SEO For Hotels: A Complete Guide For Hoteliers
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is integral for any business that wants online visibility. As they say, in the world of the internet, online visibility equals visibility. You may offer the best products, the best service or the best experience, etc. However, if people cannot find you online, you are as good as invisible. Especially, SEO for hotels is extremely crucial.
Hotels, and the entire hospitality industry in general, is dependent on online visibility. To gain online visibility, you need to be among the top results for any query. Otherwise, your visibility will be as good as zero.
Here, we will discuss SEO for hotels, and how hoteliers can optimise their presence online to gain maximum visibility and ultimately, more business. Before we understand how to perform Search Engine Optimization, we need to understand the concept. Then we will understand the various types of SEO, and ultimately, the strategies to boost your online presence.
Table Of Content
SEO For Hotels: An Introduction
Search Engine Optimization, popularly known as SEO, is a set of techniques by which you can rank higher on the search engine, organically. It involves increasing traffic towards your website. You need to remember the main keywords here:
Organic - Organic search results are unpaid search results that appear on Seach Engine Result Pages, also known as SERPs. It also refers to organic traffic.
Higher Rank - SEO aims to ensure that your site ranks higher on the SERPs.
Search Engine - Search Engines are software systems that are designed to carry out web searches. After someone types a query on the search, for example, ‘how to do SEO for hotels’ the search engine will provide all the content on the web that is relevant to the search. This usually involves websites and web pages.
In short, SEO involves optimizing your website or a webpage to rank higher on the search engine based on a search query by the internet user.
Importance Of SEO
The majority of the searches come from search engines. Even though you can get searches by paid ads, social media ads, social media links, and other online platforms, you cannot build a respectable online presence without being visible on search engines.
Google, is not only the leading search engine, it is the one that dominates the market, with 90+% market share. Not only that, SEO is the only online marketing channel that yields dividends over a longer period, almost free of cost.
Other online search channels require financial resources and can be quite expensive for businesses. If you have well-written, properly-structured content with relevant keywords, you will get recognition from Google without any need for payment. This is beneficial if you are doing SEO for hotels.
Especially for hotels, Google is the best platform to be on, because it offers various tools to enhance online visibility and ORM i.e Online Reputation Management. Google My Business, for example, offers various features and listings to enhance SEO for hotels.
The Working Of Google Search Engine
There are many search engines, However, Google is THE dominating search engine, with 92% of total searches. For practical purposes, Google is the only search engine that is even relevant for most users and businesses. So, rather than wasting time on others, let us understand how Google works.
As we all know, search engines are databases that contain searchable web content. They have a search index - the library information regarding the web pages, and search algorithms - computer programs that match the results from the search index. Both work in tandem to provide search results to the users when they type their queries.
For example, when someone types - ‘which is the best hotel in Goa?’, the search algorithm goes through the index to find the websites and webpages that best answer the search query. Let us now discuss how Google builds its search index, navigating through the vast ocean of online content.
Url stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the address to the website, and more specifically, the webpage. For example, https://www.bigfoothospitality.com/ is a URL, that is unique to each site, and acts as an address to the site. Google discovers URLs through backlines, sitemaps, and also from URLs from Google Search Console.
Crawling is when Google bots, called spiders go through the various URLs. Through these bots, Google scans different content with the help of search algorithms to determine which ones should be crawled, and how often. It identifies and records every URL found on the scanned pages.
It is at this stage that spiders also check for inbound and outbound links. If you are performing SEO for hotels, you need to have solid linking in your hotel website, so that Google can easily crawl it.
After the pages have been crawled, spiders then add them to the search index. The search index is what you search for when you use Google. If you write a blog for a location on your hotel website, Google will index the information if the spiders find it relevant.
This is the final but most important step. After the content has been indexed, Google will show the content in the search index and will rank the content based on the search query. When someone types a keyword on the search engine, Google will go through the database, containing all the web pages that have been indexed.
