There are entire 6-month plus courses one can take to learn SEO. But really, who has that kind of time?
Me. At least for now.
I’ve spent the last year learning everything I can on the topic so that I could sift through all the noise and serve up only the best bits as it relates to your travel business. That’s really my goal in everything I do. I want to uncomplicate things and do the footwork, so you don’t have to.
In this final post of my 3 part SEO series, I’ve left the best ‘til last. This is the fun stuff. Stuff you can implement tomorrow that will help you crawl closer and closer to the top of search engine results pages (SERP).
If you’ve missed the other two important posts, you should have a look.
Part 1: How to Use SEO to Increase Traffic to Your Travel Website taught how to find the optimal keywords for your strategy.
Part 2: How to Use Keywords to Lure More Traffic to Your Travel Website showed you how to take those keywords and use them effectively throughout your website.
This article will highlight both direct and indirect things you can do to improve your search rankings. All 9 steps are easy to implement immediately.
Tip 1: Improve your page speed
Page loading speed is everything. If your site takes too long to load, Google will move on…and so will your potential customers.
So how do you know how fast your site is? There are many site speed testers to choose from, but I like Uptime because it shows you the load speed and shows you what areas are draggin’ you down. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a load speed of under 3 seconds. That’s the goal.
The biggest time-sucking thieves are often your images. There are so many free tools to optimize images, but the two I use most often are TinyPNG and Optimally – in that order. You can drastically shrink your images without sacrificing any quality.
Hero images – aka, the show-stoppers at the top of the page that tend to be full screen – try and keep those at around 100 KB. Any images on the rest of your page should be around 30 KB.
But images aren’t the only thing that can suck load seconds from your site. It may be well worth your time to hire someone using Upwork or similar to spend an hour to speed up your site. Take it from someone who tried to McGiver the backend of my site myself and had it crash for 48 hours.
Trick 2: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
I just assumed everyone’s website was mobile-friendly, but not so. Just the other day, I was sent a link by a friend to check out an article she thought I’d like on marketing tips for 2021. It wasn’t mobile-friendly. WTF? And it was supposed to be an authority site on the best marketing practices. 🤦♀️
If you’re not sure, plug in your URL at: https:://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly, and Google will give it to you straight between the eyes. No sugar coating. As an added bonus, it will tell you where else you could use some help.
Tip 3: Use Google Search Console
Interestingly… every time you put a search query into the Google search bar, you aren’t actually searching the entire internet in real-time. Maybe you knew that. I didn’t. Instead, you are searching Google’s storage area of the internet. What’s the difference?
Well, what you post on the internet doesn’t go live until Google takes a snapshot of it and puts it in its warehouse. But the thing is, Google doesn’t come by that often to “index” your site. I mean…it has millions and millions of pages to filter through. High authority sites, like Amazon, get indexed every few minutes. But your site and my site…meh…it might take days.
There is nothing wrong with sending a friendly reminder to Google that you’ve posted something new. You can do this by setting yourself up with Google’s Search Console and then adding the URL to your recent blog posts as you create them.
Trick 4: Submitting a sitemap
Another simple step you can take is submitting your website’s sitemap to Google. Consider how many million new submissions get added to the interweb every day. Submitting your sitemap to Google’s crawlers is a way of saying…hey, here is the roadmap to my hometown. Don’t waste your time on these pages but instead, come have a look at this.
Do you have to do this? No. But, it will help Google learn how to index your site quicker, and the quicker Google can take a look around and find what’s relevant, the higher up your ranking will.
Tip 5: Sprinkle in some internal links
So, we now know that the Google spiders have a big job on their hands trying to deliver their users the best content. After all, Google doesn’t want you saying… lets Bing that or lets AskJeeves. Remember him? Google has become a verb based on its ability to deliver key results.
Adding internal links simply means leaving windows open for the reader to move about your site to find similar content.
So, you’ll want to create internal links to similar content. See what I did at the top of this article. I suggested that you might want to go back to read How to Use SEO to Increase Traffic to Your Travel Website and How to Use Keywords to Lure More Traffic to Your Travel Website. And now, if you go to those pages, you’ll see links back here.
Adding internal links serves two purposes.
- It helps Google know where to crawl to next and what other pages have similar content.
