Get your hotel ranking number 1 in Google
The complete Google ranking algorithm
Every hotel wants to be number 1 in Google. But Google keeps their algorithm top secret, I hear you say. Not anymore, here it is.
There are 200 ranking factors. Google increases you in the search results page when they like what you are doing and reduces you if they don’t like what you are doing.
They are all here and explained in layman’s terms. I have given a simple achievable “how to” page for about 25% of them (I reserve the rest for my clients).
Dr. Manus Ward │Head of Digital Innovation and Education │Hotelconsultant.com is a qualified and experienced former hotel manager, culinary Olympic team manager and hospitality Head of School who is passionate about passing on the knowledge he gained from one of the few hotel digital strategy doctorates in the world to you the hotelier. Bonus: If you have any problems with this contact me (100% free) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 086 8185829 on this or any aspect of your hotel’s digital strategy.
Google have stated that content is the most important part of the Google algorithm. Content is truly king, here is what to do:
1. Create text exactly matching your Google keyword research: Google rewards pages where it finds the exact keywords in the exact order that the searcher has typed into Google. Click here to see how how to do hotel related keyword research and find the exact words that users type into Google.
2. Have your keyword used frequently on the webpage: Google believe that that the keyword(s) that appear most in the content of a page is a relevancy signal and rewards these pages with higher rankings. Click here to find out how to increase the keyword frequency on a webpage.
3. While keyword frequency is important be careful of keyword density: Google increases the rankings of pages where there is a higher percentage (Density) of that keyword on a page compared with competitors pages. Click here to find out how to create the optimum keyword density of a webpage.
4. Have the keywords close to each other: Google rewards keywords that are closer to each other. For example if a searcher inputted “Killarney hotels”, pages with “Killarney hotels” would rank higher than a page containing “Killarney is a location with wonderful hotels”.
5. Place the keywords nearer the top of the page: Google has stated that it wants users to find what they are looking for straight away. It therefore rewards pages where the keywords appear at the or near the top of the page.
6. Use keywords in the same word stem: Google is a machine and therefore doesn’t recognise language the way you and I do. It recognises all words in the one stem as being the same word. An example is the words read, reads and reading all stem to the word read.
7. Ensure the correct TF-IDF (Term frequency – Inverse document frequency) of a page: This is complex but explained simply Google has calculated the percentage of times that every keyword phrase should appear in a normal text document and rewards keywords amounts that are within normal limits i.e. don’t ram your keywords into the page every chance you get.
8. Use synonyms or Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords in the content: Google use synonyms to figure out the exact nature of a page. Using many words of similar or nearly similar meaning allows Google more accurately determine a pages central ethos. Click here to see how to place Synonyms or Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords in Content.
9. Place bolded, italics or larger font text within the content: Google has openly stated that it rewards words that are in bold, italics or larger font more than normal text words.
10. Update regularly and significantly your content: Google perceives that sites that update significantly and regularly are more likely to be high quality sites. Click here for information on content updates and quantity.
11. Create content that is trending presently officially called “Query Deserves Freshness”: Topics that are trending at a particular moment in time are given a short term appreciable boost in the Google rankings. Click here to find if there are any Query Deserves Freshness trending topics that are relevant to your hotel.
12. Use older documents / pages: Google has openly stated that in some cases older documents / pages may be more favorable than new ones. In a hospitality setting this may mean the festival page for the 2011 festival created in 2011 may outrank a new page discussing the same 2011 festival.
13. Use good grammar and spelling: Google believes that high quality sites will have better spelling and grammar then low quality sites and ranks accordingly. Click here to check the spelling and grammar of your site’s content.
14. Use entity salience with words you want to be associated with: Google looks at specific keywords that are specifically associated with other keywords. An example would be “Merrion Hotel” would be associated with “Restaurant Patrick Giulbaud” and “The Cellar Bar”. For example your hotel should try to be associated with a local attraction by being in as many online pages about the attraction as possible.
15. Use related keyword phrases: Google found that searchers who looked for certain keyword phrases look for related phrases and Google rewards pages that have these related phrases in the page. A page that is all about the subject area will inevitably contain all of these phrases and will outrank a page that is hollow and just stuffed with a single keyword phrase.
16. Create website content that has a mass market reading level: Google rewards with higher rankings content that is at a reading level that the majority of the population can read easily. Click here to calculate your website content reading level.
17. Create content with significant word counts: Google want to give searchers useful and interesting content. Research has indicated that webpages with about 2450 – 2500 words perform better in Google then pages with less words. Click here to find how to check the content length of a webpage.
18. Do not use content from other sites: Original content from other sites will rank higher in Google than content you have copied to your site even when permission is granted by the content’s owner. Click here to see how to find out if you have content from other sites.
19. Create helpful supplementary content: Google uses human raters to examine sites and rewards these sites with higher rankings when they give helpful supplementary content to searchers. Click here to find examples of helpful supplementary content.
20. Target query deserves diversity (QDD) keywords: When a searcher places very general keywords into the search engine Google sometimes places diverse results in the search engine in order to give a choice to searchers so that figure out what they are looking for.
21. Use contents allowed in safe search: Google by default has safe search switched on which blocks adult content and other type sites form entering the search engine results page. You should ensure that your hotel’s content does not contain enough adult keywords to be rated as an adult site. It is extremely unlikely that this would be the case.