Google will then show results that are relevant to the search and will rank them based on relevancy and authority. For example, if you type ‘Best hotel SEO strategies”, Google will rank various pages containing that keyword based on how relevant the web pages are, and numerous other factors.
Types Of SEO For Hotels
Now that we have discussed the basics of SEO, and how the Google Search Engine work, it's now time to discuss the strategies, right? No, there is one more thing left, and that is the types of SEO. As a hotelier, you need to understand these various SEO types, so that you can implement SEO for hotels in the best possible way, and also avoid certain types of SEOs. As a hotelier, you should be aware and knowledgeable in all these SEO types, to promote your business.
Hotel SEO types can be categorized into the following headings:
Based On ‘Hats’
Based On Page
Based On Reach
Hotel SEO Based On ‘Hat’
By ‘Hat’ we mean classification of SEO based on whether the SEO practices are in line with the terms and conditions of Google, or any other search engine. Here, Hotel SEO can be classified into 3 categories - White Hat, Black Hat and Grey Hat.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO means SEO practices that are in line with the terms and conditions of Google or any other search engine. This type of SEO is appreciated by Google and improves your ranking on the SERPs. This type of SEO is ethical and enhances user experience.
Some of the White Hat SEO practices are:
Creating keyword-rich relevant content.
Using link building to gain authority and reach.
Making your website user-friendly.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO involves manipulating the search algorithm to rank higher on the search engine, without any regard for user experience or terms and conditions of search engines. Black Hat SEO practices will lead to penalties and even blacklisting. Some of the blackhat SEO practices include:
Paid and/or spammy link-building strategies
Grey Hat SEO
Grey Hat SEO are those practices that are neither in a White Hat SEO category nor a Black Hat SEO Category. This is due to the terms and conditions regarding the issue being unclear. They are riskier than White Hat SEO but will not lead to your site getting penalized or banned.
Hotel SEO Based On Page
Now, let us classify SEO types based on where the optimization is taking place, whether on the web page or outside of it. In this regard, SEO for hotels can be classified as On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO or technical SEO.
On-Page SEO is a process of optimizing the content on the web page or the website itself. It includes optimizing the page content, title tags, meta description, keywords, alt texts, headings and more. It also involves enhancing the user experience on the page. For example, if you have a page dedicated to the rooms on the hotel website, the aim will be to make the page more appealing to the visitor.
Some of the strategies for On-Page SEO are:
Writing informative and engaging website content with the right keywords
Checking for broken links or duplicate content
Reducing the file size of photos
Ensuring that the URLs are clear and to the point
Off-Page SEO includes optimization strategies outside the web page or the website. It includes white hat link-building strategies, social media promotions, online reputation management and more. For example, if you are performing SEO for hotels, you can promote your property on social media links.
Technical SEO aims to help Google bots i.e spiders to crawl and index the website easily. You can do this by creating sitemaps, and making your website more mobile-friendly.
Hotel SEO Based On Reach
Now, let us discuss the types of SEO that are geared towards catering to a specific type of location. The two types of SEO to be discussed are Local SEO and International SEO.
Local SEO is slightly different from traditional SEO. Here, you aim to rank for location-based search results, such as ‘best hotels in Bangalore’, ‘best villas in Goa’ and so forth. It is essential for local businesses if they want visibility around their area.
There is an additional element to local SEO, especially for Google. It shows Map Packs, i.e Google My Business Listing with all the basic information of all the local businesses, with a map on the side. Local businesses in and around the area should rank on them since it provides better visibility to potential customers.
If you are a hotel that deals with foreign tourists, then you need to apply International SEO. It involves getting organic traffic from different countries and in different languages. For international SEO, you need to cater to the local cultural sensibilities and converse with them in their local language.
You also need to make transactions in local currencies as well. This is useful if you want to go international. If your hotel has a domestic or local base, International SEO is not required.
Hotel SEO Strategies: Step By Step Guide
Now that we have discussed the basics of SEOs, the workings of the Google Search Engine and the various types of SEO. Here is a step - step guide for how to properly perform Search Engine Optimization for your hotel website. These strategies will ensure that you rank higher on the search engine.
