In the hospitality industry, having your own website is a massive advantage. It allows you to get your name out there, share important information with your guests, and, most importantly, get direct bookings. But it’s no good having a website if nobody can find it. Unfortunately, that’s what happens to a lot of property websites – they’re out there but they just don’t get the visitors. And in many cases, it’s down to one simple thing: their domain name.
What is a domain name?
A custom domain is just another way of saying the website’s address, or URL. For example, you’re probably quite familiar with the world’s most visited domain: www.google.com.
What does this have to do with my website’s lack of visitors?
When signing up for a website, you may not have given much thought to the domain name – which is perfectly understandable when there are so many other things to consider.
If that’s the case, you might have ended up with a domain name that’s long, complex and hidden among some extra words. For example, if your property is called Hotel Silverwood, your website might be something like www.hotelsilverwood.book.direct.com rather than the cleaner, shorter, more memorable – and far more effective – www.hotelsilverwood.com.
The first option is what you’ll tend to get when you sign up with a website builder. It’ll usually allow you to get online quickly – which is important – but ultimately, the second option (www.hotelsilverwood.com) is better for your business. The main reason for this is Google searches.
Search engines like Google are crucial to the effectiveness of your property’s website. For people to find (and book) your property, it needs to appear as high up in Google’s search results as possible. Otherwise potential guests won’t even know your website exists – let alone make a booking with you.
Google is based on a complex set of algorithms that determine the order of the pages for any given search. Those algorithms give more prominence to websites that it thinks its users will want to see. And given a choice between regular domain names and custom domain names, it’s custom domain names that come out on top.
In fact, our data suggests that switching to a domain name will get you up to seven times as many visitors.
That’s because of what Google calls ‘domain authority’. That’s related to the reliability of any given domain. So when the search engine recognises that a website is on a custom domain, it sees it as being more reliable – and bumps it up the search results.
What’s more, domain authority accumulates over time, so a custom domain that’s been on the internet for longer will come out above newer ones.
In practice, that means it’s advisable to get yourself a custom domain name as soon as possible. And since you’ve already got a website up and running (and may have done so for years), the best thing to do is to make sure all visitors to your current site (and domain) are redirected to the new one. That way, you don’t lose your existing domain authority.
Obviously Google takes many, many things into account when ordering search results – custom domains are just one of a lot of factors that you can use to your advantage. So we’re not saying that acquiring a custom domain will bring you thousands of customers overnight. However, what it will do is improve the professional profile of your site, and start you on the process of gathering a higher domain authority than you ever could’ve got with your current domain. In turn, this will move you higher and higher up search results, meaning more and more visits to your site – and ultimately, more bookings at your property.