SEO for Travel Websites: The Ultimate Guide

SEO for Travel Websites: The Ultimate Guide

In today’s digital age, travel SEO is all but necessary and an essential part of the digital marketing strategy for your travel business.

Whether you want to increase bookings and make more sales from your website or enjoy steady growth, you’re going to have to be taking advantage of SEO for that sweet organic traffic.

Here at Wizard of Tourism we’ve discussed hotel SEO, and even PPC for hotels, but we wanted to share this in-depth guide that all travel websites can use to implement the best search engine optimization strategies.

Why is Travel SEO Important?

SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization, is important for a number of reasons and offers quite a few benefits for your travel website.

Before diving into some helpful strategies, let’s cover a quick introduction to SEO, its purpose, and why you need to care about it if you’re in the travel industry.

#1 – Getting more leads from search engines

The main goal of SEO is to get your travel website listed as high as possible in the search engine results for search terms (keywords) that are related to your business. 

Whether you’re a hotel using hotel keywords or you just started a walking tour business and you’re wondering about search terms, it all starts here.

For example, when someone opens Google and searches for “hotels in Vienna”, it’s the websites that are the best optimized for SEO that are showing up at the top. This means that these businesses are getting the most qualified leads before their services. 

Considering that most Travelers start their travel and booking process using a search engine, it’s imperative that you’re optimizing your travel website for these users. 

If your travel website isn’t optimized, or if you don’t have high rankings, you’re losing out on a large percentage of potential customers.

What’s even more interesting is that users are still using search engines for their trip planning process, as opposed to starting on sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, or Tripadvisor.

#2 – It’s a cost effective and long term lead generation strategy

If you’re not practicing good SEO, your travel website isn’t going to show up in the search results organically. However, you can still take advantage of paid advertising, or PPC, to drive traffic to your site.

The problem with PPC is that you typically need a high-budget to drive enough volume to make bookings, sell tours, Etc. While it’s a good idea if you’re looking to generate leads right away, it’s not nearly as cost-effective as SEO.

This is because once you stop advertising on any paid marketing platform, you’ll immediately lose all of the traffic and leave that you’re paying for.

Compare this to SEO, where the optimizations and changes you make today will pay dividends in the future from organic search users. 

#3 – SEO is a great way to grow your business

Without SEO you’re not going to be getting any website visitors, especially from search engines.

Imagine you took advantage of a search engine optimization strategy and you were getting hundreds or thousands of people visiting your site every single day.

How would this change your business plan? What would your business look like if you were driving this volume of traffic to your travel website?

It goes without saying that a constant flow of targeted traffic will definitely transform a business. This traffic is also going to generate opportunities for growth that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. 

While nothing is guaranteed in digital marketing and SEO, even the most basic strategy can make an impact and could have a huge difference on your bottom line.

How do SEO for your Travel Website

Now that you have a better idea of why travel SEO is important, let’s jump into some helpful strategies that you can take advantage of for doing SEO for your own travel website.

#1: It Starts With Keyword Research

The best travel SEO strategy all starts with keyword research.

It’s imperative to know the keywords that your potential customers are typing into search engines to find your business. Without these search terms you won’t have an accurate picture of what you need to be optimizing for.

We’ve covered this topic in our post on finding the right hotel keywords, but here’s a quick overview of the importance of keywords and how they relate to travel SEO.

What are keywords for SEO?

Keywords are the search terms that people are entering into search engines. It’s these keywords, or search terms, that they’re going to use to find your site.

For example, if you’re in a hotel in Brussels, some keywords you might want to target could include “hotels in Brussels”, “where to stay in Brussels”, “Brussels boutique hotels”, just to give you an idea.

You would want to optimize specific pages on your travel business website for these keywords so that it’s your site showing up on the first page of Google when people are making these searches. If you’re not in the top three results, or at least on the first page, it’s unlikely anyone is ever going to find your site.

How do you find travel keywords for your business?

The best way to find these keywords is by using various tools such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, or KWFinder. These tools make it easy to find the keywords, and information about these keywords, that your target audience is using to find businesses or services like the ones you offer.

