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How to create an effective SEO strategy for your travel brand

Updated: May 22, 2023

Applying travel SEO keywords and a travel content marketing strategy with the goal of growing your travel business online.

How important is a visible online presence for your travel brand? More than ever, travel is handled by customers as an aspect of their online lives. Whether researching destinations via travel blogs or making bookings on travel websites, you need your brand to gain crucial visibility to reach new heights of engagement. The market size of the online travel industry was 475 billion US dollars in 2022; by 2030, it is expected to reach over one trillion dollars. You must devise an effective and high-impact travel content marketing and SEO strategy to ensure your brand keeps pace.

Employing SEO is a low-resource, high-reward way of ensuring that your brand remains visible across search engine results, attracting increased website traffic to achieve higher customer engagement. For relatively little investment, a strong SEO campaign, smartly blended with a clever content strategy, can bring transformative results and boost your brand credibility.

What is SEO, and why is it important?

Search engine optimization means improving the visibility of your website in search engine results - primarily Google. This is especially relevant when people search for the products or services your business provides or for knowledge that you can offer. There are three types of SEO - technical, where you optimize the technical features of a website to improve ranking, ON-SITE SEO, where you optimize the website from the content, speed, etc.; and OFF-SITE SEO, where you create brand assets and aim to improve brand awareness.

Your travel SEO strategy will form the backbone of how you market your business. Once you have a clear understanding of SEO and your target audience, you can implement it with your marketing strategy. Thankfully, there are a number of valuable SEO tips for travel websites that can very quickly help you to boost your brand visibility.

The art of finding the right keywords

Let’s talk a little more about keyword research as part of your travel SEO strategy. Before embarking on research, it’s important to carry out a technical audit, making sure there are no annoying obstacles preventing Google or other search engines from indexing your website. These obstacles could include security issues or unethical practices that go against search engine guidelines, for example, implementing unusual linking patterns to artificially boost activity. When Google takes action to prevent a page from being indexed, it is known as a ‘manual action’.

Next, you need to start identifying the right keywords. Keywords feed into how and what people search for online. A lot of this might be intuitive based on the services and products that you offer, but analysing data can help you gain a more accurate picture. Using a tool like Google Search Console can help you discover which keywords you’re currently ranking for, and which particular pages are the most relevant for this. Don’t be hesitant to check out your competitors. Explore which keywords they’re ranking for too, and use that as a starting point. You can use valuable software tools like SEMRush or Moz to delve deeper into the SEO keywords of your competitors.

While you search, you should explore the value of long-tail keywords. These refer to longer, more specific phrases that sometimes attract a higher conversion rate. For example, it’s the difference between the short-tail keyword ‘Barcelona’ and a more specific long-tail version, such as ‘summer flights to Barcelona’. Using long-tail travel SEO keywords can be particularly useful for smaller companies looking to carve out a niche in the travel industry. Long-tail keywords refer to more specific searches that usually have a lower search volume, meaning there is less competition in the website rankings.

Improve your on-page SEO

What is on-page SEO? If you want to see your travel website rise in the Google rankings, you’ll need to engage with it. Essentially, on-page SEO refers to the elements visitors can view on your website. These elements can be chosen entirely by you, meaning this is fully customisable SEO.

We’ve already reflected on the use of keywords. What you might not know is that you can apply these keywords in many different ways, all from options that you can select at the back end of your website. You’ll find these options whether you’re using WordPress, Wix, Squarespace or any other content management system (CMS). You can add keywords to the meta title and meta description; these are short, compelling page titles and descriptions that appear in search engine results. Moreover, create image alt-text to describe the image content, optimising titles, headers, and page URLs to rank more prominently. It’s important to be specific and targeted about this, ensuring that the headers, meta titles and meta descriptions you use make sense and are persuasive for the audience. Adding a keyword will give an extra boost, with the additional chance of a search engine algorithm recognising and ranking your page.

