a guide to SEO for the travel industry

SEO for Travel Industry: Top Strategies to Increase Visibility

Find out how to increase your leads by optimising your site on your own.


It is no secret that the travel and tourism industry have drastically evolved over the last few years. The days where people would walk to the local agency and book paper tickets are well over.

This is why it’s more important than ever to be sure that you're on top of your game when it comes to your online presence. With the competition you’ll encounter in tourism, the slightest differences can set you apart and bring you the increased leads you need.

It is time to sit down and ask yourself a few questions. Is your Google My Business profile optimized? Does your site contain technical errors? Are you getting links back to your site from credible or harmful sites?

That’s why we're here to give you a few tips and perspective into the world of SEO for the travel industry.

On-Page SEO

We’ll start with arguably the most simple element that can make a world of difference on your website. After working with several travel agencies, it is surprising how many errors we find on these simple elements

Title Tag

The title tag is one of the most important elements for two reasons. Not only will it tell Google what your page is about, but it will appear as the title on the search results page. The title is the first impression a potential client will have and this has a major impact on whether they decide to click on your website or keep scrolling.

To make sure you’re writing an effective tag, take the following 4 things into consideration:

Examples of title tags in the search results
Example of a title tag in the source code of a site

Meta Description

Much like the title tag, your meta description will show up on your search result and will act as a summary of the page. It is good practice to keep meta descriptions between 60 and 160 characters. Google will usually cut the text into snippets of 155 to 160.

Keep in mind that the meta description will serve as your selling point and the ultimate goal is to get people to your website from the search results. Make sure your meta descriptions are unique and enticing for each page to maximize your click through rates.

An example of a meta description on a serp

Header Tags

Using header tags are the easiest quick win for your SEO and user experience. While they provide keyword rich signals for search engines, they give your page more structure and make it easier for your users to read. Header tags start with H1 being the most important, followed by H2, H3, etc.

The easiest way to think of header tags is to think of them as a book. Your H1 will be the main description line, H2 can be your chapters within the page, and H2 to H6 can be the subchapters. One thing to keep in mind is to only have one H1 per page.

A quick tip for checking your header tags is to use a Chrome plugin. A few of our favorite tools is SEO Meta in 1 Click or the OnCrawl plugin. Both tools will give you information regarding your meta properties and will let you know if you have any issues or missing fields.

SEO in one click showing different header tags

Content & Keyword Research

Now, onto one of the most important factors that will affect your rankings, your content. Your content will not only affect your overall ranking, but will also bring different clients to your websites for different reasons depending on your strategy.

Some tourists will search for sites to book, others for information regarding a specific destination so having content that appeals to both is very important. Obviously, for your business, direct bookings will be more important so having your content tailored for that will be a major win.

The quickest way to map out your content is to perform  keyword research. For this purpose, you’ll have plenty of tools, such as SEMrush or Ahrefs that will make everything a lot easier. The point of this is to find keywords that will target the bottom of the funnel tourists (those ready to book). Since the travel industry is one of the most saturated, you’ll have to find a competitive advantage by finding keywords that have the same intention, but not the same competition.

What does this mean? In SEO terms, this means you’ll look for LSI keywords and the low hanging fruit strategy. First, by looking for LSI keywords, you’ll find keywords related to your business with the same search intent, but with lower keyword difficulty, meaning lower competition. For example, tour operator in London would take a lot to rank for, but maybe a search for “tour of Stamford Bridge” would be less competitive and better reflects your business.

Example of an SEO keyword research project

Technical SEO

On-page SEO will be one aspect of your site and the other will be technical SEO, which will be just as important. Technical SEO will look more into the structural issues along with your site health. By having a healthy site with no structural issues, you won’t be flagged by Google and you’re free to rank to your best potential.

Load Speed

One of the fundamental properties of technical SEO is to test your page speed. Not only does having a quick site provide better user experience, but it will also help increase your chances of ranking.

To run a few tests, you’ll have plenty of free tools, such as Google’s Page Speed Insights or GTmetrix. Both of these will give you a quick report and will also show you what the issues are within our site. Having these details will provide you with the perfect strategy to get your site up to speed.

GTMetrix scorecard for page speed insights

Images

Since we’re on the subject of page load speed, images are a perfect place to start. Whenever you’re uploading an image to your site, be sure to compress it to take any unnecessary weight off. You can still have incredible, high quality images while keeping a reasonable image weight.

While you’re verifying your images, go ahead and check that each image contains an Alt Text. Much like the properties we spoke about before, Alt Text lets Google know what the image is and will even let you rank in the image pack.

Responsiveness

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this over and over, but we’ll mention it again. Make sure your site is mobile compatible. Google has been working on Mobile First Indexing (will start in 2021)  for quite a while meaning that your mobile site will be more important than your desktop site.

This should come to you as completely normal considering most users will conduct searches or book tours and vacations on their mobile devices. A quick and easy way to see if your site is mobile friendly is to use Google’s free tool, Mobile Friendly Test, or you can check the DOM on Google Chrome (on Mac, press Command + Option + I). This will allow you to browse your site with different devices.

DOM on Google Chrome to check mobile responsiveness

Backlinks

Backlinks have been a long standing practice in the SEO world. There has been a debate on whether the time and energy spent on getting backlinks is worth the effort. While we agree that some strategies for acquiring backlinks are time consuming and tedious, they should still hold a very important place in your SEO strategy.

A backlink is very simple, it is your link on another domain. When the other site links back to your website, Google sees it as a vouch for your site and will give your site more credibility. The best way to have sites link back to you in the travel industry is to make sure you are on as many directories as possible. A good place to start is by contacting your local tourism office. In most cases, they are open to putting partners on their site, and that thankfully comes with a solid link.

Another solid way to get backlinks is to write meaningful content on your blog. Since you are the expert in the activity or location, share your insights as the knowledgeable person you are. Good quality ranks better, gets more social shares, and definitely has the ability to get linked back to more.

And that’s it...

When you’re working on a million things daily, keep in mind that a lot of these strategies won’t increase your bookings overnight, but will give you the strongest positioning in the long term. All of these elements together will put you in the best position to exceed your yearly goals and will help you be the benchmark for your activity in your local region.

Keep trying using these tactics and you're on your way to becoming the strongest business in the tour industry.

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About the author

Pierre is the co-founder of CosmoDoggo. Being in the SEO and PPC industry for several years, he has written for some of the most prestigious media outlets in the travel industry.