You may have an incredible travel business ready to whisk people away to exotic destinations. But the World Wide Web is vast, and endless competitors vie to attract a finite pool of potential travelers.
In a world where travelers Google before they pack, being visible on search results pages isn’t just an advantage – it’s survival.
Whether you’re a travel blogger, travel agent, or manage a tourist attraction, search engine optimization is about more than keywords and blog posts.
We’ll be your tour guide to explore 12 key SEO activities you’ll want to check off your list to achieve your travel daydreams.
But who are we?
Startup Voyager is a team of SEO experts from all over the world with first-hand experience in travel SEO and many other industries.
We’re not just reciting this stuff — We’ve seen it work!
This Article Contains:
- What Makes Travel SEO Unique?
- 12 Point Travel SEO Essentials Checklist
- 6 Significant Benefits of Travel SEO
Bon voyage — Let’s go!
What Makes Travel SEO Unique?
Travel SEO involves optimizing websites and online content to enhance visibility on search engines like Google.
You need to ensure that:
- Search engines can find, index, and understand your website content.
- Your content appears on SERPs (search engine results pages) for search queries your ideal customers are looking up.
- Searchers click through to your website from the SERPs, engage with your content, and possibly convert down the line.
But your approach to tourism SEO should be tailored to the industry.
Here are six factors that make travel SEO distinct:
- Your money, your life (YMYL): Travel is a significant investment, and people want to ensure they get a great experience at a reasonable price.
They’ll research, compare options, and read reviews before deciding on anything. It can take a long time before they make any bookings or purchases.
So, travel companies must provide detailed, trustworthy information for every step of the customer journey. This way, they can guide the customer from ideation to destination and beyond.
- Trust and reviews matter: People take many potential risks while traveling. Their money, safety, and comfort are on the line.
Travel SEO uniquely revolves around genuine customer reviews. Positive reviews build credibility, instilling confidence in potential travelers.
Travel companies must focus on managing their reputations, as customer testimonials significantly influence decision-making.
Additionally, travel companies should convey trustworthiness throughout their website and digital marketing content.
- Markets and economic concerns: Customer preferences shift based on economic conditions. People are more likely to splurge on travel when their home economy is strong. If the opposite is true, they’ll often opt for budget options.
Additionally, the popularity of travel destinations may ebb and flow with their economies, too.
So, your travel SEO strategy must account for this, and digital marketing teams must adapt to what will sell at a given time.
- DIY Travel vs Agencies: The rise of DIY travel planning adds complexity as potential travelers have the entire internet at their disposal to plan their own trips.
Travel SEO needs to help companies prove that they offer value consumers can’t access on their own – be it expert advice, hidden gem destinations, first-hand insight, or special package deals.
- Purchases are emotional: Travel decisions are often emotionally charged experiences as customers are having brand new experiences and making memories.
Tourism SEO must cater to customers’ emotional states, crafting content that resonates on a personal level. Customers won’t want to share their happy moments with an impersonal company.
Storytelling, captivating visuals, and copy that evokes positive emotions can influence travelers, guiding their choices and encouraging bookings.
- Social media matters: Travel SEO should extend to creating shareable, inspiring, viral-worthy content for social media.
Travel companies can create a buzz by leveraging social media platforms, encouraging user-generated content, and driving conversions.
Remember these factors as we explore the actionable steps to implement travel content marketing for your company.
12 Point Travel SEO Essentials Checklist
To reach true SEO success, you’ll need to wear many hats.
You must craft engaging content, master technical techniques, build strategic relationships, and much more.
Consider this checklist your compass to navigate the complexities of SEO in the travel sector.
1. Travel Customer Journey
From dreaming about a vacation to finally booking and experiencing it, people’s needs and mindsets change.
Tailoring SEO efforts to each stage ensures the right content meets their desires, significantly improving engagement and conversion rates.
The travel customer journey can be understood as follows:
A. Dreaming 💭
First, customers are inspired by a desire to travel and experience new locations. They may browse travel blogs, engage with travel-based social media content, and save content for future reference.
In terms of search queries, they may look for things like “best beach destinations for vacation” and “famous landmarks to visit”.
Content should be descriptive, use beautiful photography and videography, and drum up hype for destinations and activities.
B. Planning ✍️
Once they decide to take a trip, customers will settle on a destination and start looking into transportation, accommodation, and itinerary details.
SEO content should include detailed guides, travel tips, and comparison articles.
Keywords might look like “budget-friendly hotels in Bali” or “activities for a week in Paris”.
C. Booking 📆
The booking stage is where decisions solidify. Customers will consider their research and explore reviews. They may be deciding between different packages for an airline, tour operator, hotel, etc.
SEO can focus on keywords like “Flight tickets to England” or “Hotel booking near LAX”.
Your website content must instill trust through testimonials, secure payment options, and transparent booking policies.
D. Experiencing 🧳
Your walk with customers shouldn’t end once money has changed hands.
According to Google’s 2020 report, 95% of people visit travel sites after booking their trip. Travelers will still seek real-time guidance and immersive experiences while on their trip.
Here, SEO content should be geared towards mobile-friendliness, voice search, and local searches for travelers on the go.
