SEO for Travel Companies in 2018
SEO for Travel Companies in 2018. What’s changed, what you need to know and do. In these slides and videos, we cover SEO landscape changes and the current state of SEO for Travel Companies in 2018. It covers aspects of technical SEO for travel companies, content creation specific to the travel sector, as well as how to boost authority signals and link building for travel companies in 2018.
Table of Contents
- SEO for Travel Companies in 2018: Landscape Changes
- Technical SEO for Travel Companies
- Content SEO for Travel Companies
- Authority Signals and Link Building for Travel Companies
View our webinar slides on SEO for Travel Companies in 2018 below:
SEO for Travel Companies in 2018: Landscape Changes
“Is SEO dead yet?” – Everyone in digital marketing
Yes. But not in the way you think. Google and TripAdvisor remain the gatekeepers when it comes to travel research. Qualitative user research by Google shows how users interact the most with other key entities in the travel space.
Moving from Results to Answers
Google is moving away from results to answers. There’s no more room for basic answers. Publishers need to move to complex answers in order to survive. This is the difference between a vertical and horizontal algorithm. A vertical algorithm, like dating sites have, will tell you who the best person is for you, while a horizontal algorithm will tell you what the best restaurant in town is, based on a set of universal sources.
Organic still gets 45% of clicks
Source: Rand Fishkin
SEO is still holding 40-45% of all searches.
AdWords is getting more pixels
While SEO results are still getting around 45% of click-throughs, AdWords is getting more visibility across search engine result pages. Whether through classic AdWords or tools, including Google Flights and Hotel Ads.
Google Features Getting Greater Share of Clicks
Google Features are also getting a greater share of clicks.
Attention is drawn away from results and onto images and tools
This is in order to fast track part of the journey where they don’t make money.
While maxing out commercial terms.
They are bypassing the results page altogether, removing the need for SERPs for high volume, low commercial queries. This increases competition on commercial terms.
Results without Features
It is now rare to find results without certain features.
From a sample of 500k travel keywords:
- Only 2.7k have zero features
- Only 30k with just AdWords
This is an opportunity for businesses to build more engaging content from the time of search.
The Algo Storm
For many publishers and brands SEO, 2018 has been a tough year. Google algorithm updates have been more frequent and targeted publishers and affiliates. Those who weathered the storm had better content and UX (user experience). Many algorithm updates are now rolling updates, meaning no jump or drops overnight for most websites.
Major Algorithm Updates
Major algorithm updates are now part of the main algorithm. This means no more excessive jumps or drops for most websites. We’re seeing either some pages are penalised or the whole site progressively fades. Link quality is now also a constant.
Artificial intelligence brings full context to queries. AI can process a whole new set of signals, changing the DNA of ranking factors, like situational awareness, context and intent and UX graph.
It’s not all dark
It’s not all bad news though:
- Google remains the main source of traffic for most websites.
- You get this traffic for free
- It could be worse, think about Facebook organic…
- Algorithm updates tend to clean spam rather than punish good sites
- Featured snippets reward the best sources of information, including niche sites
- Rank Brain rewards better UX and answers
- Voice search opens up a whole new era of long tail
- A ranking function on any site is an opportunity to optimise
- Think beyond Google
- Most algorithms are simpler than Google’s
Summary of SEO for travel companies in 2018
- SEO in 2018 is a new discipline compared to 2016
- Voice search will be a game changer
- AI based rankings mean you won’t be able to ‘cheat’ your way to high rankings and traffic
- SEO is a by-product of your overall optimisation efforts
- Big brands dominate the top terms. Go niche, really niche:
- Adventure travel (2012 keyword)
- Motorsport adventure travel (2015 keyword)
- Motor sport adventure travel off the beaten path (2018 keyword)
Technical SEO for Travel Companies in 2018
The new tech stack requires an adapted approach
Mobile matters more than ever in 2018.
Source: Think with Google
“Over 60% of Google Search AMP clicks now go to non-news related sites” – Dave Besbris at the 2018 AMP Conference
AMP significantly reduces page size.
Here’s the difference between a mobile responsive site and an AMP page on our own website:
Tracking for AMP
Make sure you adjust your tracking for AMP. Use either a plugin or Google Tag Manager to implement valid tracking.
AMP + Progressive Web APP
We love AMP plus progressive web apps. This is one of the key factors leading to a technical SEO renaissance. There’s a bit of a learning curve on both sides, including some testing and dev resources.
Google landing pages coded in AMP are lightning fast, loading focused on delivering the main content rather than loading ads. With the rest of the site coded as a PWA this provides a rich user experience using mobile hardware.
What are Progressive Web Apps?
- PWAs are “Apps” just like your smartphone apps
- Except they are also your regular web pages too
- They simplify App Development and Maintenance
- Making use of phone hardware (location, gyro, etc.)
