SEO for Hotels: A Step-by-Step Guide [2019]

 June 19, 2019      Viken Patel

You have a hotel website. Great! (If you don’t, then I’d really suggest getting it right away.)

However, along with having a website, you must be worried about ranking your website high in search engines. Right? (Trust me, every business faces this trouble.)

But, the problem is HOW to do it?

Simple. Through hotel search engine optimization (SEO).

What is SEO for hotels?

SEO is the technique of driving targeted traffic to your website from search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It also includes ranking your website higher on these search engines.

It has now become an inseparable part of hotel digital marketing.

Leading eZee’s marketing team for 5 years, I’m well rounded with the concept of SEO. From my experience, I’ve penned down 11 simple steps to start the SEO for hotels.

Simple steps to do SEO for hotels
11 steps to do SEO for hotels.

Before we begin let us understand,

How important is hotel SEO?

Whenever your audience searches for anything, they get a list of results from search engines. Their immediate action is to click the webpage that is ranked first then eventually click on second, third, fourth webpages.

According to a survey, there’s hardly any chance that they’ll go to the second page. (Even you don’t do it!)

If you are not visible to your audience on the first page, then your guests won’t discover you. PERIOD.

And you will lose potential direct bookings through your website.

So, it is important for you to be visible for your audience on the very first page.

Let’s start the SEO for hotels on the right foot with these 11 actionable steps.

1. Define your target audience

Examine your current audience: Analyze who they are, what they like, and their booking patterns.

For example:

  • If you’re a resort, then your ideal audience can be families, groups.
  • Similarly, if you’re a serviced apartment, then target corporate travelers who stay for a longer period of time.
  • If you’re a hotel that provides adventure activities, then try to engage millennial travelers.
  • If you’re a hostel, then focus on solo travelers who prefer budget accommodation.

Now, you’ve known your audience.

Next, you have to think of what your ideal audience will search for whenever they are looking for accommodations options.

For example:
If you are a resort, your ideal audience might search for the terms like

  • Resort in “your city”
  • Best/Top resort in “your city” and so on…

Out of these common search terms, define one primary targeted term which your audience commonly searches for.

These search terms are the KEYWORDS, which is our next step.

2. Start with keyword research

The keyword is one of the crucial components of SEO. They are the words and phrases that people are actually using to find websites like yours.

As I said, list down all possible search terms that your audience will type in the search bar. For example:

  • Hotels in Male, Maldives
  • Cheap hotels in Male
  • Best hotels in Male
  • Hotels near Meeru island
  • Hotels near Maldives airport

So how do you research for the required keywords? There are many keyword research tools available like Google Keyword Plannerand Ubersuggest. These tools are easy to get started with. All you have to do is search by typing a keyword (or list of keywords). Let’s see how you can do it with Ubersuggest:

How to do keyword research?

  • Head over to Ubersuggest
  • Type in your term that you decided in the earlier step. Let’s type: Hotels in Male, Maldives.
  • You will see the search volume, SEO difficulty, CPC. As you scroll down you will see other related keywords.
  • Next, check the keywords that have more search volume and higher CPC value.
How to do keyword research in Ubersuggest?

Those are your ideal keywords to target.

Find out the search volume of the listed keywords. Search volume is the amount or quantity of searches for a particular keyword or term.

Example: The search volume of ‘Hotels in Male’ is 1000/month.

This means, 1000 searchers are searching on Google for this keyword per month.

The other way through which you can find related keywords for your targeted audience from the search engine itself. Let’s take the example of Google,

Go to Google > Search for your targeted keywords.

When you start typing, Google will suggest some related terms in the search bar (refer to the following image)

Search terms suggested by Google.
An example of search terms suggested by Google.

Google will also show related keywords at the end of the search results.

Search terms that one can find at the end of results.
An example of Google suggested keywords.

You should consider having these keywords in your list. It one of the surefire strategies in SEO for hotels that will really help you in ranking your website higher.

Next is,

Long tail variations of keywords

The benefit of using long tail keywords is, they’re easy to include and convert the audience better.

For example, a person searching for “hotels in New York” is probably just browsing. On the other hand, someone searching in the following way is very much specific:

  • beach resort in Maldives
  • hotel in Maldives near Meeru Island

This reminds me of a joke:

Why do SEOs love monkeys? Because they have longtails.

You can even search for your competitors and find out what they are targeting.

Again go to Ubersuggest > Type in your competitor URL

Let’s say: maldivespalmbeach.com is your competitor.

