With the ever-increasing growth of the travel industry over the years, hospitality companies such as hotels and restaurants are seeking new and creative ways to make their name known in a crowded market. One of the best methods to achieve this is to have a solid and consistent online presence. That is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
A well-developed and proven SEO strategy will help the company’s website not only improve organic search engine rankings but also attract better and more qualified users to the site.
With the demand for U.S. hotel-room nights growing over 2%, and with the addition of nearly 950 new hotels and 112,050 hotel rooms in 2018, quality SEO has become even more important in giving hospitality businesses a chance to compete in what is already a very saturated industry.
Here are eight SEO factors to consider when optimizing your hospitality website.
1. Site Architecture
As a digital agency serving the hospitality industry, we can tell you that one of the most important aspects to both users and search engines alike is for a website to have a well-thought-out, organized, and searchable hierarchy. Group content together in logical categories and internally link in understandable and convenient ways.
When conducting SEO for hospitality sites, keep in mind that both search engines and users obtain information about a site’s structure based on URLs. It is best practice to use a logical top-down subfolder hierarchy.
2. Site Optimization – Schema
Aside from the typical onsite SEO additions such as keyword-focused page titles and header tags, “Schema,” or Rich Snippets, is the technical term for how websites communicate with Google to display important search results differently from other search results.
You have likely seen search engine results that appear with star ratings after you search—let’s say, for your favorite movie or your favorite recipe—that include pictures and links to different sections of a specific site under the main Google search result. Well, you can also add schema to your website for hotels and resorts, making it easier for both search engines and travelers to find exactly what they need.
3. Mobile Usability
In 2016, Google’s Mobile-First Indexing was announced and later implemented in 2018. This basically means that Google is ranking websites based on their respective mobile versions. Ultimately, you need to check that you have an accessible mobile-friendly website that is fast and easy to use—without any technical SEO issues.
When it comes to SEO management, fully responsive websites are much easier to manage when there are fewer technical issues to watch out for. Site speed is going to be even more important now with mobile-first indexing. If your website is slow on mobile devices, then its organic search rankings will also be impacted.
4. Site Speed
Not only is site speed an important element to for organic performance, but the user-experience that a fast site provides is also important. Nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. They will abandon a site that has not loaded within 3 seconds.
Here are a few site speed facts to keep in mind:
- Google favors a fast website over a slow one.
- Faster websites see lower bounce rates, meaning fewer people leave your website after only viewing a single page.
- Despite a website being faster, users spend more time on it. This is time spent learning about why your hotel is awesome.
- Improving your load speed can lead to an improvement in conversion rate.
Common high-value ways of improving website speed are utilizing Next-Gen image formats, using high-quality hosting with a content delivery network (CDN), limiting the use of plugins and redirects, and configuring browser caching.
5. Site Security
Google has been adamant about its stance on non-SSL-secure websites. The lack of an SSL certificate may impact your site’s organic performance. So, if your website has any kind of contact form where a user’s information can be entered and submitted, Google will show a “this website is not secure” warning message in its browser. This will deter people from sharing information with you, and they will lose trust in your site.
Websites will likely experience a slight SEO boost for running securely on SSL. So, if potential loss of users is not enough to inspire you to install an SSL certificate on your site, hopefully, the improved organic search ranking will be.
6. Accessibility (ADA)
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the DOJ publication of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design outline the requirements for businesses to build accessibility accommodations that enable the disabled public to access the same services as those who are not disabled. This would include hospitality websites.
Here is a helpful list to consider when dealing with ADA accessibility on your hospitality website:
- Provide ALT tags to images, graphics, animations, and videos. Consider that if you disable the presentation, the web content should still communicate the message effectively.
- Use text labels for all buttons and calls to action.
- Provide text descriptions to all internal and external links.
- Ensure keyboard accessibility. A website should be enabled for navigation by screen readers or alternative keyboard devices so that users can search, find, navigate and interact with web content. Consider how you would get content if you could not use a mouse.
- Allow more time for a task to be completed on the website. Consider that a person with a motor disability has slower muscle movements and a person with a cognitive disability has slower mental processes.
- Do not use pop-ups and image maps on websites.
- Make sure the website contains easily resizable text.
- Adhere to ADA compliance and create a Website Accessibility Statement page, an Accessible Amenities, and Services landing page, and an Accessible Rooms landing page.
Follow this simple rule: make your website with your ENTIRE audience in mind.
7. Local Approach
The local aspect of a hospitality brand’s website is a crucial one. Taking into account the user intent for a local search is the difference between getting traffic to your site and getting conversions. In order to perform in local search, a hospitality website need to include the following:
- Accurate information (name, address, phone number, etc.) across all local listings, including Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor.
- Local keyword modifiers throughout the site and local listing descriptions
- Locally focused content through regular blogging
- Location pages with embedded maps and local address and phone numbers
8. Stay Social
In hospitality, it is often undervalued how your social engagement factors into the overall brand trust online. Not only should you have a social sharing calendar, but you should also reply to comments and reviews across all platforms, including Google My Business. Users have increasingly been using reviews as a method for identifying the trust of a brand. Unaddressed negative reviews and comments are left to the users imagination about how trustworthy a brand is.
These are just a few of the factors that will help improve the SEO of your hospitality website. Contact AOR today to see how hospitality SEO can help boost your site’s organic performance.
Great ideas are meant to be brought to life, and Kyle greatly assists with bringing AOR’s beautifully designed and well-developed websites to life by providing a wealth of experience and knowledge not only in the world of Search Engine Optimization but also experience that covers nearly all aspects of digital marketing. Kyle is happiest when experiencing the world as an endless opportunity for learning, discovery, and truth-seeking, which translates nicely into his SEO "best-practice" strategy.