Your Google My Business (GMB) profile is an essential piece of your hotel’s online marketing channel. In fact, our research has shown that GMB profile listings can bring over 50% of organic traffic to a hotel’s website and drive huge amount of booked room revenue.
A GMB profile is completely free and easy to set up: you just need to verify your business by sending out a postcard containing a pin code to your businesses address.
In addition to GMB, your hotel can claim a number of other business profiles, including Bing Places for Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Facebook for Business. The listings you choose will be partly determined by where your hotel is based, and the market you’re targeting, but the majority of these options are simple to get listed and won’t cost you a penny.
Find out more about this topic in our article on managing your hotel’s local listings.
Claim your Google My Business listing
Once you verify your hotel’s My Business account, you need to make sure that your contact details are up-to-date. You also need to check you have access to the page (either as a Manager or Owner), and ensure that the website link points back to your hotel’s website.
At Travel Tripper, we also append UTM codes to the end of the website URL to analyze the effectiveness of a local SEO campaign by tracking the exact source of traffic from the listing as well as the search terms that trigger a GMB listing within Google.
Note that in the example above, this hotel receives more visits to the GMB link versus its traditional organic search result. Clicking this page will enable ‘Queries’ and other information to be displayed for the GMB listing.
Here’s an example of the Queries section, which shows the search terms being used to find a hotel in New York:
And here’s an example of how tagging the GMB link with the right UTM parameters lets you easily segment traffic within Analytics:
Google recently started rolling out this GMB search insight data within the GMB management page itself, but it is not available in all geographic regions yet.
Checking your hotel’s amenities within GMB
After setting up the tag of your website link, we recommend that you audit all of the ‘Attributes’ used by your business. For hotels, this just involves making sure that the amenities offered at your property match those options listed within GMB (which are now pretty diverse).
Keeping your Attributes/Amenities up-to-date within GMB is crucial for good local SEO performance.
For example, let’s say your GMB listing includes the fact that your hotel is family-friendly, offers free Wi-Fi, and is located in downtown Miami. If you updated the Attributes/Amenities section of your hotel’s GMB listing accordingly, then your hotel is far more likely to be featured when user searches for “Family-friendly hotels in downtown Miami with free Wi-Fi”.
will make these kinds of long-tail search queries more common as people search and book on the move.
Ultimately, making use of the Attributes/Amenities section should lead to increased visibility as well as more phone inquiries, booking engine availability requests, and visits to your website.
Using the Google My Business Insights panel for actionable insights
One often-overlooked element of the Google My Business platform is its “Insights” panel. Below, we’ll briefly outline how the various tools within this feature work and why they’re beneficial.
How customers search for your business
The Direct vs. Discovery section of GMB is pretty self-explanatory. It shows you how many people are finding your business by a ‘Direct’ search (e.g. searching for your business name or location) vs a ‘Discovery’ search (e.g. a non-branded search such as “hotels near me”).
In the above image, you can see a percentage breakdown of Direct vs Discovery traffic. Typically, although not always, a hotel will have split of 70% Direct vs 30% Discovery. This metric is a useful way to make sure that you’re not overly reliant on one particular avenue of traffic.
Monitoring the queries used to find your business
The GMB Insights tool has been revamped a few times during 2018, and it now includes a “Search Insights” section. This lets you quickly see the types of searches that trigger your GMB listing, which is useful for informing your local SEO strategy.
This is the same data we’ve been seeing within Google Search Console when you add UTM tags to the URL of your Google My Business listing. The following guide offers a helpful step-by-step guide to setting up UTM parameters for better tracking.
Although the “Search Insights” section lacks more insightful metrics like Impressions and Click-through Rate, it may offer additional information in the future.
Plus, the search terms shown in this section provide a good at-a-glance reflection of how your local SEO efforts are performing. For instance, a lack of “non-branded” keywords might signal that there’s too much dependence on your brand name and you need to spend more time working on your overall SEO strategy.
Equally, you might notice that you’re getting a good amount of traffic from non-brand search terms (e.g. “hotels near Times Square”), but find that you’re missing out on branded search terms. In that case, you may wish to improve your brand awareness in that particular market.
Where customers view your business on Google
In this section of your GMB profile, you can see whether people viewed your hotel from a Google search (both branded and non-branded), or while they were within the Google Maps product.
For most of the hotels that we checked, the ‘Listing on Maps’ had a much higher view rate vs the ‘Listing on Search’, which is likely because Maps shows comparatively far more nearby hotels.
What action does a user take after he or she sees your listing GMB? The Customer Action insights section gives you a breakdown of how many users requested directions to your property, called your phone number, or clicked the link to your website.
Local searches don’t always involve people visiting your website (which means that they don’t get counted in your analytics), so this tracking tool is extremely useful to see the other actions that people take when they see your GMB listing.
This handy feature shows you a heatmap of where customers are located when they request directions to your hotel.
Using the heatmap as a guide, you might notice that guests struggle to find your location in a particular area, and that perhaps better on-street signage would help, or that the geo-coordinates for your property aren’t quite right.
From this section, you can see when and how often people call your hotel. This information might help you realize that you’re short staffed on the days when you’re receiving a high volume of calls. In which case, you can move staff around to make sure calls are answered and potential bookings aren’t lost.
Image search is an often-overlooked element of SEO, but strong imagery can have a significant impact on your hotel’s visibility. Within GMB, there’s a photo insights section that lets you compare how many views your hotel’s photos receive compared to your competitors.
This section also lets you see the number of your hotel’s photos compared with that of similar businesses, and the ratio of photos uploaded by your business vs your customers. This is a particularly important metric for hotels to monitor because you should encourage people to share images from your hotel to enhance your online visibility.
It’s also essential that you pay attention to the types of photos being uploaded. If people are uploading poor quality images of your property, it could damage your reputation and put off potential guests, leading to lost bookings.
How Important is Google My Business for Hotels?
From our own analysis, we’ve seen huge amounts of traffic arriving at a hotel’s website through its GMB link. By enabling guests to post reviews, photos, and engage with Google’s recent Q&A feature, GMB has become a real contender to OTAs and has the power to significantly increase your hotel’s booked room revenue.
As such, you need to treat your GMB listing with the same attention that you give to your TripAdvisor and OTA listings. Remember, your hotel’s GMB listing is essentially the front door to your business. Keep it regularly updated and you’ll increase your hotel’s visibility and create a great first impression as travelers start their online booking journey.