  • You will see all the details of your competitor.
  • As you scroll down, you can check top pages from their website and estimated traffic they are getting on those pages.
  • Above all, you can even find the SEO keywords as well. Look for what is relevant to your audience and add it in your list.
Competitors’ keyword analysis in Ubersuggest.

Basically, these are the ways through which you can find the keywords relevant to your hotel.

Now, make a final list of all the keywords that you want to target. The keyword selection is one of the key practices in SEO for hotels. Out of all the keywords, select one keyword as a focus keyword (targeted keyword).  

Make sure that you add the keywords naturally. Search engines (especially Google) doesn’t like contents with stuffed keywords.

3. Work on the page title, meta description, and URL

The webpage title, meta description, and URL play an important role in hotel website SEO.

What is the page title?

The title tag is the HTML element that tells users about the content on your webpage.

The text that is highlighted in the below image is the title of your website home page.

How an attractive title can help in your hotel SEO.
An example of how title appears in search engines.

Where to find the webpage title?

Step 1: Open your website. Press the F12 key or Ctrl + U to open the source code of your website, or right-click your webpage and select “view source” or “inspect element.”

Step 2: Find the <title>tag. The content written there is the title of your webpage.

How to write a SEO-friendly title?

  • Write a title that describes your property in the best way.
  • It should include your keyword. I’d recommend to start the title tag with your focus keyword.
  • It should be easy to understand for both users and machines.
  • Its length should be between 50-60 characters.

What is meta description?

A meta description is a 160-character HTML tag that summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show the meta description immediately after the title.

How to know the current meta description of your website?

Step 1: It is similar to how we found the page title. Open your website, press the F12 key or Ctrl + U to open the source code of your website, or right-click your webpage and select “view source” or “inspect element.”

Step 2: Under the <head> tag, you will find the <meta> tag. There’s the meta description of your hotel is mentioned.

<meta name="description" content="Experience a truly authentic Maldives at the Palm Beach Island Resort and Spa, In a blissfully natural setting brought to life by the vibrant soul of our island">

How to write SEO friendly meta title?

While writing meta-title, you should consider the following things:

  • It should describe your hotel completely.
  • It should contain a keyword.
  • The real intention of meta description is to present information to the searcher that will push him to click and land on your website.

An example of a good meta description:

Meta description plays an important role in SEO for hotels
A well-written meta description that is loved by Google as well as searchers.


A good meta description is an essential part of SEO for hotels, as it makes visitors click on the search result.

What’s a web page URL?

A URL is the address of each page on your hotel’s website. A proper URL helps you go a long way in hotel SEO.

How to write SEO friendly website URL?

  • Your URL should be clear and easily understood.
    • Clear URL: https://yourhotel.com/queen-rooms
    • Confusing URL: https://yourhotel.com/rooms.php?pageid=9
  • Include your targeted keyword, but don’t stuff the extra keywords.
  • Separate words with hyphens (dashes) instead of underscores.
  • Don’t use connecting or stop words. (stop words like: is, of, for, with…)

Few examples of ideal hotel URL are:

https://www.yourhotel.com/dining/
https://yourhotel.com/aboutus/

4. Optimize your website content

Content is the KING! It is a sure shot strategy in SEO for hotels.

Let’s start with your home page.

In the homepage content, I want you to add the targeted keyword in the h1 tag.

Then, add the same targeted keyword into your page’s first paragraph within the first 100 words. When you do this, search engines can easily understand the main topic of your website.

I’d also suggest you write at least 800 to 1000 words on your homepage that includes the keywords.

One of the reasons for not being able to rank is less content on your website. With less or incomplete information, the search engines won’t find any specific information for its searchers. Eventually, they won’t rank you!

Therefore, it’s kind of important to write complete and informative content.

You can develop content in the form of blogs, articles, and newsletters that attracts your audience.

You can target a significant number of keywords with the content. For example, if you want to rank high for a keyword like – best boutique hotel in Maldives. You can write a blog post under the topics- 10 things to do in Maldives or 10 unique accommodations in Maldives, and you can include this phrase in that blog.

Let me elaborate on this.

Some travelers might search directly for topics like- 10 things to do in Maldives, and they come across your blog. While reading your content, there are chances that they may end up booking with your hotel (if your content is appealing!)

For example, you can write about the city, the tourist spots of your city, famous food and cuisine of your city and many other related topics.

SEO for hotels is incomplete with amazing content. Try to produce content that your audience wants to explore before they book your hotel.

