According to an estimate made by Statista, the revenue generated by online travel booking amounted to $340 billion back in 2010. As a travel agency, you could do your bit to earn a part of such whooping amount by making those holiday-goers to choose and book their holiday through your company. Seems like the best dream you have ever had? Believe us, it is not a dream anymore! Travel SEO could help you fulfill your goals and milestones within a blink of an eye.
Allow the figures to do the talking. A recent study conducted by European Travel Commission concluded that as many as 78% of the trips were booked through internet amongst Britons. This is not it. There is a rise in the internet bookings by 47% since 2008. Hence, it is clear that more and more customers are relying upon online channels to fulfill their travel requirements and this trend is sure to get more popular, all thanks to the widespread use of smartphones and internet savvy devices.
If you are in the quest of discovering and exploring online in order to boost your sales and productivity, there is no better supplement than SEO. Search Engine Optimization, plays a vital role in your business growth if your business relies on online booking. While PPC advertisements already are doing well for your business, boosting your marketing efforts through SEO would only prove to be an icing over cake. If done correctly, SEO could help you dominate the first page of the SERPs, thus giving you the way to generate the maximum leads.
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• Allows you to fetch more customers with reduced costs
SEO allows you to target customers for a range of keywords. Unlike other strategies (PPC, to name a few), targeting keywords in SEO is fairly easy and pocket friendly. SEO lets you target a large number of keywords along with their variations, for no extra costs. For example, if you are in the business of booking hotels, you might like to target keywords like ‘hotel reservation’ and ‘hotel booking’. But why restrict yourself? You could also try your hands on other related keywords like ‘London hotels’, ‘best hotels in New York’ and so on. SEO doesn’t restrict your keywords with a budget. SEO gives you the liberty to explore more and target a range of related keywords for no extra costs.
• Enhances visibility of your travel website
SEO basically deals with the website optimization such that it appears in front of the targeted audiences. For instance, if someone searched for ‘book hotel online’, and your website makes it to the top of the search results pages, the probability is quite high that you will end up making the deal. You automatically boost your business when you offer your customers what they are looking forward to having. This is how SEO blesses you.
• Builds great user experience
Though not directly associated with any SEO task, but a good SEO expert will always provide you suggestions for better structure & CTA planning in order to ensure proper conversions.
With current SEO Trends, a website without proper on page & structure will find it difficult to rank better in SERPs and hence forcing you to make changes accordingly, which actually helps you in building better user experience.
SEO is not just about pleasing the search engines, but the target customers too.
SEO Case Study: How we increased conversion rate by 1,407% for TourMyIndia.com
Now that you know the importance of SEO for the travel industry, it is the time that you know it inside out. Let’s explore the untouched aspect of SEO in detail.
Travel industry undoubtedly is huge! With a plethora of opportunities for travel agencies and a potential untapped market, the industry still remains unexplored. If statistics are to be believed:
Among all these statistics, Google’s acquisition of ITA has increased the number of bookings online, resulting in a boom in the tourism industry but also making the pie that much harder to grab. If you want people to visit your site, you need to stand out, make a statement and give them a promise to satisfy their every need. Here we tell, how!
a) Keywords Research & Planning
It may sound like the strategy of yesteryear, but even today, when people want to travel, the first they do is Google their requirement. It pays to invest in keywords and draft content around those keywords to increase your websites ranking and garner those much needed web clicks.
But then again, here is the twist. You fluff the content with keywords and useless info – Google is all set to punish you. Punishment could be severe and may get your website blacklisted.
b) SEO Copywriting & Content Optimization
With millions of tourism sites vying for attention, every destination is being covered by almost all the travel companies. In this jumble, the destination details and packages are bound to overlap, it is imperative for travel companies to invest in good copywriters to create engaging content which does not seem copied from the Wikipedia. Copied content hits the Google ranking of the web page and may prove disastrous to your website.
How do you do it? Simply understand that people come first over the algorithms. Write to engage the customers, and rest follows itself.
How does Google determine the rank of your website? Google displays the webpages in the SERPs based on the relevance and the authority of the page.