Identify and Understand Your Target Audience
The very first step is to understand your target audience. For that, you need to identify whom you want to target. This is important because before you make the website, you need to know whom should the website target. For example, if you have a hostel, you will mostly get solo, budget and young travellers. You will need to use keywords that will ensure that your website will reach out to them when they search for a hostel.
Keywords are the most important element of On-Page SEO. Without the relevant keywords and the right amount of them, Google will not be able to understand the relevancy of the website.
For example, if you are a resort in Goa, you need to have keywords related to it, if you want the search engine to consider it worthy to be displayed whenever a user types this keyword. It should rank higher as well so that the content is visible. There are many ways to do keyword research.
For example, you can use Google Search itself. You have to start with a seed keyword i.e the first keyword you will start with. The seed keyword in this will be ‘resorts in Goa.
Type the keyword in Google, you will then get related keywords such as ‘hotels in Goa’, ‘beach resorts in Goa’, ‘resorts in North Goa’ and so on. Then, type these related keywords into the search bar and in turn, you will get keywords related to them. Repeat this process till you get all the keywords you think can be useful.
You can also identify keywords at the ‘Related Searches' snippet located at the end of the SERPs. This can also give you keyword ideas. You need to use long-tail keywords, because the more specific the keywords, the lesser will be the competition, along with ranking for the general keyword too.
Google Keyword Planner
Another way to go around it is to use Google Keyword Planner. It is an in-house tool offered by Google to help users and businesses identify related keywords. It also shows metrics such as search volumes, and related keywords of the one you have searched.
Page Title, Meta Description and the URL - The Ultimate Trio
The webpage title, meta description and URL play a crucial role in determining the webpage’s performance in SERPs. Hence, you need to also look at them from an SEO perspective as well. They are the three elements that will be displayed in the search results, so you need to make the most of them.
Page Title, also known as meta title, is displayed on the SERPs to tell the web users what the webpage or the website is all about. It will mostly be your home page since it is this page that represents your website.
To optimize the page title, you need to add at least one keyword to it. Plus it should not be too long and should be easy to understand by users and machines alike. If you are doing SEO for hotels, it should be the first thing to concentrate on.
Meta Description is an HTML tag that summarizes the content of your website. It is displayed just below the page title. The meta description is read by both the search bots and the users. An SEO-friendly meta description should properly describe your property and should also have at least one keyword.
The URL is the address to your site. It has a great impact on SEO because the URL is what leads the bots to the website. An SEO-friendly URL should be clear and if possible, include the target keyword.
In SEO, content is king. The only way to make your SEO strategy work is by having relevant, informative and attractive content on your website. Content is what the website visitors are looking for. You can generate great content with a homepage, other web pages, and blogs.
First, let us start with the homepage. According to Yoast, the homepage, or any page for that matter, needs to be 300 words, for Google to consider it.
Plus, the higher the word count, the more relevant keywords you can add to your content to make it rank. We suggest that your homepage should have at least 500 words to be content-rich enough. However, in our personal experience, the hotel's website home page, should not be too wordy, since the main aim is to introduce the visitors to your property, not to dump information. As they say, anything in excess is harmful.
Should All Pages Be Ranked?
As far as other pages on the website pages are concerned, you should not worry too much about word count, since there will be many pages that do not need to rank on Google SERP. Rather, these pages should be viewed only after coming to the homepage.
For example, if you are writing content about a deluxe room, it is not necessary, or even desirable for that content to rank on SERP. Rather, you want the user to first visit the homepage, then go to the Rooms page, and then ultimately to the deluxe room page. This is why hoteliers can adhere to a marketing funnel. If you are performing SEO for hotels, you need to understand that the guests should first like your hotel, only then they will like the rooms.