5. Add alt text to images

Image alt text is an alternate text that is shown if an image cannot be displayed. The reasons behind its importance in hotel search engine optimization are mentioned below:

  • Improves your user experience.
  • The search engines don’t understand image. Adding alt text to the images will give a context to the search engines, so that they can index your images accordingly.
  • There’s also an image search engine, which is of utmost importance in hotel SEO. It is essential for you to rank on that as well (as shown in the image.)
  • The alt text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers.
Search engines uses ALT text to crawl the images.
Adding ALT text will rank your images in the image search engine.

How to add alt text?

Step 1: Go to your website. Press the F12 key or Ctrl + U to open the source code of your website, or right-click your webpage and select “view source” or “inspect element.”

Step 2: Find the <img> tag

Step 3: Then ask your website design or developer to add the alt attribute in the <img> tag. Or if you have editing access to your website (back end access), you can add it by yourself.

Here’s the example:

Before: <img src=”https://yourwebsite.com/image1.png”/>
After: <img src=”https://yourwebsite.com/image1.png” alt = “palm beach hotel in Maldives” />

How to write SEO-friendly alt text?

  • Describe the image or a topic specifically.
  • Include your keywords.
  • The length of your alt text should be fewer than 125 characters.
  • Don’t start alt text with “picture of…” or “Image of…”.

6. Arrange headings and subheadings

The headings help users and search engines to read and understand the text content of your website. They define which parts of your content are important, and show how they’re interconnected.

Structured content is easy for users to read, which is better for your hotel SEO. Besides, headings give you a great chance to use your focus keyword.

How to do it?

H tags are used to define headings and subheadings. The different heading tags are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6.

Step 1: Press the F12 key or Ctrl + U to open the source code of your website or, right-click your webpage and select “View Source” or “Inspect Element.”

Step 2: Look for H1, H2, etc. They must be contained in brackets like this.

<h1>This is my text</h1>

Step 3: Include the focus keyword in the H1 tag.

Step 4: Maintain the right hierarchy.

Example:

  • Welcome to Meraki Boutique Hotel, Manhattan (H1)
  • Our services (H2),
  • Rooms (H2)

While adjusting the heading tags, don’t forget that your content is for your website searchers/readers (not only for SEO purposes). Ensure that your content becomes readable after adding these tags.

7. Work on your website’s loading speed

Another factor that is of utmost importance is your website’s loading speed. Keep one thing in mind, that your audience is impatient.

I know it’s a bit technical but this will be helpful to understand what you should ask your website designer or developer.

Here’s how you can check your website speed.

  1. Go to Google Page Speed Insight.
  2. Enter your website URL and hit analyze.
Higher is your website speed, higher  is your chance of getting more traffic.
With this website score you can easily know your website’s loading speed.

It will show you your website score for mobile and desktop. It will even show you the problems and how you can solve those problems.

Don’t look into the technical details. You just need to focus on the insights as as a hotelier. You can ask your website provider to optimize your website and improve the score.

What can you do to reduce your website load time?

  • Use caching plugins (WordPress website only).
  • Prefer building your website with light frameworks.
  • You can use some of the available plugins to reduce the load time.
  • Minify and combine files.
  • Reduce the number of redirects on your website.

8. Make your website mobile-friendly

As per research, 58% of Google searches are from mobile. Having said that, it is important for you to make your hotel website responsive as a part of SEO for hotels.

How to check if your website is mobile friendly?

  1. Head over to “Mobile Friendly Test” Website
  2. Enter your website URL and hit the enter key or “Test URL” button.
A responsive website is a key factor in SEO for hotels
A simple check to see if your website is mobile-optimized

It will show you whether your page is mobile friendly or not. If it’s not mobile friendly, it will show the issues to fix on your website. So, you can simply follow those or ask your website designer to fix. Once it is fixed, test it again.

Consider the following things to make your website responsive:

  • Ensure your website’s loading speed on other devices too.
  • Include the ‘Viewport Meta Tag’.
  • Make your button sizes large enough to work on mobile.
  • Use large font sizes.
  • Compress your images and CSS.
  • Perform mobile testing.

9. Build and submit the sitemap

As the name suggests, a sitemap is a map for your website. It shows what all of the pages are on your website.

A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell the search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engines read this file to crawl your site. That is why it is important to create a sitemap as a part of SEO for hotels.

So, how to create XML Sitemap?

These days, modern content management systems generate XML sitemaps automatically. You simply have to enable it.

However, only creating XML is not enough.

Once your sitemap has been created, the next step is to submit to Google Search Console.

I know, you may find this technical. Don’t worry!

