Guide to Hotel SEO in Thailand.
Hospitality marketing is always evolving, especially in Thailand. In a country that has over 32 million tourists each year, the competition among hotels has never been higher. Add in the competition from Airbnb and other third-party accommodation sites and you’ll see that standing out is a real challenge.
Then, there’s the ever-changing journey of the travel consumer from general interest to booking. They expect fast websites, accurate and engaging information, and logical navigation. Building trust and showing your expertise has never been so critical.
Luckily, what many hoteliers fail to do is optimize their websites with specific hotel SEO. This is where you can close the gap and how you end up on the first page of the search results. The goal of hotel SEO is to make your hotel website more appealing to search engines, and thus, travel consumers. The better the experience your hotel’s website provides, the more people Google will show it to.
Say goodbye to OTAs and their high commissions. Did you know that over a third of the traffic for top hotels comes from search engines? You can increase your direct bookings through your website with improved hotel SEO strategies. However, not all SEO elements are easy. Google changes its algorithm constantly, more than 500 times in just one year. It’s also crucial for hoteliers in Thailand to follow the best practices in SEO to ensure their sites are accessible to users.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to hotel SEO for hoteliers and why we provide custom SEO services to local companies in Thailand, in the hospitality industry.
The Hotel Industry and Google
The hotel niche is incredibly competitive and cutthroat. There are always new players in the game threatening your market share. When Airbnb, a fully online SEO powerhouse, came on the field, traditional hotels felt the change. Not to mention the price-comparison travel sites that have been around for over a decade. It may seem like increasing your direct bookings is a losing plan. However, Google has made changes that benefit the hotelier. Like, redesigning the hotel search process from desktops and later mobile devices.
There’s no better time than the present to work on your direct bookings. Why pay that price-comparison site thousands in fees when you could complete the whole transaction on your own site? You shouldn’t and you don’t have to. Learn how to optimize your hotel’s website for Google and watch the bookings come in.
Understanding Your Bookers
Have you ever heard of buyer personas? They’re crucial in digital marketing and especially hotel SEO. Essentially, Google wants to only share highly targeted content to its users. That means it won’t share a website for a family-friendly hotel to searchers looking for a romantic honeymoon getaway. You need to fully understand who your clients are and who you’re targeting.
For example, is your hotel a family-friendly resort? Or, do you only allow adults? Do you offer long-term apartment rentals or mostly 1-2 week vacations? Does your hotel cater to business travelers or bachelorette parties? Or, are you a hostel catering to backpackers?
Your booker personas are also based on your location. If your hotel is in Las Vegas, perhaps you’re targeting the partying and gambling crowd. If your hotel is located near environmental/outdoor attractions, perhaps you’re targeting a younger, more active demographic.
Understand who your target bookers are so you can begin to cater specifically to them.
Let’s say your target bookers are active millennials. They will likely be looking for a unique hotel with once in a lifetime experiences. Maybe they want to volunteer with locals, spend time with animals, and learn about the local culture. You need to use keywords that this group will likely use when searching on Google.
Keyword Research for Hoteliers
Keywords are the words that bookers type into Google to discover their options. This is called an organic search. Google takes their keywords (and any other information they know about the user) to populate the results page with highly specific and trustworthy websites. These websites are often super user-friendly, authoritative, and relevant.
How can you find out what keywords your target bookers are searching with?
Well, the first obvious keywords they might use are “hotel” + “location”. For example, “hotels in Bangkok”. If you’re in a big city like Bangkok, there’s going to be quite a bit of competition for those keywords. But, that’s okay. This is where keyword and SEO strategy comes in. Use keyword research tools to help you decide which keywords are right for your hotel. Here are some of the best keyword research tools for hoteliers:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keyword Explorer from Moz
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
Start by entering the location keywords (hotels in X) into the tool’s search bar. It will show you a list of similar keywords as well as the level of competition that comes with each one. You also want to look at the Search Volume for each keyword. That refers to the number of users who searched for that term in the given month. Create a list of keywords specific to your location and booker personas. Make sure you check the “related keywords” section of the tool to find other possible keywords. At the beginning of your hotel SEO journey, it’s good to have long-tail keywords (more than one word, “best hotels for young families in Bangkok”) as well as short-tail keywords.
Creating Hospitality-Specific Content
Everything from your website copy, blog posts, and social content needs to be hospitality specific. Moreover, it needs to specifically target your ideal bookers in relation to where they are in your sales funnel. Content can spark interest at the top of your funnel, persuade visitors who are interested, and lead highly interested users to the direct booking page. Let’s start with your website copy.
Your website’s copy needs to be captivating and clear. The fewer words you can use to say something the better. Why? Because users (in every industry) hate wasting their time. They want to find the answers or information they’re looking for within a few seconds. If your homepage is full of text, they aren’t going to take time to read through it. Be brief, concise, and clear. In fact, it shouldn’t be text-heavy at all; make sure you use fast-loading images too. Your main keywords should appear on the homepage, but not too much. When your keywords are used too often, Google thinks you’re trying to scam the system. It will penalize you for “keyword stuffing” and avoid showing your website to searchers. It’s best to use your main keyword in the page title, URL, image tags, and the page’s meta description. Then, sparsely in the homepage’s copy.
Next, your hotel website needs content. Content can be in the form of blog posts, but it can also be your Packages page, Amenities Page, Things to Do Page, and more. Perhaps you have one page with all that information, or you have a blog post on each topic. Either way, you want your content to answer the questions your visitors will likely have. You also want your content to inspire and entice travelers who are planning their trip. Perhaps they haven’t decided where they want to go yet; your website’s content could persuade them.