Not everything about content is king. Here is what not to do:
22. Do not keyword stuff your content: In the past people stuffed their content with their target keyword sometimes making the text illogical and annoying to the user. Google now penalises keyword stuffed text. The penalties start from about 5% up.
23. Do not keyword dilute your content: Keyword dilution is where a page has no focused keywords and the keywords on the page are completely unrelated to each other. Google does not know what the page is about and therefore the ranking impact of the page is diluted.
24. Do not excessively use lists: Google has stated that any style of writing that is just lists of words is unnatural and looks like keyword stuffing. Excessive uses of lists may lower the rankings of a page.
25. Do not have text the same colour as the page background: Some sites insert text that is the same colour as the background to persuade search engines they are one type of site while visually presenting something different to the searcher. Google will delist your site if you are caught doing this.
26. Do not overuse bolded, italics or larger font text: Google rewards some use of this but considers overuse to be spammy and will penalise your site.
27. Do not have landing pages that look like search results page: Google wants a searcher to land on a page that is about their search keyword. Google penalises pages that look like search engine result pages requiring the user to click further to find what they are looking for.
28. Do not use automatically generated content: Automatically generated content is created by a machine. It usually makes little or no sense and irritates the searchers. Google will severely penalise pages with automatically generated content.
29. Do not use auto-translated text: This is where languages are translated using the internet automatically. The translations are often very poor at best and may inadvertently contain misleading information. Google heavily penalises pages that contain auto-generated content.
30. Do not have excessively diverse content on the site: Google wants a site to give the searcher exactly what they are looking for and not to have to sift through irrelevant content. Sites that are excessively diverse are penalised by Google.
31. Do not engage in illegal or abusive activity: Google will block content from appearing in its search engine that is illegal or abusive. This includes the use of copyrighted images or content. Do not post such content on your site.
32. Do not place thin or limited content on your site: Google wants searchers to find detailed information on exactly what they are looking for. Using the Panda Algorithm they penalise sites that have limited content throughout their site. This applies to the entire site rather than single pages. Sites can “noindex” individual thin pages to prevent this but these pages will not appear on Google search results.
33. Do not use duplicate content from other sites: Google thinks of duplicate or identical content in the same way that a lecturer would if they received two identical assignments from two different students. Duplicate or identical pages even on the same site will result in the page Google finds first being increased in rankings and the page found after that being reduced in rankings. Click here to find if your site contains duplicate content.
34. Do not use duplicate content within your own site: Google penalises duplicate content. This even applies if you have different addresses for the exact same page. If you can’t only have one address for each page use a Rel=”Canonical” tag. Click here to check if you have an Canonicalisation or Rel=”Canonical issue.
35. Do not have outdated content on your site: Google prefers content that is updated from time to time. Old pages that are frequently updated however receive higher rankings from Google then frequently updated new pages.
Create images that rank in the Google algorithm but do not forget to make them information and emotionally rich. Here is what to Do:
36. Use video, rich media or multimedia: Google believes that video and other rich media and multimedia are a sign of a high quality site and increase them in search results. What do I do in relation to video, rich media or multimedia.
37. Place alt tags in images etc: Google has yet not reached a point where it can assess the quality or relevancy of an image based on the image alone. It must instead examine the file name, alt text, title, description and caption etc in an image in order to figure what an image is all about. Click here to find how to optimise images text for your hotel.
38. Place keywords in the ALT Text: Google ranks images in its searches using the keywords in the ALT text the same way it ranks pages using the keywords contained in the page. Choose your ALT text carefully.
39. Place relevant content surrounding the images: Google examines the ALT text in your images and the content of your site. If the page’s content is relevant and contains similar keywords to the image, Google will increase the rankings of the page and the image in image search.
Not everything about images is good for your site. Here is what not to do:
40. Do not use tiny image links: Some website owners engage in cloaking which is presenting different content to the Google spider than is presented to searchers. Sometimes tiny clickable images are used as the entry point. Google penalises sites who engage in this or other cloaking techniques.
41. Do not engage in copyright violation: Using images that are copyrighted without their owners permission is an infringement of the copyright act. Google allows infringement notifications to be made to them and may remove your site from their search results.
42. You receive no ranking value from text in images, video and rich media: Google is constantly improving its technology in its efforts to recognise faces, locations etc. in images, video and rich media but it still hasn’t reached a point where it can do so effectively yet. Google does not penalise this text, it just can’t read it and use it is search engine results.
43. Do not keyword stuff ALT tags: An alt tag is an HTML attribute applied to image tags to provide a text alternative for search engines. As this is invisible to searchers, some sites would stuff these with keywords. A normal description should be used only to avoid penalties.
44. Do not use exceedingly long ALT tags: For the same reason that keyword stuffing may attract a Google penalty using an excessively long ALT tag may attract a penalty and also dilute the effect of the text in the ALT tag.
Google have stated that links are the second most important part of the Google algorithm. Here is what to do:
45. Seek relevant links to your site: Google rewards sites whose links are from relevant sites. Hotel relevant sites would be restaurants, bars, local activity providers etc. Click here to find how to create relevant links to my site.
