It doesn’t matter how great your hotel’s website is or how much content you fill it with; if your SEO tactics are weak, you will not get the results you want. There are plenty of helpful articles on the internet that can teach you how to use SEO properly, but many hoteliers still make mistakes that hurt their search engine rankings. If you want to increase the traffic to your hotel’s site and improve your website ranking on search engines, avoid these common mistakes.
1. No Crawling: There will be a lot of mention about “crawling” in this article. Crawling is when a search engine’s bots analyze the content on a website in order to understand what a page is about and how to rank it. Most websites are automatically crawled and indexed over time. Whenever you update any information on your site, it may take search engine bots some time to index the new updates. To help speed up the crawling process, it is critical that you have a sitemap for your website that lists all the urls in order for bots to easily crawl your site. In case, there are urls you don’t want to bots to crawl, then don’t forget to install a robots.txt file to block these particular links. Use Google Webmaster tools to you help manage your website links.
2. Weak Content: You’ve probably heard the saying plenty of times: “Content is king.” This overused statement is only repeated so often because it’s true, but commonly overlooked. Search engines like Google love high quality, relevant, quality content. If your copy is disorganized and/or your word count is too low, Google’s algorithm, Hummingbird, will have difficulty deciphering the information you are providing, thus preventing it from matching closely to the searcher’s query. Be sure that your copy brings value to online visitors and stays true to your hotel brand. Also, ensure that there is enough content for Google to crawl, so it knows how relevant the content is to the searcher’s query.
3. Duplicate Content: If you are not too familiar with SEO, you might believe that having the same content on multiples pages would increase the likelihood of your site ranking higher. Actually, search engine bots are smarter than you think. If you write something on your hotel’s home page, and then regurgitate that same information on the booking page, bots will pick this up and will harm your search rankings. Google’s update, Google Panda was first introduced in 2011 and was aimed to penalize sites that had low quality content including sites that have duplicate content.To readers, duplicate content may cause your site to look untrustworthy and inauthentic. As mentioned above, it’s best to keep content fresh and unique on every page for your hotel’s website.
4. Weak Title Tags: Title tags are just as important as the content on the page. Initially, when building your website, you will notice that the same generic title will appear on the title tag of each page of your website, which Google considers to be similar to creating duplicate content. Having the same title tags on all pages of your site will prevent search bots from accurately deciding what the page is about. Title tags should be specific and unique to the content on the page. If your page is about popular attractions near your hotel, then that page’s title tag should reflect that. Good title tags help to make your site relevant to what the visitor is searching for on Google.
5. No Image Tags (alt tags): Did you know that the images on your site are searchable and that there are steps you can take to optimize them for search engines? Most people don’t. When you add an image to a blog or save it to your computer, you have the option to rename the image and also give it an alt tag. An alt tag describes what’s on the image. Google does not read pictures, it reads text which is why it is important that on your images have alt tags attached to them, otherwise it is as if the image does not exist to search bots. Image descriptions and captions better optimize an image as well. Furthermore, having alt tags on your images allows your images to show up on image search results when a user is searching on Google image. This gives your website added search visibility. If there are no effective tags on your photos, they are basically invisible to search engine bots.
6. Keyword Stuffing: Keyword stuffing is one of the biggest “no-no’s” when it comes to SEO. Keyword stuffing is when you overuse keywords in your copy. It’s okay to have a few, strategically placed, relevant, keywords in your copy; but when you have 10+ on one page, you are going too far. Too many keywords on a page can cause your copy to come off as disjointed, sloppy, and hard to read. Since search engine bots love strong, quality content, the bots will more than likely reject your keyword-covered page and push it toward the bottom of the results. Remember, Google favors quality not quantity. Be sure to keep your site’s keyword density to a minimum and only use them when relevant.
7. Broken Links: A broken link is a link that no longer leads to the source it was once linked to. This can happen for a number of reasons: closed website, changed url, website down for maintenance, etc. Broken links are an annoyance to online visitors and weaken the quality of your webpages. Search engine bots that encounter several broken links on your site can be detrimental to your site’s rankings. To prevent this nuisance, regularly audit your website’s health, and check the links on your site to ensure that they all lead to their intended destinations.
8. Irrelevant Anchor Text: Having irrelevant anchor text is just as bad as having a broken link. When you link text to an external page or within your site, be sure that the text is relevant to the content on the page that is linked. Creating clever anchor text is a well-respected skill when it comes to SEO, so mastering this can take your webpage and your reputation to the next level. Something like “click here” is not nearly as clever as using text that perfectly describes the webpage that is linked. When you tailor your anchor text keywords to fit smoothly into your copy and use relevant words and phrases, Google’s crawl bots are more likely to rank your pages higher.
Mastering SEO and properly executing it in your copy can make or break the success of your hotel’s website. Search engines analyze everything about your site: you will be rewarded with higher rankings when your SEO is done correctly and follows Google algorithm guidelines; and punished with low rankings if you make these common mistakes. Just ensure that your content is original, polished, relevant, and that all of your links work. Don’t underestimate the power of tags or titles and give yourself an extra boost by submitting your web pages to be crawled using one of the webmaster tools online. If you want more visibility for your site and more traffic to your “bookings page,” do what you can to ensure that you’re implementing the best SEO practices.