For example, customers may look up queries like “best restaurants near me”, “guided tours in Barcelona”, or “what’s the weather in New York this week?”.
You can provide value and convenience with activity ideas, interactive maps, weather updates, and language translation tools.
2. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the backbone of effective SEO.
Many marketers make the mistake of creating content with no plan or strategy, simply hoping to rank and gain traffic.
But there is a science behind choosing topics to cover with accompanying keywords that help you build your domain authority and find your audience.
It begins with brainstorming seed keywords and expanding your list as you go. You can use Google Keyword Planner for free to help you find a related keyword list for your niche.
Using SEO tools, you’ll delve into metrics to help you prioritize and target valuable yet attainable keyword clusters. Then, peeking at competitors reveals content gaps.
Let’s unravel these steps further.
A. Types of Keywords
When it comes to the travel industry, there is a wealth of keyword types you could target. While you’re brainstorming, consider this non-exhaustive list of topics:
Seasonal keywords revolve around specific times of the year or occasions when travel is prevalent.
Travelers might search for “romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day”, “family-friendly destinations for summer vacations”, or “Christmas sightseeing in Europe”.
For example, here’s the Google Trends data for “Christmas tourist attractions”:
Google Trends shows the searches peak most years around Christmas (with a big dip around the time of the pandemic).
We covered the travel customer journey earlier.
You can brainstorm keywords for each stage.
For example, a searcher for the query “romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day” is likely in the dreaming or planning stage, and you should craft the content accordingly. Then, think about other content you could make to draw readers towards the booking stage.
III. Voice Search
Voice search keywords cater to the increasing trend of using voice assistants.
Queries tend to be natural and conversational (and longer), like “Find me pet-friendly hotels in Miami Beach” or “What are the top attractions in Bali?”.
IV. Specific needs
According to the Google travel journey report, travelers are more likely to decide against booking due to unmet needs (47%) than price (26%).
Additionally, needs-based bookings are more valuable than bookings motivated by other factors.
People are generally willing to pay a little more if they require things like:
- A comfortable flight with good in-flight entertainment
- Accommodation that provides a suitable environment for quality sleep
- Disability-friendly accommodation and activities
- Child or pet-friendly facilities
- Activities that fit into a busy schedule for business trips
So, keywords of this type can secure valuable customers while assuring travelers that you care about their needs.
Search queries could include:
- “Noise-free accommodations near the airport”
- “One-day itinerary for busy travelers in Paris”
- “Airlines with extra legroom seats”
- “Wheelchair-accessible attractions in Rome”
- “Pet-friendly accommodation in San Francisco”
V. Destinations and accommodation
These are keywords related to where customers are going and where they might stay.
Destination-focused keywords for the dreamers can be “best tourist spots in England”, or “castles in England”. For those in the planning or booking stage, you could target keywords like “travel guide to England”.
Activity-based keywords guide travelers and adventure seekers to experiences that align with their preferences and hobbies.
- “scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef”
- “art galleries in London”
- “bungee jumping in South Africa”.
Travel and tour packages are popular for families, couples, and solo travelers looking for cost-effectiveness and hassle-free planning.
You can consider keywords like “all-inclusive family vacation packages”, “couples getaway package”, or “solo travel deals”.
VIII. Tips and Guides
In this category, we’re talking about keywords like “packing tips for Europe travel”, “Japan travel guide”, or “South America travel mistakes”, for example.
These keywords offer practical advice and local expertise to ensure travelers have a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable time.
Some travel customers want a budget-friendly experience, some seek luxury, and others want something in between.
You can address these financial considerations with keywords like “luxury resorts in Thailand”, “backpacking through Europe on a budget”, or “three-star hotels in Sydney”.
X. Special Events
Often, travel is instigated by a desire to experience a special seasonal event or festival in a destination.
Who hasn’t dreamed of attending a Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, or Running of the Bulls?
You can keep a calendar of such events around the world and create content about:
- When, where, and how to attend
- What happens at the festival
- Social norms and customs to observe
- Travel tips and activity recommendations
XI. Culinary Tourism
Culinary tourism keywords include “best food markets in Paris” or “cooking classes in Tuscany”, appealing to food enthusiasts exploring local cuisines.
They can direct travelers to foodie delights like markets, restaurants, bars, food festivals, tasting tours, dinner entertainment, and more.
Many eco-conscious folks are concerned about things like travel-related carbon emissions and the environmental impact of tourism on protected areas.
You can use travel SEO to help such customers find ways to minimize their environmental impact and travel sustainably.
Some keywords in this niche could include “eco-friendly resorts in Costa Rica”, “sustainable travel tips”, or even “vegan/ vegetarian restaurants in Edinburgh”.
These keywords offer insights into travel gear, such as:
- Luggage, backpacks, and other bags (such as anti-pickpocket fanny packs)
- Photography and videography equipment
- Safety gear (E.g., alarms, locks, self-defense tools)
- Practical travel gadgets and accessories (E.g., travel pillows, headphones, packing cubes, portable Wi-Fi, multitools, etc.)
- Aesthetic accessories (E.g., journals, elevated luggage tags, sunglasses, scrapbooks, stickers, etc.)
