The outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent government ordered lockdowns have greatly affected the leisure and hospitality sectors. During this difficult time, leisure sector search engine optimisation has never been so important because hotels and providers of holiday accommodation need to ensure they are consistently visible to any potential clients who are looking to book a staycation in the UK.
Not only is it possible to increase the number of bookings your leisure or hospitality business secures without paying a percentage of the booking or any commission to third party companies, but doing so successfully doesn’t need to be as complicated as it might initially appear to be. This is particularly true when partnering with the Search Creative team who are equipped with the knowledge and skillset to ensure your business is capitalising on every optimisation opportunity.
Effective online marketing for the hospitality sector has the potential to transform the future of your business and although the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in many marketing teams hitting the pause button on some promotional marketing activities, there are still many tactics and strategies that are primed to deliver both tangible results and a solid return on investment (ROI). Let’s take a closer look at some of the avenues the team at Search Creative will work with your business to explore.
The Importance of Excellent SEO for hotels
As competition is fierce, investing in effective search engine optimisation strategies is essential for all businesses operating within the leisure and hospitality sectors. When executed correctly, SEO for hotels can have short, medium and long term benefits.
Even relatively simple tasks can have significant results. Updating titles and meta-tags on your homepage, for example, will allow you to communicate specific messages to potential clients who are already searching for your brand or the services you provide. Although these changes aren’t as immediately visible as something like PPC advertising, they will still begin generating results quickly and are well-placed to ensure that customers are kept up to date with the latest updates from your brand.
Titles and meta-tags aren’t the only aspect of SEO you can look at. Frequently looking at your on-page content is essential to ensure you are consistently providing your visitors with the most up to date information. Making frequent updates in this area also has optimisation benefits because search engines actively reward websites that consistently display fresh, high quality information to visitors. Looking at your content with a critical eye on a regular basis will also ensure that opportunities to reassess your focus aren’t missed and that all improvements are made in a timely manner.
A few recent alterations to SERPs have resulted in the emergence of new opportunities to secure more prominent ranking positions. Featured snippets are a particularly notable feature and there are several ways to increase the chances of your business appearing in this section. In addition to ensuring you are utilising the power of structured data, appropriate heading formats, and tables, paragraphs and bullet points, it is also a good idea to focus on using your content to answer particular queries that you know your audience are asking. Content that appears as a featured snippet is also often used for voice search queries, which has a range of additional SEO benefits.
Local SEO and the Hospitality Sector
Local SEO is an essential component of an effective approach to online marketing for the hospitality sector. If you aren’t familiar with the benefits of local SEO, now is an ideal time to develop a local search strategy for your business.
There are multiple components to a strong local SEO strategy but a Google My Business listing is essential for all businesses as it allows you to respond to questions and reviews, gain insight into how well your site is performing, and provides the ability to clearly display your opening hours, services and facilities in search. This is particularly beneficial in today’s climate because it ensures that your potential customers can instantly determine whether you are open and how many of your services are currently operating as normal.
PPC and Leisure Sector Search Engine Optimisation
Although the instinct of many business owners and decision makers is to pull back on advertising and marketing spend during uncertain times, the long term negative impact this will ultimately have is rarely worth the small monetary savings that can be made in the short term.
This is particularly true in the case of pay per click (PPC) advertising, which is a long term strategy that will drive results over time. Cutting your PPC spend now will inhibit the results your strategy could deliver as activity across the industry starts to pick up again. It is important to remember that PPC advertisements will only be visible to those making relevant searches, so consistent investment in this area will enhance your visibility and boost brand awareness.
Additionally, investing in PPC can help you to protect your brand, particularly as online travel agencies have been bidding on hotel brand name keywords. As such, some hotel brands might find that they have been overtaken in search engine results pages (SERPs) by online travel agents. In the worst case scenario here, hotels, B&Bs and other holiday accommodation providers will struggle to recover while online travel agents quickly bounce back to a pre-COVID-19 volume of bookings.
Additionally, as the text on PPC adverts can be easily updated, you have the opportunity to alter your messaging as the situation changes. So, when a potential customer searches for your business or enters a relevant query, your PPC ad could emphasise the preparations you are taking to keep guests safe or communicate to potential customers that they can book a future holiday without any concerns by highlighting a special offer to entice bookings or touching upon your cancellation policies.
Google also offers smart bidding and AI technologies that can be used to optimise your PPC campaign in real time using a variety of parameters, including potential conversion rates and user interactions. As these technologies are driven by data and deliver more impressive results when they have access to greater quantities of information, you run the risk of compromising the potential of future campaigns if you were to hit the pause button on your PPC marketing efforts. As every business in the leisure and hospitality sector is hoping to get out of the blocks ahead of the competition, doing everything you can to ensure as many pairs of eyes as possible are on your brand will be advantageous.
So, while it is certainly possible to safely reduce your marketing spend somewhat, it would be unwise to cease all remarketing and brand protection campaigns. It is also advisable to invest in campaigns with long lead-in times, such as conferencing events and wedding enquiries, even if these efforts are kept as low level as possible. Additionally, this could also be an ideal time to plan and prepare new advertising and marketing campaigns, particularly if there are certain types of campaign that you’ve never explored before.
Good SEO for hotels and other businesses operating within the hospitality and leisure industries should always be viewed as a consistent and long term investment. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be challenging for a variety of businesses but it is important to remember that as this situation is constantly changing. Actively planning your recovery will drive better results than simply sitting back and waiting for change.
If you have decided to alter the way you approach your daily marketing activities in the short term, it would be wise to focus your attention on preparing for the future. This preparation can take many forms, including:
- Conducting low-level PPC advertising investment to remain visible in search, connect with potential future clients, and protect your brand from online travel agencies
- Ensure your on-site content is fresh and up-to-date
- Boost rankings in SERPs by updating your tags, meta-data and structure
- Identify new marketing opportunities and create fresh campaigns designed to appeal to your audience
This might initially appear overwhelming but breaking each step down into a series of smaller tasks will make the process more manageable.
Our dedicated team at Search Creative will be on-hand every step of the way to ensure that no opportunity to support your business to succeed has been overlooked. With the potential to secure more prominent ranking positions, increase your reach and boost the number of bookings you are able to take directly, thereby avoiding handing large commission fees directly to online travel agents, devising and implementing a powerful SEO strategy has the potential to drive significant and lasting results for your business.