We're breaking down the SEO game by focusing on manageable chunks. Let's tackle the absolute most important part of SEO. Optimizing for booking!
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What Exactly is SEO for Bookings?
Optimizing for "High Intent to Book" Keywords
SEO for bookings is the practice of optimizing for searches where the person searching is demonstrating a high intent to book. There's a big difference in intent behind a search like "portland oregon" vs a search like "pet friendly hotel with pool in portland oregon".
These are the 3 types of searches that indicate a high intent to book.
- Property name: Ex: "pine ridge inn"
- Searches for [property type + location]. Ex: "boutique hotel bend oregon"
- Searches for [property type + amenity/attribute and/or specific attraction/event]. Ex: "bend oregon hotel with fireplace in room" or even deeper "pet friendly hotel bend oregon with fireplace in room" or an attraction "bend oregon hotel near les schwab amphitheatre"
True, the overall number of people searching for high-intent keywords is lower, but the percentage of searches that turn into bookings is much higher for these types of keywords, and they're less competitive.
Why is SEO for Property Name Important?
Right now you're thinking: This is silly and a waste of time? Doesn't my website rank #1 already? My Answer: Have you looked at the search results for your property name lately? A #1 ranking ain't what it used to be.
The Billboard Effect
The billboard effect is when someone hears or finds out about your property and then turns to search engines to look for it. Searching for your property's name is often the step a guest takes before clicking through and making a booking. They may be looking because they found your property on an OTA or because of some other marketing efforts.
There's Competition for Clicks on Your Property's Search Results Page
There is so much competition on the search results page for your property name, especially if you are currently using or have ever used OTAs. There are may be OTAs advertising for your property name, there are 3rd party sites like TripAdvisor or your association etc in the results below your property name as well. When someone clicks through to those, those sites will market other properties to that potential guest. You don't want that.
Optimize the Search Results for Your Property Name
The goal is to take up as much of that "shelf space" or "real estate" on the search results page as possible and make your property as attractive as possible. You don't want to lose direct bookings at the last step!
As you can see in this graphic, there is more to the search results page for your property name than simply having the number one ranking.
Optimize the Search Results for High-Intent Keywords
With high-intent keywords, we're presented with ads, Google Hotel Search results - ie the map in Google, and regular search results below the map. Each of these areas present an opportunity to attract a booking.
As you've probably noticed, the elements of the page are the same as your property name. In other words, the same activities will help your property rank for high-intent keywords.
How to Optimize for Bookings
- Your Website: Is your title & description compelling, does it describe what makes your property unique and include a call to action? If you have an Odysys website, we do our best to write a compelling title & description for your home page and the top level pages on your site, but nobody knows your property like you do. You have the ability to edit your page titles & descriptions.
- Google Business Listing: How to optimize your Google business listing. Your property info, amenities, photos, Google reviews and even Q&A are critical to your success in Google.
Related add-on service: Business listing optimization service
- Rates & Availability - Google Hotel Ads*: If you're using OTAs, Google Hotel Ads give your potential guests a direct booking option to compete with OTAs right in search results. Even if you aren't using OTAs, Google may use rates & availability for your property to determine whether or not to show your property in Google Hotel Search results (the map for hotels in your area). The only way to get rates & availability into Google is to use OTAs or Google Hotel Ads. Therefore, we recommend Google Hotel Ads to every property as long as the ROI pencils out.
Related add-on service: Google Hotel Ads by Odysys*
- 3rd Party Listings: Being listed where Google expects your property to be listed and managing your reviews on those sites is a big part of your ability to succeed in Google search results. We'll cover this more in-depth in another Odysys Academy installment.Related content: Link Building Guide & Links Webinar
- Keyword Ads for your Property Name and High Intent Keywords*: These ads can push OTAs out of the way and take up that "above the fold" real estate on the search results page. They also give you the ability to control the message. These ads aren't always feasible for smaller properties.
Related add-on service: Google & Bing Ads Pay Per Click Management*
- Review the search results for your property name and a high intent keyword phrase
- Compare your results to the image and list above
- Take the steps needed to improve the search results for high intent keywords
Done? Congrats! You're on your way to more direct bookings!
*NOTE: Many small properties with fewer than 6 rooms and/or a very low price point may not be able to afford hotel ads or keyword ads or 3rd party listings. If this is your reality, there's still plenty to execute on here. The roadmap is created so that each step builds on the last. Do what you can and temper your expectations and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.