No matter where you’re located or who you’re trying to reach, a solid SEO strategy is a must for every hotel hoping to sell out rooms and venues. It might seem confusing at first. But these SEO marketing tips should answer most (if not all) of your questions for your hotel marketing plan. Follow these steps and you’ll be sure to increase your discoverability on Google sooner than later.
What is SEO marketing for hotels?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. When we discuss search engines, most of the time we’re directly referring to Google. According to Search Engine Market Share, it’s used by 92.92% of the entire world. So that’s what we’ll be focusing on throughout this article.
Optimizing your search engine results, in a nutshell, means editing your website and content details so that they make it easier for Google to find you. It also makes it easier for Google to tell whether or not you’re the authority on a subject.
Sometimes a lot of brands use the same key words, which means there is a lot of SEO competition for what they do. To differentiate yourself when it comes to marketing your venue, and still come out on top in the search results, you’ll need to perfect your SEO marketing. Which leads to our next question…
Why do hotels need SEO?
- Rank higher in Google search results. The competition for that first page of results for “hotel in [name of your city]” is really, really, tough. But you can aim for the first or second result on some more specific keywords or phrases.
- Save money in the long run. SEO marketing takes a lot of time but it is far less expensive than other marketing methods. It’s also more reliable. Thanks to help from some tools we’ve mentioned below, you control and track your progress every step of the way.
- Get better quality leads. The people who do find your hotel will be more likely to book a reservation since they are specifically searching for what your unique location has to offer. Once they are on your website, they’ll find more content and information that solidifies their confidence that your hotel is their best possible choice.
As you can see, hotels who prioritize SEO marketing are going to have a steep advantage when it comes to being found on the internet by prospective guests or event planners. Here’s how to dominate your search engine strategy.
20 SEO marketing tips for properties
1. Research and identify your primary, secondary, and long tail keywords.
Primary keywords are the one or two word phrases that immediately come to mind when you think of your hotel. It can even include the hotel’s name. This will be the keyword you use in most content and other key SEO placements.
Secondary keywords are, again, one or two words but they’re a little less obvious. These might feature a highlight of your property or include points of attractions nearby. Anything to help you get as specific as possible about your unique property.
Long tail keywords, as the name implies, are longer phrases. They’re usually around the three to five word mark, or longer. They include questions and How To’s. These are great fodder for your content marketing. You can create resources around that answer or provide solutions to these long tail keyword phrases.
2. Edit Meta Titles.
The Meta Title is the name of your web page. You can find it on the tab of any website page you have open in your browser. Google scans and reviews meta titles to find out what your site is all about. Use your primary keyword or words in the Meta Title to help Google understand what it is you do.
3. Put page headers and descriptions to work.
Similar to Meta Titles, Google also loves to review your page headers and descriptions. It the search engine them more depth of information. Rich, detailed descriptions and properly formatted headers that all contain one or more of your chosen keywords start to build a detailed picture of what your hotel website is and what people can expect to find there. The more Google knows about your website details, the better it can group you with other, similar results.
4. Emphasize the hotel’s location.
As we’ve written about before, smart hotels make sure to include local seo for their venue on their websites. Local SEO means emphasizing your location as a selling point for search engine results.
Customers rarely just search for “hotel”. They want a hotel in the area that they are visiting. So phrases like, “luxury hotel Chicago” are a great example of this.
5. Develop an external and internal link strategy.
Google loves when you link to other pages on your website and other websites online. One analogy to think about is the image of a spider’s web. The more threads you have leading to and from your website, the stronger your SEO will be.
When linking to an outside source, make sure the website itself is updated frequently (check the date on their latest blog posts). Only use external links from websites that are relevant to your industry but not a competitor.
When do you link anything internally or externally, use the keywords found in the website’s URL to do so. It creates another direct thread from that subject on your page to the same subject on the linked page, strengthening your ability to be seen at the top of that phrases search results.
6. Use free products from Google.
Luckily for all of us, Google has some great free tools you can use to make sure all your SEO elements are at their best. These include:
- Structured Data Testing Tool. It’s great for previewing website URLs and rich snippets
- AdWords Keyword Planner. This gives you access to Google’s keyword planner to help you figure out which relevant words and phrases are best for you
- Search Console. Your designer might need to install this for you if they haven’t already, but this tool will help monitor your search rankings so you can keep track of your progress.
While the exact algorithm is still largely a mystery to Google users, the tech behemoth has given us lots of affordable ways of upping our SEO game.
7. Add your property to key Google subsections.
Google Places and Google My Business are going to be your new best friends. Simply put, Google likes it when you use its stuff. So list your hotel and website on these directories.
8. Polish rich snippets.
When you search for anything online, you see the name of the page and a brief summary or preview of what you’re going to view if you click on that result. Those are rich snippets.
