Digital Marketing and SEO for Hotels

Online marketing and SEO (search engine optimisation) is a daunting world especially for an independent hotel in such a competitive industry. ‘Starting simple’ and ‘doing it the right way’ is good advice but what does this mean? From your hotel web address to getting into Google Search results we look at the cheap and effective beginnings of SEO and digital marketing for hotels.

room service hotel room

In this competitive industry it’s vital to stay up-to-date with your competitors. According to information from 57% of all bookings come from online and 65.4% of those happen on the hotel’s branded website which is why digital marketing and SEO should play a large part in your overall marketing strategy. To help you get started we look at some of the main aspects to acquiring and converting your online leads.

Returning customers

These guests are your most important clients. Even before search results, SEO and winning new business from competitors, these people are returning based on their previous experiences, and that business is free to you. You don’t have to pay to advertise to them, or compete for the business. So make it easy for them. You want each guest to leave with one thing in their mind – your website address. Your telephone number and real address are too long to confidently hope they will remember (or bother to write down).

Not forgetting that search engines use your URL to understand more about what the website is so include the main information and nothing else. In your case the name and the location.

Brand searches

If they don’t remember your URL then your customers will be looking for you in the same way that word of mouth customers will be via a search engine. These people will be typing the exact name of your hotel into Google. Something like “The Morris Inn Norwich”.

When performing a search with the keyword ‘hotel’ you will undoubtedly be shown websites like, or tripadvisor. The risk here is that even though they can book here they will also expose the customer to other ‘similar’ hotels too. While they certainly provide valuable income you don’t want them to take precedence over your own website.

Behave like a customer, perform these searches from time to time and note which phrases return which results. How does the search return look in Google/Bing? And is it clear which link is the hotel’s website and which are the aggregators. For many customers this is their first exposure to your business. So make it easy for them.

Local searches

hotel marketing local listing online search

These are searches based on a location rather than by name. If I needed a hotel in Norwich I might search “hotel in Norwich” or “hotel in Norwich near the Cathedral”. You will then see something like this…

A Google local listing involves registering your business and address with Google so you can be added to Google Maps and be found based on location, address or proximity to something else. There are many great articles on how to set up and optimise your ‘Local Listing’ online. Once it’s up and running though there’s still loads more to do. Having your customers review through the service, using Google+ (it’s linked with your Google business listing), adding fresh content and even your presence on other websites over time, all helps Google, Bing and the other search engines (including Facebook and YouTube) understand how great your hotel is. Which in turn gives you a better page ranking. This is kind of SEO is a science in its own right and deserves a whole book dedicated to it, let alone a separate article but just remember that quality is far more important than quantity and that this takes time. The search engines are very clear that about wanting to offer their searchers the best information and are very clever at understanding whether the information they return (or don’t return) is quality and relevant. A quality review from a customer is much more valuable than 100 old and empty listings on out of date hotel websites. This takes time to build up so treat this as an on-going thing rather than something you can set and forget about.

Statistics from Whip Hotels for non specific hotel searches:

  • 35% for hotel type

  • 5% for reviews

  • 60% for location

Your website

Again, creating a website is an SEO black hole and someone should probably write an encyclopaedia on the subject but before you get caught up on your authorship, alt-tags and loading times stop and think about the simple things. Make it easy for them. All the page ranking and high traffic volumes from great search results means absolutely nothing if you send everyone to a website that isn’t satisfactory.

Hotel SEO marketing computer keyboard

So you are obviously attractive to a potential customer because they have searched for you, either by name or location and landed on your website (this also applies to your aggregator profiles too). Now you have the even bigger task of saying everything, showing all your content, impressing them and make it super easy to book all in the few seconds before they ‘bounce’ to another hotel’s webpage.

Don’t write essays on your home page, pictures speak a 1000 words, try new things, keep it up dated, and don’t make your customer have to click through more than two pages to get anywhere on your website. It’s that easy! Once your happy that the basic site is optimised as much as possible, then think about more in depth technical SEO and content marketing strategies.


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