Once your travel company has a beautiful, well-designed website, optimised for converting online visitors into paying customers, success now relies on getting more of those potential customers onto your website in the first place.
This is where specialist travel Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in.
SEO involves making adjustments to your website so it ultimately ranks ahead of your competitors in the popular search engines, such as Google. If done correctly this will not only result in more traffic to your website, but more importantly it will attract high value traffic that is specifically looking for the types of holidays and tours you provide.
But, does SEO really work?
Yes, SEO does work.
To illustrate the case, the following graph shows traffic levels to our client’s website since we took over the project at the beginning of the month.
However, for SEO to be truly effective it must pass what can be thought of as the “search-engine friendliness test” (in other words, so called “white-hat” techniques) and it must be done with a dose of realism.
Own your niche
Experience goes a long way when it comes to SEO; something we have in spades at The Travel Web Design Agency. Sometimes the costs of following a particular path may outweigh the likely return.
An effective travel SEO campaign requires a sound keyword strategy. This isn’t necessarily about targeting the keywords which attract the most traffic, but more targeting keywords which you can realistically expect to rank well for given your resources, competitors and what you offer.
We recently had a new client request our help so that one of their holiday pages would rank on the first page for “Disney holidays” on Google. As you can imagine “Disney holidays” is an extremely popular keyword with fierce competition. Not only would you have to beat the nearly 40 million other pages returned by Google, but to get on the first page you’d have to outperform www.disneyholidays.co.uk, holidays.disney.co.uk and holidays.disneylandparis.co.uk themselves, not to mention multi-billion pound holiday companies such as Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays with their vast marketing budgets.
We’re honest with our clients and don’t want them to waste their resources on an ineffective plan, so we advised the client to follow a different online marketing plan.
This may be an extreme example but hopefully it illustrates how SEO is more than just making some code changes - it involves experience and pragmatism if it’s to be done effectively. This is why it’s vital to employ an SEO professional that gets to know your business, knows the wider travel industry and can put in place an online marketing strategy (which may include SEO) that will offer the best return on your investment.
Do it properly or not at all
An important thing to understand is not all SEO companies will follow the same plan or methods when attempting to get their clients website ranking higher in search engines.
There are various techniques an SEO expert can deploy, ranging from “white-hat” (recommended by search engines themselves) to “black-hat” (which are illegal and break search engines own guidelines). We only ever use white-hat techniques but we have come across numerous examples of other SEO companies following black-hat and other dubious strategies, usually without their client’s knowledge.
It is vital you trust your SEO company and know they will not do anything that may risk your website, and by extension – your business. When search engines uncover black-hat SEO they usually penalise the website, which at best results in a significant drop in position, or at worse means dropping out of the index altogether.
Because we only ever follow recommended white-hat techniques and genuinely care about our clients business, it goes without saying that we’ve never experienced penalties on our own sites. Quite the opposite, when done correctly SEO will enhance a websites visibility and reach, not sabotage it. However, we’ve had new clients come to us asking for our help to rectify their website after employing SEO companies which had clearly followed shady SEO methods.
In fact, fairly recently we helped a new client, who’s website had dropped out of Google altogether, get back to the first page for their chosen keyword within 72 hours. We also saved them the roughly £500 per month they were paying the previous SEO company for their questionable ‘services’.
SEO isn’t always the answer
Depending on your specific needs, there are sometimes more effective online marketing strategies which will yield a higher return on investment.
For example, if your keywords are too broad or competitive it may be more cost effective to set up a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign, where you pay for your website to rank on the first page of Google. You can also set up PPC campaigns on other platforms, such as social media sites like Facebook, enabling highly targeted adverting to potential customers.
No two travel companies are the same, so if you think you may like our tailored help with generating more traffic for your travel website please do get in touch for a friendly chat.
We are The Travel Web Design Agency and we’ll get your website found on the web.
The Travel Web Design Blog