46. Seek relevant links to each page: Google ranks pages not sites thus you should seek relevant links to each individual page e.g. restaurant links to your restaurant page. Click here to see how to create relevant links to each page.
47. Seek a high number of linking websites: Google believes that a large number of different websites linking to your website is a high quality ranking signal. Click here to find out the number of linking websites to your domain.
48. Seek a high number of inbound links to each individual page: The more links you have pointing to your page the better. This is one of the most important ranking factors. You should note that one quality / relevant links outweighs many poor / irrelevant links.
49. Seek links from high authority sites: Links from sites that provide valuable, reliable and useful information about subjects relevant to your page are said to have high authority. One of these links outweighs many poor or low authority links.
50. Seek links from high TrustRank sites: Google hates spam and examines your links to see how far your page is away from high authority pages and spam. You should target high TrustRank sites for links and “nofollow” low TrustRank sites.
51. Seek links from pages with high PageRank: Google rewards pages that have links from high quality sites. A few high quality links can outweigh many low quality links. How do I find the PageRank of the linking page to my page.
52. Seek links from older sites: Many spam sites are short lived and Google has found that older sites are on average better quality sites. For this reason Google assigns more value to older links then newer ones.
53. Seek links from older domains: Older domains on average tend to be higher quality sites and their links on average are more powerful than newer sites. Click here to calculate the age of the linking domain to your site.
54. Ensure your backlink anchor text contains your desired keywords: Anchor text is the visible text users see that contains a hyperlink to another page. Google believes that anchor text very often is a more accurate description of a web page than the page itself. Click here to see how to check or create backlink anchor text.
55. Ensure there is relevant content surrounding the anchor text of links to your site: Google examines the page that the link to your site is on. If the page is relevant and contains similar keywords to your page, Google will increase the value of the link.
56. Seek links from pages containing high word counts: Research indicates that an average page that ranks number 1 in Google contains 2450 – 2500 words. If a linking page contains this amount of words Google will increase the value of the link.
57. Seek links from sites on your search results page: Google believe that links from pages that show up at the top of the results pages for the keywords you want to rank for sends a strong relevancy signal. Google increase the value of these links.
58. Seek a DMOZ Listing: Google used the DMOZ (Open Directory Project) directory in a number of different ways including harvesting snippets. While less powerful then it was Google admit publicly that a link from DMOZ is a powerful link.
59. Seek a Yahoo directory Listing: In admitting that a DMOZ listing was a powerful ranking factor Google stated that it considered many directory listings to be bordering on spammy except for Yahoo and DMOZ.
60. Seek links from Top Level Domains (TLD) in your country: Having a lot of your links from sites in your country gives you a rankings boost for that country. So having many .ie links gives your hotel site a boost for Ireland focused hotel searches.
61. Seek links from IP Addresses in your area: Your IP address comes from the server your site is hosted on. If for example your site is hosted in Ireland you will rank higher for Ireland focused searches.
62. Seek links from .edu and .gov sites: It is believed that links from the US government and US universities have a lot of authority and boost your site’s rankings.
63. Seek links from your competitors: Your competitors are obviously the closest in terms of relevancy to your site. Google will give you higher rankings if you have links form you competitors, but think it through carefully before you do it.
64. Seek links from pages with very little links: Google believes that pages with a free for all type attitude to links i.e. link to everybody have little value. Put very simply a page with half the links has twice the link value for ranking purposes.
65. Seek links from domains with very little links: In the same way as links from pages, complete sites with half the links will have twice the link value for your rankings.
66. Increase the number of links gained each week over time: Google believe that if a site is gaining more links per week over time (positive link velocity) that the site is becoming increasingly popular and will reward it in the search results.
Not everything about links are good for your site, in fact some things will get you delisted from Google. Here is what not to do:
67. Do not acquire links from link / content farms: A link farm is where you can acquire a vast amount of links instantly. Google will penalise your site if a vast amount of your links are from these link / content farms.
68. Do not acquire links from temporary link schemes: Some link farms noticed that Google didn’t recognise them as link farms for a while and set up and then closed down their link farms very quickly. Google now finds them very fast and you will be penalised.
69. Do not reduce your competitors’ rankings (Google Bowling): This is highly inappropriate but some hotels will buy poison links or link farm links for their competitor’s site hoping that they will be penalised by Google.
70. Do not get links from sites that sell links: Google believes that better sites receive links because of the usefulness and quality of their site’s content. They believe that if your site has to pay for links, it is a sign of a poor site and Google may reduce your site’s rankings.
71. Do not seek links from low PageRank pages: Google values higher PageRank page links more than lower PageRank links. Target sites with high PageRank when seeking links.
72. Do not have all exact match anchor text: All your links will not be identical if they have been earned naturally. Different sites will use different words in the anchor text linking to your site. While the ratio is unknown it is believed Google wants to see less than 10% of exactly matching anchor text for each of your pages.
73. Do not target links from irrelevant sites: Google believes that natural links will come from relevant sites. So hotels should target links from tourism providers, restaurants, bars, local sites etc. If you have a large amount of non-local irrelevant links Google may believe you purchased them and penalise you in the rankings.
74. Do not target a single source for your links: Google believes that having all your links coming from the same source is a sign of webspam. Natural links will come from a diverse range of sites.
