SEO for Travel

In the highly competitive travel and hospitality space, any edge can make a significant difference. This is especially true when it comes to website marketing. A recent study conducted by HSMAI and iPerceptions found that around 75% of visitors to a hospitality website arrived there via search engine vs. approximately a quarter of visitors arriving from direct navigation.

In this video Adam Audette discusses the primary components of a solid SEO strategy necessary to drive more traffic, and ultimately bookings, including: Local SEO, Content strategy, Social media, Mobile SEO, Images and video, Microformats, International SEO, and News and blogging.

For a more detailed approach to dealing with site search pages in travel specifically, head on over to the RKG Blog and read, “Dealing With the Flood of Site Search Pages in Travel“.

Thanks for watching!



VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Adam Audette: Hi. I’m Adam Audette; President of RKG. Welcome back. Today, we’re going to be talking about SEO tips for the travel space. There’s been a lot of changes in that space with Google acquiring ITA, and with some of the SERP changes with Google+. Bing of course, has always been integrating a lot of social and travel into their SERP, as well. There’s a lot of changes in that space, and there’s some stuff that we’d like to share with you to keep apace.

First of all, is local SEO. If you have physical locations in your business, great. You already have an advantage because the local results are still a big part of that SERP. If you don’t have physical locations, it gets a little bit harder and you’re going to need to have a good content strategy, and invest in great content and guides about the places that you care about, that are part of your business. Then just using kind of classic SEO to make sure that they are really accessible, findable, and relevant, and that’s good descriptive URLs, good site architecture, clear, concise, and relevant internal linking. Then sourcing regional-specific links is really helpful. If you are writing about something like Maui beaches, try to get links to that content from the local area. We found that to be very, very useful.

Second and very important is to have a content strategy and have a real one, take it seriously, really invest in the space. It’s no longer good enough to just say, “Put up content, call it good.” You have to invest in real writers writing really definitive, compelling, unique, interesting stuff. It’s great to have personal histories, personal stories. To make it very real, it’s great to have personal experiences and things that have real substance. That’s really, really key, because people, there’s obviously a mass of content out on the web and people are going to want to look for stuff that has meaning.

Social media is a huge area for travel, and Google+ is very, very noteworthy. They’ve been doing a lot with blending Search+ Your World. Taking the Google+ data, taking brands that are validated there and taking information, in terms of what circles you are in, and then surfacing that in your search results. We found that to be very powerful, especially in the travel space, and definitely encourage you to focus on Google+. It’s a great social channel, great place for images anyway and for interacting with your customers. With Search+ Your World, that’s a huge change in their SERP.

Mobile has been growing leaps and bounds. It’s about 15% of RKG clients’ organic search is coming on a mobile device, either tablet, an iPhone, or an Android; something mobile. It’s a huge space, you want to make sure that your mobile site is well optimized and it’s a great experience for your users. Google came out with their recommendations on how to handle, from an SEO point of view. Responsive design is great if it fits with your business. If it doesn’t and your business goals really say to do something else, then that’s fine too, and that can be supported as well. There are various tools and techniques that you can follow, and Google’s got some good documentation on that, that you can see.

Travel is naturally a very rich topical area for images and video, and it’s all about beautiful places, locations, and interesting stuff like that; sights and sounds. Definitely expect to invest in professional photography, professional video production, and really take it seriously. The level that people expect now online is so much higher than it was even 2 years ago. It’s just like content; it’s no longer good enough just to have a photo or an image. You actually have to have something that’s really compelling and interesting. That’s the kind of thing that can build on itself and really, really drive traffic and create value over the long-term.

As the SERP gets crowded out by things like Google’s Hotel Booking and Google’s acquisition of ITA has allowed them to put flight bookings in the SERP. The SERP is just a lot more crowded, so you need to stand out. One of the great ways to do that in your organic listings is with using rich snippets. Rich snippets are just more information provided directly in the SERP, and it’s using something called microformats. Go to Schema.org and check out some microformats. There are some specific for travel agencies: There’s itineraries, travel agencies, price of course, reviews, site links. There’s all kinds of good ones in there, and we’ve seen those really push CTR of organic.

A lot of travel sites have an international presence; so international SEO needs to be really solid. The key is just to have consistent signals across international sites. You can use things like hreflang, which is a new HTML5 attribute that Google supports. It allows you to set strong regional settings for your sites. You can use rel=”canonical”, you can use all these different tactics and strategies, but the key is just to make sure that the international sites are all well sorted and the signals are clear.

As part of any content strategy, you’re going to want to focus not only on long-term resources, guides, and stuff really in depth, but also, topical and timely stuff. Really think about news and timely current events, and topics that you can blog about and write about, kind of piggy-backing on things that are happening, big events; maybe like the Olympics, the World Cup, and stuff like that. That can be very effective too, because then what you’re doing is not only providing fresh content but you’re also sort of news-jacking on trends and search volume, as stuff’s occurring.

All right. That’s our tips and tactics for SEO travel. Hopefully, some good stuff that you’re able to use. I would love to hear your feedback and your own ideas, so please comment here. I’ll be watching and replying on the blog. Until then, SEO safe.