Even if an independent hotel website has at its heart an online booking engine, it will not be very effective for driving hotel revenue if no one can find it. Being present online, yet invisible to potential guests, is certainly not a feature of highly successful independent hotel websites. Website visibility is attained a number of different ways, all of which should be practiced for full effectiveness.
Search Engine Optimization - SEO
With the overwhelming majority of travelers looking for hotel accommodations via search engines, it is absolutely critical for independent hotels to rank at or near the top of search results. Additionally, most Internet users will never look beyond the first page of listings, making SEO even more important to an independent hotels website marketing efforts.
Google is by far the leading search engine and will change its search algorithms from time to time, which makes SEO an un-exact science. However, Google AdWords, is a helpful resource for finding relevant industry keywords to sprinkle throughout website content. Beware of overdoing the keywords or the site will be penalized by Google in the form of lowered ranking for “keyword stuffing”. Keywords centered around useful content that adds value to the user’s experience is rewarded by the search engine. These should include broad search terms mixed with highly specific keywords.
Providing website users with fresh, relevant, and engaging content on a consistent basis will always pay off in the search rankings, while bringing users back again and again to the site as well. An independent hotel should be blogging regularly about a wide range of topics of interest and relevance to hotel guests. A local hotel can establish for themselves a reputation as an authority about their local area as a travel destination. This provides a both a service to website users and a clear marketing benefit to the hotel.
Having a varied mix of social media network accounts and using them to engage with followers is essential for independent hotels to build a relationship with their customers. But there are other less obvious benefits for building a hotel presence on social channels. They can be a useful tool in link building and social sharing buttons can be offered which will spread the virtual word about the hotel in many directions. Also Google’s own social network, Google , offers a free platform called Google Local. A presence there for a local independent hotel is practically a requirement since Google will merge the Local page with the website, while simultaneously raising the website’s search ranking.
OTAs - The Billboard Effect
Although they may charge very high fees for the hotel bookings they do make, online travel agencies (OTAs) do provide a platform for showcasing a hotel property to traveling public at large. This often leads to what is called the “billboard effect”. The hotel is seen by large numbers of potential guests as if it posted atop an online billboard. Many times, but not always, this leads to customers who are ready to buy to visit the website and book their stay on the hotel’s own website.
In the last part of this series we will delve into both visual and usability aspects of website design for independent hotels.
Posted via OnFast - http://www.OnFast.com