Creating a fantastic travel website is more than just having gorgeous images and decorative language. You could be offering the best holidays or trips out there, but if your website isn’t ranking, then how do you reach your target audience?
This is where having a robust SEO strategy for your travel website can put you in the best possible position to leapfrog the competition and improve your organic rankings. In this article, we’ll explore the different SEO strategies that you should consider when optimising your travel website.
In this article, we will cover:
- Why is travel SEO important?
- SEO strategies travel websites should consider
- Technical SEO
- Keyword research and content strategies
- Local SEO
- Brand SEO
- Link Building
- Common SEO mistakes you can face when working on a travel website
Grab your passport and let's go!
Why is travel SEO important?
You don’t need us to tell you how fiercely competitive the travel industry is. While we all think (or hope) our travel company is the best in the business, we also need search engines to think we’re the best too, which is where SEO comes in. Let’s take a closer look at why SEO is important and how its effective use can benefit your website.
- Higher ranking in search engines for relevant terms -the higher you are on the SERP, the more visible you become. SEO can help you scale the rankings through effective technical and content strategies.
- Increased inbound traffic to the site - over 25% of people click the first Google search result according to SEJ. Ranking for relevant terms will drive the right traffic to your site that will increase your brand awareness and lead to conversions.
- Increased brand awareness - Targeting long tail, non-brand keywords can help increase the awareness of your travel brand.
- Attracting new potential customers - SEO helps you gain new customers through quality content.
- SEO has a compounding effect on your marketing - dedicated SEO efforts will benefit your websites for months to come. Targeting long tail keywords and creating quality content that your customers want to read will bring traffic to your site on a monthly basis, which means that one piece of content can continue to deliver relevant traffic long after it has been created.
SEO strategies that travel websites should consider
Whether you are a tour operator or a travel agent, when it comes to search engine optimisation, there will be technical and content fundamentals that your website has to meet. In the following sections, we have explored strategies which will help your travel site rank better in Google. The following tactics work together as one holistic SEO approach, so it's important to note that once the site is technically sound, you should begin your keyword research and content planning.
Technical SEO for travel websites
When focusing on content it can sometimes be easy to forget about the technical elements of SEO, but these are critical for your site’s crawlability and indexability. You can have the strongest content out there, but if search engine bots can’t find, easily crawl and index it, then all that wonderful content will never be seen by a wider audience. Additionally, if a user has to wait more than a few seconds to access your page, you can be sure they’ll lose patience quickly and head over to a competitor’s site.
When we talk about technical SEO, we’re referring to the site’s overall technical health. Whilst there are numerous elements that we assess as part of our technical seo audit, in this article we will focus on site architecture, core web vitals and mobile friendliness.
Your website should be designed in a way that is simple for search engines, as well as customers, to navigate and understand. As part of this site architecture audit, you'll need to consider URL structure, internal redirects and broken links, canonicalisation, filters and categories to ensure a healthy relationship between pages. When it comes to deciding on the taxonomy however, industry knowledge and keyword research are your friends. If you are a ski operator, you would want to make it as easy as possible for users to find the ski holiday based on location or deal preferences. Knowing how people search for the holidays you specialise in will be key to structuring your navigation in the right way.
Core web vitals
These are a set of metrics used to measure a website’s loading, visual and interactivity stability and overall user experience of interacting with a page. If any travel marketer doubts the importance of core web vital metrics, they should consider attaching a big flashing neon sign to their desk with the following statistics from Google:
- Bounce rate probability increases by 32% if page load time takes up to three seconds
- Bounce rate probability increases by 90% if page load time takes up to five seconds
- Bounce rate probability increases by 123% if page load time takes up to ten seconds
Ensuring your core web vitals are in order helps to build trust in your brand, keeps customers engaged and will most likely lead to higher rankings and lead conversion rates. Tools such as Google Search Console can help you spot if a website is core web vital-optimised or not. You can also perform your own core web vital audit to ensure your site is ship-shape.
The travel industry hasn’t always had the best rep when it comes to mobile user experience but with page speed now a ranking factor for mobile search, travel websites are having to up their game to compete with the big boys. Wise move, considering 70% of travellers research travel on their smartphone. Mobile friendly content comes down to three key factors:
- Simplification: Reduced clutter and easily clickable links for fingers and thumbs on the move.