Listicle-type posts will work well for this niche — E.g., “10 Safety Items You Need for Protection While Travelling”.
Cultural keywords provide insights into the cultural and historical aspects of destinations. Keywords like “historical sites in Rome” and “traditional Japanese crafts” can guide travelers to explore historical landmarks, museums, traditional art forms, and cultural events, enriching their understanding of the local heritage.
Travel can present some difficulties in how to get to and navigate around a foreign area. You can help your readers get around by targeting keywords like “how to get from Rome to Florence”, “metro map Naples”, or “affordable car rental in Venice”.
This niche can also include flight comparisons and information about airports (E.g., navigating specific airports, flight delays, what to do during layovers, and how to get from airports to accommodations).
XVI. Climate and Weather
Searches related to weather are relevant at all stages of the customer journey. For instance, if customers are dreaming or planning, they may search keywords like “best time of year to visit Denmark” or “weather in Denmark in August”.
B. Keyword Metrics
After brainstorming, you should have a long list of potential keywords and plenty of inspiration for your travel blog.
But you can’t do it all at once.
How do you choose the order of keywords you want to target?
Fortunately, there are some concrete metrics you can consult to help you strategize.
To start, pick a promising keyword and search it on your SEO tool of choice – E.g., Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz.
Let’s use the keyword “travel to Japan” as an example. Here’s the keyword data for this query on Ahrefs Keyword Explorer:
The main three metrics to note are:
- Keyword Difficulty (KD): Refers to the level of competitiveness and complexity associated with ranking well for a specific keyword in search engine results, indicating how challenging it is to outrank existing high-ranking pages.
This keyword has a Super hard KD of 80, meaning it’ll be very challenging to rank for.
- Search Volume (SV): Refers to the total number of searches conducted for a keyword within a given timeframe, indicating the popularity and demand for that particular search term.
This keyword has a relatively high SV or 30K globally and 10K in the US.
- Cost Per Click (CPC): refers to the amount advertisers pay each time a user clicks on their sponsored search result.
High CPC values often indicate strong market demand, making these keywords highly competitive in organic search results.
A low CPC means fewer websites are bidding on a keyword, which could make it a good candidate to run ads. For a small cost, this could secure you a place at the top of the SERPs in addition to your attempts to rank organically.
It’s important to compare a keyword’s CPC against other keywords in the same niche. For our example keyword, the CPC is $0.80, which is on the higher end compared to similar keywords.
Here’s the thing:
You may think that high-SV keywords are where you’ll strike gold.
But high-SV usually means high competition.
As a new travel blog, it’ll be extremely unlikely you’ll outrank established travel sites right away, no matter how good your content is. That’s because search engines haven’t had the time to evaluate your domain expertise and trustworthiness.
So, what’s the right thing to do?
We recommend starting with keywords with a low KD and SV. Remember, even if a keyword only gets 100 monthly searches, the traffic adds up across your posts. 100 searches are still 100 opportunities to convert a visitor.
Many of these low-KD and SV keywords will be long-tail keywords.
Comparatively, “travel guide Japan” is a short-tail keyword.
It’s broad and competitive.
“Planning a trip to Japan” is an example of a long-tail keyword you could go after instead.
Here’s the Ahrefs data for the query:
It’s got a much lower KD, decent traffic (1K in the US), and a high CPC, indicating it could be a valuable yet attainable keyword for a new blog.
After checking the keyword data for some of the keywords on your list, you should ideally start to spot valuable, attainable clusters.
For example, you may notice several keyword types for a particular destination or travel type that seem realistic to rank for. You can then create a content plan that addresses this cluster in several posts before moving on to another cluster.
C. Competitor Analysis
One more task to include in your keyword research workflow is to check the keywords your competitors rank for.
Doing so can reveal content gaps – i.e., undiscovered keywords.
It also gives you an idea of the keywords you might want to prioritize to compete with them in the SERPs and attract customers to your website instead.
You can use your chosen SEO tool to check competitor keywords.
For example, on Ahrefs, you can search their domain in the Site Explorer feature.
Let’s use Tripadvisor as an example.
First, you’ll see a dashboard summarizing their traffic stats.
In the left sidebar, click on Organic keywords to see what keywords they’re ranking for. You can also sort the data by KD, SV, CPC, Traffic, etc.
3. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO involves optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and attract organic traffic through search engines.
This aspect of SEO aims to make web pages more user-friendly and easy for search engines to understand.
For travel websites, take note of the following on-page SEO elements:
A. Homepage Optimization
The homepage of a travel website is its vibrant storefront and should entice visitors with a captivating blend of visuals and information.
It should spotlight popular accommodations, blog posts, and exclusive offers with high-quality images of beautiful scenery and happy travelers.
You can take inspiration from this Caribbean Tours website:
Just below the hero, it features a full-screen slideshow of original images of their destinations and an original video highlight reel.
It also allows visitors to select a holiday type from a carousel with fitting imagery, which helps the website segment customers.
One of the biggest challenges for your homepage will be setting yourself apart from other travel agencies and businesses to improve your chances of getting conversions.
You can do so by effectively describing your company and unique selling points (USPs) to help visitors and search engines understand what you’re all about.
