With the increasing number of people becoming more dependent on the internet, Search Engine Optimization or SEO has become more important today and vital if a business wants to grow bookings. SEO is the practice of improving your website to increase the quantity and quality of organic traffic received from search engines like Google. An SEO-friendly website is more visible in the Search Engines Results Pages or SERPs, making it easier for your business to build an online presence, attract customers, and gain bookings.

For your website to improve its SEO rankings, you need to implement strategies that will make it easy for search engines to understand your website and business. For instance, regularly publishing high-quality content using relevant keywords and links will make your business build authority in the industry. When this happens, search engines will reward your website with a better rank in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

SEO is one of the most important and effective digital marketing strategies, especially in the tourism industry, which is why you should exert resources to ensure that your website is optimized for SEO.

What Are Some Major SEO-Related Concepts to Remember?

Implementing SEO strategies for tourism websites can be challenging, but with the number of resources available online and offline today, learning how SEO works will continue to become much easier. As long as you spend time studying the major SEO-related concepts, it’ll be easier for you to move forward and learn more complex terminologies and strategies.

This section will provide information on major SEO-related concepts and what each means. Take the time to understand these major concepts, and start brainstorming with your team so you can eventually apply these concepts as part of your tourism marketing strategies.

Branded vs. Non-Branded Searches

Before you start looking for SEO strategies and implementing them on your website, you need to understand how online users search for products and services first. Paying attention to the behavior of online users will make it easy for your business to identify their needs and improve your website to better address them.

In SEO, online users make branded and non-branded searches. Branded searches are searches that already have the brand or business name of the website. For example, if an online user is looking for more information about the theplazany.com (the official website of the Plaza Hotel in New York) then their queries will look like:

●      The Plaza Hotel NYC

●      The Plaza Hotel accommodation

●      The Plaza Hotel room rates

●      The Plaza Hotel booking process

●      The Plaza Hotel payment options

An unbranded search, on the other hand, is one that doesn’t reference a brand or business name. If an online user is looking for accommodation around New York City, they will usually type “cheap NYC hotels” or “the best NYC hotels.”

Online users who do unbranded searches are individuals who are not brand-conscious and are willing to try out any brand as long as it meets their needs. Because of this, online users who do unbranded searches can be your new prospects since they’re still unfamiliar with their available options.

Among the two, unbranded searches yield higher search volumes online, which is why you should determine what keywords are commonly used today and look for strategies to incorporate these keywords into your website. Doing this allows your website to become more visible online.

SEO Throughout the User Experience

Another term that you have to understand if you want to make the most out of travel industry SEO is SERPs or Search Engines Results Pages. SERPs are the response of Google whenever an online user makes a query. For example, if an online user types in “things to do in Lancaster, PA” in Google, their SERPs will include websites that provide content on what they can do in Lancaster.

Unlike other search engines, Google displays information in many different ways once an online user makes a query. Two people who are looking for the same information using the same keywords will still get different SERPs because Google customizes every user experience by presenting results based on the user’s social settings, browsing history, and physical location.

How Google displays SERPs opens countless opportunities for your business to be seen by tons of online visitors. As long as you practice the right strategies, online users who are looking for your services will not only see standard text results from their SERPs; they will also access SERPs that are more interactive and can improve their user experience.

Listed below are some of the most common types of SERPs Google displays:

1.    Google My Business

Often called GMB, Google My Business is a free service offered by Google to entrepreneurs to help them manage and build their online presence using the search engine. This tool can do wonders for entrepreneurs who want to improve their local SEO strategy.

Using GMB is a great way to improve your website’s ranking because it boosts your local exposure by allowing people to leave reviews of your business and making your website appear in local pack listings and maps.

2.    Map Pack

Whenever an online user looks for a local service using the World Wide Web, Google will often show a map as part of the SERPs. Google does this without requiring the online user to visit another website or perform another click.

The Map Pack makes up almost 30% of the SERPs, which is why you should implement strategies that will allow your business to appear first on the Google Maps Pack Results. You can achieve this goal by creating a winning Google My Business listing, showcasing your online reviews, building citations, and improving the location and local search signal of your website.

3.    Websites of Individual Attractions

The third type of results online users will see in their SERPs is the Things To Do or Top Sights. With these kinds of SERPs, Google will provide a rectangular box with three or four places or attractions that online users can see near the location that they’ve mentioned in their searches.

