Why Do Hotels Need SEO?

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Your hotel has it all—elegant sheets, breathtaking views, a ritzy bar, and gorgeous surroundings. It’s a little slice of heaven for travelers from all walks of life. All you need to do now is find a way to get those customers to visit once, and you know you’ll find your own place in the world of travel. 

Sound familiar? 

It’s an experience that almost every hotel owner has when they first start out. With over 57 percent of travelers booking their stays online, having an online presence is absolutely necessary. That’s why Search Engine Optimization is so important to your site’s design. 

Hotel Per La, Los Angeles
Hotel Per La, Los Angeles

Why does your hotel need SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the key to making your website (and hotel) discoverable online. Only 41 percent of people choose online travel agencies like Expedia to book trips. This means that most people still Google their next hotel destination. 

If you want to be able to capture that market, you need to make sure that your website is easy to search for on Google. In fact, you need to aim for the first page of results if you want to bolster your chances of finding clients. 

You can have the most beautiful accommodations, the coolest restaurant, and the best staff. It won’t matter much if people never find out about your hotel. 

75 percent of all search engine users stick to the first page of results. If you want to get to the first page, you are going to need to use strategy—and that’s where professional SEO comes into play. 

Can’t you just buy ads?

Putting ads to get to the top of those search engine results will cost an arm and a leg. Moreover, those ads vanish the moment you stop paying for them. Hotel owners need a certain level of permanency if they want to market their location. Only SEO can offer that semi-permanency.

How long does SEO for a hotel take?

SEO is an ongoing process. Most people will see results in six months or less, but you need to maintain your SEO efforts to keep that ranking. As long as your site is maintained and the content is refreshed, you should continue to see the benefits of this marketing.

seo for hotels

What does SEO do?

SEO is a process that uses link building, keyword placement, and site formatting to help push your website to the top of search engine results. Every search engine has indexing crawlers that determine how relevant a website is to a specific search. 


At the heart of every SEO plan is keyword research. Companies need to determine what your potential clients are searching for in order to boost your search engine results. The phrases they use to search for your site are known as “keywords.”

Hotel-oriented SEO helps your hotel’s website rank for relevant keywords. For example, if your hotel is a budget location in Los Angeles, a good SEO company would help you rank for “cheap hotels in Los Angeles” as well as “budget hotels near Los Angeles.”

Onsite SEO vs Offsite SEO

Keywords are only part of the way that SEO works for your hotel. You also have to make it easier for crawlers to discover your site’s pages. This is generally done by linking your pages to other discoverable pages. 

Onsite SEO is the act of linking your pages to one another, bolstering the chances of a crawler discovering your entire site in one go. This can include referencing other blog posts about your hotel, linking to various rooms, and linking to your bar. 

Offsite SEO is a bit harder. This involves getting other sites to link to your hotel’s site, including hotel booking sites and online forums. The best way to do offsite SEO is to get major, high-authority publications to mention you and link to your site. 

Local SEO

In the travel industry, there are few things that matter as much as location. The city (and at times, neighborhood) where your hotel is located will make or break a person’s interest in booking it. That’s why local SEO is so vital to the travel industry as a whole. 

As the name suggests, local SEO focuses on keywords that have to do with your area. This can include your city, your county, or even your state. Most people tend to look for individual hotels that have specific traits in a specific area.

To get the best SEO work possible, you will have to focus on keywords that feature both your amenities and your location. Good examples of this would include “bed and breakfast in Belfast,” or “hotels for honeymoons in Oahu.”

User Generated Content

Hotel experience
Hotel experience Source: Openkey

In the past, SEO was mostly done by a company’s marketing department, mostly on the website. Then, it started to involve backlink building for offsite SEO. Today, it’s also important to get customers to vouch on your behalf. 

Such is the work of user-generated content, or UGC. 

User-generated content is the building of social media posts and content from customers linking to your website or social media accounts. For example, having a customer who took photos of your hotel tag your hotel’s social media profile would count as user-generated content. 

Reviews on Yelp, photos on Instagram, and even regular Facebook posts help bring your hotel to the forefront of searches. To make the most of this, encourage your customers to share photos and tag your hotel. It will help spread the word in more ways than one!

