If you search Google, Yahoo and MSN for a query like "hostels in [your city]" does your hostel Web site come up on the first page?
The search engine results are often dominated by affiliate booking sites like Hostelworld.com, Hostels.com, Hostelbookers.com and others. Those sites can bring you many bookings, but you usually have to pay a commission for bookings that arrive through those systems.
There are a few simple things that you can do to increase the traffic that your hostel Web site recieves from search engines.
HTML Page Titles
The HTML <title> element tells search engines what your individual Web pages are about.
The title should be a brief summary of what the page is about. The title should include some keywords in it, but be sure not to overdo it. On the home page, use something like this:
<title>[name of city] Hostel: [name of your hostel] hostel in [name of city, name of country]</title>
For example, if your hostel is called The Palm Tree Hostel and it's located in Naples, Florida, your HTML title on the home page might look something like this:
<title>Naples Hostel: The Palm Tree Hostel in Naples, Florida</title>
The HTML title should be different on every page of the site. Each page should target different sets of keywords. Another popular keyword isbackpackers — another term for hostel. Your rates page could target the keyword backpackers with a title like this:
<title>Rates for The Palm Tree Hostel | Cheap Accommodation for Backpackers in Naples, Florida</title>
The meta description should be different on each page. It should just be one or two short sentences describing the page. The meta description won't increase your rankings, but will just customize the text snippet that is shown on the search engine results pages. Having a good text snippet can attract attention to your listing in the search engines and increase the number of clickthroughs to your site.
Here is a sample listing in Google's results, showing the meta description as the text snippet:
Meta keywords are not important for rankings in the major search engines. The best practice is to include just a few meta keywords on each page — no more than 10 or 15 words in total. Don't repeat words in your meta keywords. Keyword stuffing is a common mistake.
Web Page Body Text
- The HTML title should be different on each page of the Web site. Keep the titles relatively short, and don't repeat words more than once.
- Each page should have a unique meta description tag of no more than 130 to 150 characters, including spaces
- Each page should have a unique combination of meta keywords, and no more than 10 to 15 words total. Don't repeat keywords.
- Use text for your page content and sprinkle your keywords throughout the text without overdoing it.
For more information on increasing the chance that your hostel's Web site will perform well in search engines, check out the official Google Webmaster Support.
Leave a comment below if you have questions or additions.