Hotel SEO Basics: Using Google Search Console to find keywords driving traffic to your site

For hotel marketers and e-commerce managers, one of the most insightful and useful features of Google Search Console, the free tool provided by Google for website owners and managers, is the Search Analytics report. This report shows you a selection of organic keyword data that is driving traffic to your site (from Google, anyway), along with the click-through rate (CTR) and number of impressions received.

Since Google started holding back keyword data within Google Analytics back in 2011, due to a push towards HTTPS security and privacy concerns of users, webmasters and marketers alike had been desperate to find out exactly which keywords were being used by their visitors to find their website in the search engines. Google Search Console provides this data for the past 90 days. Although it was not as detailed as Google Analytics’ past data, Search Console is one of the few genuine and reliable sources that is available now.

Of course, for hotels genuinely interested in SEO marketing, Search Console should not be your only source of keyword data. We recommend cross-referencing data that you find here with data you also find in Google AdWords keyword planner as well as other third-party sources such as SEM Rush and Moz Keyword Explorer.

How to view keyword data from Google Search Console

First, ensure you’ve got Google Search Console set up for your website. Add all variants of your hotel website URL (for example, http://www.hotel.com and http://hotel.com) and go through the necessary verification steps. If you’ve just set this up from scratch you may need to wait for a few days/weeks before the data starts to flow within the profiles, but otherwise you can proceed to the next step.

Open up the Search Traffic tab from the menu on the left, followed by the Search Analytics link (see the screenshot below if you’re stuck). Then select the data range you want to review—we normally open this up to as wide a date as possible to get as much data as we can (so the full 90 days). We also like to see as many metrics as possible, so we select Impressions, CTR, and Position and then the report gets generated automatically.

Finding search analytics report

If all goes well you should see a range of data in the report on screen, similar to that shown below.

search-analytics-report

How to analyze the organic keyword data

One of the first things we like to do is play around with this data. It’s already sorted by the amount of traffic it’s providing (or Clicks), so click on the Impressions heading to view this data sorted by number of impressions received (meaning the amount of times it appears to a user in the listings of a search engine results page).

What this data really gives you is potential SEO opportunities. For example, some keywords may generate huge numbers of impressions, but because your average position is relatively bad (any number higher than 8), then users aren’t as likely to click through to your website.

manipulating-search-analytics-google-search-console

A poor click-through rate could be due to a few things: either a bad SEO score, which is giving you a bad position in organic search (and is the most likely option), or it could be a result of your meta tags not matching users’ search intent. If someone is perhaps searching for “hotels in New York” but your search snippet doesn’t include “hotel in New York” in the title or meta description, then the user might not deem your site relevant and so will ignore it.

This example shows a hotel listing that is relatively high for “hotels for New York” (position #5) but has a title and meta description that doesn’t appear to match what most users are searching for when they use that keyword. In fact, this listing is for a Las Vegas hotel.

example title and meta description

Making sure your meta tags (both title and descriptions) are relevant and enticing to the search user will go a long way to improving your organic CTR, and it might also bump up your organic search position too.

Viewing top organic landing pages

Google Search Console can show you which pages of your hotel website which are performing well (generating many click-throughs and visits) versus those pages that are lacking in organic traffic. In nearly all examples we’ve looked at, the index (homepage) of the hotel website is going to be the number 1 performing organic page, likely followed by other key pages such as location, rooms, and gallery pages. The homepage will carry the bulk of this traffic though, so don’t expect to see much of an equal share of traffic here to your other pages.

top-organic-pages-in-google-search-console

With this data, you now know which web pages need to be improved. This could mean anything from fixing on-site SEO (meta tags, content improvements, decreasing the page load time, etc.) to improving various off-site SEO factors, such as fixing NAP consistency or increasing the number of backlinks to the page.

Improving paid search advertising

Outside of SEO, this organic keyword data can form part of some essential keyword research for pay-per-click (PPC) search marketing with the likes of Google AdWords or Bing Ads. By bidding on some of the more competitive keywords, your hotel may be able to own a much larger percentage of the Google/Bing search results page (SERP).

In the example below, the Wellington Hotel’s PPC ad for the keywords “wellington hotel nyc parking” receives second position in this SERP, followed by three organic listings for the hotel. Owning this amount of SERP real estate is a great way to increase the number of visits of your website and drive direct booking business.

wellington-hotel-ppc-organic-search

So not only does GSC keyword data show you how your site is performing organically, but it also gives you plenty of ammunition for SEO opportunities as well as paid search marketing. Let us know how your hotel makes use of Google Search Console, and watch this space for more tutorials on how to take full advantage of GSC to help improve your hotel’s online search presence.

Matt Tutt

Matt Tutt

Matt is a SEO Specialist at Travel Tripper with extensive knowledge of optimizing hotel websites for maximum visibility online. He loves helping hotels to improve their organic search rankings and grow their direct bookings. You can get in touch with him at matt@traveltripper.com

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