Hotel SEO is a strategy that is used to improve a hotel website’s rankings on the most popular search engines such as Google and Bing. SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it’s a technique that helps boost the organic online visibility of your business.

The theory behind SEO is that most search engine users are not going to sift through multiple pages of results in order to get the information they need or the products they want.

They are most likely to visit the top-ranking pages, which is why you want to earn a position on page one of the search engine results page (SERP).

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Why is SEO for hotels important?

Search engines are your property’s best friend when you optimise for them effectively. Every type of accommodation provider needs to develop an effective SEO strategy, and small hotels are no exception.

Why? A large number of travellers are going to do an online search to discover their booking options – and your ranking, especially on Google, is what will determine whether or not your property gets seen.

While it may be difficult to outrank large online travel sites, there’s still a lot you can do to help your property be discovered and stay ahead of your competition.

Here’s what you need to know about hotel SEO and how to easily get found on search engines like Google.

How to do SEO for hotels the right way 

To earn a high ranking on search engine results pages, or SERPs, you need to know the basics of SEO.

Consider these top factors and components when developing your hotel website:

1. SEO keywords for hotels 

Keywords are the terms and phrases searchers might use in order to find your property. Instead of generic keywords like “hotel”, opt for descriptive keywords that are unique to your business and location. For example, “eco friendly bed and breakfast in Newcastle”.

It’s important to incorporate keywords in a natural way rather than ‘stuffing’ them in, as keyword stuffing can be penalised by Google. 

Also make sure to include relevant keywords in your website metadata:

  • Meta title: The title of your website page within its HTML code. It is the title used by search engines when they link back to your page. Your meta title should be no longer than 60 characters.
  • Meta description: The meta description provides search engines with comprehensive information about your website page. It doesn’t directly impact search engine rankings but does influence user experience (i.e. how likely someone is to click through to your website). Your meta description should be no longer than 155 characters.
Hotel SEO example

2. Hotel SEO links 

There are two types of links that are important for SEO:

Internal links: These are links between pages on your website, for example a link within one blog to another blog. 

External links: These are links from other websites to your website. The more external links you earn, the more valuable your site will seem to search engines.

SEO tips for hotel link building 

  • Link to other pages within your website, such as blogs, landing pages, a contact us page or a booking page.
  • Reach out to local travel sites and tourism experts and encourage them to link to your property, as industry links are more valuable than random, irrelevant links.
  • Get listed on Google, TripAdvisor and Yelp, as well as any other popular directories in your region. 
  • Sign up to social media sites that your guests are using, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

3. Hotel SEO marketing and content 

Fresh, accurate and relevant content is essential for SEO. Make regular updates to your website and consistently produce unique and interesting content to keep users engaged, and prove to search engines that you deserve a top ranking.

One easy way is to write a blog, ideally once a week. Include a target keyword at least once per blog (for example, ‘bed and breakfast sydney’) and don’t forget to add internal links to other pages on your website where relevant.

Adding your target keywords into your main content takes finesse. You need to place the keywords in a prominent location, but they also need to occur naturally within the text.

The search engines place a priority on relevant and accurate content, so you can’t fall into the habit of keyword-stuffing your content.

Ultimately, your specific target keyword should appear exactly as-is at least twice during the text. The first appearance should occur within the first several lines of the content.

Also, you will want to add keyword variations into different parts of the content.

4. Hotel website user experience 

A responsive, user-friendly website is crucial to earning the top ranking on Google. Do a quick health check to make sure your site contains no broken pages. Use Google Search Central (it’s free) to analyse your website and get tips for improving your user experience.

Also assess your guests’ experience when it comes to online booking. Firstly, are guests able to book on your website? Giving travel customers the ability to book instantaneously through your online booking engine will help ensure people aren’t navigating away from your site to book elsewhere. To get an idea of what that looks like, watch our detailed demo videos.

5. Hotel SEO online reviews

For small hotels, building positive reviews is critical to success.

Consider this:

  • 49% of travellers won’t book a hotel without reviews
  • 81% of travellers find user reviews important
  • 70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising

What’s more, online reviews are one of the most important ranking signals for Google, which means they’re an essential part of any hotel SEO strategy. Ask guests to leave a review after their stay, and make sure your business is listed on key directories such as TripAdvisor, Google My Business and Facebook.

6. Local SEO for hotels

Local SEO is the process of optimising your online presence specifically for location-based searches: think of someone searching for a hotel on Google Maps, or typing “[CITY] hotel” into a search engine.

As you can probably imagine, hotel local SEO management is a critical consideration for hoteliers, as hotel searches are inherently location-based. The good news is that there are a couple of simple ways in which you can improve your local SEO performance.

  • Google My Business: The most important aspect of local SEO is your Google My Business, as this allows your hotel to be featured on Google Maps and as part of the rich results displayed on the Google results page. Ensure you’ve correctly set up and completely filled out your Google My Business, keep it up to date with info and photos, and encourage and respond to reviews.
  • Local keywords: Ensure your content, from website copy, to blogs, to social media posts, has a local focus. Add keywords relating to your location wherever you can, as this will help to push you up the Google rankings for relevant local queries.

Understanding where you sit in the market can also be a powerful advantage to make your hotel stand out in the local scene. Little Hotelier’s Insights tool is the perfect complement to your SEO efforts, allowing you to easily compare your rates with those of your competitors.

7. Hotel SEO metadata and titles

Search engines, such as Google, are going to crawl your title page and headers to rank your site on the search engine results page.

Use your targeted keyword in the title page, and incorporate variations of the keyword into the headers.

