This is not the first time we’ve written on the topic of SEO for hotels. Considering the growing number of travelers searching for hotels online and the rapid evolution of search engine functionalities, it won’t be the last time, either.
Because, as we revealed in “The 10 Distribution Solutions Every Hotel Will Need to Compete in 2018,” SEO is crucial to the success of any hotel marketing strategy. As such, it should be updated as often as needed to keep up with shifting traveler search behaviors and rising trends in the SEO environment.
(Read “SEO 101: A Guide to Best Practices for Hotel Websites” to review the basics of and essential tips for a solid hotel SEO strategy.)
Our researchers have identified three major trends in SEO already taking shape this year. Here’s what they are, what they mean to hotels, and how hotel websites can be updated to capitalize on them.
#1 Consider mobile a top priority
The SEO trend: mobile-first indexing
What it is: Indexing is how search engines such as Google gather and store websites so that they may appear in relevant search results. Until now, the desktop version of a website has been prioritized for indexing. But in 2018, it’s the mobile version of websites that will be indexed first as the most important version. Mobile-first indexing is one of the biggest SEO evolutions on the horizon, which is why we highlighted it in our article “The Top Hotel Trends to Watch in 2018.”
What it means for hotels: If a hotel website is already responsive and optimized for both desktop and mobile, the impact of mobile-first indexing will be minimal. For hotel websites with a separate mobile site, ensuring that the mobile version is ready for this trend will be a high SEO priority this year, as more travelers than ever search for and book hotels on mobile devices.
How hotels can adapt to the trend: Responsive design is a hotel’s best mobile-first indexing friend. Apart from that, providing a mobile-friendly hotel website is a good strategy for adapting to this SEO trend. A fast page speed and load time are crucial, as are high-quality content and proper metadata to help search engines read (crawl) the information on the page. Equally if not more important is offering a seamless mobile booking experience to travelers.
Hoteliers can check if their hotel websites are mobile-first indexing ready on Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test.”
#2 Create captivating visual content
The SEO trend: vast improvements in visual search
What it is: Online audiences are craving more visual experiences, while advances in technology (and emerging start-ups) are vastly improving how search engines find, treat, and promote visual content for user consumption.
What it means for hotels: Content has always dominated in SEO strategies, but a hotel website’s visual content – its videos and images – is becoming more important than ever for ranking in search results and conveying powerful messages to potential guests.
How hotels can adapt to the trend: No surprise here: to prepare for and capitalize on the visual-search SEO trend, hoteliers must ensure their hotel images are high quality and captivating, and that they contain subject matter that resonates with travelers on the hunt for hotels. Having rich and fresh visual content across a hotel’s entire online presence — its website, profile on metasearch sites, and social media accounts — greatly improves its chances of faring well through the rise of visual search.
Suggestions for creating high-quality content can be found in “5 Tips for Hotel Photos That Sell.”
#3 Compose natural-sounding phrases
The SEO trend: increasing voice-search queries
What it is: Rather than typing out their questions, search-engine users are now speaking aloud to their devices thanks to increasingly capable digital assistants. And not only is voice search a rising trend in consumer behavior (one user of five now uses voice search, says Google), the technology facilitating it is becoming more sophisticated at understanding and engaging with organic language patterns.
What it means for hotels: Hoteliers may need to rethink the written content composed for their hotel websites, as conversational, natural language will tend to perform better in the voice search environment. This trend also presents an opportunity for hoteliers to incorporate new keyword phrases into the content of their hotel websites, which can give them an SEO boost.
How hotels can adapt to the trend: The old SEO strategy of stuffing keywords into text is no longer applicable. Instead, hoteliers can ensure the texts on their websites sound crisp, elegant, and most important, natural and flowing. Additionally, by including organic long-tail keywords — phrases that clearly and specifically describe aspects of the hotel experience guests can expect — hotel websites have a better chance of being found by the travelers looking for those very aspects in their hotel stay.
And there you have it, the three most important SEO updates for hotel websites in 2018. By keeping up with the latest trends in SEO, hotel managers and marketers ensure their hotels have greater chances of being found online — and therefore greater chances of being booked online.
Which is why we’ll be checking back in here with critical hotel website SEO updates as they emerge.
Until then, readers can find more hotel-website inspiration in “5 Hotel Websites Inspiring Guests to Book,” more ways to optimize websites for conversion in “4 Data-Informed Ideas for Higher Hotel Booking Conversion Rates,” and more marketing insights in general here on our blog.
Looking for more information on the technology that can help a hotel drive direct bookings? We can help on that front, too. Just follow the link below:
As always, we’re happy to hear from you in the comments section below. Feel free to leave questions, concerns, and article requests.