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Hotel SEO ~ The How-to Guide With Easy Top Tips. Marketing a hotel can be confusing, overwhelming, and downright intimidating. Should you buy backlinks? What’s a long-tail keyword?
In the current digital landscape, hotel SEO can make or break a business month to month.
If you need help with your hotel SEO, don’t hesitate to reach out and see how your company can succeed in the search engines.
Virginia Beach hotels are no exception. As time passes, it will only get more and more competitive.
Google makes updates and changes that one would think they’d need to keep pace with every single change.
These changes can affect rankings in a major way, sometimes pulling sites from the first page to having their site disappear from Google!
Luckily, there are various basic foundational concepts that, once your site is properly set up, can withstand all of Google’s changes and updates.
Successful Hotel SEO
With every single update comes a new set of challenges.
Below are some foundational principles needed to succeed at Virginia Beach hotel SEO.
When it comes to hotel SEO, keyword research is the most important step to succeeding. If you could only pick one thing to work on to improve your website rankings, it would be this.
You can split up Keyword Research into the following categories. There isn’t any standard set in terms of what search volume you want to aim for, as this depends on your location.
Naturally, the more popular the tourist destination, the higher the search volume.
You’ll want to round out your keywords and fill your site with rich, relevant and valuable content.
When doing your research, your main pages should contain your primary keywords, the ones that are the most relevant and have the highest volume.
Think of keywords for your city, famous landmarks, hot tourist destinations, etc. The most obvious, generic keywords, like “Virginia Beach hotel” would be one to target.
While you still should target the keywords with high volume searches, these are usually the most competitive, general keywords, and it will take a long time to see the results.
See what is currently being searched by searching for your brand name. As you type your brand name, you’ll get suggested keyword searches from Google or the other search engines.
These keywords can be vital to understanding what people are currently associating your brand with.
Understanding what keywords and searches are associated with your brand name can help you control what you want your brand associated with vs. what you don’t want.
Secondary keywords are any keywords that have decent search volume but aren’t deemed as important as primary. These are usually still relevant. Longtail keywords are the low volume, non-competitive, obscure searches.
These are the ones where, when added up together, can help drive untapped traffic and interest into your hotel.
Think hyper-local searches, what streets, restaurants, local landmarks are you near? These may not get a lot of search volume, but they can be highly relevant.
Your keywords will need to be placed on your website in a natural way. You don’t want to just continuously place your primary keywords all over your site(this is called “keyword stuffing” a big no-no in Google’s eyes”).
On Page SEO
On-Page SEO is basically how you “dress up” before going out into the world(the internet). You want to ensure that all your ducks are in a row, your site is both search-engine and human-friendly.
The architecture of your site is important, as Google can feature some of your pages in their search engines if your site is set up to be easily navigable.
This pertains to your site menus making sense and being categorized correctly. Your most important pages should, in a natural way, have your most important keywords.
Internal linking means that your pages need to be referencing links from your other pages. There is a line to over-doing this one, so you want to do it naturally.
For example, whenever you write a blog post you’d like for them to set a reservation, link “set a reservation” to your reservations page. These internal links can have your branded or your long-tail keywords in them.
Site performance deals with how your site runs with various devices. Design is also important as you’ll want your customers to be able to book as easily as possible. Any confusing or complex layouts can reduce the chances of people booking.
This not only helps search engines, but it also helps the experience of your potential customer.
Load times for your page can be the difference between having your customer book a reservation or closing out the window and booking with someone else.
People’s attention spans and patience are very thin. Use this tool, or talk to your webmaster about ways you can optimize your site to load faster.
If you need a tool to check it, Google has a free Page Speed test tool.
Optimized images, small file sizes
One strategy for increasing site performance is to ensure that the sizes of your images are not too large. You’ll want to find the middle ground between high-quality and quick to load.
Any images over 1 MB you’ll want to reduce the size of. This includes any background images or your gallery photos of your hotel. Talk to your webmaster and make sure that all of the images on your website are reduced.