For example, if a searcher is looking for a Caribbean holiday, they may come across this ranking homepage:
This informative description tells us what makes the company special — It’s “world-leading”, Caribbean-focused, offers many destinations, and specializes in “outdoor adventure tours”.
This information can help persuade the ideal customers to click through.
If someone were looking for something less fast-paced and more luxurious, they might click on a result like this one instead:
And the most important part is that both of these titles and descriptions work much better than generic titles and descriptions like “Visit the Caribbean: Book your Caribbean holiday today”.
The aim is to tell searchers and search engines exactly what services you offer compared to others.
Another crucial part of homepage optimization is functionality.
Your website should be user-friendly, easy to navigate, and have clear conversion paths. But we’ll cover this in more detail when we discuss technical SEO.
B. Titles, Metas, and Headings
Titles and meta descriptions are all searchers see of your blog posts and web pages when they appear in search engine results.
Additionally, adding headings in your posts helps break it up into sections that inform search engines of what the content covers and makes it easier for visitors to read.
Often, search engines will scrape the headings of a post to craft an informative meta description of your post, especially if you didn’t add a meta yourself.
We recommend including a title, meta description, and headings in every blog post and page of your website. They should be descriptive, accurate, and match the search intent of the target keyword.
We’ve referenced the importance of visual content in marketing your travel services.
However, including images on your website can be tricky because they can slow down the page loading speed.
Additionally, search engines and some humans can’t see images but still need to access their context.
Fortunately, these issues have simple solutions.
Compressing images without compromising quality – using tools like ImageOptim, Compressor.io, and TinyPNG – can rescue your loading speed. This is necessary for retaining users and preventing bounces.
Descriptive alt tags aid accessibility and allow search engines to understand the content. Your CMS (content management system) should allow you to add alt text to images on your pages and blog posts.
Here’s an example from WordPress:
The section below features the image alt text “A family in front of a cruise ship” and “Beach at a Playa resort”.
Bonus tip: Use responsive design to ensure your images are properly sized for different screen sizes. Additionally, take care that text placed over images is readable on all devices.
D. Related Keywords
So far, we’ve discussed keywords that you could focus a blog post or web page around.
You might not know that these keywords are only the tip of the iceberg.
You see, search engines analyze the contents of pages to determine how closely related they are to one another. The system is complex, but comparing the words used on the pages is one part.
Look at the word clouds below for articles A, B, and C:
All three articles are about Italy, but one (Article C) is different.
You can tell by how many words they share that articles A and B are about travel in Italy, while article C is about Italian politics.
Similarly, search engines like Google assess the relevance of articles based on an ever-evolving set of words frequently used across the ranking posts.
You need to determine what these words are and sprinkle them in naturally throughout your posts and pages. You can also use them to guide the subtopics you’ll cover within an article.
There are tools you can use to find these keywords — Ours is a secret. 😉
Alternatively, you can look through the ranking posts and take note of common words and phrases you might want to use in your posts and pages to secure a higher ranking.
4. Technical SEO
Technical SEO aims to ensure your website works well and is search engine friendly.
It’s a broad field of SEO, but let’s explore four key aspects you’ll need to optimize your travel website:
A. Page Speed
As mentioned, fast-loading pages enhance user experience, reduce bounce rates, and improve search rankings.
In addition to image optimization, here are a few ways to speed up your site:
- Browser caching: Implement browser caching to store frequently accessed resources on visitors’ devices so they don’t have to be reloaded each time.
- Use content delivery networks (CDNs): Distribute website content across multiple servers globally, enabling faster user access by serving data from the nearest server location.
- Minimize redirects: Limit the use of redirects as they create additional HTTP requests, leading to longer loading times.
- Implement lazy loading: Load images and videos only when they become visible to users, reducing initial loading time and improving perceived performance.
B. Mobile Optimization
Mobile search is rising in popularity and is especially important for travelers on the go.
Websites’ user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are key ranking factors for search engines like Google. Search engines strongly prefer to rank pages that searchers can view regardless of their device.
To see how your site fares in mobile optimization, start by running the free Google mobile friendliness test.
Then, apply the following optimization techniques:
- Responsive design: Create a mobile-friendly responsive design that adjusts the layout and content based on the user’s device.
- Touch-friendly interface: Design touch-friendly buttons and navigation elements, ensuring they are large and well-spaced enough for easy tapping without accidental clicks.
- Minimize pop-ups: Avoid intrusive pop-ups and interstitials on mobile screens, as they can frustrate users and disrupt their browsing experience.
- Optimize fonts: Use web-safe, legible fonts and ensure font sizes are readable without zooming.
- Reduce input fields: Minimize the number of form fields, using auto-suggestions and dropdowns where possible, to simplify the input process on small screens.
- Prioritize content: Display essential information and calls-to-action prominently, ensuring users can quickly access critical content without excessive scrolling.
Tip: You can use Google Analytics data, A/B testing tools, and heat mapping to assess what content visitors engage with the most.
Here’s a look at the Skyscanner website’s mobile version:
Notice the professional and appealing look, responsiveness, and easy navigation. This will make for a good user experience and bolster visitor trust.
C. Structured Data
Structured data, also known as schema markup, is a code added to a website’s HTML to provide search engines with specific information about the content.
