Latest SEO articles:
Travel Content SEO Strategy: How To Build Links, Traffic & Conversions
The advent of the internet gave travel companies a whole new avenue for exposure.
Where once you may have had to rely on outdated brochures, grainy photos, or (worst of all) Uncle Gary’s boring slide show about his trip to Bermuda, now anyone can create, curate, and share photos, videos, and stories from their vacation in seconds.
And while this is great for exposing people to lesser-known attractions and must-see destinations, it has also created massive competition for web traffic.
You can’t post yet another image of someone propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or recreating the cover of Abbey Road and expect to attract visitors.
To stand out in an over-saturated field, you need to find a way to separate your content from everyone else, drive traffic, and capture the eyeballs of your targets.
And ad-hoc blog posts just aren’t going to cut it. You need a content strategy.
Not sure what that is? Maybe you have a vague idea but no clue where to get started when it comes to creating one?
Or just want to brush up on the essentials and polish your existing content strategy? You’re in the right spot.
In this piece, we’ll dive deep into developing a content plan of attack for your travel business and equip you with the knowledge you need. Let’s get started.How To Get Started
If this is your first time developing a content strategy, the task may seem overwhelming, and you may be unsure where to start.
Take a deep breath; creating a great travel content strategy is easier than you think.
The best place to get started is at the beginning. And that means assessing where you currently stand to make the right decisions about what to do next.
For example, if you’re a small site with no links, starting your content production focused on long posts that target highly competitive keywords probably isn’t the best approach.
Likewise, if you’re well-established and have a strong link profile, creating content purely for generating links might not be the best investment of your time.
To decide where your time is best spent, you should decide on your priority.
Do you want your content to attract new links? Or do you want to focus on driving traffic by ranking for phrases in Google?
If you’re a brand new site or have a small link profile, I recommend focusing on content for links first.
If you are well-established and already have a decent link profile, you can probably move straight into creating content for traffic.
So, how do we approach those two things?Strategizing For Links
Google’s search algorithm values quality links to your site.
But what if you’ve just launched your website or been running it for a while, but you don’t have many incoming links? The answer is obvious: You need to acquire some links.
Once you’ve created content that accomplishes this, you can then develop the type of content that generates traffic.
These two things working in conjunction will give you a much better chance of ranking well and attracting traffic, but more on that later.
In the meantime, let’s look at some different approaches to creating content that attracts links to your site.Make Them Refer To You
If there is one thing bloggers love, it’s statistics.
Creating pages on your site that cover key statistics relating to the travel industry is a great way to pick up links over time when journalists or bloggers are looking for sources to reference.
This might be a list of the key statistics relating to travel in Greece, a page based on family travel numbers, or a list of Southern California’s most popular tourist destinations.
If you have the stats, someone will need them.
This isn’t a quick win that will get you lots of links fast, but if you create enough of them, they can build a sterling link profile over time.Don’t Forget Your Studies
A more immediate way to get links is by researching and creating studies highlighting new findings.
This is a classic PR play that gives you new material to pitch to journalists that can get you coverage and links on top-tier sites.
If it’s seen by the right people interested in your new findings, you can start seeing the links roll in almost immediately.
This can be done by small companies on a budget by combining existing datasets to create new results.
For example, this piece we created for a client was featured on Lonely Planet, the Independent, and various other top-tier publications.Be A Resource
Note: This is not creating resource pages!
There are lots of quality resource pages out there that list the best articles on a certain topic. To get featured on them, you need a resource worth linking to.
Fortunately, you can create one and then pitch it!
There is no one approach for this, though using the quality of the pieces already on the page should be a good guide. This guide breaks down one process of creating one.
In travel, this could be things like pages linking to the best guides about destinations.
Opportunities can also lie in more niche areas like guides to accessible travel in a particular location. If it’s useful and linkable, it can serve as a resource, which means links.Try Your Hand At Podcasting
Creating a quality podcast worth its salt takes time and effort, but by doing so, you’re creating a truly linkable asset.
A quality podcast, particularly in a unique niche, will help you stand out.
Not to mention the amount of content out there highlighting “the best podcasts for XYZ” offers a huge opportunity for picking up natural links.
Other benefits include:Establishing yourself as a thought leader. Connecting with influencers. Establishing potential partnerships.
And so much more.Roundup What’s Happening In Travel
An oldie but still one that can offer huge value if executed correctly is the roundup, a.k.a. “what’s happening in (blank)” posts.
