SEO for tourism websites and travel businesses

What you need to know about SEO for your travel blog or tourism website

Published September 2021 | Keren Schneeweiss

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the term given to the optimisation of a website and a business’s overall digital footprint to improve its visibility on search engines. In Australia, the most popular search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo and Baidu.

The 8 key areas of SEO are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO, technical SEO, content development, copywriting for SEO, website audits and analysis and SEO growth strategy.

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

How does the SEO process work?

At Mankind Digital, we have refined our SEO process for tourism websites and travel blogs to prioritise the SEO tactics that influence results for our clients the most.

At a high level, our general process involves:

  • An SEO Audit to identify issues
  • Keyword research
  • Improve the website content 
  • Identify and fix any technical issues
  • Onsite optimisation
  • Local SEO & acquiring backlinks
  • Ongoing content production and sharing
Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Lake Phewa Nepal
Lake Phewa Nepal

Why is SEO important for tourism businesses?

SEO for tourism websites and travel businesses is imperative for attracting new customers. Without visibility on a search engine, the only other ways someone will find out about your business and visit your website is:

  • Word-of-mouth
  • A returning customer
  • An advertisement the person saw somewhere
  • A referral from another website such as social media or a directory

Many of our clients find that 70% of their website visitors come from SEO. This is a significant amount of potential new business that could be lost without a good SEO strategy in place.

5 Benefits of SEO for tour operators and tourism websites

There are many benefits that SEO can offer a travel agency, tour operator or travel service provider. Here are 5 SEO benefits that may help your tourism organisation:

When businesses in the tourism sector adopt SEO practices, visibility on search engines increases. This means that there is a significant rise in brand awareness and traffic arriving on the associated website. 

Various travel SEO tactics can improve a customer’s first interaction with a business, even before arriving on the website. When a business shows up on a search engine, users will get an insight into the brands’ personality, professionalism and service offering. Showing up near the top of the search engine results can boost brand awareness, trust and credibility in the brand. This is important in the travel sector as trust is one of the key factors that lead to sales.

Being listed on page one of Google often isn’t enough to entice users to visit a tourism or travel website. A business must capture the attention of the user at a glance, whilst also abiding by the search engine’s requirements to be listed in the first place.

Businesses can influence the content that appears on the search engine, choosing the most important and relevant information to appear. Relevancy to search intent is important to understand. It creates a sense of ease and accessibility for the user, whilst guiding them to the most helpful information that meets their needs in the moment.

The biggest beneficiary of a strong travel SEO campaign is the end user – the customer. SEO can significantly improve user experience throughout the entire online customer journey.

When a website provides relevant and useful information in a format that is easy to consume, this builds credibility and trust in a brand. When you combine this with well-thought-out SEO content strategies and smart web design, the overall customer experience is enhanced.

How is SEO different for tour operators and travel websites?

Whilst traditional SEO practices rely on the optimisation of a website to improve its relevance to keywords, SEO for the travel and tourism industry is more complicated.

One of the differentiating factors for tour operators, travel providers, accommodation venues and destinations is the focus on localised search terms and the need for destination-based information.

Many visitors will be searching for attractions, activities and things to do based on the specific destination in mind. They will search for terms such as ‘things to do in Melbourne’. Local businesses and tour operators can capitalise on this search intent by understanding what information the person needs most at this point in their customer journey.

Another key differentiating factor when planning an SEO strategy for a travel website, tourism business or destination is the travel customer journey. This journey occurs primarily online, making it even more important for clever travel SEO tactics to come into play.

Tourism businesses can make the most of each stage in the buying cycle by implementing smart travel SEO tactics. This way, they can increase their visibility and attract customers with specific needs at specific moments.

Learn more about SEO for tourism.

Coaching and online training services
Coaching and online training services

The 5 stages of the travel customer journey

There are five stages a traveller passes through when it comes to their travel plans. Google has termed these stages as “travel micro-moments.” The five stages of the travel customer journey are:

  1. Dreaming – the simple desire to travel somewhere, without a solid plan in place
  2. Planning – a customer will begin to navigate different websites to find the best information about their dream destination
  3. Booking – visitors will put their thoughts into action and start to make solid plans. This includes booking flights, accommodation and experiences
  4. Experiencing – enjoying all that a holiday destination has to offer, making memories
  5. Sharing – this comes in the form of posting on social media, blogs and reviews. Customers may or may not recommend your services after their holiday is over. In many cases, travellers will write a positive or negative review moments after their experience has happened.

