In years gone by hotels depended on word of mouth, walk in trade, press coverage and even the Yellow Pages to get them found.\r\n\r\nNow though, the advent of the digital age has facilitated a monumental shift in how people go about discovering potential accommodation.\r\n\r\nThese days, your hotel audience is almost certainly found online. But while your audience may be found online, there\u2019s a good chance your hotel isn\u2019t.\r\n\r\nSo why is that?\r\n\r\nWell, there are many forms of digital marketing that can come into play to raise your hotel\u2019s profile. However, one of the biggest factors is your search engine ranking \u2013 i.e. where you appear in Google\u2019s search results.\r\n\r\nOf course, there are other search engines out there (said in best BBC voice) but the reality is that Google is king, accounting for 92% of all online searches worldwide.\r\n\r\nWhile Google maybe king, much like in royal courts of days gone by, gaining the king\u2019s favour is easier said than done.\r\n\r\nLet\u2019s look at what\u2019s barring your way to the top.\r\n\r\nThe competition\r\n\r\nUnless you\u2019re in a very fortunate position or extremely remote, it\u2019s very unlikely that you hold the monopoly in your locality. There will be other hotels \u2013 not to mention rival offerings such as Airbnb \u2013 chomping at your heels and turning the heads of potential guests.\r\n\r\nGoogle, being an automated algorithm, doesn\u2019t hold a candle for your hotel over that of your competitors. There\u2019s no customer loyalty there, or acknowledgement that your front of house team is exceptional and that your beds are extraordinarily comfortable.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s not to say though, that there can\u2019t be recognition of these elements.\r\n\r\nGoogle relies on what you tell it.\r\n\r\nThe intelligence behind search engine technology is astounding, but it\u2019s an intelligence that\u2019s been honed to recognise certain factors; factors that are taken into account when determining your hotel\u2019s ranking in the search results.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s worth pointing out here, that Google has the best of intentions at its heart. It wants to provide the most relevant results for its users. If you have a fantastic hotel that offers an outstanding service, then Google wants its users to know that.\r\n\r\nHowever, it\u2019s up to you to make Google aware of this.\r\n\r\nSo how is that done?\r\n\r\nContent\r\n\r\nRelevant content is essential. You need to talk about your hotel\u2019s offering in a natural way, but while ensuring it\u2019s relevant, covering the key words and phrases that Google will associate with a hotel.\r\n\r\nGoogle crawls literally billions of pages to throw up its search results, taking more than 200 criteria into consideration as to what it puts top. Key words are, funnily enough, key to that, with Google looking at the most common to work out just what it is you offer \u2013 so make sure yours are relevant. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help here.\r\n\r\nWhile your hotel website needs to have relevant content, it also needs regular, fresh content. Blogs are great for this. You can talk about your latest offers, local attractions, new menus, upcoming events and more \u2013 all of which is relevant and new.\r\n\r\nRich media\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s not just words that need to be uploaded. Google values \u2018rich\u2019 media, with its algorithms appreciating content that\u2019s delivered in multiple formats. Video can play a large part in this, particularly if hosted on the homepage. Not only can it properly convey your offering to tentative guests, it also looks good to Google, as does plenty of appropriate imagery.\r\n\r\nActive social channels\r\n\r\nIf you\u2019ve got active social media accounts pointing to your hotel, Google\u2019s algorithms will take that into account too. So, utilising Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the like, whilst serving to put you in front of a potentially massive audience in their own right, also does you a favour with your search ranking.\r\n\r\nAnother nod to video here \u2013 hosting videos on a hotel YouTube channel can be a big plus too, as Google owns YouTube, so it gives it that extra credence.\r\n\r\nWebsite optimisation\r\n\r\nYou might have an exquisite website that looks fabulous and has great content, but you also need to ensure you optimise the pages, ticking off the relevant mechanisms. Task your website provider with ensuring this is the case and that the relevant technical aspects have all been covered off.\r\n\r\nMake it mobile friendly\r\n\r\nThis should go without saying these days, but so many people search for information on their smartphones (estimated to be 3 in 5 Google searches) that your website must be optimised for mobile use. If it isn\u2019t already; make that a priority.\r\n\r\nHigh authority links\r\n\r\nThe Holy Grail for many SEO specialists, getting high authority websites to link back to yours provides a massive boost. These are respected websites with lots of traffic, with the foremost of these being leading news publications. The logic works, that if the BBC, Telegraph, Guardian or Times are talking about your offering and willing to link back to it, then it must be legitimate, right? Google\u2019s algorithm regards such things as de facto endorsements.\r\n\r\nSo, those are just a few methods of getting found on Google. Many individual threads weave together to form a more complex tapestry; focus on one thread at a time and the bigger picture will look after itself.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDavid Barrett is Managing Director of Pic PR, a communications agency that specialises in hospitality, offering a mix of PR, video, social, SEO and copywriting services to a range of hospitality clients, including HOSPA, Altis Hotels, Driftwood, Storrs Hall, Alexander Hotels and The Cornwall Hotel.