SEO for Hotels: The Ultimate Guide for 2021

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Any business professional has heard of SEO. We all like to claim that we take care of SEO, but how many of us really understand it well or completely? One thing all can agree on; It does not matter how well designed your hotel’s website is if no one sees it. That’s where SEO for hotels comes in: this blog will help you with a simple but comprehensive guide that will help to develop an SEO strategy or improve your hotel’s existing SEO strategy.

Table of Contents:

  • 1.   What is SEO for hotels?
  • 2.   Why is SEO for hotels important?
  • 3.   SEO Basics: Keyword Research
  • 4.   Content creation and user experience
  • 5.   On-Page Local SEO for hotels
  • 6.   Off-Page Local SEO for hotels
  • 7.   Local SEO for hotels
  • 8.   SEO measurement
  • 9.   SEO software for hotels
  • 10. Ready for an SEO strategy (key points)

What is SEO for hotels?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it combines a series of methods designed to increase the number of visits to your hotel’s website from organic search results.

Hopefully, the strategies used by your hotel will give your property greater visibility within search engine results pages (or SERPs).

A well-executed Local SEO strategy will mean that, when people search for certain keywords or phrases, your hotel will appear one of the first and as one of the most relevant results of the search, which will increase the probability that users will click on your site web and reserve a room in your property.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t expect overnight results when optimizing your search engine strategies. SEO requires a constant process to be followed.

Why is SEO for hotels important?

Since websites that appear on the first page of Google results receive more than 90% of the traffic, it is crucial to have an SEO strategy that can achieve this. Some benefits of a well-executed SEO are:

  • Organic traffic from SEO is free and permanent
  • SEO is used to target users who are considered to have “high intentions”: if they are looking for hotels in the area, things to do or places to visit, it is clear that they intend to go to your city and become guests.
  • Search optimization may be more important than ever before, with reports indicating that hotel and resort searches are now higher than at any time in the last decade.
  • SEO can offer commission-free reservations when travelers visit your website from Google.

It will take time, but if you do it right you can get more bookings than your competitors by spending less money on marketing.

SEO Basics: Keyword Research

Focusing on keywords and developing a strategy for them is a great first step and will shape the content on your website. You already know that guests will be looking for great experiences, so you can write a blog on your website dedicated to “Hotels with the best services in …”

The content should address what the person they are looking for wants to find; otherwise, it will perform a new search without clicking and Google will not find your content useful.

There are four types of user intent:

  • Informative
    As the name suggests, this describes users seeking information in a general sense and could be used at the beginning of the journey search. For example: “things to do in Paris”.
  • Commercial
    These users will do more research before making a final decision. For example, they can search for “top rated restaurants in Madrid”.
  • Transactional
    These users know what they want and are ready to buy. So a likely search might be “hotel room for two in Paris.”
  • Navigation
    These users want to navigate to a specific part of a website and a Google search facilitates that process. For example, something like “[hotel name] cancellation policy.”

Generally, there are two types of keywords: general and specific. A general search might be “Sydney hotel”, while a specific search would be more like “Sydney CBD hotel for business travelers”.

How to find your keywords: SEO for hotels

To develop your keyword strategy for SEO, focus on the main characteristics of your hotel, such as:

  • The terms visitors use to describe your hotel
  • Why do people travel to your area?
  • What are things around your area for visitors to do?
  • Are there things your hotel offers other hotel in the area don’t ?
  • What secondary services does your property have, including weddings, conferences and events?

Keyword research tools will let you know the average number of times a month particular keywords are searched. However, if you see 0 searches per month, it does not mean that people are not interested in that topic, but that you may be using different words than the ones they use. Keep looking for other words!

Once you have a list of keywords prepared by topic, you will have to divide them into main and secondary keywords.

Top Keywords

A top keyword is the most important topic or term for which you want a particular site to be prioritized. It’s worth mentioning that these are often the most competitive keywords, but if your hotel is pet-friendly you’ll want to make sure you have content on your website that supports it.

