As the world is slowly returning to normal and travel, both the domestic and international travel market is showing the first signs of recovery, travel agents and operators can breathe a sigh of relief. This means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start getting ready for the holiday season and future travel.
Apart from upping your game in terms of your offer, prices, and customer service, it’s important to improve your website and its rankings.
That way, potential clients will be able to find you more easily, visit your website, and explore flights, destinations, and package tours.
Given that Google and Facebook Ads are becoming more expensive, you should combine paid and organic traffic efforts.
This brings us to SEO for travel companies, an indispensable strategy that will place your website among the top results for relevant searches and top of mind with your potential clients.
The Importance of SEO for Your Travel Business
68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
This stat alone is enough to convince you that organic traffic is something that you should prioritize if you want potential travelers to easily find your business when they’re looking for an ideal holiday.
But, make no mistake – this applies only if your website is among the top results for a particular search term. Otherwise, you don’t even have to bother because if you’re not on the first page, the odds of getting noticed are slim. 0.78%, to be more precise, as that’s the percentage of searchers who decide to click the number 2 at the bottom of the page and actually check the second page of the SERPs.
The pandemic pushed a lot of businesses to move online and accelerated this shift, which means that the competitive arena is fiercer than ever. Hence, your success heavily depends on improving your online presence, exposure, and visibility in search results.
And that’s exactly what search engine optimization is all about.
Here are some factors to have in mind when creating your SEO travel strategy.
1. Page Load Time
Pages on your website should load in a split second.
Your visitors are impatient, and they don’t want to wait for more than 3 seconds to see the content on your website. Pages with slower load time usually have a higher bounce rate and lower average time on page.
Google, wanting to offer only the best user experience to them, takes page load time into consideration to the extent of promoting it into one of its ranking signals.
But apart from trying to make searchers happy and serve them with results that are relevant and quickly accessible, there’s another reason why the search engine behemoth favors speed-loading websites.
There’s an allocated crawl budget for every single page, and if your website is sluggish, Google will be able to crawl fewer pages, and this will have a negative impact on your indexation. It will take a while before your pages start showing up in searches.
2. Voice Search
With the rise of virtual assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant, voice search has become an important piece of the SEO puzzle.
Your potential customers don’t want to interrupt what they’re doing while they browse and search. They want their surfing to be seamlessly integrated into their regular daily activities and chores.
In other words, they want to research their upcoming trip while they’re jogging, driving home from work, or cleaning. And to meet these expectations, your website has to be optimized for voice search.
But how do you do that?
- Spoken language is more conversational, and searchers tend to use full sentences. That’s why your keywords have to be longer. Unlike the traditional searches during which people type, for example, “5-star hotels in Chicago,” a voice search is more likely to be “What are the most popular 5-star hotels in Chicago.” This means you should research these frequently used long-tail keywords and phrases, as well as those formulated as questions, and identify the ones that will fit your offer and your content.
- Mimic your audience’s tone of voice. Instead of pushing your brand voice and narrative, industry jargon, and slang, learn and use the language of your target audience if you want your content to resonate with and appeal to them. If your travel business is oriented towards a younger demographic, it’s desirable to be informal and use some pop-culture references and a somewhat humorous approach.
- Emphasize the “near me” tactic. Many people would like to be situated near popular tourist sites and attractions, so it’s a good idea to advertise your offer by optimizing for “near me” searches. Also, focusing on specific amenities such as pet-friendly, family fun, or sports activities using relevant keywords is another way to attract a particular audience segment.
- Leverage Google’s Q&A search. This feature allows you to answer your audience’s questions about different accommodation options and destinations, which will also impact your voice search performance.
3. A High-Quality Content
Starting and maintaining a blog is one of the best ways to provide an exquisite user experience, stay in Google’s good books, and attract relevant traffic.
In essence, blogging is a great vehicle for boosting your SEO.
Google loves fresh, informative, educational, and entertaining content, and so do your potential clients. By describing particular destinations, answering their questions, and helping them choose the best accommodation, you’ll become their top choice when they want to plan a trip.
You have a lot of opportunities to delight your potential clients with all kinds of content, such as travel guides, travel e-books, tips, and tricks, as well as activities and experiences.
Search intent is an indispensable factor in creating a successful SEO strategy, and it’s worth noting that for this industry, there are 4 travel-specific micro-moments that reflect a particular search intent: dreaming, planning, booking, and experiencing moments.
If you understand these moments and the intent behind them, it will be easier for you to create tailored content.
