When it comes to SEO efforts, most of the work that you hear being done is regarding keyword management and content. This makes a lot of sense. The advent of SEO-friendly content has changed the way that websites are constructed and populated, and any SEO strategy isn’t going to work without putting serious thought into your keyword selection.
However, this isn’t the only place where SEO comes into play for your hotel. One of the most basic elements of your site, the URL, is also a key component of your SEO success (or failure). Here’s some insight on the practices you should put into play for a URL that plays into your SEO efforts.
As a general rule, you want to make sure that your URL is working towards these two basic core principles:
1. Making sure that each URL for each page gives a semi-clear indicator as to what the page and content are going to be about. This isn’t just about the users, but also about Google as well. It’s hard to rank if your URL suggests one thing and your keywords in the content say another.
2. Making sure that your URL factors well into the site structure. This somewhat links into part 1, but by having a clear plan for your URL structure, it makes it easier for people to navigate to your site by looking like a breadcrumb. For example, if you have
www.samplename.com/category/subcategory, people can use a link to the subcategory, then delete that portion of the URL to see other options.
This also helps search engine crawlers, as it’s a lot easier for them to make connections between your website if your URL structure leads into it. So, with this in mind, what can you do to start improving your URLs across your hotel website?
Keep Things Simple
When it comes to SEO content, there was once a time where trying to stuff keywords in as many times as you could was the trend. However, times have changed and Google has changed its algorithm to specifically discourage those types of tactics. When it comes to your URLs, you want to keep them simple as well, but it’s more about the user experience in this case. Having a very long URL may make it clear what your page is about, but it also makes it difficult for customers to copy or share on social media. Also, it may raise some suspicion.
Even if your content or page is good enough that the person is willing to share it, they will often use a link shortener instead. While you may get a backlink still, which is nice, you will lose the brand recognition you could have had with the link visible as well as accessible. As a result, make sure that each URL you come up with is customised (as opposed to randomly generated by your website platform) but also easy to read. This may not always be possible, but remember point 1 from earlier. Make sure you create URLs that show a clear purpose.
Be Careful What You Implement
There are a few additions to a URL that may be innocent enough, but end up causing more trouble than you initially thought. One example of these is implementing uppercase letters in your URL. Certain servers will treat URLs as case-sensitive, meaning that you will see redirects or 404 errors where you don’t need to. Broken links will end up hurting your ranking overall. Other things to avoid are underscores over hyphens, and making sure that you cut out unnecessary stop works in the URL, like “a,” “the,” “but,” or “of”. The reason for this is that they rarely enhance the understanding of the content, and are an empty way of making them longer than they need to be.
Opt for Subfolders Over Subdomains
Chances are that if you go to the websites of the larger hotel chains, you’re going to see a lot of different subdomains in the URLs, something like hotel.chain.com. This makes sense if you need to differentiate between brands under a larger entity, but for a lot of smaller hotels out there, even chains, this isn’t going to be the best practice to use. The reason for this is that for smaller sites without the more significant traction, it’s going to impact your search results. Subfolders make it a lot easier for Google to rank things together. As a result, you may want to shoot for something like chain.hotel.com if you run multiple properties. However, when it comes to folders, you don’t want to go overboard in an attempt to organise. Try to shoot for no more than three or four subfolders in any single URL.
Every single page on your hotel website, no matter its purpose, is going to have a “www” version and “non-www” version. It’s important to play things safe here for SEO purposes by making it clear to Google that there is a link between both versions of each page. This can be accomplished by either going into Google Search Console or using a canonical tag. Canonical tags are generally used by e-commerce and online retailers, but their purpose is basically to help search engines decide what type of URL you want to be considered the “main one.”
Hotel digital marketing, like any form of digital marketing, can be challenging to manage because you need to strike the balance of technical expertise and marketing acumen to create something that’s both appealing and easy to use for your potential guests. Because of this, it’s generally a good idea to try and bring in outside help when it comes to the areas where your own marketing team may be weakest. Working with Blue Beetle is a key way to navigate this issue. Our sweet spot is the restaurant and hospitality industries and can help you find the best digital marketing strategy for your hotel and put it into action.