So how does local optimization affect the performance of website of Nigeria hotels in Google search? The answer seems to get more complex everyday. Like most other aspects of Google’s search results and algorithm, one optimization can have multiple impacts, and some desired outcomes require multiple optimizations. Below is a list of some of the key effects on search performance as a result of local SEO optimization:
- Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Snippets – Traditional Google organic search results will include the page title, site URL and Meta description. Over the past few years, additional features started to appear in organic results including schema breadcrumbs, star ratings, event data and site links. A Google Places Listing/Business Page, when they are associated with the website’s URL, can also enhance the snippet by displaying the business’s address and phone number alongside the Google Map pin logo. This allows the snippet to standout on search results pages which can increase the site’s click-through rate.Google Map Listing On Search Snippet.
- Map Packs – The Google Carousel for hotels and restaurants has been replaced with a “3-pack” of listings. The new 3-Pack will appear below the top AdWords results. The 3-Pack results are not ads; they’re the top algorithmically ranked listings. Users will then be able to click any of those three and land on a new business profile page similar to what users might see or have seen in a Knowledge Graph panel for the hotel or other local business.In the case of hotels you’ll be able to see pricing and room availability, as you can today in the Knowledge Graph panel. In the hotels category, but not in other local categories.The Map listings results can be a source of significant organic traffic for some hotel websites, but the only way a hotel can show in these one of these packs is if they have a well optimized Google Places Listing/Google+ Local or merged Google+ Business Page.
- Knowledge Graph – The Google Knowledge Graph, a feature added in the Spring of 2012, displays information gathered from multiple online sources about an entity (person, musical group, location, movie, etc.) on the right side of search results when someone searches keywords related to those entities. Not all hotels will produce a Knowledge Graph result when their brand name is searched, but some do. Google Knowledge Graph was design to provide answers, not just links.
– Most major search engines personalize search results for certain searchers. For example, search results might vary based on a searcher’s social connections, previous searches, browser history and IP address location. For local optimization of hotel sites, the IP address location will likely to be most important on mobile devices and for guests who are traveling and using search for directions. Personalization could also have an impact if searchers have social connections with other guests who have connected with the hotel’s Google+ Business page.
Google Maps/Business Pages for Local SEO
Google Map is a very brief timeline of local optimization on Google Maps. Google Maps have been a mainstay of local SEO efforts since their release in February 2005 following Google’s acquisition of Keyhole and Where2. With the launch of Google’s Local Business Center, later called Google Places, businesses could start plotting their business locations on Google Maps and be found by potential customers. The value of these listings grew over time as Google started serving Map Packs in search results allowing business places listings to rank for non-brand keywords with local intent. In July 2012, Google moved Places listings into Google+ Local listings, which are part of the Google+ network.
For local hotels in Nigeria that want even more exposure in the Google+ Network, they can now setup a Google+ Business page – a close cousin to the Google+ Local page – and merge that with their Google Places listing by ensuring the NAP (name, address, phone #) information and URL are consistent and returning a PIN to verify they are the authorized local business.
Google Plus Page offers more options for social engagement and search optimization than a Google Places/Google+ Local listing including the ability to post announcements, updates and information on a regular basis, upload video, provide more extensive information about the hotel, create circles for engagement and for Google+ users to +1 and follow the page as well as for guests to submit reviews.
Once merged, the Google map feature on the Google+ Business page (found under directions) still shows the standard Google Map. This Google+ Business page can also be found by searching Maps on Google.
Supporting Local Optimization for Nigeria Hotels
Once a hotel has setup its website with on-page optimization for local and created and merged its Google Places Listing and Google+ Business Page, the next step is to start promoting both through online and offline marketing efforts. The primary activities involved with promoting a website are fairly well known, but by no means a small undertaking. For example, hotels can:
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- Find ways to encourage and build quality back links to the site
- Engage in social media
- Conduct public relations outreach to news organizations, blogs, and local businesses and civic organization
- Consider paid marketing efforts like pay-per-click campaigns, Facebook ads, Yelp promotions and more
- Create email and postal mailing list newsletters for guests who visit regularly
- Conduct off-line campaigns through other media options like print, billboards, radio, etc
Supporting the newly merged Google+ Business Page is also important. Below is an outline of what is involved:
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- Add schema.org tags to the website to identify the hotel’s NAP information as structured data which makes it easily categorized by search engines.
- Setup a Google+ Badge on the site to encourage people to +1 (similar to a Facebook Like) the site, or follow the hotel’s Business Page.
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- Add Publisher markup to the website that ties the hotel’s Google+ Business Page to the website and identifies the hotel as the owner of the content on the site.
- If the hotel has a blog, setup Authorship tags that tie the blogger to their Google+ Profile, and have that person connect with the hotel’s Google+ Business Page.
- Post updates, announcements, useful information and other timely content on the Google+ Business page to help build a following and promote engagement.
- Put videos, photos and other updated information on the Google+ Business Page.
- Encourage guests to post hotel reviews using their Google+ profiles, and then monitor and respond to reviews as needed.
Circle/Like the Google+ profiles/pages of regular guests and even other local businesses that can be demand generators for the hotel.
- Submit the hotel’s NAP information and website URL to high-quality and relevant directories such as DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, Yellow Pages and more. This builds structured citations for the hotel which provide confirmation to Google about the accuracy of the hotel’s contact information.
- For more advanced users, try the Google+ Events or Hangouts. These could be used to promote an upcoming event at or near the hotel or communicate with future booked guests.
What Future Does Local SEO Have for Nigeria Hotels
Local SEO, like all SEO, is continually evolving. Many in the SEO community believe that Google’s ultimate play is to turn Google+ Local pages into Google+ Business pages. This would be a logical evolution considering how similar the current Google+ Local pages are to Business pages. Google’s goals for making such a change could include continuing to grow this Google+ social network so that it can encompass more people. (Remember that users need to have a Google+ profile now to post reviews on Google+ Local and Business pages.) The more people in the network, the more powerful Google’s data store becomes as they take on new rolls such as official NSTIC Identity Provider. See Kristine Schachinger’s article “Google as Your Identity Provider: Where Are We Now?” for more details on NSTIC and official Identity Providers.
Any listings associated with Maps, like Google+ Business pages, are also strong candidates to be integrated closely into future mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, Google Glass, automobiles, etc. For hotels, this could provide promising new opportunities in the last-minute booking segment, the ability to offer new features like simple mobile check-in, or to promote on-site restaurants, spas and other hotel amenities available to non-guests.
Search could become even more personalized as more businesses like hotels stake a claim on the Google+ network. Imagine the opportunities available to connect with future hotel guests through personal connections such as the location of relatives they visit often or using information about past vacations. All of this becomes possible, though not without some privacy concerns, as more information about individuals is integrated into a data store owned by a search engine itself.
Features like the Google Carousel, in conjunction with Google+ Business pages, and Maps could potentially become paid marketing opportunities for both Google and local business like hotels.
Regardless of what the future of local SEO holds for Nigeria hotels, optimizing for local today remains an important step for promoting local businesses including hotel websites.
Interested in promoting your hotel online? For more Internet marketing tips, why not visit Webclick Local SEO Services and see how we can help your hotel lead in the online space.