This allows you to connect with key people, and if you choose wisely, you may find people to include with press pages on their own sites.
Referencing them will often lead to links from the people who have been featured.
Loads of fantastic new travel content are being shared daily, so you should never be short of inspiration on what to include.
Once you’ve created enough posts for link building and picked up some momentum, it’s time to move on to your content for traffic.Plan For More Traffic
Okay, we’ve got the strategy for generating links sorted. Now let’s move on to developing the type of content that will drive traffic.
When you reach this stage, following the process below should give you a good structure for creating content that succeeds in increasing your search visibility.Audience Personas Are A Great Help
Audience personas get a bad rap, but if you keep it simple and use them correctly, they can help you devise a content strategy that reaches the right people.
They exist mainly to create a clear picture of who you’re targeting with your marketing.
This doesn’t have to mean all the bells and whistles of names, job descriptions, and hair colors. It can simply be a prompt to identify who might buy your product or be an amplifier for your business.
If you come up with a few personas with loose descriptions, you can use this to guide what content they want.
We’ve found this particularly useful in identifying our clients’ shoulder interests.
In other words, just because we’re marketing for travel companies doesn’t mean the audience is only interested in travel.
So, why not create content that caters to those shoulder interests, too? This lets you get in front of the audience and feed them into the travel element.Keyword Research Pays Off
You’ve thought about who the audience is, and now it’s a case of identifying the things they search for the most. It’s time to dive into keyword research.
Follow a process like this to identify the phrases with the best volume, but don’t neglect the wider opportunities available.
You shouldn’t think about the top five or even 10 phrases you want to rank for.
Instead, you should consider all the phrases relevant to you and your product or service.
In travel, this funnel is huge because there are so many areas that people research before making a booking.
This might be the best time to visit a place, what to do in a location, or simply details about individual attractions.
You shouldn’t move on until you’re satisfied you’ve covered everything that could be involved in that journey.Know What You Have
Once you’ve identified all the phrases relevant to you, it’s time to see if you’ve covered them already.
Perform a content audit and cross-reference the keyword research with your current rankings and identify content that needs to be created, improved, or updated.Group Things Together
Once you know what content you already have and need to create, it’s time to start prioritizing what to work on first.
Focusing on topic clusters is a great way to do this because it will help you build out sections of the website which rank well more quickly.
You can do this by taking your keyword research and categorizing it into different topics.
Sometimes, multiple keywords can be targeted with one post, while others will be on the same topic but require a post of their own.
For example, you might have a post about “the best time to visit the Maldives,” but the keyword research also highlights that “The Maldives in November” also warrants a page in itself.
Once you’ve broken that down for all relevant phrases in your keyword research, you should create all the posts in one topic area first, rather than randomly picking posts across different topics.
This will create a good cluster for you and make all the content relevant, consistent, and well-supported. We’ll dive more into the writing process in just a bit.
You can then roll this out across different topic areas until you’ve covered all your key areas.Build A Solid Content Structure
Once you know which pages you will create, it’s time to start creating them.
The first thing to consider is structure and making sure you use the best possible URLs and folder structure.
You don’t want to change this down the line, so ensuring it’s as optimized as possible the first time is key.
We usually use the main target phrase for the page as the URL slug.
Once you’ve created all the pages within a particular cluster, you also want to ensure they are linked together well. Ideally, this will be in a structured way rather than doing it ad-hoc in links within the content.
A table at the start or end of the posts that links to all other pages within that cluster clearly shows Google they all belong together.Keep An Eye On On-Page Factors
Finally, it’s time for the writing itself.
Make sure you use the right structure and any particular keywords you’re targeting with the article.
We analyze the pages ranking on page one of search engine results for our target keyword and then pull together the header structure of those pieces to amalgamate into one ultimate post that covers everything.
Incorporate elements like a good header structure, external links, and a table of contents at the start for longer posts where necessary.Create Content That Converts
Many people forget when creating a content strategy that the pages actually do the selling!
If you spend all your time and effort driving more people to your site with content but don’t update the text on key pages to help convert those visitors into customers, all your efforts were for naught.Tell Them Who You Are
People who find you further down the marketing funnel might decide they’re interested in your offering and want to learn more.
Where do they go?
The About Us page, of course.
Make sure that when you’re putting all your efforts into writing content, you spend some time on your About page (including creating one if you haven’t already!).
