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How Hotels can Increase their Web Traffic

Shangri-La Hotel Downtown Vancouver Large hotel chains such as Starwood, Shangri-La and Fairmonts have large marketing budgets and have dedicated web teams to help them remain competitive across the world, but how does an independent hotel or motel in a city increase their web traffic and compete with the large chains. I’m going to go into detail on how hotels with smaller marketing budgets can attract more customers to their hotel website.

1) Start Blogging About Your City to Increase Web Traffic

Most guests that stay at a hotel are either their for business or pleasure. Either way, all of your guests are probably very curious to know what’s going on in your city. While there are several travel guides like Frommers and Lonely Planet, this doesn’t mean that you can’t start a blog that informs potential guests about why your city is such a wonderful place visit.

Spend about once a week to create new blog topics of interest to your guests. If you’re not sure what would be of interest to them, ask existing guests what would have helped them prepare for their trip before they leave your hotel.

I’m going to use my hometown, Vancouver, as an example. Here are some potential blog posts that I would suggest for a hotel in Vancouver to write about to increase their web traffic.

1) Top 10 Free Activities to Enjoy in Vancouver
2) The top 5 Concerts that are taking Place in Vancouver in the Summer
3) Top 10 Can’t Miss Restaurants to Eat in Vancouver
4) Fun Family Activities in Vancouver During the Summer
5) What to See in Vancouver in One Weekend
6) The Best Ways to Get Over Jet Lag
7) Top 10 Places to Get A Suit Made Last Minute in Vancouver
8) Top 10 Honeymoon Places to Visit in Vancouver
9) Seattle and Vancouver? What’s the Difference for Tourists?

The important part of starting a blog is to think like an actual hotel guest. Chances are your website already has some great information about rooms, rates, about the spa, and availability. But what’s the next thing that most guests’ want to know? They want to know what there is to do.

By continuously updating your website on a regular basis to adjust to the seasons, you can attract new customers from out of town that are looking for information that you are providing. These people would be considered warm leads in booking a hotel with you.

Consistently blogging helps with search engine optimization (SEO). Google search engine loves fresh content. They love it when writers contribute great content. And by contributing on a regular basis, you can compete with much larger hotels.

3) Target Niche Keywords to Rank Well for Google

Targeting words such as “Vancouver Hotels” and expecting to be on top for that search word in three months is nearly impossible, at least it is if you don’t use black hat SEO. Especially if you have to go against the big boys like Expedia and Travelocity who spend millions of dollars to stay on top of rankings. It’s more important to use your website’s blog posts and copywrite to focus on keywords (aka search words or phrases) that will help you increase your web traffic.

If I had a hotel in Vancouver and I happen to be near Rogers Arena where the Vancouver Canucks Play, I might aim for the keywords, “hotel near Rogers Arena.” Other examples might be, “Hotel on Robson Street”, or “Dog Friendly Hotel in Vancouver”, or “Kid-Friendly Hotel in Vancouver”, or “Lesbian Friendly hotel.” The goal is to look for words that have low competition that you can rank well for quickly, instead of spending 2 or 3 years to rank well for like the phrase “hotels in Vancouver.”

It takes time and patience to research niche keywords, but by aiming at niche keywords that your competitor is most likely not going to aim for, you’re able to reach that target market, and as you start ranking well for those niche keywords, you will start ranking better for the more competitive terms like “hotels in Vancouver.”

4) Ensure Your Pictures are Titled Properly for Search Engine Optimization

If you’re running a hotel, chances are that there are potential customers that want to see what your hotel looks like. And yes, they’re probably going to go to sites like Trip Advisor to see, but there will be a few people who are going to Google for Images of your hotel. This is where you can drive more traffic to your website. Pictures that are clicked on in Google Image search pop up and then when closed lead to the site that the picture is on. This means a picture on a hotel website that says, “pool” is going to get lost in a sea of other photos that are titled pool. However, if you labelled your hotel “Shangri-La Pool in Vancouver” Then when people Google Shangri-La Vancouver under Images, the pool will show up.

This goes for bedrooms. Instead of giving a picture the title King Suite, title it King Suite at Burrard Inn. In order to do this properly, ensure that your photos are renamed before you upload them. Instead of having the photos named, DSC13532.jpg.

5) Provide an E- zine to your Newsletter Subscribers

I would highly suggest creating an e-book that highlights in detail about the wonderful activities that go on in your city, and update it every year. Travel books are popular. There’s no second guessing that, but why should travel books get all the attention. Why shouldn’t you create an e-book that people will start to get to know and download it from your site in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter.