Thus, in order to write content that sells, you need to create alluring, useful and appealing content targeting specific keywords which impart value to the readers.
c) Visualize Content That Enhance User Experience
A well-designed website is the apple of the eyes! But this is not it; you could further boost the user experience by making use of proper engaging images, videos and diagrams. Infographics serve as a wonderful attention catcher. This not only appeals and entertains the customer, but also helps you by reducing the bounce rate. Thus helping you earn some extra points from Google.
d) Blogging & Content Marketing
You have done your bit, marketed, captured their attention, and go them to your website, but you have not been able to close the sale. You don’t leave the potential customer there; you follow them and push them to come back to your site. This can be achieved using blogs, stories, real experiences and quality content on other sites and get them back to your site through links.
e) Link Acquisition From Reputed And Authority Sites
Links are what constitute your web page. Links from reputed and authority websites tell people that you are social and that you have got useful content that people would like to access from somewhere else. Link building is an effective off-page SEO technique that aims to increase your organic traffic.
Links could be earned by contributing high quality content on reputed and authority websites. More often than not, they would accept the offer. Do not forget to include a backlink to your website.
Content is the king, and high quality content is the key to success. Look for the opportunities through which you could contribute to highly reputed websites. Further, contribute some rocking content to your own websites. Make use of author authority and rel =”author”. This serves a signal to the search engines that you are known for producing useful content. Using rel=”author” would allow the Google to track your writings through the web, thus helping you earn the credibility and easy visibility.
f) Mobile Travel Marketing- Mobile Friendly Website
Mobile site is not a luxury anymore. Most of the users now browse and book from their smartphones. It is imperative now for the travel companies to have a website that is optimized for mobile users, to enable the mobile users to reach you through their mobile device.
You could either opt for a responsive website or choose to go for a separate mobile website meant to serve the people surfing your website on mobile. Whatever it is, make sure that you are providing the best experiences to your customers. In doing this, you are not only pleasing the customers, but are also making a soft corner for yourself in the eyes of Google!
g) Social Media Optimization
Based on a study, approx. 2.31B users are active in the social media channels. This is where the attention of the user. Social media do its little bit in promoting your content and in turn helps your content in getting indexed faster.
The number of likes, shares and retweets that you get is a clear indication to the search engines that your content is new, informative and engaging, thus fetching you some bonus points. This also helps you by enhancing your domain authority and by increasing the number of inbound links.
What is needed is compelling content to push the user to click on the link and visit your site. This would help you generate some non-search engine traffic. And in turn, Google will reward you with better rank.
As a travel agency, you can trigger the process with Facebook. Facebook is comparatively easy when it comes to generating new fans. You could do it simply by targeting the existing clients. Enter the existing email list into Facebook and target a page promoting ad.
Work by building a like-minded community of travelers on Twitter. Engage with them regularly on a real time basis by starting some engaging travel-related conversations.
Instagram is another great platform for the travel industry. The location tag and hashtag feature available on the platform could help you in connecting emotionally with people.
Basically, travel agencies can make use of platforms that promote and boost visuals. Pinterest is another great platform is this regard. Create pinboards of content that seems engaging to you. You can further link that to Facebook and Twitter for enhancing visibility.
h) Local SEO – Find the Niche Directory
Local SEO is the perfect way that travel agencies can use for their benefit. Local search basically is a way used by search engines to present the most relevant results based on the location data. This makes sense. If you are looking for a travel agency, you would most likely prefer choosing the one in your locality, no?
To achieve this, get your travel business listed in the famous local listing. You could try Google local listing and yelp local listing, for example. In order to fetch maximum out of it, customize your on-page SEO a bit to fetch those local advantages:
Include a keyword along with your city/region with your landing page title tag, lading page h1 tag, landing page url, landing page content and in the landing page alt attributes
Another effective way you could build links to your website is by conducting a blog outreach and networking campaign. Connect with the fellow bloggers with a well-established fan base and who blog in your niche. Ask them to post a blog talking about your agency and or the services in their blog, and get a backlink from them.
i) Reputation Management – Get Positive Online Customer Reviews
Positive online customer reviews instill the confidence in your brand. Positive reviews speak of your good will in the market. Manage your reputation online by earning some good customer reviews. You could do this by asking your customers to leave positive reviews on popular travel forums. TripAdvisor is one of them. Make sure that the reviews are honest and left from genuine people. Further, also keep a close eye over the negative reviews and take all possible measures to address them.
These were some of the essential points that should be taken care while optimizing your travel website. But this is not it. SEO is an ever evolving industry. And thus it pays to maintain a pace with the changing algorithms and the trends.
