Hotel SEO: The How to Guide

If you want to get bookings on your hotel’s website, you need people to visit your site. These people can come from different places, however one of the best sources of website traffic, are search engines. This is because people that find websites through a search engine are much more likely to use their credit card and make a booking.

As someone wanting to market a hotel, you already know that even the most beautifully designed hotel websites don’t stand a chance of creating a booking without getting some of these users to view it. Enter the hotel white label SEO strategy…

In this article, you’ll read a summary of what I’ve learned from my years of technical SEO consulting. Don’t let “summary” fool you, you’ll need a big drink by your side to get through this one, but I promise it will be worth your time!

What Is Hotel SEO?

In this post, we’ll discuss how you can use SEO for the hotel industry in great detail. “Hotel SEO” is the search engine optimization of hotel websites – it is the process of improving a hotel’s website with the goal of increasing the amount of people that search engines such as Google will send to your site, thanks to a high ranking on a search engine results page (SERP). You’ve probably heard of people say “the top of page 1 on Google” – that is a top ranking on a SERP.

Improving a hotel’s website for SEO can seem complex, but the process can be simplified by focusing on some key “high value” elements which we will cover.

Though hotel SEO can be dangerous for beginners to embark upon (pro tip: if you are buying 1000’s of “quality links” for a few hundred dollars, stop now!), you do not need to be a black belt in any sort of shady dark arts either.

Search engine optimization is more about sticking to a consistent, seemingly boring, often slow process for an extended period of time than doing something huge which gets results overnight. But this in itself is the opportunity – most businesses don’t have the stamina to get the most out of SEO – so this huge sales channel is likely yours for the taking if you’re willing to commit.

Let’s take a look at how search engine optimization can help your hotel’s website.

The Best Type of People

Users are people that view your website. Users spend time on your website in a session, where they can view one or more pages, known as a pageview. In a more general sense, a lot of users combined are often referred to as traffic. In a similar sense to driving, where you can have a lot of cars (users) on a certain highway creating traffic – users are grouped by channels of traffic.

As far as channels of traffic goes, they aren’t all the same. We’ve already discussed how social media marketing for hotels can really move the needle. Email marketing can do extremely well if you have a list of guests that have given consent for you to contact them. Paid search such as Google AdWords can generate good returns, though this comes at a significant ongoing cost and depends on competition in your market. Referral traffic from other websites can be seen as very trustworthy so it’s good to have, though often hard to get enough of to make a real difference.

Direct traffic is great, but it’s very hard to quantify. Direct traffic is a label for people that access your website directly – they have typed in your URL directly. Maybe they called your hotel and you told them “if you book through the website you will get the best deal”, or they are a regular guest who remembers your hotel website URL. It can also be used to describe sessions where, for whatever reason, it’s not possible to find out where that person came from – maybe they still came through search, maybe it was a social media app, but for whatever reason, your analytics tool doesn’t have that data.

This leaves our friend organic search engine traffic.

What Is Organic Search Engine Traffic?

It’s a mouthful so it’s usually abbreviated. You may have heard of organic search engine traffic referred to as different names such as:

  • Search engine traffic
  • Organic traffic
  • Organic search
  • Search traffic
  • Google traffic

Often there are some subtle differences in the terminologies that search engine optimizers use, but essentially we’re talking about the same thing; people who discover your website after searching on a topic in a search engine.

Why Is Organic Search Traffic So Good?

As we’ll discuss below, using a hotel SEO strategy to increase organic search traffic has many benefits, but most importantly when done correctly:

  • Once you turn on the tap it is free or at “worst” cheap traffic for the foreseeable future. This is sometimes called evergreen – it may take some time to grow, but it continues to grow year on year.
  • Users with the right intent will find your website. That is, they are intending on visiting either your hotel or the city where your hotel is, and are therefore more likely to become a paying guest.
  • Organic search engine traffic tends to convert better than any other traffic source, outside of direct traffic.

Compare this with website banner ads or even more traditional print advertising, where you are literally hoping that your ad is persuasive enough to get the reader to book a stay at your hotel.

In 2015, Yotpo looked at 65 million e-commerce transactions, adding up to $2bn in revenue over 120,000 websites. This is where the sales came from:

E-Commerce Traffic Broken Down by Source

Attribution of direct traffic is improving over time though, so don’t be surprised if your site sees less conversions from direct traffic.