News for the Hospitality Executive
|What is Natural
Natural (or organic) search is the term used to describe the results displayed on the left hand side of a search engine results page based on a specific keyword query. The listings on the top and right hand side of the page are paid sponsored links. Below is an example of a Google results page for the search query “New England Weddings”.
Why do I Need to Optimize my Hotel Website?
You optimize your website by selecting keywords and phrases that are relevant to each individual page and placing them in the content and code of your website. Google sends out ‘spiders’ that crawl your site and index it according to your keywords.
When we searched the phrase ‘New England Weddings’ Google displayed 26,000,000 ‘natural’ listings. The listings are placed in order with precedent given to the sites that Google considers to be most important and relevant to the keyword query. It does this by taking into account many factors of the website including the keywords, the quantity and quality of links to the site, and if the site is being updated frequently with fresh content.
The main objective in optimizing your website is to have it appear on the first page of the natural listings, or at least in the top three, of the results of a search query. You can also achieve this by using paid sponsored ads (or Pay-Per-Click) for the chosen keyword, however there are many studies that reveal that searchers prefer the natural results because they consider them more credible and relevant. One such study recorded by Conductor, a leading provider of analytics and optimization solutions, revealed that 80% of all activity occurs in the natural search space.
By optimizing your site for natural search you can appear higher in the search engine results page which will drive more traffic to your website.
How do I Optimize my Hotel Website for Natural Search?
The first thing you should do is analyze your current situation and your website status. Are you optimizing an existing site or could your website use a re-design? Either way, make sure that your site is created in HTML, as opposed to Flash, so that the spiders can crawl it. You can have some Flash elements on the page but the navigation and content must be HTML.
Step One: Keyword Research
It is crucial for Search Engine Optimization that you select relevant keywords that your target audience is searching on. You must select keywords for each page of your site e.g. the homepage would have one set of words and phrases and the restaurant page would have another. First you should brainstorm a list of possible keywords. Then you need to do research to expand your list, see what your competitors are doing, and check to see how many people are searching on your chosen keywords and phrases.
Use the free Google Adwords Keyphrase Research Tool which will allow you to enter a keyword or phrase, in this case “New England Weddings”, and will give you a list of other related keywords that you may not have thought of. Below is a screenshot of a few of the alternative words that Google offered us when we typed in “New England Weddings” in the Google Adwords Keyphrase Research Tool. You can also see important statistics on local search volume, global search volume and volume trends. As you can see under the local search there were 2,900 searches on “New England Weddings” as opposed to 9,900 searches on the singular version “New England Wedding”.
You should also see what your competitors are using for keywords. You can use these words as a reference but don’t assume that they are the best keywords. In the Google Adwords Keyphrase Research tool you are able to enter a competitor’s url and Google will index the site and give you keyword categories and related words. You can also see what your competitors’ keywords are by using tools such as SEO Digger, SpyFu, and KeywordSpy . You have to pay for these sites but you can download a free trial.
Step Two: Place the Keywords in your Content and Code
Once you have your list of chosen keywords you need to embed them in the content and code of your website.
Spiders are attracted to text that is bold or larger than the rest of the content so you should make sure to use your keywords in your page titles and subtitles. Your keywords should also appear a few times throughout the body copy.
The meta title appears at the top of an open webpage. The title of the page is one of the most important ranking factors for a website. Each page should have a different meta title with different keywords. If you repeat titles you could confuse the search engines as to which page is more relevant for a chosen keyword. Below is O’Rourke’s meta title ‘Hotel Website Design & Hotel Web Optimization’ for our website design page on our site.
Meta description is the short blurb about your hotel that appears under your hotel name in the Results Page of Google after someone searches on your hotel. This should also contain your keywords and be unique to each page.
The meta tags are pieces of code where you can also embed your keywords. These are not as important to Google as they were in the past but you can still use them. When you are on a website you can view the code by selecting View/Page Source.
The alt-tags use text to describe your images in the code. You should write your keywords in these descriptions.
Step 3: Linking
The content of your website should contain internal links that link to other pages on your website. You should place relevant keywords in the anchor text of the link. The anchor text is the actual text in a hyperlink which is often underlined and in blue. For example if you are on the home page and you want to direct the user to your weddings page don’t just write click here but enter your keywords such as Rhode Island Weddings at Hotel Name. A solid internal linking structure can help the ‘spiders’ read your page, build the relevancy of a page to a keyword phrase, and increase your page rank.
External links are links to your site that reside on other websites or directories. A comprehensive linking strategy can increase your website visibility, bring more traffic to your website, and improve your Google Page Rank. Google Page Rank is a ranking system that gives your website a score from 0-10. The ranking is based on various factors including the quantity and quality of external links.
There are a few things to consider when setting up external links. The most effective links are those that are placed on sites that focus on the same keyword phrases your site focuses on. For example, if you have a hotel website, your link should be placed on hospitality industry related sites as opposed to websites that have nothing to do with hotels.
Google also gives more ‘votes’ to links that reside on high quality websites that are considered authoritative in their topic. Your link will hold more ‘link juice’, a term referring to the quality or weight that a website can pass on to other sites through relevant links, if it is placed on a page that has only a few links as opposed to being mixed in with a long list. You will need to invest some time and effort to build links. The best way is through networking and referrals. If you build relationships with clients, vendors, and business partners then you may ask them if they would mind putting your link up on their site.
Another great way to get links to your site is by writing articles and press releases with relevant content that will be interesting to your market. If your hotel is trying to book more weddings you could submit an article to bridal websites with tips on “what makes a great wedding” and put a link to your weddings page on your website. You should also optimize your articles and press releases with relevant keywords. It is important to place your articles on your blog for SEO purposes. You can also place links to your blog in your articles and press releases.
An easy way to start building links is by listing with regional and local directories. There are also many business directories where you can list your hotel such as GoGuides.Org, JoeAnt, Skaffe.com, Best of the Web, and Yahoo Directory. You could also look for hotel associations and organizations. List with the Chamber of Commerce and other city directories.
Step 4: Add Fresh Content
Fresh content helps keep your website current and it pings Google to crawl your site. You can add fresh content by sending out blogs which are very useful to hotels. You can also post press releases and articles to your site. Another great way to get fresh content is to set up an RSS Feed on your site and have relevant news stream in.
We hope you have found these tips helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 978-465-5955 or write an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing