How to use SEO to win more hotel booking revenue

How to use SEO
to win more hotel
booking revenue
7 essential tips for online hotel booking sites
An Expedia Affiliate Network eBook
SEO Matters
How many online hotel
bookings start with a
search engine? More than
you can rightfully ignore.
Search engine performance
has a big impact on your
revenues. Traffic from search
is more profitable than traffic
from pay-per-click ads. And,
since paid traffic’s getting
more expensive, it makes a lot
of sense to focus more on the
organic kind.
The good news: there are lots
of things you can do to improve
your search engine rankings.
The bad news: there are
thousands of travel websites
hoping to win the exact same
traffic you’re aiming for.
That’s why you need to
be good at search engine
optimization (SEO). And that’s
why we have produced this
eBook, outlining seven top
tips to help you rank higher
on the right search terms,
earn that traffic and convert
it into revenues.
Why is it so important?
Because, done well, SEO
is the most cost-effective way
of generating traffic to your
website. These tips will
help you.
Some of the tips may seem
obvious but, in our experience
of working with hundreds of
EAN partners, many of them
are still not widely practiced.
For you, that’s an opportunity.
We’ll cite some great
references and resources
for you to deepen your
understanding of SEO. These
are all gathered at the back!
The golden
rule of SEO
Search Rank
Average ClickThrough Rate
Click Thru Rate
Search Rank Position
This one is simple: the higher
you rank on any given search
term, the more traffic you get.
The top ranking listing on any
search results page gets 36%
of the clicks. And the top three
results get 58% of the traffic.
(source: Zink)
After these three coveted
positions, the traffic falls
off steeply.
You need to rank as highly as
possible on the search terms
that matter the most to your
business. Page one is a must.
Beyond that, you might as well
not be there.
The second
golden rule of SEO
Google and the other engines
invest billions ensuring they
return the most relevant results
to users.
The best way to rank higher is
to deliver relevant content and
make that content easy
to discover.
Trying to beat the system or
trick the search algorithm is the
old way of doing SEO – it will
eventually be penalized.
Put the user first and you’ll
always do better.
It helps to understand the
factors that Google uses
in its algorithm so you can
optimize your content.
SEOmoz summarises these in
an excellent report on search
factors [see the references
section at the back of this
The big factors are:
Page and domain level
link metrics
Including your page and
domain authority; the number
of sites linking to it; the anchor
text of those links, etc.
Keyword usage
Using keywords on the
page and in title tags, etc.
Social metrics
Sharing on Facebook, Twitter
activity, Google, etc.
Page level traffic
Reviewing click-through rates
and bounce rates from Google
for each keyword.
These factors indicate
to Google how well a page
on your site should rank for
relevance towards a specific
We could write an entire book
on each – and many have been
written. But the tips that follow
focus on the low-hanging fruit,
the quick wins that many online
hotel booking sites still aren’t
getting right.
Get your niche and
keywords right
The most competitive search
terms – like ‘cheap hotels’ –
are far too difficult to win.
Success in SEO depends
on defining your niche so
that you can compete for
keywords that have plenty
of traffic but aren’t too
Search Volume
Look at your offer and
determine the things you’re
uniquely great at. Then
build your SEO strategy
around these.
Generic Terms
‘Romantic Miami Honeymoon
Hotels’ is a winnable niche –
as long as you’ve got
a lot to say about romance,
honeymoons, hotels
and Miami.
‘Montreux Jazz Festival
Hotels’ will be easier to win
than ‘Switzerland Hotels’.
Yes, the ‘long tail’ search
terms have fewer searches
than the big ones. But if you
can rank highly and win a
greater share of this traffic,
you’re better off than being
on page two for the monster
search terms.
Specific Terms
Keyword research tools
How do you find out how
many searches a given
keyphrase has and how
competitive it is? There
are lots of tools to help.
Google’s own keyword
tool is a popular one.
SEO Book has also done
an excellent collection
of keyword tool reviews.
SEOMoz has a good one
too. You’ll find them all in
the References section.
Get your site
structure right
A clear, intuitive site structure
helps search bots (and
humans) find their way around
your site so they can index all
of your content.
A clear structure will also make
sure that the search engines
give your most important
pages the highest authority.
Three action points:
•Decide on the most
important information your
users need – or tasks they
want to complete – and
make them easy to discover
and reach.
•Submit a site map to Google
to help make sure your site
is indexed properly.
• Test crawl your site to uncover
any problems. Try SEOMoz
Pro Tools, Screaming Frog
or Xenu for this.
Typical crawl errors
Search bots can trip
up on things they can’t
read, like:
• Missing or
blocked pages
• Duplicate page content,
titles, descriptions
• Missing titles or
• Redirects or
canonical URLs
• Logins, frames
or input forms
Get your site
structure right
1. Personalisation – Allowing visitors
to customise the presentation to suit
their specific needs is a conversion
Car Rental
2. Filter results – Shoppers love to
tune results to suit preferences. These
can also be inspirational – “Party town!”
Travel Guides
North America | Global
Flights + Hotel
Please select...
Departure City
Please select...
Top 30
Arts and culture
Under £300
£300 - £350
United States
£350 - £400
Party Town
Over £400
Spectator Sport
Please select...
New York
La Paz
Visual presentation of
information – Information is presented
dynamically on a map, making it easy
for visitors to browse and select options
that are interesting to them.
