Hotel SEO: 12 Proven Tips to Drive Bookings
Driving organic bookings to your hotel is one of the most critical actions for a property’s success.
It can also be one of the most challenging.
While the idea of SEO is foreign to many hoteliers, developing a solid understanding of what you can do to improve your hotel’s positioning in search is one of the most cost-effective ways to drive reservations to your property.
Today, we will cover some easy to understand and actionable tips that you can start working on today to improve your Hotel SEO and drive more traffic and bookings to your website.
What is Hotel SEO and Why is it Important?
Hotel SEO refers to search engine optimization, which is the ongoing process of improving your website’s quality and relevance in the eyes of search engines.
The higher your hotel website is positioned in search, the more organic traffic your site will get.
Over 80% of hotel bookings begin on a search engine, so it’s easy to see the value that search has for your digital marketing efforts. In addition to search, hotels can also invest in advertising to shoot up to the top of search results.
Larger brands with bloated marketing budgets can easily shoot up to the top of SERPs, thanks to advertising. But, PPC advertising can be incredibly expensive, making the cost of acquiring bookings through programs like Google Ads prohibitive for many brands.
The high cost of advertising makes hotel SEO incredibly important, especially for smaller brands that lack larger companies’ advertising budgets. Through hotel SEO, properties are able to generate significant organic (aka free) traffic to their website. Provided you have a great looking site; you should have no problem converting these visitors into guests at your hotel.
Before you can start having any of these conversations, you’ll need to get your SEO in order.
Understanding Search Engines
Before you begin thinking about improving your site’s SEO, it’s important to understand a search engine’s purpose.
The end goal of a search engine is to deliver its users with the most relevant information possible, and for your hotel SEO efforts to be successful, you’ll need to adopt the same mindset.
As you optimize your website and create content for it, your focus should be on delivering anybody viewing your site with valuable information every step. Put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a hotel in the city, and make it your goal to provide every piece of relevant info you can think of.
Effective Tips for Improving Your Hotel’s SEO
Read on as we cover the different steps you can take to revolutionize your SEO and begin seeing more organic traffic today.
Lead With Research
The first step for any hotel looking to improve its search position is going to be keyword research. Keywords are the important terms a potential customer uses when they use a search engine. Say your hotel is located in Tulum, Mexico, an example of possible keywords could be “hotels near Tulum” or “beach resort Tulum Mexico.”
Before you begin any formal research, start by jotting down some keywords that you would use when searching for a hotel. Chances are, your preliminary list will include many of the keywords and search terms that potential customers use most.
Once you’ve exhausted your brain for potential keywords, use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, or our own Bulk Keyword Generator to find additional terms that you haven’t thought of. The Google Keyword Planner is available through Google Ads, but you don’t have to buy advertising to use the tool.
Ubersuggest is particularly helpful because they provide additional insights into their keyword lists, like the number of searches for a particular keyword. Keep in mind that the most popular keywords are typically the hardest to rank for, so you’ll want to include long tail keywords in your list that are a bit less competitive and easier to rank.
Keep your list of keywords handy, because you’ll use these terms to optimize each aspect of your website, from your page titles and metadata to your URL slugs and blog content. We’ll discuss these concepts further in a moment.
Get Your Hotel Results Page in Order
On Google search pages, the Hotel Results Box is the first thing the page displays. The Hotel Results Box appears as a map, with points throughout for each hotel in the area and their price for a room. A complete listing within this results box is critical.
For your property to appear in this box, Google will need to be aware of your hotel, and there are a few ways to accomplish that.
The first option is to create your Hotel List Feed, which includes all applicable metadata for your rooms. There are additional fields to define hotel itineraries or provide additional pricing information based on date, which will help ensure the most current and accurate information is displayed.
Once your Hotel List Feed is properly populated, there’s no ongoing work besides delivering this data to Google whenever it’s updated. But for hotels that don’t have a dedicated technical team, this could be an arduous task. Thankfully there is an easier alternative available that’s ideal for smaller hotels that don’t have the tech resources to invest.
Instead of providing Google with your Hotel List Feed directly, you can instead rely on travel aggregators to get it done. Google works with over 200 aggregators, such as Priceline, Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, and many more.
As a hotel, you’re probably already sharing this information with major travel sites, which takes
Google has more than 200 relationships with online travel agencies and aggregators to collect information about hotels. If sending data to Google directly sounds like a headache, sending data to one of these aggregators should be a feasible alternative, since it’s something virtually every hotel already does.
While there is no guarantee that all accommodations will be shown in the hotel results box, sharing hotel prices with aggregators should better the chances that your hotel will appear in this coveted area of a search results page.
Optimize Your Site Elements
The next tip for improving your hotel SEO will be to optimize elements like your page title, meta description, and URL slugs.
These three elements are critical because they’re the three aspects of a website that search engines display to users.
The first element is your page title, which is the first thing users see when they perform a search. Your website’s title should show the name of your hotel and the most important keyword you’re trying to rank for. A quality page title should be around 50-60 characters long.
For example, if you’re the Sands Point Hotel located in Palm Beach, Florida, an optimized page title would be something like “Sands Point Palm Beach Hotel & Resort.”
You’ll also need to optimize the meta description for your page. Meta descriptions are the brief bits of copy included on a search engine results page (SERP). This description lets users know exactly what they’ll find on your page. You’ll want to include your target keyword in the meta description to improve your search rankings.
Here’s an example of a meta description for the Sands Point Hotel, using “Palm Beach resort” as our main keyword.
Experience the best South Florida offers at Sands Point Hotel, a premier Palm Beach resort for the entire family.
Finally, you’ll want to optimize the URL slug for your page. A URL slug is the part of your web address that follows the “.com.” Here are some tips for creating quality URL slugs:
- Be as concise and descriptive as possible
- Separate words with dashes
- Try to include a keyword if it’s possible
- Eliminate stop or connecting words, (is, of, the, a, etc.)
