In order for small and large businesses alike to succeed in a digitally crowded eco-system, you have to be seen and you have to be seen on top. But ranking high on SERP’s (search engine results page) takes a strategic and laser focus approach that often seems overwhelming to tackle. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a buzzword you should have heard countless of times by now. SEO is the practice of setting up your website in a way that lands you a higher spot on Google and other popular search engines. You have about 10-20 seconds until your user leaves your site. Without clearly communicating your unique value proposition within 10 seconds, any other digital efforts you apply are essentially futile. But if done correctly, SEO can significantly increase your web traffic, which then enables you to incorporate other strategies to fulfill the typical 7-8 touch points required to convert lookers into buyers.
The best way to rank high and remain high on search engines is by providing relevant content to people searching for your tours or activities. High quality content will always win in the realm of the digital world and investing the time in developing a content strategy, especially in the travel and tourism industry, could make or break your success. Content marketing is a long term strategy that pays off in the big picture. But you shouldn’t expect immediate results. That’s why it’s crucial you apply a laser focused strategy with the long term vision in mind to ensure your business is going in the right direction.
Your content should not only be original, but it must be captivating and useful for your audience. When users see high quality content, they are more likely to share it with others which inherently makes them a form of brand ambassadors, spreading your business via word of mouth. Although blog posts are the most obvious form of content tour providers and marketers use, content could and should also be in the form of social media and email.
Tips on Search Engine Optimization
One. Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions
Although Google has admitted they don’t always use the meta descriptions in their search ranking algorithm, it’s still a crucial component in terms of conversion, which is your ultimate goal in the long term strategy. The meta description tag is an HTML snippet, between 155-160 characters that summarizes what the page is about. Let’s take a look at Time Inc’s meta description:
<meta name=”description” content=”Time Inc. is one of the largest branded media companies in the world reaching more than 120 million people each month across multiple platforms.” />
The 144 characters are displayed as such in Google’s search results page:
Although it may not help in your ranking, including your targeted keywords are crucial for the user, which could potentially be your customer. If you are targeting a certain keyword, if someone types that keyword or phrase, it will be bold in the display. For example, when you search “walking tours nyc” in a private browser, the top organic results are:
Everything that goes into SEO is derived from understanding the relevance of “keywords” and “keywords phrase”. Any journey on Google or another search engine begins with an input of keywords in a search bar. Executing a strong keyword strategy will help you get found for the search words that are actually pertinent to you. The first step is to make a list of relevant topics that pertain to your business and content you are putting online. Put yourself in the mind of your user persona – what would they be searching for? For instance, if you are a bus tour company in New York City offering an eclectic variety of tours, you might come up with topics such as:
- Driving tours
- Food tours
- History tours
- Cultural tours
- New York tours
- New York activities
- Family activities
- Business trips
NOTE: If you’re a bus tour operator but none of your tours are related to food, do not create such a topic.
The above list serves as a general list of “topics”. Now you have to come up with the phrases and keywords a user is likely to type in. It’s highly unlikely someone will simply type in “family activities” in a search bar as that could reap an assortment of results not pertinent to a family visiting New York City, wanting a family-friendly activity to do. You’ll want to drill it down to things such as:
- Family-friendly tours in Manhattan
- NYC activities for kids
- New York tours for families
- Fun things to do for kids in New York City
Don’t worry too much on the actual phrase or order of keywords, you’ll refine that during the process. The idea is to do a brain dump of what you think your customers are searching for. Thats another key reason it’s crucial you have your user persona built out in as much detail as possible. If you haven’t already, download are Customer Persona Template do it now. There are many tools, some paid and some free, that help derive valuable keywords for your product. Google Keyword Planner, although it’s specifically aimed for AdWords, you can still utilize it to get ideas and if you want to see which keywords your website is already getting found for, you can create a free audit report.
Now that you have your list, be sure to check out the competition and free tools such as Google trends.
What to do with these keywords
Your keywords should always be in the page URL, separated by hyphens if using a keyword phrase. Ensure that the keywords are in the meta title and meta description, even though it does not help your ranking in SERPs, it’s still important for the consumer. Another key strategy is implementing the keywords within the content itself in a natural way without “keyword stuffing”. It’s always a good strategy to broaden your products and create landing pages specifically targeted for the ideal customer and incorporating keywords as it pertains to that specific product.
Three. Optimizing Different Types of Content
People consume information in a variety of ways – articles, videos, images, podcasts, discussions, social media, etc. We’re in an information overload society. Standing out of the crowd is significantly more difficult today than it has ever been before. Channel your inner uniqueness and focus on being more niche because in reality, you won’t be able to compete with the big dogs like Expedia and other large tour resellers. This also means writing interesting blog posts. There’s no point in blogging if there’s nothing of value for your ideal customer. And the more unique it is, the better chances you have of differentiating yourself from competitors.
Blog Posts – Every new blog post should be on it’s own web page. Each web page can be optimized to add SEO juice and expand your digital presence so the likelihood someone lands on a page somewhere on your site increases.
Images – High quality images are tremendous assets for your visitors, but they also help improve your rankings. Optimize your images with the ALT tag, incorporating your dedicated keyword. Also make sure you save the file with the relevant keyword so Google can understand what the image depicts.
Videos – Video consumption has been on the rise with younger generations and will only increase in demand. Google’s algorithm includes YouTube and Vimeo so make sure you post your videos on these platforms in addition to your webpage and social media. Like images, optimize the filename to include relevant keywords and write a rich video description.
Social Media – If your business is not on social media, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Every business needs to be on social media. Implement strategic social media initiatives and test, test, test. If you are just starting out, focus on only one social media platform at a time – the one your ideal customer persona is active on. Try various titles and descriptions and analyze the engagement level.
Like John Wanamaker said, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. This is common for many tour operators who are clueless about marketing because they don’t focus on the results. Every successful business is derived from an agile environment – constantly testing what works and what doesn’t and mastering that which succeeds. Measure and monitor your search performance on Google Analytics and make smart SEO decisions based on conversion data.
If you haven’t already submitted your website on Google Search Console, stop everything and do it now. Every new page you add and submit to the console, you should begin seeing an increase in your search queries. If you aren’t you should consider implementing a new strategy or experiencing with a new tactic.
The next step is to establish KPI’s (key performance indicators) to track and measure the success of your strategy and business in general. Without KPI’s you’re essentially shooting in the dark with no aim. But how exactly do you determine what your marketing KPI’s are? It should be synonymous with that of your business KPI’s. This is where hiring a consultant may come in handy. Understanding Google Analytics and what it all means can be challenging and if you’re not an expert at it, you could be applying strategies that provide zero value.
When to Call For Help
SEO affects every facet of your marketing strategy and not applying an efficient strategy could make all the difference. Whether it’s website content or product offerings, the most important thing to keep in mind is your user. Providing a good user experience is essential for success and the better experience they have, the better your traffic will be. Because a user’s experience begins when they start their search, you have to take the right steps to land higher in SERPs.
And although there are many resources online (like this blog) that you could utilize to implement your own SEO strategy, is that really a good use of your time? With all the convoluted layers in this digital world, how would you even know if what you’re doing is right? That’s where we come in.
We believe your greatest asset is doing what you do best – running your business. The practice of delegation is what all successful business owners, executives and entrepreneurs do. That’s why, when you delegate your marketing needs to us, we see you as a partner, not just a client.
Our eclectic services are entirely customizable based on your needs. Whether it’s analyzing your website, honing in on your target customer, or navigating the complexities of AdWords and PPC campaigns, we’re here to help.