Ensuring that your hotel’s website is optimised for mobile search is essential if you don’t want to miss out on key traffic and potential bookings.
Much has been said already about the rise of mobile search and its role in the customer booking journey, as well as mobile marketing strategies for hotels. This article will focus specifically on mobile search engine optimization.
To ensure your hotel’s website is optimized fully for the mobile search revolution, including mobile-first indexing by Google, you need to cover five distinct areas. Ultimately these different areas all lead to one thing—a fast loading website which is easy to use on a mobile device.
Responsive or mobile-friendly design
It goes without saying that in today’s mobile-first search environment, it’s absolutely vital that your hotel website can be used easily on all devices. A website that has been developed to be responsive simply means that it will resize itself and adapt according to the device used to view it, so navigation menus, photos, text, and buttons all adjust based on whether someone is using a mobile phone or tablet.
Having a responsive website is the simplest way to ensure your website is going to perform well in mobile search, but it’s not the only option. You can also decide to have a second mobile website design, and this website is then loaded when a user navigates to it from a mobile device. You may notice this for sites in which the URL loads as m.hotelname.com (subdomain prefix) or hotelname.com/m/ (subdirectory folder).
Generally, SEO will be easier to implement on a website which is fully responsive as opposed to having a secondary mobile-designed website. When you choose the latter, you end up duplicating many of the URLs that already exist on the desktop version of the website, which can complicate your SEO strategy.
But there are benefits to a second mobile website, which allow you to completely optimize the website experience for the mobile user. You can cherry pick the elements you want to include only on the mobile version, and you can design interactions that are more suited to mobile devices (like larger buttons or sliding menus).
For example, at Travel Tripper we generally build hotel websites with a mobile responsive design to optimize for SEO purposes, but our booking engine is not responsive—it has its own specific mobile design. We’ve done this to ensure the smoothest booking transaction possible on a mobile device, which helps to improve conversion rates and increase bookings.
Website speed has become an increasingly important factor in SEO in recent times and is especially magnified when it comes to mobile SEO. In general, mobile users often encounter slower Internet speeds than that of a desktop user due to its connection with a 3G or 4G cellular network as opposed to a fibre-optic or broadband network.
For that reason, your website needs to be fast to load up on all devices, but particularly on mobile. Fail to provide a quick, intuitive experience on a mobile device, and the user will likely abandon your website quickly. Google takes these sorts of actions into consideration when ranking websites, so a poor mobile experience will certainly push your website down in mobile results pages.
Ideally, optimizing your website speed begins before web development, as good programmers can plan and develop the site with speed optimization in mind. But if your site is already built, you can use various online tools to scan your site in real time.
These tools can help advise you on ways to reduce the site load time, such as reducing image sizes, using caching tools, and cleaning up unnecessary code. You may also check with your web hosting company to ensure that your server is not causing any bottlenecks, as well as consider implementing a content-delivery network (CDN) such as Cloudflare, which essentially improves the serving of content (or data) through faster load times and less downtime.
For the ultimate in mobile site speed, hotels should speak with their web developers about using the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, better known as AMP. It allows you to deliver web content through an open source technology, essentially using a cache provided by Google to deliver lightning-fast load times. News publishers first took advantage of AMP, but now millions of other websites have started to adopt this mobile speed strategy.
Local links and business listings
Local SEO should be a key part of any hotel’s overall SEO strategy, but they’re particularly relevant if you’re focused on mobile search growth, as a huge number of location-based searches are performed on a mobile device.
First, it’s vital to claim all online business listings that are available to you. Local business listings include your Facebook page, a Google My Business page, a Bing business page, TripAdvisor, and any other sources of online citations. The listings ensure your hotel location is verified and represented online, and provide key links to your hotel’s website.
Double check your hotel’s name, address, and phone number across all listings, a process known as NAP consistency. If there are even slight differences, you risk creating “duplicates” of your hotel, a big negative for SEO!
After ensuring you’ve taken control of all business listings, the next step would be to ensure that your hotel is being linked to from authoritative local websites. Start with any local businesses your hotel has connections with, or is somehow affiliated to. Ask if they can link to your site, and be prepared to return the favour somehow. If your hotel already has a “things to do” or attractions page, with other nearby businesses included, then hopefully they’ll feel obliged to return the favour. Linking to other local businesses shows to search engines that your hotel is located in the neighborhood, and that it is worthy enough to link to.
All hotel websites should have an informative and helpful location page that not only ensures that people can easily find your hotel, but that search engines can as well. The location page should include your full address (remember NAP consistency!) and an embedded map with directions for those arriving by car or public transport. Including your hotel address on the footer, where it can be seen from any web page, is also a smart idea.
In addition, Schema markup code should be added to all pages of the website as a way to be completely sure that your hotel’s address is going to be fully understood by search engines and other web crawlers. Schema provides some great mobile SEO benefits, particularly for mobile users performing a destination search. Here’s an example of what that looks like in practice:
By following the advice above you should be well on your way to ensuring that your hotel’s website is well optimized for mobile search. For additional info on mobile website and booking trends, read our mobile archives here.