Generate quality
Links are the single most
important success factor in
SEO. And the greatest way to
get good links is through fresh
and useful content.
Great content is what people
want – and what search
engines value the most.
We talk about this in more
depth in our eBook, How to
use Content to Drive Hotel
Bookings but the key
is to create content that meets
four criteria:
Search engines don’t like
duplicate content. You need to
create your own.
The goal is not just to get
people to read or view it;
it’s to get people to share it.
The content has to speak to
the specific topic or task that
the user is most interested in.
Use the exact terms that
prospects use in their
We can all pretty readily
distinguish between great and
poor content. Put in the effort,
add a lot of value for your users
and the search engines will
reward you for it.
Add social content
Reviews, ratings and
user-generated content
are great for SEO and
have the added benefit
of driving conversion
once people are on site.
Reevoo and Distilled have
published an excellent
eBook on user-generated
content for SEO.
Incorporate relevant
keywords on landing
People don’t just come in
to your site at the home page.
Search engines drive traffic
to webpages across your site.
It’s always a great idea to help
them (and your visitors) out by
adding keywords on each page.
For generating hotel bookings,
think of content that’s relevant
for someone who’s actually
ready to book.
Try creating dedicated
landing pages by hotel
‘Spa Hotels’, ‘Romantic Hotels’
or ‘Pet-Friendly Hotels’ would
all benefit from a dedicated
page full of relevant content.
About Us | Responsible Business | Careers | News | Contact | Blog
Spa Example
Home | Our Hotels | Conferences & Meetings | Business Travel | Spa | Fitness | Golf | Weddings & Occasions | Food & Drink | Offers | Gift Vouchers
Spa Homepage | Spa Days | Spa Promotions | Spa Breaks | Leisure Clubs & Membership
A general ‘Travel Guide’ to
a destination is good content
but it will mostly attract people
in the earlier stages of research
– or people who have already
booked and are planning
their visit.
Leisure and Spa membership
Spa & Fitness
Spa Days
Spa Offers
Spa Breaks
Spa membership
Add urgency
Attracting traffic is half
the battle. Converting it to
bookings is the other half.
Make sure you build a
bridge from your contentcentric landing pages to
your booking wizard –
with lots of offers and
urgency messages.
Backlinks to your site from
sites with high authority are
gold dust for SEO. But these
links don’t happen by accident,
they’re the result of your
excellent content – the content
that people are proud to link to.
Link-building shortcuts tend
to fail. If your link-building
process isn’t natural, you could
get penalized by the search
Don’t do this
This is bad link-building:
•Go for quantity over
quality – or get too many
links, too fast
•Have similar, perfectly
optimized anchor text
across many links
•Have lots of links on
worthless or unrelated sites
•Focus all your links on just
a few pages
All of this will be suspicious
to the search engines – as well
it should be.
Get your title tags
and descriptions right
Every page on your website
has ‘meta-data’ that describes
what each page is about. You
need to optimize this metadata so search spiders will
know exactly what each page
is about – and which keywords
it’s relevant for.
And your page descriptions
are the snippets that come
up in the search result pages,
so make sure these are clear
and compelling. They may
not matter much to the search
engines but they’re the things
that convince people to click
through to your site.
Example of great use of
the keywords “Romantic
Action points:
•Put the most important
keywords at the beginning of
the title tag
•Limit the title tag to 70
•Give each page a unique title
and description
•Make page descriptions
short and active, with clear
calls to action
•Limit page descriptions
to 150 characters
50 Best Romantic Getaways - Articles | Travel + Leisure
Rediscover romance this year by getting away to one of these hot spots.
Use well-structured
A proper URL structure
helps the search engines
do their jobs better: indexing
your content under the right
A good example:
So place the most important
keywords as close to the
domain as possible in
your URLs.
A bad example:
And if you change your URL structure,
make sure to set up 301 redirects from
the old URLs to the new – or you lose
all that SEO juice you’ve worked
so hard to earn.
A Five-Step
SEO Process
1. Perform your keyword research
2. Develop content for your most
important keywords
3. Plan your user experience and
site structure
4. Promote your content for
link-building and sharing
5. Track your performance
to keep improving
SEO’s best when it contributes to a great user experience on your
site – visitors coming to relevant pages based on their search
phrase. And that’s what the search engines are constantly working
to reinforce. Organic traffic is the gift that keeps giving (as long as
you stick to the right principles), while paid traffic gets more and
more expensive. We hope this eBook has given you some insights
that will lead to changes that improve your SEO performance.
And we’ll see you at the top of search results for
“_______ _______ Hotels”!
SEO References & Tools
About Expedia Affiliate Network
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics
Google Website Optimizer
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) is part of Expedia
Inc., the world’s leading online travel company.
Search Engine Factors report
SEO Book
Collection of keyword
research tools
Reevoo and Distilled eBook
on user-generated content
and SEO
The EAN blog – full of best-practice
advice for our partners
EAN creates the tools and technology that help
millions of travelers find the perfect hotels for
their next trips. As the world’s fastest-growing
private label travel affiliate network, EAN works
with over 10,000 partners in 33 countries to turn
their web traffic into hotel bookings and happy
EAN helps companies airlines, online travel
agencies and search marketers maximise their
Total Partner Return™ through a combination
of the world’s best hotel inventory, an optimized
technology platform and the best partner support
in the business.
Find out more at
Follow us on Twitter: @ExpediaEAN