There’s a lot of work that goes into creating a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. From researching your keywords to building out targeted content, SEO is a complicated — but necessary — endeavor.
In the travel industry, search engines are arguably the most powerful marketing tool. Millions of people search for hotels on Google every day, and 83% of hotel bookings begin with a search. Earning a high ranking on these platforms’ search engine results pages (SERPs) is vital to generate new bookings for your hotel.
Accelerate your SEO strategy and drive more business for your hotel with these three steps.
1. Go beyond surface-level keyword research
When you’re starting to conduct keyword research, don’t just rely on your gut instinct about what your prospective guests are searching for. To stay ahead of your competition and get your brand seen, you have to dig into the intent behind your guests’ searches.
Consider that most people aren’t aware of your property before they book with you for the first time. What kinds of terms would they search to find you? Chances are, it’s not the name of your hotel. Focus your keywords around descriptive phrases rather than brand.
For example, if you’re a boutique hotel in Palm Springs, people may be trying to find “hotels near Coachella.” Use a keyword tool to uncover what’s trending in your area and dig deep.
2. Rank higher with quality content and an SEO-friendly website
Google rewards websites that comply with their criteria for being “SEO-friendly.” Some of these factors include:
- How much quality content you have on your website. Do you have information that’s relevant to your guests’ search inquiries? This goes beyond having basic info about your property. You should be consistently publishing interesting content on your blog, including suggestions about what to do in your area and upcoming events.
- How quickly your website loads. Many people look up travel information while on their smartphones, and research has found that they will abandon a page if it doesn’t load fast enough. Don’t lose business or search authority with a clunky site that takes forever to load. Keep images to their recommended size and unpublish old pages that aren’t relevant anymore.
- Which other sites link to your content. If you have good content, you’ll naturally earn recognition from other reputable websites, who will link to your site in their own content. In SEO, these are called “backlinks.” Search engines reward backlinks because they essentially validate that you’re producing content that people enjoy and want to read.
3. Go beyond organic search
While organic search contributes to a significant number of bookings, you should also test paid search tactics.
Recently, Google has put more emphasis on its “Google Hotels” product, which features photos, reviews, and contact information for properties that have paid to be listed on the first SERP. It’s a way to guarantee that your hotel will be presented to people who are looking for hotels in your city.
In addition, Google also displays text-based PPC ads based on a user’s search query. These ads are a valuable investment as well, and they can help you compete with online travel agents (OTAs) and competitors who are fighting to earn your customers’ business.
For hoteliers, SEO is an incredibly valuable tool, and this post just scratches the surface of how search can be used to drive bookings. Next time you update your strategic marketing plan, make sure SEO is a priority.