With the dominance of the Online Travel Agencies (OTA) in Online-Marketing and the high costs per click (CPC) in Search Engine Advertising, it gets harder for independent Hotels to generate direct bookings on their own website. The recent Google update reduces AdWords Ads to 4 Ads at the top and none on the right-hand side of the result page will result in even higher CPCs. Therefore doing a good job in the field of SEO is a must for independent Hotels. There is no cheaper way to generate online-bookings.
Ranking high on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP) for your main keyword will have a major impact on your direct bookings. Getting up to the top may sound easy, but it is a lot of hard work and can not be done in a few days or weeks. There is a whole SEO industry, trying to understand Googles algorithm. What we know is, that there is not the one factor that gets you up to the top, there are several hundred. In this post, we will show you a few things to keep in mind and look out for, when creating your website.
There are SEO-Experts who are saying, the domain name has no or just a minor effect on your ranking. We wouldn’t say it has no effect, but the effect is not very high and did get lower over time. But since it is shown on the SERP right below the link people are going to click on, it still has an effect on the user. So pick your domain name wisely. We collected a few „Dos and Dont’s“ on Picking a Domain Name in our „Setting up WordPress for a Hotel Website„-Post.
Using WordPress gives access to a wide range of plugins. The official WordPress repository lists almost 1.000 SEO-plugins. For the beginning and to cover the basics, only two plugins are needed:
Title and description
Every page should have a unique title and description. Search engines show those two texts on the search engine result page and they too affect your ranking. But don’t put the whole text in your description. Both texts have a character limit:
- Title: Max. 60 characters
- Description: Max. 160 characters
Your title should contain at least one major keyword. The description should repeat this keyword and should have a call to action („book now!“). Make sure both texts make sense and match the content of the landing page. If your title and description generate an expectation on the user side. If your landing page doesn’t match those expectations, the user will go back to the search engine. Google measures the time between a click and the return moment and uses it for its ranking.
When using the WordPress All in One SEO Pack, you have a small box on every page in the admin to enter both title and description.One more tip: do not change them too often, because it takes time to measure the effects and Google doesn’t like too many changes in short time.
A link from another site to your Hotel website is a signal of trust. Search engines use those back links as one of the ranking factors. To get new links and keep them growing is probably the hardest part of SEO. There are good and bad links. Good links come ’naturally‘ and match the content of your Hotel website somehow. Bad links grow unnatural in big steps and don’t match your website content. Bad links are usually bought in some way
- Unique Guide for you area
- Invite travel bloggers
Local search results
To be clear: SEO is not the only way to get direct bookings. It is one of many tools, such as SEA or newsletter marketing, which should be used by independet Hotels.