Part One: Why it’s never been more important to get your business found locally

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes | 1326 words

This article is part ONE of an 8-part course titled “How to get your hospitality business found locally online”

Are people struggling to find your business online?

In a time when we are all hyper-focused on our local communities and what they offer, it’s crucial that your services and accommodation are being found online in local search results. Thanks to the impacts of COVID-19, over the coming months, and possibly years, we are expecting to see a drive towards supporting local. So, when your local community browse online for hotels like yours, we need to make sure that they not only find you but are also impressed with what they see and that you are positioned above your competition.

Read our previous article to learn more about Why Radical Localism Will Lead the Travel Industry’s Recovery Post COVID-19 and How to Prepare for This to better understand why people will be so focused on their own communities and local businesses during the pandemic and after it eases off.

Some more benefits of getting your business found online include:

  • Improve your business’ ranking when someone searches in your area for what you offer
  • Stand out from the crowd with positive customer reviews
  • Get found on local search listings such as Google Maps
  • Increase the amount and quality of interactions your business gets
  • Get more bookings
  • No longer feel invisible in your local community!

In this first article of our new “How to get your hospitality business found locally online” course, we will run through the main areas to focus on when it comes to getting your business seen. To do this we are going to be focusing on your hotel’s local SEO, and the best place to start with that is Google My Business.

But first, what is local SEO?

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is where you attempt to rank in search engine results (Google is an example of a search engine) when people search for services and accommodation like yours in their local area. Search engines also include maps, directories, apps containing local listings, anything that aggregates local information for their users.

Local knowledge panel

In the example above, a quick Google search containing the query “hotels Byron Bay” brings up this knowledge panel. As you can see there are four hotels that are ranking above the rest and this is where we want your hotel to be positioned, right at the top. We don’t want it to be hidden amongst the “View 243 hotels” list below the knowledge panel.

It’s important to remember that we don’t want to just be showing up in Google, we want our business to be appearing anywhere online that lists services like yours in your local area.

Where does a Google My Business listing come in?

A key component to getting featured locally is your Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you don’t have one click here for instructions on how to set one up (it’s free).

An example of The Bower Byron Bay's Google My Business listing providing lots of helpful information about their services and property.

It’s worth noting that you can only have a Google My Business listing if you have a physical address, ie. office, shop, hotel. Google require a valid address to verify your listing. Essentially, to be eligible according to Google a business “must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours”.

The information from your GMB listing is then propagated around the internet as tens of thousands of sites, databases, directories, map results and apps (such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Trivago, Expedia Group, etc) take their information from your listing to share it with their own users. This is known as the online ecosystem.

So essentially, having a good quality GMB listing is the fundamental basis of a good local SEO strategy. This is why it’s so important that your listing houses the most accurate and essential information about your business such as hotel name, address, contact number, operating hours, website link, reviews, questions and answers and a brief bio about your hotel and brand.

But the bare miniumum is also known as “NAP”, Name, Address, Phone number which form the most essential information on your listing. This is because although another business might have the same name as yours, it is not likely to have the same address and phone number. Same goes for a business located in the same building as you who are unlikely to have the same name as yours or phone number. Listing these three items are the equivalent of your own unique business ID online. There are situations when issues can arise such as duplicates and incorrect information being propagated but we will cover these and how to fix them later on in this series. 

Other attributes include Category, Images and Reviews to provide additional information about your business.

Ensure you list all of the relevant attributes of your hotel, such as whether or not it has wheelchair access or an elevator. Likewise, make it clear which activities you offer your guests whether it’s bicycle rental a swimming pool or a games room. If you offer access to free wifi or if your hotel is family-friendly then be sure to make that clear within the attributes/amenities section. This means that if someone Googles “family-friendly hotels in Byron Bay with swimming pool” you are more likely to come up!

We also recommend you select up to five of your most popular and requested amenities to “highlight” and feature alongside colorful icons below your hotel’s name.

