You love working in travel marketing or in your own travel business. That’s because you get customers who love what you do – offering the best travel experiences for your destinations.
Still you get this nagging feeling…
You’re not on the Google’s, Bing’s or Yahoo’s first page…or the second…or the third.
You check out your website analytics, and see that your bounce rate is 27% higher than last month.
Panic creeps into your head. “Why aren’t more people finding us? It must be our sucky website.”
So you start looking up everything on search engine optimization, or SEO. You read up on article after article, and nothing makes sense.
Even those ones that say, “five easy SEO steps to get page one on Google,” might as well be written in Urdu. You’ll never be able to figure this out, nobody will find your site or your business. You start looking for your next job, and dread your next call home will be to move back.
All right, let’s take a deep breath here.
Every online marketer worries about SEO from time to time. But it’s not good to freak out about it if your site isn’t ranking first. Yes, you certainly want to be on the first page, but it’s definitely OK if you are on page two or even three.
Fact is, there’s a lot that’s going when it comes to SEO. Adding to the mass confusion are all those myths, changes and the threat of Google-induced penalties if the slightest thought of repeating any keywords enters your head. Or if you try do some kind of nefarious backlink strategy.
It almost makes you not want to write at all…but you know you have to.
So let’s take a look at several ways that you can write your website content with confidence and know that you’re doing the best job you can to make your site rank at or near the top.
Relax about those dang keywords
Here’s something from Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, one of the premier SEO consulting companies out there.
Try to combine a great concept or idea for your content, and then come up with words that naturally touch upon that subject to use in your titles, headlines, subheads and – don’t forget – the actual content of your website.
In other words, rather than thinking, “What words should I choose to write my content?” think instead of “What is my audience most interested in learning about what travel we offer?” In other words, think sum and not parts.
Another optimization expert, Neil Patel, writes about six things a busy marketer who does SEO shouldn’t have to worry about, two of which get a mention here: number one ranking and keyword targeting.
The first doesn’t determine if your business is successful. You have to think about other sources of traffic and ways to convert, and you can’t directly control ranking (don’t let those “experts” who email you about guaranteed ranking improvement tell you otherwise).
The second is knowing that keyword relevance and correlation happens naturally. That basically means that you simply need to know what your audience looks for, with their words as they type it into the search engine box.
Look for those phrases that rank high, but don’t choose something that normally wouldn’t cross your audiences’ minds.
We’ll get more into this later…
Chill out over Google’s changes
Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, Panda 2.0, 4.2, 170.8.
Yeah, the last one is bogus, but the point here is that these innocuous sounding names that could be mistaken a daycare toy inventory have created major problems for everyone’s sites. These are the Google algorithms, or systematic problem-solving procedures baked into the search engine functioning.
Some, like those listed above, have been widely publicized, while only wonky tech types have known about others.
You may have thought, “Well, how does this affect my site? Are we going to get penalized for the content we just created? Where’s the Tums?”
Has your tummy stopped rumbling? Good.
Once again, you don’t have to worry if you content is solid for search engine users, otherwise known as your audience. According to Patel, if you have given prospects correct information that’s not designed to game the system, then you’ll be OK – or more than, because your competitors have probably overthought this problem too much.
Look at keyphrases instead
No one really searches with keywords, right? When someone’s looking for a vacation on Maui, they don’t just type “Maui” in the search field.
Instead they’ll input “budget vacation packages Maui” or “luxury resorts on Maui.” It’s a more descriptive group of words, known as keyphrases or keyword phrases.
Now you may have heard that keywords often have higher search volumes than keyphrase. That is essentially true, but the phrases generate more specifically targeted traffic – the kind that brings quality prospects and not everyone and their mom.
Include more phrases (aka long-tail keywords) in your content and copy, and visitors are more likely going to find your site, which will often rank higher than your competitors. Go to Google Keyword Planner or other keyword research sites, and start to generate a list of high ranking keyphrases. You’ll need this later as you create your website information.
At the same time, you don’t just want to include high ranking keyphrases just to ensure optimal search results. As SEO copywriting expert Heather Lloyd-Martin explains, you need to put your focus on your customer, not the optimization. You won’t get anywhere if you do.
