Have you ever wondered why some hotels have higher search rankings on Google than others? What are the core web vitals that keep hotels near the top of search results? The answer is in how hoteliers approach their hotel’s website design and development.
Hotel websites that are built with SEO best practices in mind can rank well on Google, but this doesn't happen automatically. A hotel's website needs to be updated regularly, work seamlessly across all devices, and offer a user-friendly experience for guests looking to book rooms online. Core web vitals are the building blocks of any successful hotel website.
One of the primary factors Google currently uses to rank websites is core web vitals, which are six metrics that combine together to give your website an overall score on both desktop and mobile. Google then uses these scores to determine which websites should be prioritized for mobile searches by determining how quickly your website is able to load on any device.
What does that mean for hotels? While there are a number of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics such as keyword optimization and content strategy that can improve the relevance of your hotel website and increase your opportunity to rank for various searches, page experience is still a critical factor. All of your SEO strategies can be wasted if your website grades out poorly in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
Not sure how to evaluate web vitals? Here’s what you need to know.
What are the web vitals and what do they mean for my hotel?
There are six primary web vitals, and each individual one is important in its own right. For example, the First Input Delay (FID) is a core web vital that Google uses to determine which websites will be prioritized in mobile searches. If a web page takes too long for users to press buttons or interact with it, travelers are likely to leave the page and visit another website instead.
When a hotel website has low web vitals, it indicates something is wrong with the web page. This could be as simple as having an issue with your website’s HTML code, or as major as not being able to load quickly enough for Google to prioritize you in mobile searches. Ultimately, a low web vitals score can have a significant impact on how quickly your website loads for mobile searches, as well as how it appears in the search engine.
On the other end, websites that have strong web vitals are considered to be more efficient. This means Google can prioritize them in search results, helping users find content faster. Additionally, these websites tend to rank higher on SERPs as well, gaining more traffic. And not only do web vitals play a large role in where your website ranks on search engines, page experience is ultimately critical to conversion rate optimization.
First Input Delay
First Input Delay is the time it takes for your website to react to user interaction. This metric can include things like scrolling events, clicks, and other forms of input that are available on a given page. A First Input Delay score of fewer than 300 milliseconds means users should have an appropriate response time when interacting with your website.
Largest Contentful Paint
This metric shows how quickly a browser can “paint” content to the screen without waiting for external stylesheets and images to load. In other words, Largest Contentful Paint measures how long it takes for users to see what's actually on your webpage — as opposed to waiting for your webpage to load other external components. This metric has the desired value of fewer than 2.5 seconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift
Cumulative Layout Shift represents the percentage of users who are likely to experience layout shifts while scrolling through your website. This metric shows how many users are able to see everything on the web page without having to scroll at all. A Cumulative Layout Shift score of less than 20% is a good value — anything higher is likely going to affect how users experience your website.
First Contentful Paint
First Contentful Paint measures the time it takes for your page to begin painting content that's visible to the user, or what users can see without having to scroll. The expected value for this metric is under 1.8 seconds — any higher than that could be problematic in terms of how quickly your page loads on devices.
Time to Interactive
Time to Interactive shows how quickly your website’s interactive content appears when the user arrives. In most cases, interactive content includes things like videos, ads, or third-party integrations such as virtual tours — elements users might interact with or click on in order to start using them. The optimal range is defined as under 3.8 seconds.
Page Speed Index
The Page Speed Index measures how quickly your website appears to be loading for the user. This metric shows how quickly the main content on your website is delivered to the user's browser. The optimal value for this metric is less than 3.4 seconds, which means your page should be loading at a rate that users won't experience any issues with.
How do you check your website’s page experience scores?
Now you know what the core web vitals are, but how can hospitality marketers find out how their hotel website is performing? There are a number of tools offered by Google and other third parties, and a hospitality digital marketing agency can help too.
To get an initial sense of your hotel website's core web vitals, enter your website’s URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If you notice the majority of your website's pages have low vitals, you can see what specific issues might be holding your website back. This includes suggestions for what is causing the webpage to load slowly, as well as recommendations on how to fix these issues by optimizing your website’s HTML code.
Hoteliers can also use Google Search Console to see what pages might have low web vitals. If your hotel’s website is connected, the Core Web Vitals section within Google Search Console will highlight problem URLs on your website as well as detailed information on how to improve.
What can my hotel do to improve our website’s score?
There are a range of issues that can cause your hotel website to become slow and result in low web vitals scores. When it comes to fixing those issues, some are easier than others.
Hospitality marketers may be able to go in and fix a number of issues flagged by tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but many will require the work of a developer.
There are many issues that can slow your website down including:
- Slow website hosting
- Unoptimized images and videos
- Overuse of scripts and plugins on pages
- Content load — too much for the user to load at once
- Web developers releasing new designs that aren't fully optimized or tested
If you find any of the above issues with your website, there are some initial steps you can take to speed up the loading time:
- Check your web hosting and make sure you're on a fast server
- Resize or optimize your images and videos so they don't slow download times
- Remove any unnecessary scripts and plugins that may be slowing your pages down
- Remove any unnecessary content from your website to make it load faster
- Test big changes on a staging website before you implement them on the live site
- Avoid using scripts and development languages that are slow to load
If you notice that the majority of your website's pages have low web vitals, you may want to consider taking a closer look at the overall foundation and design of your hotel’s website. As hoteliers think toward 2022 budgeting, understanding where their hotel sits in core web vitals can be important to set aside a budget for website updates. After all, it is your number one salesperson.
Interested in knowing more about your hotel’s web vitals? Request a no-strings-attached report.