Guest Blog: How to Rank a Hotel for Location-based Searches in Google?
In 2018, 82% of all travel accommodation bookings were made online, with this trend looking set to increase in the coming years.
One of the most common ways that would-be customers find hotels is through Googling: “hotel in [location].”
Evidence for this is the fact that the keyword: “hotel in London” is estimated to be searched 1.8k times each month (pre-COVID-19 estimate).
But what determines where a hotel ranks in Google for these searches, and how can you give your hotel the best chance of ranking for these terms? Let’s find out now.
How Google Handles Location-based Searches for Hotels
Before we talk about how to rank a hotel in location-based searches on Google, it’s worth actually looking at what the search engine displays when someone searches for a hotel in a specific area.
As an example, here is what Google shows when we search “Hotel in London”:
As we see, unlike many non-location based searches, the first clickable element Google gives us is an interactive map with a list of hotel options.
Scroll down below this, and almost all the top results are booking portals:
It’s only when we get to the 14th position (on the second page of Google) do we start seeing actual websites of individual hotels:
This draws the (perhaps unintuitive) conclusion that to win traffic from Google we should focus on gaining visibility on the Google map and third party booking sites, with the actual organic position of our hotel being only a secondary factor.
How to Increase a Hotel’s Visibility in the Google Map
When displaying hotel results for a given area, Google populates these results with the “Google My Business” profiles of hotels. This can be shown below:
The absolute minimum required for appearing on this map, and on the listings to the left of it, is to have a Google My Business profile for your hotel.
If your hotel does not have one, then you can set one up here.
If you already have a Google My Business listing for your hotel, you can do the following to improve its prominence in the local map. These include:
- Making sure all fields of your Google My Business profile are filled out and kept up to date. Google wants to deliver the most informative results, so the more information in your listing, the more prominent it will be.
- Ensure that your hotel, along with its address and phone number are in as many relevant directories (including hotel booking platforms) as possible.
- Also, take care to ensure that details are consistent across directories. Google will view “King Street” and “King St.” as different locations, and this can hurt your visibility in the map.
- Try to solicit as many online reviews as you can. Google collates views from all online platforms and displays them in the map results. While more positive reviews do not directly affect ranking, having your hotel clicked on more often than your competitors will, over time, push you up the listings. Having better reviews than anyone else in your local areas will help make this happen.
- Make sure that any new deals or offers you have are promoted on booking platforms. Again, Google pulls this information from the various platforms, and better deals will increase the amount your listing is clicked.
How to Increase a Hotel’s Visibility on Third-Party Booking Sites
Booking sites ultimately want to help their users find hotels that best suit their needs, be it specific amenities, locations or budgets.
Therefore, the best way to rank well in these platforms is to provide as much information as you can about your hotel – specifically try to include mentions and tags of all your facilities as well as high-quality photos of each of them – that way people who are looking for the types of accommodation that you specifically provide can find you.
Many people choose to filter hotels by average review rating, so monitor which platforms your bookings are coming from and try to get reviews on that specific platform. A thank you email with a gift card and a polite request to leave a review with a link to your targetted platform that is sent upon a customer leaving your hotel is a great way to do this.
Many booking platforms offer paid services that allow you to appear at the top of the listings for specific searches. It can be worth experimenting with these services in your most commonly-used platforms to see what the ROI is.
Ranking a Hotel in the Google Listings
Given that location-based searches such as “hotel in London” are dominated by booking platforms, your best bet for gaining visibility in the traditional Google listings is through targeting the types of queries that someone visiting your location might make.
Using the London example again, someone visiting London may search: “what are the best restaurants in central London for under £30”.
Creating an article that lists and reviews restaurants that fall into this criteria, and having it as part of your website’s blog content, can introduce your hotel to people who have indicated that they may be visiting London to your hotel.
When it comes to choosing accommodation, familiarity with your brand may help inform their decision. Furthermore, you can add a “call to action” in your posts which encourages readers to make a booking then and there.
This nuanced approach should result in more online visibility than a futile attempt to rank at the top of the first page for a term like: “hotel in London”. Ultimately, Google wants to rank booking sites for these terms, so you are better off targeting other relevant terms with your hotel’s website.
Oli Graham is the Marketing Manager for digital copywriting agency RightlyWritten. He has held a number of positions in digital marketing, including in search engine optimisation, social media marketing and public relations.