For tour operators, travel agencies and tourism service providers to consistently attract new visitors, it is important to think about each stage in the travel customer journey. These are particularly relevant when planning a content marketing or SEO strategy for a travel website.

Local SEO and the tourism sector

Search Engine Optimisation for the tourism sector relies heavily on local SEO. For many travel businesses and regional tourism offices, tourism-related enquiries originate from a Google search that includes SEO keywords for tourism and a specific location or destination.

This means that prioritising your location within your SEO strategy for your travel website is paramount.

Local SEO focuses on improving a website’s visibility for these location-based keywords within various sections of the search engine result pages. On Google, this includes the standard organic listings, the Google map pack and Google My Business.

Search engine optimisation services
Search engine optimisation services

What are the factors that are important for local SEO?

The key factors that need to be considered in a local SEO strategy include:

  • Consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) across all digital publications
  • Web Page Footer containing NAP
  • Contact Page containing NAP
  • Local directories containing NAP
  • Tourism directories containing NAP
  • Google My Business profile (GMB) including reviews and regular posts for events, blogs, photos and videos

Learn more about local SEO and how to identify travel keywords for SEO

SEO services

Optimising your Google My Business profile

A Google My Business (GMB) profile is a free listing offered by Google, published on the Google search results pages. This listing displays information about a business, such as location, including address and map, along with contact information and customer reviews. GMB profiles can be optimised further to include photos and service information relevant to the business.

Having a GMB listing can attach a sense of credibility to your business free of charge and attract more customers.

When customers interact with a Google My Business profile, they browse the information available, post questions and leave reviews for other people to see. The person in the organisation with GMB administrator access can respond to these accordingly.

Tourism operators can improve their business profiles by implementing specific SEO tactics when organising the content on GMB. This can increase brand awareness and trust in a brand.

SEO services

8 ways to optimise a Google My Business profile

Make sure that your business’ associated GMB profile can be found from a quick Google search. Check that your GMB has been claimed and verified by someone within your organisation. If not, follow the process to claim and verify your GMB profile.

Ensure your GMB profile provides authentic and current information about your business, including your products and services, your location and a link to your website.

Within the services section and any posts that you share on GMB, be sure to include your most relevant travel SEO keywords and search phrases. Use keyword research tools to identify the relevant keywords for your business, or speak with an SEO expert to ask for assistance in this area.

Include a good quality photo of your business or something relating to your services. Photos are often the most eye-catching part of the GMB profile, and are usually the first thing a customer will see. Therefore, they need to be enticing and of a professional nature.

The benefits of a social media marketing strategy are:

  • Learn more about your audience(s), what they want to see and when they want to see your content
  • Develop a framework for success. A content calendar with core content pillars will make it easier for you to focus your time and attention on creating content that resonates with your audience(s).
  • Create a professional brand profile that reinforces that you are a trustworthy business. New customers that find your business through a Google search will often look at your website, THEN they will visit your social media profiles to see what type of business you are in real-time. The images and content you share on social media have more of an impact on new enquiries than you may realise.
  • Build trust in your brand by sharing user-generated content. This includes reviews, testimonials, interviews and images of real people enjoying your services. Note that you must seek permission from your customers before posting their photos and reviews online.

Take notice of reviews left by customers on your GMB profile and respond to them straight away. Here you can establish a human connection with your customers, showing that you care about their opinion and want to provide the best possible experience for them.

Go further with your responses to these reviews, specifically the negative ones. Ask the customer to contact you directly by providing your business contact information in response to negative reviews as quickly as possible. This shows other potential customers that read any negative reviews that you are open to discussing concerns. Resolving problems with good old fashioned customer service is invaluable. It may even result in the person removing the negative review and replacing it with a positive one!

 

Leaving a bad review untouched might affect your business’ image. By dealing with it promptly, your customers will see that you will go above and beyond to cater to their needs. This helps to build trust and credibility within your business for future customers.

Make it easy to share a link to your GMB listing by creating a link. You can use this to request reviews from your future customers in an efficient and professional way.

Utilise the Q&A section in the GMB listing to answer any common queries that your customers often ask. This will provide people with information to answer the same frequently asked questions they are likely to ask.

Backlink building ideas for Tour operators

Backlinking is an important travel SEO technique that helps tourism and travel websites establish credibility and trust. Search engines take notice of backlinks when ranking websites in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The more reliable backlinks a website has, the more credibility the search engine will attribute to that site. This has a positive impact on rankings.

In general, the higher the ranking of a website on search engines, the more visibility and traffic the website will receive.