Examples of main keywords:

  • Hotels
  • Hotel near me
  • Madrid hotels

Secondary or related

keywords These are more detailed keywords, but still related to your main keywords. In many cases, those who are researching before making a decision use these keywords. For example, a potential guest may want to know if your hotel is pet-friendly or has Wi-Fi, and therefore these are all things to mention on your website.

Examples of secondary keywords:

  • Pet friendly hotel
  • Hotels that are pet friendly near me
  • Pet friendly accommodation in Madrid

Your content should always be useful and informative. Google values ​​content that meets user needs, so to better increase your visibility, think about how you can create content that meets their needs.

Content creation and user experience

If you want to rank in keyword searches, it is essential that you have quality content to support them. Otherwise, you will not have a chance.

To create valuable content, it has to be:

  • Relevant: Does your content match the user’s intention? To help you, use the keyword you chose as your topic or concept and start from there.
  • Accrediting: Your content must be thorough, detailed and well researched. You must make sure that your content answers all the questions that the user had when they did the search.
  • Trusted: It is important for Google to see that your information is reliable. Make sure to use fonts when necessary and that your content is always up to date.
  • Unique: Do not mass copy and paste the contents of other websites or other places in yours.
  • Affordable: It has to be easy for the user to read and navigate. It’s important that it looks good, loads fast, and is easy to take in.

If you treat your content in the context of supply and demand and create it personally, you shouldn’t have a problem!

On-Page: SEO for hotels

On-Page SEO basically means optimizing the elements of a website (the content and the HTML) to improve its search engine rankings and therefore attract more organic traffic.

Some of the elements that you can optimize are:

  • The page titles
  • The meta descriptions
  • The heading labels
  • The structure of the URL
  • The content of the website
  • The alternative text of the image

The term “site” refers to the entire website of your hotel, while “page” refers to a particular page, such as a blog post. The goal of using on-site strategies for your hotel’s SEO is to make it easier for both search engines and users to understand:

  • What a website is about.
  • What each page of the website is about.
  • If a page is relevant to your search.
  • If the page is of quality.
  • The authority on the matter.

Page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs

When we consider optimizing our content, we need to start thinking more technical and consider page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, URLs, links, and much more.

These elements help both search engines and users better understand your content and can ensure that it is relevant to what the user is looking for.

Title tags or SEO titles are the first things a potential visitor will see when searching, and they show up in SERPs (search engine results) as clickable titles to go to the page.

A meta description is a short summary of the content on a page that is displayed in search results below the title tag.

Your URL is the address of each page on your site.

Quick SEO technical tips for creating content in your content management system

  • Your title tag should be an accurate and concise description of the content on the page.
  • Make your main keyword a main heading (H1).
  • Use your main keyword in the first paragraph of your content.
  • Include your primary and secondary keywords throughout the content.
  • Use heading 2 (H2) tags to put related keywords.
  • Make sure your URL includes your keyword and that it is clear and concise.
  • Use relevant links to increase the value of your content.

Image optimization

People often buy based on emotions, so having quality images on your website is very important. And especially in the hotel sector. However, not optimizing images correctly can seriously affect your SEO efforts in many ways, from making your site slow to giving users a bad experience.

The most important factors to focus on are image quality, image size, and image alt text. Let’s look at each of them in detail.

Image quality

Using your own images is a much better option than using stock photos because they are likely to be more relevant to your content and look more authentic and genuine. However, if you use your own images, you should ensure that the quality is as high as possible to increase the chances that users will continue browsing.

Image size

Just as quality is important, so is file size. Your file can’t be too large if you want your website pages to load quickly. A slow website will affect your visibility in search engines because it worsens the user experience. Mobile visitors, in particular, don’t have a lot of patience. Control how many people visit your site from a mobile device using Google Analytics.