The code looks like this:
It helps search engines understand the context of the data, enhancing the way search results are displayed.
By incorporating schema markup, search engines can use your information in featured snippets, which are displayed prominently in the SERPs.
Additionally, Google uses schema markup to enrich SERP results and include details beyond the title and meta description.
For example, this SERP result includes a rating and price range thanks to structured data.
Schema markup is a language with a list of specific data types or “properties” you can use.
Travel sites can use structured data to mark up elements like:
- Hotel schema: Defines hotel properties for Google.
Includes properties for addresses, phone numbers, room availability, check-in and check-out, amenities, ratings, number of reviews, and more.
- Tourist destination schema: Defines tourist attractions and nearby locations.
Includes properties like TouristAttraction, TouristType (E.g., children), address, amenities, audience types (e.g., food tourism), and more.
- Rating and review schema: Enriches SERP listings with user reviews and star ratings.
- FAQ schema: Marks FAQ sections to enrich SERP results with answers to potential customer questions.
- Tourist trip schema: Focuses on organized trips and itineraries.
Specifies intended audience, arrival/departure times, itinerary details, offers, trip provider information, and more.
- Travel agency schema: For travel agencies to markup business details.
Includes accepted currencies, opening hours, star ratings, and other relevant information.
D. Site Structure
Site structure is pivotal for travel websites, directly impacting user experience and search engine optimization.
A well-organized structure ensures visitors can easily navigate, find relevant information, and engage with the content seamlessly.
Additionally, search engines like Google use site structure to understand page content, hierarchy, and relevance. This helps them rank your pages for relevant queries.
To enhance site structure, implement the following:
- Intuitive navigation: Create clear menus (navigation bar, footer, and sidebars), logical categories, and a search feature for easy exploration.
- Logical URL structure: Use descriptive, short URLs that reflect the page content.
E.g., “travelsite.com/blog/destination/travel-to-madrid” instead of “travelsite.com/blog/annfj2398ufsLNAwi42” or “travelsite.com/blog/category/destinations/10-tips-you-must-know-for-travel-to-madrid”
- XML Sitemaps: Submit XML sitemaps to search engines (or check that your CMS has created one for you) for comprehensive indexing.
- Breadcrumb navigation: Implement breadcrumbs for hierarchical context and user guidance.
For example, when landing on a blog post, a visitor might see a breadcrumb trail that says “Blog Home > Destinations > Spain” giving them some context for navigating your blog.
- Consistent layout: Maintain a consistent layout across pages for familiarity and usability.
You can see many of these features in this example — the Affordable Luxury blog:
5. Link Building
Link building involves getting other websites to place hyperlinks (backlinks) leading from their sites to yours. Backlinks act as endorsements, signaling your site’s credibility and authority to search engines.
In the past, backlink quantity mattered. But, websites started engaging in nefarious practices like link buying and link farming to gain unnatural backlinks.
Nowadays, search engines value quality far more than quality.
Backlinks must be relevant and come from authoritative domains to help you rank better.
Here’s another thing:
You don’t need to engage in active link-building techniques. Creating exceptional, shareable content naturally earns backlinks.
But if you do want to boost your backlink profile, you can try strategies like:
- Guest blogging: Contribute informative posts to authoritative travel blogs, earning backlinks in return.
- Local citations: List your travel business in local directories and tourism-related platforms.
- Social media engagement: Share your travel content on social media and engage with the audience to earn shares and backlinks.
- Press releases: Distribute travel-related press releases to gain media coverage and backlinks.
Tip: Search Google News for travel-related keywords and narrow the search to a one-month timeframe. Ensure the research comes from reputable sources by checking the website’s domain reputation. This can help you find newsworthy research that you can repackage into press releases.
- Resource link building: Create valuable travel resources (like itineraries, phrase guides, currency converters, safety tips, event calendars, etc.) that other sites want to link to or embed on their sites.
- Broken link building: Identify broken links (using tools like Ahrefs, Screaming Frog SEO Spider, and Google Search Console) on reputable travel sites and offer your content as a replacement.
- Collaboration with tourism boards: Partner with official tourism boards for destination-related content and backlinks.
- Event content: Create link-worthy content around events (like conferences, festivals, and sporting events) in the destinations you serve.
- Business collaboration: Reach out to local businesses (E.g., hotels, restaurants, attractions) to highlight their offerings or virtual tours in your content in exchange for backlinks.
Here are some real-world travel link building examples:
Travel blogger Sommertage partnered with the Vienna Tourism Board to create a YouTube video and earn a backlink from its channel.
Tour operator Guess Where Tours collaborated with WagJag to offer customers a discounted tour and received a backlink.
Travel and Leisure created an Italian phrase guide that got over 300 backlinks from 150+ domains.
6. Internal Linking
When you link between pages on your website, you create a map of your content for visitors and search engines to explore.
For visitors, it enhances user experience by providing easy navigation and guiding them to related content seamlessly. This also keeps visitors on the site for longer, improves engagement, and heightens the chance of getting conversions.
From a search engine perspective, internal links establish the website’s hierarchy and help search engine crawlers understand the site’s structure and content relevance.