Standing in front of the Tah Mahal in India
Standing in front of the Tah Mahal in India

So, what is a backlink anyway?

A backlink is an embedded URL on one website that links to another. Backlinks allow for connections between websites. They can be placed behind a logo, an image or text on a webpage.

These links can appear in many forms. Some examples include a link to your website in a blog post or a directory that publishes your business information, including your website URL.

When another website includes a link from their website to yours, this acts as a vote of confidence and credibility in the eyes of a search engine.

Atacama desert lake, Chile

How are backlinks scored?

Backlinks can help to show that your tourism website and the content it contains is reliable, almost acting as an endorsement.

Google’s ranking system focuses on these four key aspects when it comes to backlinks:

  1. The quality of the link. This comes down to the domain authority of the website that you have received a backlink from. It is also calculated by the relevancy of that website to your business.
  2. The number of backlinks a website receives
  3. The period of time the backlinks are received over
  4. Whether a backlink is organic or if it has been acquired through an exchange of money. This can happen in the form of advertorial content.
Atacama desert lake, Chile
Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia
Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

SEO tips for building backlinks in travel and tourism

Backlinking in the travel and tourism sector is a very practical way to build travel SEO and influence rankings on search engines. Many backlinking techniques can help to obtain trust and establish authority for your tourism or travel website.

There are several ways to acquire backlinks to your website. They are usually obtained by:

  • Earning backlinks: When another website organically links to your website or the content within your website.
  • Creating backlinks: When a website administrator goes out of their way to place links to their site on various platforms, such as including website URLs in directory listings and on your own social media channels.
  • Content outreach: Create content for travel industry affiliates, partners and those that manage websites relevant to your offering. Ask them to publish this content on their website with a link back to your website.

9 ways to get high-quality backlinks to your travel or tourism website

  • Identify who your partners, affiliates and tourism industry contacts are. This could range from travel agencies, hotels and transport companies to tourism boards and regional marketing offices.
  • Reach out to your contacts that run their own travel blogs or those that work for media companies. Assess whether it would make sense for them to incorporate a blog, article or partner logo on their website to promote your business. In many cases, you can agree on a reciprocal agreement by offering a content exchange in return. 
  • Remember that your partners and affiliates should find the content they are publishing for you relevant and valuable, both to their organisation and their own audience.
  • Ensure that a link back to the most relevant page on your website is incorporated into the article or behind the partner logo.

Write SEO blog articles for your travel agency or tourism website and link out to sites that compliment your content. Find websites that contain relevant content, making sure it isn’t identical to the content on your own tourism website.

Look for content that might relate to the content on your website and reach out to them once you have published an article that mentions them. Ask if they would be open to you writing a guest blog on their website that links back to you.

Submit your business to a local business directory that customers often use to find information about specific services that might relate to your niche. 

Promote your website on social media to acquire more relevant organic backlinks and traffic to your website.

Infographics are a great way to add a visual element to your website. They make communicating data interesting and they are extremely shareable. When other people share your content, this builds your backlink profile. Providing your customers with information in different formats can also help to make your website more accessible.

Get involved in discussion boards and answer sites. Sites like Quora and Reddit will allow you to answer questions that people are asking. You can link to relevant content on your website to provide them with more information.

Your business or brand name might have been mentioned by others a lot online, but each mention might not include a link back to your website.

Try using a free online tool, such as Free Backlink Checker, to check if there have been any mentions of your business or website online. When you come across a website that mentions your brand name, contact the site and request that they add an authentic link to your website. By adding a link, it will be easier for people to access more information about your business.

Offer to include content on your site that is created by outside sources in return for publication of content on their website. Here you can establish a backlinking relationship, where your site links to their content and in turn, they link back to you.

Find links that backlink to unavailable pages and offer administrators of that page or website your relevant content to replace the error. This may win you some backlinks from this business in the future. SEMrush offers advice on how to find the broken links of your competitors.

Free SEO tools for travel and tourism websites

In general, the costs relating to SEO are incurred by the resources and time required to implement an SEO strategy for a travel or tourism website effectively.

With this in mind, tour operators, travel agencies and tourism service providers don’t need the newest high-tech tools to help them with basic SEO tips for a travel website. Many free resources can guide decision making when it comes to accessing SEO tips for travel websites. They can help to improve SEO for a travel agency, tour operator or destination.

Content marketing
Content marketing

AnswerThePublic

Similar to the ‘related searches’ widget that appears at the bottom of the search engine results on Google, Answer The Public provides an in-depth map of all information that may be related to a keyword.