Make sure it drives home all your key messages and feeds people one step closer to making a purchase.
You compete against many huge brands in travel, so you must get people to trust you immediately.
One way to do this is to include signals like which publications you’ve been recommended in, testimonials from existing customers, and links to review sites.Something To Remember You By
Some people aren’t quite ready to enquire or buy right now.
How can you make sure these people see you again?
With content, of course!
Create downloadable assets that your audience will be interested in and ask for their email address in exchange for the content.
Once you have that email, you can nurture the relationship through activities like remarketing.Creation Is Just A Start
Another important but often forgotten part of the content strategy process is reviewing, testing, and monitoring how it performs.
It’s possible to create something that performs well straight out of the box by following the processes above, but there will always be areas you can improve.
Identify these by:Monitoring how well different pages are ranking. Updating them to push them forward further.
Likewise, with conversion content, you can test different approaches and see what works best in converting visitors to the site.
You will reach a point in the production process where going back and updating older content may be more effective than simply rolling out more and more new pages.
This is especially true in travel, where destinations change, trends move, and up-to-date information is crucial.Key Takeaways
As you can probably tell, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a content strategy.
Even though they’re both in the same industry, a tour company specializing in Southeast Asia’s content approach will be quite different from a Caribbean snorkeling guide company or even another tour company with a more general approach, for that matter.
Your content strategy will be as unique as your business.
One commonality among all successful content plans, regardless of industry, is their emphasis on addressing weaknesses and prioritizing accordingly.
Be honest with yourself and put in the work upfront. This will not only save you headaches down the road, but it will generate the kind of results you’re looking for.
And never forget: Your goal is to generate traffic and then convert it.
Keep that in mind, follow the tips listed here, and you’ll be sure to set your travel company up for digital success.
More Resources:Content Repurposing For Travel Brands: A Complete Guide 5 Tips For More Engaging & Impactful Branded Travel Content Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstocksource
Next SEO article:
Coding For SEO: 10 Ways Coding Skills Can Improve SEO Efforts
It’s not necessary to know how to code to be a good SEO.
Coding skills are not a prerequisite for SEO competency, but additional skills always make one more effective.
Here are 10 ways that understanding code can help turn a good SEO into a great one.1. HTML Coding Standards And SEO Go Together
An SEO familiar with HTML understands how a web document should be structured and is alert to the consequences of poor coding practices.
An important building block of a webpage is the HTML elements, which are to a webpage what a foundation, door, floor, and roof are to a house.
Search engines may be unable to properly crawl a web page if HTML elements are used incorrectly.
The official HTML specifications limit what HTML elements are used in the section (location of metadata that only browsers and bots see) and which HTML elements are used in the section (the document itself that users see).
But when you put elements (like or ) inside the section where the metadata is supposed to be, search engines will begin rendering the webpage from the normally hidden section, resulting in the metadata being indexed as part of the content itself. It means that Google will fail to index that webpage the way it’s supposed to be indexed.
That error can happen when a Facebook pixel code is placed in the wrong place within the section of a webpage.
Another example of how a lack of coding knowledge influences SEO is the 400 error response message.
Some SEOs believe a 400 error code is a bad thing because they see that word “error” and instantly think it needs to be fixed because we understand errors as something to be fixed, especially when they’re displayed in Google Search Console as errors.
But an SEO who knows HTML coding standards understands that the 400 error response code only means that the browser REQUEST for a page is in error (because the page does not exist).
In most cases, that’s a good thing, it’s what’s supposed to happen, and there is nothing to fix.
Knowing HTML standards makes a person a better SEO because they have the ability to spot even more problems than an SEO who lacks coding knowledge.
They are also better positioned to dismiss common SEO misinformation that springs from a lack of coding ability.2. Structured Data
Structured data is a markup language, which means the code has rules that govern how it is written.
There are a few different ways to express Schema.org structured data, but Google’s preference, JSON-LD structured data, is arguably the easiest to understand, which makes it easier to troubleshoot.
Like HTML, JSON-LD has rules that govern how it is written, with a nested structure where you have a subject of the structured data (called a Type) and then the attributes of that subject (called a Property).
Understanding JSON-LD structured data is easy, regardless if you know HTML or any other markup language.
The benefits of understanding how to code structured data cannot be overstated.
Correct structured data markup is essential for achieving many of the highly coveted rich results positions at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (a.k.a. SERPs).
