June 19, 2024
By Mike Fletcher

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a hotelier’s digital best friend. It exposes your brand to more event planners, corporate travel managers and group bookers. It also helps you maintain a competitive edge and brings in more business. 

So what is it and how do you create and execute an SEO strategy?

What is SEO?

SEO is a digital marketing tactic to increase discoverability and generate website traffic. It’s important because it helps your property’s website rank higher in search engines such as Google and Bing. 

Organic SEO refers to Search that isn’t paid for and doesn’t involve pay-per-click advertising or boosted/promoted posts on social media. 

It’s a long game and will take you a few months of consistent efforts and some trial and error to figure out what resonates with your audience before you start to see the results you want. 

However, when your website is organically optimised, it’ll appear higher on the first page of relevant search terms, attracting more click-throughs, building brand awareness and developing digital leads.

Paid search (or Search Engine Marketing (SEM)) can help you see more instant results with sponsored ads on search engine results pages (SERP). This strategy benefits hoteliers who wish to target certain audiences or reach specific goals within a shorter period. 

The three pillars of organic SEO 

1) Discoverability 

You dont want just any users coming to your site, you want the right ones, those who want what youre selling and who will be converted into customers. 

To get discovered by the right audience, focus on the keywords they’re searching for and ensure that every page of your website loads quickly on both mobile and desktop and is optimised with content containing relevant, three-word phrases such as ‘hybrid event facilities’, ‘outdoor event space’, ‘luxury meeting rooms’ etc. 

💡 Top Tip: Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Planner are useful tools for selecting keywords based on the data. These tools provide information like search volume and traffic estimates, which will help you decide which keywords will work best for you. 

2) Authority 

You can build authority by creating original content that generates referral links. These are links from other sites to your content because it’s considered reliable, useful or interesting. 

While you can use earned, owned, and paid marketing channels to help amplify the availability of your content, you cant buy authority. Google sees these backlinks as votes of confidence in your digital presence. 

So how do you get these backlinks and build your authority in the eyes of Google? 

The answer: By gaining coverage in local, national and trade media, and by working with business tourism industry partners such as DMOs, DMCs and convention bureaux. 

For example, if your hotel issues a press release that gets picked up by a trade magazine website, ask the journalist to include your links within the story. Plus, every listing your hotel has on venue sourcing or business tourism partner websites will add a backlink and help improve your SEO. 

Alternatively, if you're creating regular site content about local attractions or recommending restaurants, ask the businesses you’re writing about to link to your articles.

3) Relevance 

The more relevant your content is to search queries, the higher your ranking will be—and the more visible it will be to planners, sourcing according to different criteria. 

For example, do you want planners to see your hotel when they search for ‘incentive travel ideas’, ‘event planning tips’ or ‘meeting spaces near me’? If so, you’ll need to create relevant and regular content for these keywords and ensure it’s informative, helpful and enjoyable to read. 

Five SEO elements that will optimise your content

Improving your hotel’s search rankings is about more than creating quality content and having a fast-loading site. When creating search-friendly organic content, consider the following:

1. Image optimisation 

Include images with your content but ensure they’re optimised for search engine bots. They should be either jpeg or png formats and smaller file sizes so that the web page loads quicker. 

Image alt text is important, too. The Alt text field in your website’s CMS asks for a description of the image. It gives search engine bots context about what the picture is. Use natural language and refrain from keyword stuffing. 

2. Internal links 

Include links to other pages on your website. This helps search engines crawl your site. 

But use sparingly - having too many links on a page can overwhelm and create a poor user experience. Only include a link if it adds value to the reader and helps them to navigate your website. 

3. Clear URLs

Check all your URLs to ensure they include a description of the content or page they’re directing users to. For instance, hotelname.com/events/outdoor-event-spaces is better than hotelname.com/events/45?=33xjcf90 

4. Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the descriptive text that appears below the link on Google. They’re added to the CMS each time you publish a piece of content. Short, punchy descriptions will increase the click-through rates for each article. 

5. Tagging 

Tags are HTML elements used to denote certain parts of a webpage. 

Header tags should include a keyword and describe what the article is about. 

Title tags should be unique and relevant as they form the link preview and show in the browser tab. 

Article tags should be used to group content into different topics and to make your website more searchable. 

Off-page SEO ideas

Much of the advice so far relates to on-page SEO, meaning things you can do on your site to improve your search rankings. Off-page SEO refers to tactics you can implement away from your website. 

In addition to gaining backlinks (as explained earlier), here are three more ideas for off-page SEO.

  • Create a Google Business Profile (GBP) (previously known as Google My Business) to boost your local search success. A GBP is free to obtain and contains vital information about your hotel, like business address and hours, reviews, location on Google Maps, and your hotel’s website. Once you claim and verify it with Google (which takes about a week), you’ll be able to edit and update the listing. 
  • Be responsive to reviews on your website, third-party review sites, and social media thanking people for their comments or addressing their concerns. 
  • Experiment with search engine marketing (SEM). A hotel SEM campaign involves using ‘pay-per-click’ ads to target specific keywords in search engine results that will drive traffic to your website. Using Google Ads, you can bid for the most relevant keywords and determine how much you want to spend each time your ad is clicked.

SEO is a recipe for success

A long-term organic SEO strategy, targeted at your hotel’s specific audience is key to success. Hoteliers must meet their planners and bookers where they are - searching online. 

While an effective SEO strategy requires ongoing effort, the rewards of increased brand awareness, higher website traffic and more group bookings make it worth the investment in time and energy. 

When organic SEO is combined with a paid Search strategy, your brand’s digital presence will be unbeatable. 

To dive further into SEO, check out The Complete Guide to Search Engine Optimisation for Hotels and Event Venues, tailored for hospitality professionals looking for a competitive edge in the digital landscape. 

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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