This information is presented in a visual format called a search cloud. Search clouds present an overview of the different types of searches that happen on search engines.

This tool can help businesses become more aware of the questions and search queries that their audience might have. These insights will help to optimise your travel or tourism website with rich, meaningful content that users will find valuable.

Paid digital advertising services

Google Ads Keyword Planner

For a tourism business to attract more website traffic from Google, they can use Google Ads Keyword Planner to understand what people are searching for. Keyword research is a handy tactic to learn more about how popular certain SEO keywords for tourism may be.

The tool provides businesses with invaluable keyword suggestions that you can’t find anywhere else.

There are two main features of this tool:

  • Businesses can locate keywords that will help reach customers that may be interested in their services.
  • Information about search volume and forecasts is readily available. A business can access the historical performance of a keyword and see a forecast for its future performance.
Paid digital advertising services
Customer and market research
Customer and market research

Google Search Console

This platform offers businesses insight into the visibility of their website on search engines. It shows ranking positions, along with impression and click volume for organic keywords.  Google Search Console also provides monitoring for website performance and indicates if any issues may need fixing.  

When using Google Search Console, businesses can view all backlinks that their website has obtained. They can also see how their website performs regarding mobile accessibility.

The data available on this platform can help businesses boost their website’s performance. It helps to understand exactly why people might be visiting the website and provides insights that, if acted upon, can help to increase organic traffic to the site itself.

Learn more about the many other free SEO tools we recommend for Search Engine Optimisation.

What are the basics to bad SEO?

SEO is a long, time-consuming process. It isn’t something that you can take shortcuts with. Bad SEO practitioners, or those conducting black hat SEO, often guarantee specific results in a fixed timeframe. SEO is not a quick process, nor is it a process that can promise fast results of a particular nature.

One of the most common and harmful practices for an SEO campaign is ‘keyword stuffing.’ This is the act of cramming and repeating the same keyword or search phrase within a page of web content. These keywords don’t appear naturally within the flow of the content and often don’t make grammatical sense.

In some cases, white text is implemented against a white background with the same keyword repeated consecutively. This will eventually result in a Google penalty.

Creating multiple web pages with thin content and little relevance to the rest of the website is poor SEO practice. This is an older technique that is still used by untrustworthy SEO ‘experts’ to cram more keywords onto multiple pages.

For a web page to rank well in the search engine results, we recommend creating long-form content of 1200-2000 words of content per page.

Long paragraphs of copy without any visual context impair the user experience. They aren’t easy to digest and don’t entice readership. Try to break up longer content with images, video links, infographics, process maps and other visual content that contributes to a positive user experience. Remember that the user must be able to digest and understand the key takeaways quickly and easily.

What are the basics to good SEO?

Good SEO is about providing the user with the best possible experience. It is about providing high-quality information in a format that the user wants to receive it in. Rather than just providing information in a written format, consider the images, video content, audio, infographics and process graphics that may answer the persons’ search intent.

For example, when a user is looking for information that explains a process, provide them with this information in multiple formats. This may include a list and a process graphic, or a list and a video tutorial.

Provide users with the information that matches their search intent quickly. Write content that is geared towards solving problems for your customers and provide the answers to those problems at the beginning of your content, rather than making them sift through a page of content to get the answer that solves their problem.

One example of this done poorly is on recipe websites. Commonly, the ingredients list is the most difficult thing to find! Usually, this is the information a user finds most valuable and expects to find close to the top of the article.     

People don’t generally read every word published on a web page. They skim through the content to identify the keywords that stand out before diving into a topic of interest.

Set up your web pages so that there are multiple entry points for users to delve into different sections or passages of content. Label your sections clearly to help readers with navigating the most relevant topics at a glance. Use lists, accordions and bullet points to highlight key information.

SEO for the travel industry is a complex topic

It can take countless years to understand SEO in detail. There are constant changes to the search engine algorithm that often send the SEO community spinning. 

Whilst manipulating search engine results is what most SEO practitioners are focused on, we excel in the area of improving the overall customer experience. A positive online experience when interacting with your brand online should always be the core emphasis in any travel SEO strategy for a tourism website. 

Talk to us to learn more about how a travel SEO agency can help you to improve your travel or tourism website. When working with us as your travel SEO agency we strive to provide the best travel SEO services. Our team can advise on how to improve the experience your customers are having when they engage with your business online. 

Published September 2021 | Keren Schneeweiss

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