Do you realise how beneficial search engine optimisation (SEO) is to boosting your direct bookings? Well, if not, then the answer is: VERY beneficial. Now, we know it’s not as straightforward as running a campaign offer or ensuring that your social media is up to date, but it’s just as necessary – perhaps even more so.
Good SEO is the tool to get organic traffic to your website – which means direct bookings. So why is it then, that something that’s so important is so difficult? Well, Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times a year, so you really need someone who is dedicated to monitoring this and making the necessary changes to ensure that you’re still visible to your audience. Not only this, but your audience is constantly changing its booking habits, while the amount of content on the internet grows at such speed that it’s easy to get lost in the hoard of online traffic.
So, yes – we know it’s not easy, but to ensure that your website stays fully optimised and to really grab those opportunities for direct bookings, SEO is an area you want to stay on top of. If you’re not an expert then you won’t be able to grasp everything to do with SEO, but here are a few of the basics to get you going….
Use the power of video
Google has estimated that 106 million of YouTube’s unique monthly visitors are travellers. Of these people, 64 per cent watch travel-related videos when thinking about going on holiday, while 37 per cent watch while they’re actively searching for their next trip. In addition, a recent report by Marketing Land even states that videos make up 62 per cent of all Google searches universally. In fact, Google is now prioritising video in search results, so if you’re already using this then it’s great news. If you’re not, then this should be your ammunition to start. Hopefully you already have a guest persona, which can help you on your way to developing ideas for video content. Try to think outside the box. Don’t just create videos about your hotel, as the majority of this information will already be on your website. That’s not to say you shouldn’t create these – just that it cannot be your only focus. Think about additional benefits that you could give your guests – for example, a video of local tour attractions and recordings of activities that guests might enjoy during their stay. You could even try to give your hotel that additional layer of personality by asking guests to suggest fun and quirky challenges that your staff can take part in. As well as these, you can also create entertaining interviews with guests, or give a tour of your hotel, to show potential guests what a stay at your hotel is like. However, you want to make sure that these videos are of a good quality, like your hotel and your website. So, instead of filming these yourself, hire a videographer to shoot and edit, as this will give a much better impression of your hotel.
You don’t want your URLs to be too complex, as this can negatively affect your SEO efforts. You’ll want to use dashes instead of underscores, and try to include keywords where possible. Be specific with keywords, instead of using vague options that could leave you lost among thousands of other hotels. For example, instead of using “hotels in London”, use “family-friendly hotels London”, or “honeymoon hotel packages London”. These are much more specific and geared toward segmented guest personas, which will make you much more visible to those groups of people. So when it comes to your URL, make sure these keywords or phrases are included and link to a relevant landing page that can inform your guests of what you can offer them based on their needs.
The WASP method for SEO
When it comes to creating content, you want to use the WASP method to make it most successful.
Write shareable content
Add social sharing options
Set up on-page SEO
As well as creating content that will draw in potential customers, you want it to appeal to online journalists and bloggers who can promote it to their followers. Ideally, you will have already created relationships with these people, so that you know where it will be shared and to what audience. Some of our ideas for content are…
Information about local events
Local area information
Useful language phrases, if you get a lot of guests who are non-native speakers
Interesting facts about your hotel or the local area
In addition, you’ll want to use videos, images and custom graphics, so that you can share information in a variety of ways to catch your audience’s attention. As well as bloggers sharing your content, you want guests to share it too – so make sure there are clear social share buttons on your website. You can even offer incentives, such as entry into a prize draw, when guests share your content on their own social media profiles. As we said before, you want to make sure that target keywords are in the URL. However, Google prefers shorter URLs, so just choose one or two that are relevant and use those. You also want these keywords to be in the first 100 words of your content, as Google puts more weight on pages that include pages that place keywords closer to the top. Make sure this is natural though, rather than shoehorning words in for the sake of it. Google is smart, and it will recognise if you’re trying to put keywords in just to improve SEO results, rather than because they’re actually relevant to the content on the page.
Finally, once it’s live you want to promote your content. Send it to relevant contacts who will share it and who have a relevant following. You can create a bank of PR and blog contacts so that as soon as it’s created, you can make it visible to as many people as possible. SEO isn’t the easiest thing to grasp, but it can be really beneficial for driving direct bookings – so try to stay on top of it so you can be confident that you’re not getting lost in the traffic across the internet.