One of the most important priorities for every hotel website’s SEO plan is to obtain powerful backlinks. A backlink is a hyperlink to your website, coming in from another website. Each backlink pointing to your hotel’s website gives your site a “vote” in the eyes of the search engines. Generally speaking, the more backlinks your site has, the more likely it is that your site will rank well organically.
Of course, there’s more complexity to backlinks than that. Link types, anchor texts, link context, and many other elements go into the search algorithm to determine the exact ranking. The domain authority (a measure of how popular or powerful a site is) also plays a role in how valuable your backlink is. In this post, we’re going to highlight 10 simple yet effective ways in which a hotel can generate powerful backlinks to their website to help boost their organic search ranking.
1. Reviewing online business directories
This tip is particularly pertinent for hotels which are looking to boost their local SEO performance, because of the weighting that many of the local business directories carry with their backlinks.
The idea here is simple—find relevant online directories where your hotel can be included. These include local directory websites, such as city business directories and neighborhood websites. You may also find trade-relevant industries, such as hospitality trade association sites and local tourism organizations.
To find such sites, try searching Google for “hospitality directory + cityname” or “business directory + cityname” (replace cityname with your hotel’s location) to give yourself a list of possible directories to target. You should also target your local tourism bureau or destination management organization.
2. Showing offline connections online
Probably the simplest way to generate more links to your website is by attempting to mimic any of your current, real business connections online. It’s extremely likely that your hotel already has many connections with other local businesses, such as food suppliers for your restaurant, or interior designers that helped style your rooms. Although these may be very real business connections, it’s likely that they’ve not considered (or currently aren’t) linking to your hotel’s website from theirs.
Approach your partners and ask if they would be open to cross-promoting business online. Perhaps they can include your hotel as a case study on the website, or simply listed as a key client on their sales page. If they are a vendor, offer to give them a testimonial for their website that they can link back to your hotel site. In return, you can promote your partners on your hotel website on a “featured vendors” page or on the blog. You both will benefit!
3. Generating press releases
One very under-utilized method of obtaining some extremely powerful backlinks is by producing press releases when newsworthy events occur within the hotel, such as when there are renovations or expansions, or a big event is taking place at the hotel.
The press release itself should not only link back to the hotel website, but should also include links to any relevant pages of the website, if applicable. For example, if promoting a hotel special event, the press release should link to a page on the hotel website that provides details on the event.
Hotels should work with a designated PR firm to distribute press releases and maximize news coverage. PR reps can also liaise with journalists and ask them to link their articles to your hotel website if the journalist has forgotten to do so. If a PR firm is out of reach for your budget, your hotel can distribute press releases through major newswires such as PR Newswire or industry-relevant ones like Hotel Online and Hospitality Net.
4. Approaching nearby attractions and businesses
Reach out to local attractions and businesses to see if there may be a mutually beneficial relationship that you can each promote on your respective websites. For example, you could offer a discount on a stay for people attend a nearby attraction. Or maybe you are located near a local university and can offer a special rate for parents visiting their children.
Whatever the special offer, make sure your potential partners can promote it on their websites. Even if they can’t create an entire new page promoting the offer, perhaps suggest your partner create an “suggested accommodations” page on their site with a link to your hotel. Your hotel should also return the favor with a link back to your partner’s website.
Extra tip: If possible, reach out to relevant universities, government institutions, and nonprofit organizations about partnerships. Backlinks from .EDU, .GOV, and .ORG websites carry a lot of domain authority—one link from a source like this can be worth tens of other website links.
5. Befriending local Meetup groups
Does your hotel have meeting facilities or a social area, such as a restaurant, lounge, or bar? Promote it to local social groups for their events and activities. Sites like Meetup.com have risen in popularity with users looking to meet other people with similar interests, or to boost their learning in their free time and do a bit of networking too. A hotel can be the ideal location for these social or business events.
Start by browsing your local Meetup site (they’re divided by city/region) to find active groups that might need a regular venue for their events. Reach out to the group’s leaders to offer up your hotel as a venue—perhaps sweeten the deal with a special venue rental rate, or a discount on drinks or food for attendees. In return, they’ll be promoting and linking to your hotel from the website, as well as introducing the hotel to new locals (and it’s always a good thing when locals recommend your hotel to their out-of-town friends).
Meetup isn’t the only site for searching for social groups. You can also browse open Facebook Events/Groups, EventBrite, and CitySocializer. Not only is this a chance to increase your hotel’s non-room booking revenue, but you’ll likely also be increasing your backlinks across a variety of types of websites (not just travel), which makes for a more well-rounded link profile.
6. Producing linkable content
By linkable content, we mean content that is well-liked and well-shared across websites and social media. Although it can take valuable time and resources to craft good content marketing, the links you receive from people posting and re-sharing your content can go a long way in boosting your hotel’s brand name and your SEO rankings.
There are a number of ways to go about producing linkable content, but by far the easiest is to develop a well-written and highly visual hotel blog. Video content can also be highly effective and popular. Promoting and writing about other attractions and businesses is a good way to ensure that your content is shared by others. We also recommend working with social influencers to produce content, as they are highly likely to promote the content to their followers.
7. Getting more social
If your hotel is investing in producing linkable content, it will need a strong social strategy to go with it. A long-term social media strategy can help to increase your hotel’s followers and build a strong and targeted audience that is specifically interested in what your hotel has to say. Content shared with these followers has a higher likelihood of being read, shared, and linked to from other sites.
If your hotel is writing about specific topics that are of a particular interest to certain communities (for example, say you’re a surf lodge with unique perspectives on the local surf area), you’ll also want to share your content on online social forums such as Reddit or StumbleUpon, where they can be shared topically with readers who share the same interests. However, if you are joining these types of social communities, you’ll want to ensure that you’re an active and contributing member of the community, not simply a self-promoter.
More than just SEO
Backlinks are great for building up your search ranking, but any of the marketing tactics mentioned here are also great in general for increasing brand awareness, spreading word of mouth, and building up your hotel’s reputation. Every hotel will have a different budget and needs, so use these suggestions as simply a springboard to come up with ideas that work best for your property.
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