Hotel SEO: It Doesn’t Stand Alone, Part 2

Think Outside the Box

City or neighborhood identification isn’t the only way to work hotel SEO. Look at ways your customers use their time when they’re in your area. Are they attending trade conferences? Touring a popular museum or park? Enjoying unique regional wines and foods? Attending ball games?

If changing your hotel’s name isn’t feasible or turns it into something too unwieldy, make sure the hotel’s location is sprinkled liberally throughout its online presence.

Making an Impression

Solid hotel SEO might help bring customers to your door, but if the other two components—service and amenities—are shaky, repeat business is as unlikely as word-of-mouth referrals.

A big part of hotel branding is consistency. When customers book a stay at a hotel with a certain name, that name implies the experience they’re going to have when they arrive—no matter where that stay may be. They know, for example, that their room is going to look (or at least be equipped) a certain way, that breakfast is included, and at 7 p.m. there will be freshly baked cookies available in the warm, inviting lobby.

There’s no law that says you must provide branded items like mints, pens, notepads, custom-made toiletries, and monogrammed bath robes. These are nice extras, but again, if the service and quality of the stay are lacking, you may find customers leaving these items behind rather than taking home mementos of a less-than-perfect experience.

Every Staff Member Counts

In a very real sense, every member of your hotel staff is a member of the marketing team. One unpleasant encounter can ruin all your brand-building efforts in one fell swoop. Employees who are made to feel as if they’re an integral part of the operation—that their ideas, experiences, and opinions count—are more motivated to go the extra mile for each and every guest.

Hotel SEO doesn’t have to carry the weight of your marketing campaign. Let us show you how. Contact us today!

Hotel SEO: It Doesn’t Stand Alone, Part 1

For a long time, the big buzzwords of online hotel marketing have been “search engine optimization” (SEO). And it doesn’t look like anything is going to knock SEO off its throne—or at least off the top five list—anytime soon.

Hotel SEO can’t carry the marketing load all by itself, though, and it’s a mistake to think simply SEO-ing your way to top search engine results will automatically boost profits. Online visibility is only the first of many steps needed to build a hotel brand that will stick with customers long after their stay is over.

The Better to Market With, My Dear

SEO and the name of your hotel are natural partners. However, if you’ve done everything right with your SEO efforts and aren’t getting the results you’d hoped for, it might be time to take a hard look at your hotel’s name.

If there’s nothing about your Downtown Inn’s name to distinguish it from a few dozen other Downtown Inns fighting for visibility, consider changing or adding words that not only differentiate, but make your hotel stand out.

Even large, international chain hotels have shrewdly added to or changed an individual facility’s name so it lands at the top of search engine result pages. For example, let’s take a fictional small chain of three hotels in New York City, all under the umbrella “New York City Suites,” distinguished only by their street addresses. A potential customer who’s searching “hotels in Manhattan” will never know one of your facilities is in Manhattan.

By adding a location to each facility’s generic name—New York City Suites Manhattan, New York City Suites Park Slope, and New York City Suites Bronx—you enhance your brand while raising your SEO visibility.

Hotel SEO doesn’t have to carry the weight of your marketing campaign. Let us show you how. Contact us today!

Hotel SEO: Do Your Homework, Make the Grade

Let’s try a hotel SEO experiment. Go to Google, and type “hotel” plus the name of your hometown or the nearest big city in the text box. Press Enter to search.

 

What do you see?

 

In the list of unpaid results, most likely you see links to the most popular travel booking sites, perhaps one or two of the hottest travel review sites, and maybe one large hotel chain. Down at the very bottom.

 

What don’t you see?

 

Chances are, you probably won’t see links to small hotel chains or independents. Go ahead, click on page two of the search results. More big commercial names. Page three—more of the same. No, wait, there’s one independent luxury hotel clear down at the bottom of page three.

 

How did that get there? What is this hotel doing right, or at least right enough to claw its way onto page three? And what could the staff improve upon to work their way up to page two . . . or the Holy Grail of search engine results, page one? Below are three ideas to make this happen:

  1. Research keywords. Using the wrong keywords is just as bad as ignoring hotel SEO completely. For example, a highly desirable but overused phrase like “luxury hotel” is a good way to make your hotel disappear from search results. Think about how your target customer might word a search phrase, like “hotel Detroit historic district” or “lakefront hotel Detroit.”
  2. Build keywords into your hotel web site. Take your carefully researched keywords and begin building them into your hotel web site. This doesn’t mean randomly copying and pasting clumps of words on every page. The words have to make sense within the context of the content. Think of this as building a story around those keywords. Include useful content that draws the reader to click “book” instead of “back.”
  3. Cookie-cutter = kiss of death. Don’t trust some other company’s web site template to effectively manage your hotel’s SEO strategy. Custom fit the web site structure, as well as the content, to your hotel. Make every image, every word something the customer wants more of, not meaningless click bait.

