Keyword Research for Hotel SEO Strategy

With direct bookings both more profitable and becoming more frequent, it pays to have a keyword research and SEO strategy specifically tailored to the hospitality industry. There are two drivers for this:

  • Search engines become smarter and attuned to local search;
  • Consumers becoming more comfortable booking online.

While sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia are also key to a hotel's success and cannot be ignored, more and more consumers are turning to Google first to find their perfect getaway location.

Along with some excellent advice in the Hospitality Net article "How to Jumpstart Your Hotel's Direct Bookings Through Search Engine Marketing" there are some surprising figures to back this up. According to the article 61% of potential customers come through a search engine with a 20% year on year increase in relevant searches performed on Google.

This would indicate that SEO is going to be a deciding factor in a hotel's long-term direct booking success.

Hotel SEO Strategy 

While it is entirely possible to reduce the SEO process through concentrating on "7 Steps for Your Small Business Survival" (NuWireInvestor web site) including local search, social engagement and creating attractive, valuable content, many experts seem to gloss over the keyword research strategy as part of the marketing process.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) both rely heavily on an integrated keyword management strategy, and so it is surprising that it doesn't seem to get the emphasis that it richly deserves.

For example: while a long tail keyword research policy can help identify a good starting point for SEO and SEM activities, unless it becomes part of a test, measure and adjust cycle the research will always be second hand.

Keywords are the communication conduit between your target market and your hospitality offering, so properly researching them ought to be a priority: and conducted by a keyword research specialist rather than consigned to being merely part of the SEO/SEM process.

Keyword Research for Hotels

For those who have the time and confidence to go it alone, here are a few salient tips from the trenches of keyword research strategy.

Firstly, local search is highly important. Search engines can not only deal with hyper specific local searches (such as "hotel near <landmark> in <city>") but also there is a rise of the "near me" syndrome: as in "hotel near me".

However, this last is also very location-specific, so the key takeaway here has to be to remember to use geographic targeting when researching keyword usage using a tool such as the Keyword Planner.

There is a big difference between a search conducted locally ("hotel near me") and a search conducted for a location ("hotel near new york grand central station"), and this difference needs to be reflected in the SEO/SEM strategy and in the keyword research.

Next, review local restaurants, landmarks, museums, events and places of local interest in order to generate useful, valuable, attractive content, but make sure you concentrate on those that qualify in one of two ways:

  • high search volume
  • long-tail low-traffic low-competition

The first is obvious; it takes very little effort to create a piece of content highly optimised towards a very popular attraction, and if it has a very high number of requests you may find yourself with a (small) piece of a large traffic pie.

The second might not be so obvious. However, if your hotel is the only one where a visitor from out of town can get a great idea of what the event (restaurant, attraction, landmark, etc.) has to offer, then you will naturally score highly and attract high conversion rates.

Finally, remember to go for social sharing and engagement with other local businesses. For example, consider writing a piece that is highly optimised towards your chosen long tail keywords (i.e. "hotel near conference center in miami with sauna" -- I made that up, by the way!) and encouraging other local businesses to publish it, and link out to your site from theirs.

At the same time, use social keyword research to find out what conversations people are having about hotels and facilities in your area, and then jump in on the conversations with opinion (and links to your hotel booking facility) as well as using that keyword research to fuel content creation.

All of this takes time, granted, but is worth the extra effort. While The Keyword Coach has some very reasonable plans (you can take us for a test drive for $5!), there's no reason why computer literate, internet savvy hoteliers with time on their hands can't use the information in our keyword research and SEO tutorials to make a start on their own.

Just remember: Research, Test, Track, Adjust.