75. Do not have all your links from blog / forum comments: Blog comments can be an excellent way of getting links and business. For example a blog question asking about the best fly fishing in Ireland with an answer from you with the domain of the hotel included saying the best fishing is in a river right beside your hotel will be rewarded as a link. However if the majority of your links are from blogs you may have your rankings penalised.
76. Do not place links in paid for articles: Google penalises all links that are paid for. If you have paid for somebody to write an article about or including your hotel you will need to place a “rel=nofollow” tag in the link or risk penalisation if caught. This basically gives this link zero value for rankings.
77. Try not to have your links in the footer of a page: Google rewards useful and interesting content such as articles. Articles normally have the most important subjects and links near the top of the article. In the same way that Google rewards links at the top of a page they devalue links lower down and devalue significantly links in the footer.
78. Do not have your link placed in the author’s biography section: Many people circulated low quality sometimes identical articles in order to generate a rapid amount of links quickly. Google in response has reduced the value of links in the author’s biographical section.
79. Do not place your articles containing links in directories: Google rewards original, interesting and useful content and having an article containing links to your hotel will give valuable links. Submitting the article to article directories where the identical article may be on hundreds of sites globally will dilute the value of the links.
80. Do not seek links from paid web directories: Google have stated they penalise paid for web directory links so don’t pay for these links. Google have however said the Yahoo and DMOZ directories are fine.
81. Avoid an excessive amount of reciprocal links: Reciprocal links are you link to me and I will link to you. Hotels will need to create links to all their tourism partners in their “things to do locally” page and vice versa to create reciprocal business but this should not be to an excessive amount as Google will penalise it if it looks like an unnatural link building scheme.
82. Avoid links from pages with no or poor surrounding content: Google rewards links from good quality content and devalues links from low quality pages. If a page has poor or no content surrounding the link you will receive little or no ranking value from the link.
83. Do not gain links unnaturally fast: Some sites purchase vast numbers of links from link farms in order to gain in the rankings. So for example if a site with 500 links built up over a year gains 5000 in one day, this would attract a penalty from Google.
84. Do not lose links unnaturally fast: In the same way that an unnaturally fast gain of links may attract a penalty from Google an unnaturally fast loss of links may attract a penalty.
85. Do not slow down the gaining of links per page: Google believes that if a site is slowing down in its links acquisitions that it is becoming less popular and will reduce its position in the search rankings.
86. Do not slow down the gaining of links per page: In the same way that a page looks less popular when it gets less links per week an entire site may be reduced in the rankings if it gains less links per week.
87. Disavow links if you have penalised by Google: If you have been penalised by Google or have any anchor text that reduces your rankings you can disavow these links in order to remove the penalty and return your rankings in the search results. Click here to find out if you have a penalty and how to disavow links.
88. Do not have anchor text that reduces rankings: Anchor text from other sites to yours that contains pharmacy, gambling or inappropriate text may reduce your search rankings. Click here to check if you have any anchor text that reduces rankings.
89. Nofollow links from penalised sites or sites you do not want to be associated with: Google allows you to “nofollow” links if you do not want to be associated with that site but for whatever reason you feel you must have a link on your site. Do not “nofollow” everything as you loose out on links to quality sites. How do you place nofollow links on your site.
90. Ensure all your links are not from the same “Class C” IP address: Links from the same Class C IP address look like fake links and are devalued by Google. Click here to see if you have links from the same Class-C address.
91. Report your competitors if they engage in spamming: Google have the technology to find out individuals who try to cheat the system but it is not perfect. Google has a spam report page where you can report your competitors if they are engaging in any of the above activities inappropriately and have them penalised.
Links leaving your site can also help you, although not as much as incoming links. Here is what to do:
92. Create high quality outbound links: Google rewards relevant and authoritative links from your site to high quality sites. Click here to check your outbound link quality.
93. Create contextual links in the page: Google examines links for their relevancy and subject authority. If links within one of your pages link to a relevant and authoritive page, Google will rank you higher for these keywords. How do I place Contextual links in the page.
Not everything about outgoing links will help your site. Here is what not to do:
94. Do not have a page that is all links: Google wants to give users good quality, useful and interesting information. They penalise pages who do not provide this and a page with all links and no information will be reduced in the rankings.
95. Do not have empty link anchor text on your site: Anchor links containing no words on pages looks like cloaking and Google will penalise your site if you do this and remove your site from the search rankings if you actively engage in cloaking.
96. Do not link to penalised sites: Google users do not like spam websites and Google penalises spam websites in their results. If you link to these sites Google will associate your site with spam and penalise your site. Use a “rel=nofollow” if you must host this link and this will dissociate you with the spam website.
97. Do not have an excessive number of outbound links: An excessive number of outbound links on a page may reduce your PageRank and may attract a penalty. How to check if your site has an excessive number of outbound links.
98. Do not have outbound affiliate links on your site: An affiliate page is typically a third party who copied content from the original site selling a product. Google rewards useful, interesting and original content that offers added value to the searcher. Google in this case would reward the original site and penalise the affiliate sites and the people who have excessive links to these affiliate sites.
99. Do not sell links: If you sell links, Google will catagorise your site as a link farm and remove your site from the results page. Do not do this.
Links within your site can also help your rankings. Here is what to do:
100. Create appropriate internal link anchor text: Internal anchor text is a relevancy signal for Google in the same way as backlink anchor text. Click here to see how to create internal link anchor text.