 

Smart eHotels™ can help you hit your hotel SEO target—every time. Contact us today!

Hotel PPC: Pay-Per-Click Advertising 101

Hotel marketing can be expensive, but hey, that doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know! If you haven’t looked into pay-per-click advertising (PPC), here’s a primer on its advantages and disadvantages. Hotel PPC can easily fit into your marketing budget because you’re the one in control of what it costs – as long as you know exactly what you’re doing.

Advantages

  • No web site overhaul required
    Search engine optimization (SEO) requires on-site adjustments, fresh content, keyword changes to each page, and other changes.. In contrast, PPC advertising typically doesn’t require any additional work on your hotel’s website.
  • Quick Results

Hotel SEO can take between 3-6 months to gain traction in search results. With PPC, you can jump to page one rankings almost immediately, depending on your budget and keywords, which brings us to our next point.

  • You decide the budget
    Set a maximum bid per click, based on research of typical bids for your target keywords. For example, Google AdWords suggests a bid of $2-4 for some popular hotel-related keywords. Then set a limit on how much you want to spend per day.
  • Easy to set up
    The process to set up PPC advertising is relatively simple. For example, there are only a few simple steps to set up PPC advertising through Google AdWords:
    – Create a Google account and password (or use an existing account).
    – Open a Google AdWords account.
    – Choose a budget.
    – Create a short, snappy ad with a to-the-point headline, such as “Historic Boston Hotel.”
    – Build a list of search terms and keywords customers typically use to find your hotel, and set location parameters.
    – Enter billing information and click to start the campaign.
    – Check back occasionally to see which keywords are getting the most attention, and tweak the list as needed by adding new terms and deleting unproductive ones.
    – Especially for hotels, it might be a good idea to set up two separate campaigns, one local and one global.

Disadvantages

  • Easy to go hog wild
    Remember that you must pay for every potential customer’s click, even if they don’t end up booking a stay. Make sure your keyword list is carefully honed so you don’t burn through your budget too quickly.
  • Ad burnout
    Over time, web users have become immune to enticing PPC ads. That’s one reason impactful ad copy is so important. Even if the ad is only ten words, you might want to get a professional PPC specialist to help you get the best results.
  • Selecting the right marketing partner
    Search for an online marketing expert, and the results page will be crowded with potentially fly-by-night firms who claim to know what they’re doing. Look for a firm that knows the ins and outs of your particular industry – hotels!

Why trust your hotel PPC campaign to anyone else? At Smart eHotels, we’re all hotels, all the time. Contact us today!

Hotel SEO: Is It Possible to Over-Optimize Your Website?

In the dawning of the age of SEO, website developers quickly learned the formula for making sure their sites popped to the top of Google web search results: Figure out the most popular search phrases, and pack web pages full of them. The more, the better—right?

Not anymore.

 

Go Easy On The Keywords

Google has caught on to the keyword-packing game, and rightly so. Now it’s not enough for a hotel website to simply contain those popular search phrases, otherwise known as “search engine spam.” To be ranked, the web page’s content has to contain useful information, not just catch words.

That means keywords can’t just be dropped randomly into the middle of a sentence. Not only is this annoying to readers, but Google’s algorithms have gotten smarter at spotting blatant key-word stuffing. Keywords must now be worked naturally into the web page content in a way that makes sense.

 

Some Keywords Don’t Work

In the “old days,” all a web designer needed to know about hotel SEO was how to type meta keyword tags into a pop-up box in their chosen website design software, then save and publish. It’s not that simple anymore.

Google pretty much ignores meta keyword tags – unless, again, you’ve used too many. Cram the meta tags with a hundred possible keywords, and Google may banish your hotel website to search engine results no-man’s land.

 

Back-Links Can Backfire

Put simply, back-linking is the art of sprinkling links to your hotel’s website all across the web. The idea is to plant links on other web pages, blogs, or social media sites, where interested parties are likely to see them.

