We do a lot of luxury hotel marketing both online and off. While the real world(offline) tactics haven’t changed much over the years, the online stuff seems to be a mystery for some hotels. With the economy swaying all over the place there has been a drop in travel and luxury hotels have definitely felt that pinch.
With the client pool shrinking, the flow during different seasons and new hotels popping up, the competition is fierce and you need to be on your game.
While there are a lot of problems we find, there are three areas I’d love to cover to make sure your hotel website is up to snuff. The first part is something you should really pay attention to as well, especially with all these crazy update from Google happening over the past year. Content and structure is very important to both Google and the user, so why not be the best you can possibly be?
1) Simple On Page SEO Mistakes
We’ve worked with some of the largest hotel brands in the business and you’d be surprised that most of them have very simple but important mistakes being made on their site. Even with large marketing teams something is getting overlooked or their teams don’t know what they’re doing. It is understandable, especially when there is usually a big disconnect between developers and marketers.
I’ll be covering a few points and showing real world examples which I always like to do as it gives you a much better idea of what I’m on about.
What People See In The Search Results Matters
I picked a search query related to Manhattan Presidential Suites and this is a perfect set to go over. When people search for their target term they’re presented with a plethora of options. Let’s pick The Surrey as our example of a convoluted setup that should be switched around.
Keep in mind I was searching for a presidential suite in Manhattan and these were some of the best ranking sites. While these changes may not necessarily impact your ranking, they can and will catch the users eye and it should lead to your hotel getting that visit. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did gain some rankings by changing the following;
Page Title – The first bit that should catch your attention is the title and The Surrey doesn’t seem to have anything coherent going on here. As you can see with the Fitzpatrick setup they have the right title, a description about the actual room and a proper URL structure. Speaking of that, on to my next point.
URL Structure – Nothing in The Surrey’s url structure gives me any clue what the page is about either and it really just looks like a poorly programmed website. If you’re a luxury brand you want to show that off, even in the little details of your web experience.
Google Authorship – All these hotels(and 90% of the clients we’ve seen) are missing out implementing Google+ authorship. This ties your hotel into your Google+ profile and will show your brand’s logo in the search results. This is just one more thing to encourage +1′s as well make your listing in the organic results stand out over the competition. The good people over at Buteeq have covered this specifically for hotels on their site and it’s worth the read.
Rich Snippets – If you or your web team don’t know what rich snippets are by now it may be time to talk with us. These will allow you to showcase your hotels rating as well as prices and event dates….right within Google’s search results. I’m sure you’ve seen them before and sites like Expedia and Trip Advisor make great use of these;
If you’d like to make use of these you can do so by checking out http://schema.org/.
Don’t Forget Social Sharing Buttons
This is crucial in today’s online marketing world and the longer you ignore it, the more it will bite you in the ass in the long run.
None of their suite pages have social sharing bars and that could either be because they’ve not thought about it, or are worried about aesthetics. If a user is really excited about your property, there is a good chance they’re going to hit that share button. Who knows how many people your room will be exposed to.
I hate to pick on The Surrey too much and I don’t think it will matter as they are one of the best known hotels in Manhattan already. Everyone can do a little better though so if you’re from their team, please take my constructive criticism with open arms.
2) High End Suites Poorly Represented
There was a reason I’m stuck on the presidential suite mindset. They’re some of the most expensive rooms in a hotel’s arsenal and it baffles me to this day why they’re not paid more attention to.
As a customer I want to be wowed and if I’m in the market for an ultra luxurious suite, show me the money. Using The Surrey again in my example, their presidential suite is $8,000 USD per night. That’s a lot to spend so I think it would be in their best interest to really show off the suite.
Sadly their page doesn’t showcase much of the suite and you’d have to mosey on over to their gallery page to see only six photos. For me, this just doesn’t cut it! You really ought to showcase the big and little details of this suite and it has to go beyond just a photo gallery.
-> More high resolution photos and put them on the suite’s page.
-> This is the day and age of video and there’s no excuse to not have a HD video embedded.
-> Definitely add reviews from customers who’ve experienced the suite.
-> A link to the gallery that does show this suites images.
-> Oh and don’t forget the social share buttons!
Just a few simple additions can go a long way and The Surrey could easily have all the changes up within a week. This would go a long way and extend the user experience. This means you have more content, the user is more pleased and they’re staying on your site longer.
3) Beware Of Thin & Duplicate Content
If your hotel website has been using the same content for years you may want to think about a fresh update on your end. Just think about all the affiliate and booking websites out there have copied your content word for word.
Let’s explore The Surrey some more and show examples of the duplicate content starting with their about page. Now normally you would be fine with affiliates and other booking sites copying your content, but in this day and age of Google Panda I tend to be wary of how it will respond.
I just searched for the first sentence from their about page;
Now they always come up for any copied text showing up which I would have suspected, so all is well for them. Call me a stickler for being unique, but I’d still have a few of the key pages rewritten to be unique just to separate myself from the nearly 3000 other websites that have copied my content.
Now this is where problems with Google can arise. Internal duplication comes from more bad setups, usually left behind or non thought out properly by developers. You can’t blame them really either as they don’t pay attention to what Google wants usually so issues can be found.
So going back to their presidential suite page I’ve copied the first sentence of text and wrapped it in quotes to find duplicated versions on more than one page of their website. If there are any you will usually see them to have been thrown in Google’s omitted results.
We know that Google has filtered out similar pages on their site and this could be a problem if you had other target pages you wanted to rank. If we click on “repeat the search with the omitted results included.” we can see what other pages have been thrown out of Google’s index.
Most of the results should be thrown out but pay close attention to them having their test/development site trying to index in Google. This is a sloppy web developer issue and whomever do their website should know better than that. A simple “noindex” tag on that test site would alleviate this problem.
While it hasn’t caused The Surrey’s main site to lose ranking, you can see hundred of other cases where something like this caused a total loss in ranking for other brands.
Time For An Audit
So hopefully this post has caused you to take a step back and look at common issues with your hotel’s website. If not and you need some help don’t hesitate to contact us and have an audit personally by me. Why worry about the little details holding you back when we can take care of everything for you in little to no time.