SEO tips specifically set up for the DIY hotel owner, manager or web development team to grab the quick wins that will have the biggest results on their SEO bottom line without breaking the bank.
Seo for the hotel and hospitality industry is tough everybody knows that. But that doesn’t mean we should just throw up our hands and give up! Every hotel from the smallest family run lodgings to luxury boutique hotels in some of the world’s most famous destinations should do what they can to ensure their hotel is set up to succeed wherever possible – and that includes at least a basic technical SEO check.
We are not going to get into what SEO is, you already know that or you wouldn’t be here right? We are not going to discuss why SEO is important – we already know that too (hint: it is not for bragging rights, it is for driving more bookings to your hotel via organic search!). We are not going to discuss blogging, PR, link building or social media sharing here either. Those all have a place in the greater SEO picture, but we want actionable tips to get things going!
What we are going to look at are technical SEO fixes that are actionable with a relatively low investment of time and money. We are aiming to get the greatest gains with the least amount of pain so you can go back to doing what you do best – running your hotel and giving your guests a great experience! So without further ado, let’s have a look at our top 5 tips for hotel SEO.
This might be the 2021 edition of our hotel SEO tips, but it is surprising how many hotel websites are still running like it is 1999!
Google has already announced that website speed is a ranking factor on mobile searches. And since mobile searches typically make up over 50% of all visits to a hotel website, we should probably make sure our website is “up to speed”.
Speed is also a factor in Google Ads quality rankings. So by making sure your website is fast for SEO purposes, you are likely to see an increase in ad quality and this is usually going to mean more visibility and a lower cost per click – bonus!
There are a number of tools we can use to make sure our website is up to scratch. First and foremost are tools Google itself has made specifically for this purpose.
How did we do? If your website is fully mobile friendly and has speed rankings that are all green then your web guys are doing something right! If not, you are going to need to talk to them to find out what you can do to speed things up. In broad terms you will probably need to look at the following points:
A very common issue we see is when non tech savvy users upload full size, non optimised images to the website when smaller optimised images would suffice. Full size images can mean 2mb file sizes each and we have seen some websites with a homepage slideshow with ten (plus) of these images. Yikes!
The good news is that this is an easy problem to fix and definitely a speed quick win. Optimise your images by sizing them correctly and compressing them for web use, then upload them again and watch those speed KPIs improve!
Don’t have a designer in-house? Check out this list of online tools to help you optimise your images for speed.
In hosting you really do get what you pay for and cheap shared hosting packages that have a billion sites (ok maybe not a billion) stacked onto one dog worn server is not a recipe to ensure you have a fast website.
Invest a little bit in your hosting! Most hotels are not going to need dedicated servers that cost hundreds a month. But a hundred a year is just cheap, so ask your developers what kind of hosting you are currently on and consider giving it a boost! Giving your hosting an upgrade can make big differences in speed for very minimal extra cost, it is a no brainer.
The two steps above will hopefully be enough to change those speed KPIs for the better. And maybe that will be enough. If your website speed KPIs are still not looking that great or you have mobile display problems you need to dig a bit deeper. At this stage things get a little more technical and you are going to need to have a look at some code.
Many templates from popular CMS systems try to do everything for everyone. This results in what can only be described as code bloat. Code bloat is bad generally, but it is really bad if you want to have a fast website!
You should have an open talk with your developers to see what they recommend. Maybe with some caching and tweaks they can speed things up. Maybe you might need to consider a complete redesign, especially if you website is older than 2 or 3 years and not fully optimised for mobile. Technology changes, your website needs to keep up with the times!
Ok, enough about speed. It is important ok? Let’s move on to our next tips.
Before we get into optimising your website content lets just do a quick check to ensure we know what keywords we are going to be optimising for. Keyword research for hotels does not need to get too complicated. You just need to be realistic about what you are aiming to do. Simple fact: No single hotel can realistically rank for “Best hotel in [your city]”. Ever. Really.
So do a quick round of keyword research so that you have a starting point for your seo optimization plan. Luckily we have written an in depth guide on how to pick the best keywords for your hotel. There are a number of free tools that can help in this process, you can see our suggestions here and be sure to keep an eye on current hotel keyword trends, especially during these peculiar times. Have a look, make your list and let’s start optimising!
Page titles are without a doubt the biggest quick win we usually see when doing technical SEO audits
The page title is the text that shows in the browser tab and in the search engine results when your website appears for a search query. In the code of your website it look like this:
It is surprising how many times we see things like all pages of a website having the same title. If this default title is the name of your hotel then that would be at least a bit useful. If however it is ‘Default Title’, “Homepage”, “New Website” or similar then you have a problem. The good news is you also have a seriously easy SEO quick win!
Update your page titles to properly describe your hotel, its rooms and its amenities. Page titles should be unique for each page and should reflect the content of that page as accurately as possible. Do not try to keyword stuff, but do think strategically. Our guide to keyword research linked to above will help in this.
How do you find out what your page titles are looking like? A quick way to do it is to jump into google and put into the search box “site:yourdomain.com”. This will bring back results only from your website and is a good place to start. Once you know what you need to fix, we love this serp preview tool which gives a good idea of how your chosen titles will look and if they might need to be shortened.
For those of you in the know, you will know that meta description tags are no longer a search ranking factor (Google announced this way back in 2009).
However, your meta description is shown in the search results under your page title and can affect click through rate. A well crafted description can entice users to choose YOUR website to click on out of all the available results and Google has also stated that click through rates can positively affect rankings. Both of these facts should give us enough reason to make sure that along with our page titles we also optimise our meta descriptions!
Meta descriptions should also follow some best practices in terms of length (see the serp preview tool linked to above) and also should be unique for each page. If you are just not inspired enough to write unique, compelling meta descriptions for each page of your website then it is ok to omit them – but really, most pages in a hotel website that is typically not very large should have unique meta descriptions!
There is no getting around it. If you want to win the SEO game (or at least be in the game) you need to know the rules. And in SEO there are quite a lot of rules and also the potential for penalties! So we need to make sure we are on top of our SEO game!
So far we have made sure our website is fast, we have done our basic keyword research and we have optimised page titles and meta description tags with SEO in mind.
If this is the total of the SEO you do for your hotel’s website then you have done the basics and you should see some positive results. The travel industry is competitive though and you want more you say? What are the next steps?
Well, two options really.
You could hire an SEO agency, ideally with experience in the hospitality industry, to assess your website and competition and prepare an SEO strategy for your hotel.
Or, you can dive deeper into the finer details of SEO, educate yourself from reliable sources of SEO information and keep trying to improve!
The reliable sources of information is the crucial point in the education process. There is a lot of great SEO information online. There is also a lot of pretty bad SEO information online.
So to help you along our last tip is some links for further SEO reading from sources that we can confidently say are great and worth the time to explore. So with that said, happy reading!
Moz SEO Learning Center
The best, most detailed free SEO resource online bar none. There is a huge amount of information here, if in doubt start with the SEO for beginners guide.
Google’s SEO starter Guide
You cannot really go wrong starting from the source. Lots of good information about how Google works with links to all their search tools.
We will leave it at that, there is more than enough information above to take you a long way along your SEO education. Happy optimising!