101. Distribute your site’s page authority to your high priority pages: Links from internal pages that have higher PageRank have more weight than lower PageRank links. Click here to find out how to have high PageRank internal links pointing to a page.
These links can also be harmful to your rankings, here is what not to do:
102. Do not have long internal link anchors: Google suspects that long internal anchor text is keyword stuffing and may penalise you for this. Five words is considered the maximum.
103. Do not have broken internal links: Google believes that a site that contains many broken links is a sign of a low quality or abandoned site. These show up as “404 errors”, a few are acceptable but not domain wide.
104. Do not have an excessive number of internal links pointing to each page: The number of internal links pointing at a page are a ranking factor. An excessive number reduces PageRank and can lead to higher bounce rates. Click here to find out about the number of of internal links pointing to each page.
105. Do not engage in cloaking and / or sneaky redirects: Some low quality sites have used methods such as fake pages, redirects, text matching the background colour of the page etc to attract traffic inappropriately much to the annoyance of Google searchers. Google heavily penalises this so never ever do it. Click here to see if you site is engaging in cloaking and / or sneaky redirects.
106. Do not “rel=nofollow” your own site: If you want to distance your site from a link you can use “rel-nofollow”. Sites with a significant number of nofollows may be penalised by Google. Never ever nofollow your own site.
Your domain name will very much influence your rankings in Google, here is what to do:
107. Have an as old a domain as possible: Google based on experience found that websites that were longer in existence tended to have higher quality content that was more appropriate to the searcher. Google therefore gives a slight boost in rankings to older domains. Click here to calculate your and your competitor’s domain age.
108. Register your domain for as long as possible: Google rewards websites that are registered for longer periods of time as they have found that higher quality websites register their domain names for longer periods of time and low quality sites usually only register for shorter periods (usually a year only). Click here to find the domain registration term expiry of your domain and what to do.
109. Have a public WhoIs: Google have found that almost all high quality websites sites publicly display their ownership but that low quality or spammer type sites try to hide or have fake ownership to hide their spamming activities. For this reason Google penalises sites who have private or fake WhoIs. Click here to check if you have a public, private or fake WhoIs.
110. Have high domain authority: Domain Authority is an algorithm based on your entire domain or site and built around the links to your site. Click here to calculate the domain authority of the site.
111. Make the keyword exactly match the domain (Exact Match Domains (EMD)): Google will rank your hotel higher if your domain exactly matches the keywords your potential guests put into Google. Click on Exact Match Domains for what to do.
112. Have the keyword in your domain name: Google rewards sites that place the keywords entered in the search engine in their domain name.
113. Have the keywords at the start or earlier in URL: Place the most important keyword at the start of your domain.
114. Use hyphens to separate words in the URL: Google has stated that words that are separated by hyphens (e.g. park-hotel.com) in the url can be instantly recognised as different words by the Google spiders. The Google spiders joins words into one large word if they are separated by underscores (e.g. park_hotel.com).
115. Keep your URL short: Google believes that URLs that contain too many words are “keyword stuffing” and can penalise them. Google have stated five words is the maximum length. You should try to keep it as short and memorable as possible. Click here to check the length of your URL.
116. Use a local Top Level Domain if local: Google gives a boost to sites that have a country specific top level domain for searches related to that country. So having a .ie domain for your hotel will give a rankings boost for Ireland related Google searches.
Domains can also damage your rankings. Here is what not to do:
117. Do not have a poor domain history: Google believes that domains that have been owned for a long period of time with no breaks are a sign of high quality sites compared with domains that have had many owners with breaks over time. Click here to check the history of the domain.
118. Do not have a private or fake WhoIs: Google found that many spam sites had the same owners and applied penalties to these owners. These owners made their WhoIs information private to protect themselves. Google then noticed a correlation between private WhoIs and spam sites. While not enough on its own to get your site penalised, this combined with other things may see your site penalised.
119. Do not have a parked domain: Google lower the rankings of parked domains in their search results. Click here to find out what to do if you have a parked domain.
120. Do not be a penalised WhoIs owner: Searchers hate spam and in an effort to eliminate spam from the top of the search results Google reduces the rankings of website owners who have had a record of creating spam type websites. They do this by checking their WhoIs profile. Click here to check if you are a penalised WhoIs owner.
121. Do not have the same word in the URL multiple times: There is no value from repeating the keyword in the URL multiple times. There is however no penalty so if your business name has the word twice no problem.
122. Do not use a local Top Level Domain if international: In the same way that a local top level domain like .ie receives a rankings boost in Ireland or for Ireland focused searches, it receives a slight decrease internationally. So for a large international hotel chain you should use .com as the top level domain.
Google rewards sites that give a positive user experience. Here is what to do:
123. Ensure a high click through rate (CTR) on each page: Users click number 1 in the Google search engine rankings page about 30% of the time. It is only about 12% for number 3 and drops from there. Google considers it a relevancy signal if the CTR exceeds the average CTR percentage for each position and gives the page a rankings boost.
124. Ensure a high click through rate (CTR) on each domain: Google also rewards domains with a rankings boost if the entire site exceeds the average CTR.
125. Make the layout user friendly: Google uses human raters to assess how user friendly a website is. Google gives a page a rankings boost if the “highest quality pages makes the main content immediately visible”.