- Good examples: www.sandspoint.com/palm-beach-resort
Once you’ve mapped out these elements, use a SERP planning tool to get an idea of how well they’ll display in a Google search.
Create or Claim Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your local SEO across Google and Google maps.
A Google My Business page is a useful citation that includes all of your business’s relevant information. You’ll be able to include photos, events, promotions, and more on your page.
Most importantly, your page dashboard will provide you with valuable insight into how Google searchers are interacting with your page.
Build Out Your Content
When it comes to SEO, content is king. The content on your site allows you to add more keywords, and it carries tons of weight with search engines as they decide where to rank your page in the results.
You’ll want to begin by optimizing your homepage. Your homepage should include the main keyword you’re targeting in the title tags, and you should include between 500-1000 words of original copy that provides important information about your hotel.
Be sure to include additional keywords where possible, but don’t force anything. You want your copy to be easy to read and conversational, and keyword stuffing is a surefire way to screw that up.
Once you’ve optimized your home page, do the same with other pages on your site, like your about page and contact page.
Most websites only have a few major pages, but there are tons of additional opportunities to build quality content through other marketing efforts, such as blogs or newsletters.
Blogging, in particular, is the perfect way to generate useful content on your website that will improve your search engine ranking. It’s also your best opportunity to include additional keywords from the list you created earlier.
When blogging, make sure to focus on delivering users with valuable information. The purpose of blog posts isn’t necessarily to drive bookings from the users reading the blog. Instead, these posts are to position your site as an authority on what the user is searching for. Once you begin ranking higher in Google and Bing, the bookings should drive themselves.
As a hotel, you’ll have no shortage of relevant topics to include in your blog. Create blogs about things to do in the area, the local culture, restaurants, nightlife, and anything else that may be relevant to a user looking to take a trip to your area. Include as many relevant keywords in your content as possible, so long as you focus on readability and quality information.
Add Alt Text to Your Images
Alt-text is an often overlooked aspect that should be part of your hotel SEO strategy. Alt-text is important because, unlike humans, search engines can’t see images.
Including alt text in your image will allow search engines to understand what the image displays, allow screen readers to describe images to users with viewing impairments, and help your page rank in image searches.
Your alt text should describe the image and include your main keyword. You’ll want to keep your alt text to 125 characters or less, and avoid starting your description with terms like “this is a picture of…” or “this image shows…”.
Optimize Page Loading Times
The internet provides users with a world of information, practically in real-time. But, the speed of the internet has created a world of impatient users who are quick to abandon a webpage if it’s taking too long to load.
Two in five users will abandon your hotel’s website if it doesn’t load in under three seconds, so quick load times are incredibly important. Plus, if your pages are slow to load, search engines will penalize you, pushing your listing further down the results page.
Google’s Page Speed Insight tool is the best way to get a feel for your site’s loading speeds. All you need to do is type your site URL into the search bar, and the tool will provide you with a page speed score, as well as actionable insights on what you can do to improve load times.
If your score isn’t high enough, meet with your webmaster or site administrator to discuss the steps you can take to improve your loading speeds.
Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly
Today, more than half of all searches are performed on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Mobile users are just as likely to convert into customers, and it’s critical that you’re offering these users the same experience they’d have on your desktop site.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly test works similarly to its Page Speed Insight tool. Type in your site URL in the search box, and they’ll let you know if your site is mobile-friendly, as well as what you need to do to improve your site experience for mobile users.
Submit Your Sitemap to Google
A sitemap provides search engines with the framework and hierarchy of your website, and it allows them to understand how your site is laid out. A search engine will read your sitemap file to crawl your pages, and if you don’t submit them an up-to-date site map, it can affect your ranking.
Most websites can create an XML sitemap for you automatically, and if your site doesn’t, it’s still easy for your technical team or webmaster to generate one manually. Once you have your sitemap file, you’ll need to submit it through Google Search Console for indexing.
Structure and Maintain Site Schema
Your site schema is code on your website that provides additional information about your business to search engines. Schema helps search engines develop context about your website, and it’s a proven SEO strategy that can help improve your SEO while making your entry on a SERP stand out from your competitors.
Your site schema can include valuable information about your business, like your location, phone number, and contact address, as well as information about the area.
This information can be displayed by search engines as a “rich snippet,” and instead of a basic entry, there may be additional ways for users to interact on-page. Examples of this content can include your contact information, upcoming events, FAQs about your hotel, and more.
Link building is one of the oldest SEO strategies, and it’s still a worthwhile component of SEO. Link building refers to two separate processes, internal links, and external links.
Internal links are links from one page on your site to another. These links help users to find other relevant information while on your site easily, and they’re another way to provide search engines with additional insight into how your website is structured and which pages can be associated together.
External links or backlinks are links from other websites to your website. These links carry the most juice from an SEO perspective, and they require more work than internal linking does. When other authority sites in related fields link to your website, it indicates to search engines that your page is relevant and useful to users.
There are plenty of easy opportunities to build up your backlinks, like:
- Creating listings on travel and review sites
- Creating social media pages for your brand
- Submit your site to directories
Once you’ve taken care of these areas, you can find additional backlinking opportunities by networking with complementary businesses, guest posting for other blogs and websites, and creating useful content like infographics that are likely to be cited in content on other sites.
Maintaining a focus on hotel SEO is a no brainer for the hospitality industry, yet it’s an area that many of your competitors are overlooking right now.
The 12 SEO tips above are a great place to start as you focus on improving your search position. Remember that your hotel SEO won’t improve overnight, but with a little bit of effort, you’ll be able to create a reliable channel for driving direct bookings to your property.