If you’ve ever studied up on online marketing in hospitality, you’ve come across search engine optimization (SEO) for hotels.
It’s impossible to get around this topic if you want to boost your website traffic and get more direct bookings.
A quick search will reveal endless advice on improving your SEO.
But with a hotel to run you probably don’t have time to spend all your energy on this. Instead, start with the steps that will make the biggest difference.
Below, we’ve collected the most important tips to help you get started creating a solid SEO foundation for your hotel website.
What is SEO for Hotels?
SEO means optimizing your hotel website, so it ranks as high as possible on the search engine results page (SERP). The SERP is the first page you see after entering a query. Your SEO goal is to have your site show up in the top spot.
There are several things you can do to optimize your website and make that happen. One is to make it easy for search engines to understand what your content is about. This includes your website copy, listings, blog articles and images. Several technical aspects also play a role in your SERP position, such as page load speed and user experience.
With a market share of over 83% Google is the most widely used search engine today. That’s why most SEO tips center around it. Other key players include Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo. Some countries also have their own search engines. For example, Baidu is most widely used in China and Yandex dominates the Russian market.
Why Is SEO Important for Your Hotel Website?
SEO is a fantastic way to increase your website’s visibility, drive traffic and boost direct bookings. As a result, you’ll reduce your reliance on OTAs, pay less commission and keep more of your hard-earned revenue in the long term.
Here are three reasons why SEO is such a valuable tool on this quest:
1. Top-ranked results get the lion’s share of traffic: According to Backlinko, the top search result gets a 27.6% click-through rate (CTR). That means 27 out of 100 people who see the first link click on it. If you’re in second place, the CTR goes down to 15.8%. In the tenth spot you can only expect around 2.4%.
This shows how good SEO can help you turn your hotel into a solid online base for your business. You own this corner of the internet and can use it to drive bookings without being dependent on OTAs or social media channels.
2. Good SEO attracts the right site visitors: People who search for a specific destination, hotel or activity have a clear idea of what they want. That means there’s a higher chance they’ll book if they click through to your site.
3. SEO is cost-effective: Many SEO tactics can become a part of your regular content creation at no extra cost. And while some SEO tools are paid, their fees don’t even come close to OTA commissions. That makes them a good investment in your direct booking strategy.
8 Tips to Help Your Hotel Rank Higher on Google
Now it’s time to get to work. Here are some actionable hotel SEO tips for your website. They’re grouped by on-page and off-page SEO — more on what that means later.
Implement these steps and you’ll see your rankings rise and traffic increase.
On-page SEO for Hotels
On-page SEO includes everything you can do on your website to rank higher on the SERP. It’s the best place to start since you control your website’s set-up and content.
1. Begin with Keyword Research
Keywords are what people type into the search bar. They can be a single word or a longer phrase. In that case they’re often referred to as long-tail keywords.
Keywords are critical in SEO. Knowing which keywords people use to find your hotel shows you what’s important to them. This, in turn, tells you which information and phrases to include on your site to drive even more traffic.
For example, lots of site visitors might find your hotel when Googling pet-friendly properties in your area. In that case, include more information about how you welcome furry guests to show pet owners that they’re in the right place.
Wondering how to find out which keywords lead people to your website? A keyword search tool will tell you. More on that later (but if you’re in a hurry, you can skip ahead.)
2. Improve Site and Page Structure
A few small tweaks to your website’s backend will go a long way in SEO. Don’t worry, this only means updating a few areas behind the scenes - nothing too technical.
Page titles: Ensure your page titles include the page’s main keyword and briefly outline what it’s about. While Google itself doesn’t set a limit to your page title’s length, anything longer than 60-70 characters will be cut off on the SERP.
Meta descriptions: Provide a short description of the page’s content and include the keyword again. Keep it to 120-158 characters, so it doesn’t get shortened.
Heading tags: Break up your content with subheadings and use your keywords if you can.
SEO may sound like it’s mostly for the search engines. That’s not true. Sure, you’re helping them understand what your site is about. But ultimately your readers and their experience are more important.
Whenever you make an edit or create new content, ask yourself: does this make it easier for my site visitor to navigate the page? If the answer is yes, go for it. This will get people to spend more time exploring your site, which increases your chances of getting a direct booking.
Here are a few ways you can improve your website’s readability and usability:
Use short paragraphs and sentences: This makes it easier for people to skim through to the information they’re looking for.
Ensure sufficient keyword density: Include your keyword often enough to ensure search engines know what the page is about. But don’t stuff your page with keywords as that will make the text feel awkward. Aim for 1-2% keyword density, i.e. the keyword appears once or twice per hundred words.