- Responsive web design: Consistent viewing experience across different devices from laptops to mobile phones and tablets without the need for different website variations.
- Accessible info: Key information (such as prices, how to book, flight times, etc.) should be easy to find with minimal navigation.
Keyword research and content strategies for travel websites
So you’ve got your technical SEO covered. Job done. Well…not quite. There’s now the small matter of content and keyword research.
If you’re a relatively small travel site with few or no links, it may seem tempting to go after the big search volume keywords, but you might want to think twice. If you’re a small fish in a big sea, you’re unlikely to rank for highly competitive keywords at this stage. There are, however, keywords you can target. Let’s take a look.
The first thing to consider is search intent and what stage the buyer is at on their booking journey. This is where Google’s Micro Moments come in handy. Is the buyer just looking at potential destinations at this point? Or are they at the stage where they know where they want to go and are now looking at dates, flight times, etc? Different types of content will be best suited for keywords with different search intent.
What you can do as a travel marketer is ensure your site is visible at every stage of the booking journey, and you can do that through identifying search intent. Each keyword has a specific intent, i.e. the reason behind an online search.
Some examples of early searches in the buyer’s journey might look like this:
- Best place for skiing in Canada
- Best mediterranean resorts to visit 2023
- Summer cruises 2023
- Best european Christmas markets Winter 2023
This is what Google would refer to as Dreaming moments - the buyer wants to go away but doesn't know where yet.
Let’s look at a more specific example. Here’s a list of keywords related to booking a ski holiday.
These high search volume, competitive keywords have commercial intent and can give us an insight into how people are searching for a ski holiday - based on location, based on the type of holiday, and based on type of experience. This is the type of information we can use when considering our navigation.
- Ski holidays Austria (2,900 average searches per month)
- All inclusive ski holidays (1,900 average searches per month)
- Ski chalet holidays (1,600 average searches per month)
These informational searches can form a content plan for your blog and help your brand appear for micro moments when users are considering a ski holiday but still have questions around safety and packing.
- How to book a solo ski holiday (390 average searches per month)
- What to pack for a ski holiday (70 average searches per month)
- How to plan a ski holiday (50 average searches per month)
A detailed keyword research plan that covers broad and long tail keywords will help you create a content plan for all stages of the user journey. Once you’ve got your keywords, you start creating the content. Content type and search intent go hand in hand so you will need to consider different types of pages to match the keyword intent. For example, service or landing pages, blogs, images, and videos. We have written more about this in our search intent optimisation blog.
Let's take a quick look at how you could start to use these types of content as part of your overall SEO strategy.
Local SEO for travel websites
Adopting good local SEO practices is one of the most important aspects of any strategy for travel sites (especially destination sites) to ensure your page is front and centre when people search for your location. This is where having a Google Business Profile (GPF) is critical. Most reputable travel companies will already have an account set up, but let’s run through the basics:
- Create an account for your site on GBP (formally known as Google My Business) ensuring all NAP listing details (name, address, phone number) are correct.
- Include accurate descriptions, contact information, photos and any other information required for your travel business.
- Ensure that your NAP listing info is the same wherever referenced (Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc). Google scans all these listings when searching for details about your business. Inconsistent information in NAP citations looks unprofessional and can be confusing for customers.
- Keep Google and Bing knowledge graphs up to date and respond to reviews, questions, etc. Reviews in particular play a HUGE role in local search rankings, specifically in the Local Pack (the three top listings of a local search result).
Brand SEO for travel companies
You don’t want other sites answering questions on your behalf. Therefore, it is important to control the narrative and ensure your brand is front and centre when people search for information that you can answer. There are a few different ways you can do this and none of it is rocket science - it just requires a bit of legwork, particularly around GBP and page optimisation.
- Make sure your local listings are up to date - NAP, opening times, social media links, etc.
- Ensure you answer all brand-related questions people are asking - for example, adding comprehensive FAQ sections to pages, optimising existing content or responding to questions on your GBP.
- Respond to all client reviews on GBP, both good and bad - so many companies don’t do this, yet by responding to each review (however scathing), you’re not only boosting your business in local search results, you’re also demonstrating a commitment and connection to your customers, and subsequently building trust in your brand.
