Search engine optimization (SEO) has been the buzzword in marketing since the advent of digital marketing. Businesses in all industries now rely on SEO to improve their visibility on the internet with the hope of catching the attention of potential customers.
People rely on search engines (e.g. Google or Bing) to figure out life on the go. If your head hurts, for example, you Google the best medication available. If you need to know where to vacation, you Google the best travel destinations. If you need to book accommodation overseas, you turn to Google for help. Travelers Google hotels in their destination, what each hotel has to offer, prices, booking procedures, etc.
Google, in turn, suggests pages where the searcher can find the most relevant answers to their search questions. Google uses a ranking algorithm to sort these pages (they’re mostly in their thousands) and rank them from top to bottom according to how well each page is optimized. The pages/websites that rank at the top of the first results page get more organic traffic, leads, and conversions than those appearing on the 2nd page, 3rd page, and so on.
That being said, what is search engine optimization (SEO)?
SEO is a set of deliberate actions that businesses take to make their websites rank at the top of Google’s (and other search engines) search results pages. These actions include, among others:
- Optimizing website content to make it helpful and meaningful.
- Using quality images & videos to make the content engaging.
- Optimizing meta tags to appeal to Google’s ranking algorithm.
- Optimizing a website for mobile (smartphones and other small devices).
- Enhancing page speed for user convenience.
The Importance of SEO for Hotel Websites
You need to drive global traffic to your website to boost your hotel’s bookings. The hotel and hospitality industry has a wider target clientele than arguably any other industry. The surest way of reaching target customers from halfway across the world is through a solid online presence (website). That’s why SEO has to be a constant feature in your digital marketing strategies.
Effective SEO will get your web pages at the top of Google results pages for most (if not all) relevant keywords in the hotel industry. SEO will even help you build a strong online brand reputation for your hotel. People trust brands that appear at the top of search results to be of the best quality.
Finding Help With Your Hotel SEO Needs
It is possible to do your SEO if you have the time and expertise. You can use SEO tools such as SEMRush or UberSuggest to manage your hotel website’s SEO. But SEO can be a lot more nuanced than these tools promise. The tools can do half of the job for you, but you’ll need to do the heavy lifting on your own. You will need to create and post content on your website, manage the website, and do all SEO best practices. Juggling hotel management with keeping tabs on SEO trends and best practices must be overwhelming. Thankfully, you can work with SEO experts to maintain top-notch SEO friendliness for your website and individual web pages.
If you’re in the process of building a website for your hotel business, an SEO expert will help you build a website that follows best SEO practices for quick and inexpensive future optimizations. This NYC WordPress website development company, for example, can create a website that nails SEO and website design for your hotel. That will translate to higher Google rankings for your web pages, more traffic, more leads, and optimal revenue.
SEO for Your Hotel Website
Whether you’re doing SEO on your own or you have expert help, here are the SEO basics that you must get right:
1. Define your target audience
Your hotel website is supposed to reach and serve specific target audiences. Define those audiences in terms of who they are, what they like, how they travel, who they travel with, their spending power, etc.
For example, if your hotel provides adventurous activities, your SEO efforts should target energetic travelers. In other words, young travelers who travel in groups (friends or families) and enjoy group activities. If you run serviced apartments, your clientele is largely comprised of corporate or business travelers.
Bottom line: The keywords you optimize, the type of content you post, and all your SEO practices will depend on who you’re targeting.
2. Make your website for mobile
As per research, two-thirds of your hotel guests will find you via a mobile device. Therefore, your hotel website has to be responsive for mobile. You can do that by optimizing the website’s loading speed and making your fonts, images, button sizes, etc. large enough for small devices. Compressing your images and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) also helps with mobile optimization.
3. Keyword research
Your target hotel guests type in their browsers’ search bar certain keywords when shopping for a hotel in your area. For example, let’s assume your hotel is located in Bali, Indonesia. Your potential guests will search keywords such as “best hotels in Indonesia”, “best hotels in Bali”, “affordable hotels near Bali”, etc.
You have to optimize those keywords to improve your website’s visibility. But how can you know which keywords your potential guests are searching? You can use a keyword research tool to find the most common keywords in your niche or location. Some of the readily available keyword research tools include Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest.
4. Optimize Your Website Content
Your hotel website is only as useful as the content you publish on it. The content is what determines the value that visitors get from the website. To optimize the content:
- Optimize keywords on the homepage; add a targeted keyword in the first paragraph of the homepage.
- Create a blog section on the website. That’s where you will be publishing articles that answer industry-specific questions that potential clients may have. For example, you can write blogs such as “Top 10 things to do in *your location*” or “10 budget-friendly accommodation options in *your location*” or “Foods that You Must Try in *your location*”
- Target relevant keywords on each blog post, but don’t overdo it to the extent of stuffing your posts with unhelpful keywords. The keywords should make it easy for potential clients to find your blog, but they shouldn’t ruin the flow of your articles.
- Ensure that all photos and videos on your hotel website are shot and edited professionally. Avoid posting generic pictures that don’t represent your brand or what your hotel offers. Authenticity is key in SEO.
5. Work on on-page SEO
The Page Title (Meta Title), Meta Description (summary of a page’s content), and URL (the address of each page) form the most impactful part of on-site SEO. This is because all three are displayed in the search engine results to describe to Google searchers (and algorithms) what the webpage/website is about. You should ensure that all three have targeted keywords in them and that they describe your hotel so well that searchers are tempted to visit your website.
6. Add Alt Text to Images
Google cannot tell images apart- it has no eyes for that. Its algorithms depend on you to explain your images by including alt text under each one of them. Effective alt texts are the ones that use relevant keywords to describe images.
7. Work on local SEO
There are potential guests within your region, but most of them will not come directly to the hotel without first looking it up on Google. It’s for this reason that you need to optimize local keywords on your website. You also need to add your hotel’s address, business description, payment info, and phone number on your website. This makes it easy for local guests to contact you. Other details such as hours of operation and driving directions, on the other hand, make it convenient for local guests to come to your hotel.
8. Google My Business
Listing your hotel business on Google My Business (GMB) and optimizing it smartly is a sure way of taking control of your online reputation and enhancing your website’s local SEO. Your GMB listing should contain the hotel’s NAP (name, address, and phone number). It should also show your hotel’s location on Google Maps as well as additional details that can expedite/help a traveler’s decision-making process.
9. Voice Search
Travelers use Google, Siri, Alexa, etc. to surf the internet using voice, as opposed to typing keywords on search engines. Voice search is the newest kid on the block, but its use is growing rapidly due to its convenience. That’s why you need to optimize your website for voice search. You can do that by:
- Avoiding technical keywords that people rarely use in their day-to-day conversations.
- Using conversational language across your website.
- Voice searches are framed in the form of questions, so your content should utilize questions as much as possible. For example, give your article the title “Which is the best five-star hotel in *your location*?” instead of “The best 5-star hotel in *your location*”.
- Use descriptive and concise language to make it easy for Alexa or Siri to describe your hotel accurately to their owners.
You are now familiar with SEO for hotels. Now get to work, optimize your hotel’s website, grow organic traffic, and watch your direct bookings increase. While you’re at it, keep in mind that it’s impossible to fit all SEO best practices in one article. It’s advisable to work with an expert to see which other techniques could you use to achieve your SEO goals.
Over to you
The hotel industry is always changing, especially during a time of crisis. Make sure to future-proof your business and continue attracting new guests by investing in these solutions.
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