By Linda Pashaj | Published on February 19, 2021
Most of the time, a guest’s booking experience will start with a search on the web, so having a well-designed website that can be easily found on search results is very important. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help increase your website’s visibility, drive more organic traffic, and ultimately get you more bookings.
Is it possible to manage SEO for your hotel’s website without spending a big budget? The short answer is yes! It is possible by investing some time and research, and by being ready to trial and error different practices on your site. Lucky, there are many resources to help you get started so you can manage SEO yourself, or hire the right hotel marketing agency / in-house expert.
In this article, we’re going to cover the most important SEO practices and the free tools that you can try right away.
First up, identify your audience
Optimizing your website to guest queries is essential. A guest searching for a property would typically begin by typing a few keywords on what type of accommodation they are looking for and where (e.g. Private room in Paris near La Seine).
Identifying your target market and guest personas is the first step to take before building your online marketing or SEO strategy. You can begin by analyzing the type of guests who usually stay at your property, what they like to do, and how you can help them. Not every guest falls under a fixed category but more likely than not, different groups will share characteristics that you can identify (e.g. adventure trips, romantic getaways, family vacations, business trips, wedding celebrations, etc.). Understanding your guests is essential to conduct keyword researches and make sure your hotel’s website provides the best booking experience.
On-Site SEO Tips for Your Hotel’s Website
Make sure your website is well-organized
- Good website structure is one of the main things that keep your visitors engaged. Guests should be able to easily navigate through your website and find the information they are looking for.
- Create a website header with a clear navigation menu. Ensure that it includes these pages: Home, Rooms, About Us, and Contact Us. Special Offers, Activities, and Blog pages are optional depending on your case/resources.
- Ensure that all links are working and relevant. If you move web pages or change the URLs, make sure to update all the links or use URL redirection to prevent broken links. URL redirection is also useful if you change an URL.
- Link relevant pages together creating a good internal linking structure. Your home page should have highlights leading to the most relevant and frequently visited pages.
Conduct your keyword research
- A keyword is a word, term, or phrase that you can target with a web page to attract more visitors through a search engine. It is necessary to keep in mind that generic keywords (e.g. hotels in San Diego) are highly competitive while long-tail keywords (e.g. budget hotels in San Diego in the city center) are easier to rank for. A proper analysis of guests’ keystrokes can help you optimize your website’s pages so that they are displayed when users search online for those specific keywords. You can use Google Keyword Planner or other free tools.
- Include your targeted keywords in the page’s meta title, meta description, and text headings (H1, H2, or H3). It is recommended to use different variations in order not to overuse the same keyword. Overusing a keyword will result in ‘keyword stuffing’ which will impact your rankings negatively.
- Analyze different search engines used by your guests and adjust your strategy to fit their algorithms. Hoteliers usually focus their hotel online SEO marketing efforts on Google which is the leading search engine. Please note that some of the tips offered in this article are related to Google too. Still, search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex have a loyal and growing user base that shouldn’t be left out of the marketing strategy.
Use heading hierarchy
Heading hierarchy is used to define which parts of your content are important, and show how they’re interconnected. Headings help users and search engines to read and understand the text.
- Headings are logically structured on each page. A page should start with the H1 heading, which is the most important, followed by an H2 heading. H3-H6 headings are optional and used to structure your content further.
- The H1 heading should be short and include the keyword you’re targeting.
Check your meta titles, meta descriptions, and URLs
Make sure that meta tags and the URLs are informative and contain targeted keywords for each page. These 3 elements are displayed in the search engine results pages. The target phrases must come first before your hotel’s name/brand.
- Meta titles are brief 50-60 characters long page descriptions, easy to understand, and include a keyword. It is advised to have a meta title that is different from the H1 to improve the user experience and to add more variations of the keyword.
- Meta descriptions are engaging 150-160 character long page descriptions, easy to understand, and should include your target keyword too.
- URLs are clear, short, include a targeted keyword, use hyphens to separate words, and do not have any stop words (e.g. of, for, a, the, is).
Improve your pages’ loading speed
Add an alt text to all your images
Image alt text is an alternative text shown when an image is not displayed. Search engines do not read images but they do read the filenames and the alt text. This is additional content and it will rank your images in the image search engine so that users can find them. Make sure that the alt text is up to 120 characters long and that it’s a description of the image. Include your targeted keyword and avoid using “image of…” or “picture of…” phrases.
