The ABC of SEO for Hotels

At Simplotel we have built websites for over 2,000 hotels, and every single time we have been asked about how we drive traffic to a website. We have been asked by those who are usually suspicious of SEO because they paid for such services in past and may or may not have seen results. And we have been asked by our customers who see a 3x plus growth in their website traffic after coming to our platform – as to how we do it. While SEO can be a deep subject, today we will attempt to outline how one must think about SEO in this post. 
seo
At a high level SEO depends on three things –

  1. Technology and layout of the website 
  2. The content on the website
  3. Things happening outside your website

Technology and layout of the website

In order to determine the relevance of a website for a search term (also known as a keyword) search engines have a piece of software called a Bot (derived from the word Robot) that crawls (think of it as reads) content on your website. The Bot then stores the keywords that a website is most relevant for. This is known as indexing of a website.

Unlike users, bots see the code of the website and not what users see on a website (you can view the code of most websites by right clicking on a webpage and selecting view page source). The easier this code is for the search engines to understand, the better chance you have of conveying your content to the search engines and making sure that your content gets indexed correctly. Here again there are hundreds of things that matter. These include the load time of a website, the structure of website code, mobile friendliness, proper tags and sitemaps. Detailing these is a topic for a future blog.

The layout of your website also plays an important role in search engine optimization. Clean and simple navigation, easily readable content – they all add up towards SEO friendliness. 
To get these things right a website must be built for SEO from the ground up – retrofitting these things can often mean redoing the website. The good news is that Simplotel, out of the box, takes care of all this for your hotel website.

The content on your website

Now that we have gotten the technical aspects covered, the next most obvious thing about SEO is the content of the website. If your website’s content is about ice cream cones then your site will be indexed for ice cream cone searches and not for hotels. If your content is about a luxury hotel, then you won’t be indexed for budget hotels and consequently it is unlikely that you will show up for searches related to budget hotels.

Content also comes in many shapes. It includes the text on the website, the images that you put, the links you provide and the various tags (page titles page descriptions etc.). Each one of these have a significance and how and where you place them also matters. Content that is higher up on a page matters more than the content that is below. On things like page titles, the content that is to the left matters more than the content that is to the right. How you structure your content with various Headers (much like a word document) matters. How you name your images, how you name the links – they all matter.

All content on your website should be original content – copying of content from another website hurts your traffic – as the search engines and users skip past you believing you have nothing new to say. Adding fresh and relevant content has also shown to impact the SEO of a website.

There is also data about your hotel (meta data) that you can provide on your website, it is not visible to your customers but tells the bots the location, name, etc. of your hotel. Once again, Simplotel does this out of the box for your site.  Our experts write the content for your hotel website so that it is all set up well. This is another reason why our customers see a 3x plus growth in traffic.

Things happening outside your website

After the technology and the content on the website, there are things that happen outside your website that impact search engine optimization. These include your guest reviews, your listing on Google Maps and local listing sites, your mention in travel blogs, etc. – they all matter. Here are some suggestions,

  • Verify and own your Google Plus page and make sure that the map marker is accurate.
  • Ensure that your hotel’s name, address and contact info is exactly the same on all online channels – your G+ page, social media pages, local listings and classified listings. 
  • Get good reviews by taking care of customers and encouraging customers to write a glowing review. Also, respond to your reviews on various review channels time to time.

There are few silver bullets in SEO – so you must skin it with a thousand paper cuts. Please let us know your comments, questions and feedback at hello@simplotel.com.

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