How can hoteliers strengthen their site’s off-page seo strength?
Greetings, hoteliers! The world of SEO is one of consistent upkeep, creative thinking, and adaptation. SEO has several dimensions that work together to create a website that operates well within the specifications of Google’s algorithms. When you think of SEO, you probably first think of the content on your hotel’s websites’ pages. Items like title tags and keyword phrases come to mind, but these elements are all on-page SEO elements and are found within the source code of your website. Today we are going to discuss another important dimension of SEO Google uses to evaluate the strength and validity of a website: off-page SEO. This dimension of SEO requires regular attention and can greatly increase the visibility of your site in search engines. Off-page SEO is the process in which digital marketers leverage the ranking signals sent from other websites to increase the number of impressions for and direct more traffic to your hotel’s website. As hoteliers, it is incredibly important to understand how to approach off-page SEO from a hotel perspective, and stay on top of the elements that allow Google to reward your site.
Since off-page SEO is a constant effort, it is important to have a strategy to guide you when evaluating and updating your website. Below are four key practices that will help you benchmark your website’s off-page SEO strength, move forward in making significant improvements, and achieve the goal of boosting site traffic. Remember, off-page SEO is ongoing effort and each of these techniques should be performed periodically to ensure you are getting the most out of your off-page SEO work. The steps outlined below will provide a comprehensive understanding of your site’s current off-page SEO performance, help you to build high-quality links from other websites, and teach you how to leverage your social media channels to improve your visibility in search engine results pages.
What is in Your Off-Page SEO Toolbox?
Before you roll your sleeves up and get to work on your website’s off-page SEO, it is wise to know the resources and tools at your disposal. The primary tool the we use at Blue Magnet when beginning the evaluation of off-page SEO strength is Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Running a website URL through this great tool will help you discover a number of insightful metrics that allow you to evaluate your site’s current strength. In addition to Open Site Explorer, we use Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) to get an even more comprehensive outlook on a website’s link profile. First, let’s get a sense of how strong your hotel’s website is in off-page SEO terms.
Step 1: Gauge your hotel website’s current off-page seo strength.
Enter your website’s URL on Open Site Explorer and hit search. This will produce loads of valuable information, but your initial focus should be on measuring your site’s domain authority and page authority. These two numbers give us an approximation of how competitive your site as it appears in Google search results. With a constant goal to obtain and maintain a high rank in Google results, you can use domain and page authority as an indication of your website’s ability to maintain rank. These numbers are a reflection of numerous off-page characteristics, such as the quantity and quality of links to your site strength and user engagement. Domain authority can vary in strength on different websites. For enormous websites like Facebook or Amazon, we should expect to see a domain authority well above 90. However, for smaller organizations we will see numbers all across the board. Let’s use the popular social media site Foursquare as an example:
Foursquare has a domain authority of 88/100 and a page authority of 90/100. As a well-established social media platform, Foursquare has a very large number of URLs pointing to the official website. We can see how many of these links there are, as well as how many social media interactions help Foursquare’s authorities rise. Since Foursquare is so widely-used, we can understand why the domain and page authorities score so well. These numbers will be much different when it comes to your hotel.
To get a sense of how strong your hotel’s domain authority actually is, take a look at your key competitors and use them as a reference. Once you understand where your hotel’s website stands in relation to other sites competing for search rank using the same topics and keyword phrases, it is time to perform off-page SEO maintenance. As you begin implementing off-page changes for improvement, keeping an eye on your domain and page authority on a regular basis will allow you to document your progress. In addition to these figures, Moz’s Open Site Explorer provides the number of inbound links leading directly to the page, a spam score, and social media metrics.
Now that you have determined the status of your website’s off-page SEO profile, it is time to compile your website’s backlinks, which directly factor into the strength of your site’s domain and page authority. If you scroll down on Open Site Explorer, you find a list of URLs pointing to your hotel’s website. You can also find an even more extensive list of backlinks using Search Console, so it is wise to utilize both resources when tracking all of your site’s inbound links. After you have a master list of all of the websites linking to your hotel’s website, it is time to do some quality control. A great link profile does not simply mean a lengthy one. Take a look at what links are listed. Are these sites relevant to your hotel, the travel industry, or the local area? Is the anchor text branded appropriately, or at least related to the page content? A quality link profile will include links from places that connect guests to your hotel in a way that makes sense, and this should be kept in mind as you move forward in seeking new link opportunities. A combination of quantity and quality will establish a link profile Google will reward in search rank.
