86% of online American travelers use search engines in the trip-planning process. And that’s a great thing because any customer beginning their journey at the search bar is within your marketing reach. To take full advantage of these opportunities to connect with potential customers you need to do everything you can to ensure your site is showing up (as high in the list as possible) on relevant search results. It’s a process known as search engine optimization.
Search engines use algorithms (typically referred to as crawlers) that scan websites and rank them based on relevance and popularity. Here are a few tips for optimizing your placement in search engine results:
Create quality content >> It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we write a lot about creating quality content for your website. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle that there really aren’t any shortcuts for. Search Engine algorithms are first and foremost looking for websites that offer value to the user. So your content needs to be informative, specific, and engaging.
Use keywords appropriately >> In order for your website to appear in relevant searches, you need to include keywords in your copy. For example, if you want your hotel to appear to guests looking for boutique hotels in San Diego, you’ll want to include the keywords “boutique hotel in San Diego” in your website copy. After choosing what keywords you want to use (Google Keyword Planner is a free feature within Adwords that can be of use in this process), make sure to use them naturally within the copy. Awkwardly overstuffing website content with keywords will hurt your ranking. Typically, a 10-15% concentration of keywords and phrases is a good window to aim for.
Consider using a content management system >> Using a CMS when building your website can be a big help for SEO. These systems often have built-in features designed to make SEO easy. The clean and simple code, responsive design, plugin capabilities, and customizable URLs are a few of the reasons why we think WordPress is a great CMS option.
Ensure fast load times >> Search engine crawlers are designed to rank sites by user experience. And users don’t like to wait for web pages to load. More than half of people abandon a page if it takes over 3 seconds to load, so ensure your site falls in the 0-2 second range.
Use responsive design >> In the US, more Google searches are done on a mobile device than a computer. So having a website that’s optimized across all devices is critical for user experience (and therefore search engine ranking).
Ensure simple navigation >> This is another one for improving user experience. Intuitive navigation invites people (and crawlers) to peruse your content and enable them to find the information they’re looking for.
While a lot of search engine optimization strategies refer to the content and functionality of your actual website, there are some off-site practices that can help improve your ranking. Creating a strong network of backlinks can improve the credibility of your site (as well as accessibility).
Get listed >> Find credible online directories and destination marketing sites in your region to list (and link to) your hotel. Also, consider collaborating with local businesses for cross-marketing opportunities.
Use social media to your advantage >> Profiles on major social media platforms should be linked to your company’s website. When you upload new content (which is hopefully a regular occurrence) be sure to include relevant captions that route customers to an appropriate landing page.
You put a lot of effort into your property’s website. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to maximize its exposure on search engines. And if you’re interested in a website redesign, contact our design staff today.