A Brief Guide to Hotel & Resort Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When you search for something on Google for instance, you get a list of results, in this case websites, that are relevant to what it is you searched. The more relevant Google thinks something is, the higher it will place within the search results. And, it just so happens that websites that rank in higher spots receive higher clicks.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is done to increase your ranking (or place) within a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo with the goal of receiving more visits to your hotel’s website.
Why SEO Is Important
Data shows us that the higher you place in a search the more visitors you will get to your site; this could lead to increased bookings for your hotel or other opportunities to interact with potential guests. The more visitors you drive to your site, the better.
Another consideration for your hotel is competition from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). OTAs typically rank very well for keywords or search terms that you could benefit from, therefore taking away the possibility of someone booking a room directly through you.
What a Good SEO Campaign Looks Like
An SEO campaign can be very detailed and time consuming. Many people make a career out of doing only SEO. With that in mind, here are a few things to get you started:
Figure Out Your Audience
You’ll first want to figure out whom exactly you want to target. Are you a hotel in downtown Boston and you want to target users who search for “downtown Boston hotel”? Or maybe you’re a resort in California and want to target users looking to get away from it all. It’s important to think about this step from the searcher’s perspective and breakout into similar groups who you want to target. Ultimately, each page of your website should be used to target a specific audience.
Research & More Research
A very critical aspect of SEO is research. Researching keywords, your competitors, etc. Be patient with keyword research since it can take a while, but tools like Moz and WordStream can help facilitate the process.
When conducting keyword research and selecting keywords, look out for how much volume the keyword will bring you and try to be specific and relevant.
More than likely, one of your competitors will rank well for keywords you want to target. So be sure to do some research to find out why they are ranking well for those keywords and how you can leverage some of the things they’re doing. Again, tools like Moz can help.
After you’ve thought about who you want to target and the keywords you think will drive traffic to your site from those audiences, it’s time to start optimizing your website for those audiences and keywords; this is what’s called “on-site optimization.” Depending on the size of the site, this can be a daunting task, especially since it will require someone with some website building experience to implement. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you conduct on-site optimization (this gets somewhat technical):
There are many elements on your website known as “tags,” which include things like title tags, H1 tags, ALT tags, etc. It’s important that these elements are optimized for the keywords that you’ve selected for a specific page. For example, for a page optimized for “Boston Hotel,” the title and H1 tag should include the words “Boston Hotel.”
Keywords in Copy
Be sure to include your keywords in the body text of your pages.
Keywords in URL
The URL of your page should contain the keywords you’ve selected for that page.
A site map is exactly what it sounds like, a map of your site. These are important because it lets a search engine, such as Google, know how your site is laid out and which pages exist on your site. Search engines won’t be able to rank your page if they don’t know it exists.
Make sure that your pages on your hotel’s site are linked to each other in a way that makes sense. This is important for passing relevancy between your pages.
One of the most important aspects, if not the most important, is what is known as “off-site optimization.” This is basically SEO work that is done outside your hotel’s website. The main idea with off-site optimization is to get other sites to link to yours. This could involve things like creating great content that other people and websites want to link to, commenting on different sites where you can leave your URL, or even guest blogging.
Off-site optimization is the most difficult part of SEO, but it also happens to be the most beneficial. Search engines like Google place a high value on great and original content; content is king as they say. The primary way they measure “good” or “great” content is by looking at which links and how many links are coming in to your hotel’s website. Remember, having a lot of links in and of itself won’t be enough; those links have to be of good quality.
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