The gate keepers of the internet are the search engines (Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc.) and your website needs to meet their evolving standards if you intend to be well positioned in search results. Search engines yield immense power over who appears in the top search results, they do this by checking each website and ranking them accordingly to the search query. However, search engines will give priority to websites based on performance, content quality, site structure, and many other factors.
So that means the higher your hotel appears in the search results, the more organic traffic you will receive to your website, and this can have a measurable impact on the quantity of direct bookings. Imagine if your hotel is ranked #1 on google receiving 31.7% of the clicks ahead of your competition.
The first step is to do a quick audit of your website to understand how google will grade your hotel website. This audit will provide a list of actionable items that will measurably improve your website performance.
You can run an audit for your hotel website here web.dev
Once the audit runs you will be presented with a report which assigns an overall grade to your website and to specific categories.
Let’s talk about why website performance is so important. Literally every additional second it takes to load your hotel website means that more people will abandon your page before it even finishes loading. Reports indicate that 25% of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. At 10 seconds approximately 50% of visitors will have abandoned your website. They are leaving your site and going to a competitors site.
Ensuring your website is mobile friendly is equally important, 50% visitors browse a website from their mobile device according to statista.com
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The SEO section of this report ensures that your website information is properly structured in the proper format to help google understand the contents of your website. SEO can be a very deep subject, and ultimately it is beyond the scope of this article. But a broader focus on SEO is recommended for further reading. This will envolve creating targeted high-quality content for your website and working with travel publishers. More on that another day, for now we just want to make sure that your hotel website is covered from the technical side of SEO.
Website accessibility is about making sure that your website and its contents are available to everyone. Google includes this as a key metric the audit and so it is important to make sure your website adheres to the guidelines so that everyone can enjoy your hotel website.
Best practices checks that your website was built using today’s recommended practices across a wide variety of categories to ensure security and reliability.
Now that you have your website audit you can review each item with your website developer to make the necessary improvements. Even with a perfect score of 100, this is merely a starting point for improving your website to drive more traffic. This just ensures that your website isn’t being potentially penalized for a poor audit score.
Style and Design
With the technical review out of the way the next and arguably most important aspects of any hotel website, style and design. One of the most important elements is to use high quality professionally taken photos of your property and area. Photos are one of the best ways to tell the story of your hotel, you can convey feelings and a sense of being through great imagery. This is one of the most powerful tools a hotel can make use of. Matching photo content with a well written narrative will help each website visitor to imagine themselves in your hotel. This is the most important moment for a prospective guest, and it will make the difference between them booking with you or at a competitor’s hotel.
Well maintained website is an ongoing affair to ensure information is relevant, committing to adding new articles about your hotel and things to do in your neighborhood. Become the authority on what is great to do in your neighborhood and organic traffic will flow to your website as will the direct bookings.