Focus on topics your guests are interested in and ensure to incorporate keywords. Blog articles can be about local recommendations on sightseeing and entertainment, travel tips, your hotel’s history or amenities, guest stories, upcoming local events, special tours, and much more. A blog is a great opportunity to optimize your hotel’s website and to drive more organic traffic. Make sure you’re optimizing your content for each post following best practices.
Off-Site SEO Tips
Acquire quality backlinks
Links to your hotel website from other trustworthy websites such as local press, online directories, travel sites, and local attractions can help not only to point guests your way but to improve your search rankings. As part of your link-building strategy, you can reach out to online publishers offering interesting content and letting them know about your property. Another approach here would be to partner with local businesses and make the links reciprocal.
Promote your content
Share your content regularly on multiple channels (social media, your newsletter, hospitality and travel forums, etc). Having quality content is great, but it is also important to reach the interested audience. Share your blog posts or website pages on Facebook, Instagram, online communities, and if possible, make them part of your email marketing strategy.
Get listed on Google Places, Google Plus, and Google My Business
These additional products offered by Google significantly contribute to your local SEO and online presence in general. Make sure the Google Maps marker is on the correct location, so searchers can easily find your hotel.
Make sure that your website is secure and SSL compliant
SSL certificates are digital certificates that provide authentication for a website and enable an encrypted connection. When installed on the web, it activates the HTTPS protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Basically, these certificates communicate to the client that the web service host demonstrated ownership of the domain to the certificate authority.
Track and analyze your SEO performance
Working on your SEO strategy is a process of trial and error and hotel websites are no exception. Understanding if the targeted keywords actually work is essential. Google Analytics and Google Console are free services that can give in-depth insights into your website’s performance. Google Search Console helps to track performance, check impressions to see how many people view and click on your site from Google searches, their location, the top keywords you rank for, and much more. Google Analytics helps you identify which pages on your site get you traffic and which sites send you traffic.
Design Tips for Hotel Websites
- Use a responsive and mobile-friendly design. Make sure elements such as navigation, text, images, blog posts, etc. will resize, scale, or rearrange to provide a seamless viewing experience on different devices such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
- Your website is the visual online representation of your hotel brand and the hospitality experience you provide. Make sure your web design and styling are in line with your hotel and room types interior design and vibe.
- Add CTAs that are always clearly visible at all times. A CTA (stands for Call To Action) is usually a button that prompts the user to perform an action. A Book Now button can be the main CTA for a hotel website. The best practice is to add the Book Now button or the online booking engine widget to the header of the webpage. Additionally, add the Book Now button next to each room type.
- Travelers love visual content as it helps to imagine themselves there. It is an important aspect to keep your website visitors engaged as an image tells a thousand words. Use high-quality pictures of your property and the surrounding area. Showcase attractive photos of the rooms including the entrance, bed, view, bathroom, amenities, etc. Consider hiring a professional photographer for the best results. Do not forget to compress the images to increase the loading speed of your website.
- Create a pop-up that informs guests about the promotions & special rates that are currently available.
- Consider embedding your online booking engine to your website as an iframe instead of using booking engine widgets or plugins as it prevents the guest from being redirected to a separate page. In any case, ensure the booking engine styling and design matches your website. Clicking on the book now button should be a smooth and enjoyable user experience for your guests.
Free SEO Tools
There are many SEO tools out there that can help improve your website’s performance, plan upcoming blog content or give you insights into your audience. Here’s a selection of free tools.
More SEO Tools
- Keyword.io (Keywords Research)
- Moz Keywords Explorer (Keywords Research)
- Search Latte (Keyword Research)
- Backlink Checker (Links)
- BuzzSumo (Content Optimization)
- Bing Webmaster Tools (Analytics)
- Webpage Test (Speed)
- Yoast (one of the top Plugins for WordPress websites)
- Ahrefs and SEMrush (paid SEO suites, but they offer great SEO tips, tools, and educational content).
Need a Booking Engine for your hotel’s website?
The Cloudbeds’ Booking Engine can be embedded into your hotel’s website as an iframe. We also recommend creating hidden separate pages with iframes for every room type or optionally for every rate plan. Book a call and we’ll show you how it works.