Hotel SEO: How to Dominate in 2019 (and Beyond)

If there are 2 things that most people think when they think about hotel SEO it's "It takes too long," & "It's too hard." 

As a person who has been doing SEO for years, I want you to trust me when I tell you that both of those assumptions are wrong.

In this article, I am going to be teaching you (Hotel Owners) what SEO is and how to effectively do it.

Hotel SEO

Before I get into this article, I wanted to tell you WHY SEO is super important to any business today.

I don't care if you're a hotel in the middle of nowhere, hotel SEO is a way to grow your business. 

For example, did you know that 46% of all searches on Google targets a local search term?

Or that nearly 60% of local businesses, hasn't bothered to claim their or realised that they have a GMB (Google My Business) listing.

Crazy, right.

The reason why this statistic is essential for you to know is that optimising your GMB is vital for your SEO campaigns (if you're a local business).

Though that isn't the end of it.

A lot goes into hotel SEO, so much so that I have decided that I needed to create this piece of content to help you understand just how much (and essential) local SEO is in 2018.

What Is Hotel SEO?

Hotel SEO (which is just local SEO for hotels) is the art of optimising your brand to attract customers from search engines (which are mainly Google & Bing).

If there is one thing I want you to take from this section is the "search engines" part.

Bing, YouTube, & other search engines are just as important as Google and Bing.

For example, take a look at this screenshot of the results I got on Bing for "Hotels near me."

Bing Search Results

The reason Google is talked about so much, however, is because of how much of the market share they actually have.

According to UK Business Insider, include ALL of Google's assets, Google owns about 90% of the market share.

Though I will be talking about other search engines (and I just mentioned that only focusing on Google is a bad thing), Google will be the main focus because of how dominant they are in the world of search engines.

What is Google's Local Snack Pack?

Have you noticed recently when you have searched for something on Google that you see this snippet?

Google Snack Pack

Notice how much more visually pleasing those results are compared to the standard result page?

That's what us SEOs call the Google Snack Pack (GSP).

GSP is a boxed area that (usually) shows at the top of the first page on Google.

It often shows 3 businesses that are local to you.

Did you know that 33% of users click on the top result in Google?

Share The Knowledge

Considering that 33% of users click on the top result in Google, can you imagine the potential traffic you can get back ranking at the top of the snack pack and the organic result?

Few Things to Do Before We Start

I want to go through a few things.

These are things that you need to check before creating any SEO campaign.

Mobile SEO

The number of people using mobile is growing each and every year.

So much so that Google decided to use the mobile version of your website as the MAIN version.

That's why it's essential to have a mobile-friendly site, which you can check to see if you're site is mobile friendly using the mobile-friendly tool that Google has created.

Mobile Friendly Test

Thank god we passed, right?

Sadly, there are still a lot of websites that don't pass, for example:

Mobile Friendly Test

Next, I would like you to quickly check the speed of your website.

Note: If you don't have a website then you can get in contact with our team so that we can build you a website and do the SEO for you.

You can use Google's PageSpeed tool (or GTmetrix) to test the speed of your website.

Speed Test

Finally, you need to create a notepad (or Google Docs) file that lists your:

  • Name(s)
  • Address(es)
  • Phone Number(s)
  • Email Address(es)
  • Website(s)

Or you can just use this spreadsheet I created for you.

Great!

We are ready to start learning about hotel SEO.

Don't want to read our in-depth articles? Don't worry, we also run a YouTube channel where we put out similar content (and tutorials) on SEO & PPC marketing.

Keyword Research - Truly Understanding User Intent

Keyword research is one of the fundamentals of hotel SEO. 

It's actually underrated how important this process is to SEO.

So let's assume that you're a hotel in the UK (say London), and you called it Beckles's Hotel (clearly a creative human being).

The first type of search terms that you'd want to appear under are terms such as:

  • Hotels near me.
  • Beckles's Hotel.
  • Beckles's Hotel Location.
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    Beckles's Hotel phone number.
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    Hotels in Glasgow.
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    What time does Beckles's Hotel Open?
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    Where can I give Beckles's Hotel 5 stars?

(By the way, I am happy to hear that you want to give my hotel such good ratings).

