March 30, 2022 · Jeremy Razook
Google My Business for Hotels – 12 Ways to Optimize Your Listing
Google My Business for hotels (now Google Business Profile), is a free local search product that opens the door to a bevy of hotel SEO opportunities and increased visibility of your property.
Whether you’re running a hotel or bed & breakfast, you can use Google Business Profile to better promote your property and increase your presence in local search.
We already know that holding real estate on the search engine results page (SERP) is super important, and Google’s constant algorithm updates play a prominent role.
But focusing and optimizing for local search is an increasingly important element of earning SERP real estate. First thing’s first…
Claim and Verify Your Hotel’s Google Business Profile
Before your business listing can display on Google Maps, Search, and other Google services, you must claim and verify your account. To claim your listing:
- Enter the name of your business in the Google Maps search bar.
- Choose the correct business from the search results.
- Select Claim this business and Manage now
- Select your preferred verification option.
Typically, verification is accomplished by postcard, email, or phone.
If you’ve already verified your business’s website with Google Search Console, you may be able to verify your hotel instantly. Just make sure you’re using the same email account you used to verify your site with Google Search Console as your Google Business Profile.
Once verified, you can begin updating information. At this point, you’ll also choose a primary category for your property. That could be Hotel, Resort, Bed & breakfast, etc.
Your business’s information can also display in the Google Hotel Pack, a search feature that lists several businesses when someone makes a local search like “boutique hotels in san diego”, “pet friendly hotels in chattanooga”, or “hotels near me”.
Important Note: A Google Business Profile 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 at the bottom on mobile.
Update Your Knowledge Panel to Display Your Business’s Information
You may have heard that your Google Business Profile is like the front door to your business.
That’s because it’s true.
A Google Business Profile acts as your virtual storefront, communicating important information to searchers, similar to what you may see in a physical storefront, so it can’t be stressed enough how important it is that this information is correct.
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
Important Note: Make sure the info (phone #, address, etc.) displayed on your Google Business Profile matches with your social profiles, website, and other online citations and directories.
Hotel Attributes and Details
Using Google Business Profile’s ‘Hotel attributes’ section lets you select the amenities and services offered at your property. You can also select amenities that are in your hotel rooms.
You can select whether 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. Other attributes you can select include eco-friendly certifications and sustainability practices implemented at your hotel.
These are useful features that can make your listing user-friendly and your property more appealing.
A “Hotel details” section in the Knowledge Panel will also provide a short description detailing the property.
Important Note: Unfortunately, hotels do not have the option to customize their ‘Hotel details’ section. This information is aggregated by Google from your website and other digital listings, so make sure your information is consistent and correct across the web.
Don’t Leave Questions Unanswered
A potentially time-consuming, yet positive function of Google My Business if performed well, is the Questions and Answers feature.
This section is super useful because it allows you to respond to questions from potential guests.
When answering a question, don’t respond with simple “yes” or “no” answers; 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 increasing the visibility of that question on your listing for others to see.
Important Note: Anyone can answer questions on your Google My Business listing. Therefore, it’s best to frequently review your listing and make sure people are seeing the correct answers by answering questions yourself.
Build Your Own FAQ Page
As previously mentioned, you can upvote questions and answers on your local search listing within the Questions and Answers section.
If someone asks a question you believe to be particularly important you can upvote it. Doing so may increase the visibility of the question.
With that in mind, you can also create your own questions, answer the questions yourself, and upvote the question and the answer.
Not only does this provide searchers with an instant answer straight from the source, but it also prioritizes your time so you’re not receiving the same questions over and over. When you can, incorporate keywords in a loose, organic manner. But don’t keyword stuff.
Encourage Guests to Leave Reviews
Reviews carry a lot of weight on the SERP—your local listing’s visibility can increase because of them.
Google reviews and star ratings sit just below your property’s name—near the top of the Google Business Profile—and can help your property stand out.