Image – Alt text

alt text Image alt text is the text that is displayed if an image cannot be displayed. This text describes what is shown in the image. This is important if an image is lost, if the Internet connection is slow, if devices that cannot load images are used, or if the visually impaired use screen readers to make use of the content. Alt texts also provide information to Google so that it can index your pages accurately.

Image file names

Search engines use the image file name to better understand what it is about. If you are going to use an image of your hotel or hotel rooms, make sure the file name reflects it correctly. For example, luxury-room-hotel-name.jpg. Avoid file names like 1234abcd.jpg.

Structured data

Structured data, also known as schema mark-up, is code that helps Google to better understand the elements of your web pages and how they relate to user search intent.

Consistency is important in your structured data. For example, your hotel name, address, and phone number or contact details should be consistent across pages so there is no confusion.

The best option may be to simply invest in a website builder designed specifically for hotels, which will automatically optimize your content.

Improved page speed

One of the worst experiences for users is a site or page that refuses to load. Nobody likes an unresponsive website, and with Google now rolling out an update to focus more on pages that offer good user experiences, you need to put even more emphasis on your hotel website load times.

If you don’t know where to start, you can perform analysis using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This will give your website a score along with some recommendations to improve and optimize the speed of your site.

The faster your site loads, the lower your bounce rate (people leaving your site from the same page they entered). The lower the bounce rate, the more likely you are to get a reservation, as it means that travelers will consult multiple pages, and this indicates genuine interest.

You will often find that the size of your image files is too large or that you are using too many videos on your site. Or sometimes your code will need a bit of work on it.

Knowing that the average load time of a desktop site to the first page of results is 1.65 seconds, it is worth the effort. If you are unlucky enough to have a site that takes around 10 seconds to load, the chance that someone will leave it even before it finishes loading increases by 120%.

Mobile sites are even more difficult to optimize and are often slower. A recent study shows that the average mobile site takes 27 seconds to load. So it is clear that making improvements to your site can give you a clear advantage over your hotel competitors.

There are some simple tasks that will help improve the overall speed of your website:

1. Compressing your images

Reducing the size of image files helps a lot to make your site load faster, and there are a number of tools you can use to do this. It is very common because high-quality images are often large files.

2. Using the browser cache

Using the browser cache is to retain previously loaded resources so that the site does not have to reload them on each visit by the same user.

3. Reduce your HTML, CSS and JavaScript content

Minimizing the space your code occupies is another important factor. “Minimization” is the process of removing or correcting unnecessary or duplicate information without changing how a browser processes it.

4. Remove rendering-blocking resources Rendering-blocking

resources are some resources on your website that prevent important parts of your page from being displayed in the browser. For example, as a hotel, you want your hotel logo, header banner, and images of your rooms to load before a plugin that allows visitors to share your content on social media.

Make your website mobile-friendly

The first thing to consider when checking if your site is SEO- and mobile-friendly is to ask yourself what, if any, content management system (CMS) you use. Now most of the CMS have plugins or add-ons that allow the user to make the site better SEO-ready.

Oftentimes, it can be a much easier process for your hotel to use a hotel website builder that takes care of all of this automatically and updates every time Google makes changes to its own algorithm

For example, take a look at Little Hotelier website builder for hotels.

Take into account the following aspects so that your website adapts to mobile devices:

  • Make sure your website loading speed is decent on other devices as well.
  • Includes the “Viewport Meta Tag”.
  • Make the button sizes large enough to work on mobile devices.
  • Use large font sizes.
  • Compress your images and CSS.
  • Run tests on mobiles.
  • Use Click-to-call.

Improve and repurposing of existing content

Although new content is always great and is a key factor for good web positioning, you can also improve what you already have.