For example, when an online user types “things to do in Lancaster, PA” their SERPs will include pictures of the Dutch Wonderland, The Amish Farm and House, and Strasburg Scooters. When online users click one of these attractions from their SERPs, they will be redirected to the organization’s Knowledge Panel (if they’re using a mobile device) or Local Finder (if they’re using a desktop computer).

4.    Listicles with Multiple Attractions

Listicles is a term that combines lists and articles and is another type of SERP that Google displays when an online user has a query. Unlike the Things To Do or Top Sights, listicles will present a list in bullet points, along with the article about that bulleted point.

When an online user clicks any of these bulleted points, they will be redirected to an article or blog post that talks about that bulleted point. This type of SERP will enable online users to compare their options because they can access information when they click on the bullet points.

Google uses different types of SERPs to improve its user experience, and implementing strategies that will help your business rank in all of these pages will require a lot of your resources – time, money, and effort. For you to improve your SERPs without wasting resources, start small by showing up where online users might go.

For instance, if you want to gain more customers in your city or state, then you should start by improving your ranking in Google My Business. Once you’ve achieved your goals using this platform, you can move forward and work on improving your website’s ranking using other types of SERPs.

How Does Google Decide What to Show/Who to Rank #1?

Understanding how Google works is crucial to your tourism business’s online marketing strategy. Once you’re aware of how Google decides what to show and which website to rank as number one, it’ll be easier for you to come up with an effective SEO campaign. This knowledge will also prevent you from wasting any resources.

How Google Works

With the number of resources, Google can provide to its users, this search engine functions as a librarian. You can type any question you have in the search engine and wait for a couple of minutes for Google to provide you with several answers – a process that librarians also follow when you ask for resources on a particular topic.

In its simplest terms, Google uses a special algorithm to determine what to display in its search results. The specifics of this algorithm — how it’s designed and the coding languages it uses — still remain a company secret up to this very day and are one of the reasons why Google continues to be one of the most competitive search engines in the world.

Although the specifics on how the Google algorithm works are kept under wraps, it’s a known fact that this search engine uses a trademarked algorithm called PageRank. PageRank works by assigning each web page with a relevancy score based on its content, link, reviews, along with its EAT or Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.

Content, Links, Reviews

Google has several ranking factors, and content, links, and reviews are the most common. This means that the quality and quantity of your content, links, and reviews can affect the ranking of your website on Google.

Content is one of the most important ranking factors Google uses today, which is why countless businesses worldwide are striving to create the best content marketing strategy. If you’re planning to do the same, make sure that your website publishes fresh content, uses the right keywords, and utilizes visual elements, such as images and videos.

Links, on the other hand, are also vital in your SERPs because they can encourage online users to stay on your website longer (internal links) and improve the credibility of your website (external links). When using links to boost your rankings in the SERPs, make sure you’re only using high-quality links relevant to your content. Using poor-quality links, spam links, or ones that provide inaccurate information will only hurt your website.

Google aims to provide the best user experience, which is why it rewards websites with a high organic click-through-rate with a better SEO rank. Your business can become one of these websites when you earn and highlight reviews. Posting reviews can increase your online traffic as more and more people will click on your website and can create a positive feedback loop. 

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EAT: Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness

As mentioned, Google prioritizes providing the best user experience – and they won’t be able to achieve this goal if they display websites with poor-quality or inaccurate content. Instead of gaining more users, this type of content will only shoo away potential users and create a negative brand or image about the search engine.

To protect its credibility, Google uses EAT — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness — to determine which content should rank high in the SERPs. By creating content that meets this criterion, you’ll be confident that your website will be seen on the first page of the search results.

For you to create content that meets EAT, take note of the following:

●      Expertise: You can showcase your expertise through your content by showing how in-depth your knowledge is about a particular product or service.

●      Authority: Your content should provide useful and truthful information in order to drive authority in the industry. 

●      Trustworthiness: Trustworthiness is measured by Google based on the number of websites that use your link. The more websites that use your link, the more trustworthy your website is.

What Are Keywords, and How Do You Figure Out Which Ones to Try to Rank For?

Keywords are vital in SEO because it represents the search queries made by online users through a search engine. Tour operators like you should pay attention to the keywords that your target audience uses when they search online, as this information will help you determine what keywords to include in your content.

Publishing content that aligns with the keywords used by your target audience will increase your website’s chances of showing up on top of the SERPs and gaining a better SEO rank. This is one of the reasons why you should exert time and effort in doing keyword research as part of your travel industry SEO strategy.

