I’ve always wanted to write a headline like “10 Lessons Guaranteed to Improve…”. You see these all the time and they attract an incredible number of readers and eyeballs…but then I almost changed my mind. Usually, when you read through the article you discover that the “lessons” are generally a sales blurb for the company.
Like me a few years ago, I’m sure that what you really want are some very specific tips on what you can do, today, to make your hotel website more prominent in the Search Engine Results Pages (or if you like acronyms, the SERP’s). So, not to disappoint you, here are 8 sure fire, practical things to do including, at the end of this article, a final tip that always produces results.
1 – Make your web site the default for your browser and on all the PC’s at your hotel
Why I hear you ask? So that every time you or one of your team open a browser, you are confronted with your Home Page…when was the last time you really looked at your website?. Pretty soon you will begin to get bored with the way it looks or the content…as do your customers! And you will do something about it…our research has proven that web sites that regularly update their content do much better in the SERP’s than static sites. Plus, regular visitors to your site will also gain a good impression and sales conversion levels will go up too.
Follow closely with me as we are going to do this NOW…Open your favourite browser, enter your URL (www.yourwebsite.com) in the address bar, click go. Once your web page has loaded, click on Tools at the top of the page, select Internet Options. A dialogue box will open and on the General Tab you should see Home Page…now click on Use Current (the instructions are very similar for the Firefox browser)…your website will now load every time you open a browser. And suddenly its profile has become much more important to you…
The other interesting thing that will happen is that your team members will also start to give you suggestions and feedback on your website…they too will see it every time they open a browser. Many will start to write material or supply images from events that you can include on some sub-pages…and your website will come alive.
2 – Get your competitors to tell you the keywords you need to know
Ah…thought that would get your attention. Next, you need to discover the keywords that drive online business in your city or region…there are a few ways to do this, but here is an easy one. Go to Google or your favourite Search Engine and search for “your destination” and “hotel” (eg New York hotel) and look at the results in the first page. Click on the top one and when the page loads, right click in a clear space on the page. Notepad should open and you will be able to see the code that actually writes the page that you were on.
Somewhere near the top you will see some coding called “title”, “meta name=”keywords” content=, and “meta name=”description” content=…unless they have been particularly sneaky, you should be able to see an indication of the words that the webmaster thinks are important to include on the page to enable Search Engines to find it.
Do this for the next three or four sites on the Search Engine listing and you will start to see a pattern emerge…great isn’t it? Don’t you love it when the competition starts telling you how to improve your SERP ranking?
3 – Open a Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing account. Now that you have some hints as to what your keywords should be, you need to build on this list. We use more sophisticated tools but both Google and Yahoo! Search Marketing have keyword tools that will suggest additional keywords based on the ones you have uncovered so far. Eventually, this account will let you produce ads for the “Sponsored Links” part of their pages (we’ll tell you more in another article)…but for now we are just going to utilise their keyword tools.
Go to the Google Home Page for your country. Below the search box click on Advertising Programmes and then click on Google AdWords and then click on the Sign Up Now button…now is not the time to chicken out, be brave.
This will be the best $5-10.00 that you have ever spent. You will be stepped through setting up an account…when they ask you to enter some keywords, just put in a couple of the ones you have already identified. They will also ask you to build an ad; use your property name as the title, and just say something nice in the following two lines…you won’t be ready to publish yet but you have to go through the motions to get access to the tools.
4 – Start building your own keyword/phrase list Now click on the Tools or Keyword Tools tabs or buttons and you will be lead through how to find even more keywords based on the ones you already have. Using common sense and some discussion amongst your team and perhaps even a guest or two, build up a list of your preferred 20 keywords/phrases.
5 – Put your keywords in the title area of your website pages The “title” area of a web page, as the cleverer of you have already discovered, is that blue band at the very top of the screen when a web page is loaded…that’s right, with the white text in it. Search Engines place significant emphasis on the text that they find in the title bar.
