What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This really just means making our website efficient and the content relevant and understandable to ensure that search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc) can all find and understand what we offer and ensure that when people search for accommodation in our area we end up showing in a prominent position.
How do I get to the first position in the Search Results?
Unless your business is so niche, or located in such a remote area that there are no competitors, there is almost no chance of attaining top position for the most popular searches.
For example, Millbrook Guest House (our business) is in Swanage, Dorset. There are over 50 other B&Bs and Hotels and it is a very popular holiday destination. Therefore all the big players (booking.com, expedia, tripadvisor etc) in our industry actively advertise and promote themselves for ‘Swanage’ related searches.
Hence, common search terms such as ‘Swanage B&B’, ‘Stay in Swanage’ are dominated by booking.com, TripAdvisor and other large OTA’s (Online Travel Agents). The chance of being able to appear above them is unrealistic but not necessarily critical!
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and create great content for your website and try to reach the top spot though.
Many potential customers are savvy enough to not want to book through these corporate sites and will look for the owner websites, especially if we give incentives to do so and also educate them. #BookDirect
There are also many other factors in SEO such as ‘Back Links’ and ‘competitor analysis’ most of which is not so straight forward and not the focus of this article.
To demonstrate the difficulty in attaining the top spot, search for ‘Millbrook Guest House Swanage’ and my site shows in position two! TripAdvisor has the top spot for my own place! So even for the precise search we still don’t naturally attain the top position.
It’s not all about Google…. but it pretty much is!
According to globalstats (Search Engine Market Share) Google accounts for over 92% of all searches performed on the internet each day!
In general terms making your site appear prominently on Google will mean it will appear highly on Bing (just 2.6% share) and other search engines.
So I can’t get top position but what can I do?
If we were selling sportswear people would be just searching for ‘running shoes’ and you would have to compete with many different companies potentially all over the world.
Luckily when people want to go on a holiday they (pretty much) know where they want to go and will include that place in their search e.g. ‘Swanage B&B’.
Google is great at ‘local search’ and in particular ‘Google My Business’ helps. We will all have a ‘Business’ on there, whether you added it or not. So if you haven’t yet claimed it (or even looked at it) now is the time! There are loads of resources out there to help you do this or watch this youtube video.
Now make the most of ‘Google My Business’
Google is going to include you in their map results when people search and these results appear before the traditional search results, you now appear above booking.com etc!
Of course, it’s not always that easy as many other similar businesses in your area could already be doing this. However, encourage your guests to give you a Google Review, regularly add photos and just keep your business profile up to date. Businesses that achieve the most reviews and best scores will tend to appear the highest.
How to keep you ‘Google My Business’ profile up to date
Simply install the app for your Android / Apple phone and each time you redecorate a room, go on a lovely walk or see something worth showing off take a photo and post it straight away.
Don’t forget Bing & Apple….
Microsoft Bing also has a ‘Bing Places’ profile and Apple Maps has a business profile too, so do the same for them too. Although Bing only has a small share, the chances are less of your competitors are on there, hence you may well be able to grab the majority of that small share all for yourself. Apple of course is huge and the majority of their phone users will be using Apple Maps, plus the more ‘gold plated’ websites your business appears on the better as Google uses ‘trustworthiness’ as a factor in returning search results.
Let BlueToadStool help you get noticed
We can help you go further, there are many other tools and options available to help you get your business noticed on Google and all the other search engines. We are a proud customer of ‘Rank Math’, a WordPress plugin that can help you do the heavy lifting when it comes to SEO. All of our WordPress hosting solutions include a RankMath Business subscription. Whether you want a new site, or just want to make your existing site better we can help, visit our website to find out more.
It is impossible to sum up SEO in one blog post. It is impossible to give one definitive answer to the best way to achieve great results. However, SEO is not all that technical and there is a lot you can do yourself to help promote your website without spending a penny. Google My Business is a great tool to promote your Guest House / Hotel so make sure you are making the most of it.