Since many of your guests are booking flights months in advance, they probably are curious to know what’s happening in Vancouver at around the time that they arrive. Being able to provide them a seasonal guide of what’s happening will make their life much easier in terms of planning their trip. You can also use the e-zine and have some space to highlight advertisements about hotels and amenities. Also provide advertising space for your partners in the tourism industry.

Since the e-zine is free, don’t be surprised if you see it slowly spread over the Internet in the most random places. Having people view the e zine, and mentioning your hotel will definitely get a few searches online. Providing potential guests with valuable information makes them comfortable and your hotel look like an expert about the city.

6) Hold Contests for Local and Out of Towners to Build Links

Part of driving more traffic to your website, and being able to rank well within search engines is through link building. Here’s the short and sweet of what link building is, it’s when other sites links to your site. Just like right now I’m linking to Shangri-La in Vancouver downtown. When you have high quality authoritative sites linking to your website, this is an indication to Google that this site must be important.

You can have ten random websites link to your hotel website, but one link from the Huffington Post or the Globe and Mail is worth more. There are creative ways to get there, but for a small hotel a good way to link build is to look for travel bloggers, or local bloggers to work with and offer contests. Offer a free one night stay at your hotel. Ensure that when your contest is being held with bloggers that they have a link connecting to your site.

If you are in Vancouver, then you may want to pair up with a Seattle lifestyle blogger for the contest to get more out of town guests. Do you research carefully as not all bloggers are created equal. Notice how often they blog, how long they have been blogging for, and what other giveaways they have done in the past.

While it may seem like a tremendous effort, driving traffic to your website is a commitment that pays off. Once you have amazing content on your website, it stays there and will continue to drive traffic to your site. Surprisingly it’s not the new content that will drive most of your traffic, it’s the older content that will. And since most hotels go on for years and years, you can guarantee that if you do what was mentioned above, you’ll see a wonderful payoff for your hard work.

For more information on how to create a great online marketing strategy for your hotel feel free to contact MCNG Marketing.
Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Vancouver Hotel.

How to get your Restaurant found on Google Search – SEO Best Practices

Is your Restaurant Being Lost in an Ocean of Google Searches?

Google search page can be one of your best friends or one of your worst enemies, all depending on how you approach SEO (search engine optimization) for your restaurant’s website. With restaurant owners being incredibly busy running their own business all day and all night, it can be very difficult to dive deeply into search marketing, but it’s important every owner understand how SEO affects their restaurant business.

Why Being Number One on Search Results Matter

Based on an article by Search Engine Watch the first three sites listed on a Google search got 58.4% click through rate (this means that the people that saw it, clicked on the link shown) and the very first position on Google search received an average click through rate of 36.4%. Second place received 12.5% and the third received 9.5%. If your site ranks tenth then you have a click through rate of 2.2%.

Think about this, if Yelp, Urbanspoon, or a news article is the first search result that shows up when people in your local area search for your restaurant then you’re going to lose a lot of web “foot traffic” to your site. In the restaurant industry, foot traffic is vital because it helps increase the visibility and profit of your restaurant. Now imagine all of a sudden your foot traffic dropped by 67%, what do you think would happen to your business?

If you ask the people that rely on tourists to keep their restaurant successful, they will tell you the impact of losing foot traffic. And yet, many restaurant owners are doing this with their search results. They ignore it, feel that being listed fourth or fifth on the first page is okay and don’t realize how many customers they’re losing.

Why leave it to chance that someone should visit the Yelp page and potentially have the latest review be a 2 star review.

Take control and optimize your site for the best search results to be ranked number one on as many key search terms as possible.

Here are Seven Guidelines to Help Your restaurant Rank Higher in Google Search Results.

1) Make your Website Domain Name Intuitive and Easy to Remember

Ensure that the name of your website domain is what customers are going to search for intuitively. This is very important. This is why many big chain restaurants are willing to pay hundreds of thousands, even millions to claim back a site that has their brand name in it. They know that people are going to intuitively type in www.mcdonalds.com and not mcdonaldsrestaurants.com.

Take the time to ask your friends and family, after you’ve named your restaurant, what would they most likely type in the address bar to search for your site.

To ensure you rank well, the name of your website plays a dominating role in how you are found in search results. If our company was called MCNG Marketing, but we chose the website www.customerserviceincanada.com, we wouldn’t rank well for people searching for our company name. We would rank very well for the search words, “customer service in Canada” though.

For restaurants, always have a domain with the name of your restaurant in it. You don’t want a competitor to buy up your name and cause headaches for you in the future.

