Keyword research is the backbone of any SEO strategy. Getting a hotel to rank for the right keywords can greatly impact its success, but choosing the right keywords to target can get tricky. Here are some tips to help you research the keywords to use on your hotel website.
Identifying Keyword Opportunities
There are plenty of tools out there to help with keyword research. Here at Fuel we like to use multiple keyword research tools when we begin the research phase. Some of the tools we use are:
To begin your keyword research it helps to start with some broad terms like “[city name] hotels” or “hotels in [city name]”. Then find major venues, attractions and events that happen near your hotel, such as “hotels near [venue]” or “hotels near [event name]”. You also want to determine what your hotel’s differentiators are. For example, if your hotel offers 2 bedroom suites, or pet friendly accommodations you can choose “2 bedroom suites in [city name]”, or “pet friendly hotels in [city name].”
That will give you a pretty solid list to begin. Start plugging those variations into the tools mentioned above to determine the keyword competition, as well as keyword variants you may not have thought about. Now that you have a full list of potential keywords to target, it is time to segment those keywords by searcher intent as well as competition.
Looking at your list of keywords, try to envision what type of content you would create to rank for that keyword. If you can’t fulfill searcher intent you probably shouldn’t target that keyword.
Someone typing “[city name] Hotels” into a Google search is likely in the beginning stages of the conversion funnel. They are comparing prices, reading reviews, seeing what’s nearby etc, and may not ready book their room. Those broad type of terms make more sense for an OTA or Portal site that create content to compare multiple properties.
Someone typing in “2 bedroom suite in [city name]” is closer to the end of their funnel. They have identified a differentiator and would like more information about hotels that have 2 bedroom suites. This is where your hotel can create killer content (text, images & video) around your 2 bedroom suites to draw that traffic to your site.
Understanding the competition for a certain keyword will also help you make a decision on whether you have a chance to rank. Typically, broad terms like “hotels in New York” are going to have much more competition. Just doing a Google search shows the sites competing for that keyword are huge, authoritative websites with lots of links pointing to them. An independent hotel will not really be able to compete since they don’t have the reputation, authority, links, etc. Also, as mentioned above, the independent hotel doesn’t have the price comparison and options that these metasearch and OTAs have that fulfill searcher intent.
That’s why independent hotels have more success targeting long tail terms, with less competition, and can absolutely fulfill searcher intent. For example, the query “2 bedroom suites in Manhattan” has more hotel websites than OTAs filling the SERP. That searcher is closer to the end of the buying cycle and knows exactly what they want. If your hotel is in Manhattan and has 2 bedroom suites, you better have a 2 bedroom suites page optimized for that keyword.
Think of independent hotel websites as David, and OTA sites as Goliath. Long tail keywords are the independent hotel’s slingshot. Long tail might be the only chance your independent hotel website has to steal bookings back from the big guys.
Keyword Selection & Mapping
The next step is actually choosing which keywords you want to optimize for. You have your massive list of keywords and their competition. Ideally, you would like your target keywords to have high search volume and low competition. This is fairly rare, but when you find those they can be goldmines.
You’ll want to get as close as you can to high volume and low competition, but still know you’ll be able to fulfill searcher intent. You will want to choose 1 or 2 keywords to optimize for per page. More than that can dilute the focus of the page. Use the selected keyword as well as its close variants throughout the page title, headers, image alt, and page copy.
It helps to look at the pages that are already ranking for that keyword. Find common keywords/phrases that all of those pages use and be sure to use those in your content also.
When you find those hotel related keywords that have low competition and high search volume, but you don’t have an existing page that fits that query topic, you need to create content to fulfill that searcher intent. For example, if you see that “hotels near [venue name]” has low competition, you should be creating a page focused on your proximity to that venue, directions, upcoming events there, etc.
SEO can be a slow process, and gaining rank for particular keywords doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to really determine if a keyword is worth optimizing for you can start by testing it out in Adwords. Test your keywords on exact match. Send those ads to the page you have optimized for that particular term. If you see profitable performance in Adwords, you’ll know that reaching a high organic position for that keyword will likely be profitable also.
The keywords you choose to optimize for can really impact the amount of traffic your site gets, which ultimately impacts your number of bookings.
Be aware of your competition for any given keyword, and set your ranking expectations accordingly. If you are trying to rank for a very competitive term, don’t expect to see your site on the first page overnight.
Keep in mind the searcher’s intent. You need to be able to provide enough information to fulfill what the searcher is looking for.