We need to understand how consumers are evolving and how much time we are spending on various media.
The above graph shows the comparison of the amount of time spent by an average user and the amount of ad spent by business owners. Where radio, TV, and the internet are concerned, the statistics have pretty much come on par with each other.
While on one extreme, there is print media where the advertisers are spending more for ads and the consumers are not spending enough time on print media, the other extreme focuses on the amount of time spent by an average consumer on mobile and the opportunity for the advertisers to that bar with the ad spend.
Invariably, the trend in the coming years would be to spend less on print media and more on mobile, which is understandable, as all media these days are accessed through the mobile.
YouTube, Facebook or even web browsing, all these are accessed by consumers through their smartphones. The next five years will see advertisers targeting their market through social media because that is where most of the mobile time is spent.
Earlier, it was a luxury to have a website that was mobile optimized, today, however, it is a necessity to have a mobile website as well, if not, you risk losing out on a big chunk of the market.
There is a travel agency in Ukraine by the name Pockettour that uses Viber, an app that is quite popular in Asian countries, to conduct business. The user can search, book and pay through this app. These guys have basically brought the whole travel agency into the user’s pocket and use an app that is found on the majority of the phones.
Based on the Google travel research at the end of 2014, it was found that 35% of travellers, 1 out of every 3 leisure travellers heading to a destination engaged with a travel-related video activity in the past 6 months and it was even more so for business travellers, which was one out of every two, or 56%.
What is a travel related video? It might be an ad on Booking.com or Tripadvisor.com. It could be a destination video that makes you just dream of going to the Caribbean or going to New York city or it could be a user-generated content about their experiences.
Watching this content has an impact. There was a research conducted recently by Rocket Fuel, which is a problematic marketing provider in the US and they looked at data and interestingly enough, they saw that the mere fact of being exposed to a tourism display or video ad meant that they were 6 times more likely to book a hotel at the destination city.
If you watched the whole video, you were 23 times more likely to book a hotel in the destination city advertised. So Video marketing does have a major impact. This root from the fact that we retain 80% of what we see, 20% of what we read and 10% of what we hear.
A great example of video marketing is the one that is used by West Jet. They released a thanksgiving video which they called “real-time giving”. Just after the video, they saw traffic increase by 100%, bookings increase by 77%, and revenue increase by 86% – and because of high views and lifts in brand perception, it has doubled down on its content marketing efforts.
Of course, not everybody has a budget that big to create a movie video, but you can always use social media to post short videos about your packages and travel destinations.
You know all the efforts that we do to get people to our website, AdWords campaign, send out newsletters, work on our SEOs to get visuals, yet 92% of the people who get onto a website never return, isn’t that dramatic?
When someone goes to your website, you probably have something you want them to do, whether its download a brochure, reserve online, call you or maybe fill in a form or subscribe to your newsletter. 96% who visit a website will leave without completing the call to action. Even if you are able to get the, down to the shopping cart to start the process, 70% of the people just do not complete their purchase.
The reason might be because they got interrupted or they found the process too cumbersome. So how do you get people to close in on a sale? This is where remarketing comes into place.
Essentially whenever a user comes to your website, he leaves. Then you push an ad to Facebook or a banner on the web or anywhere else on the web where he might find you to bring them back to your site.
Let’s say someone is checking out your hotel website and is looking for a spa or romance package. For whatever reason, they moved onto something else, you would want for that person to, later in that evening, when he checks his Facebook news feed, he finds your ad and comes back to your hotel and complete where he left off. This has been going on for years. But now it is a lot more democratize and has become easier over the years.
There are apps that will allow you to follow the visitors to your website, and allow you to push an ad to them. TripAdvisor uses this trend fairly well and keeps making its visitors coming back to its site to check their packages and destinations.
In a nutshell, SEO could be the ultimate tonic that your travel business might need. With a huge number of individuals relying over internet to fulfill their travel-related needs, it is a golden opportunity for the travel industry to make the most out of it through proper SEO.
The key is to follow the principles and execute the strategy properly. Ultimately, it is all about nurturing the relationships, engaging the audiences and sharing the ideas.
Okay, it is your turn now, how do think SEO could affect the travel industry? Let us know in the comments. Also, do share the best SEO practices that bestowed your travel business with the ultimate boost.