Hotel SEO: Best Practices for On-Page Optimization

Building a great website for your hotel with SEO in mind is extremely important. Having a site that’s not discoverable through search engines means that you are potentially leaving millions of dollars in bookings on the table. This post will walk you through several best practices for on-page optimization that will help your hotel become more visible in search engines and ultimately get more business.

Keyword Research

The first step before making any changes to your site is keyword research. Success with SEO is highly dependent on defining your niche and getting your keywords right. Once you’ve defined which keywords best suits your hotel, you can begin to build a strategy around them.

While it’s tempting to go for keywords like “luxury hotels,” you should know that these sort of keywords are extremely competitive and often too broad. As a location-based business, focusing on longer and more specific terms like “Union Square luxury hotels” or “Tribeca boutique hotel” are more effective. These are known as long-tail keywords

Start by thinking about how your ideal hotel guests might search for a hotel in your area. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to identify terms that have higher monthly searches, but low competition.

Hotel SEO: Best Practices for On-Page Optimization

For more keyword ideas, scroll to the bottom for additional keywords based on your search.

Hotel SEO: Best Practices for On-Page Optimization

You will start to notice that different variations of the same keyword have different search traffic. For instance, “new york luxury hotels” is searched for almost twice as much as “luxury hotels in new york.”

Once you’ve identified your target keywords, it’s time to optimize your site to rank for them. Keep in mind that this process is a marathon, not a sprint. Ranking doesn’t happen within a few days or weeks — even with the right strategy, it could take months. But the payoff is worth it!

Site Structure

Ever browse through an unorganized site? It can be frustrating when you’re trying to search for something as simple as a business address and not be able to find it easily. A clean and intuitive site structure will not only help potential guests find their way around your site more easily, ultimately improving your conversion rate, but will also keep the search engine spiders happy.

To create a clean site structure, think about the most important information a visitor will need in order to make a decision to stay at your hotel. Make this information easy to discover on your site. One way determine the most important information is by analyzing your site’s traffic using analytics tools like Google Analytics. Are you seeing a high number of visitors viewing images of the rooms? Add the photo gallery to your top-level navigation.

Quality Content

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Content is King. It’s an established maxim in the SEO industry, but not everyone honors it. To be specific, if you had a landing page targeting a user who just searched for “best pizza in NYC,” will they find the content on that page useful or will they hit the back button?

When writing content for your site, not only do you want to include important information about your business and what makes it unique, but as a hotel, you should consider creating informational content about the destination that would help visitors plan an amazing trip.

Hotel Information

Now that you’ve made a list of relevant keywords to target, use them to help guide your content strategy. The next important step to good hotel SEO is to assign these keywords to relevant pages on your site.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided that “Waikiki Beach Hotels” would work as your site’s main keyword. You’d want to assign this to your homepage. Now that you have your homepage’s target keyword, the text you write for that page should reflect that.

Write copy for that page that naturally uses “Waikiki Beach Hotels” in a way that would make someone who landed there as a result of search feel like they’ve reached the right place. Keep in mind that you have to use that keyword naturally. Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs, as it could actually harm your rankings, which is the opposite of what you’re going for.

Informational Content

You’re already doing this. Think of the neighborhood guides in your hotel lobby or the concierge hired specifically to enhance the quality of your guest’s stay. Adding this type of content to your site will enhance the user’s experience, help you rank for more relevant keywords, and drive more traffic to your site. This is known as content marketing (an important discussion for another day).

As a hotel, adding a neighborhood guide or an events calendar to your site could be a great way to enhance your site with quality content. Make sure you give each listing or event its own page, as it makes it easier to target specific keywords. Next, research relevant keywords for each piece of content. For instance, you might have a restaurant guide on your site with a targeting “Waikiki Beach Restaurants.”

Titles and Descriptions

The first thing people see in search results are your title tags, descriptions, and other related snippets from your site. It’s important to make them count.

Hotel SEO: Best Practices for On-Page Optimization

When Google displays a result, the user’s search query is bolded. Users are more likely to click on results that seem the most relevant to what they’re searching for. So, if they’re searching for “New York City Hotels” and your result seems the most relevant to them based on the page’s snippet, there’s a good chance you’ll get the click.

Optimized Title Tags

The title tag, which is shown in blue on the Google search result, is one of the most important elements of on-page optimization. A well-optimized title tag should have 70 characters or less, contain the most important keywords first, incorporate local search terms, and also incorporate the brand name. So while it may look simple, something like: “New York City Hotels – The Bradford Plaza” is a good tag. You’ll also want to avoid using duplicate title tags across your site.

Optimized Meta Descriptions

The meta description, the text shown under the title tag in the search result, should be clear, concise and relevant. The way your meta description is written could mean the difference between a click or a pass on your listing. Good hotel SEO practices require that the meta description incorporate the keyword in a natural way in 150 characters or less. You’ll want to avoid duplicate descriptions as well.

A Well Structured URL

Ever seen a URL that seemed way too long and complicated? They’re typically generated automatically by content management systems like WordPress whenever you create new pages. The problem with those URLs is that they’re not optimal for users or search.

Keep your URL memorable, short, and keyword rich. Use the page’s selected keyword, keeping it as close to the domain as possible. And be sure to use dashes to separate words in your URL.

For example, with the keyword “Best Restaurants West Village” your restaurant guide’s URL might be: thebranford.com/best-restaurants-west-village. Try to avoid dynamically generated URLs like: thebranford.com/checkouttheserestaurantsbyourhotel.aspx?ID=3733773&IT=9f7d3d.

Conclusion

The truth is, most hotels aren’t living up to their full potential in search engines. And with almost 6 billion searches happening everyday, it’s a practice that shouldn’t be ignored.

Don’t be discouraged if this process seems long and tedious. As mentioned before, this is a marathon, not a sprint — and slow and steady wins the race. Focus on implementing the basic steps for good hotel SEO outlined above and within a few months, you could find your site moving up in rankings and generating more revenue. At which time, you’ll be ready to move into some more advanced SEO strategy.

Gautam Lulla

Gautam Lulla

Gautam is President at Travel Tripper and outspoken expert in hotel technology and distribution. When he's not busy disrupting the status quo, you can find him ripping powder on the slopes. Contact him at gautam@pegs.com.

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