By Stephanie Smith
There are likely many Marriott properties in your given market, and it is important to distinguish your hotel from other Marriott properties as well as other hotels in your competitive set. Doing Marriott SEO (Search engine optimization) is just one differentiating technique when understanding where brand marketing stops and individual hotel marketing begins.
Whether you are doing it yourself, hiring Marriott Digital Services or an outside agency, consider these factors when doing search engine optimization (SEO) for a Marriott branded hotel.
Factors in Marriott SEO
For ease, let’s divide our SEO strategy into 3 sections:
- On-site – What you do on your website to optimize for search
- Off-site – What you do on other websites to optimize for search
- Technical – The back end aspects you can’t easily see to optimize for search
Pull Data for Analysis
Before doing any of the above, determine what your current site is ranking for. And, page close attention to what is already on page 1, what is hovering on page 2 that could be bumped up, and everything else.
If you are using Marriott Digital Services (MDS), they use a tool called BrightEdge that can give you these data points. If not, using a service like Moz or Ahrefs will help. If budget is a factor, you can open an incognito window and do manual searches. Be prepared for this to take a while!
For Marriott hotels, it is hard to tell from MRDW to see what is working versus not. The ECM1 report shows total organic traffic but nothing deeper than that. You can track visits per page, but not the source of that traffic.
Then, determine your hotel’s unique selling propositions (USPs) and what sets them apart from their competitive set. Then list out your major demand generators that drive revenue to your hotel. These usually drive transient business and are rarely businesses or offices.
On-site Marriott SEO
Do keyword research to identify missed opportunities by using a tool like Moz (paid) or Google Ads (free). Look for keywords like hotels near demand generator. Choose a keyword per page with terms that are most aligned. Include the keyword and hotel name in a unique title tag per page with a maximum of 60 characters.
Write a meta description that says why they should click on your website. This is where your USPs come into play. For example, when writing the meta for your rooms page, include unique room features to your hotel.
You can also update SEO for modules once live. The page will go live with default meta, then you can submit changes post launch. These pages are also indexable in search with more opportunity for content, so take advantage of these pages for your meeting space, weddings and restaurants. There is a fee of $350 for modules, but cheaper than building a separate website for ancillary services.
Once you have a plan, submit the new title tags and meta descriptions via eFast. The section you would use is HWS Forms Submission Tool then select the hotel. Next, form itself is called the HWS MetaData Submission Form. Here is a screenshot of the section you will have to complete per page.
EPIC Updates on Marriott Website
Keyword density holds less value than it used and you definitely do not want to keyword stuff. But, if you include a keyword in the title tag and header, you want to casually work it into the content as well in EPIC.
For example, if you target a keyword with a demand generator on the Local Area page, be sure that demand generator is mentioned in one of the 3 Local Area Highlights in EPIC that show on the brand website.
Then circle back around to the pages that have a header tag to edit in EPIC.
- Currently, these headers are H2s on the following pages: Home, Rooms and Local Area.
- Any Property Message title also shows up as an H3.
- On the Offers page, the name of any custom packages (not brand packages) are H3s.
- On the Dining page, the name of the on-site dining options are H3s.
- On the Fitness Page the title of the pool is an H3 and where I normally put hours, but including “indoor” and “heated” are good options.
- On the maps page, the airport names are H3s.
- Nothing on meeting or wedding pages.
A Marriott site is fairly small, in terms of pages, but utilize the interlinking when available. On the home page, the Top Selling Features allow a link (preferably internal) to another page in eFast. Property Messages also allow for a hyperlink. There are other sections you can incorporate links to other sites, but linking to other sites will provide no value to you, and it takes them off your site. Examples of this are Partner Information, Spa, Restaurants, Local Area Highlights.
Off-Site Marriott SEO
A backlink is any other relevant site that has a link to your website. The more reputable, related backlinks to your website, the higher your website will rank.
How many of these backlinks do you need?
My suggestion of a backlink goal: more than the direct competition. It varies greatly per market and type of hotel. A full-service hotel will have more than a select service. An independent boutique will have more than a branded hotel. Having a tool like Moz Link Explorer is handy for this research. As a Marriott hotel, you have the advantage of being linked to the Marriott.com domain which ranks 92 out of 100, which also helps your hotel website rank.
In this example, we have 2 select service branded hotels. Both hotels have a similar page and domain authority. But the volume (and quality) of the various domains allows one hotel to outrank the other.
Asking for backlinks should be a natural extension of the sales team. It is effectively extending your personal relationships into the online space. Be sure you are taking advantage of CVB and state tourism website opportunities like listing packages.
Create relationships with local demand generators and get on their website. If a demand generator has keyword search volume, create a package. This package page can then be optimized in Brandworks.
You can pull an ECM3 report from MRDW and see if these new online partnerships drive any traffic. Here is how you pull that report:
Channel > eCommerce > Add New Property Report > ECM3 (Campaign Detail) > Traffic Source Unpaid Referrer.
Operations teams can also help a hotel rank better in Google Search by focusing on Google Reviews. As presented in our MozCon recap, Google reviews account for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business. Yes, getting Marriott Medallia reviews are important, but so are Google ones. You should encourage OTA bookers to leave Google reviews over OTA reviews.
Marriott uses a data aggregator called Yext to push specific data points to multiple channels. A few of those channels are TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google My Business. Get access to this site for your hotel and fill out every possible field you can under Google My Business. Check your images and all contact information.
Technical Marriott SEO
Unfortunately, this is outside your realm for Marriott hotels. They don’t allow any code modifications. The good news is they are using schema. The bad news is that the site is slow. They rank very poorly for both PageSpeed and YSlow. You can use a free tool like gtmetrix.com to test and see for yourself.