Think about your content marketing plan
You may have heard this before bandied about with those in the know: “Content is king.”
Silly clichés aside, this is one you definitely need to pay attention to, because it’s what’s at the heart of SEO now, and by extension website traffic. Simply put, the better your content quality is, the better your website search results will be.
How do you get there? Just like with most other things in life, you need to come up with a plan.
You want to think about the topics that get your audience jazzed – what other people say would resonate with them. Certain topics will do that more than others, so plan some blog posts, articles, social media content, newsletters or whatever you create to reflect that.
A suggested timeline for content planning would be about four to six months, but feel free to plan out longer, if you like. Also, don’t feel like it’s set in stone. If there’s an alternative topic that you’d like to cover a few months, go for it.
Avoid sounding like a content robot
You never want to write content or copy that seemingly came from a machine or written by a droid. The most obvious example of this is called keyword stuffing. Even with all the warnings that Google and other search engine companies have given, people still try to get online attention this way.
No doubt you’ve seen example similar to this literary masterpiece:
“Our trips to Italy offer the best of Italy anywhere. We’ll take you from Venice to Palermo and everything in between, every place in Italy where people want to go. Call Spaghetti Tours, the Italy experts, today!”
Part of the reason this questionable practice still persists is density – the more your word appears on a page relative to the total number of words, the more those algorithms will count them and rank them higher.
Simply put, DON’T do it!
Instead, create quality content, using your keyword or phrase no more than two or three times. Look for ways to promote it in key areas, where it can be easily shared and rank higher in search engines the right way.
Pay attention to what’s working
This strategy will be the easiest one to do out of all of them, and will be quick and dirty to explain.
Simply check out competitors’ sites and see what they’re doing right.
Just take note of the keywords they’re using on the titles, meta descriptions and tags. All of these can be found on the search results, so see if their sites use the words that you also need to include on your site.
For example, if you want website visitors to find you under “adventure travel bike tours,” then type in that search term, and see what comes up. Just look at the first page of rankings and their listings. See where “adventure travel bike tours” show up. It could be in the page titles, the subheads, or website copy, or all of the above.
Now take your list of words that your found to rank high, and make sure to find those keywords and phrases that match up. Use those in your content.
Would you believe that some of the best SEO you could ever muster is just being on social media?
No, I’m not talking about your Facebook party pictures, Instagram cat videos or dirty limerick tweets on Twitter. It’s the stuff that’s directly related to your business and thus your business or fan page, like updates, announcements, engagements and even paid ads and posts.
But the other part of this is a lot like the previous section regarding content. That is, you need to have a strategy or plan to make it all work. So don’t just go crazy and post on every social channel out there. Find out which ones are bringing in the most inbound traffic for your site, and focus on those.
Of course, you’ll also want to include those keywords and phrases that your audience regularly uses. Finally, post regularly and when people comment, make sure to respond in kind.
When you invest some consistent action in your social media content creation and promotion, you’ll see your SEO become that much stronger, too.
You got this!
So now that you don’t have to freak about SEO and how it all affects your website, you can now take these highly doable strategies and breathe a little easier.
Even though seven things don’t seem like a lot, they do take time. It won’t be an instant process and make you a genius in front of your boss…yet.
But it does point you in the right direction, and if you’re consistent with these practices, you’ll see results before you know it, and feel way more confident than you did before.
So to recap here, remember to
- Know but don’t obsess about your keywords
- Be aware but don’t be scared about Google’s algorithm changes
- Think long-tail keywords or keyphrases instead of single words
- Develop a content plan
- Write naturally
- Check out your high-ranking competitors and learn from them
- Engage on social media
The most important key that covers all these points is creating content that really speaks to your visitors.
Rather than seeing how many optimized words you have to jam in paragraph, think about painting an enticing picture that make your visitors want to stay on your site. Create a vision where they want to be on one of your vacations.
In other words, make your website as user-friendly and desirable as possible. Achieve that, and you’ll have the traffic that’ll help your business grow faster…and finally say “adios” to those SEO freak-outs.