Incorrect structured data markup will make that webpage ineligible for rich results.
One can rely on Google’s structured data markup checker to verify if the JSON-LD structured data is valid and if it’s eligible for a rich result.
But just because the tool says the code is valid doesn’t mean it’s eligible for rich results. This is where the ability to analyze JSON-LD comes into play to fix the structured data, so that rich results become an option.
Manual troubleshooting ability is important because Google’s structured data checker tells you when it’s broken and provides a general idea of where it’s broken. Still, it doesn’t tell you how to fix it.
One can rely on plugins, of course. There are benefits to setting something and forgetting about it.
But structured data specifications constantly evolve, and plugins don’t always keep up fast enough. Also, they aren’t always specific enough for every situation.
When ranking high in the search results, it’s generally best to know how to code JSON-LD structured data to obtain the highest advantage over the competition.3. Communicate Better With Clients
Knowing how to code enables a person to simplify an explanation so that a non-coding client can understand the why of a particular problem and the solution.
One cannot explain what they do not understand.
For example, knowing how to code structured data empowers the SEO to explain that not only it is okay to combine structured data, but also explain to explain the benefits of doing so and how to do it.
Knowing how to code allows one to explain that a client only needs to drop in a few lines of code into their WordPress website’s child theme functions.php file to avoid installing a bloated plugin to do the same thing.
Leaving aside that an SEO without coding skills wouldn’t even know about the functions.php file solution, a person who codes and is literate in PHP can understand when it’s better to use a plugin over the coding solution and then explain it to the client.
Knowing how to code confers the ability to look at the HTML code and zero in on why the site isn’t indexed adequately or is performing poorly.
I once audited an ecommerce site that used a custom-made template and (poorly) featured a crazy level of incompetent coding. Just fixing those codes sitewide enabled the site to have its content indexed accurately.
Knowing HTML allowed me to catch the errors and then explain to the client why it was broken and how they could fix it.4. .htaccess Knowledge Is Power
.htaccess is (in my opinion) a tricky language to learn but reasonably easy to understand how to use it.
Simply learning about the benefits of .htaccess and what it’s useful for, and then how to add it to a file can generally take a person far.
For example, you can use a plugin to redirect HTTP to HTTPS, a plugin to redirect specific pages that changed, and a plugin to fix broken URLs to the correct URL.
But all that can be accomplished with a .htaccess file.
Taking the time to educate oneself on .htaccess can help understand how to improve a website without resorting to another plugin.
A .htaccess file can also be used to prevent other sites from linking to your images and other media files (hotlinking).
The use of a .htaccess file can even be used to stop rogue bots from copying your content by blocking the IP address ranges of bad bots that repeatedly access a website.
Doing something like that with a .htaccess file is significantly better than using a plugin or mod that writes the IP addresses to a database because adding tens of thousands to millions of IP addresses to a database will dramatically slow your site down.5. Diagnose Hidden Problems
In general, coding-related problems are tucked away from view in the HTML code.
Because most sites are templated, the errors will be multiplied across every page that shares the templated structure. Learning how to use an HTML validator is straightforward, but understanding HTML is important for interpreting the results.
Coding errors can be glaring and obvious, like omitting a closing bracket (>).
Or it could be subtle, like the use of a non-standard character in the code, like a smart quote, the curly type of quotation mark (“ ”) instead of the expected straight form of quotation mark (” “).
This error commonly occurs when someone copies code from a software device that inserts smart quotes as a default feature.
The curly quotes issue can dramatically disrupt how a webpage is indexed and parsed.
That means that if you use something like this in the HTML code:
Google will not see it because the curly quotes (smart quotes) stop it from seeing it as a meta robots tag and will therefore proceed to index the content.
Here’s another example.
If you code a link in this manner:example
The link will be interpreted like this:https://example.com/test.htm
If, however, you use curly quotes for the same code:example
The link will be interpreted like this:https://%E2%80%9Cexample.com/test.htm%E2%80%9D
These kinds of errors are not the kind of thing that an auditing tool is going to automatically find and conveniently add to a list.
You need to know how to code to recognize broken code on a visual inspection or at scale if it shows up as an anomaly on a Screaming Frog scan.
Otherwise, the source of a crawling error will stay hidden until someone who can read HTML or understands the output from an HTML validator can inspect the site.6. Coding Can Help Break SEO Stalemates
The word stalemate is from the game of chess. It describes a situation where the gameplay is brought to a standstill in which neither side can move to win. It’s essentially a state that counts as a tie.
