For many of us, juggling busy work schedules and lifestyles makes it hard to find the time for important yet seemingly less urgent matters like replacing underperforming systems or painting the house. The problem is, the longer we wait, the more urgent these tasks become.
While COVID-19 has had a dramatic and devastating impact on our daily lives, we can turn the downtime that has been forced upon us into an opportunity to attend to some of those projects we had previously put aside. While customer demand is low, use quieter days to cast a critical eye over your property’s website, identifying areas to improve in preparation for the comeback. Paying some extra attention to your hotel website now can give your property a head start when the travel industry recovers.
Review Your SEO Strategy
Search engine optimization (SEO) has a direct impact on the success of your website. The better your SEO strategy, the better your chances of getting found online. While it may seem daunting, SEO is really quite simple and hinges on quality content. The key is keeping content fresh and following a few best practices.
During our current crisis, more people than ever are online, and most of them are searching coronavirus updates and information. For hotel websites, that means producing content that addresses potential guests’ questions and concerns about your property’s COVID-19 status and policies. Adding a COVID-19 statement to your website, updating your FAQs, and blogging regularly are ways to deliver relevant content that your customers are searching for right now.
It’s also important during our current circumstances to make sure your local SEO is on point, starting with your Google My Business listing. If you don’t yet have a Google My Business account, get one—it’s free and much more than just a listing. Your business profile will show you how your customers are engaging with your listing, by tracking click-throughs to your website, bookings, follows, etc. Make sure your listing is updated with your current status (businesses can be marked “temporarily closed” if applicable), which will be visible to customers directly within the search results page.
SEO is a long-term strategy and one that should be updated frequently as search algorithms change. If your website has been a bit neglected up until now, chances are it can do with an SEO boost to make sure it’s ready to rank when demand picks up.
Things you can do now to improve traffic going forward are:
- Review written content for keyword use. Relevant keywords and phrases that customers are using to search for accommodation in your city should feature naturally within your website copy—it’s important not to overuse keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great resource for identifying popular keywords and search terms that apply to your business.
- Optimize your website’s page-load speed. Google’s PageSpeed Insights test will tell you how well your website is performing and what you can do to make it faster.
- Review page URLs and title tags (the big, blue clickable title that appears for each result on search engine results pages); both URLs and title tags should be descriptive of page content, yet brief.
- Ensure your business’s listings across search engines, directories and review sites are accurate and consistent (business name, address and contact details).
- Step up your site security with HTTPS (if you haven’t already).
Review Your Website Booking Engine
Mass cancellations due to COVID-19 have put OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com under major strain as they struggle to cope with the unprecedented demand on their customer service teams. Frustrated and angry travelers are worried about losing their money as they struggle to get through on customer helplines.
This unpleasant experience may motivate more travelers to book direct in the future, for peace of mind in case of the need to modify or cancel bookings. Make sure your property is ready for that. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and take a close look at your website booking engine—it should make the booking process quick, easy and reassuring for your potential guests.
How accessible is your booking engine from anywhere on your website? Your booking call-to-action (CTA) should be easy to find on every page, for example, within the main menu. Your booking engine must offer a secure booking process (HTTPS), and should also feature your property’s branding to help create a seamless user experience and build credibility. Make sure cancellation policies are clearly stated both within your online booking engine and on your website.
Your website should provide customers with a quick and intuitive booking process on all devices, from desktop to mobile. That means a website booking engine built with a responsive design that automatically detects and adapts to the device it is being used on to deliver an optimal user experience. As well, your website booking engine should be fully integrated with your property management system (PMS) and channel manager so that pricing and availability are automatically up-to-date across all channels. Read our recent post about what to look for in an online booking engine for further guidance.
Review Your Website Design
If your website is more than five years old, a redesign has probably been on your radar for a while. It’s one of those things a busy daily routine tends to make us put aside for when we have more time. The downtime imposed by COVID-19 has forced hoteliers to cut costs, but if your budget allows, now is a good opportunity to invest in a website redesign to bring in the bookings when travel recovers.
Website design trends and functionality have changed a lot over the last decade and an outdated design not only stands out like a sore thumb today, but it probably doesn’t accurately reflect your business and the experience your property offers.
Another top motivation for a redesign is mobile friendliness. Mobile accounts for over half of web traffic worldwide, so your property’s website needs to perform well across devices. If your website is hard to read and navigate on mobile, it’s sabotaging bookings. A responsive design will fix this by automatically detecting the device it is being viewed on and adjusting layout, content and functionality to provide a consistently excellent user experience across all devices. Search engines favor responsive websites due to the superior user experience on mobile, so responsive design is important for your SEO strategy too.
As COVID-19 subsides, people will start traveling again with renewed appreciation and excitement. Be ready with a website that shows up at the top of search results, inspires travelers, and brings in direct bookings! If you need assistance, we can help. Contact us for a no-obligation design quote.