That coveted page 1 position on Google can be yours. Just follow these simple steps to SEO success, whatever the size of your property. It’s simpler than you think.
Sort That Old Website
50% of searches are on mobile. Naturally search giant Google has responded with numerous updates that favour websites that are mobile friendly, responsive and fast loading. Click here to check if your website is up to speed. If not, it’s time to redesign your website. A good internal linking structure to your website is also important, not only for your users, but also for the search engines.
Every good website is powered by a good content management system (CMS). Is your CMS easy to use? Is it simple to make simple changes like updating meta titles and meta descriptions or adding image alt tags (all important search indicators)? A good CMS will also help you centralise your content and data, making your digital marketing efforts more effective.
Get Your Head Around Keywords
Without keyword research you’ll be shooting in the dark. Learning how to find these words and phrases, and utilising them in your hotel’s SEO strategy are crucial to success.
There are many free SEO tools around that will enable you to find the right keywords – just Google it! See what works for you and what you can afford. Start with Google’s Keyword Planner – it’s free!
When you’re finalising your keywords, gun for long tail keywords. For example, competition to rank for ‘hotels in Auckland’ may be very high. So you could try and rank for ‘things to do near central Auckland’ or ‘cool hotels in Auckland’ – think like your customer. A huge advantage you have over the OTAs who’re competing for the same place is that you’re the local – Google favours local businesses. Include location based keywords in your strategy. Using location in your meta titles is also suggested.
While you should use keywords like hotel and your location generously through the site’s content, don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing is not pleasant for the reader, and Google will be even less impressed.
Let’s Say It Again – CONTENT IS KING!
Nothing replaces the power of good content. Everything else is secondary. If it is good, it will be shared and talked about. And that’s half the battle won.
Having a blog page is a fantastic way to keep the content on the website fresh (another good search indicator) and target the keywords in your SEO strategy.
Make your content interesting, interactive and shareable on social platforms. Use images to your advantage. Have slide shares, short videos and infographics on your website and social channels. There is a huge host of tools to help you easily create such content types.
Make a Plan. Follow It.
You’ve limited time and SEO can be an endless pit. So make a plan.
An SEO audit is a good place to begin this plan. From the audit results, prioritise what’s critical, must-have and nice to have. Address in that order. Typically technical issues will fall in the critical area (404 errors, submitting updated sitemaps etc). Must-haves are your targeted keywords – maybe target 6-8 key phrases per month. Back links are also a must have. Everything else is nice to have.
Once your SEO strategy takes shape, develop a content marketing plan that complements it, keeping in mind business goals. Most importantly, once your content is ready, get smart about marketing it – social media, paid advertising, guest blogging…there are plenty of options.
Get Listed on the Web. Get Reviews.
Get the word about your business out through various sites. TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, BreadandBreakfast.com…your options are endless really. Because these sites have good rankings, any links from here to yours will count towards improving your SEO value. Keep your listings updated, check for broken links or incorrect information.
It offers double whammy benefits of improving your ranking and conversions at the same time. We’d hedge our bets on Google+ reviews carrying some hefty SEO weight, but Facebook and travel sites work wonders too.
Back Links Are Crucial
Gone are the days of paid links. Google now penalises link farms and purchased links. Instead go for unique organic links with relevant anchor text, such as editorial links, mentions of the property on local attractions’ websites, blogs and nearby convention centres.
Be warned, building back links can take time.
Use Data to Your Advantage
There are many tools that can help website owners gather data. Two of the most important ones are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. They both work together for maximum usability and effectiveness.
The Search Console is everything Search related – it tells you which keywords are getting traffic, which pages have highest click-through and also where you submit your sitemap or know of server errors. It may be a complex beast, but once you’ve got the basics, it will be very helpful. Google Analytics on the other hand provides you reports, insights and statistics into your site’s traffic.
List Your Property on Google+ and Google My Business
These two work together to increase the strength of your local search engine rankings. Google+ allows you to build a social community and over time becomes a hub of data for Google’s search engine. It is said to benefit you in blended search, local carousel results, etc.
Google My Business is your property’s physical presence. It allows you to become visible on Google Maps and shows up as a mini box with the address of the business, Google Reviews, the telephone number, opening times and often, a whole lot more.