For example, if you run a B&B in northern Michigan, you would want to use the following keywords:

  • Title Page: Local Bed and Breakfast in Northern Michigan
  • H1 Header: Welcome to Northern Michigan: Your Bed and Breakfast in Petoskey Awaits

And don’t forget about meta keywords and meta phrases! The metadata for your website isn’t going to be seen by your guests very often, but it’s highly visible to the search engines that are ranking your website.

This is why it’s necessary to optimise your meta phrases and keywords with your target keywords. Adding a location to your keyword is critical, particularly for businesses in the travel industry.

  • For the meta description: Verify that it is less than 156 characters. Use the target keyword or keyword phrase in the first sentence, and include a call-to-action.
  • For the meta keywords: Verify that the keywords are less than 25 words combined. Use keyword variations that are relevant without being repetitive. This is a good place to include common mistakes and misspellings that a searcher might use when looking for your property.

Monitor your Google Analytics account frequently to understand the keywords that are trending and to select the keyword phrases that are most relevant to your bed and breakfast.

8. Use an SEO hotel website builder

SEO can be a lot to take on for the owner of an independent hotel, but when you use the right tools, it can be surprisingly simple: if you’re looking to revamp your website, the Little Hotelier Website Builder could be just what you’re looking for. 

Our simple and intuitive website builder allows anyone to create their own beautiful hotel website, no matter their technical ability – you can simply drag and drop elements into place. What’s more, every website template has been designed with SEO in mind, so you can be confident of getting on Google’s good side.

9. Hotel SEO for mobile users

An ever-increasing number of hotel bookings are made from mobile devices, and if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your listing could be demoted by Google, meaning you would miss out on a large chunk of potential guests.

One look at the numbers points to the importance of mobile-optimisation:

  • Of the 156 million people in the US who actively engage with digital travel content, 90% of monthly website visitors are browsing using their smartphone or tablet.
  • Two-thirds of all UK travel website visitors are exploring using a mobile device, and interestingly 25% have abandoned their desktop altogether, opting instead to browse travel content online exclusively via mobile.
  • Half of all U.S. travellers plan to book with a tablet device at some point during 2015, and a significant 29% plan to book on a smartphone – statistics that historically curve upwards every six months.
  • In the UK, 70% of those who successfully booked travel via a smartphone would do so again and in the US that figure rises to 80%.
  • In both the US and the UK, alone, 90% of those who booked on a tablet device would happily go through the same process again.

Cover the following bases to make sure your hotel website is mobile-optimised and easy to use:

  • ‘Responsive’ web design. Be ‘responsive’ so that your website will automatically adapt to all kinds of screen sizes, including mobile, tablet and desktop.
  • Quick to load. Website load speed is very important for your search ranking. A lot of people are impatient, and bounce off your site if it takes too long. Make sure you have a good CMS (content management system) which loads very quickly, and allows you to update content very quickly.
  • Easy to navigate. Make it as easy as possible for the people visiting your site to find the information they need. The way your site is structured needs to be logical for search engines to give you a thumbs up.
  • Informative. Use words, images, and even videos that describe your property and the destination it’s in. You should also have descriptive metadata (the text that appears in the search results) which includes your property type and location.
  • Booking capability. When potential guests are convinced and ready to make their reservation, make sure they can instantly check availability and confirm their reservation in just a few clicks.

Remember, the key is to make it as simple as possible for your potential guests to learn about your property and make a reservation with you, no matter what device they are using to access your website.

Top hotel SEO tips you need to know

  • Focus on local SEO for hotels: When a potential guest begins their search for a hotel like yours, they will probably type in something like “hotel [YOUR LOCATION]” into Google. By featuring the names of your area, city, suburb or neighbourhood as keywords throughout your website (and wider online presence), you’re more likely to come up as a result when a guest types those words in.
  • Create unique and interesting content: A blog about the best sights to see or restaurants to eat at in your area can bring a steady flow of potential guests to your site. They’re also a fantastic opportunity to enhance your brand by sharing your local expertise, and they grant you the opportunity to target the most relevant keywords for Google to grab onto.
  • Offer direct booking functionality: Once you have used SEO content to attract a visitor to your hotel website, your next challenge is to convert them into a customer. Every hotel website should feature a direct booking engine that allows a customer to make a reservation then and there, as this gives you more control and allows you to sidestep the 15-25% commission charged by OTAs.
  • Track your traffic: How did a visitor arrive at your site? What demographic of visitor does your site tend to attract? Are your visitor numbers growing? By tracking your website traffic you can answer all these questions and more, which can then inform your broader hotel SEO strategy.

Tracking your hotel SEO strategy

Search engine optimisation is a quantifiable science with a clear goal – pushing your website up the Google rankings for relevant keywords, which in turn drives more website traffic. As an organic, long-term strategy, you need to ensure your SEO efforts are headed in the right direction, lest you waste significant resources on insignificant results.

In order to understand whether your SEO investment is generating a return, it’s wise to track the following metrics:

  • Keyword ranking: As part of your SEO strategy you will have identified your hotel’s most relevant keywords and how you rank for them. You should regularly check whether this ranking is improving. Aim to get to the first page, ideally the top spot.
  • Organic traffic: Are you seeing more organic traffic to your website thanks to your SEO efforts? Remember that there could be other factors driving organic visitors to your site, such as your social media efforts, so be sure to check the source of the traffic.
  • Conversions: Getting an organic visitor to your website is just half the battle – you then need them to convert. The term ‘conversion’ can mean any number of different things, including blog subscriptions, contact form completions and bookings. Measure and analyse each type of conversion.
  • Revenue: The ultimate goal of your SEO investment is to realise a return, so given what you’ve learnt using the metrics above, is SEO-driven organic traffic increasing your revenue? A tool like Google Analytics can help you find out.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).