2) Your Title Tag for Your Website should have You Restaurant Name, and a Key Word Search Term in it

The title tag is what determines the title of your website on search engines like Google. The title tag has quite a bit of weight in Google search engines in terms of ranking. This is why it’s important to have someone that understands SEO (search engine optimization) working on your website.

Having a nice design is just the scratch of the surface, the web designer and programmer need to work with someone that is familiar with SEO if they aren’t. Your title tag should contain the name of your restaurant, and also the major key search term you want to be found for.

Let’s say your restaurant’s site is Domersrestaurant.com, then your title tag might say, “Best Burger in Atlanta | Domer Restaurant.” There are potential customers that are looking up the term “best burger in Atlanta,” and these are customers that are actively looking and wanting to go to your restaurant. But also ensure that you’re putting the name of your restaurant in the title so that people that know your restaurant by name don’t get confused.

3) Your Meta Description is the Same as Describing Your Menu Items

The meta description is the description of your website that shows below the title in search results in Google and other search engines. This description is important, not so much because it affects the search engine ranking, but because it helps in getting more clicks to your website. It’s like having a great description for a menu item. The description affects how many people order it.

Ever search a website with a great title, and then just below it is a description that doesn’t quite make sense, and isn’t relevant to what the searcher is looking for? That slight hesitation is going to deter people from clicking on your website. The better and more relevant the description of what people are searching for, the better.

4) Think of the Key Words that Customers are Using to Find Your Restaurant

In this day and age, it’s very important to be able to find someone that knows how to copywrite and knows SEO. When having your website written, you want to think of some of the words that your customers are searching for to find your restaurant.

I’m not talking about the name of the restaurant, which is the MAIN keyword you should rank for, but words customers are typing while looking for a potential place to eat.

Let’s say that you own a Thai restaurant in Seattle. The keywords “Thai Restaurant in Seattle” are probably competitive since you’re competing with a few other dozens of food restaurant sites that also happen to have the words “Thai restaurant in Seattle” on their website.

While it’s considered best practice to put the keywords in the article multiple times, don’t stuff the article with the same keywords again and again, like best Thai restaurant in Seattle on your front webpage 10 times. It’s going to become obvious that you are “key word stuffing.” Google’s search algorithm will punish your search ranking. Even if they don’t punish you, it’s gong to seem a little a unnatural when people read it.

But there are a lot of words that customers are searching for that you can rank very well for. These could be words such as “Thai Restaurant in Belltown,” or “Best Thai Restaurant in Seattle,” or “Thai Food in Seattle.”

Before you do decide to go and aim for certain keywords it’s important to be able to find someone that is familiar with Google Analytics, or has some type of search software that can measure the amount of people that are searching for those key words, and to be able to tell you how competitive it is to rank for those particular words.

It’s not as simple as just putting them on the website and then magically your site will rank high for them. Certain keywords can take two to three years before you’ll show upon the first page for them.

5) Create a Blog on you Restaurant’s Website

Blogging is powerful because Google Search likes it when you update your website frequently. And plays a role in ranking higher as time goes on. If you happen to update your website frequently then that will help with your search results as well.

A blog post can be used to aim for specific keywords to bring awareness to your site as well as drive web traffic. This might a blog post on how to make a particular type of soup that people are searching for, or it could be a blog post that lists your favourite restaurants around town, so when people search for those restaurants your blog post may pop up.

6) Have Other Websites Link to Your Restaurant’s Website

The number of links that link to your website are also vital in helping you rank higher in Google’s search engine, with some exceptions of sites that have something called “No Follow.”

If your restaurant is wonderful, and people love your restaurant, and they have their blog, there’s a good chance they’ll link to your website. The more quality sites that link back to your site, the better your rankings will be. Low quality websites would be ones that have one or two blog posts, or contain a lot of spammy links.

High quality sites include newspaper websites, online magazines, and long time running blogs. This is why, from a SEO perspective, it’s important to generate online media buzz as soon as possible. The more quality links, the faster you rise among the engines.

7)There’s No Shortcuts to SEO. Don’t Try to Cheat the System.

A reputable marketing or digital agency will tell you that there aren’t shortcuts to building up great SEO results. It’s a lot of research, time, and work that can go in to search engine optimization to ensure that you rank high up for many keywords. And there’s a lot of strategy involved.

There have also been ways to rank high, temporarily, and it makes it look like the work has been done. This happens by paying for links, or using what’s known as Black Hat methods. Google will find a way to punish those sites that are cheating the system. It’s only a matter of time. There’s no shortcuts to SEO, only great strategy and execution.

If you’re looking to find a way to drive more customers into your restaurant through social media and online marketing, feel free to contact us.