Ask your web designer to put some of your keywords in the title of your home page. The most important words at the beginning followed by a nice destinational comment that repeats the destination name and the word hotel a second time (eg San Diego Hotel:: leading luxury hotel in San Diego – The Classique Towers Hotel)…do not “stuff” the title full of too many of your keywords or repeat them more than two, or at the most, three times.
Do not start with your property name…if you must put your property name in the title, put it at the end. Search Engines add the most “weight” to the words at the beginning of the title. Now, work you way down your keyword list putting different keywords on different pages, thus creating a different keyword emphasis for each page and add the same keywords into the text on the page.
By the way, did you notice that the title is what most Search Engines display in the SERP’s? That’s also why the title needs to be well written as searchers will judge whether to click on the link based on what they read on screen.
Are you still with me?
6 – Look at your web site statistics EVERY day Every day…this is one of the easy ones. Wherever your site is being hosted, they are bound to provide you with at least a basic statistical summary of how many visitors you get to your site per day (not hits, visits), how many pages were viewed and other data. This is usually available online with a login.
Make it a habit to log in and view your statistics every time you start your work day. Should your web hosting service not provide statistical data then move your site to one that does…if you are serious about building traffic to your site and online revenues then this is as essential as you knowing last nights results or next months room holdings.
7 – Finding out the number of sites that link to your page Links to your page from other web sites are like votes for your page. In simple terms, if all other content between your site and another is equal but they have better or more links, the other site will be delivered ahead of yours in the SERP’s. The number, theme relevance and quality of links to your site are given significant weight by the leading Search Engines.
To find out how many links there are to your site currently, go to Google and in the search box type in link:www.yourwebsite.com (for Yahoo! and MSN use linkdomain:www.yourwebsite.com). Do it for all three because you will see a difference in the results. Each Search Engine looks at links differently, hence the variation in the number of Inbound Links displayed.
Whatever the number is, you need to double it over the next six months…slowly but surely. If you add too many, too quickly the Search Engines get wise and start to dampen the effect of your new links. And please, do not sign up to one of those “We can add 10,000 links to your website in One Day for $29.95!”…they add you to crap, spammy sites and your inbox will be full of junk in a day. Plus, even if they do add so many links, it’s likely that the Search Engines will either drop you from their listings or just completely discount the links because rapid link growth is seen as being not “natural”.
So, how do you build links? There are lots of ways but my favourite “in house” way is to pay your Conference and Events team $20 for every client that they get to link to your website. Conference and Event clients are usually pretty happy to link because your site will save them answering a bunch of questions about the venue on their own site. The success rate is about 50.0% so if you have 10 events a week, that’s 5 links from high quality sites per week or 250+ a year. Within a couple of months you will start to see your site moving up the SERP’s. “$20!” I hear you stammer? Make it $50…it’s worth many, many times that in terms of SERP rankings and revenues.
Ah ha! I feel a disclaimer coming on…they say that free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. The elements I have described here barely scratch the surface of what is usually needed to boost you online revenues, but, the way I look at it, it’s a start…someone very famous once said “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”…welcome to your first 8 steps.
“But Keith, that’s only 7 essentials for building online revenues!” you say! OK, so you think I can’t count, but if you have made it this far, you are now way ahead of 80.0% of hoteliers. Would you like to be in the Top 10.0% of hoteliers and be seriously starting to grow your web revenues past 10, 20 or even 30% of your total revenues? Well, with suitable apologies all round, now is the time for that commercial…
Essential tip number 8 – Contact Us
As a leading hotel web design company, our agency designs and develops hotel websites across the globe – we offer custom web designs as well as a range of web design packages and templates to suit every budget from classic B&B’s to luxury five star hotels and resorts – we also have a particular strength in SEO for hotels and resorts. Take a few moments to explore our Portfolio, examine our Case Studies or share in the success stories of our clients…and then Contact Us for a preliminary chat; you won’t be disappointed ever again!
And now that the “commercial” is over, go on…start working your way through this list…and start seeing the results.