Author: Graeme Lund
Making your accommodation website land on the first page of a Google search result for accommodation in your area requires a mix of science and art. This is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
The website must follow certain key criteria and it must have a great user experience to have ensure good SEO.
There are three important parts to having an accommodation website with powerful SEO;
- Register a Gmail account with Google and set up a Google My Business Listing
- Create a website that offers a great user experience and that works well with Google’s search engine.
- Create as many backlinks to your website as possible
1 Create a Gmail account
Having a Gmail account is vital. If you don’t have a Gmail account then create one, they are free and easy to set up. Click here to open a Gmail account.
Having a Gmail account allows you to set up a Google My Business Listing. Click here to find out how.
There are two ways in which someone may come across your accommodation information on line.
- People may search for your business name or
- They may search for accommodation in the area where your business is located.
A Google My Business listing will ensure that you come up in both of these search results.
A search for “hotel verde cape town” resulted in the below (on the right) Google My Business listing for Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport.
Below is a how the Google My Businesses listings show up in Google search result for “accommodation cape town international airport”. The first four search results are adverts that have been paid to appear in those slots. All the information below that is listed for free by Google.
Google has a special search result for anybody doing and “accommodation” search. Search results for “accommodation” are different to a search result for “plumbers” or “movies” or anything else for that matter. Beneath the four paid adverts is a typical Google search result for “accommodation”.
Only business that have a fully functional Google My Business listing appear on this result and on the map.
Beneath the Google My Business listing results are the websites themselves.
Places of accommodation generate 60% of all there new business from this Google My Business result.
If your accommodation website does not appear on this listing then you are losing out on a lot of business.
It is for this reason that all accommodation business must have a fully functional Google My Business listing.
2 Create a very good accommodation website
Below are the key factors to making a website land on the first page of a Google search result and thus enhancing the Google My Business listing.
2.1 Use the right key search words
Before you start building the website it is important that you know what the key search words are for your accommodation business. These key search words are:
- The accommodation type of your business, eg “hotel” or “guest house”
- The location of your accommodation, eg “cape town airport”, “balito”, “randburg”
- The name of your business, eg “Jack’s Guest House”
If you don’t already have a domain name, then try and register a name as close as possible to your company name, eg www.jacksguesthouse.co.za
2.2 Writing the correct content for your website
Writing the content for your website is VERY important. The content must be at least 800 words long. The key search words must be used repeatedly and must appear in:
- First paragraph of the main content
- In at least one heading and one subheading
- Must be about 1% of all the words in the content
The content must be well written and interesting. Don’t use jargon and keep your paragraphs and sentences short.
2.3 Use an online booking platform
An online booking platform makes the potential customers’ life and you, the business owners’ life, far easier. If you are not registered with an online booking platform, then do so as soon as possible.
Nightsbridge is one of the best options available in South Africa.
The business website must have a link to this online booking platform and the “Click here to make an online booking” button must be at the top of every page of the website.
Make the user experience great by allowing a user to quickly and efficiently make a booking.
2.4 Where to place your business contact information
It is vital that you use the same telephone number and physical address as those that you placed on your Google My Business listing.
DO NOT have a page on your website at the very end of your information bar called “Contact Details” and only place your contact details in this location.
Your telephone number, email address and “Online Booking” button MUST be located at the top of the page and this panel MUST be frozen so that no matter what page or where a person is on the website, this information is always at the top of the visible page.
If somebody likes your accommodation, you want them to be able to make their reservation immediately and not have to waste time finding your contact details.
In your contacts section always have a block showing a live Google Map with your exact physical location. You don’t want to lose a booking because somebody can’t find your business. If your website has a Google Map, all the customer has to do is tap the map on their phone, then tap directions and they will find your business.
The Lalibela Game Reserve website below is an example of a website that places its contact details in the correct location.
2.5 Images for your accommodation website
Only use images that flatter your business. Make sure that you have no images that show barbed wire, water leaks, dirty cutlery etc.
Each image must be named as follows: Company name – image description eg “Jacks Guest House – Luxury Room One”. Only upload images to the website that have been given a description of this nature.
Once the images have been placed on the website make sure that the Alt Attribute of that image has the same description.
2.6 Download speed
One of the most important factors about a website is the speed at which it downloads. The slower the download speed, the lower the website is ranked by Google.
There are a number of factors that affect download speed. A poorly designed website can result in a very slow download speed. A good web master can create a website that downloads very quickly.
The server on which the website is hosted must also have a good download speed. Choose your web host company carefully.
3 Backlinks to your accommodation website
Backlinks are VERY important to Google finding and indexing your website. The sooner a website is indexed by Google, the sooner it appears on Google search results.
If your website is properly indexed than Google will be able to use the Key Search Words correctly for placing your website in the appropriate Google search result.
Good quality backlinks assist in having your website quickly and effectively indexed by Google.
For a more detailed explanation of backlinks, click here.
You want as many backlinks to your website as possible. Use social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to generate backlinks to your website.
If your business is a member of an organisation such as a chamber of commerce or and industry watch dog then make sure that they have a backlink from their website to yours.
Having an article about your business published on a well-known and well respected website with a backlink to your business website is one of the best forms of backlinks available. This is also known as content advertising. Click here to find out more about content advertising.
It is thus vital that you issue press releases regularly to websites that can generate high-quality do-follow backlinks.
It is a fairly complex operation to design an accommodation website that ranks well on Google search results.
You must have:
- A Gmail account
- A complete Google My Business listing
- The location of your business on Google Maps
- A URL that is similar to your business name
- Identify and use the correct key search words
- Write user friendly and descriptive content that uses the key search words in the correct manner
- Use an online booking platform
- Place your contact information on a frozen pane on all the webs pages.
- Use high quality images with correct alt attributes
- Make sure the website downloads fast
- Generate as many backlinks as possible to your website