Published: Aug 1, 2015 by C.S. Rhymes
Recently I was asked for some advice helping a guest house to promote their business online. I gave a few suggestions of the top of my head, but I thought I would try and explain some of these ideas in more detail.
Start with your own website
A great place to start is your own website. There are simple things you can do like optimising page titles and meta data to help your site appear in search engines, but there are other more advanced techniques that you can use. Let’s make up a guest house called “Badgers Guest House” and explore what we can do to promote it.
### Meta data
If your website is for your guest house, make sure you use words such as hotel and guest house in your page titles and descriptions. Try and make the title a prompt, such as Book your stay at Badgers Guest House”. This sounds obvious, but it helps people to know they are looking at a website for a guest house and that you can use it to book your stay, without the visitor even clicking on the link.
Remember to also add the town and county or region to the end of the title. This will help boost your website in local listings and will help visitors understand whereabouts your guest house is.
The description should add a bit more detail about the location, such as near a local landmark, but try and sell the benefits of your guest house over the competitors. For our example guest house we could say, “The Badgers guest house is located a short walk away from Badgers Abbey. It offers great sea views from it’s comfortable bedrooms and a highly rated cooked breakfast.”
A great source of content for your guest house website is customer reviews. Ask customers to write reviews after their stay and ask if they are okay with you using them on your website. The reviews in themselves provide a sense of reassurance for visitors, but you can make more use of these in search engines by wrapping the reviews in schema, or microdata. Search engines display these reviews within the search results and it helps your website link stand out from the crowd.
Google Developers has a great article on enabling reviews on your site.
You can also use schema to mark up your location data on your contact page. This schema data can be used by search engines to add your guest house to it’s location listings. This means your website can appear in both the location listings and the normal web search. The schema tags will also help search engines understand what type of business you are offering.
You wrap the address in special tags. This won’t make any change to the way the page is displayed on the screen, it just provides additional context to search engines.
More information can be found on the Schema.org website.
Off Site Promotion
Think about where people go to find guest houses. One might be google maps, but others would use sites such as Trip Advisor. You can add your guest house to trip advisor and take advantage of the 260 million monthly visitors to their site and its completely free. Your listing may also appear on other partner websites as well.
In one step you will have given Badgers Guest House the chance to be seen by 260 million visitors a month. Not bad huh?
If you have a rental home rather than a guest house, then you can use the Holiday Rentals website from Trip Advisor.
Check out other similar sites and see if you can also add your guest house to their listings too. The more sites you can add your guest house to then the greater the chance someone will see it.
If you have the opportunity to add a link to your website then ensure you do, as this will also give your website a boost in search engines. It may take a while for search engines to find these links, but its really useful for long term listings and not a quick fix.
Do some searches for local listings and contact them and see if they will add a link to your site. For example, see if there is a local tourist information website that lists places to stay. There may be a local council website, or a community website that locals have set up that can add a link to your site. With these, I would suggest adding a link back to them to show you are not expecting a one way relationship.
Make a profile page on social media sites such as Facebook. Lots of people search on social media sites rather than search engines and people use social media sites many times per day. You can often add a link back to your website from your profile page.
Having a page on social media sites is also useful when people mention your guest house. Rather than the name of your guest house being plain text, it could become a link back to your profile page.
Encourage your customers to follow you on social media so they can keep up to date with your events and promotions. It’s a great way of keeping your guest house in their mind, encouraging them to book a return visit or recommend your guest house to their friends.
Another good site is Pinterest. Take some great pictures of your guest house, views from the bedrooms and pictures of the food, then create a profile on Pinterest and share your pictures. Pinterest is a great way of promoting your business in a visual way.
Search Engine Adverts
You can also promote your site on search engines using adverts. I would be very careful about how you do this and ensure you set a reasonable bugdet cap. It’s not really worth your while competing for really generic search terms, such as ‘guest house’, so try more specific search terms, such as ‘guest houses near Badgers Abbey’ or a slightly wider regional search. If people are searching for accomodation in another region then there is little point trying to get someone to click an advert to your site and finding out it is miles away from where they want to go.
Use your common sense and start out small and measure the impact before committing to spending loads of money without knowing what benefit you cna get from it.
There are many ways you can promote your guest house online, just use your imagination and lay the ground work for others to help you by leaving reviews and talking about your guest house on social media!