Is just practicing good local SEO enough to get seen locally?

Local SEO works in addition to traditional SEO activities and not as a stand-alone. So, ensure you are also practicing good SEO of your online presence including, but not limited to; regular high-quality blog content, use of relevant keywords, website speed, image optimisation with alt attributes, having an updated, well-structured and optimised website, and so on.

What results are we looking for when improving our local SEO strategy?

Our main goal when starting out with a local SEO strategy is to increase the number of, and improve the quality of, interactions with our business online via map results and local searches which in turn will boost your hotel’s booking revenue.

To increase interactions it’s important that our GMB listing contains several different ways for people to reach out to us, including a link to our website, a phone number to call, the ability to ask a question and view previous questions and answers, to write a review and read past reviews. And depending on what your business offers, an opportunity for people to book a room or a table at your property. We will cover this later on in the course in a more in-depth article.

Options to book a room or a table via your Google My Business listing.

To do list:

  • If you haven’t already, and your business is eligible, set up your Google My Business listing.
  • Check your business name matches exactly to your GMB listing business name (ensure there are no extra spammy keywords in there).
  • Set your cover photo and logo. To do this, log into your Google My Business account (https://business.google.com/). Click on Photos and scroll the photo categories to the right until you see “Identity”. Add or update photos.
  • To show some of your brand’s personality, why not upload some pictures of your team members smiling and helping guests? Go to Photos and select “Team”.
  • Feature your hotel’s check-in and check-out times directly on your GMB listing for your guests’ convenience.
  • Make sure it contains all of the correct information, especially the name, address and phone number.
  • Check all links, including phone number (call the number, does it take the caller to your reception?), website link (does it take you to the right website page?).
  • Ensure your website button links to the correct page on your website. Consider linking to a custom landing page on your website rather than automatically connecting it to your homepage. This could be an opportunity to offer a special booking promotion exclusively for anyone who found your hotel via Google.
  • Are your operating hours up to date?
  • If your GMB listing has been around for a while check whether you have any questions that have been asked. If so, be sure to leave an informative and detailed answer. It’s also a good idea to take this opportunity to humanise your brand by showing some personality within your answers. Remember to invite the person asking the question to call your hotel’s front desk should they have any more questions and provide the relevant number.
  • Gather the questions that you are most frequently asked in relation to your business and answer them in the Questions & Answers section to help viewers learn more about your business. You can also up-vote any significant questions to boost their visibility within your listing.
  • Remember that anyone can answer the questions posted on your GMB listing, so check regularly to make sure that the answers given are all correct and up to date.
  • Make sure your business bio is up to date and contains keywords that you want to rank for.
  • Make sure you select a relevant category for your listing.
  • Showcase your products and services within the relevant sections.
  • Have you received any reviews? Make sure you answer them professionally, the positive and the negative. We will discuss reviews in more depth later on in this series.
  • Are there suitable images connected to your listing? Can you share more? Especially ones that show more of what you do and the faces behind the business. It’s important to show more than just the outside of the building.
  • Don’t neglect more traditional SEO strategies such as blogging, a good keyword strategy, maintaining a fast, secure, optimised, well-structured and updated website, optimising your website images, etc.

We can’t over emphasise just how important a well-rounded and informative Google My Business listing is for increasing the amount of rooms that get booked at your property. Keep it regularly updated and treat it as the front door to your hotel because for many people searching online for a place to stay, this will be their very first interaction with your brand.

To gain free access to the next 7 steps simply subscribe below and instantly receive Part Two.

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In part two...

… we will cover how to get people to find your hotel by utilising a powerful local SEO strategy.

To unlock the next 7 Steps covering how to get your hospitality business found online locally subscribe to our free online course below and instantly get access to Part Two.

About Magpie Creative Co.

Magpie Creative Co. is a digital marketing and design consultancy with a worldwide client base. We provide branding, web design and online marketing for businesses that offer luxury guest experiences and require an efficient online booking system.

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