SEO Checklist For Hotels: How To Drive Rankings, Traffic & Bookings In 2022 And Beyond

Luxury hotel search engine optimisation (SEO) is the complex art of getting more visibility for your brand and moving your website to the highest possible position in Google, Yahoo, and Bing search results. While paid ad campaigns can produce instant results, SEO for luxury hotels is more of a slow burner. It needs a commitment but ultimately SEO will prove to be your most loyal supporter in the fight against competitors and OTAs. 

Why is hotel SEO important? 

The better your hotel's search ranking, the more traffic flows to your website, resulting in additional bookings, increased direct revenue and less commission paid to third parties.
Using the tips in this article will give you a huge advantage when it comes to being found online by prospective guests or event planners. It will lead to more exposure, lower budget spent and higher quality leads. 

Follow these SEO best practices to get better organic search results and drive more visitors to your luxury hotel website. 

1. Research and Identify the right keywords 

A successful hotel SEO strategy starts with keywords. You need to research extensively what keywords and phrases are used by your target audience when they want to book accommodation in your property. 

There are three types of keywords you should focus on:
  • Primary keywords. These are the main keywords including one or two word phrases for which you want each page to rank (i.e. be found in searches). They are mostly using for a landing page to describe what the page is about. For example, "Galway hotel" is the main keyword for a hotel landing page in Galway. 

  • Secondary keywords. These are less obvious than primary keywords, but more specific. For example, if the hotel in Galway is a luxury hotel, your keywords would be "luxury Galway hotel"

  • Long tail keywords. Remember to include the long-tail keywords containing 5 plus words (They can also include questions and how-to's). For example, "luxury Galway hotel with horse riding". As longer phrases are more specific and target a niche, there are fewer hotels competing for top rankings for these particular keywords. 

2. Make images readable 

Images are SEO gold!

Search engines are unable to interpret images on your website but there are ways around this.   
  • Make sure images have a descriptive name containing relevant keywords before uploading them to your site. 
  • Give context to images with relevant alt text which reflects both keyword and the subject. (This also benefits visually impaired users who use screen readers when browsing).
  • Reduce the file size of your images without compromising quality. This will help speed up your load time and reduce bounce rate. 

3. Keep your content fresh and interesting 

Search engines thrive on original, relevant and recent content. Generating content can do wonders for your ranking and there are endless options for hotel content:
  1. Articles 
  2. Hotel blog posts 
  3. Photo gallery
  4. Virtual tours around hotel 
  5. Guide to local tourist attractions 
  6. Videos 
  7. Podcasts
Frequent updates not only send a signal to the search engines that your business is "alive and well" but they also attract return audiences on your website. Interesting information keeps visitors for longer on your pages, signaling to the search engines that your website is worthy of better positions. 

Blogging also helps with other important SEO tactics: it is the perfect platform to target those important long-tail keywords (Which are responsible for 80 -90% of Google searches now) and to include internal links.

4. Speed up your website 

The faster your website loads, the better the SEO ranking is. Google's most important objective is to provide the right results in record time. This is why the search giant will favour websites that load quickly and have a low bounce rate. 

Using web friendly pictures of your luxury hotel will speed up your pages. There are several online tools to optimize your images for the internet like Tiny JPG.

Excellent site speed not only offers a superior user experience, but Google will also take notice and reward your efforts. 

5. Improve mobile experience 

At the core of SEO is Google's relentless effort to offer impeccable user experience. 

As people now prefer mobile devices over desktop computers, even the most brilliant ideas about increasing traffic to your website won't work if they are not mobile-friendly. 

Responsive design which allows your site to display content perfectly regardless of the screen size is the most commonly used solution. Make sure your hotel website:
  • Automatically adjusts photo and text sizes for smaller screens (mobile and tablets)
  • Applies enough separation between links to help customers tap and open without overlap. 
  • Doesn't use flash or other programs that aren't designed for smaller screens. 
  • Loads on mobile devices in less than 3 seconds. Visitors who are mobile will become impatient and leave your website if your site takes longer to load. 

If you offer a great mobile experience, people will stay on your site and Google will be confident to send more visitors your way. 

6. Optimise your Google My Business listing 

Google My Business (GMB) is a free listing provided by the search engine where companies can include information about their services.

Having an up-to-date and verified GMB listing is excellent for local SEO as it will positively impact your organic rankings and increase your chances of showing up in various Google products. 

Remember to upload high quality photos, videos, phone numbers, prices, reviews, GPS coordinates and a link to your web address. If you have several businesses within your hotel (spa, health club, golf course, restaurants and so on) claim and optimise the GMB listings for each of these amenities. 

The more personality you give your Google My Business listing, the greater your chances of making a connection with potential guests. 

7. Create engaging YouTube videos to leverage your hotel brand 

The second most popular search engine for videos is YouTube. It provides the best opportunity to create and upload some fun and informative video content which introduces your hotel amenities, staff and nearby local attractions.

Put a link to your website at the top of your window descriptions when you are uploading it on YouTube. Don't forget to label your windows with clear, search friendly titles that grab audience attention and make your content easier to find. 

Try to make your videos as entertaining and educational as possible.

8. Link up with local partners 

You have probably been told that you should get local businesses and tourist attractions to link to your page from their website. These backlinks (also called inbound links) from reliable sources carry huge weight in the online world. 

Backlinks have a long-term positive impact on your search engine ranking as they signal to search engines that your website is a reliable, trustworthy platform.

Focus on the quality, not quantity, of links and try to team up with websites which are relevant to your high-end hotel - for example food bloggers, spa review sites and local online influencers. 

9. Be active on your hotel's social media channels 

You need to be wherever your audience is - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Your competition will be active on there as well. 

There are a wide range of activities you can do on your social media channels. Cultivate fresh discussions, provide links to interesting articles for your guests or offer video tours of your hotel (including Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn live). 

Let potential customers know about the unique offers you have when they book rooms directly through your website.