While there are some golden rules when it comes to doing SEO for any website, hotels are a little different. That’s because instead of selling just the service you offer, (i.e. accommodation) you’re also selling an entire destination. The most obvious impact of this on how you tackle SEO is what keywords you’re going to be able to rank for and get the most traffic from.
Let’s clarify this with an example. Say you run a boutique hotel and spa in a made-up town called Placeville. Let’s assume there aren’t a huge amount of attractions in Placeville itself – in fact most people have never even heard of it – but there is an annual music festival hosted nearby, or perhaps you’re located near the border of a popular national park.
While you do of course want to rank for terms like ‘accommodation in Placeville’ and ‘hotel in Placeville’ – many of your potential guests (those avid hikers and music festival attendees, for example) aren’t going to be searching using the term ‘Placeville’ at all. They’re going to be searching for accommodation and hotels near the national park or associated with the music festival. This makes a big difference when it comes to crafting an SEO strategy which is going to get you the best results.
As you can see, SEO for hotels requires a different approach in some respects, while still following the best practices and trusted SEO techniques you’d employ for any website. Here are our top 10 SEO tips for hotels in 2019.
1) Review all your title tags and meta descriptions to improve SEO for hotels
Title tags and meta descriptions, while not used directly by Google in determining where in results your site ranks, are still very important. The title is what appears at the top of each page (and the blue links in Google search results), and the meta description is the one or two sentence description displayed below it.
They’re the first thing your potential guests will see, and quite likely the first interaction they’ll have with your brand. Many hotels are tempted therefore to put their brand name and location at the front of every meta title – but this is not doing you any favors.
What search engine users are scanning results for are the links which seem most likely to give them the info they’re looking for quickly – so the best way to get them to click your link is to make it clear at a glance what your page is actually all about, rather than trying to plug your brand name. Therefore you want a short description which includes a relevant keyword (if applicable to the page), then followed by your hotel’s name and location if space allows. Google typically displays the first 50 to 60 characters of a title tag in their results, so keep it brief.
A good formula is: catchy, succinct summary of info on page | Brand name
2) Brainstorm and research better keywords related to your hotel
Getting familiar with the basics of keyword research using tools like Google Search Console is essential for hotels – especially if you’ve got a lot of competitors in your area. Trying to rank for keywords that have tons of competition is going to be extremely difficult – but if you can get more specific and identify relevant long tail keywords with less competition, you can bring in quality traffic and ‘ready to book’ guests right to the pages you want them to see.
As voice search becomes more prevalent, the key phrases that potential guests are searching with are getting longer. Aside from showing you which phrases you can work into your existing content, keyword research also helps you identify potential topics for new pages and posts. Using the example of our hotel in Placeville near the national park (let’s call it Parkville National Park), you might find out that a number of people search for ‘what to do in Parkville National Park’ every month. If you create content that answers that question, you can bring in some really high quality traffic – people who already want to visit the area, and will need somewhere to stay.
3) Focus on the Hotel’s Local SEO
If for some reason you don’t have a Google My Business listing yet, put it first on your to-do list. Aside from identifying where you are on the map to potential guests (especially beneficial if the person searching is already near to your location), GMB listings provide a quick overview, a kind of mini-website, devoted to your establishment which can encourage visitors to book with you. Take the time to make sure all the info displayed there is accurate, and add some quality images to entice guests.
Ask your happy customers to leave a review and share their stories and photos. This kind of interaction on your GMB listing helps you stand out for all the right reasons, and direct quality traffic to your main website.
You can also boost your SEO by getting involved with local social and community pages, sharing stories and pictures of your guests which they’ll be keen to share with their friends and followers in turn.
4) Ensure you have an excellent internal link structure in place
Not only is your internal linking structure crucial in making your site easy for visitors to navigate and find what they’re looking for, it’s also important for search engine crawlers in the indexing process – which ultimately affects your rankings.
Links from one page to the next should be logical, and take your visitors on a journey encouraging them to book with you. Always put yourself in the shoes of a visitor who’s never encountered your website before. Can they find what they’re looking for – whether that’s your contact info, rates, rooms or dining options – from whatever page they land on with just a click or two?
5) Invest in content marketing and build external links to your Hotels site
While your internal linking structure can help you harness the demand that’s already there, a content marketing strategy can actually help you create demand by promoting your destination and everything it has to offer. Using our Placeville Hotel as an example again, topics such as ‘amazing hiking destinations’ or ‘the best national parks to visit this summer’ are all opportunities to create brand awareness and build your online presence without being pushy about it. If the reader likes the sound of the destination, and there’s a link to more info on your website right there, you may well score a booking.
In terms of SEO, promoting your destination on other websites which link back to you – especially if those websites have a high domain authority – can be massively beneficial for your rankings, as they show search engines that other websites trust you as a valuable source of information.
6) Implement responsive, mobile-friendly design practices for your hotel’s site
While having a mobile-friendly website is important no matter what industry you’re in, it’s especially important for the hotel industry. Whether someone’s been hit with car trouble and needs to find a place to stay overnight urgently, or has stopped to grab a bite to eat or browse the local shops and is tempted to stick around for a bit, they’re going to be using a mobile device to research their options. Aside from this, Google now takes its ranking signals from the mobile version of your website, not the desktop version.
7) Make sure your Hotel’s website loads quickly
There are two major reasons you want your website to load quickly on both mobile and desktop devices. One is that a slow-loading page may be penalized in search engine rankings, and the other is purely because it’s frustrating to your visitors. The longer they have to wait for the page they’re looking at to load, the more likely it becomes they’ll click over to one of your competitors instead. Hotel websites tend to be image-heavy, so compressing your images may be all you need to boost your speed significantly. There are plenty of great free tools available to help you measure and improve your page speed.
8) Update your Hotel’s old content to keep it fresh
This is a great way to keep getting “SEO juice” out of your older content, so all that hard work doesn’t go to waste. Check that contact numbers are still correct, add some more details, perhaps share some stories from your guests, and add in links to any new relevant content you’ve added (and vice versa!) since the original post was created.
9) SEO images and video content related to your Hotel
From naming your image files correctly, giving them appropriate and descriptive alt tags and captions, and decreasing file size so they add value without slowing your website down, learning how to SEO your images is a great investment.
10) Check that you’ve got the technical stuff right
It’s worth doing at least a basic SEO audit of your website from time to time to make sure you aren’t accidentally hurting your hotel’s rankings due to silly and easily remedied mistakes.
Finally, always remember that user experience comes first – all the SEO tactics in the world won’t do you much good if your website is frustrating for your potential guests to navigate. Write content for humans, not search engines; and always keep your design clean, uncluttered, and easy to read. Follow the above steps, and you’ll be well on your way to better SEO rankings and more bookings for your hotel!