You have probably heard marketeers talking about SEO a lot. In case you are unfamiliar with that term or not really sure what it is, here’s a quick explanation:
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is a group of various processes that combined together help websites rank better on search engines like Google. A higher ranking means higher website visibility, as people can easier discover it.
According to stats, 75% of people don’t go further than the first page on Google. So let’s say your hotel is located in Budapest – when somebody enters “Business hotels in Budapest” in Google search, if your website is not ranked on the first page, it’s very unlikely that people are going to keep scrolling through pages until they find it.
Obviously, there are other paid and unpaid ways that will lead people to your hotel’s offer – like paid ads, social media channels, OTAs and booking sites.
But if you really want to establish your hotel on the market, increase direct bookings and build brand authority, then it’s definitely worth putting effort into SEO and getting people to your website – rather than relying on booking sites only.
Just think of all big players on the market, like Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Hyatt, and so on – people don’t accidentally discover them on booking sites, they land directly on their websites. That’s what you want to aim for too, and SEO is there to help you with that.
I know that SEO might seem intimidating at first, but it can actually be fairly simple. So here I’m going to share five copywriting tips for hotels that will help you right away.
SEO is like running a marathon
Before we move on the tips, there is one thing you need to understand first – SEO is like running a marathon, not a sprint. You will have to put consistent efforts into it over time to start seeing the results. In this way, it can be frustrating at first, as you can feel like you’re banging your head against a wall.
But once you start seeing results, you will quickly realise that it is definitely worth it, and the results can be huge for your business.
The main strategy that you should be using to attract new visitors to your website is to provide content that your target audience will find useful and relevant.
A blog is a great way to do this. You can share ideas, inspiration and content about your destination. This will attract people who are researching your area, and actually want to visit.
Copywriting tips for hotels:
Cluster topics and pillar pages
When you think about your website’s ranking, you have to understand that search engines have one specific goal – to give the right information to their users by showing them the right results for their searches.
There are many factors that Google’s algorithm uses to determine which website will be the best fit for a certain search.
One of them, of course, considers whether the website is providing content that is relevant to the search. The legit way to signal to search engines what your website is about, and what your expertise is. To do this, it is helpful to have a very clear, solid internal link structure and to have organised content on your website.
What are cluster topics?
To explain this, let’s take an imaginary Budapest-based family-friendly hotel called XYZ as an example.
The main topic for the hotel’s website will be family-focussed stays and vacations in Budapest.
Below, we will have 3-5 related subtopics that will cover specific areas of that broad topic.
These subtopics are also called cluster topics, as you will write content that is related to them and is explaining them in more detail:
BROAD TOPIC – CLUSTERS – content
To organise your website neatly around cluster topics and help search engines to crawl your website and understand what is your “field of expertise” with more ease, you should have for each cluster topic a dedicated pillar page.
What is a pillar page?
A pillar page will contain, relevant content about the specific cluster page and links to all other content that is related to that topic.
So if we go back to our Hotel XYZ, cluster topics would be family accommodation Budapest, family hotel features, family vacations in Budapest.
Pillar pages for each would contain information that explains the cluster topic more in-depth as well as links to other more specific pieces of content such as links to blog articles, special deals, etc.
Related article: Content Marketing for Travel Businesses: how to plan content
Write keyword-rich content
When it comes to including relevant keywords in the content, it’s very tempting to put as many keywords as possible because you think that will help your website’s SEO.
But what that will actually do is make your content sound spammy and unnatural. Go too far, overusing keywords and you will be flagged and penalised by the search engine for keyword stuffing – this is a ‘black hat’ SEO technique that violates terms and conditions.
To write content that ticks all of the boxes – which is SEO optimised, naturally-sounding, legit – you need to be able to balance the amount of keywords, their relevance and search volume with the overall context of the content.
How to write keyword-rich content?
The first step is to do proper keyword research. Start by listing broad keywords that have higher search volume but are less specific. Then narrow it down by listing so-called “long-tail keywords” ie. phrases that are more descriptive and specific but have less search volume.
Now that you have an initial list, refer back to the topic that you need to write about. Filter from the list the most relevant keywords and keywords that you can easily implement into the content.
