Everybody goes on about how important SEO is, how it will drive more traffic – and customers – to your travel site. But they’ll also tell you how it’s changed, how sophisticated search engines are now and how it’s not an easy process, so where do you start?
In reality, putting together a strategy and getting started with SEO is accessible for every business. Here we’ll take a look at some of the first steps you need to take to put a solid travel SEO strategy together.
Identify your keywords
The first step for any SEO activity is to identify the keywords you want to target. These need to be highly relevant to your business and the most important terms you think people will use to find your business.
For a hotel based in Skegness, these could include:
- Skegness hotels
- UK hotels
- Boutique hotels Skegness
- UK seaside hotels
And so on. Aim for around 10. The next step is to find out the search volume associated with these terms and, just as importantly, how competitive they are. For this you can use Google Keyword Planner for free – all you have to do is sign up for an AdWords account without spending any money.
For example, for a term like ‘UK hotels’ you’d be competing for space with the whole of the country. If you’re a small provider, it may not be worth the effort. Competition for ‘Skegness hotels’, on the other hand, will be much lower, so you’re more likely to see positive results.
With competition in mind, it’s also worth identifying some long-tail (4+ words) keywords with good search volume. For example, something like ‘Boutique seafront Skegness hotels’ would work in our example. Again, this is to cut down on the competition and will also drive more targeted traffic to your site. To do this, keep putting your search terms through Google Keyword Planner and selecting long-tail terms you think will work.
Build pages for each topic and subject
Once you’ve identified your most important keywords, it’s a good idea to make sure your website is targeting them. Rather than trying to cram everything into one page, consider building separate pages and add the search term to the page title and URL to make it even more targeted. Try not to force it, though – only create new pages if the topic warrants it.
The key is to keep your site structure natural and logical, because user experience is an important factor for search engines. If they see users visiting your site and staying there, it’s a good indicator that your site is useful. On the other hand, if they keep coming to your site, bouncing back and searching again, it’s a bad sign and you’ll be penalised.
Set up a blog
You’re never going to be able to target every relevant keyword with a dedicated page; your site will become bloated and difficult to navigate. A blog, however, will allow you to target any long-tail keyword you like.
Regular blogging will turn your website from a static page to a vibrant destination in itself. By covering a range of interesting and relevant topics, you’ll keep travellers coming back for more.
Look at a large travel company like Virgin Holidays. Its blog contains content on top destinations, traveller guides, activities, inspiration and insider tips. It gives information on destinations from different angles to the product pages and supports potential customers with information that will peak their interest and turn them from browsers to holidaymakers.
In addition to a blog, you also need to start link-building. A backlink is a link to your site from another website. Google uses these as an indicator of quality. If someone is linking to your site, they must see it as valuable to their users. The more people linking to your site, the more useful and the more you’ll be rewarded by Google.
This isn’t a quick win – link-building takes time and effort. The most effective strategy is to create quality, shareable content that people link to naturally. But this can only take you so far. To build links at scale, it’s worth considering help from someone who specialises in travel SEO services as they will already have contacts at key publications, as well as experience in outreach that drives results.
Learn from your competitors
Taking a look at your competitors’ activity is a great place to start when it comes to your SEO strategy. Finding out what is actually working for a similar business gives you something to work with. Try to emulate and build on their success by taking the best bits from all of your competitors’ ideas and strategies. There are lots of great free guides on how to do SEO competitor analysis.
Measure success, optimise and keep going
To ensure you’re on the right track, you need to constantly measure your results, mirror the successes and learn from the failures. Report on key metrics like SERP position for your core keywords, natural search traffic, time on page and, most importantly, how much of this traffic turns into leads and revenue.
SEO is something that takes time, so keep going and you’ll start to see the returns build gradually.