126. Create a user experience that brings repeat traffic: Google believes that sites that users keep coming back to are high quality sites. Create unique and useful content that users need and they will keep coming back.
127. Make your site user friendly: Google rewards sites in rankings that are optomised for mobile. This is essential as mobile is starting to dominate search.
128. Have a high site uptime: Google believes that high quality websites are up or live almost all of the time and are immediately fixed if they do happen to go down. Click here to find out how to monitor your site uptime.
129. Have your site receive high direct traffic: Google uses Google Chrome to track the amount of time your URL or domain name is inputted directly in Chrome. Sites that receive a lot of direct traffic receive a rankings boost.
130. Have a low bounce rate: Google monitors the bounce rate of your site’s visitors. A bounce is somebody who visits your site and quickly bounces out without engaging with the site. You can keep the searcher on your site by creating content that is unique, interesting and useful.
131. Have users stay on your page a long time (Dwell Time): Dwell time is the amount of time searchers spend on your page i.e. click to click time. Google views long dwell times as a quality signal and rewards your page if searchers stay on it a long time.
132. Users search history will influence their results: Since 2009, Google has been monitoring users’ previous searches. If a user look up “Galway” and then “hotels”. The second set of results will give a boost to the word “Galway” even though it is not mentioned in the search result.
133. Have a high number of branded searches: Google give brands an increase in rankings. It is therefore important that your hotel name is inputted into Google. Do this by getting your hotel name out everywhere.
134. Use the Google international targeting tool: By clicking this you set a target country giving a boost for that country in your searches. It should be noted that this also reduces your rankings internationally thus not good for hotels. It is very good however for restaurants and bars etc.
135. Register with “Google My Business”: By registering with Google My Business you get a lot of information directly registered with Google i.e. hours, location on Google maps etc. This provides so much information for searchers and also gives your site a rankings boost.
Google will reduce your rankings if you do not give a positive user experience. Here is what not to do:
136. Do not have too many ads at the top of the page: Google searchers want to find the information they are looking for at the top of the page. They do not want to scroll down past ads to get to this information and Google will penalise your page if searchers have to do this.
137. Do not use pop up ads on your site: Like ads Google searchers get irritated if a pop up ad gets in the way of them viewing the information they want to view. Google view pop up ads as a sign of a low quality site and will penalise your site.
138. Do not have a slow website: Google rewards sites that give users what they are looking for. Users want faster loading pages and Google uses Google Chrome to calculate page load speeds. Click here to examine your page loading speed via chrome.
139. Do not have poor uptime: Google believes that a site that is down a lot is a sign of a low quality site and will penalise your site if is too frequent. If your site is down you are losing potential business as well.
140. Do not click your own site to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR): Google rewards sites that have a CTR that exceeds its rankings average. Google can tell if the CTR is being manipulated. Provide persuasive descriptions to increase the CTR instead.
141. Do not try to manipulate your brand’s association with certain keywords using repeated search: If searchers searching for “Galway hotels” always click on “Murphy’s Hotel Galway” from the suggested drop down box in Google, Google would raise this in the rankings. If however they detect that all the searches are from the same IP address or automated they may penalise your site.
142. Do not have short dwell times for your pages: Google believes that searchers that stay on a page for a very brief time period is a low quality site signal and will penalise your site. Give searchers the information they are looking for to increase your dwell times.
143. Do not have task type pages that are too difficult to complete: This refers especially to the booking page. Google has examined typical type pages and if a page takes too long to be completed, Google takes this as a sign of a low quality site and will penalise the site.
Google rewards sites that are trustworthy. Here is what to do:
144. Use of SSL and https certificates: Google have officially admitted that SSL and https Certificates are a ranking factor. Click here to find out about SSL and https Certificates in relation to your hotel.
145. Have a high trustrank of your site: Google believes that a site with most links to or from high quality sites is a sign of a highly trustworthy site. Google similarly believes that a site with most of its links from or to low quality spam type sites is a sign of an untrustworthy site and ranks them in searches accordingly. Click here to find the trustrank of your site.
148. Have a verifiable phone number: Google believe that a verifiable phone number is a sign of a high quality site and will be rewarded in the rankings. Verify your phone number through “Google my Business” for this rankings boost.
149. Have an accessible contact us page: Google believes that a website that gives verifiable contact information such as a phone number, email address, physical address etc is a more trustworthy website than one that doesn’t. If this information matches the WhoIs information this further boosts rankings. Click here to find out how to check your Contact Us page details.
150. If you have been penalised by Google, submit a reconsideration request: If your site has been penalised by Google, you can have this penalty removed by submitting a reconsideration request stating how you have addressed the reasons you were penalised.
151. Maximise you Google crawl budget: Google does not crawl every site equally i.e. analyse your site for new or updated pages. High authority sites with fresh and updated content will be crawled and ranked higher then low authority sites. Low authority sites may not even have all their pages crawled thus Google may not even have ever page listed.
Google reduces the rankings of sites that are not trustworthy. Here is what not to do:
152. Do not have a dangerous Google “Safe Browsing Site Status”: Google examines sites for malicious content. Goolge will penalise your site if deemed to have been hacked and / or have malicious content. You can request a review once you have cleaned up your site.
