Intro to Search Engine Optimization
We use search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing daily to find information, a good lunch spot nearby, or the words to a song we can’t remember. With the help of search engine optimization, the search results that show up first or second on the list are the ones we’re most likely to click.
As a hotel owner, you want to make sure you’re as close to the top as possible when a search engine user is looking to stay in your area. And no search engine is as likely to drive that stay as Google. After all, two-thirds of all hotel bookings begin on Google.
Google is constantly changing its algorithms to make sure those top results are the most relevant and informative. And they’re not always transparent about what it takes to get in the top results.
However, there are a few easy tips and tricks hotel owners can employ to make sure you’re appearing right away when a user completes a search.
SEO 101: What is Search Engine Optimization?
The process of making your site and its content more searchable is called search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to make sure your site appears before your competitors’ sites for the same search keywords. That, in theory, results in more clicks to your site.
For example, if you own a hotel in Flagstaff, you want your hotel to show up first when a guest Googles “hotels in Flagstaff.” Right?
Here are some key concepts to understand as you build your SEO efforts.
- Keywords. These are the words or phrases a user enters during a search. To optimize your site for search, be sure relevant keywords are visible on your pages. For example, you might sprinkle phrases like “boutique hotel near downtown Flagstaff” throughout your website.
- Meta tags. These are snippets of copy that you place in HTML header of your web pages to help Google understand what your page is all about. Your guests won’t see your meta tags when they visit your site. The tags are only there for Google and other search engines.
- Inbound links. When someone else links to your website from their own, they’ve created an inbound link to your site. For example, if a former guest links to your hotel from their travel blog. Google counts all your inbound links to measure your popularity and rank you in search results accordingly. Similarly, link building is the process of persuading other sites to post inbound links to your site.
SEO 201: Making SEO work for you
A quick way to get started on SEO is to look at your site’s current traffic and see what keywords bring the most search users to your site. Once you know what your visitors are searching for, you can start adding those words into your blog posts and new pages.
You can also add related keywords to catch similar searchers. For example, if searchers currently find your site by searching “hotels near Disneyland”, you might consider related keywords like “hotels in Anaheim” or “hotels near Downtown Disney.”
Creating content around these keywords, such as travel guides for the area, also helps to create inbound links. Share new content with your local convention and visitor’s bureau or a few travel bloggers. If they post the link, it will boost your traffic and your SEO traction.
Getting started with SEO isn’t hard. Plus, you can do it yourself with no monetary investment. If you put in the time to learn the concepts, create relevant content that includes keywords, and build relationships with sites offering inbound links, you’ll climb the search rankings in no time at all.
For more detailed information regarding SEO, read Google’s starter guide: http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf