Google, Google, Google! Everyone is constantly stressing about how to get listed on the first page of Google!
People in the hospitality industry think that getting their website on the first page of Google search results will solve all of their marketing needs. It’s true that good Google results are a massive help to your marketing, but unfortunately, the chances of you getting there, and more importantly, being SEEN there, are slim to none.
Sorry, it had to be said.
It’s possible, but it could cost you a LOT of money.
When I talk about the front page of Google, I don’t mean the list of results that you get by searching for your business name followed by the town you are in. If you do, that in then of course your website should be on the first page of those results. If it isn’t, then there is something wrong. Call me!
What I’m talking about is if someone types in, for example, “Places to stay in YOUR TOWN” or “Hotels in YOUR TOWN”. These are the searches where you really want your hotel to appear. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to unless you spend a huge amount of money or you are an SEO expert yourself.
OTAs are the reason for this. They and the other big hospitality companies are spending literally MILLIONS of pounds a year just to appear first when people type these key phrases. It’s not really worth your time trying to defeat them.
Your time would be much better spent focusing on getting your website to appear for other search terms. This is why I want to talk about blogging. Blogging is a fantastic way of getting your business seen on a search engine search.
Before we start, you need to know which search engine is bringing the most traffic to your website. This is easily done via Google analytics. If you don’t have anything set up for Google analytics, contact me ASAP. It is essential to know where your potential customers are currently coming from in order to establish where your future potential guests are going to find you. More often than not, the answer is going to be Google, so this blog will largely be focused on that search engine.
Google is a very complex system that uses a secret algorithm to determine search result rankings. The company appears to change that algorithm a lot, so the rules are hard to determine. If you run your own hospitality business, then you’ll never have the time to study it all and keep up to date. I’m going to assume, therefore, that most of you reading this haven’t got the first idea how the Google algorithm actually works.
I’m also going to assume you all have a website for your property. (If not, get in touch!)
Firstly, how does a blog work?
If you’ve set up a website and haven’t touched it for a few years, then it is really important that you read this. Google hates stale, static websites and loves websites that have fresh and interesting content. In your case, that means that it wants to see new information about your property or local town being added to your website consistently.
Obviously, there’s only so much you can do with room descriptions and photos. But if you add a blog to your website, your options for generating fresh content are endless.
Before we go any further, go to Google and do a search for hotels with blogs. Read what they are writing about. This will be a great place to get ideas on topics you should also focus on.
We’ve already established why it is so difficult to appear in terms such as “Hotels in YOUR TOWN”. However, with a strategically written blog, you could feature at the top of the search results for a multitude of other terms.
Here are just a few examples:
- “Top 5 things to do in YOUR TOWN”
- “What to do with a family in YOUR TOWN”
- “How to entertain your children in YOUR TOWN”
As a side note, I recommend you go to Google Trends and check on what people are actually searching for. Input something that relates to you. For example, try ”Vegetarian Restaurants in YOUR TOWN”. See how many people have searched for that term. If people are searching on a consistent basis then it means that people want to find out more about the subject. This would be a perfect title and subject to write about.
One excuse I hear on occasion is “I’m not a good writer”. That’s not a problem. Neither am I! This blog, the one that you’re reading right now, has been proofread and edited by a professional writer.
The obvious follow-up question is, “Isn’t that expensive?” The answer is no. For less than £10, I have my ramblings turned into quality pieces. I typed this whole blog on my iPhone before sending it on to be edited.
If you don’t have the time to do that, or really don’t feel confident enough write in the first place, then you can easily find someone else to write for you from scratch. This will obviously cost a bit more, but it will save you time.
The most complex part of all of this is adding the blog piece to your website. If you already have a website set up without a blog, then reach out to me and I’ll help. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most time-consuming and obvious next step is to actually sit down and write. You don’t have to complete a novel. The recommended size for a blog is between 500 and 800 words. Just sit down and write whatever comes to mind.
Make sure you include some photos. All popular blogs have lots of photos in their pieces. You can take pictures yourself or go and grab some from a licence-free website. www.librestock.com is a favourite of mine.
You have your blog piece written, you have your photos, and you are ready to add it to your site. The next key thing is to add a catchy title and make sure the keywords match up with what you’ve written. To help you with this there’s a fantastic tool called Yoast, which I’ve written about here.
My final bit of advice would be to team up. If you want to get your website and blog seen, then cooperate with another blog. Google loves it when other websites link to yours.
What does this mean?
You can also find and approach ten other bloggers and ask if they would like you to do a guest post. Also, ask if they would like to write about you.
That’s it! The most important thing to remember after this is that things won’t start to happen overnight. Google algorithms can take months to see any effect. The most important advice I can give is to start blogging now. Once you’ve started, don’t forget to keep it up. It’s the best (and cheapest) way you’re going to get your website and business seen on Google.
If you want to check out my hospitality marketing training videos, click here.