NB: This is an article by Shaz Memon, creative director at Digimax
During most of my meetings with hoteliers, I hear the question, “How can we get more direct bookings?”
Most hotels are listed on accommodation/booking portals, and I don’t dispute that guests love these websites are they’re a one-stop shop for practically every hotel in any destination. For hoteliers, however, there’s a glass ceiling: these listings can’t normally be customised to show how amazing their place truly is, and the portal takes a percentage of each booking. Surely there’s a way to reach more guests directly?
There is. It’s called SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of applying proven principles to a site’s design and content so that its visibility in the search engine results is greatly improved. Some of it is basic, like inserting your preferred keywords in page text, ensuring that it reads naturally and not like search engine spam. Other methods require a little more expertise, especially if you want your hotel to rank highly for accommodations in a different district or city.
Is your website SEO friendly?
In other words, is it coded and structured so that a search engine can read it accurately? And is it mobile-friendly, so potential guests can view it on portable devices like tablets and smartphones? The latter has been especially important since April 2015, when Google started penalising non-responsive sites.
As a hotelier, you may not consider coding your forte, but you can ensure that you hire a SEO agency who’s fluent in SEO requirements.
Selecting keywords and title tags
Keywords are the phrases that best describe your hotel. There’s no secret formula to choosing them: simply imagine what search terms you would like the hotel to rank well for. “Hotel near Heathrow”? “Hotel in downtown Manchester?” Once you select a few phrases, visit Google’s online keyword tool, type yours in, and see which variations draw the most search traffic. Some are highly competitive, and ranking well for them may take some extra time and effort.
Once you have your keywords, put together your Meta Title Tags using this simple formula:
Primary Keyword | Your Hotel Name | Secondary Keyword
Meta Title Tags should be under 70 characters, so if adding the secondary keyword makes it too long, save that keyword for another page.