Why is SEO important for tourism operators
Appearing high in the organic search result pages is important because ranking for tourism industry search terms is so competitive. As well as having other operators to compete with, your business will also need to outrank national booking websites in order to ensure you get maximum direct bookings through your site from the search engine results page.
In nearly all cases, organic search will be the number one source of traffic to your website. Building your website’s search profile stands to provide your business with increased exposure and return on investment through online direct bookings or online and offline enquiries.
The benefits of a tourism website with good SEO are:
- Increased traffic to their owned website instead of third-party sites.
- Increased brand awareness through potential customers seeing your website appear in the search engine results pages for related queries.
- Your website will provide a better experience to its user because it provides the information they are looking for, in a manner that is easy to digest and understand.
Improving your site’s search visibility is the best investment for long term growth of visitors to your website. Investing in SEO is somewhat front-loaded as opposed to running advertising campaigns which has a constant need for investment over a long period. Investing in SEO at an early stage of your website’s life means that its visibility will grow over the foreseeable future, if well maintained.
What does good SEO strategy look like?
There is a lot of misinformation out there about SEO for tourism and travel operators.
For starters, good SEO is NOT:
- Stuffing keywords on a page;
- Creating pages with little or no relevant content;
- Sticking slabs of text in huge paragraphs on a page;
- Something that you can take short cuts with; or
- A quick process.
For us, good SEO is:
- Providing the best possible information to the user, in the way they want to consume it. Whether that be by written words, infographics, video or audio.
- Providing the content quickly.
- Allowing users to skim your content and look for keywords relevant to them, but still making it so they can understand what you are saying without the need to read every word.
The problem that many tourism operators have with search engine optimisation is that they end up trying to trick search engines into ranking their site better. However, search engines have grown to such a sophisticated level now that they can tell when website managers are trying to trick them.
The most foolproof way to approaching travel SEO for any business is to consider what the user is wanting and to build your SEO strategy around that. From this perspective, tourism SEO is less about optimising your site for the search queries typed into search engines and more about optimising it for the people who are doing the searching, the users and your potential customers.
Tourism SEO Website projects we’ve worked on
We’ve worked with a variety of clients to deliver high performing tourism SEO websites that have achieved increased their search visibility, showcased their business and lead to more direct bookings.
How does our SEO process work?
Our Search Engine Optimisation process is tried and tested, we use it for all our clients’ tourism websites, but more importantly, we’ve used it for our own, which is probably how you’ve ended up here.
Step 1 – Keyword Research
We identify, through in-depth keyword research, what search terms would be beneficial for your business to target on Google search. In addition to the search traffic of each keyword, we look at competitiveness on Google Adwords and difficulty to organically rank on the search engine results pages for the phrase to determine a list of priority keywords to target for your website. The list of keywords will include a mix of long tail and short tail keywords.
Step 2 – Competitor Analysis
Based on our keyword research, we’ll then conduct an assessment of the competitors who are organically ranking for the identified search terms on Google and other search platforms. We look at what they are doing well and how we could capitalise on things they are not doing well to give your site’s optimisation strategy an edge.
Step 3 – Outline Website Content
We’ll map out exactly what content you will need to put on each page, based on our keyword research, to make sure it answers your visitors’ questions. We can also write the content for you if you feel it is all too much.
The most important thing here is to not over complicate the content and make it difficult to read. Your content needs to be written in plain English, broken up with subheadings and also making use of graphics and images to guide users through the content.
Step 4 – Onsite/page Optimisation
A good SEO strategy can sometimes be described as ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’, there are lots of different factors that need to be ticked to ensure your pages are properly optimised for search performance. These factors can include:
- Correct HTML markup and structure.
- Keywords in important places, like headings and alt tags for images.
- Optimised meta titles and descriptions that encourage users to click on your website.
- Keeping URLs short and understandable across the site.
- Making sure that images are optimised for the web.
- Ensuring your website is quick to load.
- Ensuring your website looks good on all devices, not just desktop computers.
Step 5 – Backlinks
Think of backlinks as a referral, but for the web. Gathering links from other reputable websites on the web is paramount to achieving good search engine rankings. Links to your website serve to tell search engines how relevant and popular your site is to your intended visitors.
Step 6 – Ongoing Thematic Content Calendar
Ongoing, regular content plays an important part in getting search engines to pay attention to your site. However, coming up with regular content can be a challenge. That’s why we use a Thematic Content Calendar target a range of different search terms over a 6-12 month period.
Digital Tourism Resources
On one of our recent trips to Port Fairy, we got the chance to sit down with Jenny Madden, the Coordinator of Corporate Business & Tourism Development for the Moyne Shire Council and discuss the impact of the new brands and website have had on the 7 council-owned and operated caravan parks.
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