YouTube Videos

Did you know that YouTube videos are now one of the fastest ways to get to the top of search results? It’s true, and the easiest way to make sure your hotel gets the most attention in your area. 

A quick YouTube video mentioning your hotel as a great place to stay or even a video tour of your hotel can soar to the top of YouTube results. When making this content, make sure to link back to your site in the description…and choose a smart title!

What does it take to be successful with SEO?

Hotel marketing
Hotel marketing, Source: Screenpilot

There are two major answers to this: consistency and professional help. Trying to do your own SEO work is brutal and involves a sharp learning curve. Most major corporations have entire departments dedicated to this particular form of marketing. 

With that said, if you want to try it on your own, you will need to do the following:

  • Conduct keyword research. There are multiple tools you can use for this, including Google’s own keyword research tool. 
  • Write content that encourages SEO ranking. You will need to create blog posts that have keywords, headers, and meta descriptions that all work with the current guidelines of SEO. 
  • Maintain and update old content. Google actually penalizes old and dated content on websites. The same can be said about social media accounts. 
  • Add alternative text and save photos related to your hotel with related names. This is an often-overlooked aspect of SEO, but can help you rank via Google Images. 
  • Get great photos and video footage of your hotel and the surrounding areas. The better the images, the more shareable you will be. The same rings true with YouTube as well. 
  • Maintain social media accounts under the hotel’s name. Regular posting can help offsite SEO and encourage user generated content related to your venue. 
  • Reserve your Google Places location and monitor it. Google tends to promote your site more if you have a Google Places account that’s kept up to date.
  • Maintain your website. You need to make sure the site loads fast, doesn’t have too high a bounce rate, and also doesn’t have spam. Sites that spam their links elsewhere (or worse, have viruses) are often blacklisted by Google. 
  • Keep up with current SEO standards. Contrary to popular belief, knowing current rules on SEO isn’t enough. Search engine algorithms are forever-evolving, so what works now probably won’t work in the future. 

As you can tell, it’s a lot of work. That’s precisely why most hoteliers outsource their SEO to individuals and companies who can do that heavy lifting for them. 

Additional tips for hotels in need of SEO

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of SEO, it’s important to remember the tips that are more geared toward your niche. Hotels, much like all other parts of the hospitality industry, thrive on word of mouth advertising. 

The visuals make your campaign’s ability to stay effective.

No one, not even budget travelers, want a hotel that looks cheap. Make sure that your photos show each part of your venue’s perks. It makes your images and social media that much more shareable—and that builds backlinks!

Mention your uncommon amenities in your keywords.

Many people prefer to book hotels by the amenities they offer. It’s the rarer amenities that can prove to be a gold mine in the SEO world. Those can put you at the top of the page in your area, provided that other hotels don’t have them. 

Certain amenities are in fairly high demand, even though they are rare. These include hot tubs, spas, saunas, and onsite golf courses. Mentioning those amenities in your targeted keywords can help.

For example, if you have a hot tub, make sure to add longer searches like “hotel with hot tub” to your keyword list. 

Consider doing press for your hotel, too.

It’s important to remember that press and backlinks from high-authority sites can help boost your SEO. One of the easiest ways to do this is to reach out to major blogs in the travel field and ask for a mention. 

While this doesn’t always work, or you might get asked for a payment, the truth is that it is still worth a shot. Many reporters are fairly amenable to a mention and a link as long as it’s relevant to the article. 

Some websites, such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out) actually allow you to pitch reporters who write about travel in your area. It’s worth doing from time to time. 

Incentivize your clients with social media.

The current trend in SEO involves prioritizing user-generated content, especially new content. For hoteliers in need of extra SEO “juice,” incentivizing your clients with discounts, freebies, or even just cool photography gear can work wonders.

People love to flaunt the cool places they travel to. If you want to make your hotel more UGC-friendly, adding areas that look picture-perfect is the way to go.


Owning a hotel is not just about changing seats and welcoming travelers. It’s also about getting the word out about your rooms. In the past, that often meant talking to travel agents and posting an ad in travel guides. Today, it means you need to have SEO. 

Like with all things travel-related, getting great SEO is a journey. The question is, are you ready to take the first step to a better marketing plan? Only you can know for sure.

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