Staying front and center in organic search results already can be a daunting task. Now throw in trying to stay front and center in local search results, and you have a challenge on your hands.
What’s the difference between an organic listing and a local result? Organic listings are the ones that show as links to your website based on the user’s search query. Local listings are actual business listings that show the name of a business, the address, the phone number and more. These are usually grouped together on a search results page when a search engine determines a search query has local intent.
Organic Results (Google)
Local Results (Google)
How do you ensure that your hotel is optimized for local SEO specifically? There are actually on-site and off-site actions you can take to ensure your hotel’s local listing is placed in front of the right people at the right time.
1. Consistency Counts
Let’s start off with a key local SEO term—NAP— which stands for name, address and phone number.
Google and other search engines use different trust factors when determining relevancy of a business for a search result, so having consistent business information across the Web is key. If your hotel has incorrect business information on a highly trusted site (like CitySearch.com or Yellowpages.com), then it’s likely a search engine won’t trust that the information on the local listing is correct. In the case of Google, the wrong location information can be pulled into your local listing.
To ensure your NAP is consistent across the Internet, it’s important to submit your location information to the major local data feeds including Localeze, Universal Business Listings and Infogroup. This way you can be sure the correct information is fed to other smaller local sites.
A strong signal to Google, and most likely the other search engines as well, is a listing that is claimed by the business. After all, who better to know the most about a business than the business owner? Ensuring your local listing is claimed on all major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) as well as other top listing sites (Yelp, CitySearch) is important to securing your local presence.
3. Optimize offsite
After claiming your listings, the next big step is to optimize those listings. Here are the main items you’ll want to optimize:
• Ensure your NAP is consistent. Use a local phone number not an 800 number (you can include an 800 number under the alternate number option).
• Link to the location information page on your site rather than just the homepage (a “contact us” page for example).
• Include a description for your business. Space is limited in the description, so try to include your city and state, if possible.
• Use the most relevant categories for your business. For example, if you say “My business is a hotel,” you would choose “hotel” as a category.
• Include photos. The more photos you include, the better. This will give the consumer a firsthand look at your hotel.
4. Optimize onsite
Your local online presence goes further than just your listing, your website contributes as well. When optimizing your website for local, do the following things:
• If you have multiple locations, make sure each one has its own specific page on your site.
• Each location page on your site should list the city and state in the title tag.
• Location information, such as NAP, should be marked up using html tags. You can use Schema.org to get the latest markup that is recognized by the major search engines.
• While Google no longer accepts geo sitemaps, it’s still a good idea to upload a keyhole markup language file to your site and point to it from your extensible markup language sitemap. You can easily create a KML file on SiteMapDoc.com.
In the hospitality industry, what customers are saying about you is important. It’s not enough to just optimize your local presence, you also need to monitor it. According to a study on Search Engine Land, 72% of online consumers trust online reviews. So what does that mean for your business? One bad review can cause a world of hurt. To manage your online presence, it’s important you keep an eye on what people are saying about your business and respond—not just to the negative reviews, but the positive ones as well.
As local continues to become a bigger and bigger part of search, it is important to stay on top of it and make sure you are in control of your hotel’s online presence.
Brooke Snow joined the SEO world and Anvil Media, Inc. back in 2010. As a digital analyst at Anvil, Brooke is responsible for the creation and execution of various client online marketing strategies, specializing in Local SEO as well as in various industry verticals including hospitality and education. As an alum of the University of Oregon School of Journalism with a major in Advertising Brooke started her career at more traditional advertising agencies managing client work ranging from interactive web projects to print and collateral.
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