Without these tools, it’s much harder to find the right keywords with relevant information. However, if you have a tight marketing budget, there are some ways you can do keyword research for free.

During the keyword research process you want to start collecting these Search terms and adding them to a spreadsheet with information like keyword difficulty, monthly searches, and related keywords.

Once you have a decent list, you can start optimizing the pages on your travel website or building out additional pages for better targeting.

You can use these keywords for landing pages as well as for a blogging strategy for your travel business

#3: Don’t Neglect Local SEO for Travel Business, Companies, Tours, and More

Many travel businesses, especially those focusing on local travellers and tourists, are going to want to implement an local SEO strategy.

What is local SEO?

It’s the optimizations that are needed to optimize your website for local searches. This way, if somebody is searching for something to do locally, it’s your website that shows up.

For example, somebody visiting Bratislava might search for “bicycle rentals in Bratislava”. 

They’re probably going to make this search when they’re physically in the city compared to making it from home. It’s also very likely to be a mobile search done from their smartphone.

Assuming the local SEO for a business with this service is done right, it’s going to be their business that shows up in the search results. Not only is it going to show up in the search results, it’s also going to show up in the Google Maps section or on Google Maps itself. 

Here are some helpful tips that you can implement to start seeing great results from local SEO for your travel business:

  • Create a Google My Business account, verifying the address as soon as possible.
  • Fill out the Google My Business profile with all the necessary information. This would include things like your business address, photos, contact information, and accurate descriptions of what your service or business is. 
  • Include your business name, local address, and phone number on every page of your website. This is known as NAP and is a key part of any local SEO strategy.
  • Don’t forget about basic SEO optimizations. The page titles, page descriptions, heading, and search titles/descriptions all need to be optimized for the right keywords. 
  • Add your website to relevant local directories, social media platforms, and tour booking sites where people are likely to book.

While this is not a complete list on how to make the most of local SEO, it’s going to help get you started. This is an aspect of digital marketing that is especially important if you’re running a local travel business.

#4: Your website needs to be mobile-friendly

There’s no denying that the majority of people are using their smartphones to research, book, and plan their trips and vacations. According to google, nearly all smartphone users have no issues planning their entire vacation from the comfort of their smartphone.

This means that your travel website needs to be mobile-friendly and provide a good user experience for smartphone users. It should be easy to use, navigate, plan a trip, book a hotel room, and should work flawlessly on any mobile device.

It’s especially important now as Google moves towards mobile-first indexing. This means that they will be indexing mobile versions of websites first, considering most people are using the internet on their smartphones.

Without a mobile friendly site your rankings are going to suffer and people aren’t as likely to book when they land on one of your website pages. An easy way to improve your travel website SEO is to verify that it’s mobile friendly and to make any necessary changes if it doesn’t work for your smartphone users.

If you’re looking to revamp your travel website, or you just want it to be one hundred percent mobile-friendly, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We offer an affordable website design service to help travel businesses just like yours.

#5: Improve your inbound link profile

You’ve definitely heard about backlinks before when it comes to travel digital marketing. If you’re not aware, backlinks, otherwise known as inbound links, are links from high authority and reputable websites. 

These are links that are pointing towards your own travel website and help to pass authority, and relevancy, while sending the right signals to Google.

It’s tricky to implement your own backlink strategy without the help of a marketing team, although there are some ways you can gain some Great Links back to your site.

One of the easiest ways to build links for travel businesses and websites is by setting up profiles on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google my business, tourism bureau’s, travel directories, and the other online Publications. This is a great place to get started and can help build your link profile from scratch.

If you think this is something you need help with, don’t hesitate to contact us. Here at Wizard of Tourism we offer our own link building service specifically for businesses within the travel industry.

#6: Build landing pages for specific destinations, excursions, tours, Etc

One of the best ways to take advantage of travel SEO for your website is to have dedicated website Pages for the individual locations, excursions, and tours that you offer.

Not only is this better for targeting overall, but it lets you target more keywords and built-in depth content around these pages.

Each of these landing pages can be designed to offer plenty of value to your website visitors while expanding the digital real estate of your travel website.

This makes it easier to implement your keyword research more effectively while fine-tuning your digital marketing strategy. 

