Thursday, 15 October 2009

SEO Strategies for Hotels

SEO (search engine optimisation) is simply the process of increasing your website ranking in the SERPs (search engine result pages) by implementing the best SEO practises and techniques. A website should be built within the SEO, search engines and the website visitors in mind.

The internet as a distribution channel becomes the most important one for the travel and hospitality industries. In today’s market place over 80% of all bookings start with a search engine online. This makes having visibility in the SERPs crucial in order to become successful in this competitive and fast changing environment. So the question will be; how to increase your website ranking by implementing SEO? What kind of SEO activities should be implemented and how?

I always recommend starting with the basics. The traditional SEO basics are:

- Unique titles for each page,
- Meta data keywords, description which will reflect the content of each page,
- Keywords in the title & headings,
- Link building,
- Unique content,
- Alt tags and image & video tags,
- Anchor text links
- Search engine friendly URL. (e.g. if you are a hotel in London, including the name of the hotel with the place name which is London will benefit you.

The below screenshot will give you a better understanding about it:

Basics are no longer enough to secure a high organic visibility online. In addition to the basics, a hotel or a travel company should implement:

- Destination related sources and information including guides etc.
- Use photos and interactive media such as videos with tags to increase your universal search results.
- Engage with social media to create buzz and engage with visitors online.
- Create a blog, post and update regularly.
- Add fresh content regularly.
- Create a website for various devices and browsers such as mobile, iphone, blackberry, safari, firefox etc.
- Make sure all links are working properly.
- Build and optimise your website with the visitors in mind. Increase your website navigation and accessibility and make the check out page clear.
- Use call-to-actions.
- Avoid the optimisation for Search Engines only. Always keep your website visitors in mind.

It will take a while to see SEO results in the search engine result pages (SERPs); expect a wait of a couple of weeks to possibly months. You need to be patient and continue implementing the best SEO practices. Search engines especially Google, start indexing more frequently and in my last post I have mentioned the Google Next Generation search infrastructure which Google Caffeine has launched. The idea behind this is to give real-time search results which will be reflected more on the social media arena but will definitely have some effect on the other SEO practices. The other point you need to consider is the frequency of changes in the search engine algorithms. Today’s techniques may be obsolete tomorrow. You need to keep an eye on the changes and make sure your website has all the requirements to guarantee a high organic ranking.

In addition to SEO and e-marketing practices, a hotel or a travel company differ from other e-tailers or shopping sites. They are not selling materials; they are selling dreams and different experiences. Their way to convert the SEO traffic to revenue is by taking your website to the next level. Increasing the accessibility and navigation of your website, make it both user-friendly and search-engine friendly. Ensure that your website offers real-time booking facilities and more. The communication with your guests starts with your website so make sure your website is smiling and welcoming to them. This is where the experience will start and the first impression will develop. Once you create this connection, your website will not only drive traffic and increase visibility but also drive revenue. Starts the experience right now!