Do you keep up with the Odysys blog or regularly watch our webinars? If so, you’ve likely heard us throw around fancy SEO terms like inbound links, online equity, and domain authority. When we use this lingo, what we are really talking about is brand. What are you doing to improve the visibility of your brand and ensure that your marketing efforts highlight the unique value proposition of your property? Improving your brand reputation is key, and one of the best ways you can do this is through link building.
CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON BELOW TO WATCH OUR WEBINAR: WHY YOU NEED LINKS FOR SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS AND HOW TO GET THEM
Remember, SEO is way bigger than your website. Links are essential to ranking high on search engines and getting discovered by a wider audience. However, link building takes time, effort, and usually a little bit of money. DON’T buy links or hire someone to build them for you. You can link build on your own if you are willing to put in the hard work.
Not All Links Are Created Equal
Links have a huge influence on your ranking factors, but not all links are created equal. There are two main types of links you should focus on:
- Domain Level Link Features: Anyone of value linking your website
- Page Level Link Features: Internal links on your website
Read that one more time. When building your domain level links, they need to be of value. Links hold different weight depending on where they are coming from. This might sound obvious, but a link from the New York Times travel section provides more value than a link from some tiny website most people have never heard of.
When you step into the link building game, don’t just settle for any old link. Make sure you are garnering the kind of high quality links that will truly set you apart from the competition. If the link is easy to get, it’s probably not going to do a lot of work for you, meaning it wont differentiate you from the pack.
Owned Listings and Profiles
Start with your owned listings and profiles. These likely won’t differente you much either, but they will provide a necessary foundation to your link building efforts. Make sure that you are linking to your website your social media accounts, Google Business Listing, and Yelp page. Now might be a good time to double check that your link is updated with your current domain name/URL. While you are at it, make sure that your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) are up-to-date as well.
From there, move on to the basics. These are the listings, citations, and industry directories that all properties should appear in. They usually require you to join an association and/or pay annual placement costs. Though this may feel a little like “pay-to-play,” these links hold significant value and are easy to get. Focus on:
- Groups and Associations
- Local Chamber of Commerce
But you can still go further. Consider second tier sites like ILoveInns, Unique Inns, and BnB Finder. Though these still cost money and are fairly low traffic, they will still increase your findability at a relatively low cost.
Don’t stop there. Brainstorm any niche directories that might apply to your property. If you are an LGBTQ-friendly property, get listed on Purple Roofs. If you accept pets, get listed on BringFido. If you’ve got horse stables on your property, get listed on a directory like HorseTrip or EquiSearch. Whether you are a glamping paradise, historic lodge, or surf-centric hotel, there is likely a directory out there for you.
Also take time to consider any ancillary lines of business you may have. For most inns and bed & breakfasts, that likely means weddings. If you host weddings on your property, be sure to get listed on directories like The Knot and WeddingWire. This will help couples find you while also earning you a valuable link. For more information, read our recent blog post, How to Market Yourself as a Wedding Venue.
When it comes to link building, it isn’t enough to simply optimize for your property type. You also need to increase your relevance for your destination. There is no link more relevant than the one in your neighborhood. It is essential that you optimize your link presence for both your location and business type in order to give Google a sense of your property’s relevance in regards to your destination.
You can achieve this by capitalizing on relationships you already have and getting links from relevant or affiliated local businesses. Ask yourself: Who do I refer business to? Who refers business to me? What local organizations or charities do I care about? What do you and your staff love doing in your spare time? Answering these questions should give you plenty of ideas on where to get links, but here are some more if you are struggling:
- Local Businesses: Ask the local tour operators, spas, shops, restaurants, and coffee shops where you regularly send your guests to link to you on their websites. Some folks will do things like a formal arrangement with the local gym for day passes, or a discount / voucher at the local coffee shop, restaurant, spa, etc.
- Local Associations, Leagues, and Clubs: Outside of your B&B association & visitors association, valuable links can come from local associations, such as the chamber of commerce. Like to golf? Why not sponsor a golf tournament? Have a child or grandchild on a little league team? Why not sponsor that? Like pinball? RC planes? Sponsor local clubs or organizations that align with your personal interests.
- Local Blogs or Influencers: Get a local blogger to write about you, or even sponsor their website. Your mileage will obviously vary based on your destination. Simply perform a search on Google for “[your city] blog” or “[your neighborhood] blog” or “[your destination] blog” and you’ll likely see good candidates.
- Local Festivals or Events: Sponsor or partner with local events, festivals, conferences, universities, etc. They will link to you on their website and might even list you as a place to stay during the event.
- Local Charities: Contact local charities or nonprofits and offer to host an event or fundraiser on your property. You’ll get a link and support a good cause at the same time.
- Local Media: Though this might feel a bit old school, don’t forget about local newspapers, magazines, news stations, or business journals that might write about you or mention you in their publication. For more information on this strategy, read our blog post Using the Power of PR to Put Heads in Beds.
- Local Ethnic or Minority or Business Listings: In your city or town, there are likely local business listings for Women Owned Business, African American Owned Businesses, Asian Owned Businesses, Hispanic Owned Businesses, and so on. If you fall into one or more of these categories, reach out and get your property listed in their directory.
Because they are all local, these links will prove highly relevant and beneficial. It requires a a bit of hustle and might not have a huge ROI (return on investment). Nonetheless, these links are low budget ways to involve yourself in the local community and get more links in the process.
Every property dreams of that write-up in the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, or Conde Nast Traveler. Getting a mention in a major magazine or newspaper can be a game changer. However, even if your property is stellar, it might never ever attain this fame and glory. That’s okay. If you get one, consider yourself lucky and capitalize on it by sharing the news on your social media accounts and mentioning it on your website. Even if the mention is dated, it boosts traffic and drives bookings.
Additional Tips & Tricks
Now that you are in the link-building groove, why not add these additional strategies to your routine?
- Update your categories on Google Business, Yelp, and other listing sites
- Optimize home page title tag and meta description to include your location
- Create high quality localized content on your blog (and include photos & video)
- Post reviews and testimonials to your blog
- Answer local questions on Quora
It is true: link building is hard. If you truly want to do it right, you must be willing to put in time, effort, and some money. However, if you do it right, you will greatly improve your search rankings, brand visibility, and direct bookings.