When I talk to tourism businesses about ‘How to SEO’, their eyes tend to start to glaze over, I can see them zoning out, looking for an escape!
SEO is such an important part of any tourism businesses marketing activities, its key to building a strong digital footprint and driving potential visitors to your website, yet so many business owners don’t spend anytime doing it.
The average traveller visits 22 travel related sites over 9.5 research sessions before booking – that’s a lot of searching!
With over 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web today, businesses need to work harder than ever to have their page found by the right travellers when they are researching, planning & booking their trips.
You can have a website that ticks all the boxes-
- It looks great
- Has beautiful images and videos
- You’ve written great inspiring content
- There is an online booking mechanism
- It’s mobile friendly and loads quickly
But without some basic SEO, your site might not appear in search engine results when ‘ready to buy’ travellers are for your product or experience.
“What is SEO?” I hear you say!
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
Like you, search engines want to provide the best experience they can for their customers.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing try super hard to provide the relevant results for whatever someone types into their magic little search box.
When you type a query into Google’s search box, robots scan or ‘crawl’ all the content on the Internet. SEO tells the robots what your site is all about. It’s like signposts for the robots to let them know when your page is relevant to a search and helps it to return the most relevant results to the end user.
Smart SEO strategies help bump your web page toward the top of the “natural”, “unpaid” or “organic” search results, making your post more visible to users and ultimately driving more visitation to your site. SEO is about making your website easy for both users and search engine robots to understand.
But meta descriptions, site architecture, reputation, key words, stuffing, crawlers and headers sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, it all seems too hard and you can’t afford to pay an SEO expert to help.
Don’t worry, with a little bit of know how you can implement some simple strategies, that will make a big difference, yourself.
With SEO there are a lots of different factors involved, that all work together to influence your page rankings.
So where do you start?
Research your keywords
Put your customer hat on and think about the words and phrases your ideal customers might type into the search box when they start researching their trip.
Do some old fashioned brainstorming, with a pen & paper, start making a list of the words and phrases your potential customers might use?
Then hop online and use these free tools from Google to work out which words are most effective:
Will help you to gauge the popularity of your keywords and the competition for them.
You’ll need to create an Adwords accounts to use it, but you don’t need to spend any money just to research.
Is helpful see the popularity of terms and related queries by category, location, and time.
Different ways of saying the same thing can generate vastly different amounts of search queries. Google trends allows you to compare keywords popularity over time. So you can so which combination of words will be most effective.
For example when you compare ‘Things to do in Uluru’ with ‘Activities in Uluru’ & ‘Uluru Tours”- you can see that uluru tours is a much more popular search term.
Words that you think customers are typing into Google(or their preferred search engine) aren’t always the ones that you think they will be.
Do your research!
Create your key word plan
Now take these keywords and phrases and get a plan together for how you are going to use them to optimize your site.
As a rule of thumb you should have on ‘focus keyword/phrase’ for each page of your site.
You’ll want to use the keywords in:
The page title is the clickable headline that is displayed in search engine results – they are important for usability, SEO and social sharing.
Use your keywords at the start of your page title, and keep the title to fewer than 55 characters.
This is a short description of what the page is about. While they are no longer a factor in Google’s search algorithm, they are effective in enticing users to click through to your page.
Keep your meta description to under 160 characters, make sure they are descriptive, relevant and contain keywords.
Give each page a unique, descriptive, human friendly URL that contains keywords. Like your page content, your URL should accurately reflect the information contained on the page.
Create keyword rich content, sprinkle keywords and phrases throughout your page in the body text and headers, making sure that the information is useful, unique, clear and accurate.
Write for your customers not for search engines – search engines are smart, they know when you are trying to trick them. Keep your content relevant to the page.
The key thing to remember when creating all your page content is to keep it human –
Create quality content for users not search engines!
Image Alt Text
You need to optimize your images for search too. Do this in two ways:
- Use your keywords in the file name when you upload the image to your site. Instead of IMG1028364.jpg, make the name descriptive, like ‘family friendly accommodation Alice Springs’
- Be sure to add your keyword rich description to the image alt text once you have uploaded it to your site.
These days’ most content management systems (CRM or the back end of your website) have SEO Tools which can help – if your not sure if you have one, ask your web developer.
Monitor your analytics
What you measure grows!
To keep growing traffic to your site, you’ll want to monitor your SEO efforts through Google Analytics.
Check your Google analytics at least once a month to monitor traffic to your site, understand where it is coming from, key search terms visitors are using, how long they stay on your site & where they leave.
Like anything in your business, SEO should be a process of continual improvement, making tweaks and changes to improve all the time!
It’s not enough to do one big hit of SEO; it needs to be an ongoing part of your marketing activities.
Remember I said that SEO isn’t just about keywords; it involves lots of factors that work together. When you are reviewing your analytics, set-aside time to do additional SEO activities, like making sure all your online listings are consistent, having a good social media plan and creating regular, inspiring, useful content on your blog – that’s all content for another post!