7 Most Common Hotel SEO Mistakes
Most independent hoteliers are one-man bands running the whole show alone, or with limited help. We all know that SEO is super important, but it ALWAYS gets pushed down the list in favour of more pressing tasks. An unfortunate reality of working to improve your hotel’s SEO is that you don’t often see immediate results, but Rome was not built in a day, right?
SEO is not just about the techy stuff though, it can (and should) be woven into your entire hotel marketing strategy. It is critical to look at hotel SEO as a process that starts with a handful of concrete actions, but that also requires consistency in terms of the content you share over time to maintain and improve results.
In short, hotel SEO is the process of optimising and improving the ranking of your hotel website on search engines such as Google. The goal is to strengthen your online presence, drive traffic to your site, and increase those Book Now button clicks.
There are however various pitfalls along that way that most independent hoteliers fall into when their busy minds do actually carve out some time to attend to the SEO question.
Read on to find out the 7 most common hotel SEO mistakes that I see come up again and again when discussing this topic with clients.
So, let’s dive in!
Hotel SEO mistake #1:
Not understanding how Google works
I use Google as the example here simply because it is the biggest search engine in the world.
This graph alone does the talking.
With 92% market share of search engine visits, Google ranks as the most visited website in the world.
It is imperative to understand how Google actually ranks your site to understand where you should be making improvements that make a difference to your ranking. You will be surprised how simple the most important of these can be to achieve.
Hotel SEO mistake #2:
Too high expectations
Most accommodation owners perceive SEO as being the holy grail to reaching that coveted number 1 spot on Google.
This is a mistake.
That top spot is as elusive as a polar bear in central London.
If you were to put “hotel in [your destination]” into Google, the first spots will be taken by any number of listing sites for sure. One of the top ones, if not the top one, is probably Booking.com.
Booking is paying Google a LOT to show them first.
That first page is not actually that long. The top 4 spots are usually paid ads, then comes the map. The map itself plus the results to the right of it take up quite some space on that first page, leaving just a handful of slots for other listings, most of which will probably be smaller listing sites, whether global or local.
This can seem disillusioning, but only if you let it be so.
If you choose to lower your expectations and manage your mindset about hotel SEO, you begin to see that that the wise old turtle really had it right. We all want to be the hare, but the turtle wins in the end.
This is not meant to make you feel bad, it is the hard love that we all need to understand where best to focus our efforts because doing nothing is simply not an option if you want to stand out online.
Hotel SEO mistake #3:
Not bidding on your own brand name
I know, I am all for no cost, low tech SEO strategies, but even with a limited budget, bidding on your brand name is a solid strategy that can mean winning bookings from the OTAs.
Just to be clear, I am not talking about bidding on short or long tail keywords, such as “hotels in London”, or “hotels in London near Trafalgar Square”. I am talking about bidding on “Hotel Excelsior, London”.
I hear you. I hear this question a lot.
Why should we bid on our own hotel’s name? We should be appearing at the top of the search results organically!
It is a valid question of course if you think that a potential visitor is searching for your name, then they must have already have taken a decision to find out more about you. BUT they have not yet decided to book with you. If your website is not easily found after googling your brand name, who do you think will get the click? Probably Booking, right.
There is so much more to say about this, but I will let the thought percolate for now.
Hotel SEO mistake #4:
Not optimising your Google My Business page
Most hoteliers have a Google My Business page but have spent little to no time optimising it.
A couple of brave hoteliers recently told me that they even had to ask Google how to access their Google My Business pages to be able to update their business hours post Covid.
Your Google My Business page not only plays an important role in shaping your online presence, but it also provides you with a quality stamp in the eyes of Google.
Google makes it very clear in this statement:
“Having complete and consistent information, known as content parity on all booking and listing platforms, can make the difference of whether your hotel is found by guests or not”.
It is the mainstay of your online presence and should not be left to grow mould. It colours your whole online canvas and should mirror the information found on your website.
Without an optimised version, you severely reduce your chances of appearing in organic results.
Hotel SEO mistake #5:
Not spending time thinking like a customer and looking at how they do things
When was the last time you looked at your website through the eyes of a customer who has never seen it before?
Probably quite some time ago, right?
In fact, it can be incredibly hard to do when you are so invested in your business itself.
That is why you should enlist the eyes and brains of a 12-year-old and a 60-year-old. It is eye-opening to observe what they do, how they do it, and to address their questions.
This will provide you with insights into how to improve the seamless booking experience that we all aim to offer.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Hoteliers are constantly walking the fine line of creating a website masterpiece that looks great and invites customers into your world, with one that functions as an intuitive conversion machine.
There is a way to find that balance by getting bold with your messaging and infusing your uniqueness into all your content. You just need to take a bit of time to discover and define a handful of stories that position you as both approachable and the perfect option for whoever is looking at your site.
Hotel SEO mistake #6:
Not defining your value offer
There are millions of hotel options out there, and we are simple yet complicated human beings.
Simple because we all start our research journey with three basic criteria: location, property type, and price.
People who want to travel to Paris don’t google “Hotels in London” first, right? 99.9% of the time, location will always come first.
Next, a family group travelling to Spain probably want a pool and proximity to the beach. They are not going to look at the hotels that are in walking distance from the clubs. The property type we look for is defined by the make up of the travelling group.
Then price. We cannot influence how much our potential customers want to spend on their holidays, but we can understand the buying power of our target customers by doing some strategic research.
On the other hand, we are complicated because 60 to 95% of purchase decisions are made on an unconscious and emotional level. And to add another layer of complexity, those unconscious and emotional powers that lie within are also subjective.
This means that when all things are equal and the aforementioned three primary needs are met, only the following question remains:
Why would someone choose your property over another?
The answer lies in your uniqueness and the value you offer. Defining your unique value is a crucial step to shaping your brand personality, and how you communicate it is the bridge that drives customers to choose you over any other option.
Hotel SEO mistake #7:
Not creating consistent content
Google will simply not rank a website that is stagnant and bereft of fresh content. And on a secondary level, content that does not offer value is essentially spam.
I do get it though. Your days are filled with managing bookings and reservations, welcoming check ins, answering questions, and directing staff. It is a lot, and it leaves little to no time for creating engaging content to share. But what if I told you there is a way to do this using information that you already have?
This is what I will cover as a part of the FREE Persuasive Marketing Workshop.
In this 60-minute session you will be introduced to the four essential elements of my Persuasive Marketing framework designed to orientate and guide your journey to increased direct bookings and reduced reliance on the OTAs.
Specially created for independent hotel, lodge, b&b, and hostel owners who don't have a dedicated marketing team to lean on, you will come away from this workshop with clear, actionable tasks to get more heads in beds and increase your profit margins.
Find out more here:
Meanwhile, I want you to know that all efforts you put into improving your ranking on Google will also improve the customer experience on your website. This will help you to gain clarity about your offer so that you can better serve your guests. Then in turn, this improves their satisfaction and your bottom line.
When you begin to see the job as an ongoing holistic process that activates, enables, and directs not only your marketing decisions, but your company ethos and goals, the aspiration becomes less of a challenge and more of a journey.
Let’s get this journey started. Sign up for the upcoming free Persuasive Marketing workshop here.
Hope to see you there!