This is the fourth in a series of blog posts providing practical advice on how to plan, grow and market a professional website, built to generate direct bookings for your business. This content series is a collaboration with Springnest, NightsBridge’s website solution partner. You can read Part 3, which covers Instant Messaging, Live Chat and Bots here.
To increase your property’s online bookings you’ll need your website to show up as a result on search engines when potential guests search for a place to stay. This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) comes in.
In simple terms, SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility. The better visibility you can achieve, the higher your chances are of grabbing the attention and attracting these guests to your property.
SEO can feel overwhelming, and for good reason; it requires an understanding of how people search for your property, with technical requirements on your website. On top of that, SEO takes time. In this article, we’ll break down important SEO factors to consider in 2022 and beyond, and share helpful resources on improving your organic ranking through SEO.
We all use search engines to help us answer questions. The same applies when a guest is searching for accommodation in your location. A quick Google search and, in an instant, the search engine results page (often called a “SERP”) displays an almost endless list of results.
The SERP contains a list of organic and paid results. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two:
- Paid Results: Will always be indicated with a distinct “Ad” before the website URL. These results show up because brands pay for them using a product called Google Ads. Think of this as paying for a billboard or premium stand at a trade fair.
- Organic Results: Unlike paid results, organic results are all about how well your website is optimised for search engines to understand what your property is about. Depending on the words or phrase that is typed into the search, the search engine decides on the best match.
How to improve your website’s ranking.
Making consistent improvements to your website to help it appear in the organic search results is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Good, relevant content is the number one driver of your search engine ranking, and there is no substitute for it. With that said, there are some practical guidelines you can follow to ensure your website is set up for SEO success:
This refers to the tweaks and changes you can make on your website to improve its ranking in search results. They range from making sure your website is fast and mobile-friendly, to choosing the right words for the headings and descriptions on your pages. A slightly more advanced on-page SEO tactic is to write good Meta Titles and Descriptions (these are the names and descriptions of your pages are they are seen in on search result pages, and not the text your visitors see on your website’s pages). Meta titles should be concise and unique, and should use your most important keywords (eg. Self-Catering Accommodation in Paarl – La Maison On Main). Meta descriptions should tell the visitor about your product and convince them to click through to your website.
Springnest makes updating SEO Settings easy and intuitive. The dedicated SEO Settings section within each webpage allows you to update meta titles and descriptions. As you update your settings, you’ll also have access to a Live preview of how your page will appear in Google.
This refers to the tweaks and changes you can make outside of your website to improve its ranking in search results. Off-page SEO tactics include completing your Google Business profile, uploading videos to your YouTube channel, and building backlinks to your website.
A backlink is essentially a link from someone else’s website to yours. Think of these as a vote of confidence, or referral in the SEO world. In most cases, you can’t create this link yourself and will require action from the other website to set this up. Examples of useful backlinks for your property may include a link from your profile on your local tourism authority’s website, a link from a travel blogger or news website, or a link from an industry partner or affiliate.
A good SEO plan includes both on-page and off-page tactics.
Create content around the questions and interests of your guests.
Ensuring your website content holds value for your ideal guest is a key step in SEO. This often leads to the question “what should I be writing about?”. A good starting point would be to list questions that you often get from your guests (this could be about your business and service, your town, the surrounding area, attractions, or even the food at your restaurant). From here, build pages or blog articles around that.
For example, take a look at how La Maison on Main answers the question of what to do on Heritage Day in Paarl here.
Think about how business travellers need access to good and stable internet connections and meeting facilities on-site or in nearby surroundings. This creates an opportunity for you to highlight the quality of your internet accessibility, and create blog content around on-site and nearby facilities ideally suited to cater to business travellers (Eg. meeting areas, co-working spaces, quiet coffee spots). Holidaymakers pave the way for you to create many valuable pieces of content too, these topics can cover highlighting the benefits of travelling to your location, area attractions, hidden gems that not many tourists go to, and more.
Publishing one, well-thought article to your website each month will not only improve your website’s ranking over time but help you meet your guests at a valuable stage of their booking journey.
Stay on top of your Local SEO.
To recap, your potential guest uses search engines to help answer questions, and eventually make a booking decision. It’s important to manage your online presence in such a way that you show up for search results, related to your specific location. This is known as Local SEO, here’s how you can stay on top of Local SEO:
- Ensure that your Google Business profile is as complete as possible with all business details, location and criteria completed and up to date.
- Log into your Google Business profile and add your website URL.
- Encourage guests to review your property on Google. Having consistent good reviews can positively influence a potential guest’s decision-making process and click-through to your property website.
Technical SEO Tips and Tricks.
Technical SEO ensures that your website is readable by search engines. Search engines reward websites that provide an optimal experience. Here are a few tips when thinking about technical SEO (in some cases, reach out to your web developer):
- Make sure your website is easy to navigate and use, especially on mobile devices.
- Do a website speed test to see how you measure up. If you score below average, make it a priority to improve this.
- Your content management system (CMS) or website framework should follow best practices for handling images on your website.
- Avoid creating duplicate content on your website, which can confuse search engines.
SEO is important, but it takes time and effort to see results from your efforts. For the best result, be sure to use all your marketing channels rather than relying on SEO alone. If a blog article relates to your destination, tag or mention your local tourism board or association in your article and social media posts for added exposure. You could also promote your content through monthly or quarterly email campaigns to past guests, with links to your latest Offers and News.
Did you know that many of the suggestions and techniques in this article apply to Springnest websites automatically? Speak to their team to learn more.
Interested to learn more about how search engines work? Check out this article on Springnest Academy.