Create pillar pages and subpages

Once you have your SEO keywords in place, it’s important that you apply them with focus and direction. You won’t get very far if you apply keywords without any sort of discretion or restraint; this is known as keyword stuffing, and search engines often take punitive action for doing it, sending your site further down the rankings. Instead, it’s wise to assign one distinct keyword to each website page rather than trying to assign several keywords to one page.

To help your pages gain traction, you can create pillar pages. These are topic-specific pages that offer overviews of a subject area, using long-tail keywords for greater specification. The pillar pages will work to summarise the main topic while also guiding your audience toward a series of subtopics that you can mine for valuable keywords. It’s similar to how, for example, Wikipedia works. When you browse an article about a specific topic, this acts as a pillar page, with related links to more specific subtopics throughout the page for you to click through. Similarly, on a travel website, you might see a pillar page about a tour itinerary with linked subpages for destinations or activities that form the full tour. This is known as ‘internal linking’ - it helps search engine algorithms build a clearer map of your website, learn more information about the content of your pages, and ultimately rank your website.

Effective backlink strategies

Building links is a crucial part of getting your SEO to fly. This is how backlinks work. Backlinks occur when your page is cited by another website as a trustworthy source of information, essentially vouching for your website’s quality. For example, if Conde Nast Traveller magazine were to provide a link to your travel website and cite its information, then traffic to your website would likely increase. With this type of connection, you would be perceived as an authoritative source of information because you received the Conde Nast seal of approval.

The most popular link building tactic is via guest posting, where you can contribute a guest post promoting your travel brand to an external website. Focusing on your specialist area of expertise, whether that is about a particular destination or specific topics like solo travel or cruises, will help you build travel backlinks, and also position you as an authority on this topic.

An authentic and organic link building strategy will take time to implement, with a foundation of high-quality content; you can’t buy your way into it. There are various link schemes involving buying and selling links. However, excessive link exchanges or hardcoding links into your website is frowned upon by Google and other search engines and will likely cause more harm than good to your brand in the long run. Avoid excessive, low-quality links that will degrade your credibility. Rather, apply links that are indexed by Google and regularly check them to make sure that your website has no broken links that can lower your ranking. As with applying keywords, this has to be done in a meaningful, focused way. You have to build valuable content for travel that is worth citation.

Harness travel content marketing

Let’s talk about content marketing. It is part of a clever marketing approach that, rather than limiting your marketing strategy to your products and services, also includes providing valuable, relevant content for your audience. This includes social media marketing, SEO, PR campaigns and driving inbound marketing.

High-quality content can make or break your travel brand. It is essential to steer your brand towards your target audience and work to meet their expectations. Creating unique, innovative content will give you a competitive advantage over other brands that cannot connect with their audience as effectively as you can. It has to address a need that is present in your audience rather than creating content for content’s sake. For example, consider the estimate that over 70% of travellers now research travel on their smartphones. What type of tailored content has your brand created to reach this audience?

Establishing your brand as an authoritative resource, a trusted place for readers to find accurate and engaging travel content, will boost your credibility and increase the likelihood that you will receive returning visitors.

Increasing the number of your returning visitors will then, in turn, increase your website ranking. However, you should remember that while optimising your content is essential, all the high-quality travel content in the world will mean little if it’s not combined with an effective travel content marketing strategy.

How to create a travel content strategy

The foundation of any successful travel content strategy must begin with defining your target audience. Knowing their lifestyle, needs, issues, and what they expect from you will give you valuable insight. This will help you understand the type of content that you should create and the best way to hold their interest. To do this, you can collect data on your audience demographics, perhaps via Google Analytics or another insights tool. Collecting feedback from active customers will also help you better understand their priorities and how you should reach them.

Identifying your target audience will help you build your unique value proposition. Consider your offer and why a customer should choose your product or service. This approach will help your content to communicate the benefits of engaging with your particular travel brand above all others.

Following this, creating a content calendar is a fundamental step in defining your strategy towards email marketing, blog posts and social media platforms. Even the most well-executed content strategy can be sunk by a lack of planning. This is a skill that requires prioritisation, knowing which item of content is best placed for a particular time. Luckily, there are several useful editorial and task management tools out there that you can use to create your content calendar.

