental companies, theatres and OTAs. Have a look at his website Revfine.com for more information and practical revenue management tips.