The hotel industry is very competitive – we show you why every citation counts.
When people normally think of citations, they think of undesirable traffic infringements but in the context of Search Engine Optimisation, the more citations the better with the web references becoming increasingly more important in local SEO. Previously we have discussed Optimising your Google Places Page and Link building strategies. Now we show you how to find citation references to improve your local search visibility.
What is a citation?
Citations are web references or mentions of your hotel on the web which includes your business name, address (street) and phone number (NAP). Preferably a local number should be used rather than an 1800 or 1300 number. These details should be consistent across the web. An ideal citation would include a link back to your website with the name of the business in the anchor text and be listed on quality and relevant sites (see below).
Why are citations important?
Some experts such as local search expert David Mihm see citations as the new link and an important trust signal in local SEO ranking algorithms. Like a link, Search Engines see web mentions as a validation that your site is seen to be a trusted and authoritative site by the virtual community. All other factors being equal, hotel sites with a greater number of web references will probably rank higher than their competitors.
Where can you obtain citations for your hotel?
Due to the nature of the hotel industry and the onset of review sites, travel portals, hotel and food blogs and numerous hospitality websites, there are a lot of citation opportunities out there in cyberspace. When it comes to web references, you ideally should try and keep it localised to your target region. Here are ten creative ways for you to find quality web mentions across the internet.
Local directories:A great citation source is local directories that are associated with the particular target city or region. This will change depending on the area that you are targeting. Key local directories and trusted signals in the Australian market include www.whitepages.com.au,www.yellowpages.com.au and www.truelocal.com.au.
Hotel focused directories:Industry association websites or specific hotel directories are another good place to obtain citations. Examples of these include Australian or regional websites such as the Australian Hotels Association NSW,www.visitnsw.com,www.hotel.com.au,www.visitgoldcoast.com and www.sydney.com. There are a lot of different directories that are local to your hotel – you just need to search for them.
Local business associations or directories: Research websites targeted at community businesses such as www.localbusinessguide.com.au,www.local.com.au and http://www.yourcity.com.au. You can drill down even further and find websites specific to your region such as the local chamber of commerce, geographic-based websites such as the eCityGuide andwww.geelongaustralia.com.au in Geelong in Victoria for instance.
Tourism and hospitality review websites: This can be a lucrative source of citations for hotels and may even allow a full summary page for each business. Think beyond accommodation when it comes to reviews; these can also include restaurants, bars and dining. Tourism review websites include www.tripadvisor.com.au, www.hotelscombined.com, and www.eatability.com.au.
Local hotel blogs: As independent travel and food blogs grow in influence and become part of the mainstream, finding local bloggers in your city can be a way to source citations. These may include general local blogs about the region or industry-specific hotel or travel blogs. As part of your internet marketing strategy, you can offer influential bloggers free accommodation or restaurant meal in return for an unbiased review and web mention.
Social media sites: Social media sites like Facebook Places Pages and foursquare allow you to create listings for businesses with the name of the business, address and telephone number. Adding your address and phone number to your Facebook and LinkedIn account will also act as citations. Your Twitter account with name, location and URL also has a good chance at being a web reference.
Geotagging media: Another way to acquire references for your hotel across the internet is with image sharing and video hosting sites such as Flickr and Youtube. The image and video communities allow you to geotag your media with specific location details and this is another quality citation prospect. Make sure to put your targeted keywords in your title as part of your local SEO strategy.
Online marketing tools: One of the best tools to find citation opportunities is the Whitespark Local Citation Finder. All you need to do is enter a local keyword phrase such as ‘Sydney luxury hotels’ and the tool will compile a list of websites for you relevant to the phrase. The free online tool is limited to one per IP address but there is a premium version called Pro Local Citation Finder which can expand your results.
Competitors websites: Like link building, it’s always a good idea to look at your top competitor’s websites and see what citations they have – as they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. You can check them on their Google Places Page or you can use premium tools such as the Whitespark Local Citation Finder which can perform a competitive analysis of the top ranked businesses and their mentions across the web.
Partners and alliances: A lot of hotels partner up with different suppliers such as wedding photographers or videographers, wedding cake makers, entertainment specialists and so on. You can ask these different companies to list your details in return for a reciprocal mention on your website. You might even consider working with local non-profit organisations and groups in return for a citation.
Find out more about out Google Maps SEO packages, how we can drive traffic to your website and how you can capture the local market through targeted hotel SEO strategies. At Hotel Internet Marketing we have a dedicated team of SEO experts and Link Building Analysts who work with clients everyday to optimise their Place Pages and attain high local search visibility through obtaining citations and link building activities.