So you’ve got a sparkling, brand-new website. Great! Now how are you going to get traffic to it? After all, what good is a website if no one sees it? If you want help increasing hotel demand, then purchasing search engine marketing (SEM) ads is a great way. However, traffic from SEM stops when you stop paying. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a bunch of traffic for free?
Truly, there is no “free” way to get traffic to your website. Many of these tips take time, and time is money. But here are twelve strategies you can use to increase your website’s traffic without opening your wallet. These tactics are likely to immediately benefit your property website in small ways, and that combined can give your website significant new traffic over time.
1. Place your website address on your invoices
This is really hardly a tip at all as it is so obvious, but you’d be surprised how many hotels fail to mention their website on their paper collateral. Many guests like to return to hotels where they’ve enjoyed their stay, even if they originally discovered the hotel on an online travel agency (OTA). Include your website address on all paper collateral you produce, including invoices, which business travellers will likely keep for tax purposes. Next time, they may book through your website instead of going to an OTA, increasing your revenue.
2. Include a promotion on check-out
Encourage repeat customers by including promotion codes and discounts with your receipts at the end of guests’ stays. To use the promotion, direct guests to book through your website to ensure you get a new direct reservation.
3. Invite guests to like your Facebook page
You likely collect email addresses from all your guests, and most of your guests are on Facebook. Invite them to “like” your Facebook page using Facebook’s email contact upload feature. This will improve the usefulness of your hotel’s Facebook page, allowing you to market promotions directly to your guests, giving you the opportunity to send guests directly to your website. It is a good idea to invite former guests to “like” your page soon after they finish their stay with you and the experience is fresh in their minds.
4. Create a Google My Business Page
Creating or claiming your Google My Business page is one of the most essential marketing steps you need to take for the search engine health of your property. That said, this is also a complicated step involving many moving parts. Once done, your hotel website is more likely to gain the following benefits:
- Google may rank your website higher on search engine result pages (SERPs)
- An information box about your property may appear in the SERP for branded queries
- Many extensions may appear alongside your website result in the SERPs, including hotel reviews, star rating, social vote buttons, and contact info like phone numbers and addresses
- Your property will become easier to quickly find from mobile devices, increasing your last-minute reservations
5. Take advantage of the Billboard Effect
When guests research their upcoming trip, they often go to OTAs like Booking.com to search for hotels. That said, many guests will then open a new tab in their browser and research the individual hotels they discovered on the OTA. In this way, guests who find your hotel on OTAs may also end up on your website—a phenomenon known as the Billboard Effect. List some of your inventory on OTAs to increase traffic to your website and generate more direct bookings.
6. Offer Twitter discounts
Millennials, who are quickly becoming the most coveted travel demographic, are big fans of Twitter. Search Twitter for tweets about your hotel’s location, or vacation spots near your property. Then, “tweet” at these people, offering them discounts or other gifts to stay at your property when they visit, including a link back to your website and booking engine.
7. Include a review request on invoices
Sending guests to review platforms may not sound like a way to get traffic back to your website, but there is a strategy behind this. Review platforms (like TripAdvisor) are one of the most trusted sources for hotel reviews at the moment. Google knows this, which is why they include links to TripAdvisor reviews of your hotel right in the SERPs. Your property must have good reviews on TripAdvisor.
Guests may click on TripAdvisor reviews when doing research for your property, see your great reviews, and then either go directly to your website from TripAdvisor (if you have your website listed there), or if they can’t find it, hit back, and access your site directly from the Google SERP.
Include reminder cards with your invoices, to remind guests to leave a review for your hotel on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other directories important to your property.
8. Comment on blogs and forums
Comment on blogs and forums to capture traffic from them, and refer guests to your website. Do a Google search as your guest normally would, using keywords they might such as “best British B&Bs”, or something similar. Then, go through all the “best British B&Bs” blogs and community forums you find, and bookmark them. Join them, become a member, and then start actively participating in those communities.
When you comment on a relevant blog, ensure your website address is added to your profile. When you comment on forums, ensure your forum signature includes your hotel name, address, phone number, and website address. If you are a valuable member to these communities (and are not spamming promotions and links), then guests who stumble upon them while doing research, as you did, may click through to your website and book.
9. Answer questions on Quora, Google and Yahoo! Answers
There are many “question and answer” websites out there. Some of the most popular are Quora, Google and Yahoo! Answers. On these websites, guests will often ask questions related to your property, such as “What resort is closest to the ski slopes at Crystal Mountain” or “What trails should I use when exploring the Grand Canyon”? These kinds of questions are coming from people in the planning phase of their trip. Answer their questions using your unique knowledge to not only give them great advice, but point out your property is nearby, and might be a good base of operations for their adventures. Be sure not to market too heavily or else your response won’t be voted up—use a light touch, and always provide quality, accurate information.
For each “question and answer” site, use the search functionality on the site to find questions pertaining to your expertise you can answer. Even if the question has already been answered, it does no harm to weigh in with your unique perspective. Future travellers may perform a Google search related to the question, and then find your answer when doing research and hit your website.
10. Create YouTube videos
YouTube is one of the most popular search engines in the world. Have some content on there that directs guests back to your website. Thankfully, your hotel and location are perfect subjects for excellent videos.
Create some video walkthroughs of your property. Travel to popular tourist destinations near your property, create a video showing the specific sights to see, or how to access certain areas that only the locals know about—and so on.
When you upload these to YouTube, make sure that you give them short, keyword-optimised titles, as the title is the most important thing that will determine whether or not your video gets seen. Also, write useful video descriptions, and link to your website at the top of your video description—the link must be the first thing on your video landing page, below the video itself.
11. Create content
Search engines love long, high-quality content, in the form of articles, blog posts, guides, videos, images, and so on. If your website has no rich content, then search engines have nothing to rank, and your website traffic will suffer. Invest some time creating quality content that only you can create.
12. Send a thank-you note
If you collect your guests’ physical home address when they make reservations, experiment with sending your guest ”thank you” post cards or emails a week after their stay, and use the opportunity to inform them of your website and any promotions running. Abusing this privileged information can do you more harm than good, but one, single, simple “thank you” note after they stay with you is appropriate, and will be appreciated.
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