If you haven’t taken advantage of your hotel’s Google My Business listing, what’s the holdup? This free local search tool opens the door to a bevy of SEO opportunities and increased awareness for your property. Whether it’s a hotel or bed & breakfast, you can use Google My Business to better promote your property and increase your presence in local search.
We already know that holding real estate in the SERPs is important, and Google’s constant algorithm updates play a prominent role. But focusing and optimizing for local search is an increasingly important element of SERPs, and a simple one at that!
First thing’s first…
Claim and Verify Your Hotel’s Google My Business Listing
Login to your Google My Business account (if you don’t have an account, sign up is free) → Search for your business by name or address → Select your business.
Once you’ve claimed your business, you’ll receive a notification to verify the listing. Once verified, you can begin updating information.
Important Note: A Google My Business listing typically sits to the right of the SERP on desktop, and below search ads on mobile. On Maps, it will display to the left on desktop and the bottom on mobile.
Your business’s information can also display in the Google Local Pack or Google 3-Pack, a search feature that lists several businesses when someone makes a search like “boutique hotels in san diego” or “pet friendly hotels in chattanooga”.
Update Your Knowledge Panel to Display Your Business’s Up-to-Date Information
You may have heard the phrase “your Google My Business listing is like the front door to your business”. That’s because it’s true. Your Google My Business listing acts as your virtual storefront, displaying important information to searchers, similar to what you may see in a physical storefront.
How many times have you made a search for a service, only to discover the phone number or hours listed in the Google My Business listing was inaccurate? Pretty frustrating, right? Don’t be that business.
When searchers find your local listing, the Business Profile—which sits at the top of your listing—will contain the following information:
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Website URL, etc.
Important Note: Make sure the info (phone #, address, etc.) displaying on your Google My Business listing matches with your social profiles and website, too.
Hotel Attributes & Details
Updated in summer 2019, hoteliers now have a new way to customize their amenities and services using Google My Business’s updated ‘Hotel attributes’ section.
You can see above that there are now two tabs to select to update your hotel’s information (Property details and Room details).
This update now gives hoteliers more amenity options and services to choose from, including if your property has a casino, a kid’s club, daily housekeeping, and so on, and whether those amenities are free, only offered on specific days or seasons, or are under renovation.
These are useful features that can make your listing user-friendly and your property more appealing. A ‘Hotel details’ section will also display a short description detailing the property.
Important Note: Unfortunately, hotels do not have the option to customize their ‘Hotel details’ section. This information is automatically pulled by Google from your website and other digital listings, so make sure your information is consistent and correct.
Don’t Leave Questions Unanswered
A time-consuming, yet positive function of Google My Business if performed well, is the Questions and Answers function. This section is super useful because it allows you to respond to questions from potential guests and humanizes your business.
Don’t respond with a simple “yes” or “no” answer; be informative and leave a detailed response. If someone asks about check-in or check-out times, provide the answer and refer them to visit your website or contact the front desk if they have any more questions.
If a searcher asks a question that you find particularly important, you can upvote it, potentially making the question more visible on the local listing.
Important Note: Anyone can answer questions on your Google My Business listing. Therefore, it’s best to frequently review your listing and make sure potential guests are seeing the correct answers.
Build Your Own FAQ Page
As previously mentioned, you can upvote questions and answers asked by searchers on your local search listing. If someone asks a question you believe to be particularly important you can upvote it. Doing so may increase the visibility of the question.
You can also create your own questions and leave the answers yourself. Before you do this, just make sure you’re signed in under your businesses’ Google My Business login information so that when you post the question and answer, it looks like this:
Not only does this provide an instant answer for searchers, but it also prioritizes your time so you’re not receiving the same questions over and over and ensures that the answers are correct.
Encourage Guests to Leave Reviews
Reviews carry a lot of weight on SERPs—your local listing’s visibility can increase in local pack results and Google Maps rankings because of them. Google reviews and star rating sit just below your property’s name—near the top of the Google My Business listing—and can help your property stand out.
Listings also include a ‘Review summary’ section where 64% of people are likely to check out before making a decision (Review Tracker, 2018). This section sits towards the bottom of the Google My Business listing.
To ask, or not to ask, that is the question!
Did you know: 68% of people left a review after a local business asked them to (Bright Local, 2017). If you’re looking to build reviews for your hotel’s Google My Business listing, the odds are in your favor!
Incorporate ways to encourage guests to leave reviews across several mediums like email, in-room, and social media.
Similar to answering questions left by searchers, if a guest leaves a review—positive or negative—it’s best practice to leave a response.
Add High-Quality Photos and Video
It goes without saying, but presenting your hotel with high-quality images and video is an eye-catching advantage—listings that have photos or virtual tours of the business are twice as likely to receive interest (Google, 2015). Photos and video sit at the top of your listing and they should provide guests with an inside look at your property. This includes a logo, a cover photo, 360 photos, video, and several image categories including exterior, interior, rooms, and food and drink.
A couple of do’s and don’ts for adding photos and videos:
- Do include images of unique features that separates your hotel from the rest
- Do include exterior shots, room interiors, amenities, employees assisting guests, etc
- Don’t use a logo as your preferred photo (FYI: it’s not a guarantee Google will use the photo you select as the preferred photo)
- Do use wide-angle, well-lit shots
- Don’t use close-cropped images or images that don’t convey what your hotel has to offer
- Do optimize your images for SEO: filenames and alt tags (optimizing your images can have a positive impact on Google Image searches)
- Don’t keyword stuff the filenames or alt tags of your images (ex. Alt text: “Downtown Chicago Hotels” for an image of a room interior) – be clear and descriptive of what is in the image.
If you don’t have equipment for 360 photos or video, it’s worth it to hire a professional.
Important Note: Guests can also post photos to your listing. If there’s an image someone posted that you believe is harmful to your listing, you can report the image to Google.
Google My Business: Things to Avoid
We’ve covered a handful do’s and don’ts, but there are a few other items that you should avoid when optimizing your Google My Business listing—doing so will not only keep you in the good graces of Google but will also provide a better user experience for searchers.
- Multiple listings for the same location
- Keyword stuffing in responses to questions and reviews, image alt text, etc.
- Using the wrong address
- Adding special promotions or sales to your listing
- Including links to your website in a response to a question or review
Follow Google’s guidelines so you don’t get penalized.
Don’t Forget About Bing!
With all of this Google talk, Bing can easily be overlooked, but it’s just as important. Claim, verify and make sure your Bing Places for Business listing is optimized and displaying the correct information.
To claim your Bing Places for Business listing visit Bing Places and search by phone number or by hotel name and location → select your hotel from the results (if there are no results, you can create a new listing) → a box with your hotel’s information and a ‘Claim and edit details’ button will display; check to make sure the information displayed is correct and change any info if necessary.
Once submitted, select the method you would like to receive your verification code.
You can also import your business information from your Google My Business listing, which saves time from filling out property details.