If you own a business in the tourism industry, chances are good that many of your eventual guests discover you through your website. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to increase the number of visitors—and therefore leads—that your website attracts?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is that way!
Okay, What’s SEO?
SEO is shorthand for “Search Engine Optimization,” which, briefly, means optimizing your website and content so that search engines are more likely to find it and present it to searchers who are conducting searches related to your business.
Free Guide: Inbound Marketing for Tourism
Everything You Need to Know to Increase Traffic, Capture Leads, and Gain More Customers and Bookings Through Your Tourism Destination’s Website
SEO is an integral part of inbound marketing, and there are a lot of factors that go into a creating a good SEO strategy that feeds your inbound funnel. If you’re considering starting an inbound marketing strategy for your tourism-related business, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. Where is a business owner to start, especially if they don’t know anything about SEO strategies or best practices?
To make the process a little easier, we’ve gathered together this outline of SEO strategies and best practices for you to keep in mind as you develop an inbound strategy that will attract more visitors to your destination.
First Things First, Let’s Talk About Spiders
To make money, search engines like Google and Bing need to be able to provide their users with accurate, reliable, informative answers to their search queries. But how do the search engines know that a particular site will answer a user’s question? That’s all thanks to a special technology known as “spiders.”
Search engines send out spiders to discover new pages and websites on the internet. These spiders “crawl” around, finding links between different websites and using those links to understand how certain content relates to others.
Why should you care about spiders? Well, let’s say you spend, effort, and money creating extremely valuable content that you know your potential visitors will love, but you forget to link to it from any other pages on your site. Without these hyperlinks connecting that content to other pages, it is very unlikely that Google will discover the content—and if Google can’t find your content, then your content won’t appear in search engine results.
There’s no point in creating valuable content if no one is ever going to see it! So make sure you’re always keeping spiders in mind when creating new content for your inbound marketing efforts.
SEO Best Practices for Your Destination’s Website
In addition to crawling websites and links to understand how content relates to each other, spiders also look at a number of other things that will impact your content’s ability to rank in search results. Below is a quick explanation of these factors, and ways that you can adjust your content to keep Google’s spiders happy (and recommending your destination’s website to potential visitors!).
1. Use of Keywords
You know what keywords are. They’re the words that searchers type into a search engine, the topics that searchers want to learn more about. If you want to attract the right visitors to your website, you need to make sure that your content incorporates the keywords that your potential guests are actually using when making searches through Google.
Once you’ve found the keywords that you want to target, you need to build your content around those keywords. This means that you need to incorporate them into the body of your blog posts and pages, blog/page titles, URLs, and meta descriptions.
For example, take a look at the screenshot below. This company, KOA, is a great example of inbound marketing in the tourism industry. Because their focus is on camping, it makes sense that they would want to rank high in google results for searches related to the word “cabin.” As you can see, they made sure to use that keyword in their title tag, URL, and meta description, and it appears within the content on the site. As a result, Google has rewarded them by placing them near the top of search results for this very competitive keyword.
But as with everything, you can’t go overboard in your use of keywords. If you repeat a keyword too often on a site in a way that makes the content look spammy, Google will know, and it could punish your website for it.
2. Proper Use of Links
Like we discussed above, Google’s spiders love links. Links are how the spiders find new content and strengthen the search algorithm’s understanding of how different bits of content relates to each other. By linking to relevant content, you will help Google to better understand the internet, and it will reward you for this.
You’ll want to keep two things in mind when it comes to links. The first is that you should be linking to other relevant content on your website, so that Google can find it (and so that readers can learn more).
The second is that you should also actually link to outside resources. This might not make sense at first—you don’t want to drive users away from your website—but by including outside links, you are showing Google that you have done your research. This improves your site’s authority, increasing the likelihood that you’ll appear in search results.
Looking back to KOA as an example, we can see that in this blog post they use a nice balance of internal and external links without being spammy. In the image below, you can see the first link, which directs readers to an internal site, plus an external link, directing readers to learn more information.
Another way links will help your website appear higher in search results is by having outside links around the web pointing back to your website. Again, this goes to your site’s authority: More outside links pointing in means that people are reading and quoting your content, which means it must be high quality.
3. Intuitive and Friendly Design
One of the factors that spiders look for when crawling websites is whether or not that website offers a good user experience. If a site is designed poorly, then people are likely to click back into the search results to find another website; search engines recognize this behavior over time and remove poorly-designed sites from the top search results, since they do not make searchers happy.
What are some ways you can make sure your website offers users a good experience? Here are a few:
- Don’t spam your content with keywords or links that aren’t natural
- Don’t have a site that is overly busy with design features, images, or buttons
- Make sure your website is intuitive to use: That a user always knows how to learn more information or move ahead in their buying process.
Want an example of a bad website? Lings Cars is a used car website based in the UK that has often been called the worst website on the internet. And you can see why: It’s got a busy background, way too many images (some even move), loud music and loud music. And there’s no clear path forward: Which button, link, or image s a visitor supposed to click on?
4. Mobile Optimization
More and more often today, searches are being made and content is being consumed on mobile devices. That means that your website needs to be optimized for for mobile devices. If it’s not, when visitors click into your site on their phones, they’ll click away—and Google will recognize this and punish you for it by moving you further down the search list.
To have a mobile-optimized site, your website theme should be responsive. This means that it will look different depending on the type of device your visitor is using to view your site (smartphone vs. tablet vs. desktop). Below, you can see the the way that KOA displays on a smartphone:
And how it displays on a regular desktop like the one I’m typing on now:
You also need to make sure that your website loads quickly on mobile (or else your website visitors will bounce, which will hurt your site authority). Using Google AMP is one way of making sure that your pages load more quickly. You can test your site’s speed by going to the HubSpot Website Grader, which analyzes speed amongst other factors.
Don’t Get Caught in the Spider’s Web
Search engine optimization is an incredibly important part of the inbound marketing process, regardless of the industry that you work in. If you own a business that is tourism or destination focused, following the SEO best practices above can have a real and major impact on how many visitors your destination reaches.