While it may be challenging to keep up with the constant changes to Google’s algorithm, there are plenty of opportunities for hoteliers to capitalize on the most recent iteration.
Search is the No. 1 driver of traffic to content, beating social media by 300%, according to Outbrain research. And contrary to popular belief, search engine optimization is not black magic. Hotel shoppers are looking for helpful information and a reason to choose your hotel over your competition, and Google’s main objective is to provide those users with answers that best align with their questions. So the quality of your website content plays an impactful role in your rankings.
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Alicia Whalen, digital marketing strategist at Hashtagio.com, relates search indexing to a librarian filing a book by understanding the topic, putting it in the relevant section and easily directing readers to the right information. Whalen recently spoke with hotel tech solutions provider Leonardo on how to optimize your indexing and boost search display results with targeted and measurable strategies.
- Keep up with the changes
There has been quite a shift in how travelers are using the Internet to search for and book hotel rooms. Today’s travelers are accessing search in the middle of the buying cycle. For example, users may use search starting in the dreaming stage and continue into the research stage and then go back to search for the actual booking. For this reason, local search and mobile visibility are more important than ever, and hotels can capitalize by optimizing their site specifically for amenities beyond booking.
- Polish your mobile presence
In today’s world, your hotel website must look spectacular on a desktop, tablet and phone. There are few different design options to weigh here—including responsive design or full mobile design—but in general things like aesthetics, user ability and download time will have a critical impact on search engine rankings.
- Optimize for in-destination searches
This is when guests already at your property are searching for information about the property or about things to do locally. When websites are optimized for in-destination search, they can begin to build a relationship with the customer. If the guest didn’t come direct, you can encourage a future direct booking as well as positive visitor reviews on various social media sites.
- Stop messing with Google+
The days of trying to better your search results by looking for followers and +1s on Google Plus are over. While hoteliers used to manage all of their assets through Google Plus, now you must claim your property through Google Business Listings and optimize your page for keywords and search terms that will improve your presence in local search. Here’s where you can manage and respond to Google Reviews (positive reviews will actually help you index higher) and ensure your map pin is in the right place (which can be critical for mobile search).
- Boost your social signals
As it should, Google’s algorithm has evolved to increasingly reflect a site’s social popularity. Social signals, such as shares, likes and comments, are impactful, but having a page is no longer enough. More important is using content to drive social traffic back to your site. Likes, shares, retweets and re-pins tell Google’s algorithm that you’re popular, and an additional focus on quality content optimized for in-destination mobile searches will help tremendously.
- If you build it, they will come
Lastly, it’s important to understand where your website traffic is coming from. Google Analytics is a free and universal tool to do so. On your Analytics page, you can drill down within the SEO category to view queries. A quick tip: If you’re not seeing the keywords that you’re using to drive traffic, verify your site’s indexing by using Google Analytics’ Search Console. This will allow you to see what keywords and impressions are being used to drive traffic to your site.