If you have attractions nearby or want your hotel website to offer something more than information about your hotel, then blogging is the way to go. With blogging, you can create engaging content that will rank for various keywords, and also generate more traffic towards your website. Your blogs should be minimum of 800 - 1000 words because the aim here is to provide information to the users.
Headings and Subheadings
One of the most important components of website content is your headings and sub-headings. They help in telling the users what the website is all about and categorising the information available on the website.
For example, on the home page, there is an Introduction, and brief information about rooms, amenities and more. Headings and subheadings help the visitors navigate the website, i.e gives structure to your content.
Headings can be classified into H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6… With H1 being the main heading. In any webpage, there can only be one H1. The headings also have to follow a particular order. This means that H1 always be above H2, H2 will always be above H3 and so on.
H1 - Welcome To Elite Resorts
H2 - Our Rooms
H3 - Deluxe Room
H2 - Our Dining Options
H3 - Seafood Restaurant
As you can see, the structure is giving both, the users and the search engine information about the content structure and the relationship of the content to one another. The headings, especially H1 should also have keywords, to help the search engine understand the relevancy of the information.
Alt Text For Images
Image Alt text is the alternate text that appears when the web page is not able to display the image. Adding an alt text for all the images on the website is important because the search engine cannot read images. Adding alt text will help Google understand what the image is all about, and will index your image accordingly.
Alt Text also helps visually-impaired users to understand your image through screen reading tools. It also helps you with SEO in image search engines.
Page Loading Speed
SEO is also about providing a seamless user experience to visitors, and a slow-loading website will only push users away from your website. That’s why websites need to increase their page load speed as well if they want to attract more users to their websites. Page speed is known to be a direct ranking factor.
There are many ways to reduce page loading speed, such as reducing the size of image files, using some plug-ins to reduce speed and building your website with the right framework.
You need to make your website mobile-friendly as well. Most internet users access the net from their smartphones. There are many web development services such as Wix that provide mobile website building options to customize the website for mobile users as well.
Link Building continues to be among the most important aspects of SEO. It is a part of off-page SEO. It is a process of acquiring hyperlinks from your website to other websites. A hyperlink is a medium through which users navigate between different web pages/websites on the internet.
There are two types of links - internal links and external links, also known as backlinks. Search engines use links to discover new websites/web pages and to determine how to rank a particular website.
Internal Links are links between the pages of your website. This helps Google to understand the interconnectivity of your website, and also the important web pages. It also enhances user experience by helping them navigate through the pages, that are related to the page that is on.
External Links are also known as backlinks. They are links from other websites leading to your website. It is a major factor in SEO since it shows the authority of the website, More backlines mean that more websites consider your website to be authoritative and credible.
Make sure that you get backlinks from websites that are relevant and have good domain authority, Getting backlinks from forums, comments, and online web directories will not help you much, rather it will also lead to being penalized by Google.
Since the hospitality industry is location-based, it is important to perform local SEO. Local SEO is centred around NAP - Name, Address and Phone Number. That's why you need to include your city, or location name in Page Title, Meta Description and headers.
That way when a user searches “best hotels in Lonavala”, your hotel situated in Lonavala should appear.
Google My Business
Popularly known as GMB, Google My Business is an essential tool for Local SEO. Google My Business allows hotels to get listed on Google, with all the information such as phone number, email address, timings, amenities and more. It also allows hotels to display rates on various OTAs on one platform. It also offers a Google Maps view of the property. The best part is that you can also link your website on GMB.
Google Hotel Search
Another tool that has emerged is Google Hotel Search. It is especially an important tool if you are doing SEO for hotels. This was rolled out in 2015 and is specifically designed for hotels. This platform will help you drive more traffic to your Google Search Engine. This platform gives several important information to Google such as Address, phone number, timings, amenities and more. Hotels need to make use of it.
With these strategies, you will be able to perform SEO for hotels. SEO has emerged as an integral part of the hotel industry. Bigfoot Hospitality is a non-stop solution to Hotel SEO and Web development needs.
Read our blogs to know more about the strategies, concepts, trends and challenges in the hotel industry.