Simply ask your website designer to help you with this. Or if you have hired an agency or freelancer for SEO, they can also help you with this. In fact, they might have already done this.

So, creating a sitemap and submitting it to Google is an important part of SEO for hotels.

10. Structure your content

Schema, or structured data, is a code that helps search engines understand specific pieces of data from your website. Schema is one of the best ways to optimize a hotel website and an important part of SEO for hotels

Here’s where you can add structured data.

  • Name
  • Street address
  • Phone number
  • A description
  • A photo of your hotel
  • Your hotel’s star rating
  • Typical room rates/price range
  • Reception opening hours/check-in hours
  • Map URL
  • Features and services, such as a gym or pool
  • A parent company, if you are part of a chain
  • Languages that are spoken by your team

You can find out more details on Schema.org or ask your website designer to implement this.

Adding structured data increases your chance to rank better in search engines like Google and plays an important role in SEO for hotels.

11. Build links

Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites on your website. A hyperlink (usually just called a link) is a way for users to navigate between pages on the internet.

Why is it important in hotel website SEO?

Links are the core element of hotel SEO. There are two types of links: 1. Internal Links and 2. External Links. Search engines use links to:

  • Discover new web pages.
  • Determine how well a page should rank in their results.

What are internal links?

Internal links allow you to show the structure of your website to search engines.

By linking from one page to another on your website, search engines get a better understanding of the important pages and interconnection among them.

What are external links or backlinks?

It is the process of getting links from other websites. You need top-quality inbound links from credible websites.

First of all, build online and offline relationships with companies that provide complementary services, such as nearby event organizers and tourist attractions. Try to get links from their websites.

The backlinks or external links give your reader a sense of confidence and are of great importance in SEO for hotels.

How to build external links or backlinks?

  • Get listed on sites directly related to the hotel and hospitality industry such as TripAdvisor.
  • Submit your website on online hotel directories.
  • Register in your city’s hotel association or chamber of commerce and try to get links from their website.
  • Create high-quality content in the form of blogs, infographics or videos. Give the external links of the websites that have higher domain authority in your content.
  • Ask people to link back to your content.
  • Offer your content to travel websites or third-party sites and get a link back.

IMPORTANT: Never ever buy links. The search engines don’t like this.

#Bonus Strategy: Local SEO for hotels

Local SEO for hotels is an effective way to promote your hotel regionally. It is a part of the overall SEO for hotel website.  

As a part of local SEO, you can simply use some of the below keywords on your website.

(NAP – Name, Address, and Phone number)

  • Your focus keyword + city name in the title tag
  • Your focus keyword + city name in the meta description
  • Your focus keyword + city name in the header tag
  • Your focus keyword + city name in URL

Hence, this will be helpful when the searchers will search like: Best hotels in Male.

Secondly, start with citation. A citation is an online reference of your name, address and phone number (NAP). Search engines use them while evaluating the online authority of your hotel. It is a proven strategy in SEO for hotels

Furthermore, along with NAP, citations also include other details such as hours of operation, driving directions, business description, images, videos, payment forms, and reviews.

Make the most of Google My Business

With the advanced hotel search option, Google is opening wide doors to bring traffic to your hotel website. It is up to you, how you can make the most of this opportunity by getting listed to Google My Business listings.

Google My Business is a free business listing you can create for your hotel. This listing is a strong step in your hotel SEO.

Well, I can say your Google My Business page is a sort of another website that gives a brief overview of your hotel. Make sure you give equal importance to this listing as you’re giving it to your website.

  • List your hotel’s name, address, and phone number (a.k.a., NAP).
  • Ensure your Google Maps marker is on the correct location, so searchers can find your hotel.
  • Provide additional details that are relevant to travelers looking for you. Such as Wi-Fi, disabled access, smoking area and so on.
  • If you are a hotel chain or hospitality group, then have a verified Google My Business listing for each one – maintained through a single account.
  • Claim the listings if you don’t have the access. Optimize it once you get the access.

Conclusion

I’m sure by now, you are fully familiar with the concept of SEO for hotels.

You can start doing it right away.

I’ve have seen many hotels growing their organic traffic with these tactics. I’m sure it will also help you get more traffic.

I also understand that this might be complex, but you can always ask for help from experts or drop a comment if you have any questions. I’d be happy to help you.

Keep in mind that all these practices that you start will take time to reflect. Getting results from SEO is not an overnight process. You need to be patient with it.

If we keep all these technicalities aside, SEO for hotel websites is nothing but just creating the best experience for the searchers. As long as your hotel website is providing the best experience, your website will automatically drive more traffic and visitors.

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