You can enjoy countless benefits when you implement keyword research, such as producing content relevant to your target audience, having an increased number of conversions, and expanding your long-tail efforts. Keyword research also allows you to determine what are the right keywords to use and where these keywords should be placed. 

However, before you implement new strategies concerning keyword optimization, you need to assess how your website performs with the keywords it currently has – and you can accomplish this task by utilizing Google Search Console.

Google Search Console

Previously called the Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is a free service that allows you to monitor and troubleshoot the rank of your website in the SERPs. With this tool, you can easily monitor and resolve minor server issues, security issues, and even site load issues. Google Search Console can also ensure that any adjustments you make to your website are implemented smoothly.

How to Set It up

For you to utilize Google Search Console, start by setting it up through your Google account. You also need to verify your domain before you can access any data relating to the performance of your website in the SERPs.

If you want other members of your business to access information through your account on Google Search Console, you can also add them as users.

There are three types of users in Google Search Console: the owner (has full control over the Search Control and is classified into two, the delegated and verified), full user (can review all the data within a selected property), and restricted user (can view some, but not all of the data available in the account).

How to Understand the Data

Once you’re able to set up your account on Google Search Console, you’ll now have access to a goldmine of information that can be used to improve your tourism marketing strategy and travel industry SEO campaign.

However, if you’re using this tool for the first time, understanding what these data are can be overwhelming. Not knowing what each piece of data means will only prevent you from improving your SEO efforts.

With a Google Search Console, you’ll be provided with the following data:

1.     Countries Report

As the name suggests, this report will provide information on which countries produce the best user engagement and search performance for your landing pages. With this information, you can easily determine which countries to focus on when improving your website.

For countries with poor user engagement, for example, you can develop a language-specific version of your website to attract more users.

2.     Devices Report

The devices report shows whether desktop, mobile, or tablet devices produce the best user engagement and search performance for your landing pages. This information will help you determine which device your SEO effort should be targeted for.

For example, if the devices report in your Google Search Console account shows that there’s a strong search performance but poor user engagement on mobile, you can start re-evaluating your strategy and improve your website to better suit that device.

3.     Queries Report

In the queries report of your Google Search Console account, you’ll be able to determine the generated impression of your URL in the SERPs. When you understand how online users look for your website online, you can easily create and publish optimized content.

Collectively, the data you can access from your Google Search Console will help you gain a better understanding of your website’s performance in the SERPs. Moreover, the data from this tool can be very useful as this can help you create better and effective strategies to improve the on and off-site SEO strategies of your travel website.

On-Site SEO

On-site or on-page SEO is the process of optimizing elements on a website to rank higher in the SERPs and more organic traffic from search engines. When improving your on-site SEO strategy, you usually need to focus on creating content that adheres to EAT (as discussed in the previous section), make use of title tags, and pay attention to Meta description. Knowing how to use and place headlines and header tags can also help with your on-site SEO.

Off-Site SEO

Off-site SEO is simply defined as the practice of improving your SEO rank by taking actions outside of your website. Some of the most effective off-site SEO techniques are brand mentions, commenting, forums, and influencer outreach. Social networking, social bookmarking, and content marketing can also offer the best returns.

It’ll Be Worth It

If you’ve never paid attention to SEO or used any SEO strategies in the past, learning about it can seem overwhelming. Some tour operators even neglect the importance of embracing SEO in their businesses as they fear that it’s too technical for their skills. For you to become a leader in the tourism industry, you shouldn’t have the same mindset.

Learning how SEO works isn’t a walk in the park, but all of the resources you’ll put in learning about it can be very beneficial in the long-term. Creating an SEO-friendly website can become your ticket to grow bookings, increase customers, and become a leader in the tourism industry.

If you need help making sure your business shows up in Google searches, set up a discovery meeting today, and start to grow more bookings through your website. 

Meet the Author:

Justin Mosebach

Justin Mosebach, SEO Strategist

An experienced digital marketer, Justin has been helping businesses be found by potential customers since 2009. As our SEO Strategist, he specializes in search engine optimization (SEO). He’s enthusiastic about helping businesses win (and keep) customers online by using a variety of proven strategies and tactics. In the ever-changing world of internet marketing, Justin stays on top of what Google is doing, as well as industry best-practices to help our clients succeed. A husband and father, Justin enjoys spending time with his family, finding deals at Costco, and traveling.