153. Do not permit phishing activity on your site: Phishing is where fraudulent individuals masquerade as reputable companies in order to find private information such as credit cards or passwords etc. This is unlikely to affect your site unless it was hacked but if this happens Google will remove your site from the whole index.
Google uses some social media signals as ranking factors. Here is what to do:
154. Google+: Increase your number of Google+1s and your Google+ account authority. Google believes these accounts contain more appropriate content and are more trustworthy to the searcher.
155. Have your guests in your Google+ circle: Google ranks your site higher if your hotel is in the searcher’s Google+ circles.
156. Place your name, address and number on your Google+ profile: Google ranks local Google+ results above normal searches.
157. Have a Twitter page: Research shows that there is a strong correlation between URLs that are tweeted a lot, the authority of the Twitter page and higher rankings in Google. Create tweets that are useful and / or interesting enough to be retweeted and equally do not create tweets that will not be retweeted
158. Have a Facebook page: Facebook is a very strong ranking factor, but simply having a page is not enough. Google examines the number of likes, shares and the authority of the Facebook page. Build Facebook posts that are actually useful and / or interesting to your potential guests. Meaningless pictures of pints of Guinness will not help your rankings.
159. Have a LinkedIn Page: Having a company LinkedIn page sends a signal to Google that your site is a real business and therefore trustworthy. Having a number of employees on LinkedIn also sends out signals that your site is a real site.
160. Acquire links from a Wikipedia page: Wikipedia is a “nofollow” site however their site has credibility. These links are probably more appropriate from historical hotels e.g. the family who were in the building before it was a hotel as pure commercial type links from Wikipedia will be deleted very quickly.
Google sometimes directly carries out activities that influence rankings. Here is what to do:
161. Have your site looked up using its URL: Google knows that not every search is through Google and it examines all traffic that goes through Google Chrome. Sites where the URLs are inputted a lot directly into Google Chrome receive a boost in rankings.
162. Encourage your hotel to be bookmarked: Google knows sites that are important to users will be bookmarked by them. Invite your guests to bookmark your site.
163. Install Google webmaster tools and Google analytics: This one is a little controversial in that people are divided as to its value but having those installed gives Google more accurate and complete access to your site information and therefore more ability to rank your site appropriately.
164. Be aware that Google employees may change the rank of your pages: Google uses its employees to assess the results its algorithm returns and changes the results if better results should be increased in rankings. Click here to find out why Google employees examine your pages.
165. Google RankBrain may also re-rank your site: Google has developed a self learning artificial intelligence that compares results rated by humans and attempts using mathematical reasoning, patterns and associated words to provide more relevant search results than the regular Google algorithm. Click here for information on Google RankBrain and your site.
166. Be aware of the Google Dance: The Google dance is where it tests its algorithm from time to time live. They change the algorithm and try it out on searches. Results may change up and down many times before settling down causing many site owners to panic a little.
167. Create Google Pigeon optomised pages: Google knows that for certain searches the searcher wants a local website. Google tracks the location of the searcher and gives a boost to local providers. Google does this for hotels. Type in the word “hotels” with no location whatsoever and you will see how your hotel ranks locally.
168. Be aware of the Google Sandbox effect on new sites: Many spam sites appear quickly with loads of links and perfect keywords and hope be number 1 in Google until they are discovered and delisted. To prevent this new sites are placed in a probation like area until considered safe. These sites may not get their true rankings while in the sandbox.
169. Create content that gains a Google Hummingbird boost: Content that gives the user exactly what they want will usually have synonyms i.e. different words with the same meaning e.g. scuba, diving and sub aqua. The text will also have scuba associated words such as fish, boat, dive sites. Google will give you a rankings boost in this case.
Google sometimes penalise sites. Here is what not to do:
170. Do not attract a manual action to your site: If Google thinks your site is a spam / illegal / hacked site and its rankings are considered much higher than appropriate a Google employee may down grade it in searches.
171. Do not get hit by a panda penalty: Google does not like content farms and / or low quality content. Google has created an algorithm called panda which penalises these sites.
172. Do not get a penguin penalty: Google does not like sites that try to game the algorithm by artificially increasing the number of links to their sites through link farms or other link schemes and penalises them.
Everything I said so far is achievable for most people. Here are site structure, code and technical issues that you may need some assistance with:
173. Have keywords at the start or earlier in all tags: Google believes that the most important keywords will be at the start or at least very earlier in your tags. Google therefore gives a rankings boost to the keywords at the start and less so at the end of all your tags. Place your most important keywords in the first third of each tag.
174. Place you desired keywords in the title tag: Google interprets the title of a webpage to be a concise and accurate description of the contents of the page. Google therefore increases pages in search rankings for the keywords in the title tag. Click here to find out how to put keywords in the title tag.
175. Ensure your title tag starts with your desired keyword: Google believes that if a page is relevant, the keywords searchers type into Google will be at the start of the title tag and probably in the exact order. Click here to find out how to ensure the title tag starts with the keyword.
176. Do not keyword stuff your title tag: The title tag is the blue clickable line at the top of each individual search result in Google and it is read by the searcher. Google want the result to be exactly what the searcher is looking for and in normal language. Overly stuffing the title tag e.g. more than five times may attract a Google penalty.
