As travel advisories are relaxing and some U.S. markets are opening up for the summer tourism season, now is the ideal time to optimize your hotel brand’s local presence. In turn, optimizing local SEO for hotel brands has become crucial as travel restrictions and interest eases. According to a recent Harris Poll, 77% of Americans plan to travel this summer (29% remain cautious but optimistic). Additionally, 42% cite health and safety factors as a barrier to travel.
Conditions are right for a summer season of staycations. Many travel consumers will be searching for hotels and other types of accommodation within a short drive from home. Others are eager to take their first post-pandemic plane flight. In a recent TripIt survey, 53% of travelers said they’ll be ready to take a domestic flight by June, and 25% said they will be ready to take an international flight by then. Additionally, according to new Think with Google data, searches for “hotel booking app” have grown globally by over 100% year-over-year (YOY), and searches for “resorts near me” have grown globally over 80% YOY.
It’s important that you create an environment of trust and reassurance for guests considering your hotel as an option for their post-pandemic getaway. Local SEO gets information about your health and safety regulations, upcoming deals, amenities, and more in front of prospective guests in the moments that matter.
Here are a few important best practices to include in your brand’s local marketing strategy.
1. Optimize your GMB Hospitality Attributes
Update your Google My Business with all the latest hospitality attributes. Revisit the health and safety attributes added to the platform in late 2020 to help searchers find the information they need. These attributes include characteristics including appointments required, masks required, and staff requirements to wear masks and complete temperature checks.
Google continues to add more all the time. Now, there are nearly 100 attributes to provide important, decision-informing information including special interests like wellness, all-inclusive, and amenities such as 24-hour room services, extended stay, family rooms, and more. In addition, searchers can see whether your hotel supports COVID-19 responders with free or discounted room rates.
Ensure you use all attributes available on Google My Business to maximize your visibility on search for your hotel brand.
2. Engage and Convert with Optimized Local Pages.
What is the next step in your customer’s journey after they’ve viewed your Google My Business profile? Some will be ready to take action and book, but others will be looking for more detailed information as they compare their options.
Local Pages are a great place to showcase a full album of high-quality hotel and room photos, highlight traveler reviews, share nearby attractions, and help travelers understand why your location is the best choice for their stay.
Include a detailed health and safety section to make it easy for guests to understand your new cleaning regimes fully. Answer common questions on this page such as:
- Do you take more time in between guests to sanitize?
- Do you offer COVID-19 kits when guests check in? (sanitizer, hand wipes, etc.)
- Is your hotel checkout time earlier to accommodate more in-depth cleaning?
- Do you not replace towels daily now to keep your staff safer and minimize contact/germs?
- Do you have contactless room service options?
- Do you offer discounts for long-term stays?
3. Share High-Quality Images
According to Google, customers are 42% more likely to request driving directions to a local business if there are photos and 35% more likely to click through to a website.
Since Google My Business doesn’t allow the Google Post function for hotels, you can use the photo section as a prominent area to highlight your brand. Add new photos regularly to signal to Google that your account is active and up to date.
Add a small branding watermark to all your images, and never use stock photography.
Update your photos when you have made changes and upgrades to rooms. Take pictures of other features and activities in your hotel to signal to readers the different occasions and events you offer just hotel room bookings. These images help people understand exactly what you have on offer and enable them to envision their stay, picturing themselves enjoying your plush beds, indoor pool, onsite restaurant, etc.
4. Keep up with Google’s Evolving Travel Features
Google continues to add more features for travelers to find up-to-date, relevant information. Users can search for hotels, flights, and travel services – and Google reveals travel restriction details for a destination, including requirements for proof of test results or quarantine protocol requirements.
Additional enhancements that affect all travel brands include the ability for searchers to filter to find destinations based on interests such as beaches, skiing, outdoors. Users can select national parks and smaller cities and organize start and ending locations for road trip planning on both mobile and desktop formats.
Stay up to date with Google’s changes as they continue to establish themselves as an all-in-one planning tool for travel so your hotel business can benefit from optimized online traffic.
5. Optimize for Local Search Terms
Your ideal customer may be looking for a nearby hotel, but the ways in which they express that need in search are as varied as your guests themselves. Try targeting different types of keywords in your Google My Business, website, and Local Pages optimization.
Occasion: Travelers are looking for things to do beyond just a hotel stay. Missed reunions, anniversaries, bachelorette parties, and birthdays are top of mind for groups this year. Optimize for accommodations and weddings, anniversaries, and activities in your hotel that can cater to occasions highly relevant for searchers. Your food and beverage facilities can support consumers’ needs for a family and group event, even if hotel rooms aren’t required for local resident stays.
Local content: Post local content to leverage occasions and activities happening in your market and strengthen your brand image. For example, post information and promotions about festivals, local markets, community events, and occasions specific to your neighborhood. Build your credibility in your market for events, and activities even if every opportunity for a customer doesn’t lead to a room booking. Use the names of the city and area in your content and your name, address, and phone number, so you are easy to contact and find. This also helps Google understand your location’s relevance to its local area.
6. Explore Other Consumer Segments and Category Opportunities
Consumer travel and lifestyle trends are changing since the pandemic. Consumers are discovering how remote working from home can easily extend to workcations and extended stays in other cities and countries. Look for long-term stay opportunities to attract these guests with relevant keywords and features. (i.e. Good WIFI, desk and working spaces)
Conscious consumerism is also rising, and sustainability is a more significant concern for consumers now than before the outbreak. Survey your former guests and research what sustainable and environmental issues they consider when booking a hotel. For example:
- Do guests value reusing their towels every day to save water?
- Do they support businesses looking to reduce plastic waste with reusable shampoo containers?
- What environmentally friendly and sustainable practices matter most to guests?
- Do guests mind when they need to insert their keycards to turn the electricity on in their rooms?
Consider how can you better communicate this information in your Local SEO, website, and content to better attract new consumer groups based on these particular concerns?
Local SEO opportunities continue to increase visibility for hotel brands as consumers get back out into the world and look to regain comfort with travel. Learn more about our local marketing solutions for hospitality and get in touch to see how we can help meet your brand’s specific needs.