Ms. Puckett

Technology

How to Improve Hotel Bookings with Local SEO

By Katarina Puckett, Vice President of Marketing, Travel Tech Strategies

In the drive to increase bookings, hotel owners sometimes overlook a key component that can have a dramatic impact on their online visibility: local SEO. Search engines rely on a variety of signals when determining your hotel website's position and visibility in search results. Local SEO strategies cover three of the top web ranking signals that Google and the other search engines consider: on-page signals, citations from well-established, respected local directories, and reputable backlinks. When you correctly and proactively apply these local SEO strategies, you strengthen your hotel's business profile and help establish your website domain authority.

Adopting a local SEO strategy that includes a strongly consistent presence on local search directories and listings accomplishes two essential tasks: it helps drive prospective guests to your hotel and it helps to raise your profile with Google and the other search engines, so your website tops listings when prospective guests search for hotels in a specific area.

Local Search is Big and Still Growing Strong

Local searches continue to grow in popularity, as consumers switch from global searches to look for goods and services in specific vicinities. Early figures from Google reported that around 73% of all online activity is related to local searches. Now mobile searchers are getting into the local game - At Google's 2016 Performance Summit, held in May for AdWords advertisers, it was revealed that nearly one third of all mobile searches on Google are related to location. And the number of location based searches continues to grow - in fact, location-related searches are growing 50% faster than other mobile queries.

By incorporating local SEO into your hotel's online marketing strategy, you can raise your hotel's online search profile and increase bookings from the growing numbers of prospective guests who turn to local searches when seeking lodging options.

Local On-Page Signals

The first step in establishing a winning local SEO strategy is addressing your website's on-page signals. These crucial steps will help boost hotel bookings in several ways: they will help raise your online profile, establish your local authority, and make your website more visible and accessible to local searchers.

Include Your Hotel's NAP in Text Form

Make sure your website prominently features your hotel's key contact information - name, address, and phone number (NAP) - on each page, and check and double check to make sure all information is correct. Don't make the mistake of incorporating this information into a graphic image, because images can't be crawled the way HTML text can. The most common location for this information is in a website's header or footer - the purpose of including this information is to make it easy for customers to find you, and website visitors are accustomed to looking in these areas for contact info.

Incorporate Location-Based Keywords

Instead of only choosing the highest trending hotel terms for your website's keywords, include location-based keywords that are tightly targeted to your local area. As you optimize your website for local search, make sure you feature at least one of these local keywords on every page of your hotel website.

Remember, it's not enough to simply incorporate a few local keywords throughout your blogs and other written content on your website. You need to embed these local terms at the deepest level of your hotel's website - in the titles and Meta descriptions of your webpages, and in the Alt tags on photos and videos, as well as in the content.

Publish Locally Relevant Content

Use your in-depth knowledge of your local area to turn your website into a valuable trip planning resource. Provide visitors with a wealth of information about everything local to ensure that your website will be the first place travelers turn to when looking for information on local events, attractions, and highlights. Be sure to include easy access to your booking engine!

You can create neighborhood pages on your hotel website, filled with insider information on restaurants, night spots, athletic attractions, farmers' markets, and more, making certain to include appropriate local keywords. To keep your website front and center on search results for local information, continue to publish features on local events on your blog on an on-going basis.

Incorporate videos that highlight local attractions, neighborhood tours, and local events. This is a great way to raise your local SEO while providing the type of diverse media that attracts the attention of prospective guests and encourages them to book their stay.

Citations From Local Directories

Local directories can do a great deal to raise your hotel's profile and increase booking rates from prospective guests, provided that the information they supply about your hotel is consistently correct. That means you can't rely on the information that the sites themselves provide about your hotel, the unedited information contained in directory sites' listings is often incorrect or incomplete.

Adopting a local SEO strategy that includes a strongly consistent presence on local search directories and listings will accomplish two essential tasks. It will help drive prospective guests to your hotel and it will raise your profile with Google and the other search engines, so your website is featured prominently when prospective guests search for hotels in your specific area. There are four main steps to make the most of your hotel's presence on local directories.

Verify Your Address for Consistency

Consistency is a crucial part of local SEO. Make sure your hotel's address is spelled the exact same way in all your listings - if your business information is listed differently in various directories, it can lower your search rank and make it difficult for guests to find you.