Include compressed yet high-quality images: Readers and search engines love images, so include plenty. But be sure to compress them, so they don’t slow down your page. Next, add alt text that describes the images. This text comes up if the image can’t be displayed. You get bonus points if some (not all) alt texts include your keyword.
4. Reduce Page Loading Speed
The faster your site loads the better. According to Google, the probability of visitors bouncing, i.e. leaving your site immediately, increases by 32% as load speed goes from one to three seconds.
See how your page is doing with this free page speed test. This tool also shows what’s slowing down your site. Check with your web designer if you’re not sure what to do about these issues.
5. Optimize Your Site for Mobile Users
According to Phocuswire, half of all bookings will be made via mobile devices by 2024. On top of that, Google predominantly uses a site’s mobile version for indexing and ranking. If you don’t have a mobile version, you run the risk of not appearing in search results. If you haven’t already, ask your web designer to create a responsive design that looks great on all devices.
Off-page SEO for Hotels
Off-page SEO covers things you do off your site to improve your ranking and increase traffic. It often takes more effort and you don’t have as much control over the outcome as with on-page SEO. But given its benefits, the effort is worth it.
Ideally these referral links come from trusted high-authority websites in your niche.
Directories: This is the easiest way to get backlinks since all you usually need to do is submit your property information and website link. In some cases you may have to pay a small fee. But it’s worth it if it’s a relevant directory.
Travel publications: International, national and local online travel resources are a good place to start. Pitch article ideas to them, introduce your property for inclusion in ‘best of’ lists or invite their staff for a media visit to earn a feature. While a mention in Code Nast or Forbes might seem most desirable, the smaller publications will be easier to get into, especially if you’re just starting out with this tactic.
Travel blogs: Longstanding travel blogs are often seen as authority sites by Google. A backlink from them can give your SEO a boost. For that, invite the blogger for a stay or pitch a paid collaboration. Niche bloggers will often be more cost-effective to work with than generic content creators with a massive following.
2. Social Media
Build your presence on social media and encourage engagement by posting interesting content. This gets more eyeballs on your hotel and encourages people to visit your site via the link in your profile or posts. Sharing interesting blog posts or announcing promotions are two ways to generate interest and clicks.
3. Local SEO
Local SEO makes you more visible in searches focusing on your region, e.g. when guests search for a property in a specific area or near a certain attraction.
The most important element of local SEO for hotels is your Google Business Profile. Here you can include all relevant information about your location, proximity to attractions, services and facilities. Providing this information will make it easier for people with particular requirements to find your hotel.
The INNESS Luxury Resort’s profile is a great example. It’s complete with contact information, a link to the website, rates, hotel details and reviews.
Top Tools to Use for Hotel SEO
SEO for hotels becomes a lot easier with the right tools. They save time, remove the guesswork and help you get results faster.
If you’re overwhelmed by the many options, check out the following list of top-rated and cost-effective SEO tools.
As the world’s most-used search engine, Google has become the gold standard when it comes to SEO. It only makes sense to use their tools, especially since they’re free and offer accurate insights directly from the source.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console: These two are easy to set up and offer data about your website traffic and user metrics. Where do site visitors come from? How long do they stay on your site? And which pages do they leave from? You’ll get the answers here.
Google Trends: This one analyzes the popularity of top search queries in various languages. You can even filter results by country or region to get more granular.
Google Keyword Planner: Google’s keyword research tool estimates monthly search volume and tells you how much it would cost to target these keywords with ads.
Use SEO SiteCheckup for a simple overview of your website’s overall SEO health. It highlights common issues like page load speed, dead-end links and keyword use to give you an idea where to start optimizing.
KWFinder helps you quickly find relevant keywords for your hotel website. You can get started for free with limited keyword searches. The price is reasonable if you decide to pay for more searches.
Answer The Public
Answer The Public reveals commonly asked questions related to any topic. That could be your destination, hotel name, activities in your area, you name it. It’s especially useful for long-tail keywords, when you’re working on an FAQ section or a content plan for your blog.
SEMRush and Ahrefs
SEMRush and Ahrefs are two comprehensive all-in-one tools for everything related to SEO. They include keyword research and tracking, analytics, reporting and more. That results in a steeper price tag which is justified if SEO is going to be a strong focus.
Investing in SEO for Hotels Means Playing the Long Game
Now you have a great set of tools and actionable tips to demystify SEO for hotels and help you improve your website’s ranking.
There’s one more thing to note before you get started though. SEO for hotels is a long game, not a quick fix. According to Google itself, it can take anywhere from four months to a year to see real results.
So don’t get discouraged if your website doesn’t jump to the top of the SERP after you implement our suggestions. Instead keep following as many of these tips as possible and your rankings are sure to improve over time.
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