SEO Best Practices for Travel Industry Website
I started a travel site for volunteer work, applied learning and educational programs around the world. I knew nothing about website development and even less about search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
I had a vision and I had passion. I also had inexperience and that ugly head of the immediately.
I found it naive that a vision + a nice website + supplier reach + some press and social media + some luck, everything I needed to create a community. This would prove incorrect.
There are a few mistakes I would like to make, but not so much that I am poorly prepared for the value of SEO. For the uninitiated, the intention of SEO is improved discoverability. It is to reach the legions of internet users who have no idea who you are, nor the problems you solve. This does not mean that I had not heard the term or did not know what SEO should do; I understood the ‘why’. I did not understand the ‘how’ and the ‘where’.
SEO expert in Pakistan can be a rabbit hole that is confusing, infinitely long and always deeper. For most people, the subtleties of the SEO tactics are less important than the understanding of the value it creates. And by value I mean the measurable reduction in new acquisition costs for customers / users.
By reducing the costs for new customers / users, I refer to the comparable costs versus paid advertisements. For example, if you want to be on page 1 on Google you can expect to pay for a click to speak to 40,500 searchers per month in a highly competitive advertising zone. (Competition in SEM terminology is scored from 0.00 to 1.00, preferably closer to 1, because it is more competitive.) If you can use SEO as a means to ‘top up’ organically, then every click that you earn ‘effectively’ such as keeping in your wallet. If you received 100 clicks per month for this keyword term, you just saved. This is especially good because once you have achieved a strong keyword ranking, you stay there for a while, which means it can save you the same month after month.
At Least That is the Theory.
To reach a place where you can benefit from the higher organic placement, you need to get the ‘house’ of your website in order. This was and remains my most regrettable mistake – ignorance.
Imagine that you want to hold a house party for 50 guests. You have never met these guests, but you want to make a great first impression on them. You have decided to choose a Halloween theme for your party, to decorate the walls and to serve similar dishes and drinks. After all your hard work, the place looks great and your food smells delicious, but when 7 o’clock in the afternoon rolls around and nobody appears, you can’t figure out why. You are frustrated about the time and money you have spent and a bit humiliated.
So What Happened?
You’ve probably done everything you need in the room and with regard to your Halloween theme, but the structure of your house was not search-friendly and Google, like a modern map tool, decided to hide it from people driving by. Google looked behind the scenes to see if your sitemap (such as your plumbing) deserved the traffic. They have looked to ensure that all your logos and images (such as your murals) are correctly and accurately labeled (with captions) and that every room in the house is labeled in the same way and clearly, such as your “bathroom” or your ” cellar’ ; and that every corridor led somewhere. They also looked at the roads (your incoming links) that led to your house; were they in equally good shape and where did they end up where they were supposed to do, or were people working dead ends?
This is the First Thing I Have not Done.
I did not understand that the structure of my site influenced my ‘merit’ for search traffic. I suggest that if you have the time and resources, tools such as SEMRush or MOZ can help you optimize your site for search engine friendliness. If you don’t have much time, research and a web development and marketing organization such as Digital Media Trend can help enormously.
After we cleaned the house, we started doing Keyword Research. We have acknowledged that while a similar keyword to ” offered us the traffic we wanted, the chances of being able to perfect ourselves against buried sites such as Expedia would be small. So we decided to go ‘Longtail’.
Longtail in the world of SEO refers to the small, personalized search needs and interests of web users. If we could not come to page 1 for example, where could we come up to Page 1? Research helps. Big time.
In this screenshot above you will see some specific search requests that are related to the original term. A focused effort in this period could further reduce the costs of acquiring customers and probably offer us a better qualified lead. Someone who already knows where he wants to go. In theory you have to fish with more small nets, instead of smaller ones. Welcome to the new internet for small businesses.
If you wanted to talk to the traveler, I would like to make a focused effort on 3-4 closely related terms. Create ‘subject expert’ blog posts, directly related to the term, do them well and push those same posts on social media. Write your messages as if you want to help people and don’t make them overly commercial. Also serving the posts as useful answers to Reddit subgroups, or for questions about Quora, will add a momentum.
Other Technical Considerations
There are other compelling needs, such as the correct page titles and meta descriptions, and you absolutely must download a simple SEO plug-in if there is nothing else. Yoast for WordPress is quite popular, which helps in scoring readability, labeling and viewing the content on social media. Square space has its own section to open under Marketing> Discovery> SEO.
Regardless of the tool in your SEO toolbox, here is a 10-point starter SEO for beginner checklist to help you get started:
- Perform an audit to test whether your site is healthy. If that is not the case, follow the recommendations and resolve as many recommendations as possible. If there are words that you do not know, look them up.
- Perform keyword research on the terms you want to find for search engines
- If possible, and especially if you are just starting out, choose the page titles that are keyword terms themselves. The higher the profile of the page (and the titles of the top menu are high profile) the more ‘oomph’ you let search engines find out.
- Download a plug-in or other SEO tool to tag, test and view your future messages
- Write content that tells search engines that you are a trusted, reliable solution for people looking for the solution that you want to offer.
- Write content that is universally readable; no dissertation, but also no sketch of a kindergarten.
- Make sure you alt-subtitle all your images and try not to mislead search engines. Artificial intelligence means that those days are over.
- Create value. Give people tips, things to look out for and things to keep in mind when search users explore your industry
- Share these messages on social media
- Use Google Analytics to check how well they are doing
This does not mean that there are no other considerations, because the rabbit hole starts here.
Nothing Attracts a Crowd Like a Crowd
In the last 12 months, our web traffic from SEE the Wild has increased by 70% compared to the previous year. This is not without reason due to SEO considerations. It is still not a huge amount of traffic and we have new problems that we must solve, but we are well on our way. Momentum has also proven to be a factor, because the more traffic we get in one day, the more we seem to get the following. The funnel fills, and this is really where the future begins.
Just because you are an SEO beginner does not mean that you are failing; it just means that you have to dig a little deeper and ask for help when you need it.