Profiles also include a ‘Reviews’ section where 65% of people are likely to check out before making a decision.
This section sits towards the bottom of the Google Business Profile.
Did you know: 72% of people left a review after a local business asked them to do so. If you’re looking to build reviews for your hotel’s Google Business Profile, the odds are in your favor!
Incorporate ways to encourage guests to leave reviews across several mediums like post-stay emails, physical signage (in-room, front desk, etc.), social media, or a hotel mobile app.
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.
Photos and videos 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, a video, and several image categories/labels including the exterior, interior, rooms, and food and drink.
A couple of dos and don’ts for adding photos and videos:
- Do include images of unique features that separates your hotel from the rest
- Don’t use stock photos
- 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 business or violates Google’s policy guidelines, you can report the image to Google for removal.
Google Posts for Hotels
Now available to all hotel profiles, Google Posts are a great way to share announcements and updates about your hotel. Currently, Google offers three types of posts that hotels can use: COVID-19 update, What’s New, and Event.
For the What’s New post type, you can include an image or a video, text, and a call to action with a link to your website. For the Event post type, you can add an image or a video, event details, event title, event dates, and a call to action with a link to your website. The COVID-19 update post type includes a space to add updates to your health and safety policies and a call to action with a link to your website.
Important Note: Google says hotels can’t create a post that “suggests the existence of or that links out to deals, promotions, special offers, or discounts.” Google wants people to stay within their hotel metasearch ecosystem, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t want anyone to leave to book elsewhere.
Google Business Profile for Hotels: Things to Avoid
We’ve covered a handful of do’s and don’ts, but there are a few other items that you should avoid when optimizing your Google Business Profile—avoiding these will not only keep you in the good graces of Google but will also provide a better user experience for searchers:
- Having multiple listings for the same location
- Keyword stuffing in responses to questions and reviews, image alt text, etc.
- Using the wrong address
- Including links to your website in a response to a question or review
- Choosing categories that don’t match your offering
Do follow Google’s guidelines so you don’t get penalized.
Google Business Profile and COVID-19
Google Business Profile also features “Health & safety” and “COVID-19 responder policy” sections under Hotel attributes.
TravelBoom has published several traveler sentiment studies surveying leisure travelers and their thoughts on travel during the pandemic. The consensus has always been that travelers want to know what hotels are doing to keep guests safe, which is exactly what the “Health & safety” feature accomplishes.
There are several options to choose from, including “Enhanced cleaning of guest rooms” and “Masks required on the property” that will help your listing stand out and build confidence in travelers to stay at your hotel.
Bing Places’ “COVID-19 Related Announcement” feature allows businesses to add an announcement and a website link that details safety and health protocols.
Don’t Forget About Bing Places
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 displays the correct information.
To claim your Bing Places for Business listing:
- Open Bing.com and enter the name of your hotel in the search bar.
- Select your hotel from the results (if there are no results, you can create a new listing).
- Select Manage this business.
- Complete your listing profile by adding accurate information.
Once submitted, select the method you would like to receive your verification code.
Aside from traditional verification methods like mail and phone, you can also verify your Bing Places listing via Bing Webmaster Tools.
If you have a Bing Webmaster Tools account set up using the same email account you used to claim your Bing Places listing, and the website URL in Bing Places matches the verified domain in Bing Webmaster Tools, your listing should verify instantly.
Once verified, it typically takes up to two weeks for your listing to publish with any new information you’ve added.
You can also import your business information from your Google Business Profile, which saves time from filling out property details. The login information you used for Bing Places must also match the login information you use for Google Business Profile for this feature to work.
Always Be Active
Now that you have your shiny, updated listing ready for the world to see, that doesn’t mean you should take a set it and forget it approach.
Staying active on your listing, whether it be answering questions, responding to reviews, or adding new images every so often, sends signals to Google that your profile is active and updated, which can have a positive impact on your local rankings.