Local SEO for Hotels

/Local SEO for Hotels
Local SEO for Hotels 2017-11-12T10:14:30+00:00

Hotels face tremendous competition, and trying to attract new guests can be tough. One of the biggest challenges for smaller, local hotels is letting prospective guests know that you exist. While some prospects use third party booking sites such as Expedia, many simply run a Google search for hotels in the city they will visit and choose between the top 2 or 3 on the list. To maximize your customer base, you need to find a way to the top of the rankings.

We will walk you through our proven 5-step journey to the top of the list. But first, let’s discuss why local SEO is a must-have for all local hotels.

3 Reasons Hotels Should Invest in Local SEO

Google Is In, the Yellow Pages Are Gone:

Until quite recently, hotels could place an ad in the Yellow pages and expect locals to show up for their special events and staycations. But times have changed, and 97% of people look for local businesses online. Google is the undisputed leader for search.

Free Traffic:

Although its face is changing, advertising is still a huge expenditure for many businesses. Boosting your Google rankings gives you an ongoing stream of free traffic that you can convert to paying guests.

Rapid Results:

National and international businesses must wait an average of 6 to 12 months to see much movement in their Google rankings. As a hotel, though, you have a significant advantage. You are competing only with the other hotels in your area, and many of them have not discovered the benefits of local SEO. This means that you can move to the first page of Google local results in as little as 30 days!

Step 1: Pick Your Keywords

Step 1 is to draft a list of keywords that reflect your services. For example, you might select “luxury hotel”, “day spa”, and “fine dining”. When your list is reasonably complete, set up a free Google AdWords account.

There is no need to create or fund an ad campaign. You simply need the AdWords account to access Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This allows you to research the keywords on your list to see how much traffic they drive, and suggests additional related keywords.

You are now ready to narrow down your keyword list. All keywords can be loosely categorized into 2 types:

  • Buying Intent: Prospects searching for buying intent keywords are imminently ready to make a buying decision. For example, a search for “budget hotel near Colonial Williamsburg” probably means that someone is currently planning a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and is looking for inexpensive lodging nearby.

    Focus primarily on buying intent keywords, since these drive the quickest conversions. Feature them on your homepage, and develop service pages based on them.

  • Research Intent: Prospects searching for research intent keywords are “just looking.” They might book a stay eventually, but they are currently in the earliest stages of the sales funnel. For example, someone searching for “what to do in Washington DC” is probably starting to think about a trip, but has not yet decided whether to go.

    Make research intent keywords a lower priority, as they do not drive fast conversions. Hold onto them, though, to use in blogs and FAQs. These posts introduce your hotel to new prospects who might think of you when they are ready to book a trip.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

When you have settled on your final keywords, you are ready to optimize for them in 2 spots—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s how:

Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is a sort of miniature website that offers a brief overview of your hotel. It will appear in the “Map” section of Google local business results and increase your overall presence online. It can even give you a fast boost to your Google rankings, as it is much easier to rank highly on a Google My Business page than on a website.

Make sure all of the information is accurate, and that the page is fully filled out:

  • Verification: You must first claim your page and submit it for Google’s verification procedure. You will see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your hotel name when this process is complete.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be accurate and identical across all web references. Emphasize that your business is local by selecting a local phone number rather than an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google categories must list services rather than features. For example, you might try not only Hotel, but also Airport Hotel and Extended Stay Hotel, if those descriptions match your hotel. If you have a restaurant that is open to the public, you could also add, for example, Buffet Restaurant. Try to list 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: Your description should be 100 to 200 words long, provide a quick summary of your hotel, and end with a call to action. Try this: {Name of Hotel} is a top-quality {family hotel near the airport, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your hotel and/or why visitors love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first night!
  • Hours: Although hotels are, by definition, open 24 hours a day, your front desk hours might be more limited. List the hours for your front desk, and make sure they are accurate across the internet.
  • Images: Images can dramatically improve customer engagement, so add a few photos of your lobby, your restaurant, and perhaps a guest room. Make sure your images have a sharp focus, are sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Begin with your “core” pages, which are your homepage and service pages. Optimize them for your buying intent keywords. Later, you can optimize your blogs and FAQs (“content” pages) for your research intent keywords. Here’s how to optimize:

  • Homepage: The title tag, which functions roughly the same way as a chapter title in a book, is the most important part of your homepage. It should be 50 to 65 characters long, and formatted something like this: Hotel in {Your City} | {Name of Your Hotel}.

    The next element is the meta description, which should give a brief overview of your core services and end with a call to action. Make sure it is 100 to 150 characters in length, and try this format: {Name of Hotel} is a top-quality {boutique hotel, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first night!

    Your visible headline, or H1, must be both descriptive and concise, and must include your primary category. This format works well: {Hotel} in {City, State}.

    Finally, write your page copy. This is a cleanly written, tightly edited 500 to 1000-word summary of your hotel. Give some background, briefly explain your main services, and close with a strong call to action.

  • Service Pages: Develop a separate service page for every core service, such as your restaurant and spa. Tightly focus each page on a buying intent keyword, and follow the tips above to optimize these.

Step 3: Gather Citations and Links

With the basic format of your local SEO campaign in place, you are ready to gather citations and links. Both increase your customer reach and boost your Google rankings.

  • Citations: A citation is simply a listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) in an online directory. Your choices include general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your town’s Chamber of Commerce website, and industry-specific hotel directories.

    Many directories are free, but some only offer paid citations. Before you pay, take a look at Google Analytics to see if that site is driving traffic and conversions.

  • Links: To reach the highest Google rankings, you need top-quality inbound links from credible websites. Build relationships online and offline with companies that provide complementary services, such as nearby event organizers and tourist attractions. Then ask to trade web links. You can find out where your competitors’ links come from with a tool like the Moz Open Site Explorer.

Step 4: Solicit Reviews

There are 2 main reasons to solicit online reviews: they can help convince prospects to stay at your hotel, and they can assure Google that your business is legitimate. While all review sites are very important, Google My Business reviews drive the fastest boost to your Google rankings. Send your satisfied guests an email that contains a link to your Google My Business profile, and ask directly for a review. If you make this a regular part of previous customer follow-up, you will soon have a steady stream of reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

To know whether your campaign is successful, and to identify those areas that are not yet working well, you must track your results. Focus on these 3 core metrics:

  • Rankings: Google customizes its search results based on the user’s previous browsing behaviors. So the only way to learn how a specific page is truly ranked is to use a tool. The free Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a great place to start. Ask your webmaster to install it for you, and check your rankings once or twice per month.

    For a more detailed understanding of your rankings, switch to a paid tool. We like the one provided by RankRanger.com. You can view automatically updated information from all of your SEO campaigns, and track your Google My Business page as well as your webpages.

  • Traffic: Arguably the best tool for tracking your traffic, or website visitors, is Google Analytics. You can view your traffic overall, discover which page draws the most traffic, and find out what percentage of your traffic comes from Google search. Read your reports at least once per month, and keep an eye on any developing long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a specific action that you want your website visitors to take. For example, you might want them to book a stay for 10% off their first night. Google Analytics lets you track both web and phone conversions, and see which pages have the highest and lowest conversion rates.

Are You Ready?

Now you know why a comprehensive local SEO campaign is key to bringing new guests to your hotel. Make your way through these steps in order, fully completing each one before going on to the next. Here’s a quick recap of the 5 steps:

  1.    Keyword research
  2.    Keyword optimization
  3.    Citations and Links
  4.    Reviews
  5.    Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping hotels attract more local guests through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

Click here to request a Free SEO Quote

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