For example, when a search engine sees many links leading to one page on your site (like your blog homepage), it regards that page as more important. And when you link related content together, the algorithms can pick up on content clusters and evaluate your topical authority.
Internal links also enable search engines to index your site effectively. After all, if a destination on your map isn’t connected by any roads (links), search engines can’t visit them.
But what’s the best way to implement strategic internal linking for your travel blog?
We’ll explain with examples from the Skift Travel News blog.
Try this simple internal linking method:
- Create descriptive category pages: Consider how to categorize content for your website and visitors, and create links from the blog homepage to the category pages.
You can create as many or as few categories as you need. Skift has a pretty extensive list of categories because of the scale of its content creation.
- Link from categories to blog home: This ensures seamless navigation and an efficient flow of link juice in the content hierarchy.
In Skift’s case, as on many other sites, the logo in the top left corner links to the home page.
- Link from categories to articles: Within category pages, incorporate links directing visitors to specific articles within those categories. This helps users find in-depth information related to their interests.
- Link from articles to categories: Individual articles should contain internal links guiding readers back to the relevant category pages. This enhances the user’s journey through the site and reinforces the hierarchy.
- Insert links within articles: Incorporate contextual links to related posts within articles. These links enrich the reader’s experience, encouraging them to explore more content and increasing overall engagement.
Note: Skift’s URL structure is interesting. Likely because it’s a news blog, the Skift URLs contain the publishing date, likely so that search engines and searchers can easily see how recent and relevant the posts are.
7. Quality Blog Content
As a new travel blog, you’ll only outrank established websites if your content is top-notch and well-optimized.
Even established sites risk losing their audience’s trust if their content quality slips.
Let’s go over a few all-important guidelines for creating travel content that searchers and search engines will love.
A. Search Intent
Search Intent refers to the purpose or goal behind a user’s online search. Search engines prioritize pages that accurately cater to the search intent. So, creating relevant and valuable content that meets users’ needs is crucial for ranking well.
There are four main types of search intents:
- Informational: Users seek information or answers to specific questions. E.g., keywords like “safety tips for solo travelers” or “free things to do in Paris”.
- Commercial: Users are researching products or services without a clear buying intent. E.g., keywords like “[travel company A] vs [travel company B]” or “Hilton Hotel Honolulu review”.
- Transactional: Users intend to make a purchase or complete a specific action. E.g., keywords like “book affordable accommodation in Dublin” or “MSC cruise reservations online”.
- Navigational: Users are looking for a specific website or page. E.g., keywords like “Airbnb login” or “Delta Airlines check-in”.
This framework should help you determine what users want from their searches.
But to create relevant content, you also need to consider factors like:
- Searcher demographics: Consider the audience’s characteristics, preferences, and expectations.
- Reason behind searches: Understand the motivation, such as trip planning, booking, or general exploration.
- Ideal format: Determine whether users prefer lists, guides, videos, interactive content, detailed content, quick answers, etc.
How can you determine this?
Study SERPs to analyze the types of content Google ranks high for specific queries. Then, craft content that matches the format and depth of information found in top-ranking pages.
Let’s look at the SERP for the keyword “safety tips for solo travelers”.
The persona seems pretty obvious — Searchers are likely planning a solo trip and looking for safety advice. However, several posts in the top 10 specifically address female travelers. This is an angle you’ll want to include in your post.
Listicles dominate the SERPs, so you should adopt this format for your article.
According to the keyword’s Ahrefs data, the top-ranking posts are between 2,000 and 5,000 words long. To compete, you’ll probably want to make your post quite detailed.
B. E-E-A-T Guidelines
E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google assesses these factors to determine a website’s credibility and content quality.
You can showcase E-E-A-T in your content creation by:
- Incorporating author bios, credentials, and industry experience on your web pages.
- Establishing authority with backlinks from reputable sources and high-quality external references.
- Building trust by ensuring accurate information, transparent disclosures, and a user-friendly website experience.
You can take some inspiration from The Poor Traveler blog, which made a series of posts about Visa applications for different countries.
To meet the E-E-A-T guidelines for this article on China Visa requirements, they include several features like:
- Prominent disclaimers
- An author bio with social links and a description of his accolades to establish authority.
- A real image of the Chinese Visa
- Several links to further content on and off of the blog to help visitors with the Visa process (This shows search engines that the blog has broad knowledge of the topic)
- Editable forms and templates
And, in general, the post is very detailed and well-researched.
Another great way to build trust with search engines is by showing your first-hand expertise through…
C. Original Content
Originality is essential for travel content.
Imagine you were on vacation and looking for a place to eat dinner. So, you look up nearby restaurants on Google and find a listicle of the 10 best restaurants in the area. You pick one that gets a rave review in the post.
But when you arrive at the establishment, you realize that the article got several things wrong. The opening hours are incorrect, the service is poor, the price is much higher than expected, and they don’t have meals to suit your dietary needs.
That’s likely a result of the article’s author relying on second-hand information about the restaurant.
Visitors are more likely to trust and engage with original content that shows first-hand expertise.
This can include:
- Original images and videos of destinations, accommodations, and attractions
- Informed travel experiences and reviews written by authors who have personally experienced a location
- Original research (like surveys, statistics, and trend analysis) that provides valuable, exclusive data
For example, this blog post about the cost of African safari tours by The Exploration Company includes an original embedded YouTube video.