- Dreaming moments. This stage is similar to the top of the sales funnel. It’s when your potential clients start thinking how great it would be to travel somewhere and have a break from their daily routine. You can’t be sure whether these searchers will move further along the sales funnel and actually book a holiday. At this point, they’re conducting general research and using long-tail keywords. Don’t bore them with any specifics such as pricing here – simply play along and create an immersive experience to encourage them to continue dreaming. Take advantage of rich content and appealing imagery to pique their interest additionally.
- Planning moments. This is when your potential client starts planning their holiday and researching a destination they have in mind in more detail. They expect to find everything they need in one place – related content, booking information, etc. It’s crucial to engage them at this stage because they’re comparing prices and offers by checking out multiple websites. And that’s where content comes in. Take advantage of videos, high-quality images, and 360-degree views.
- Booking moments. This step is all about maximizing user experience. In other words, your website has to work seamlessly and without any glitches. Another essential component that can affect your bookings is trust. Holidaymakers want to be sure their sensitive data is safe with you, so add trust badges that will convince them you took all necessary measures to secure your website.
- Experiencing moments. After your clients have made a booking, you should exceed their expectations by offering them content that will help them enjoy their holiday to the fullest. For example, talk about where the best places to eat are, what they should visit, how to find the best and most secluded beaches, things to do and see, and anything else that might be useful at that particular destination.
A word of advice for content creation: don’t push your agenda frequently and heavily. In other words, keep promotional content to a minimum.
4. Keyword Research
You won’t get very far without identifying the right keywords and trying to rank for them.
But, don’t fall into the trap of chasing after popular, highly competitive keywords because the biggest tour operators and tourist companies have already called dibs on them, and you could hardly find your spot among the top results under such circumstances.
Instead of that, opt for more specific, long-tail keywords that have a lower search volume. But what they lack in the amount traffic they bring, they make up for with its quality.
In other words, you will get fewer visitors, but they will be really interested in your content and offers, which makes them more likely to convert and book a trip.
Another thing to bear in mind when picking your keywords is search intent. There are three categories they can be divided into:
- Navigational searches are those when the searcher already knows what they need and wants to find a particular website or web page. For example, they want to watch videos, so they type YouTube into the search box.
- Informational searches refer to generic queries. At this point, searchers want to learn about a certain concept or object, and they’re not ready to convert yet. But you should focus on these searchers as it’s the best way to target your target demographics and put your travel company in front of their eyes. That’s how you’ll improve your search visibility and attract visitors that you can later engage and educate.
- Transactional searches indicate an intent to complete a transaction, and they occur when the searcher is ready to make a purchase.
By picking the right keywords, you’ll be able to appear in relevant searches and attract your target audience.
5. Link Building
The travel industry is very competitive, which makes link building difficult.
And still, this tactic is crucial for building authority and trust both with your visitors and Google. It’s very unlikely to get to page 1 of search results without relevant, authority links pointing back to your content.
Reaching out to travel bloggers is a logical step, but be prepared that they might even ask you to pay for promotion.
The way out of this is thinking of creative ways to stand out and distinguish yourself from the competitors by creating really exceptional and unique content. It’s not even necessary to target the sources in the travel industry, as you can greatly benefit from adjacent sectors too. For example, if you advertise trekking tours, then companies selling trekking clothes and equipment can be an excellent source of relevant, high-quality backlinks.
Some of the ideas for content that can get picked up by relevant sources include data-driven infographics, a travel calculator, definitive guides to particular destinations, or pieces about particular events whose organizers can link back to your website.
5. Overall User Experience
When your visitors land on your website they found in search results, they expect nothing short of a superb user experience. And that’s Google’s main criteria when it comes to ranking.
In a nutshell, this means that your website should:
- Be easy to navigate and find relevant information and answers to the questions from a particular query
- Be packed with high-quality, relevant content
- Be mobile responsive
- Be fast
- Be optimized with meta elements, such as meta tags, descriptions, and alt tags that tell the search engine and your visitors what every web page is about
- Have an optimized internal linking structure in order to help your visitors learn more about the topic discussed in every blog post or piece of content
- Be visually appealing since it helps build trust and credibility, and let’s not forget that travel websites should feature eye-catching images in order to attract people to actually read the text.
By making sure that your visitors are happy with your website, you’ll also ensure that your rankings are high because Google’s primary concern is to provide the best possible experience to its users.
By investing in SEO for your travel company, you will tremendously increase your chances of putting your website in front of your target audience’s eyes, improve your website traffic, increase conversions, and boost your revenue.