177. Do not make the title tag too long: Only one line of the title tag appears in Google search results. This equates to a maximum of 60 – 70 characters. Additional characters will not be seen and an excessively long title may appear like keyword stuffing and attract a Google penalty. Keep the title within 60 – 70 characters.
178. Place your desired keywords in the description tag: The description tag is essentially the bottom two grey lines that appears for each result on the Google search engine page. Research indicates it is the dominant information in a Google search result for persuading potential guests to click on a page. Click here to find out how to place keywords in the Meta Description.
179. Use synonyms or Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords in title and description tags: Google use synonyms to figure out the exact nature of a page and considers the title and description to be a concise and accurate description of the contents of the page. Placing synonyms in the title and meta description tags increases page ranking. Click here to see how to put synonyms or LSI keywords in title and description tags.
180. Do not keyword stuff your description tag: The description tag is the two lines at the bottom of each individual search result in Google and is read by the searcher. Google wants the result to be exactly what the searcher is looking for and in normal language. Overly stuffing the title tag e.g. more than five times may attract a Google penalty.
181. Do not make the description tag too long: Only two lines of the description tag appear in Google search results. This equates to a maximum of 160 characters. Additional characters will not be seen and an excessively long title may appear like keyword stuffing and attract a Google penalty. Keep the description within 160 characters.
182. Ensure that your desired keywords appear in H1, H2 etc tags: Google searches the H1 and other H tags for relevant keywords. Your H1 title should match or almost match the keywords your potential guests type into Google. H2 etc tags should contain keywords relevant to their section of the page. Click here to find how to place keywords in H1, H2 etc tags.
183. Do not overuse heading tags: Google believes that keywords in the H tags give a good overview of the contents of a page and will rank these words higher than text elsewhere on the page. In general only one H1 tag should be used on each page. If you use more you dilute the value of the keywords in the tags and an entire page of H tags may be viewed as spam and penalised.
184. Sub domain versus sub folder: A little technical but Google would treat restaurant.examplehotel.com and bar.examplehotel.com as two different websites. In this case Google would split the ranking value between them, even though they are the same hotel. The best method for ranking purposes would be to call the two pages http://examplehotel.com/restaurant and http://examplehotel.com/bar.
188. Do not use frames or iframes on your page: Put very simply frames allow you split a screen into different parts and an iframe is an internal part of a screen. Google has difficulties reading frames and you may lose rankings value from the Google spider missing some of your page. Don’t use frames.
189. Be careful when using dynamic content: Dynamic content also called adaptive content is content that changes based on the actions of the user. An example would be ebay where recommended purchases change based on your search history. The Google spider can get trapped within the constantly changing page resulting in your site not being properly indexed. You may be better off to “noindex” these pages in Google resulting in no rankings whatsoever for the page.
190. Be careful when “noindex” pages: If you “noindex” a page it will not be listed in Google i.e. never be found in a search. This should never be done except where you have many pages that are “thin” or are sure to rank very poorly. By removing them you raise the average ranking of your other pages in Google.
191. Be careful when using your robots.txt file: You can disallow the Google spider from crawling your site using your robots.txt file. You should note that this will not delete earlier versions of the page that Google had crawled previously. You will also lose any updated SEO value you may have gained since the update. Using this as a cloaking method may attract a penalty and should not be done.
192. Be careful not to have your hosting in a “Bad Neighborhood”: Google have found single individuals or companies owning many thousands of spam websites and they were hosted on the same IP address. By blocking a single IP address they blocked thousands of spam websites. Host your site with a reputable company and you won’t have this problem.
193. Do not have Invalid HTML / CSS or HTML errors on your site: Sites with poor code and errors send a low quality signal to Google. Coding errors may also effect your site and rankings in countless ways you may be unaware of and may also draw suspicion of cloaking. Click here to see if you have any HTML errors on your site.
194. Do not have orphan pages: Orphan pages are pages that are not linked to and the only way to access them is by directly inputting the page address. Google has found that many of these pages are spam and can penalise them. The page also loses any internal link ranking value.
195. Do not have an excessive number of 301 Redirect penalties: Google dilutes the PageRank of excessive 301 redirects and penalises the practice of purchasing an excessively large amount of domains for the exclusive aim of generating traffic through 301 redirects. What should I do to avoid 301 redirect penalties.
196. Modify you Google crawl rate if it is slowing your site: You can reduce the amount of times Google crawls your site if it is slowing your site down. Note: you can’t increase the crawl rate.
You now know how to get to number 1 in Google for free. Make yourself a cup of coffee, open the notebook and start implementing this. You know the hotel you are competing against has read this page and is implementing it, don’t fall behind. Contact me if I can help you in any way.
I have created this page to help you get to No. 1 in Google free, please leave a comment if I can help in any way.
More by Dr. Manus Ward
Google records and shares the keywords your hotel guests search for. Click here to find out how to find out these keywords and how to create content containing the keywords that will rank at the top of Google.
Last generation hotel photos i.e. the ones that don’t have any people in them can significantly reduce the likelihood of guests choosing your hotel. Click here to find out how to create next generation hotel images.
Ranking Factor of the week: Panda is an algorithm that very heavily penalises low quality content sites and rewards high quality sites with significant amounts of useful content. Click here to find out how to avoid a Panda penalty.