If you have a well optimised GMB then you'd probably get this type of result:

GMB listing

Wait?

What about search terms that don't just rely on your GMB listing?

Don't worry, here are a few things a few types of search terms you can rank for that will probably benefit you more.

Broad Hotel Terms.

The best example of broad hotel terms would be the "Hotels near me" keyword I mentioned earlier.

However, geographical locations are also great search terms to rank for (like Hotels in Glasgow for example).

The downside to optimising for these broader terms is that there are A LOT of hotels in Glasgow, meaning that you will have more competitors to deal with unlike if you were to target "hotels in hyndland."

Hotel Niche Terms.

It's good to target broad search terms because they can give your business more search visibility, however, newer sites (or sites with lower quality) probably won't rank for those terms very quickly.

It could take 6 months or 3 years depending on the competitiveness of the search term and the quality of your landing page.

That's why going for niche search terms are the best way to grow your businesses organic visibility.

Examples of niche-specific search terms are:

  • Free Parking Hotels
  • Hotels With Free Wi-Fi
  • Pet-Friendly Hotels

Narrowing your search terms to targeting specific terms related to your hotel will give you more freedom since these type of keywords are WAY less competitive than keywords like "Hotels in Glasgow."

You can find out what type of benefit/niche search terms to target by looking at local directories like Yell, Yelp, & Thomsonlocal.

Brand-Related Terms.

Okay, these type of search terms is so overlooked that I might go crazy.

Google (and more importantly people) love brands.

Think about it, how many times have you gone to the supermarket and picked up something for £5 when you could have gotten the own brand version for £2.

It's mostly because of the brand that product is associated with, for example, I wanted to get a new headset, and I was looking at two different ones.

Though they were pretty much the same, I decided to go with the HyperX headset just because it was HyperX.

Branded Search Terms

As you can see, brand-related terms can (and does) get searched a lot.

According to my keyword tool, Nike receives searched 1,730,815 every month.

With my SEO consulting agency, we heavily focus on your brand, and we help build your brand in a way that will boost the exposure of your brand within the search engines.

Though brand-related terms are great, there is one downside.

Story-time: When creating OutRankn, I initially wanted the business to be called Rankable SEO.

I went and bought the domain (rankable.org), set up the site and everything.

Then I found out from my cousin that there was already a business in the UK under the name Rankable.

That hit me hard.

That's why the name of your brand is your most crucial asset.

By effectively optimising your site around brand exposure, you can become THE hotel in your country, and you can outrank the local directories for your brand name (which can be a problem with brand-related terms).

Optimising Your Business for Google My Business & Bing Places

According to Moz, citations are seen as the 4th most significant signal for snack pack SEO and listings such as GMB, Apple Maps, and Bing Places are the most critical places to optimise.

Luckily for you, setting your listing is more manageable than opening up your hotel in the morning.

Make sure to pay attention to our walk-through below though, because there are a few options that may trip up business owners.

Setting Google My Business Up

To set up your GMB listing, you can go here.

If you don't want to read the step-by-step tutorial, you can watch the video below to learn how to set up your Google My Business page.

Part 1: Naming Your Business.

The first step is entering your business name.

At the point you can do one of two things, you can either, create a new business or you can claim an existing business.

Naming Your Business

For those who are creating a new business listing, I have a single tip for you. DO NOT stuff your keywords here.

I see it all the time (especially with SEO agencies in Scotland).

It's against Google's guidelines.

GMB listing

Part 2: Add Your Address & Use Google Maps to Pinpoint Your Location.

Now it's time to put your add your address.

Depending on which path you took in part one, you will again see one of two things, either your address will be prefilled (if you're business already has a listing), or your address will be blank in which you can just add your address.

Adding Your Address

Tip: Remember that spreadsheet from earlier, make sure to ONLY use what it says there. Citation consistency is essential.

For those who either:

  • Have more than one address.
  • Work from home.
  • You don't have a real address (for example a virtual office).
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    Go to your customer's homes (delivery services).

In response to that, I would say:

  • For those with multiple addresses, choose the address that serves the bulk of the business (the primary location).
  • If you work at home, you can hide your address from being shown publically.
  • For anybody who is using a virtual office, only use it if the building is staffed during office hours. If not, use your home address.