To do this, analyze your current content using:

  • Heat mapping tools : Tools like Hotjar allow you to see how visitors behave on your website, such as knowing where they click, where they are moving and where they are moving. For example, are they ignoring some important information?
  • Session Recordings: Google Analytics lets you see the pages on your website are receiving the most impressions and visits, so you can duplicate good content and improve mediocre content that isn’t working.
  • Visibility check: The Google search console will allow you to see what keywords your content is having an impact on and what keywords are generating impressions and clicks on your website. If you have a large number of impressions but a low number of clicks for a keyword or topic, you may want to see if something is missing from your current content.

When you have correctly analyzed your current content, you can start creating new topics to explore, thus expanding existing content or simply optimizing the ones you already have with the best keywords.

Off-Page: SEO for Hotels

Off-site SEO refers to factors that increase and demonstrate the authority, relevance, and trust of a website. These are elements that you cannot directly control, but which you can, of course, influence.

An example is link building, one of the pillars of SEO. Google looks at pages to see how many people have linked to them, weighing their value and relevance. Think of it as a vote.

Internal links allow you to show Google how the content on your site relates to each other and identify which pages are the most important. External links lead to other websites that are not yours. Linking to external pages allows you to substantiate your credibility, help other sites that may help you in return, build trust with guests by providing useful content, create more trustworthy content, and associate your site with other high-quality sites. Backlinks are links that point to your site from external sources.

Some Pro-Tips for Optimizing SEO for Hotels

  • It is very important that the page that links you back have a high page authority. Otherwise, the traffic might not be significant or particularly relevant. This will also help convey authority to your own page. If Google sees that your page is considered valuable by other pages with supporting content, this will also help you.
  • Relevance is important: Even if you get a highly creditable link to your page from another site, if the content is not relevant to your audience, your SEO may not improve.
  • The positioning of the links is crucial: Do not put the links in hidden places or in the foot of your pages. Links are most valuable in the body of your posts.
  • Anchor text: Google pays a lot of attention to the text itself that is linked on your site, as it uses it as a signal for positioning. Thus, if you link to a text that says “vegetarian restaurant”, Google will assume that the linked site deals with that topic.
  • Visual Resources: Graphs, diagrams and images are very easy to link and are often full of very useful information. So if there is a way to create a resource for your site that people will link to, it might be worth the effort.
  • Reach: Connecting with influencers and bloggers who will link to your site is highly beneficial to hotels local SEO efforts. Try contacting travel blog writers to invite them over for a stay.

Other external factors that can influence your SEO efforts:

  • Social media marketing
  • Pay per click marketing
  • Online Reviews
  • User generated content
  • TV, outdoor or radio campaigns

First of all, it is crucial to have a brand that your guests can become familiar with and that you can build a relationship with. In return, this will increase the number of potential customers searching for you by name, talking about you to others, and linking to your content. The above are key elements to improving your overall online visibility and keyword positions in local search engine page results.

Local SEO for hotels

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence to attract more customers from relevant local searches. Also, it leverages your location as a way to rank high in specific searches. After all, travelers are not often looking for just a hotel, but rather looking for a hotel in a specific location or a “hotel near me”. In fact, since COVID-19 and in recent years, we have seen a growing search demand for “hotels near me”, as well as a growth in the demand for hotel-specific services; that is, dog hotels near me and cabin rentals near me.

One of the first steps is to order your ad on Google My Business. This is a free account that you can set up and that allows you to manage your company’s profile on Google. Your business profile will appear in normal search results, as well as Google Maps search results.

List key details like your address, your contact details, your website, your opening hours, and much more. Creating a Google My Business account allows you to customize all this information.

Some additional helpful things you can do are:

  • Reply to comments
  • Answer questions
  • Enable messaging
  • Show photos
  • Publish posts similar to those on Facebook
  • Highlight of your business’s unique selling point (USP)
  • Prioritize what information you want to show
  • Link to the place where guests can make their reservations
  • Incorporate keywords to help you rank local SEO!