- And it lowers your bounce rate. Huh?
Having a low bounce rate makes you a little more attractive to Google. A low bounce rate indicates to Google that viewers move within your site before they bounce out – meaning…you have solid enough content to keep them engaged. The longer you can keep a viewer on your page, the more likely you will be ranked higher by Google.
Trick 6: Lay the groundwork to get some back-links
I’ll be 💯 with you; getting decent back-links takes a bit of work. And it isn’t entirely within your control. Still, it’s worth your efforts and here’s what you can do today to increase your chances of getting back-links.
Wait, what are back-links?
Back-links are simply links to your website from outside sources. Anytime a user comes to your site from a link, it’s considered a referral and referrals are gold in the eyes of Google. So how do you get ‘em?
- Post sharable content on social media
- Start communicating through Facebook groups and, if allowed, post sharable content there.
- Write compelling content and become an industry leader so that people will naturally refer to you as an expert and a great resource of content.
Tip 7: Now add some outbound links
An outbound link is just the backwards version of a back-link only; in this case, you are the one who is linking to other websites.
An outbound link supports your content. Whenever I quote a stat or some industry nugget of knowledge, I’ll link back to the primary source of that info for two reasons.
- It’s important to give the creator their nod. After all, I wasn’t the one who surveyed thousands of American travellers to learn that 43.5% feel the pandemic is essentially over, and they are ready to travel. Destination Analysts did that.
- By linking back to the original source, I also indirectly tell Google that I’m a reputable site with good content. If your travel blog is on walking trails of Tuscany, you might want to provide outbound links to any historical data that you’ve compiled to support your commentary on Italy.
A good rule of thumb is to include at least 1 or 2 outbound links per post.
And I’m not suggesting you’d ever do this, but just to be on the safe side, never provide an outbound link to your competition. That includes your travel suppliers. Don’t post a direct link to that cute auberge just outside of Pisa. But feel free to link to a topography map.
Bonus Tip: Always set your outbound link to open in a new tab. Usually, it’s the default to have the outbound link replace your website. You can change this in your link settings.
Trick 8: Create lots of white space
You know who likes white space almost as much as Joanna Gaines…everybody. Space things out.
- Paragraphs should be no longer than 5 lines – (forget what you learned in English class).
- Use lots of sub-headings to help the reader move through your content.
- Use font sizes that are at least 16 pixels.
- Keep lines of text no longer than 12 words.
- 1500 words per blog post is an excellent target to aim for.
All these tips will make your site more reader-friendly and substantial enough to hang around.
Tip 9: If you snooze, you’ll lose
Of course, it’s important to publish great content, but you can’t just hit publish and never touch your article again. It’s better to go back and update older posts with new content than just to keep churning out new material.
Either way, you’ll want to be updating your site regularly so that Google knows to keep coming back to take new snapshots of your site. The longer your site lies dormant, the less attractive Google thinks it is, and it won’t rank.
Trick 10: Be engaging
Great advice at all times, really. But especially important when it comes to improving your Google ranking. We’ve talked about the importance of getting your site visitors to hang around for a bit. Equally important is a visitor that engages with your content. Are they clicking your links?
Embedding a video above the fold is not only a great way to keep a visitor on your site, but just the action of them clicking the video is a big thumbs up to Google. Extra brownie points if you embed a YouTube video (Google owned) because nepotism is alive and well everywhere, but any video is better than no video.
Another way to engage your visitor is by inviting them to leave a comment. More comments per post equals a more engaging site, so it’s good to ask questions to give your visitor something to respond to.
Adding a live chat widget is another way you can boost engagement, assuming you have the bandwidth to accommodate a real-time chat feature in your business. If you can connect with your client as they land on your site and answer questions specific to your niche.. that’s a golden opportunity.
So there you have it. 10 easy solutions you can put into practice right away. Wasn’t that fun?
This article was meant to whet your appetite and give you some quick wins, but there is still a ton to learn when it comes to SEO. And, it doesn’t help that Google continually changes its algorithm to ensure it keeps delivering the best results to its users. What works well today, may not do the trick tomorrow, but it’s a start.
What’s the one SEO strategy that you plan on giving a whirl today…(or tomorrow 😉?) Let me know in the comments.