- They create a rich user experience, as if you were in a native application
- No need to maintain multiple code base, all connect to the same content and user database
Native Apps enable site designers to access phone hardware. Normal web sites cannot access these resources.
Content Management Platform
Tagged, structured content enables a multi-use approach.
Resourcing: Need tech SEO person + dev support
Biz case: Future proofing, extra channel, chat and sales recommendation
Ranking Based on DB Data
Rankings based on DB data is going to be huge. HTML Crawl, indexing and ranking is a resource intensive and inefficient process. Structured markup is a way to speed things up but it still depends upon relevant content. DB often holds the freshest, most accurate dataset.
[patent] Resource identification from organic and structured content. Kudos to SEObyTheSea for finding it.
Personalised search is going to increase. This will make ranking results blurrier. Google is also gaining stride when it comes to app indexing and deep linking. This provides an individual experience.
But don’t panic. Personalisation doesn’t have to work against you. When someone searches for your target keyword for the first time, you’ve got to do your best to appear among the top results in the unbiased search results page. If the searcher clicks on your listing, you’ll become their preferred entity, and their subsequent searches will most likely include your site as the top result.
Use Schema.org Markup
Schema.org is a vocabulary (of many), but is really more comparable to a dictionary.
“I want to live in a world where schema is not that important, but currently, we need it.
If a team at Google recommends it, you probably should make use of it, as schema helps us to understand the content on the page, and it is used in certain search features (but not in rankings algorithms).” – Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google
Use Markup to Help Voice Search
Feature Snippets Worth Considering
|SERP Feature Type||How to Get In|
|Video units||Create and optimise on YouTube|
|“People Also Ask”||Branding – get searched for with/after the query|
|Featured Snippet||Phrasing and position of short answer in content|
|Maps Box||Claim GMB, get links, earn citations, be nearby|
|Knowledge Panel||Earn brand association, use structured markup|
|Top Stories (News)||Relevant images, alt attributes and direct embeds|
|Apps||Keywords in title and description, become popular in the app store|
|Books||Write a book, use keywords in the title, have an ISBN|
|Related Searches||Be searched and found commonly with the keywords|
|Tweets||Verified accounts help, use keywords in tweets|
|Search Suggest||As with related searches, also geo-sensitive|
|Sitelinks||Get links and visits to several popular pages, use markup|
|In-Depth Articles||Author longer pieces that receive attention and links|
|Carousels/List Results||Be listed alongside common sets on the web|
Schema to Include Speakable
Schema is soon to include speakable. This is going to be sweet!
What Makes a Good Voice Answer?
Similar to featured snippets, short, sharp answers is what Google and it’s users are looking for.
More info: Guidelines by Google
What to Write for Voice Search?
Content SEO for Travel Companies in 2018
User intent > topical/semantic depth > keywords
RankBrain increases performance for quality content. Read more about how to optimise for RankBrain.
- Analyses user behaviour to answer query intent
- Understands hard to answer queries
- Dwell time matters for RankBrain
- Google’s secret sauce – need to approach your audience and optimisation as a whole
What RankBrain Cares About
RankBrain cares about dwell time. Visuals, videos and tools help to engage users but can also help answer queries. RankBrain sometimes ranks pages higher up than they “should” rank. Good CTR (click-through rate) can bump up your rankings as Google sees your result as a better answer.
Increase Time Onsite
Too many sessions are bouncing and users are not engaged. Driving greater onsite engagement and attention will lead to better conversion. Test your layout and increase page speed to improve time onsite.
Build Reasons to Come Back
Sticky engagement beyond on-page CRO tactics.
Having a user centre and developing an integrated solution brings data and automation into the system.
Content for Relevance vs. Reach
It’s rare for a piece of content to achieve both of these goals successfully. Always pick your objective for each piece.
Build Content to Capture Attention
Build content where you can still capture user interest. Capture attention at the “I want to get away moments” (dreaming moments) in order to spend less at the “Let’s book it” (booking moments) stage.
Create Unique Content
Create something uniquely valuable. Unique value refers to the usefulness and takeaways derived by visitors to the page. Many pages can be “valuable” but few provide a truly unique kind of value. Ask yourself: “Does the internet need another page on [topic]?”
In-Depth Content Ranks Better
Win the SERPs over by creating in-depth, detailed answers.
Build Authority and Depth of Content
Build authority and depth of content in your niche. Create semantic relevance which is good for RankBrain. This will help you to become a trusted source. Get more visibility via feature snippets and voice search.
Create a Semantic Keyword Footprint
Create a semantic keyword footprint across a whole topic. Related keywords = semantically connected. Google is going to view this as critical to proving that your content is relevant to the searcher’s query.
For example: Which apple are you talking about?
Rank with in-depth reviews. OTAs and booking sites are transactional in nature. They don’t do a great job when it comes to detailed reviews. Partner with unique hotels/tours needing more visibility.
Images Can Drive More Traffic
1 in 5 searches is for an image.