Google will prioritize some sections of your profile or others based on what someone has searched for, but you have to make sure that there is enough information for Google to do its job. Target keywords you want to rank for, provide your readers useful information, and give your readers a compelling reason to trust you. Reviews and responses can appear on many different review directories, so paying attention to your hotel’s online reputation is critical to your overall success.

Take a look at our article that discusses Online Reputation Management for hotels in-depth.

Note that there are two different sets of search results when someone does a local search:

  • The results of the local package
  • The usual organic results

If you don’t know the “local results”, they are results contained in a box-like area that appear on the first page of results when doing a local search online through Google. This area shows the ads of the three most relevant local businesses for the search. Traffic is divided equally between both results, so it pays to rank for both, and this is where your local SEO has to be effective.

One idea that can work well for your hotel is to create entries about the best in your area. For example, “the best restaurants in …”, “the best local attractions in …”, “the best areas to stroll in …”

Measuring the Effectiveness of an SEO Strategy

It is all very well to implement new SEO plans and strategies, but at some point, you have to know if you are making a difference and providing a return on investment. You should track and measure improvements by analyzing key local SEO metrics.

The metrics that you will want to consider include:

  • Income
    The most important part of keeping track of any SEO work is income. Is your hotel direct bookings driving organic traffic? This can be measured in Google Analytics, for example.
  • Goals and conversions
    In addition to revenue, you should set some goals for your website, such as hotel reservations, contact details, or even blog subscriptions.
  • Organic traffic
    This part is very important, obviously, since SEO tries to increase organic traffic. Do you see more traffic on your key web pages than before?
  • Keyword ranking
    If you actively target certain keywords with your content, you’ll want to check how your site is performing in relation to those keywords. Do any of them rank in the top 10 results?

SEO software for hotels

Unfortunately, there is no hotel-specific SEO software on the market, but all the tools that you would generally use for SEO can also be used in your hotel.

There are a number of tools and software that will help you with your SEO needs:

  • Google Analytics
    GA is perfect for setting and tracking key metrics and goals. However, as a hotel, you will want to be able to track transactions and revenue, as well as see which rooms or which of your hotels are contributing to your revenue.
  • Google Search Console
    allows you to measure the performance of your website, fix any problems and visualize how Google sees your website.
  • SEMRush
    is an all-in-one suite of tools with features dedicated to competitive research, keyword research, backlink analysis, ranking monitoring, and PPC (pay per click) research.
  • Ahrefs
    Ahrefs is another all-in-one tool that includes features for keyword research, backlink analysis, content research, and technical SEO.
  • Screaming Frog
    This is an auditor who tracks and analyzes your site for possible errors and SEO opportunities.
  • Accuranker
    Track your keyword rankings to measure visibility over time and compare yourself to top competitors.
  • Google My Business
    As mentioned, it will help you enormously in your local SEO.
  • Keyword Planner
    Google’s keyword research tool.

Ready to implement an SEO strategy (key points)

  • SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it combines a series of strategies and methods designed to increase the number of visits to your hotel’s website from search engine results.
  • One of the best advantages of SEO and organic traffic is that they are free and permanent, and they can also provide direct bookings.
  • Keywords are the words and phrases that you focus on and rely on to create content based on what you know your audience is likely to search for.
  • On-Page SEO basically encompasses everything that the user and the search engines see.
  • Off-Page SEO refers to factors that increase and demonstrate the authority, relevance and trust of a website.
  • You need to create relevant, trustworthy, unique and detailed content.
  • Optimizing website elements and images is vital for any successful local SEO strategy.
  • Building your links can give a powerful boost to traffic and rankings.
  • Structured data, also commonly referred to as schema mark-up, is code that helps Google to better understand the elements of your pages.
  • Keeping your page load times as low as possible is crucial to retain visitors on your site.
  • Emphasize local SEO and your Google business profile to improve metasearch conversions.
  • Remember to keep track of your SEO metrics and use helpful tools or software.

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