Link building is by no means a glamorous task, but as a hotelier you have a handful of great places to look for links. Since Open Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools produce a list of every inbound link for your website, you will be able to go through your current profile and determine where to look for new opportunities. Additionally, Open Site Explorer can be used to evaluate your competitor’s link profiles for leads you may have overlooked, but as hoteliers you should focus on specific local sites that are fantastic linking opportunities.
Step 2: Build your hotel’s website link profile through local CVBs and local organizations.
Put yourself in the mindset of potential guest who would be looking to stay in your hotel’s city. Are there major sporting venues that would draw visitors from out of state? Are there specialized hospitals that may require patients’ families to stay nearby? As a hotelier, explore the different guest personas that make up your hotel’s target market, and use that information to generate leads for links. Contact convention visitors bureau sites and other local websites your hotel guests may visit when deciding to travel in your hotel’s city. In addition to driving additional website traffic and building exposure for your property, the inclusion of your URL on these sites will help your link profile grow and give your hotel’s domain and page authority a good boost.
Another major factor in maintaining off-page SEO strength is consistency. You probably are already taking the time to ensure all of your hotel’s information is correct across all major online directories and websites your guests are using (think Foursquare or YellowPages), but there are many online directories you may not know exist. This leads us to our next off-page SEO step:
Step 3: Ensure your hotel name, address, phone number, and website URL are consistent on all Local Listings directories.
Accuracy on local listings is incredibly important because you want potential customers to know your hotel’s correct street address and phone number, and you want them to be directed to your hotel’s official website. However, you are also making sure this information matches because Google rewards your site for its consistency across a large network of online directories. Managing your local listings can be an overwhelming task, so be sure to look out for an upcoming blog post from BMI’s very own Kevin Malloy on how to tackle a full local listings audit for your hotel! Until then, remember Google sees your hotel as more credible when the key elements mentioned above are listed correctly and consistently across all platforms.
If you have a good handle on your hotel’s digital marketing campaign, I am willing to bet you are already utilizing social media and you are working on a regular basis to improve you social presence by posting compelling content to draw visitors. From an off-page SEO perspective, social media is an excellent method to drive guests to all areas of your website to build page authority and generate traffic throughout all corners of your hotel’s site.
Step 4: Use social media to link to landing pages.
We already know hotels can grab customers’ attention through posting on social media, but you can take it a step further. As mentioned in Step 2, hotels have incredible opportunities to network with local businesses, restaurants, and upcoming events. Consider the content that exists on your hotel’s website. Do you have a Things to Do page linking out to various restaurants, event venues, or attractions? Post about a destination not only connecting a visitor to the attraction’s profile, but also linking directly to your Things to Do page. Instead of entering through the homepage, the visitor will dive right into another content-rich page. Do you host large corporate events at your hotel? Make a post highlighting your meetings amenities and link to your Meetings page.
Take a look at the post above. The Bitly link included in the post takes a user directly to the hotel’s Specials page with the golf package mentioned in the copy. Even though the primary objective is to get a guest to check rate and book a room, this social media content guides the user through an area of the website he or she may otherwise not visit.
As a whole, you should do you best to encourage engagement on all areas of your site, and generating posts directing potential guests to a variety of landing pages creates a more pleasing user experience and showcases the diversity of your site’s content. Engagement across many landing pages sends positive off-page SEO ranking signals to Google’s algorithm.
Now that you have a comprehensive overview of what goes into establishing a strong off-page SEO campaign, you can get started on evaluating your hotel’s website. Blue Magnet focuses on maintaining this strength. We perform off-page SEO audits periodically to ensure we are constantly building a link profile that complements the on-page efforts in copywriting and content creation, and all of your hotel’s information is consistent across directories to ensure Google gives your site the support it needs to top a search engine results page.
Off-page SEO is necessary for any business on the web, and now you have the tools to make great improvements to your website’s presence on search engines.
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