The recent change to Google’s layout will drive more traffic to your pages/posts. You’re also less likely to get your image “borrowed”.
Tips for Image SEO
- Descriptive image filename: http://images.lacarmina.com/160925-godzilla-hotel-monster-statue-gracery-tokyo-14.jpg
- Descriptive image alt tag: alt=”godzilla hotel tokyo japan”
- Detailed image caption (visible on the page): N/A
- Relevant copy close the image: Did you know you can stay at a Godzilla monster themed hotel: Hotel Gracery Shinjuku?
- Keyword-rich page title:
- SEO-friendly page URL: http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/2017/01/godzilla-hotel-tokyo-gracery-shinjuku/
- Regular image aspect ratios: classic 4×3
- Medium image dimensions: This pic: 81.3kb (688×459 px)
Harder to optimise small images (<500px), Google doesn’t favour those of course. (There are exceptions).
Larger images (>2500px) should be OK. In fact. Google has the tools to filter by image dimensions.
9. Descriptive anchor texts: N/A
Other Tips for Image SEO
a) Submit an image sitemap to Google
b) EXIF data
It’s not yet clear if Google uses image EXIF data in their algorithm.
c) Watermarks don’t matter
Google’s webmaster guidelines state:
“[…] Some people add copyright text, watermarks, or other information to their images. This kind of information won’t impact your image’s performance in search results, and does help photographers claim credit for their work and deter unknown usage. However, if a feature such as watermarking reduces the user-perceived quality of your image or your image’s thumbnail, users may click it less often in search results.”
d) Unique metadata
If you copy-paste keywords/phrases for multiple images, they’ll matter less in Google’s eyes. As with regular web searches, Google wants to show unique images that are relevant with the user’s query.
e) Time and effort
Working on all this image SEO is not easy. Do it manually a few times, and then try to work out a routine for whenever you add more images to the site. Try to cover as many of the image SEO factors above as possible.
Content Optimisation Importance
Source: Search Engine Land
What great onpage optimisation looks like:
Authority Signals and Link Building for Travel Companies in 2018
Not your grandma’s recipe for links
SEO is a by-product, what else should we do?
With more signals coming in, multiple points of authority become necessary.
Links Still Matter
Yes, links still matter… a LOT. Getting links to your site still matters. Make sure you strive for quality over quantity.
Search engines judge you by your links.
Why Do People Link to You
- They know you and/or owe you a favour
- Your website is unique, interesting, engaging, etc.
- You link to their website in return (genuinely)
- Provide content to publish on their website
- Financial incentive (careful here)
- You improve their profile/ego/product
- You offer the most relevant resources (data, tools, tips)
- You offer a different perspective
- You are the only/first one to talk about it (in-depth)
- You are a famous/trusted source of information
Link Building is Ongoing
Link Building Methods
Good ol’ classic methods that still work to get links:
- Get target sites users involved in the content creation process
- Gather and share data (great for PR)
- Build tools
- Reach out for unlinked mentions
- Reach out to linkerati
- Get local links (school, sport centre, meetup etc.)
The Making of a Link-Worthy Story
What are You Asking Them to Link to?
|Offer something that makes sense to link to||Offer content that already exists and ask for a link with no further information|
|Respond to topics in the news agenda you can offer content/commentary on||Offer content that an expert writer can source themselves|
|Get in touch, be personable and find out the kinds of content they want to receive||Ask for a link from something that was covered months ago|
|Work with experts in a related field for greater exposure||Lead with the brand rather than the story you’re trying to sell|
Bing uses it as an authority signal and a patent by Google (along with observations from many SEO experts) indicates that Google may be doing this as well. So get out and build your brand name, even if you don’t get a link back.
By opening up additional mediums and channels we can exponentially increase audience reach and user acquisition.
We see the biggest opportunities in (priority order):
- Video content; social channels
- Optimised content aggregation
- Display (awareness over acq.)
60% of consumers watch branded videos on a daily basis.
YouTube and Facebook Organic
Creating a strong instream video presence on YouTube and Facebook can open up a new channel of consumers for your brand. Like standard SEO, start with a niche target. Build around a closely knit set of keywords. Test and learn what works best when it comes to duration. Leverage video content across all mediums (website, email, etc.) to rack up views and engagement. A successful strategy will blend the discoverability of YouTube, with the engagement of Facebook. As a search engine, YouTube exposes users to new content based on search intent. 55% of consumers watch branded content at an engagement rate of 32%. Facebook exposes users to a greater volume of branded video (60%), at a higher engagement rate (49%).
Go where the world’s best content publishers and creators are, on Flipboard.
While Australia is a small market, presence continues to grow.
AND go where the world’s smallest publishers are competing with media giants, Medium.
With 74 million global users, Medium.com is rapidly growing. Online publishers are independent content creators are moving their content there.
Other tips to boost authority
- Go native on Android and iOS
- Optimise for native news aggregators