Search engines might have been around for a long time now, but we are no less reliant on the likes of Google today than we were ten years ago. Because they have moved with the times and evolved, they are hugely useful to web users. This is particularly the case in the travel and hospitality industry, with figures from Google suggesting that 61 per cent of leisure travellers will use a search engine for planning trips online.
Clearly, having a place in the search engine rankings is essential for accommodation providers if they are to get their brand in front of would-be guests. For marketers, this involves participating in some hotel search engine marketing to climb these listings and hopefully boost their revenues.
There are plenty of ways to go about this, whether you opt for paid ads, a marketing agency or to do the work yourself. But if it’s the latter and you’re seeking ways to really boost your direct bookings using search, what new tactics could you try?
Here are a few that might come in useful over the course of this year and beyond.
- Learn from the best There are other search engines around, but Google is undoubtedly the king and the one every marketer really wants to impress. While they might keep us on our toes with constant algorithm updates and potential penalties, their reach is incredible. Not only can featuring high in its rankings really improve direct hotel bookings, but it also acts as a valuable resource too. For example, it has published an SEO Starter Guide that’s essential reading for anyone looking to get started with search engine marketing, while it also hosts a blog that can educate everyone at any level on marketing tips.
- If you want some quick tips, make Google your first port of call. Do keyword research If you haven’t done any keyword research before starting your search campaigns, then you’re doing yourself a big disservice and probably wasting your time. It’s vital to know what people are searching for when they find your property, as well as what unique selling points you could turn into keywords so that people can find you in the first place.
- It’s important to think beyond the obvious at this stage, as these keywords will be very competitive and hard to feature in the listings for – things like ‘hotels in Greece’ are likely to get lost among the millions of others trying to rank for them. Rather than going for these, think outside the box and choose other terms that you might reap the rewards from, such as ‘cool spa hotels in Denver’ (if you’re in the city and offer such facilities, obviously).
- Not only can you be found using these, but you can also build additional content around them and bring even more traffic in. Also, don’t forget that you should be implementing longtail keywords to reflect the fact that most people now type questions into Google rather than random words. Although they bring in less traffic in the short term, they’re likely to attract travellers who are on the cusp of making a booking, so should result in more value in the long run.
- Track search behaviour across channels You’ll hopefully have launched a mobile-friendly site by now, but it’s important to keep tabs on whether or not search behaviour is different on smartphones and tablets than it is on PCs. If it is, you can try different tactics to suit each channel and reallocate funds where they will be most usefully spent.
- Be consistent It might not sound as though it can make much difference to your search campaigns, but you’d be surprised how vital consistency is. According to Google, every travel booking is influenced by more than 19 digital touchpoints.That means that every time a would-be guest comes into contact with your brand, they need to see the same message. If they don’t, they might think it’s a different company and so won’t build the same engagement – and they might not choose you when they want to make a booking.
- Align your message with your guests ‘It might have been your aim when you started out to become a hub for business, but you may find that you’re now attracting more couples than corporate visitors. This is fine, but you should tweak your SEO campaigns to reflect it. If people are searching for particular terms in your area and missing you because they assume you don’t cater for them, then you’re losing out on easy revenue.
- Publish extra content through blogging static websites can only be updated every so often, but having a blog allows you to regularly provide content that can be found by Google and helps you climb the search listings. It also has the added bonus of helping you engage with your guests, provided you make it engaging and interesting to them.
- Don’t put out boring company updates – show would-be guests your chef’s favourite dish, or detail the best ‘secret’ attractions nearby your property. Fresh, relevant, shareable content will be rewarded by Google and hopefully pay dividends by driving some more bookings.
- Try for backlinks they might sound complicated, but a backlink is just a hyperlink back to your website from another one elsewhere on the web. This is advantageous because search engines view them as a sign of trust and usefulness and so allow them to climb their rankings accordingly. Better still, you can engineer some by partnering up with influencers and trying some guest blogging.
- For instance, invite a local food blogger to come to your hotel and try a three-course meal in exchange for a review and a link back, or offer a beauty vlogger a spa treatment. You might just benefit from luring in their followers.
As you can see, there are lots of advanced search engine marketing methods that you can try at your hotel. For more information, check out our past articles at World Hotel Marketing.