Some voices shout that the homepage, or rather the website, has its best days behind it. After all, Google has long since offered better information compilations “live” from the web (Google Business Profile) and a Facebook company page can do everything better than a classic homepage anyway.
Nevertheless, we believe that your website is the heart of your online activities and will remain so for the time being. It is the runway and the backbone of your hotel marketing for existing customers, prospective customers, people who draw your attention through activities on the social web and, of course, the target of all online advertising activities.
Because if you can’t be found, you don’t need to worry about design and content, Google has over 95% market share. Even your customers search for you via Google and more and more guests who simply need your telephone number ask the ever-present search engine “Google”.
As a company, there is no way around a homepage or website optimised for this search engine. It is therefore an important goal of your marketing and online strategists to be optimally found in the Google search engine (and preferably also on BING). It is not enough to be well listed when you search for your personal name or that of your company. It is crucial that you are placed on the first page with the key terms of your core topic. A position on page 2, 3 or 4 or even further back means that your website is virtually invisible to most searchers for certain topic searches.
For the hotel industry, it has already become almost impossible to appear in the first 10 places for search terms such as “hotel in Magdeburg”. But as a hotel near a train station, the search “hotel at the train station in Magdeburg” could definitely work. Provided your website communicates this to Google in a professional manner.
So it’s all about SEO, which stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”. In other words, SEO strategies should optimise the search engine friendliness of your homepage or website. And this optimisation can also be aimed at niche markets. Because even when searching for a “hotel in Magdeburg with conference room” or “hotel in Magdeburg with restaurant”, well-maintained and SEO-optimised hotel pages have better chances again.
1. Google likes technically flawless pages. Demand the W3C web standard
Google likes technically flawless pages that offer unique content. The page http://validator.w3.org offers a way to check whether your website has been created according to these standards. Make sure that different internet domains do not link to the same content. Attention: http://name.de and http://www.name.de is already such a case. There is a high risk that these domains will end up on the Google index for duplicate content. And that is not good.
2. meaningful (HTML) titles
The page title of the homepage and the title of each subpage are important texts for the search engines. You will often find texts that are not meaningful as the title of a page and things like page 2, page 3 etc. as the title of the sub-pages. This means that important chances of being found in the search engines are lost. In the case of hotel pages, a nice “Welcome to the Parkhotel” can still be found here. How many people do you think search for exactly these terms in Google. Nobody, right?
3. speaking domain names
It is really good for findability if your internet domain (address of your homepage) and subdomains (addresses of your chapters and subpages) are speaking and contain the most important search terms for the respective page. If you click on a chapter of your page and the browser line says “www.name.de/index.php?id=7&lng=de” then the content of that subpage is just as incomprehensible to the search engine as it is to you in this case. Good example: http://www.aquamaris.de/hotel-urlaub-mit-hund.aspx
Of course, a friendly URL alone is not enough. The content of the page must also deal with the topic in a qualified and unique way. The generation of such addresses is possible with modern editorial or content management systems. But more on this later.
4. know and use the relevant search terms.
How are you being searched for? What terms might people search for who need exactly your service? This question is not so easy to answer. Sometimes it is not bad to ask a few customers. For websites that integrate a good evaluation programme, you can at least read the most frequently used keywords that led visitors to your site. There are also SEO tools that show you which terms your biggest competitors were searched for and found with. The more of these terms you know exactly, the better. The more often you include these keywords in your texts, the easier it will be for your page to be found by users who enter these terms in the search engine.
Professionals use special software for this purpose. Software such as SearchMetrics, Sistrix or E-Tracker. These tools evaluate millions of searches and tell the SEO specialist, among other things, for which key term your page is in which search engine position.
5. Responsive design is a must – the motto is: Mobile first
More than 20 million smartphones are sold in Germany every year. The customers in the hotel and tourism industry are naturally travellers, i.e. mobile people. Many hotels ask themselves whether they have to programme a so-called “app” or have it licensed. For most hotels, this certainly makes no sense. But a responsive design of one’s own website and the corresponding booking software should be tackled as soon as possible. Google hardly shows pages that are not optimised for mobile devices to visitors using a smartphone or tablet.
“Responsive design” means that your website automatically adjusts to the size of your visitor’s display. Maintenance of the mobile site, including the mobile booking engine should be automatic (as a by-product of the booking software being used stationary) and maintenance for the mobile or responsive website should be a part of your content management system.
6. update as often as possible – preferably daily
Up-to-dateness is an important factor for success. Not only for your search engine, no, visitors also see it as an appreciation if the content is up to date and there is always something new to learn. Daily updates are best, of course, but you should put new content online every week at the latest. As many chapters as possible, but especially the start page, should receive new (updated) content.
The longer you wait, the more the importance of your page dwindles – or in new German, the page rank.
7. content – plenty, relevant and unique
Content, content, content. These are three real success drivers of a website. The more, the more unique, the more up-to-date – the better. Small pages with 10 – 20 sub-pages are not very relevant from the search engines’ point of view and probably not from the visitors’ point of view either.
All Google updates in recent years focus on high-quality, unique content and relevant content for the reader. If you make a real effort to provide exciting and relevant information to your readers, customers, guests and visitors and deliver this in unique texts using the right terms, Google will support you and lead people to your site, who may then convert to customers. By the way, your content becomes credible when as many of your guests as possible support your statements on the social web (social web). They do this through reviews, digital check-ins or by talking about your offer on the social web. And the search engine also reads along. More about Contnetmarketing.
8. time well spent – a good link strategy
Link building is exhausting, but still worthwhile work. The best way is to link to thematically similar sites, preferably each other and linking to different pages on your homepage. The social networks and media share platforms, such as XING, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube or Slideshare.net have a huge amount of content, a lot of visitors, a high topicality and therefore an incredibly good visibility. All the more reason to become active here and develop professional profiles in the most important networks. Of course, with multiple links to the various pages of your own homepage. Also use all linking possibilities with the destination pages, maybe a supplier links your page and don’t forget the texts in the Google Business entry.
9. reference Wikipedia
What search engines really like is the web encyclopaedia “Wikipedia”. A link from Wikipedia to your own homepage is a small, virtual accolade. Do everything you can to be included in Wikipedia as a specialist and co-author. If you succeed in linking from Wikipedia to your page, Google will give you 100 extra points.
10. turn visitors into active bookers
The search engines have long appreciated visitors who stay on your site for a long time. If they even buy there or enter into dialogue with you, this is even better. So the new focus is on making it as easy as possible for visitors to enter the buying process. Online booking, voucher shop, ticket ordering, callback form and any other interaction are increasingly important not only for sales success but also for search engine optimisation.
And one last tip to conclude:
Check your successes regularly. Nothing is as measurable as activities on the Internet. But be careful: Google adapts its hit lists and search results to the preferences of its users. So if at some point you get the impression that only your homepage is found on your PC, then unfortunately this is because you visit this page so often (and Google “thinks” it is important for you). Test the findability on completely foreign PCs from time to time or at least with the browser setting “new private window” and use professional programmes for measuring success, such as Google Analytics, Piwik, E-Tracker or others.
Ask us for a short analysis of your website or online shop.
It’s worth it.
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Gabriele Schulze Tel : +49 30 23137364