October 2, 2018
Here at Blueclaw we work heavily in the travel sector helping our clients increase their bookings and enquiries, and ultimately increasing their revenue.
When building an effective SEO and content strategy, it’s important to put the customer first.
Below are my top tips within travel SEO – the things I find myself speaking about on a day-by-day basis. Consistency and doing the simple things correctly is particularly important in the fast-moving travel industry – and the results can be significant.
It is important that you answer user queries with your onsite content, to bring visitors closer to making a booking, and to add SEO value.
This is true for all parts of the sales cycle. When we look specifically at what Google considers to be the vital moments for travel customers, we see that there are defined stages and types of content that we need to create to meet visitor expectations at different points in their decision-making process.
For example, honeymoon experience content might range from general, high-level content such as “top 10 honeymoon destinations” or “where to go in your chosen honeymoon destination” through to comprehensive guides on specific honeymoon destinations and hotels.
Often the final part of the sales cycle can be overlooked. Producing content for someone that has already bought from you may seem like less of a priority than speaking with those people ready to book right now. However, it is extremely important to keep users engaged after purchase.
Create content such as “Do these things on your trip to your chosen destination” “Local guidelines for your chosen destination”. The idea is, as with any sales pipeline, to keep the user engaged so that they come back for next year’s holiday too.
When it comes to technical SEO, and the topic of user experience, a logical site hierarchy is essential.
A site hierarchy is the way that your site is navigated – this is the journey that you would expect your user to take. In the travel world an extremely simplified version of this should look something like:
Making sure that your site has the correct hierarchy is vital – it is in place to not only guide your user through your site but also to guide spiders such as the Googlebot through it too.
If your site hierarchy is not correctly in place spiders and users alike may feel confused. Looking at this site hierarchy:
Pages have been treated as individual and completely unrelated to the previous pages, meaning that not only is the way your user navigates your site incorrect, the way that a spider will crawl your site will also be incorrect.
Crawl efficiency refers to how effectively search engines can index and understand your site. Making it easy and logical for crawlers to pass through is absolutely key to any large website.
Within travel specifically, a site will have hundreds if not thousands of similar products. Think “holidays to Majorca”; this will have multiple options of destination, star rating, board type and more.
Without setting the correct rules for your facet navigation you could be wasting a huge amount of your crawl bandwidth with the Googlebot simply crawling all the possible options of products on your site.
As your facet navigation will hold a multitude of options in it including star rating, airport location, region, resorts and more, we need to be able to tell Google what we don’t want it to crawl. This can be done via the sites robots.txt file.
In the case of Thomas Cook we can see that the company has no-indexed the whole facet navigation bar as it is confident that their standalone destination pages have enough about them to pick up the terms that they are looking to rank for.
However, we are aware that not everyone has the sheer domain and brand power that Thomas Cook does, so we need to look at your facet navigation and understand what longer tail commercial keywords we really want to rank for.
As an example, if the user has searched for “holidays in Turkey” and within your facet navigation you have the specific destination hotspots in that country such as Antalya, Bodrum or Dalaman, then we would want the Googlebot to be able to crawl the “regions” part of your facet nav. This is because we would likely want to pick up rankings for keywords and phrases such as “All inclusive holiday Bodrum”.
So – if you want to rank for loads of longtail commercial keywords, can you just let it crawl everything? The short answer is no..
Ideally over a period of time you will slowly add crawlability to your navigation, although there will be a point where there is no search volume for the potential keywords that can be picked up.
As an example – “all inclusive 4 star hotel in Dalaman Turkey” is a search term that has no traffic – so it would be a waste to spend valuable crawl bandwidth here.
Balance is absolute key as we don’t want to waste precious crawl time on your site, but we do want to make sure that we are picking up and ranking for long tail commercial terms with search volume.
Facet navigation is a very large topic and definitely a key part of any SEO strategy for a travel site, not only for pure SEO but for the way your users travel (excuse the pun) through your site.
There are a whole range of tools that you can use to check out your SEO standing along with your competitors. These include everything from the charts tool in SEMRush that allows you to pit yourself against your competitors in terms of keywords, keyword growth and traffic, through to Ahrefs and Majestic where you can check out your current backlink profile against your competitors, see specifically where they are beating you in terms of links, and what they are creating to achieve links and more.
All of these tools also offer training on their sites; however, my advice to any travel marketer would be to just get in there and have a play around, as you can’t break anything here.
For more specific figures for your own site go into your GA or Search Console and set up rules and targets so that you can track your metrics properly.
To discuss how Blueclaw can help you to improve your user journey and on-site SEO, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a buzz on 0113 234 3300.