It’s important to remember that valuable content is the best way to drive traffic and gain the necessary rankings to grow your business online.

#7: Use beautiful images and don’t forget to optimize them

A basic part about SEO for travel websites that’s often overlooked is the images and image SEO. While you can get away with using stock images, your website is bound to perform better if you take and use legitimate photos.

You might need to hire a photographer or you could work with a local influencer to get photos of your property, tours, excursions, or whatever you’re offering.

Along with uploading beautiful photos you want to keep SEO in mind as well. This means using keywords in your image file names and modifying alternative text, or alt text, to include keywords and Search terms as well.

Don’t forget to keep the image sizes as small as reasonably possible. If the images are too big, this is going to negatively affect page speed, and you want a fast website if you want to drink while on Google. 

#8: Keep your reputation management strategy in mind

Online reviews are one of the most important factors that influence local search results. Along with having a presence on the most popular travel review sites and online booking sites, you need to stand out from the competition if you want to earn favorable reviews.

These days, positive or negative reviews can make or break a business. Making an effort to gain positive reviews means your business will show up higher in the Google search results while providing a valuable and memorable experience to your guests.

It’s the first impression that can mean the difference between somebody clicking through to your website or visiting one of your competitors. Take a look at our reputation management tips to make sure you’re doing everything right to get great reviews for your business. 

#9: Top Ranking SEO Factors in the Travel Industry

There are a number of different ranking factors that need to be considered if you’re trying to rank a travel website and start driving traffic to your business.

Here are the top ranking SEO factors in the travel industry:

  • Word count –  the average word count of the top 10 pages for most searches in the travel industry is over 2500 words.
  • Number of internal links – the top 10 ranking pages typically have an average of more than 150 internal links pointing to the particular page. This isn’t surprising as it means website visitors can seamlessly browse your website, which also makes it easier for search engine crawlers to find your website pages. Internal links also help with relevancy while passing authority and sending all the right signals to search engines.
  • Content relevance – this indicates how important it is to have high quality and relevant content on every page of your travel website. This includes blog posts and landing pages. Take the time to hire a travel copywriter and make sure you implement all of these SEO tips and techniques so that your content is relevant and helpful.
  • Number of images – the best ranking pages will have a lot of images. This keeps people on page while providing value to your users. This is another SEO ranking factor for travel websites that sends the right signals when it’s implemented properly.
  • Content is easy to read – if you’re on page content is easy to read, including things like bullet points and images, it’s going to keep people on the page. The longer a visitor spends on your web site, the more likely they are to convert. 

#10: Get a website audit for your business

The first step to any successful travel SEO campaign is a detailed website audit. This will give you the big picture on how the website is performing and what steps need to be taken next to work through your digital marketing strategy.

With an SEO audit you’ll find any important issues and concerns that need to be addressed immediately. It’s usually these issues or small problems that cause rankings to drop.

Large websites are especially susceptibleJust things like poor website structure, poor quality content, technical issues, and other things that an audit would detect.

Ignoring these issues is going to hurt your rankings and will definitely cause you to lose customers. Don’t neglect taking advantage of a website audit so you can get back on track with your travel marketing strategy.

#11: Content marketing

Something we talked a lot about here at Wizard of Tourism is the importance of content. Creating the right content and making sure it gets in front of your target audience is what’s known as content marketing.

High quality content, especially in the travel industry, is more important than almost any other industry online.

We recommend that all travel websites build out a hub or library of practical and useful content. It’s understandable that this is time consuming and we love to help you, so take a look at our content marketing page to see if we would be a good fit.

Content marketing includes creating landing pages and blog posts that are targeted with keyword research and filled out with proper on-page SEO. They need to include a clever internal link structure along with a suggestive call to action that’s going to point your visitors in the right direction.

If you don’t have any of this content all ready, we’re definitely able to create these pages for you. This means you can focus on growing your business while we help take control of your content marketing strategy.

Next Steps

We can help – check out our travel SEO services.

Hey! I'm Alexander - the founder of Wizard of Tourism!

About the author

Alexander has been working with business in the travel and tourism industries since 2012. With over a decade of experience, Alexander and Wizard of Tourism strive to help those in the travel industry grow their business online.