Top 8 Mistakes of Hotel Websites
By Matt Landau
Author of Boost Hotel Occupancy - DIY tips for hotel owners on a shoestring budget
Your hotel website is a vital tool in generating more bookings as well as presence online: but not all sites are created equally. Having reviewed hundreds of hotel websites, here are the Top 8 Mistakes I see along with quick and free clues as to how to avoid them.
- Not choosing one keyword: Most hotel websites fall into one of two categories. Either they are optimized for way too many keywords or they are not optimized for any. Using the industry standard Google Keyword Selector Tool, select the one search phrase with the most global searches, the least competition, and the highest relevance to your hotel. Sprinkle this keyword on your homepage, tag your images with it, acquire your backlinks using it as link text...etc. Organically ranking well for one, highly-targetted keyword is far more effective than spreading your efforts thin over many.
- Forgetting title and description tags: The title and description tags are the invisible secrets to ranking better in Google. They speak the search engine language and make your site accessible and relevant to users. This bit of code only takes some small adjusting to immediately start generating better organic web traffic. Avoid title tags longer than 66 characters and when creating your description tags, think of them like advertisements for your property in a newspaper's classified section: short and to the point.
- Pictures are not professional or prominent: When it comes to tourism and choosing a place to stay, pictures say a million words. Many hotel websites are using sub-par photos that don't do their properties justice. Hiring (or trading for room nights) a professional photographer is almost as imperative as displaying those quality images front and center on your homepage. I've seen cases in which hotels boost their traffic (and occupancy) by more than 25% simply by publishing better photos of the exact same property!
- Hiding, faking, or forgetting testimonials all together: Authentic testimonials from prior guests are able to validate your hotel experience better than anything else. Make your testimonials accessible and allow them to convey your selling points: if your property is a ski resort, post a testimonial that features comments about the great skiing. If you just invested in great mattresses, feature a testimonial that mentions how comfortable the beds are.
- Missing a call to action: Users tend to view a homepage up to 5x more than any other page on a site, yet many hotel websites don't allow that call to action (whether it is a contact form or an availability check) to hit their user over the head. Don't make your visitors search for the booking process! Place a "CALL NOW" or "BOOK NOW" or "INQUIRE NOW" feature on the top right of your homepage will boost bookings, guaranteed.
- Not using a footer: The footer (bottom portion) of a hotel website is the perfect place to offer your contact information. Listing your email, phone number, and address makes contacting you easy and painless and simple from any page on your website.
- Selecting ugly color schemes: The color of your background and text plays a pivotal role in the message you're getting across. Avoid bright and neon colors as well as drab browns and blacks. If in doubt, use a white background with black text. Illegible font is also a common mistake: when it doubt, stick with Sans Serif.
- Featuring too many outbound links: Outbound links on your homepage (linking to other pages or sites) not only detract from your organic rankings, but actually send business away from your rental! Think of your hotel website like you would a little retail shop: why would you send clients anywhere other than directly to your product? Links to external sites like Trip Advisor, Google Maps, and Facebook is offering users the chance to pass on making a reservation with you.