What's In A Name? How To Name Your Hotel For Best SEO Results

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Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” — but would it rank as well in Google?

Have you ever pondered the importance of your hotel’s name? Studies have shown that even a baby’s name can influence their success later in life, but have you ever wondered about the importance of your hotel’s name?
In the online marketing world, the importance of a business’ name is a fact that is often overlooked. Commonly, newly built hotels, newly re-branded hotels, and even newly remodeled hotels decide to change their name – but the gravity of their decision isn’t always clear.
In fact, due to recent and strengthened search engine algorithm changes over the past year or so, a hotel’s name is perhaps the single most powerful asset to one’s search engine marketing strategy.  Unfortunately, it’s also typically one of the least flexible elements in your marketing.
Here are a few facts about the battles your hotel will face when choosing the right name:

Meta Tags and SEO

The first thing to understand about choosing a name is how it will relate to your Search Engine Optimization. The basis of SEO seeks to pair the code and content of your site with the keywords that users search for in Google. This is called building relevancy.
If you are trying to rank for “Downtown Chicago Hotel” you should have that phrase repeated throughout your meta-tags and throughout the body copy on your site. What better way to naturally optimize your site for this keyword than to include the phrase in your hotel name? This will automatically build keyword relevancy anytime you refer to the benefits of staying at, say, the “Embassy Suites Downtown Chicago Hotel.”

Brand vs. Market Keywords

Often when in a market with several hotels, one must decide whether to brand the hotel with a unique name or whether to attach an identifier to one’s brand name. So which is better?
It’s never a bad idea to make your hotel’s name memorable, but when referring to the hotel online – never forget to attach an identifier with the keyword you hope to rank for. Again using the Chicago area as an example, a Doubletree Chicago hotel branded their self “the Wit.” This branded name allows them to market themselves as a hotel with a boutique feel, but they could benefit from an online strategy of always referring to themselves as “The Wit – Downtown Chicago Hotel” as that would help them rank better in search engines.  The identifier “Downtown Chicago Hotel” simply adds more opportunities for city-specific search rankings.

Local Listing Optimization

Speaking of ranking better in search engines, one must also be aware of the circumstances surrounding your local listings (i.e. your Google Places or Bing Local Listing page) when one chooses a hotel name.
Last year Google integrated their Google Places accounts in the search results for most local businesses, including searches for hotels. When one searches for “downtown Chicago hotels” not only will the user see organic search results, but also a thumbnail and link to the hotel’s Google Places page. What this means is that now one must optimize their Google Places page (and Bing Local and Yahoo! Local) if they are going to compete effectively for competitive searches like the one mentioned above.
How does this relate back to your hotel name? Simply put, in order to rank well in the local results you must have truthful and verified information in your account.  Your hotel name, address, and contact information must appear the same throughout Google, Yahoo, Bing, third parties and other sites that list information about your hotel. The more mis-information out there, the less likely you are to rank.  Even variations of your existing hotel name can have a negative impact on your local listings.  Are you listed as “Courtyard by Marriott Chicago” or just “Courtyard Chicago?”  Be sure to be consistent with your naming across the web.
In addition, this means that if you are re-branding you must do your due diligence to replace any old hotel names on existing websites with your new one. If you don’t, then your hotel’s name change can instead have a negative effect on your rankings.

The Competitive Edge

Above I’ve spoken to many aspects of one’s online search marketing strategy and laid out the positive and negative implications on choosing your hotel name, but one thing is certain: The right name can give your hotel the competitive edge.
With a hotel name that has the proper identifiers—those that contain your primary target keywords—one can rank better in search engines.  But in addition to that, a good name can also improve your quality score for PPC, make it easier for guests find your hotel on some OTAs, and sometimes even improve conversion rate. So when it comes to naming, it turns out not every rose “would smell as sweet!”

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