Hotels run on physical traffic, but attracting virtual traffic is a crucial part of your marketing mix when you’re in hotel management. The growth of online travel search and booking is expected to top $762 billion worldwide by 2019, according to a report by Pi Datametrics.
Your hotel website is the perfect place to show off your amenities, room configurations, and prices, as well as reserve rooms. But if nobody can find it online, why even bother?
According to Vikram Singh, the hospitality consultant behind Words of Vikram, “Hotel search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most debated online marketing techniques in our industry. That’s because its efficacy is hard to prove, and techniques have to constantly change to outmaneuver [search engine algorithm] updates.”
Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is the technique you use to make it possible for potential guests to find your website in the first place. How do you use SEO to drive more traffic to your website? These three tips will help you quickly boost organic traffic.
1. Basic SEO
At a minimum, your website should be following basic SEO techniques rooted in keyword research and link building strategy.
Each page of your website should be optimized around one or two keywords that you know people use to find your type of hotel.
To reduce competition for the keyword, use a longer keyword phrase — also known as a long-tail keyword. For example, the keyword “hotel” by itself is too broad. The keyword phrase “boutique hotel” or “hotels with saunas” narrows the search, significantly reducing the competition for that keyword.
For each page, select one or two keyword phrases on which to focus. Use the selected keyword for the page in the:
- H1 tag
- Page title
- Meta description tag
- Body content
- Image Alt tags
The key (no pun intended) is to use keywords that are relevant to your hotel. If you have suites as well as rooms, the keyword phrase “hotels with suites” is relevant.
Your brand name is not a keyword to use, unless your hotel belongs to one of the big brands such as Hilton or Holiday Inn. If someone searches your brand name, it’s likely that person already knows about your hotel or chain, otherwise you will be wasting effort optimizing a page with a phrase (your brand name) that nobody is using to find hotels.
Internal Link Structure Optimization
Human searchers are not the only ones who need a clear navigational pathway through your website, although they are arguably the most important. Search engines also rely on well-linked internal pathways through your website to ensure all of your pages are thoroughly crawled and indexed.
If a page isn’t indexed, it doesn’t exist as far as the Internet is concerned. Each page on your site has a job to do. When it can’t be found, it can’t do its job. Comb through your website to make sure you have properly linked all related pages and that there is a clear pathway for visitors who want to navigate your site.
Link building is also known as acquiring backlinks, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links. In short, you want other sites linking to your site because the search engines will crawl those other sites and be guided to yours.
Google and most other search engines rank a website higher in the results page when they are authoritative, and they use links from relevant sites as a big indicator of that. The stress is on authoritative and relevant. It will not do to have just any old site linking to yours; in fact, having irrelevant and non-authoritative links can lead to penalization.
Each link to your website should come from another site that engages with the same topics as yours . Anything less is considered spam and can hurt your search engine rankings or expose you to penalties.
Think of it as networking among co-workers. Would you want to link up with someone who has nothing in common with you or an unsavory reputation? Of course not; at best, you are not advancing your own interests. At worst, your own reputation can become damaged. The same holds true for the types of inbound links you want for your website.
2. Local SEO
Local SEO takes basic SEO a step further. You need to optimize your website for terms relating to your location. After all, the main reason for a hotel is to stay in a certain town or city. Combine a keyword with the name of your city or region to optimize your site for local search.
Consider the difference in results if you search “boutique hotels” and “hotels in Kansas City.” You can narrow it further by optimizing for a long tail keyword like “Kansas City hotels in Crown Center.”
What if your hotel is in a huge market like Los Angeles or London? Searching the term “hotels in LA” will return thousands, if not millions, of results. In these types of markets, aim for more specific terms and a smaller target audience. For example:
- “Hotels near the Hollywood Bowl”
- “Residence hotels in downtown LA”
- “Hotels near USC for less than $150″
People use different terms and methods for searching the same topics. Consider the different reasons guests come to your hotel and use search terms to match. If you are in an area prominent for fly fishing, work that term into a web page dedicated to guests with that particular interest.
Optimizing for local also means building your citations by getting listed in business directories from the Chamber of Commerce to nation-wide and industry directories. A citation is a mention of your business on another website without a link. Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) is listed identically across the web from your website to the business directories and beyond.
3. Content Marketing
Search engines will crawl your site more often if you refresh the content on a regular basis. If you have a blog or post new information frequently, optimize posts with one of your keywords to encourage more frequent crawling and to increase your find-ability with searchers.
To increase your reach, promote each new post on the social media channels frequented by your customers. Place an introductory blurb that will entice a reader to click on the link to read the rest of the post. The link from Facebook, Twitter, or other networks helps you build inbound links and provides another platform for your keywords.
Driving traffic to your hotel website requires commitment. Renew content on a regular basis and promote new posts. Monitor keywords for performance and research for new terms. The more traffic that finds your website, the more visitors will convert to guests for your hotel.
SEO tactics are an integral part of your overall marketing and business growth strategy. Make the necessary changes to your website and watch the new traffic come to both your virtual and physical doors.
What are your hotel SEO tips?
You’ve heard what we have to say about SEO, but do you know any tips or tricks to driving traffic to a hotel website? Or have any cool SEO tools to share? Please share them below.
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