When searching for a hotel, what do people want to know? They want to know:
- What the rooms look like and what they come with
- The hotel’s amenities like a fitness centre, classes, a pool, etc.
- Excursions provided by the hotel (and clear instructions on how to book them if not directly on the page)
- The dining options
- Local sights and attractions
You might want to consider creating a blog section where you can promote different attractions or events in your city. These attractions and events, after all, attract more guests to your city.
In your blog content, make sure you are also dispersing your keywords throughout. Again, don’t stuff the keywords in unnaturally. Only put them where they make sense in the context. Most experts can agree on the following locations for keywords: in the page title, URL, in the H1 tag of your homepage, and within the first 100 words of your content on each page.
It’s best to avoid writing long blocks of text- remember, users don’t want to read every word on the page. Internet users want to browse, scan, and find the information that pertains to them. Make your content easy to scan, include images, and naturally disperse keywords.
Optimize Website Design
Having great keywords and enticing copy isn’t enough to appease Google. You also must prove that the bones of your website are easy to use and reliable. What does that mean? It means focusing on the following:
- Page loading speed
- Image loading speed
- Site navigation
- Call to action buttons
Start by testing your website speed with a free tool, like Google’s Page Speed Insight. It’ll give you a score as well as the various ways to improve your speed. They could include using a lighter site framework, combining some of your files, using caching plugins, and decreasing the number of redirects. If you’re not familiar with these functions, consider working with a professional web design team. They can take care of all your design optimizing needs.
Another aspect of hotel SEO web design is your call to actions (CTA). These are buttons with copy that let the user take some form of action. For example, subscribing to a promotions newsletter or simply choosing to book a room. You want to cater the CTA to the type of content on the page. For example, your home page should have a clear “Book” button. Since the eye tends to linger on the top right corner of the screen, this is a great place for the “book” button. As the user scrolls down the page, consider how you can tailor the call to action to the content you’re showing them.
The Importance of Mobile Optimization
If you thought that having a desktop website was enough, sorry to break the news to you. Today’s travelers want to do the same tasks they would from a computer on their mobile device. In fact, 94 percent of travelers switch between different devices when they plan and book trips. And, 53 percent of business travelers book their trips on their phones. Chances are, your target bookers are using their smartphone for everything. That means your hotel’s website must be mobile optimized to serve these users.
How do you make your site mobile-friendly?
First, test the mobile-friendliness of your site with a free online tester. Google’s Mobile Friendly Test is an easy way to see how friendly your site is to mobile users. It will tell you that either yes, your site is mobile friendly or no, it’s not. Then, it’ll tell you exactly how to change it. You might need to use larger font sizes, compress your images, create larger buttons, boost loading speed, etc.
You can cover all your mobile bases simply by using responsive web design. This means that your website automatically adjusts to whatever screen it’s being looked at from. A desktop website is often horizontal in design whereas a mobile device is vertical. That means the layout and features need to adjust from horizontal to vertical seamlessly.
Remember, having a mobile-optimized site allows more users to access your website. Hotel SEO directly leads to more visitors and, hopefully, more bookings.
Making the Most of Local Citations
Think of all the places on the internet that your hotel is mentioned. It starts with your website, then your Google My Business Listing, then price-comparison sites, and then blogs that discuss travel. In each of these places, you need to ensure your information is accurate and consistent. That means your hotel’s name is spelt correctly, the address and phone number are correct, and they link to your current website. You want to remove duplicate listings of your business in directories as well. When one of your citations is inaccurate, it tells Google that your website might be unreliable.
Speaking of your Google My Business Listing, this is an especially important citation to optimize. Your business depends on local customers and visitors in your city. That means your address and contact information is incredibly important. Make sure your Listing has the correct address in text and in Google Maps. This is important for users who search for “hotels in Bangkok” on Google. Google will show them a Map Pack of all the Bangkok hotels that have claimed their listings on Google. Make sure you also include information travelers will want to know about your hotel, like amenities, parking, WIFI, etc.
Track User Metrics and Insights
How do you know if your hotel SEO efforts are working? You analyze your website’s metrics and insights. These are categories of data about your users and your site’s performance. It’s super important to track your analytics when using any SEO strategies.
One way you can do this is by simply using Google Analytics. This amazing tool tells you how much organic traffic you’re getting, which pages are converting visitors most, where visitors to your site are coming from, and more. These insights come in the form of reports. The data will tell you which pages aren’t performing well so you can optimize them further. You may think Google is sending most of your visitors to your site, but the report could show you that it’s actually Instagram that’s sending you the most users. That means you need to lean more into Instagram marketing strategies.
As a hotelier, you need to know where bookers are coming from and what’s attracting them. These insights tell you how to proceed with your hotel’s growth. Make it a habit to check your analytics at least every month.
Link Building Strategies
When other sites link to your website, Google notices. If these other sites are authoritative and reputable, it makes your reputation stronger. It tells Google that your website is worth showing to users.
The hotel industry is unique in that millions of travel bloggers link to hotel websites regularly. But, not all those bloggers count as reputable sources. You want to focus on getting links from high traffic, established, and credible websites. That could include bloggers and influencers who have immense influence over their audiences. You could do an outreach campaign to different popular travel influencers that includes backlinks.
Another way to garner backlinks is to create shareable content on social media that links back to your website. As your followers share the content (perhaps an infographic), their followers may click the content and get taken to your website.
Lastly, you could guest post on popular websites in the hospitality niche. For example, Travel Blue Book or USA Today Travel. If you write an informative and engaging article about something travel-related, you can include a link back to your website.
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