When you get to this page if it's prefilled then just double check that the information is correct.

Pinpointing your location

After entering, your address, you can pinpoint exactly where that address is on the map. 

Usually, you won't need to do this since Google isn't as dumb as it was 10 years ago but in the case of the location being slightly wrong, move it to the correct location.

Part 3: Choosing Your Category.

Remember when I said that some options can trip up business owners, this option is an example of what I meant.

With Google, you can only choose a single category, and they recommend you to chose your category based off of "This business IS" rather than " This business HAS."

So, instead of calling yourself a 24-hour hotel, you can call yourself a family hotel or a luxury hotel.

Choosing a Category

If you're not sure what to chose for this option, you can look at your main competitors and copy them.

Part 4: Giving Your NAPW (Name, Address, Phone, & Website) Details.

Here you get to add your phone number and website.

Adding these are optional; however, I would highly recommend that you add them.

Remember that it's potential customers who will be looking at these listings.

You want them to know as much about your business as possible.

If you don't have a phone number, GET ONE.

If you don't have a website, BUILD ONE (which we can do for you).

Part 5: Verifying Your Business.

Google will want to verify that your business's information so they will give you two ways to confirm it.

You can either:

  • Verify your business by phone.
  • Verify your business by postcard.

Which one you choose is just personal preference.

I personally verified my business via postcard, but you can use the phone method if you want.

Part 6: Verify & Further Optimise Your Listing.

You're done!

Just kidding, you can and always should be optimising your listing further.

As soon as you're finished setting up your GMB listing, you can add some extra information (for example, entering your office hours).

Even beyond that, your business changes, meaning that eventually, you will need to re-optimise your listing.

Consistency is critical for citations and GMB is no different.

Creating Local Content (& Citations)

You will not succeed online without content.

Content marketing is by far the best way to promote a business.

So if you haven't already, make sure that you create a blog for your website.

Now, I am about to get a little technical here so please don't lose me.

Subfolders are a lot better to use than subdomains when it comes to your blog, if possible, make sure to host your blog on a subfolder (outrankn.com/blog) instead of a subdomain (blog.spinweb.net).

Note: Subdomains aren't harmful to use so you can use it if you'd like (technically speaking, www. is considered a subdomain as well), it's just preferred by many (including Google) to use a subfolder.

A good reason would be links.

Having links go to the main site is a lot better than having links go to a subdomain (which Google treats as a separate website).

What's next?

Local Content

Creating local content. Local content is a powerful asset for hotels.

You can capitalise on upcoming local events, sales, features, etc.

An excellent technique that we like to use is taking images of the area.

Getting high-quality images of your local area can be difficult for most businesses.

By having fresh, high-quality photos, you can build relevant, local backlinks.

Getting featured in your local media is also a great way to boost the exposure of your business.

By the way, notice how I haven't talked about blogging about your business?

Creating informative content or content that appeals to your local audience will be a lot better in the long run because you will become a trusted source amongst your area.

"People don't care about your products/services. They only care about themselves" - David Meerman Scott

How to Optimise Your On-Page SEO

Now we're getting into the good stuff.

Well, it's useful for SEOs, but it's probably confusing to you.

On-Page SEO is the primary technique that you'll be using when targeting local search terms. 

For example, if you have hotels in multiple locations, you can create geographically-targeted pages to rank in that location.

(Visual representation)

  • yourwebsite.com/service/glasgow
  • yourwebsite.com/service/edinburgh
  • yourwebsite.com/service/manchester
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    yourwebsite.com/service/london

A lot of the best practices will come in to use here, such as:

  • Search Terms in H1 or H2.
  • Short URLs (usually just the search term).
  • Search Term in SEO Title and Description.
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    Meta Descriptions that entice clicks.

But just like targeting different locations using landing pages, you need to do some other stuff when trying to rank for local terms.

You need to display your NAP information to each page, you'll also want to add your Google Map location somewhere on your website.

Tools for On-Page SEO

Next, let's talk about tools that you will need to learn how to use for monitoring the position of your search terms and get some related terms to target (known as LSI Keywords).

Our favourite tool has to be ahrefs, however, since it's an expensive tool we will instead recommend Ubersuggest.