Once again, back-linking isn’t as simple as it used to be, when web developers simply paid someone to load up a back-link paint nozzle, as it were, and start spraying. Google figured this trick out pretty quickly, and now penalizes your hotel’s website accordingly if it notices hundreds of identical back-links appearing all at once, all over the web.

Treat a back-link like you would a business card; hand them out one at a time, and let website connections build slowly and naturally. Agree to trade links with another site relevant to your industry. Post useful content on travel websites and blogs, and include that back-link as a logical part of the article.

 

Other Common Hotel SEO Mistakes

One biggie is using SEO to draw users to your hotel website without taking into consideration why they’re there. Okay, so you’ve figured out that users are Googling “Disney World hotel packages.” Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d darn well better make sure that once a user lands on that web page, what they’re looking for is front and center, and presented in a way that’s logical and easy to use. In other words, don’t make them work to get to the information they need, or they’ll move on—and Google will notice and bump your hotel website down to search result page one-thousand-and-nowhere.

Giving the Google searcher exactly what they’re looking for is one thing, but giving them something extra, something unexpected but appreciated, is even better. Examples:

  • Advice about what to pack and what to leave at home
  • Where to eat on a budget, where to dine on a splurge
  • Great local attractions they may not have heard of
  • Work with local businesses to offer coupons with a stay that includes lower-demand midweek nights
  • Include stories about positive things your hotel is doing to improve the local community

Another common problem is a slow turnaround time between discovering ways to improve the website, and actual testing and implementation of those changes. The web moves fast; a nimble web development process is rewarded with new and returning visitors.

Google will notice – in a good way.

Slow and steady wins the hotel SEO race! Let SmarteHotels.com help you develop an effective strategy. Contact us today!

The Role of SEO in Hotel Niche Marketing

Good hotel SEO (search engine optimization) is the top priority when it comes to putting up a website for your hotel. Your hotel is in competition with hundreds or even thousands of other hotels. The best website design in the world won’t do you any good if no one ever sees it—that’s where hotel SEO comes in.

SEO pumps your website up above the generic, rooms-prices-location-contact model. Not that these things aren’t important, but there are ways to make your facility stand out—and pop it up to page one of search engine results.

Niche marketing is becoming more and more important as part of your overall hotel sales marketing strategy. Hotel SEO plays a critical part in your efforts to reach those smaller, specialized segments of your customer base.

Your Website

As we talked about in previous articles, once you’ve identified the niche customers you want to reach, start optimizing your website. Create a separate landing page for each niche, which is essentially a mini website within your main website. Make sure that page contains all the information that special interest group wants to know – room features, amenities, services, testimonial excerpts from previous customers, and contact information (pet concierge, anyone?)—all focused on that niche.

For hotel SEO, text is critical! Think about what a customer in search of a pet-friendly hotel will enter into a search engine. For example, “pet friendly hotel in (city name).”

Make sure that phrase appears several times on that landing page to maximize the chances a search engine will pick it up. Note: We’re not recommending keyword stuffing or overusing your key phrase; this will look spammy to readers (and to Google!) and may end up hurting your SEO. The idea is to show search engines that this is what your business is about and encourage them to help potential customers find you more easily.

Creating Content

If your hotel website is well designed, you probably have a built-in blog function. Use it! Creating fresh, timely content is important to keep web visitors coming back to see what’s new. For example, an article with tips for traveling with pets will spark interest from the niche customers you’re looking for.

Make sure these articles are cross-linked with the niche-targeted landing page we talked about above. After all, what’s the point of creating content if at the end there isn’t a call to action such as, “(Name of your hotel) welcomes pets! Book with us today!”

SEO As A Problem Solver

In a way, you can look at hotel SEO niche marketing as a way to solve a particular problem for a specific customer.

– Where can I stay with my pet when I visit (location)?

– Which hotels near the stadium will let me leave my car during the big game?

– Wow, the ComiCon hotel is expensive. Is there a less expensive hotel nearby?

Branching Out

In addition to including those phrases that are key to your niche market on your website, make sure to include those words in your listings on travel review sites and reservation hubs. Tick the box for “allows pets,” for example, and include appropriate wording in the description you’ll likely be writing yourself.

In addition, look for specialized booking engines, like officialpethotels.com. If there’s a niche customer, there’s probably a boutique booking engine dedicated to them!

Get SEO savvy! Smart eHotels can help. Contact us today.