Four free (or almost free) things to increase your property’s online visibility

Establishing a strong online presence is essential for hosting operators to stand out from the ever growing competition in the market today. In 2021 alone, Booking.com spent more than $3.8 billion on marketing efforts, and other OTAs and major hotel brands have followed suit – dominating online hotel searches, driving organic listings down the page, and making it harder for independent properties to compete for reservations direct.

Fortunately, there are easy (and free) ways for properties to increase their online visibility to effectively compete with OTAs and other properties for direct bookings.

Update your Google Business Profile

In 2022, Google processed more than 8.5 billion daily research, counting 92% of all search engine traffic and nearly half of that research had local intent. To take advantage of the massive volume of traffic routed through Google, hosting operators should ensure they have an active Google Business Profile. This free profile appears in popular travel search results, including Google Search, Google Hotel Search, and Google Maps, to help travelers discover properties and book directly. Moreover, it improves search engine optimization by ranking the profile higher on organic searches.

Accommodation businesses should use their business profile as an extension of the property’s website to increase visibility and encourage direct bookings. To maximize the benefits of a profile:

  • Select specific and relevant categories
  • Highlight hotel attributes and amenities
  • Update the profile regularly – consider refreshing images and restocking on a seasonal basis to help guests better visualize their stay
  • Include important keywords and search phrases
  • Use accurate, high-quality images

Ensure the consistency of the NAP

NAP refers to name, address and telephone number. It is imperative that these three attributes be consistent across all online ads to ensure travelers can easily find the listing through local SEO. Although it may seem simple, even the slightest mistake can skew the search results.

The best place to start is with a list of all places where a property’s NAP information exists, including local listings, review sites, and other business profiles, and confirm that the contact information is consistent. This will not only streamline the user experience and build confidence in the traveler’s mind, but also help influence local ratings to beat competitors in the same field.

Include citations and backlinks

Citations and backlinks are hyperlinks on other websites that link to a property’s website. These can help improve a website’s search ranking because search engines use them as a signal for high-quality content. One of the easiest ways to increase citations or backlinks is to contact local tourism or travel associations to inquire about partnership opportunities and benefits.

Associations typically have high domain authority (a high search engine ranking score compared to competitors) and are more valuable than sites with lower domain authority. Owners and operators should inquire about membership opportunities that include a quote and a link to their website.

Remember, think about quality, not quantity when it comes to backlinks. A link from a website with high domain authority or trust gives a powerful boost to the authority of the originating site, and also means increased exposure and visibility on the linked content.

For additional backlinks, hosting companies can contact publications that have written about their property and request a link to their website. For example, if a travel blogger has recently written about a specific property, the owner can contact them and ask if they will include a link to their website.

Citations and backlinks are about systematically identifying new opportunities to slowly build domain authority and drive more website traffic. For example, inclusion in local guides published by a media publication or website, or even another local business, which is supported or promoted through social media, PR and partnership channels, will usually result in backlinks organic. And remember to share content rather than duplicate it – quality content and cross-promotion work best.

Develop a review strategy

Reviews are the most powerful tool to build trust with potential customers and encourage them to book. 81% of travelers frequently or always read reviews before booking a hotel. They also play an important role in improving SEO rankings because search engines consider the number, quality, and age of comments in their rankings. The more consistently reviews are collected, the more effective this strategy will be.

As part of your hotel marketing strategy, it is important to collect customer feedback throughout the customer journey. Consider adding a touchpoint throughout a guest’s stay to ask how things are going. If something goes wrong, it’s easier to perform a service recovery to increase the likelihood of a five-star review. Then, follow up with a post-communication survey to gauge their satisfaction. For those who are extremely satisfied, send them a link to Tripadvisor or Google to leave a review.

Generate more direct bookings

And remember that the performance of Google Free Booking Links and Google Hotel Ads is tied to Google Business Profiles, so be sure to continuously monitor and update the profile for optimal success.

With a little time and the right strategies, independent properties can increase their online visibility and drive more direct bookings without a big budget.

About cloud beds

Cloudbeds provides the platform that powers hospitality, streamlining operations, increasing bookings and revenue, and enabling guests to have memorable experiences for accommodation businesses of all sizes and types across the world. The award-winning Cloudbeds Hospitality platform seamlessly combines solutions for front desk, revenue, distribution, acquisition, and guest engagement into one unified system, enhanced by a marketplace of third-party integrations. Cloudbeds was named the #1 PMS and #1 Hotel Management System by Hotel Tech Report in 2022 and recognized by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 in 2021. For more information, visit www.cloudbeds.com.

About Nereida Nystrom

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