Here's how you can use Ubersuggest to give you better insight into target search terms.

LSI Keywords

Here is the search results for "Content Marketing" & the related (LSI) search terms

First, you will want to go on Answer The Public.

Answer The Public is a free content idea tool that you can use to see what your target audience searches for when on Google.

All you need to do is put a broad term (like Affiliate Marketing or SEO), into the search bar and you get a ton of different topics that get searched often on Google.

Answer The Public

As you can see, there is a whole load of topics that you can choose from, in fact, I didn't even think to create a piece of content on "when affiliate marketing will die" until I looked on Answer The Public.

Next, you download a CSV file and load it into Google Spreadsheet.

There you can start researching the hard data of each topic to gain insight into what search terms to target.

Optimising Your Hotel Website for Calls and Conversions

I recently told one of my Content SEO clients that "It doesn't matter how much SEO I do for your website, if the site isn't optimised for conversions, you won't succeed."

That's why I recommend optimising your business's website for conversions before even looking for search terms to target on Google.

In our example, we will use Apex Hotel and my personal blog.

Telling Your Story

Story-telling is one of the best forms of content marketing, and your business's story is no different.

Creating an About Us page that talks about your company's USP (Unique Selling Point) will improve the number of customers show up at your front door and quality of the people who show up.

Having Your Address and Number on Your Site

If you want to get new leads, then you will need to have ALL of your information out there for them to see.

In Apex Hotel's case, since they have more than one location, adding all of the locations probably wouldn't be as good as targeting each location with a single page.

Uncompleted Citation

However, I still put their address in the footer (though it's not clear for people to find).

You want to make sure that your NAP information (as well as your office house, contact forms, booking processes, and email signups) is visible no matter where you place it.

Whether it's on your site or if it's on yell.com, it has to be consistent and clear if you want to increase your conversions.

Optimising The Homepage

Though Google is becoming smart when it comes to an understanding of what a page is trying to rank for, they still need a little help from you and so does your users.

To do that, you need to optimise your homepage for your main keyword.

For this example, I am going to use my old affiliate marketing site (AnthonyBcks).

Optimising The Homepage

Notice how I have placed my target keyword right at the beginning of my homepage?

By doing some on-page SEO, Google and my users have a better understanding of what this page is about.

Here are some of the things I included (and you should as well) when I optimised this page.

Why Meta Tags MUST Be Optimised

A meta tag is what Google users and social media users will see when your content goes live.

Meta Title

When it comes to effective SEO, meta tags are a high impact improvement.

I have seen a lot of people use the first thing that comes to their head when titling their pages and content.

That is not recommended by me, as a hotel, you have to make sure that all of your title tags are unique and descriptive.

Your goal is to get more clicks to your article to make it interesting as well.

For example, here's the title for this guide that you're reading:

"Hotel SEO: How to Dominate in 2019 (and Beyond)"

It has my target search term, it's descriptive and interesting.

If you don't think it's interesting, why did you click on this article over all the other ones, right?

Optimising Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions aren't as high of an impact as your title in Google's eyes but they indeed are in human's eyes.

From here on out, I would like you to think of your meta descriptions as though they were your tweets.

Descriptions are the text that appears underneath your meta titles.

Meat Descriptions

A well-written description should explain what your article is about in under 160 characters (that's why I told you to think of them as tweets on Twitter).

As a hotel, your meta descriptions should be the same or better quality than this (meta description was taken from The Foxbar Hotel in Kilmarnock).

"A warm welcome awaits at the Foxbar Hotel. Delicious food and comfortable bed & breakfast accommodation. Ideal venue for weddings & parties in Kilmarnock, ..."

Here's why this description is well written:

  • It mentions the brand's name.
  • The USP (Unique Selling Point) is also mentioned.
  • They tell you WHY you should go to their hotel.

It's as simple as that.

Seriously.

What is Structured Data Markup & Why You Need to Know It.

Structured data markups is a vital aspect of hotel SEO (especially in recent years).

Schema markup is a type of micro-data that helps Google understand what the contents of your page are about.

It's also the information that gets added to those snippets you see on Google nowadays.

Informational Snippet

Optimising your pages for schema will be rewarded by Google by them giving you more traffic.