It’s a curated slideshow of images from tours they offer. While they may have sourced the images from their destination partners, the video itself is original content.
8. Local SEO
Local SEO aims to elevate your visibility, attract foot traffic, and stand out in SERPs with accurate information about your tourism business.
To ensure searchers can always find your up-to-date details, follow these three steps:
A. Claiming a Google My Business Listing
Google My Business listings can display your business information on the right-hand side of the SERPs or on Google Maps for relevant queries.
To claim a listing for your business, visit google.com/business and follow the prompts.
In the process of setting up your Google Business profile, you will complete these steps:
- Enter your travel company’s name and address.
- If your company appears in the suggestions, select it. If not, create a new listing.
- Verify your business through phone, email, or postcard verification methods provided by Google.
- Provide other information about your travel company, such as operating hours, website URL, the year you opened, and images of your business.
Customers can also read and leave reviews about your business on your Google Business Profile. So, check the reviews regularly and engage with satisfied and unsatisfied customers.
B. Other Directories
Apart from GMB, list your travel company on platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Bing Places. Ensure your details are correct across your listings, and update your details when changes occur.
Tools like Moz Local, BrightLocal, Yext, and Synup can help you manage your local listings across directories.
C. Local Landing Pages
Another great way to show up in local searches is through area-specific landing pages.
To do this, create a landing page template that’s optimized for UI, UX, and conversion optimization elements.
Tip: Conversion optimization can include features like clear CTAs, compelling headlines, visually appealing images and videos, trust indicators, and social proof.
You can see some of these features on this Context Travel landing page for Amsterdam:
For example, you can create a destination profile template where you summarize valuable information like:
- Transportation options (E.g., train and bus routes)
- Links to related blog posts you’ve written on the region
Then, you can create multiple pages based on the templates and optimize them for keywords related to countries, states and provinces, cities, and suburbs.
For example, Context Travel has templatized landing pages for each country and city in which they offer tours.
This strategy enables you to create a lot of content more quickly than writing individual blog posts. You can even use programmatic SEO to further minimize the time and human effort required.
9. Tracking Mentions and Reviews
In the travel industry, brand mentions and reviews are invaluable assets. They are indicators of your online reputation and powerful influencers of customer trust and loyalty.
Positive mentions and reviews build credibility, while negative ones can impact your brand’s perception.
Online customer feedback can come in several forms, including:
- Direct mentions: Sometimes, customers will name your travel brand on social media and tag your account.
- Indirect mentions: Alternatively, some customers will name your brand without tagging you, meaning you won’t be notified.
- Reviews: Customers leave reviews on platforms like Google Reviews, Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc.
It can be challenging to keep track of all mentions and feedback regarding your travel brand when it’s spread across platforms.
You can use social listening tools like Brandwatch, Mention, and SproutSocial to see all your mentions and reviews on one dashboard.
It’s vital and beneficial to respond to customer feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.
Positive feedback is an opportunity to express gratitude, engage with the customer, and encourage them to share their experiences further.
For neutral or negative reviews, ensure you apologize for any inconveniences, provide solutions, and show willingness to improve.
10. Social Media
Vibrant social media platforms showcase stunning visuals, engaging content, and travel narratives, sparking inspiration and desire to explore.
Some of the benefits of maintaining a prominent presence on social media platforms include:
- Inspiring travel
- Bolstering a positive image of the destinations and services you offer
- Engaging with potential and existing customers, thereby building trust and positive relationship
- Enhancing customer satisfaction by responding to queries and concerns
- Encouraging brand loyalty and repeat purchases
If you want to up your social media game, here are three social media strategies to try:
A. Sharing Your Content
Sharing your blog content on social media platforms enhances visibility and invites shares and more traffic to your website.
Additionally, instead of sharing plain links, you can accompany them with:
- Original images from the post
- Captivating snippets you wish to highlight
- Summarized travel tips and insights
- Related hashtags to expand the post’s reach
B. Partnering With Travel Influencers
In the boom of social media influencers, it’s no wonder that travel is a popular niche.
Who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel?
Collaborating with travel influencers can amplify your brand, as some have millions of online followers. Influencers’ authentic experiences resonate with their followers, fostering trust.
You can provide influencers with discounts or free resources (E.g., flights, tours, accommodation, VIP treatment) in exchange for them sharing their trips online.
Alternatively, you can pay them to make a sponsored post. This can lead many of their followers to visit your website and book trips.
Now, hiring influencers can be very costly, so you’ll need to find someone within your budget based on their follower count.
While you may not go the sponsored post route, you can use this chart from the Hype Auditor 2023 State of Influencer Marketing report as a reference point for the value of remuneration influencers may expect:
But how do you find influencers to reach out to?
You can use tools like BuzzSumo, SEMrush, and Traackr to search for influencers in your niche and refine your search based on platforms, follower count, engagement rates, and more.
For example, here’s what the SEMrush Influencer Analytics dashboard looks like:
Once you’ve identified a shortlist of influencers, you can reach out via their business email, send an offer, and spark up a negotiation.