Edit them through your website to make your result look even more attractive to people surfing the web. Include location, star ratings, and anything else that makes that particular page stand out. Remember to include your primary keywords in anywhere it makes sense.
9. Clean up URLs.
URLs are yet another way Google determines what your website is all about. If you have a string of random letters and numbers for every page, your site might look spammy to the search engine giant. Replace it with keywords that are both relevant to your brand and what users can expect to find on that particular page.
10. Remember to properly format and label images.
Images are SEO gold. There are a couple ways to use them to your advantage. Before uploading them to your website, make sure the title of their files contain a relevant keyword and the main subject in the image.
Then once you’ve added it to your site, edit the ALT image text (the text that comes up when you hover your mouse over an image) to reflect that keyword and subject as well.
11. Prioritize mobile view and responsive web design.
As of three years ago, Google’s algorithm began favoring websites that were easy to use on both desktop and mobile. Responsive web design means that the page will visually adjust to any size screen it loads. Users won’t have to scroll left or right to read sentences or find important menus.
If you already have a website up and running, talk to your designer about changing it from static to responsive.
12. Make your hotel website visually appealing.
High quality and captivating images help get people interested in your site. If your website is a harsh neon green or blurry photos, obviously visitors are going to leave sooner than later. But a visually appealing sites makes for a better, easier user experience. And the longer a visitor stays on your website, the better your rankings will be.
13. Speed up page loading times.
No one likes waiting for a website to finish loading. If yours is slow, most visitors will close the tab or navigate away which increases your bounce rate. If Google detects a decline in web traffic it will further hurt your cause by demoting your website in its results.
There are lots of ways to improve page loading speed. Some are much more technical than others. To start, large downloadable PDFs, unnecessary plugins, and videos hosted directly on the site can all be replaced with embedded links or removed entirely.
14. Get into content marketing.
If you don’t already have articles on a blog, or other interactive content on your website’s landing pages from venue marketing software that can help increase time-on page now is the time to start thinking about creating some. Over time, relevant, keyword rich articles, videos, and resources continue to build your websites reputation on Google. The more information available, the more Google can tell that your website is thought leader on the subject. It will then reward you for your efforts with better rankings.
15. Write like a person, not a robot.
Keyword stuffing is old school. Instead, use your keyword phrases sparingly and only when they make sense. Proper grammar is something Google can recognize and appreciate. So take care when crafting any of your website content.
16. Be consistent.
It’s important that you regularly update your website. Keyword competitors who share new content or make adjustments to their websites more frequently than you will come out on top in search engine rankings. Don’t give them the opportunity – try to keep things fresh at least once a week so Google’s algorithm knows your hotel website is still relevant. It’s even helpful to update your existing content! Prune low performing content, and help high converting content get more traffic by re-optimizing it.
17. Take advantage of hotel directory sites.
Hotel directory sites are a great asset to any external linking strategy. As we’ve already mentioned, the more credible places your site is linked to, the better you’ll look in the eyes of Google’s bots. Services like TripAdvisor allow hotels to upload information on their property along with details and a direct website link. Plus it’s free, so why not?
18. Collaborate with industry-related blogs or news sources.
Again, who you’re associated with online can make a big difference in your search results. For example, if your hotel has one of the best dining experiences in Portland, reach out high-end local culinary magazines. See if they’d like to feature your restaurant in the digital edition of their magazine. Creating partnerships is the kind of extra step that will give you an edge over your competition both on and offline.
19. Test out Hotel Price ads.
Hotel Price Ads display the cost of your rooms on both mobile and desktop search results. They can also be viewed on Google Maps. If your pricing is competitive, this might be a good direction to go in. You can also give Pay Per Click ads (the kind that appear at the top of all search results) a try. Set a budget and have a strategy in place ahead of time so you can actively measure results as you go.
20. Realize it all takes time.
Then do it anyway. If you get started sooner than later, you’ll have a leg up on all the other brands fighting to get seen for your best keywords. It may take months or years, but making SEO marketing for your hotel a habit is invaluable for achieving peak search engine optimization. The impact of content is evergreen, and will continue to build over time.
Final thoughts: SEO marketing tips for hotels
There are lots of ways to improve SEO. Even if you do a handful of these SEO marketing tips for hotels you should see an improvement in your search results. No matter what you do, keep these final thoughts in mind:
- The SEO is in the details. Things such as website headers, URLs, and page loading speeds are key.
- Following the above SEO tips will improve your search engine results but it will also make your website more user-friendly and enjoyable to use.
- Customers want to find you – you just have to help them do it!
When SEO marketing is broken down into bite size pieces it’s a lot easier to manage and execute. Review your hotel website and find new ways you can improve search optimization today.
Maria is a freelance writer specializing in B2B SaaS, technology, and events.