The majority of us are no stranger to searching for a business or service ‘near me’ on Google. Using an online search tool to locate businesses nearby is commonplace for consumers in modern times, and hotels are no exception - with local traffic making up for a fairly large percentage of online visits. In 2020 alone, 93% of consumers had used search queries to find a local business. It’s simple, if your hotel isn’t ranking on its local search results then you’re probably losing out on valuable customers and traffic.
The topic of Search Engine Optimisation is vast, from technical to on-page and off-page SEO. Local search is something that has become essential for many businesses, specifically those that are brick and mortar - including hotels and restaurants. It has boosted in popularity (and need) in recent years due to the growth in mobile search and the ability to search for near enough anything at your fingertips.
The need for a local search algorithm was prompted after Google analysed the behaviours of consumers during search queries, the data concluded that specific individuals need more specific results for services within their local area. What happened next was a new feature in Google’s algorithm that tracks the proximity of the user in comparison to local businesses. This is done when a user types in a keyword that implies local intent, such as ‘near me’.
Why should local SEO be a factor in a hotel's marketing strategy? After the pandemic completely altered the way of living, many people have turned to staycations, and despite restrictions easing in recent months, many are still cautious enough to stray too far from home. Not only this, but when a user is searching for a hotel in a specific location, such as London or Manchester, local SEO is key for ensuring your hotel stays visible on those SERPs.
Local SEO doesn’t just benefit your business in staying visible but staying relevant too. By ensuring your hotel’s website is optimised for local SEO you’ll boost the organic traffic coming from search queries by customers nearby. The more traffic that’s flowing to your website, the higher chance of conversions - this is particularly important for hotels when presenting your business as an expert in your local area.
Competition between local businesses is fierce, and the best strategies will ensure companies are staying ahead of the competition. If there is more than one boutique hotel in your area, or there’s another hostel down the road you want to beat in the SERPs, then local SEO will do just the trick. Not only will it ensure your hotel is staying at the top of those rankings, but it will also both entice guests to leave local reviews and encourage potential guests to enquire about staying with you.
Getting started with local SEO
Where do you start? Firstly, you’ll need to understand that local SEO works differently from other aspects of SEO due to the fact Google can choose to rank you in two different sets of results: Map Pack and Organic Search. The Google Map Pack, otherwise referred to as the Local Pack, appears at the top of the results page for local Google searches. It showcases three businesses (and in our case four hotels) that Google considers most relevant to what the user is searching for, based on proximity (distance), relevance, and prominence (popularity). Organic Search is simply the blue link results you are used to seeing on a typical SERP, located just underneath the Map Pack.
Before you can take the necessary steps to boost your hotel's local search performance, conduct some keyword research into what local users will be searching for so that you can ensure you’re optimising your site to rank for these results. Let’s use a hotel in Cambridge for example, popular keywords might include:
- Hotels in Cambridge
- Luxury Hotel Cambridge
- Stays in Cambridge
- Hotels near Cambridge Market (this uses a local point of interest)
- Cambridge hotel with spa
Ensure that you’re performing this research thoroughly so that you can make the best-informed decision on the right keywords to target for local SEO. Ideally, it’s best to focus on those that have a higher search volume and lower competition. Select specific pages on your website to rank for specific keywords. Use keyword research tools to help you make the best choice, such as Google Keyword Planner and SE Ranking.
Tips for improving your hotel's local SEO
Google Business Profile
First up and most importantly, is claiming your Google Business Profile listing. Formerly known as Google My Business (GMB), Google’s Business Profile is a free business listing offered by the search engine that allows businesses to appear on Google search, maps and shopping.
A Google Business Profile is a must for any hotel vying to appear in the Map Pack results, you can’t expect to rank on them without one. Google notes that customers are 70% more likely to visit a business that has completed its Business Profile.
To claim your profile, enter all of your hotel's important information - known as UNAP - which includes its URL, Address, Name and Phone Number. Not only are these details key for ensuring you’re ranking well on Google, but they also make it easier for guests to locate your website and get in touch. Also be sure to include accurate opening times, and any relevant attributes (i.e. free parking) and include high-quality images.
Tip: if you’re a hotel that runs a spa or golf club, it’s a great idea to claim a Google Business Profile for each of these too, making them easier for guests to find and enquire.
Encourage guests to leave reviews
As a hotelier, you’re aware of the influence that guest reviews have on whether or not someone will choose to stay with you. For best practice, encourage your guests to leave a positive review when they leave and ensure that you’re taking the time to respond to their feedback - dealing with negative comments in a respectful and helpful manner. This way, you’re improving your business's trustworthiness and authority.
Build a web of local backlinks
Backlinks from local businesses will signal to Google (and Bing) that your hotel is a reputable business in your region. Partner with local attractions if you haven't already, and request that they link to your site from their own. Not only does this offer your visitors an incentive to stay, but improves your chances of ranking higher on SERPs. Look up your local tourist board through your region's local business directories to acquire links from them too.
Plan a local content strategy
If your hotel runs a blog, implementing a local content plan within your SEO strategy will undoubtedly boost your local SEO performance. Not only will this aid in establishing your business as an authority within your local area, but using local keywords will get your blog posts recognised by the likes of Google and Bing.
If your hotel wants to improve its organic search traffic and beat its competitors with top-notch local SEO, these tips shouldn’t be missed in your overall SEO strategy. With staycations and local Google searches on the rise, your business should be taking advantage of the opportunity to increase its visibility and credibility. Get in touch with our team of marketing experts to talk about all things SEO. The more organic traffic and clicks to your site, the better chance your hotel has at maximising your direct bookings - which is what it’s all about.