Despite Google’s relentless expansion of its advertising platforms, which have pushed organic search results further down the page, organic traffic still makes up most of a hotel’s online traffic and revenue. SEO still plays an important role in digital marketing, and hotels should do as much as possible to optimize their websites for search.
But managing your hotel SEO doesn’t have to be an overly costly venture—there are many free SEO tools available to hotel marketers to track traffic to their website, monitor organic search performance, and make improvements to your overall SEO score. Here are our top 5 free SEO tools:
Tracking your visitors with Google Analytics
Setting up a comprehensive analytics tracking platform is one of the most important first steps you can do in digital marketing, and Google’s free Analytics tool is arguably one of the best in the market. Within minutes you can set up an account for your hotel, create a “Property,” then set up a default “View” to use.
Google Analytics allows you to see key revenue metrics (if enabled and setup!) such as revenue per channel, average order booking, ROAS (return on ad spend), and lots more. For SEO, it will enable you to see how many visits your site gets from organic search as a channel, as well as any associated transactions and revenue.
You’ll absolutely need analytics tracking installed on your hotel website if you want to benchmark your organic performance and track future performance. This will tell you whether your SEO efforts are working or will need slight adjustments moving forward. This article explains five essential checks to make regularly in Google Analytics.
Enabling search insights with Google Search Console
The next essential free tool to help you to improve your hotel’s SEO performance is Google Search Console. This tool enables you to setup “Properties” consisting of your website URL variations, which provide valuable feedback and diagnostics from Google’s search engine.
One essential feature of the tool is the Crawl Errors report. This lists all URLs from your website that return “page not found” when the Google Bot came to crawl your website. The errors report identifies these problematic URLs so that you can fix them on your website, whether it was just a mistyped link, old page, or deleted content.
Another essential feature is the ability to see organic keyword information—the exact queries people typed that resulted in your hotel website being displayed within Google. This organic keyword data should be of key importance to anyone looking to grow the number of visits to their website.
Other invaluable features in Search Console include the ability to submit an XML sitemap and monitor any errors, track how many of your pages have been indexed (and at which date), see how Google Bot reads and renders your website content, plus lots more.
Enable more search insights with Bing Webmaster Tools
Where Google leads, Bing tends to follow closely behind, and that’s probably why they decided to setup their own version of Google’s search console called Bing Webmaster Tools. Overall, the Bing webmaster platform is pretty much the same as Google Search Console with a few minor tweaks and a not-as-friendly user interface.
However, Bing has quite a high usage rate in the U.S. and the U.K. (33% and 26% respectively) and it’s a good platform to complement that of Google’s search console, which only includes information from Google’s search engine.
Use SEM Rush to monitor keyword rankings
SEM Rush is one of the best SEO tools you can use for monitoring important keywords and search phrases that are driving traffic to your site. The free version allows you to monitor the positions of a handful of keywords.
It’s not just a one-trick pony though, as SEM Rush is seen by many experts as a near-complete toolkit for any search engine marketer. Within the cloud-based tool you can setup and schedule a powerful site audit, where it will analyse various technical elements of your website, such as meta tags, site speed, canonical tags and so on, ultimately giving it a grade out of 100.
There’s also a basic backlink analyser, allowing you to see a list of websites currently linking to yours—still arguably one of the most important, fundamental parts of SEO. On top of this there are various other tools included such as a brand monitoring report, incredibly powerful keyword research tools, plus domain overview tools, which allow you to see the organic search performance of any website you like.
Despite the free version of SEM Rush being limited to a few basic tools, it’s still definitely worth exploring—plus you might (understandably) see the value in paying for one of their more premium level accounts.
Download Screaming Frog and crawl your site like Google bot
It’s no surprise that Screaming Frog is included on just about every “Top SEO Tool” list you’ll ever find; the number of features included within the nifty piece of software is just incredible.
One of the main features is Screaming Frog’s ability to crawl your website, giving you visibility into every page URI that exists on a given domain. It also provides some valuable technical info, such as meta tags, canonical tags, browser status codes, response times, and much more.
You can also filter by various file types, for example HTML pages, PDFs, images, and so on, allowing for closer inspection. You can also quickly export crawl data into a CSV file to allow for more customizable exploration and custom report building.
Screaming Frog is an essential piece of the toolkit when it comes to doing any technical SEO audits, as it enables you to quickly diagnose and correct issues that may exist on a hotel’s website. Other features include checking for optimized meta tags (plus the lengths of these tags), finding broken links (internal and external), checking for canonical tags and hreflang tags, finding redirect loops, plus about a hundred other things (seriously)!
As with SEM Rush, there’s a limited version of the tool that can be used for free, but if you wanted additional features (such as the ability to crawl a site with more than 500 URIs) then you’ll need to pay the very reasonable fee for a yearly license.
Interpreting SEO data
As with all industries, SEO tools are only as good as the team that is using them. A big part of optimization involves correctly interpreting the data provided by these tools and translating them into actionable improvements for the website. If you’re unsure of how to interpret your website or search engine data, work with a skilled SEO professional to help you understand and make sense of the analytics.