When you start writing the content, keep the list of keywords next to you and implement them into the content where it feels natural. If you’re having trouble fitting in certain keywords, just skip them. It’s better to have less keywords than to risk the overall quality of the content.
When you are implementing keywords in the content, you want to aim to have more longer-tail keywords included rather than broader ones. Here’s the reason for that – broad terms have higher search volumes but are also highly competitive.
Let’s take as an example “Hotel in London”:
The first page is filled with ads and offers from OTAs. It’s only the bottom of the second page when we start seeing direct websites from hotels, ranking organically.
This is because the term is too broad and has too many big competitors who want to rank on the first page. I’m not saying this keyword shouldn’t be included in the content, but don’t make it the central one.
Instead, focus on keywords that are more specific and related to your hotel, like, for example, “eco-friendly hotel in Central London”:
You see that it’s less crowded with ads and already on the first page we can find hotel websites that belong to this niche. So using specific keywords might not put you in front of everyone, but it is much more likely to put you in front of your target audience – which is what you should be aiming for – quality over quantity.
Avoid the so-called black hat SEO techniques
As I mentioned at the start – SEO is a marathon, and you need to put a consistent amount of effort and work into it to start seeing results. So, patience and consistency are two very important things to have when doing SEO.
But, some marketeers have invested the time into finding ways to “trick” the search engine and get results much faster.
The problem with these practices is that they are against search engine’s terms and conditions. What that means is, if you have ended up on the first page using these practices, you will enjoy that high rank for a short time with very damaging consequences afterwards.
Algorithms are becoming more and more intelligent and designed to minimise the chances of any manipulated rankings. So they are very quick and efficient in spotting sites who are doing this.
The speed of your website
Believe it or not, website loading time has a significant impact on rank – and here’s why:
People really don’t like having to wait for web pages to load.
To put that into a perspective with the latest statistical data – if the loading time is longer than 3 seconds, more than 40% of visitors will abandon the site.
But it’s not just people who won’t tolerate your website making them wait – Google doesn’t like that either, so it will punish you by giving you rank penalties and pushing your website lower on the ranking ladder.
So, for the sake of SEO, make your website fast. I recommend to run a test and see what is making your website slow, but the most common things are bad hosting and large, unoptimized files like videos and images.
No need to worry though, whatever your speed test says, most issues are relatively easy to solve!
Related article: Tips to improve a hotel website
Start building backlinks
Backlinks refers to links placed on a website that link back to a page on your website.
Think of the backlinks as votes that tell Google that a piece of content has been referenced elsewhere on the internet – so it’s likely to be good, valuable and reliable.
The more genuine backlinks that you have, the more Google will conclude that your content is good and, as a result, should be pushed up the rank so it is discovered by more people.
But, when it comes to SEO, if something sounds too easy to be true, then, most likely, it’s not true. Which applies here as well. It’s not enough to just have a certain number of backlinks that are linking back to your website. Google has a criteria for scoring the value of each backlink that you have.
What makes a website good to have a backlink?
Some of the criteria includes:
- the authority of the website that has placed the link – does Google think that website is high quality or spammy?
- the place on the page where the link is placed (for example, links included in the text as part of a relevant phrase have higher value than links included at the bottom of the page, in the header or footer),
- A relevant phrase as text for the link
- Is the website that is linking back to you is related to your industry?
So, for hotels, a good place to have backlinks would be travel magazines like Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, on travel blogs, and so on. These sites are relevant, and Google knows they are trustworthy and valuable.
So if they are linking to your site, Google assumes your content has these attributes as well.
It’s important to note that links from social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, don’t have value in terms of backlinks. It’s of course good to share links to your social media, but don’t count those links as backlinks.
Another thing to note is if a certain website has multiple links that are linking back to you, they will have less impact, even if it’s coming from an authority website. The reason for this is to prevent any algorithm manipulation with backlinks.
SEO can seem daunting – and it can be – but the best way to approach it is to keep things simple. If you’re providing a good experience to your readers, then Google will reward you.
Keep things natural and engaging, and you’ll soon see the benefits for your business.
Until next time,