What are the smart SEO strategies that drive direct hotel bookings?
Jennifer Wesley, Industry Director, Travel at Google shares some smart SEO strategies for hoteliers.
It all starts from understanding the modern traveller’s path to booking. 60% of travel related searches are now being made on smartphones, and 20% are being made through voice search. And with Google soon switching to a mobile-first index, hoteliers need to embrace mobile with full conviction.
Organic traffic is valuable. 39% of website traffic comes from organic search compared to 20% from paid advertisements. And 50% of revenue can be attributed to organic search compared to only 20% from paid ads. Bottom line, the speed of your website is very important. As page load times increase from 1 second to 7 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing more than doubles.
Increase your visibility in search engine results by focusing on long-tail keywords. E.g. “Kid-friendly Melbourne hotel near zoo.”
Leverage the power of social proof (e.g. guest reviews, awards & ratings). 53% of travelers won’t book a hotel without reading reviews, and 76% will pay more for a hotel with better reviews.
Reward travel shoppers for booking direct with special offers. They don’t have to focus on price; special offers just need to create value in the minds of consumers.
Google will be changing their desktop-first index over to mobile-first index as of 2018.
In November 2016 Google first announced their mobile-first index initiative and are now primed to fully launch in 2018.
What this means that all sites that have a separate m-dot website will need to migrate over to a fully responsive website. It also means more careful consideration will need to be made when truncating or editing down what a full website looks like on a mobile device as Google will only be indexing what is displayed on the mobile site.
Once again, the power of the mobile phone and the how we all use our mobile devices is changing industry on a rapid and ongoing basis. This makes any business individually responsible for being in control of how they market themselves across the web, if you are out of date, you just won’t be reaching the audience available to you.
Four surprising communication results between guests and hoteliers
TrustYou recently released a white paper about this, but the four I found of most interest are:
- The majority of guests (80%) expect hotels to initiate contact and reach out via email
- 73% of guests have communicated with a hotel via online channels (email, text message, and/or social media)
- Guests are significantly more likely to have a better communication experience when communicating through text messages and on social media
- On-site hoteliers are the preferred point of contact, and guests are extremely likely (91%) to report service issues during their stay
Why are local customs and traditions worth $5.6m to Airbnb?
After listening to a great interview by Tony Robbins with the co-founders of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, one of the take outs I got was, they pay really close attention to what their market wants.
Airbnb is announcing a new fund called the Community Tourism Program - committing to give $5.6 million to projects in Europe that help foster local customs and traditions. As leaders in the travel space, it is interesting to see the importance they place on ‘emerging tourism’. They already focus heavily on the customer experience at a local level, this takes it even further.
I think this is a great strategy for hotels to own in their own right as this creates valuable content and stories for guests to connect with via a website or social media and build a more loyal and rich guest database that is unique and delving into very niche areas OTA’s etc. can’t go at a granular level.