Your content creation efforts will also be guided by keyword research. This is where the SEO element comes into play. Finding the travel SEO keywords that people actually use in relation to your brand, or the topic areas you want to write in, will help you tap into the audience that is out there. Make sure you also research the social media platforms that your customers genuinely use. There’s no sense in devoting time and effort to building a profile on, for example, LinkedIn, if you find that your customers are not regular users.

You can measure the success of your content strategy by tracking and analysing metrics. This includes evaluating user behaviour, like unique visitors and pages per session, engagement, and SEO results.

Why every travel brand needs a blog

Making a credible blog driven by a skilled travel content writer will be a crucial part of your travel content marketing strategy. It helps to build your credibility and authority, which are important factors in establishing your travel brand. Your brand will present itself as an authoritative source of travel news, tips, and advice as part of the extensive online travel community.

Blog content can drive your social media activity, being repurposed or rewritten to suit a specific audience or style. A compelling and readable blog, catering to your target audience with impactful headlines, clear calls to action and consistent quality, can be a powerful tool.

In a practical way, travel blogs can also improve your search engine rankings and increase customer engagement. It allows you to apply more SEO keywords, perhaps by using meta descriptions and titles. You can build links from authoritative websites using smart, relevant content. A blog also drives traffic to your website as it is a constantly updated source of information that allows you to cycle through various topics - search engines love websites that regularly produce new content. After all, each new blog entry represents a new page with the potential to be indexed by Google and drive traffic.

Schedule your blog and social media posts like a pro

Once you have your blog set up and your social media ready to go, you need to consider scheduling. If you trust your content, then timing the publication for maximum impact is vital. It’s estimated that over 60 per cent of businesses have no concrete strategy for scheduling posts, with an ad-hoc approach in place. Simply devising a content calendar will give you an edge over many brands without a strategic plan.

A content calendar helps you to maintain an overarching perspective of your content strategy and is a valuable tool for brainstorming and devising new topics, especially when working in a team. It lends you consistency, which is also essential when you want to set your brand up as an authoritative, respectable source. It helps you keep in touch with audience expectations and interests, as you can plan topics ahead of time. Perhaps most importantly, all of these features will drive customer engagement.

Travel SEO services and luxury travel SEO

Track your statistics

How can you be confident your travel content strategy is working? The answer is that there is a wealth of metrics to measure SEO and content performance. Remember that it’s best to consider the two as a blended approach rather than separate entities. You can use Google Analytics and other search engine or social media analytics to unlock this data.

You can look at organic traffic, which measures the number of visitors to your website from organic search results. This will inform you about the strength of your website’s search engine ranking - the more traffic, the higher ranked the site is, in most cases.

You can also use the amazing Google Search Console tool to track your website’s organic visibility to find out how well your website is matching to certain keywords.

Time spent on each page is also a useful metric. How long do visitors spend on your pages before clicking on something else? This is a great way to measure customer engagement and consider how to improve it.

Track your conversions. Following your conversion rate can tell you a lot about whether a particular marketing campaign has been successful. This refers to the number of people on your website who download content, complete forms, carry out purchases, and other actionable activities.

Bounce rate is almost the opposite metric of this. It tells you how many people simply visited your website and then left without engaging further or taking any actions. A standard bounce rate is usually somewhere between 40 per cent and 60 per cent. If it’s higher, you may need to think about ways to make your content more engaging for your audience.

To conclude

It takes time and patience to build an effective content and SEO travel strategy for your brand. There are no shortcuts. The travel industry is competitive, with lots of high-quality content already widely available online. However, this can also be helpful as there are so many meaningful avenues to pursue, with customer demand to be met. Following our SEO travel tips will give you a great head start. So get started on creating your own top-quality content, establishing your blog and building those travel backlinks! It’s the pathway to creating a unique value proposition for your brand!

For those of you who would like to learn more about how to build a content strategy for the travel industry and implement effective SEO, Contese Agency is here to help. We offer expert travel SEO services and have a successful track record of collaborating with a variety of travel brands.


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