C. Gathering User-Generated Content
These days, ordinary people love to share their life experiences with friends, family, and followers on social media. This allows travel companies to harness the power of user-generated content (UGC).
For example, you can share posts your customers tag or mention you in.
Or, you can encourage people to share their travel experiences by hosting competitions or travel challenges.
Travelers can then participate by sharing their photos and videos and using your handles and hashtags. This puts your brand in the spotlight and can drive more social media attention to your profiles and more traffic to your website.
In this example, Alaska Tour & Travel cleverly accepts submissions via their website, boosting traffic and encouraging visitors to explore.
UGC builds credibility, authenticity, and community around your brand. It also leads to more brand awareness, which can spill over into your SEO efforts.
For instance, people may be more likely to click on search results from your brand if they have positive associations with it from social media campaigns.
11. Email & Marketing Automation
Email marketing, content marketing, and marketing automation — Can you name a better trio?
Your travel agency or company can outshine competitors and foster customer loyalty by sharing insightful email content (such as popular travel packages, inspiring newsletters, and engaging Q&A sessions).
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to travel email outreach:
- Step 1: Get visitors’ email addresses and permission to contact them by having them fill in forms on your website.
For example, you can request users to sign in to read certain content, prompt visitors to sign up for your newsletter, or ask for an email address in exchange for access to a useful content asset like a travel checklist.
- Step 2: Segment your email list based on preferences like destinations, travel frequency, and budgets.
- Step 3: Create personalized email content for prospects in the various segments.
But how do you gather data to create segments and personalized content?
This would be an arduous task to do manually.
Fortunately, you can use a marketing automation tool to implement processes like:
- Segmenting potential customers
- Personalizing email responses
- Sending immediate follow-up emails after form submissions
- Recognizing returning visitors
- Scheduling sales calls
- A/B testing email and marketing content
- Scoring leads based on their readiness to purchase a travel product
- Monitoring how visitors interact with your email content and website
Some marketing automation tools include:
- Entry-level: ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Drip
- Mid-level: HubSpot Marketing Hub, Keap, Zoho Campaigns
- Expert: Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua
12. Auditing and Data Analysis
To succeed in travel SEO, you need to constantly monitor your metrics and results to see what’s working and what isn’t.
The work of an SEO professional never ends, as you must constantly evaluate what needs improving and strategize for the future of your SEO strategy.
These are some basic SEO metrics to monitor:
- Organic traffic: Monitor the number of visitors coming to your site through organic search.
Tools: Google Analytics, Google Search Console
- Keyword rankings: Track the positions of your targeted keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs) to evaluate your visibility.
Tools: SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs
- Click-through rate (CTR): Analyze the percentage of users who clicked on your website link after seeing it in the search results.
Tools: Google Search Console
- Bounce rate: Assess the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate indicates a potential issue with the landing page content or user experience.
Tools: Google Analytics
- Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a booking or filling out a contact form.
Tools: Google Analytics
- Page load speed: Evaluate that your pages load quickly (under two seconds) to prevent bounces.
Tools: Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Core Web Vitals
- Backlink profile: Check the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to your site.
Tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest
6 Significant Benefits of Travel SEO
Travel SEO offers numerous advantages that can significantly enhance a travel company’s online presence and competitive edge.
- Increased organic traffic: Travel SEO optimizes your website for relevant keywords, leading to higher visibility in search engine results and attracting more visitors.
- Lead generation: By optimizing your site’s content and structure, travel SEO attracts qualified leads actively searching for travel-related information and services. This increases the likelihood of lead conversion.
- Cost-effectiveness: Travel SEO provides a cost-effective long-term solution compared to paid advertising. Once your website ranks well for relevant keywords, you continue to attract organic traffic without incurring additional costs per click or impression.
- Enhanced credibility: Websites that appear on the first page of search engine results and have a solid user experience are often perceived as more credible by users.
- Improved user experience: Technical SEO emphasizes creating user-friendly websites with fast load times, intuitive navigation, and responsive design. These enhancements not only please visitors but also increase search engine rankings.
- Local visibility: For travel companies with physical locations, local SEO tactics can increase foot traffic to physical venues (E.g., offices, attractions, accommodations, etc.).
But can you manage all the processes necessary to unlock these benefits in-house?
If not, you may need to invest in SEO services from a specialized SEO service provider, like Startup Voyager.
Destination: Success! Your Travel SEO Adventure Awaits
SEO is a linchpin for the travel industry, connecting travelers with their dream destinations and travel businesses with their audiences.
As we’ve explored, the unique challenges and opportunities in the sector demand a strategic approach to SEO. From keyword research to social media to data analysis, it takes a diverse system to build trust with potential customers and inspire conversion.
If you want to get your tourism business off the runway and soaring to new heights, we invite you to connect with us. ✈️
Startup Voyager is an SEO service provider and growth agency unlike any other. We specialize in crafting tailored SEO and conversion solutions for a range of industries, including automotive, fintech, SaaS, B2C e-commerce, and, yes, travel!
We’ve helped clients reach a million clicks and outrank industry giants and government sites. We even have experience running our very own SEO travel blog.
Contact us to set off on an exhilarating journey through SEO, conversion optimization, and many more strategies to build your travel business.