Link building for travel websites
Link building can be challenging and time consuming, never more so than in the competitive field of travel marketing. Get it right and it can send your rankings souring. Get it wrong and you risk damaging the reputation of your brand. The backlinks you should be aiming for are ones from high authority, industry-relevant websites such as Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, etc. Remember though - it’s about quality NOT quantity (OK, it’s a bit about quantity too), but the point of link building is to build trust in your brand. And if Google trusts your website, then it’s likely customers will too. Let’s take a look at some great link building methods.
1. Explore digital PR opportunities
Digital PR can be an incredibly effective way of boosting your backlinks. It reaps all the benefits of traditional PR methods while incorporating new trends around social media marketing, content marketing, etc. A good digital PR specialist will enhance your chances of reaching a far wider audience through press release optimisation, business profiling, and connecting your brand / campaign with reputable journalists and bloggers to get your name out there.
2. Partner with reputable travel sites
Connect with sites such as TripAdvisor through networking opportunities or via LinkedIn and ask them to promote your brand. This doesn’t have to be any more complex than a short email explaining who you are, what you would like them to do and why they should consider promoting you. By building that relationship, you are putting your brand in the best possible position to grow those backlinks now and for future campaigns.
3. Consider guest blogging
Guest posting is the practice of writing content for another travel company's site. Not only is this a great way to connect with your target audience, you can (usually) use it as an opportunity to include a couple of backlinks to your own site.
4. Fix broken links
Broken links are usually caused by a change in the URL, e.g. a site or page that no longer exists. It might seem like a ‘needle in a haystack’ job but it’s a great opportunity to utilise broken links with your own content.
For more tips on link building, check out our article How to build backlinks for SEO.
Common SEO mistakes you can face when working on a travel website?
Nailing SEO for your site is a tricky business, particularly if you are fairly new to the practice. The good news is it is relatively simple to get things right. The bad news is…it’s also easy to get things wrong. Let’s explore some SEO bloopers and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Keyword stuffing
You’ve found your perfect keyword, so by littering your content with it at every opportunity, you’ll scale those rankings….right?
Wrong. Google hates it. Customers hate it. So avoid like the plague.
While keyword stuffing is not quite as prevalent as it was a few years ago, we still come across a few examples, particularly among smaller, more niche specialists. Here’s an example:
The keyword here - you’ve guessed it - is ‘holiday’, and this word alone accounts for more than a quarter of the entire text.
Yes, keywords are very important but like with most things in life, you can have too much of a good thing, and overuse of keywords is something that not only looks unprofessional, you could end up being punished for it by Google.
2. Poor loading speed
‘I want it all, and I want it now’ sang Queen in their 80’s banger ‘I Want it All’. It’s fair to assume they weren’t talking specifically about rapid website load times, but online consumers are an inpatient bunch. If we want to find out about a villa in Spain or the best time to visit Corfu, we want that information at our fingertips within seconds.
In an ultra-competitive market such as the travel industry, if you don’t take steps to ensure your website load speed is, well, speedy, you’re in a whole heap of trouble. If you want to find out how to speed up your website, check out our page speed optimisation guide.
3. Complicated and lengthy navigation
The travel booking journey needs to be smooth sailing for the consumer. They don’t want to be sent round the houses searching for the information they need. Similarly, you will be keen to funnel them down the sales process as simply as possible. So ask yourself the following questions about your page or site:
- Have I minimised the number of steps a customer has to take to make a booking on my site?
- Are all the answers to a consumer’s questions about a desired hotel / resort / tour on one page?
- Have I ensured the consumer won’t need to navigate away from my page to seek information and answers?
- Is all the information up to date?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, it’s advisable to explore what you can do to rectify the issue. Take a look at high ranking competitor sites and look at how their booking steps differ to yours - it’s possible you may just need the odd tweak here and there…or you may need to revisit your whole customer navigation strategy.
How Adido can help
In a saturated market, it can be difficult to compete with the big guns of travel, but by putting your SEO strategy front and centre, your website has the potential to hit the top of the SERPs. If you want to find out more about how to implement a strong SEO strategy, why not speak to one of our travel SEO consultants? We have years of experience creating travel marketing campaigns which improve keyword rankings, increase organic traffic and ensure travel websites achieve the highest conversion rates possible. Drop us a line today!