The tourism industry has it pretty tough (near impossible) when it comes to hotel search engine marketing, wouldn’t you agree?
As if competing with TripAdvisor, Expedia, Trivago, and other travel businesses wasn’t enough –Google has thrown themselves into the ring with their own vacation finder aptly named Google Destinations and their commercialized search results. A double forehead slap for one of the world’s most complicated and competitive industries.
So what are you supposed to do about it? Keep reading.
Internet Marketing for Hotels is Hard:
8 Hotel SEO Strategies to Rank Higher
Hotel website SEO in Thailand or any other place where tourism dominates the GDP can feel like a car wreck when you’re competing with big online travel agencies (OTA) like TripAdvisor and Expedia for first page rankings, as well as the newly minted Google Destinations which take up most of the space above the fold on search result pages.
If you aren’t willing to double down on your hotel internet marketing, you are probably outranked into oblivion by these OTA sites.
However, OTA sites aren’t the only challenge with the marketing of hotel websites. In this article, we delve into another problem that’s affecting your hotel’s visibility in search engines.
Google’s Commercialized Results
This is how a typical search result looks when you type in a query for a hotel in a specific location and Google Destinations hasn’t filled the majority of the top of the page.
The current SERP’s layout doesn’t seem to favor organic results. The first thing you see are ads and the local 3-pack results.
This layout pushes organic results even further down search results pages. It also allows users to compare rates between OTAs and book with Google directly from the search results page without having to visit your website. Effectively, they’re grinding your margins into the dirt and I think they’re enjoying it.
If you can’t beat them, join them
If you want your site to appear beyond the organic results, be willing to sign up for Google’s central reservation system and give up 10-12% commission or pay the $1-$4 cost per click (CPC) to have your site appear on ads with Google Adwords.
This doesn’t mean that your hotel marketing efforts are futile. It just means there are several extra steps that you will want to consider in order to succeed in search marketing.
It’s Hotel Internet Marketing Strategy Time!
The sooner you work on internet marketing for your hotel, the further ahead you will be from your competitors and the bleeding will stop.
Here are 8 hotel search engine marketing strategies:
1. Combine your organic and paid search efforts
This doubles your chances of getting real estate in search results for your most important keywords. If your budget permits it, consider joining Google Hotel Ads (GHA) platform. The more aggressive you are with this method, the more chances of your hotel occupying an essential area in Google’s search results.
2. Hire an influencer, write a travel guide for best-selling trips, and boost domain authority
Just like traditional ecommerce sites, it’s difficult to get other websites to backlink to your travel website. No one reads about an available offer with an expiry date and thinks “Golly! I better write about this and link to it!”
Even if they did, dynamically generated content created by third-party hotel booking software or Tour CMS, Trekksoft, et al changes on a regular basis or disappears. That’s content controlled outside of your website, and is usually accompanied by a “book now” feature. If that travel package isn’t available anymore, often, neither is the content it pasted on your website. So links to dynamically generated content isn’t very valuable.
However, evergreen content like awesome travel guides on your blog –that is valuable.
Backlinks boost domain authority, and unless you’ve got content that lasts longer than a season and is evergreen, you’re not going to earn quality backlinks over time.
So find yourself an influencer, a travel blogger, or a travel writer –or do it yourself—and make blog posts that are worthy of backlinks from other websites on your blog (that’s what it’s really there for).
3. Write trip or itinerary descriptions with travel SEO on your mind
If you’re going to input descriptions for itineraries, tours, and the like into third-party CMS software that will appear dynamically on your website, write it with search engines in mind.
That means that you should apply all the traditional SEO travel keyword logic you’re aware of into your descriptions.
In order to do this, follow these easy hotel SEO best practices for 2017:
- Use keywords in titles, with a modifier or magnet keyword like ‘best’, ‘cheap’, ‘deal’, ‘book’, ‘online’, ‘lowest price’, ‘sale’, ‘% off’, or ‘guarantee’
- Include 1,000 words or more in your best-selling trip/service/product descriptions, without any fluff to fill the page and not on low margin offers
- Make sure every page that’s auto-generated by software is within 3-4 clicks from the home page on your website, because page authority is diluted with every page in between the home page and your product/service/trip or ‘book now’ page
- Short URLs rank better, so make sure new pages don’t have long, convoluted URLs if this is something you can control within your third-party software
4. Use long tail keywords instead of exact match keywords
Publish content on your site that answers common destination questions. You’ll gain more user engagement for this since long tail keywords have less competition. If the answer requires that you mention a certain establishment other than your own, like a restaurant or a shop, don’t be afraid to do so. You’ll get good karma points for providing helpful information to your reader.
5. List, list, list
Make sure your property information is consistent across all listing sites. Don’t forget to include a link directly to your site when internet marketing for hotel on listing sites.
6. Get cozy with Google Analytics
Identify the most common pages your users visit prior to completing a booking with the help of Google Analytics. Optimize your site pages accordingly to ensure that the user can easily find the information they are looking for.
7. Leverage your images
Include your hotel name in all of your image alt tags to increase your brand power in search results. That way anyone searching for you by name will get to you first, not an OTA site.
8. Flood the web with content
Publish content on authoritative sites and relevant content marketing blogs where you can place direct links to your hotel’s website.
A few good places to start are Wikipedia, YouTube, and About.com. These places allow you to contribute information about your hotel. Just be sure to not sound too salesly. Provide helpful information instead.
As a hotelier, it is very important to stay up to date with the latest changes in the hotel internet marketing world, and never stop focusing on search engine positioning optimization.
Changes to Google and other popular search engines can have a serious impact to your hotel website’s placement in search rankings –and on your business. Don’t be afraid to experiment with paid strategies. You always want to go for ones with the lowest cost and highest returns, and that’s a serious SEO benefit of content marketing.
Thoughts? Let everyone know in the comments below.