Every travel company should optimize for local search. If the brand is a chain, each arm under the umbrella must pay attention to local SEO.
When travelers research hotels and other businesses within the travel industry, they specifically want to know about products within a certain area – the destination they’re thinking about traveling to or the location they’ve made up their mind to travel to.
How do they search for answers to their queries? They turn to Google. What does Google reveal as results? Travel company information that has been deemed as relevant.
Because Google wants to please travelers by offering relevant search results, it gives travel brands a free opportunity to advertise. Not advertising in the traditional way you might think of. But, free publicity (if done right) through Google My Business, a tool that allows brands to build and optimize a listing that will be used to pull information related to users’ searches.
Why Google My Business?
Google My Business listings allow travel brands enter various bits of data about their products and services including UNAP (URL, Name, Address, Phone Number), which is critical to local SEO success.
UNAP data and consistency is one of the top ranking factors that Google considers when creating the local 3-pack that shows up on search results pages.
The local 3-pack is a group of 3 websites that Google highlights as being most relevant to a given geo-specific search like “fine-dining restaurant in NYC” or “hotel in Santa Fe New Mexico.” These types of searches have local intent and the user expects to see results with actual physical locations related to their query. The local 3-pack offers this.
Google My Business for Organic Search Results
Along with the local 3-pack, users see Google Knowledge Graph information much of the time and organic search results in every instance when they enter location-based searches. Google Knowledge Graph is showing up in more search results each day and the configuration featuring different cards of related information gives travel brands a great opportunity to optimize to show up on a card.
Organic search engine results placement as it applies to hotels and other travel companies is largely reliant on a local SEO strategy, which Google My Business helps with immensely.
Since Google gives travel brands a free chance to optimize their product (and multi-location products) for local search (showing up in the local 3-pack, Google Knowledge Graph and organic search results), it makes sense to take the opportunity. In fact, it’s necessary in today’s search landscape where the biggest travel brands are mastering local SEO. To compete, you can’t afford to ignore what the top companies in the industry consider basic strategy.
So, how exactly do you use Google My Business as part of a local SEO campaign? First, you create your Google My Business listing (or listings if you have more than one hotel or location) and then you optimize.
How to Create a Google My Business Listing
Google My Business gives brands an easy tool to choose how their businesses appears across Google products. The service allows companies to create and optimize their listing to stand out in search engine results pages. Essentially, it’s a free business listing that can be populated with important company information, from which Google pulls data to show to users across its various products.
Brands can only add their own Google My Business listing. The basic steps for getting started with Google My Business listing include:
- Create a Google account
- Initiate Google My Business listing setup
- Enter your business name
- Enter your business location (use your exact address)
- Pin your business on the map (be as precise as possible)
- Choose a business category
- Enter your business phone number
- Enter your business URL
Once you’re done entering all of your information, you’ll need to verify your Google My Business listing. Google will send you a postcard with instructions on verifying your listing.
After you’re successfully verified, you should go back and review your listing to make sure everything shows up the way you want it to. Double check that you’ve entered the correct data for your hotel or travel business and ensure that it exactly matches what’s on your website.
If you have multiple locations, you’ll want to create a separate Google My Business listing for each one. Just like having localized websites for each property is imperative, maintaining localized Google My Business listings for each property is essential.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
Creating a Google My Business listing isn’t enough to win at the local SEO game. You have to optimize your listing, and then you need to come back to the listing regularly to review and update it.
Here’s an example of how you would optimize your Google My Business listing if it was a hotel’s listing.
Verify Business Name for Accuracy
Fill in and update your business name to exactly match your hotel website.
Select Categories for Your Business
Select up to 5 relevant categories for your hotel including “hotel” as well as other variations of “hotel” as it pertains to your offering and relates to your hotel website’s focus keyword, such as “boutique hotel,” ‘luxury hotel” or “extended-stay hotel.”
Review Your Address and Phone Number
Complete and review your hotel address and phone number. Make sure they match your hotel website. Use your local phone number, not a 1-800 reservation number. Update your URL with the localized homepage for your hotel’s website, which can fall under an umbrella for the brand as a whole.
Update Your Map Pin
Update your map pin if necessary. Google recommends you place the pin at the entrance of your hotel, if possible.
Upload at least 10 photos of your hotel. Google allows you to separate your images into Exterior, Interior, Food, Common Areas and Room categories, and it recommends that you do so.
Fill Out Amenities and Activities
Fill out the amenities and activities segment of the listing. These fields are critical to overall search performance and user experience. When you regularly update your amenities and activities to accurately reflect your offerings (address each and every item down the list), you ensure a correct Google profile with the most up-to-date data.
As we’ve mentioned, don’t just set up your listing and forget about it. Like all aspects of SEO, there’s a constant need to keep coming back to a tactic to make sure it’s working optimally for you. In the case of Google My Business listings, check to make sure your information is accurate at least once per year.
Want to learn more about using Google My Business to optimize for local search? Contact Galileo Tech Media.