The same situation happens in competitive industries where everyone uses the same publishing platforms, the same optimization plugins, the same content strategies, and the same link promotion strategies.
The competition between the sites is largely equal, with no site having a clear advantage over the other.
An SEO with coding skills can break that kind of stalemate.
For example, many templates ship with liberal use of headings for things that don’t require a heading element, like the navigation on the side panel.
With coding skills, it’s easy to create a child theme and fix the rogue heading elements so that they use CSS and not headings for styling on-page elements.
I’ve used my coding skill to completely change sections of a template so that it’s more user-friendly, change the colors of various on-page elements so that they’re more accessible for color-blind visitors, and add dynamic bits of content using PHP to custom-make title tags as well as to remove superfluous parts of a webpage.
Coding skills help provide a ranking edge to any site and can be used to improve the user experience beyond what a template offers.
It is especially important in competitive niches where competitors are optimized to the highest degree and where squeezing out advantage is at a premium.7. Troubleshoot A Hacked Site
Website security doesn’t seem something an SEO should be concerned about.
But it becomes very clear that website security is indeed an SEO problem when the search rankings of a hacked site start to disappear.
Knowing how to code, particularly with gaining a general understanding of how PHP files work within a given content management system (CMS), can help demystify a hacking event.
Just knowing the broad outlines of how PHP works and how all the parts of the CMS work together goes a long way to understanding what went wrong and how to fix the problems.
Some vulnerabilities can lay hidden for months or years before they are discovered. WordPress 5.9.2 was released to address cross-site scripting vulnerabilities that were in the WordPress core itself.
In the case of the WordPress vulnerability, the problem arose due to an arcane coding mistake where the order in which security processes were coded created the situation where a hacker could bypass those same security measures.
It illustrates how mistakes can sneak in through legitimate software and not necessarily be caught in time to prevent a hacking event.
Google might notify the site owner through Google Search Console about a hacked site, but Google Search Console won’t fix it for you.
When working in a corporate or educational environment where the templates are locked in, and one can’t plug in their way out of a predicament, knowing how to code can speed up the otherwise painful process of publishing webpages.
Whether one works in a Drupal or WordPress environment, having the ability to keep a cheat sheet of code snippets saves so much time, even with something trivial like changing a link without having to go through 10 steps using the native WYSIWYG interface and dealing with idiosyncratic code.9. Optimize For Page Speed
The suggestions for improving page speed that Google’s PageSpeed Insights provides will no longer be cryptic once one learns how to code.
It’s not like one has to learn how to code an entire website from scratch, either.
Python is a programming language that can be used to automate a wide range of SEO tasks from crawling, data analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and much more.
One of the great things about Python is that there might not be a need to code a tool from scratch because there are many Python SEO scripts that can be downloaded online.
A great thing about Python is that one doesn’t have to code scripts for all the different SEO tasks that are needed. Many of those scripts are available as downloadable Python libraries containing the relevant modules.
A Python library is a collection of modules. Python modules are the files themselves.
According to Ruth Everett in her Introduction to Python, these are some useful Python libraries:“Pandas: Used for data manipulation and analysis. NumPy: Useful for scientific computing. SciPy: Used for scientific and technical computing. SciKit Learn: Machine learning for data mining and analysis. SpaCy: A great natural language processing library. Requests: A library for making HTTP requests. Beautiful Soup: Used to extract data from HTML and XML files. Matplotlib: For creating visualizations from data.”
Another important Python library is TensorFlow, a free and open source library that can be used for creating machine learning applications.
With TensorFlow, a search marketer can build a neural network or a recommender system.
Directly related to SEO, TensorFlow can be used to automate the process of creating title tags at scale.
A skilled SEO who learns how to use Python will be able to scale their existing skills to new levels.Learn How To Code
Gaining the ability to code is (arguably) optional, and one can still be a competent SEO without that knowledge.
A person who can code is not necessarily a better search marketer than one who doesn’t know how to code.
But learning how to code can make a good SEO an even better one because knowledge provides advantages.
More Resources:Ask An SEO: 3 HTML & Coding Questions Answered Top 8 Skills Every Great SEO Professional Needs To Succeed Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete Guide
Featured Image: ASDF_MEDIA/Shutterstocksource