Responsive, Mobile & Tablet friendly
As of 2016, mobile search accounts for 60% of total searches. Not only that, but people are 80% more likely to purchase from a mobile site that helps them easily answer their questions.. People are a lot more comfortable making large purchase decisions compared to just a few years ago.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge number of potential bookings. You’re also missing out on crucial search engine rankings, as Google values responsive, mobile and multi-device friendly.
Have a Secure Website
In many browsers used today, a secure site is imperative. Google ranks secure sites over unsecured sites. This may cost a little bit extra per month in hosting, but it is standard practice.
You’ll want to talk to your webmaster to ensure that your website has SSL certification and security.
Audit Your On-Page SEO
This list isn’t exhaustive, and there are a few other factors you might want to consider. There are a lot of SEO auditing tools out there that can give you a rundown of what the major things that are missing on your site.
Off-page SEO is essential “what others think of you”. It’s Google and other search engine’s way of judging a site by what they’re associated with.
If your site is linked to high-quality websites and your site is featured on high-quality websites, Google will give you a better ranking.
On the flip side, if your site is associated with low-quality links, and your site is found on spam sites, you will receive a bad reputation in the search engine’s eyes.
That’s why it’s important to note that you should never buy links, as you don’t know where those links are coming from. Even if they are of high quality, you won’t know if they’ll be high quality over time.
It’s important to ensure that your site is getting properly index. You’ll want to talk to your webmaster about submitting your site through Google Webmaster tools whenever there are any changes done to the website.
If you’re on other search engines, you’ll also want to reindex your site with them after changes.
That way Google and other search engines know that they have the most up to date information.
Get Indexed in Google Local Properties
Local results are more important than ever. People are searching for “hotels near me” at a much higher rate, pushing Google to customize results based on user location.
This includes creating a Google Places, Google Plus, and submitting your website with your address information to Google Maps.
You’ll want to be judicious every few months and ensure that your information is still the same in all these areas.
Get Featured in Local Publications
Getting featured in hyperlocal, reputable websites like local newspapers or magazines can help Google understand how local you are.
There are many benefits to also getting featured in national magazines, but it’s much easier to get featured in a local gazette when compared to getting featured in, say, the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.
Guests posts from local travel blogs or food blogs can also be a great source for high-quality links to your site. A guest post is a 500-2000 word article written on another website that links to your website.
This can be part of your content marketing plan, and integral to receiving high-quality links to boost your search engine rankings.
You’ll also want to use guest posts to “round out” your link profile by linking to lesser-known inner pages of your site, those that are targeting brand, secondary, or long-tail keywords.
Getting Indexed in Other Search Engines
Believe it or not, Google is not the only search engine. There is Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, which, in February 2016, handled 3.6 billion searches.
If you do your keyword research, you might find that Bing can be a source of untapped search engine traffic.
You also might find that the keywords searched on Bing might differ from that of Google, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
Managing Your Online Reputation
It won’t matter if you are high on the search engines if all you have are 50 one-star reviews and people bad-mouthing your hotel. The only thing they’ll know is that you have a consistently bad hotel.
Online Reputation Management is a little out of the scope of this article, but you definitely want to keep an eye on what 3rd party sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Hotel search engines are saying about you.
This is an opportunity to interact and show how you handle customer service. You can change a bad review into a good one by understanding them and making it up to them somehow.
Create an SEO Maintenance Schedule
On a regular basis, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, you’ll want to ensure that your On-Page, Off-Page, and Online Reputation are all in tip-top shape.
Things that are constantly changing, like your off-page backlinks and your online reputation(customer reviews, etc.) should be maintained on a more regular basis when compared to slower changing things(like your site architecture).
An example schedule could be something like :
- Review latest customer reviews from your most popular third-party review sites
- Keep an eye on sites that are linking to the main site
- Check for any broken, invalid, or incorrect links
- Review site architecture and optimize page speed
Hotel SEO is a Long-Term Investment
Even if you end up fine-tuning your website with the above best practices, hotel SEO doesn’t change overnight.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to results in SEO. A foundation must be applied and a standard must be maintained.
Google has these trust factors put in place to provide only the best, high-quality websites into their search results and recommendations.
Those who play by the rules will be handsomely rewarded.