Correct the obvious errors, such as updating old addresses with new information, and edit spelling differences for consistency. For example, your address can be given as 4th St., 4th Street, Fourth St., or Fourth Street. While a customer can recognize these as the same address, search engines will note them as not matching. Moz Local is a free tool that can help you with this task. It checks your hotel's profile on the main directories and identifies inconsistencies and incomplete information so you can quickly bring your listings in line.

Claim Your Hotel Listings

Claiming your hotel's listing in local directories is simple. Search for your hotel name and verify that your contact information is complete. Provide a direct number to your reservation desk so searchers can quickly book their stay and include a direct link to your website and social marketing pages. Upload a carefully chosen assortment of photos that showcase your hotel's best assets, and include a short but succinct description that thoroughly educates prospective guests about the amenities and features that set your hotel apart.

Some directories, such as Google Maps, allow you to top off your listing by including a virtual tour to showcase all your hotel has to offer. Be sure to check out what each of the directories offers when claiming your listings - some can provide you with advanced features, such as access to analytics, that can actively help you improve your hotel's performance on local searches.

Respond Quickly and Consistently to Reviews

Many of the local directories, such as Yelp, incorporate reviews with their listings. Claiming your hotel's business page on these directories gives you the opportunity to engage with the community. It's important to respond to reviews promptly, particularly negative ones. The more positive interactions you have with guests on local directories, the higher your hotel will appear in users' search results - a definite win for your hotel since a top placement in search results is one of the most effective ways to increase bookings at your hotel!

For the best, most consistent results, you should establish a set response strategy for reviews. Don't be tempted into passing review responses off to whichever staff member has some free time. Instead make sure that only you or your trusted, trained representative have access to your hotel's directory accounts, and answer all reviews from a calm, considered, and customer-first mind set.

Choose the Right Local Directories for Your Hotel

All local directories are not created equal. While you may be inspired to add your hotel to every local listing directory that comes along, your hotel's presence on some of the less reputable ones can actually lower your website's credibility with Google and the other search engines.

Figuring out which directories to avoid simply by paging through them will inevitably result in letting a few of the bad ones through. Fortunately, there's an easy, free way to find out which directories you should refrain from joining. Moz Open Site Explorer is a free tool that researches backlinks and helps identify potentially damaging links.

Some of the must-have local directories for hotels include: Google My Business (covers your presence on Google Search and Maps), Bing, and Yahoo; Yelp, YellowPages, SuperPages, Manta, FourSquare, MerchantCircle, and Facebook Business Pages.

Most of the larger metropolitan cities also have several small, exclusively local directories operating at any given time. The best of these smaller directory sites include extensive information about local events, landmarks, activities, and resources, basically serving as tourist information sites as well as local promotional outlets. Often these directories appear at or near the top of results when travelers search for area information during their trip planning process, making your hotel's inclusion in these directories a surprisingly effective way of increasing your direct bookings.

Reputable Local Links

Inbound links from local reputable sites are powerful local web ranking signals that will raise your hotel's profile and help you generate more bookings. Establishing partnerships between your hotel and local community organizations is an effective way to earn the high-value links Google is looking for. Other local link building opportunities include participating in local events, sponsoring or chairing local charity drives and events, and taking part in mentoring programs through schools in your area.

Another way to gain local links is by forming partnerships with local companies that provide services that your guests will value. When you partner with nearby restaurants, excursion groups, and other local businesses, you not only raise your local SEO, you increase your appeal for guests, and provide a potent driving force to increase bookings.

Putting these local SEO strategies into effect is the first step towards building a stronger online presence for your hotel. They will serve to build your hotel's authority with Google and the other search engines, make it easier for prospective guests to find you, and give your hotel a higher search visibility. Taken together, these factors should go a long way towards improving your hotel booking rate.

Katarina Puckett, Vice President of Marketing, for Travel Tech Strategies helps local and national hotels and travel industry companies develop an effective online presence. Enjoying a nice balance of analytical and creative thinking, Ms. Puckett finds working in the digital marketing world to be the perfect fit for her. As the Vice President of Marketing at Travel Tech Strategies, Ms. Puckett is able to work with clients to ensure their ongoing digital marketing objectives are accomplished. From assisting hotels (and the like) strategize their online marketing tactics to managing the implantation of these marketing strategies, Katarina Puckett is very hands on with her client relationships. Ms. Puckett can be contacted at 954-779-2801 ext 306 or Kat@traveltechstrategies.com Please visit https://traveltechstrategies.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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