Hotels are often a popular choice for SEO’s but what benefits does SEO bring to hotels. Well most importantly it creates new opportunities to source new guests, which as we all know has become particularly important in recent years. Hotels have fallen on hard times with occupancy rates in decline. Many hotels have simply fallen behind and failed to realise the huge opportunity that the online domain brings. You only have to look at some of the world’s most successful hotels and see how much they invest in their online operations to see how important it has become. In researching the sector you can see that many have simply just put up a website and not put any effort into marketing it. So when should hotels market their websites and how?
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The immediate answer would be right now but if you have an old site and are thinking of upgrading it then this might be the time to launch an SEO campaign. Companies such as the Venture Hotels Group have recently invested in a new site and decided on running an SEO / online marketing campaign. They had a clear understanding of the need to develop new guest opportunities and improving the online presence of the site. The group had seven hotels and decided to bring it into one simple and easy to use website. Launching a campaign at this time can be extremely effective as you can alter the design, feel, navigation and usability of a site to fall inline with your SEO campaign. So for example you can look at keyword theming and site navigation.
You may be wondering why SEO is so important however these stats might give you a small insight:
The top result on a search page gets 42% of the clicks
The top 3 results get 79% of the clicks
The top 5 get 88% of clicks
Put simply if your not on the first page then the likelihood of your hotel being found is greatly reduced. Although hotels are found in many ways this is a huge opportunity and can be an effective place for hotels to spend their marketing budgets.
So to the good stuff…..
Hotel SEO Tactics
We could spend a lot of time going in to the various different tactics but I wanted to discuss some of the key areas in which you should look at optimising your hotel site.
Firstly looking at geographically based search. Many users when looking for hotels will search by location. For example if your looking for a hotel in Chester then you may use the search term Chester Hotels. This is because people are going to get much more relevant search results rather than lets say searches for just hotels. It is important to take advantage of this through the SEO of your site.
Optimising your site for geographical searches is usually fairly straight forward. It’s a case of optimising your content and page titles for these geographical terms. You would for instance want to look at title tags, page headings and of course content. Hotel owners can also take advantage of Google local business listings. This provides a quick and easy win for geographical searches.
The other key area hotels will need to look at is the booking process. The booking process can have a huge impact on your conversions (bookings) and requires careful planning and analysis. If users find it difficult to make a booking then they are likely to go elsewhere. Hotel owners need to optimize the site so that it is easy for users to make bookings. You effectively need to optimize the process.
Tools like Google Analytics can be used to monitor and measure the performance of your booking process. Any site owner should be using tools like Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of their SEO campaigns.
Of course optimising your site is just beginning, as successful hotels will make use of other innovative online marketing techniques to promote their hotels. Social media and review sites provide plenty of opportunities to interact with potential guests. For example many people use Trip Advisor to help make decisions on which hotels to stay at. Hotels can do certain things to improve the feedback left on these sites and identify key issues for visitors.
Content also plays a valuable part in a campaign. People need to know about attractions and facilities in the area of your hotel. You need to give people a reason to stay with you. Providing guides can be invaluable and researching what customers want is key.
The key to any SEO campaign is research, testing, analyzing and developing. You need to set out objectives and find what your customers are looking for. Once you have done this you can implement your plans and begin testing. Once testing is on progress you should analyze your results. Then you must make changes to improve the campaign.