SEO for Travel Companies – The Dilemma of Local vs Global Targeting
There are few industries as unique as travel when it comes to search engine optimization. Chances are, if you manage a travel company and have searched for information on SEO you may be somewhat puzzled about the whole “local vs global” dilemma. Whether you are a travel agency, tour provider, or some other hospitality business that caters exclusively to tourists and travelers (there’s a difference) you need to make a decision, based upon your budget and resources, as to whether or not you will target local search, a wider geographic area, or both.
For example, a travel agency may be located in a brick and mortar within Vancouver, yet specialize in setting customers up with hotels, tours, and activities on the Hawaiian islands. Or, an Orange County agency may exist strictly online, appealing to a wider audience, yet specialize in a certain type of travel, such as eco-tourism. In either scenario (and many others within the travel industry) the SEO process is not cut and dry. While every situation is certainly unique, the following article provides you with a few key best-practices for you to follow as an online travel based company.
What Travel Companies Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization
1. If You Operate from a Physical Location Be Sure to Optimize for Local SEO
Local SEO best-practices are extremely important to ranking well on Google in 2015 (and on). If you manage your travel business from a physical location then you will want to use that to your advantage and score a high-ranking position on the Google Map displayed on a search engine results page (SERP). To accomplish this, you need to do five things;
- Set up your Google My Business page
- Ensure that your business name/address/phone number (NAP) on all local online directories is consistent with your website’s contact page and marked-up at Schema.org
- Optimize your site content for region specific keywords
- Earn positive online reviews from customers
- Earn backlinks from high-authority websites in your locale (e.g. local online newspapers, community blogs, etc…)
Learn more about how to move up on the Google Map here.
Another key note of interest here applies to travel agents functioning independently within a franchise travel agency office environment. If this is you, you will be attempting to rank on search as an independent travel agent in the same manner that a real estate agent would when they work under the umbrella of a real estate agency. Of course the inverse concern exists for the agency, with the brand wanting to establish itself on search at the same physical address that their own agents have on their business cards. In this situation, a unique Google My Business profile page must be set up for each personal agent and a separate page established for the brand (both residing at the same address). According to Google My Business terms, an individual must not try to pass themselves off as the office, if said office also manages a page. There can be no duplication of brands at the same address within Google My Business page titles. Below is an example of what a travel agency and travel agent Google page title should look like, respectively.
Agency (correct G+ page title): Aloha Travel Centers – Vancouver BC
Agent (incorrect G+ page title): Kai Smith, Travel Agent, Aloha Travel Centers – Vancouver BC
Agent (correct G+ page title): Kai Smith, Travel Agent
2. If You Do Not Have a Physical Office Presence Clearly Establish Your Niche w/Keyword Targets
If your travel business does not occupy an office location that qualifies for a spot on the Google Map as a local business, or you simply manage an online travel business that can serve a wider geographic area, then it becomes less about the proximity of your business to the end-consumer. Instead, it’s about reaching for a specific type of traveler. You know that you’re not going to be able to compete with the “big box” online travel brands out there (Expedia, etc..), which is why you’ve likely chosen to operate within a niche. For example, a travel company offering custom packages on surf trips (or eco-tourism, etc…) does not need to have a physical presence in a certain zip code to gain a strategic advantage on Google search. What they do need to do, is optimize their entire site specifically for the traveling surfer (or eco-tourism, etc…) demographic. Not only do the title tags, heading tags, meta descriptions, and static content pages need to be optimized for their target keywords, but they must deliver frequently updated content (within a blog) conveying the same. This content of course, must be of great value (interesting, engaging, informative, and media-rich) to prospective clients/customers.
3. Create Location/Activity Landing Pages to Target High-Conversion Traffic
No matter which category above you find yourself in, it will be important for you to create unique landing pages (content specific pages) to capture online search for varying locations and/or offerings. For example, a tour and activities company serving the coastal Orange County (CA) area would want to create unique pages for Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente and optimize the content specifically for each. This way, a tour company operating out of Huntington Beach can still capture visitors searching for information on whale watching tours off of the San Clemente coast. As another example, an eco-tourism company would want to create unique pages not only by each geographic region they offer packages for, but by type – rainforest, coastal, glacial, and so forth. All of these unqiue pages must internally link to one another, allowing for fluid user-navigation and ultimately creating a logical whole that Google will comprehend and deem to be of high-authority within your travel industry niche. Only then will they (Google) reward you with a better rank in their SERPs.
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