Not only is it more organised but it provides a visual representation of the content.

Ratings Snippet

If you want to learn more (which I advise that you do), then you can check out Google's structured data helper.

Understand how to properly implement schema on to your site is considered an advanced skill in the world of SEO and I wouldn't recommend that you do it yourself.

If you did, you could always check out this page of Schema.org that was created specifically for hotels.

However, as I mentioned, I wouldn't recommend you to do that.

You should either hire a freelancer to help you or for OutRankn clients, we will automatically do that for you as a part of our service.

Adding Your Target Search Term to Your Images.

Lastly, I want to quickly mention alt text.

Alt text (short for Alternative Text), helps search engines understand the context of your images.

Any decent SEO will tell you that you should be adding your main target search term in your alt text.

This technique is known as Image SEO (I promise you that most SEOs can be creative people...).

If users type in a keyword and look at the images (or the Google displays at the top), then they might go to your website because of the quality of your images.

Disclaimer: Though most people don't tend to do that, it's still seen as "good practise" by search engines and SEOs alike to optimise your images.

Local Link Building

Remember when I talked about a little technique I like to use to get local backlinks?

Here's why.

Communities thrive when everybody gives back to the city (especially local businesses).

Not only is that a win for your brand but its a win for all the people in the community.

For example, you could host a community event for free.

By doing something like that, the organisers would be thrilled, and your brand would be mentioned every time that event is brought up.

Meaning that you will gain highly relevant, local links from other websites in your area.

Here are some other ways you can earn local links from members in your community.

Taking High-Quality Images of Your Area.

Hotel SEO

Image taken from Daily Records

I know I already mentioned this technique, but let me talk about it in more detail.

After taking images of your local area, you can then search on Google for other businesses in your area (by typing: [service] + [location], then you can email them asking if they need some high-quality images of your local area.

Since most businesses would be happy to have an extra few images of their community, you will most likely get an email back from them.

If not, don't worry about it.

After they email you back, you can just tell them that a condition for giving you these images is that you credit us for taking them.

You'd be surprised how many people wouldn't mind doing that. Businesses that would be great for using this technique are:

  • Real Estate Agents.
  • Non-Profits.
  • Restaurants.
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    Pubs.
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    Mobile Phone Repair Shops.
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    Beauty (hairdressers, makeup artists, etc.).

Create a Local Resource Page.

You own/run a hotel, right?

Meaning that a lot of your customers won't be local to the area (or else they wouldn't be staying in a hotel xD).

So, a great way to build local links would be by creating the resource page for your area.

These pages can be full of useful information for those travelling to your area, and you get to determine what information is seen, You could talk about:

  • The best pubs to go to at night.
  • Greatest sight-seeing opportunities.
  • Places NOT to visit.
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    Best food to try out.

Remember though that after you have created that page, you need to promote it to other local businesses and get them to either link back to you or mention you on social media.

Conclusion

Wow, we have gotten to the end.

I want to congratulate you for getting here.

Trust me, you have just beaten 95% of competing websites just by reading to this point.

Before I shamelessly plug our services, I want to give you a bulleted list of what you have learnt today:

  • What is Hotel SEO?
  • What is Google's Local Snack Pack?
  • Keyword Research.
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    Optimising Your GMB & Bing Place Listings.
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    How to Create Local Content and Citations.
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    Optimising Your On-Page SEO.
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    How to Earn Local Links.

*Shameless plug starts*

Now, I know that you just learned a lot and you might not understand it all.

That's where we come in.

OutRankn has an SEO consulting service that helps run SEO campaigns for hotels (if you're reading this text, it means that we still only serve hotels in the country of Scotland).

All of our employees know the stuff you have just learned better than we know our own names.

So, if you want to optimise your site but don't have the time to implement everything you have learnt here or just don't know HOW to apply what you've learnt, then you can just contact us using the link.

We want to learn the ins and outs of your business so that we can run an effective campaign.

*Shameless plug ends*

Lastly, what do you think about SEO?

Let us know your honest opinions, because SEO can be frustrating to a lot of people who hasn't spent years learning all the ins and outs.

Thanks for reading, If you have any questions or would like to add anything to this guide, feel free to comment below and we will respond.

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