5 Tips to improving your travel SEO
Do you remember a couple of years ago, when the travel industry was in a tailspin? The entire world was facing the worst of the credit crisis, and even countries like Australia that managed to avoid it were facing a credit crunch.
Nobody had any expendable income, and many didn’t even have jobs to take holidays away from. Those that did were sticking close to (or literally at) home, and everywhere you looked you found blog posts describing how to have a fun “staycation” with the family. Many of us became experts on free or cheap summer fun in our local cities.
Thankfully, the worst of the problem has passed for many. Jobs have grown, some prices that were shooting up have started to settle once again, and people have some cash stowed away. The travel industry is resurfacing from the black hole it had been cast down, and just in time. Many people over the coming six months will be flying away to their dream destinations for some much-needed relaxation, or new adventures.
For those who are in the travel business, no matter what area of it, it is now time to start getting on top of search engine optimisation (SEO). Here are some tips for both.
1. Really Invest This Year
People are excited to have money again. Can you blame them? For the first time in years, many are planning trips to make up for years past when they couldn’t afford them. This is one year where it is going to pay to bulk up your search budget. But you should also be careful of where that money goes. Don’t be afraid to allocate more cash to the months more likely to attract travellers (like the Spring/Summer seasons).
Look at your past data and see where the cash would be best suited. Add in the additional funds where they will be most needed. Remember that different industries have different needs at different times. Your marketing budget shouldn’t be evenly split, since travel is more likely during some times depending on the region of your demographic.
2. Really Push Social Media
Unless you are already a high ranking site, you are not going to be able to compete with some of the results that come in through Google. Sure, this sounds cynical, but it is realistic. Most people when they search are using specific keywords: the first is the location they plan to go to, the second is the need, the third is the final destination.
For example, their search may be something like ‘San Antonio flights to New York’. Obviously, these are going to be high competition keywords. Your best bet is to try and focus on the social attack. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…these are all great ways to catch the attention of users with good deals and suggestions. It also ups your chances of search success when they are already dedicated users.
3. Let The Reviews Flow
You should be encouraging people to review your service as much as possible. This ties in a bit to both search and social marketing. Not only are people much more likely to trust your service with positive word-of-mouth reviews online, but they tend to go searching for such reviews.
Google also makes it easy for people to see ratings, thanks to the microdata that is incorporated with the latest version of their algorithm. Yelp, Google Reviews and other travel related sites are going to be your best friend.
4. Vary Your Media Platforms
All customers should have their pick of how to follow your information. Reviews, blog posts, social networking, and even media like videos should be available. All of these will up your performance on both social media and search results. They should all tie into one another, as well. So you can share your videos and blog posts on Facebook, share photos in Pinterest, etc.
5. Use Niche Keywords for SEO
It was pointed out before that a lot of keywords are going to be high competition and your chances of dominating the market in order to see results were negligible. But you don’t have to worry, you can still utilize more rare, long tail keywords that aren’t so heavily used.
In this regard, you should be doing plenty of keyword research to find relevant terms that will still draw traffic and can be your focus. Specifics are good for travel, because people are likely to look for certain elements to base the rest of their trip on. Like hotels that offer childcare services, or restaurants good for a vegan abroad.
Learn by Example: Most Successful Brands in Search
Because the industry is so competitive, if you want to maintain visibility in the travel niche, whether as an actual service brand or a content-based website, you have to rank well in search engines. Google is the particular winner of most SEO focus. When it comes to figuring out who holds the highest organic search credit, you will be doing so by seeing the influence it holds on the world’s most popular engine.
Econsultancy published an excellent list of the top 30 organic search ranking on Google in the travel niche. They also included the number of organic keywords generated by each.. Immediately you xan see that the highest ranked sites are not necessarily the ones with the highest number of organic search terms.
For example, number one is TripAdvisor.co.uk (no surprise there), which contained 728,181 organic search keywords. But number three, TravelSupermarket.com, has only 75,823, and number eighteen, eBookers.com, had 120,452.
Of course, these are the UK’s rankings. Ebiz MBA did their own list, and found that in the US the most popular sites are TripAdvisor, Yahoo Travel (a bit more surprising) and Expedia.
What advise would you give sites hoping to improve their organic search visibility in search? Let us know in the comments.
The travel industry is improving, and we can now take advantage of that face. Focus on search and social marketing, and you will have it in the bag.
Michelle Fach is the brand and marketing Manager for Dobovo, the independent start up making its way in travel marketing. Dobovo is based in Ukraine and caters for Eastern European travelers (cities like Kiev and Odessa)