Hotel SEO Made Simple
Whether you’re a multi-national hotel chain or manage a small independent hotel in the lake district, you’ve probably noticed that the number of direct bookings has decreased in favour of online bookings via one of the many super-affiliate websites. While it’s probably true that letting them do all the hard work is easy, it does come at a cost both financially and potentially regarding the lifetime value of the customer.
Instead of having just one bite of the pie why not maximise your exposure online and attract customers directly with an SEO campaign focused on driving traffic to your website?
The internet great at levelling the playing field and as a result, you don’t need a huge budget to compete online effectively, and Organic search (the unpaid listings on Google, etc.) are relatively easy to influence.
Assuming you already have or are planning to create a new website here’s the basic formula for Hotel SEO that you need to succeed online:
Content that your customers find useful (30%) + Good quality links (70%) = success
(Estimated weighting based on importance)
A brief word on domain names & website architecture
If you own a single site hotel and are setting up a new website, then I’d suggest picking a domain name that combines your hotel name, the fact it’s a hotel and location as having ”Hotel” and the location within it can provide a significant boost in the organic rankings. i.e.
For multi-site hotels and international hotel groups then a short branded domain name is fine however having hotels within the domain name will still provide an advantage.
- Stay away from sub-domains or micro-sites – Having everything on your domain means you only have to build links to one. Subdomains and micro-sites require their own separate link building meaning additional expense and reduced performance.
- Have Hreflang in place for multilingual or country specific content – Use XML sitemaps for ease.
- Avoid noindexing/nofollowing your content – This is usually symptomatic of an inflexible system and means the overall authority and ability to rank in Organic search results is impeded.
Step 1: Creating content that your customers find useful.
Creating compelling content is a massive part of your websites SEO strategy as each page brings with it the opportunity to rank for more and more keywords. Below are some of the more available strategies that you may find useful.
Search engines work by matching the topics and themes covered by pages on your website to the keywords typed or spoken into search engines. Many tools exist to help identify these types of phrases including:
Google Keyword Planner (requires Google account)
The main tool used by professional SEO’s when researching keywords, Google Keyword Planner lets you identify both keywords around your topic but also keywords that include the words and phrases you’ve entered (see below).
Please note if you have an AdWords account you can also get details on average monthly searches for each phrase which can help you when prioritising topics for content creation.
Pro Tip: Use single phrase searches i.e. “hotels in Brighton” export the data before combining all of the different keywords lists together and de-duplicating to get a massive list of potential topics.
These tools look at words and phrases suggested by Google as you type into the search bar. For many customers’ these provide a shortcut cut to information and can be used to great effect when thinking of topics.
Google Search Console (Requires validation)
You can also identify topics that you already rank for using Google Search Console. This tool provides valuable data on your website and is the primary method Google uses to communicate with website owners. Part of this toolkit allows you to identify the topics being searched for and what’s driving traffic to your site.
Pro Tip: Google doesn’t differentiate between keywords that have been displayed nationally and those displayed locally so if you see a high ranking for a particular phrase but can’t replicate this in your web browser then assume this is a personalised result.
Semrush.com (limited free data)
SEMRush gives you the ability to spy on your competitors and find the Organic and Paid keywords that are driving traffic to their websites.
Making sense of keyword data
Once you have explored all your keywords, work through your spreadsheet and combine similar phrases into topics. These topics will be the titles of your pages and form the basis of your website. These groupings can be as broad or narrow as you like the more niche however a topic is, the easier it will be to rank.
Make sure to take note of any long-tail topics and ensure these are created as pages or sections within a page.
To help we’ve created a sample starter sitemap further down this document.
Pro Tip: Remember your website is dynamic and you can add pages as you go along. You may wish to start with a small number of pages and grow the content as you go along.
Before you start writing your content a word about encouraging bookings
In addition to having a Contact Us page and potentially the phone number and an email address displayed in the header or footer of your website, your site content should be able to self-help to convert the average browsing user into a customer.
Consider the following:
- Is the purpose of the page clear? – Does it have a clear title?
- Can the customer see what answers are provided within the page? – Caption/opening paragraph, sub Titles, bullet points.
- Do the answers meet their expectation? – Have you fully answered all of the questions around a topic?
- What should their next step be? – A call to action i.e. “check availability”, “book online”, “find out more” or “contact us for ”
- Are your CTAs “Call to actions” clearly visible? – High contrast, large clickable area, positioned in line with how the document is being read
- Are your CTAs trackable? – i.e. via a Goal or Event in Google Analytics.
By thinking about conversions while you create your content you can help to not only attract readers but convert them into paying customers.
Writing about your Hotel
If you’ve followed the advice about researching keywords then should have a huge list of terms containing “hotel”, “hotels”, “rooms”, “bed and breakfast” etc. but have you thought about the other facilities your hotel provides. Do you have a bar, restaurant, meeting rooms, wedding venue, provide afternoon tea, cater for group bookings or stag/hen parties? By producing further research, you can maximise your reach and attract not only those seeking a room but also day-time customers from people looking for facilities and services offered.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget about having high-quality well-lit photography taken of all important spaces.
To broaden your appeal, you may wish to highlight areas of interest around your hotel. These topics can be discovered by simply entering an attraction’s name, town, city or village into the keyword tools mentioned before.
Pro Tip: Make sure to highlight room rates, the distance and walking/driving time near your CTA.
Pro Tip 2: You can generate additional revenue by becoming affiliates of these venues with commission being paid for every booking via a link on your website.
In its most basic form, the following provides a good platform on which to build your website with most of the popular topics covered. This can easily be expanded upon to cover more and more topics across more landing pages as required.
- [add details of Rooms/Suites]
- Bookings (contact form)
- Deals (if you don’t have any active promotions suggest the visitor signs up to your email list to get information in advance)
- Prices (room rates)
- Breaks (multi-night packages)
- Compare Us (with other hotels in the area)
- [add pages about facilities]
- [add pages about the area i.e. local airports ]
- Contact Us (contact form, map and directions)
For multi-site hotels provide the ability to search locations and have a directory style interface allowing search engines to navigate to active sites to improve rankings.
International Hotel websites should have the ability to switch between languages on every page backed up with Hreflang tags or a Hreflang XML Sitemap providing instructions as to which country/language combinations are available. Typically, a site will be replicated within country and language combination folders i.e.
- Mydomain.com/gb-en/ for UK English
- Mydomain.com/fr-fr/ French in France
At present, your website needs high-quality links to rank in Google’s organic search results effectively. Outreach is a time-consuming task but well worth it. Getting links is often just a matter of asking for them, and some quick wins may include:
- Search for your hotel name and ask website owners featuring your information for a link
- Get links from business contacts
- Get links from local websitese. village directories
- Sponsor events and ask for links from event coordinators
- Get links from specialist directories i.e. wedding venue lists
- Create and send press releases for hosted events that include a link to your website.
- Ask for links from any trade associations or specialist groups i.e. CAMRA
- Invite prominent bloggers to stay in exchange for a review and link.
Pro Tip: Never stop link building, your competitors won’t.
Pro Tip 2: We use Domain Authority as a key measurement of whether a website is high quality or not. This is displayed using the free Moz.com Toolbar. The higher the DA, the better. I also suggest checking if the site has traffic using SEMRush.com
You should now understand the basic hotel SEO strategy required to create a website that competes in Google’s organic rankings. For more information on SEO for Hotels, to discuss promoting your independent, multi-site or international hotel group online, then please contact us now.
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