Booking your holiday at a travel agent on your local high street has become a thing of the past, nowadays around 80% of holiday goers in the UK are now making plans to go abroad using the internet. As the travel industry goes digital, there is vastly more competition in the travel industry market, so what can an online travel agency do to stand out above the rest?
As most users are taking to their laptops and smartphones to make holiday searches, you need to ensure that your travel agency is in the top positions in the search engine results pages of Google, Bing and the likes to ensure that holidaymakers click on your results over the competition, and we're here to show you exactly how to do that.
Why is Digital Marketing and SEO Important for Businesses in the Travel Business?
As we mentioned previously, the online travel industry has seen massive growth in recent years and with that demand and growth comes every travel agency that wanted to jump on the bandwagon to seize the opportunity and a corner of the market. While massive travel giants such as First Choice and Thomas Cook, to name just a few, dominate a large part of the market, these leaves the rest of the travel agencies fighting for the positions in the SERPs just under them, and it's excruciatingly competitive.
However digital marketing efforts combined with search engine optimisation, which is primarily concerned with achieving high positions in search engines organically (meaning without having to pay for advertisements) can allow companies to rank in top positions when done correctly. If you want to take your part of a thriving market, here's how to through digital marketing and search engine optimisation methods.
Know What Your Customers Want
First things first, it helps to understand precisely what your customers want. Although each individual need and requirement of your customers will differ, as will the places in which they wish to vacation, it helps to get a good grasp on who your customers and generally what they want.
For instance, if you specialise in staycations, then who are your key demographic, and what do they want? Or are your customer's local customers? Where do they want to go on vacation? Once you've managed to determine who your customers are and what they want, you'll find it better to form relationships with them and market your deals and excursions to them.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
We all look at people's glorious holiday photos, whether in person, on Facebook or Instagram, and it makes us green with envy and wants to go on holiday, right? Well, use this to your advantage and post beautiful pictures of hotels, villas, cottages and destinations where your offer deals to entice customers to consider visiting or enquire about further.
Ensure that these photos are photos that you have obtained yourself from online broachers or are photos that you, your clients or one of your colleagues have taken of the venues or destinations as you'll want to ensure that your images are genuine and don't appear to be stock images of goals as customers will be able to spot stock content from a mile off.
Create a Travel Blog for Your Website
Nowadays there's a huge demand for travel blogs and travel bloggers, whether it's companies who are looking for travel bloggers to review destinations or whether customers are looking for travel blogs to get holiday inspiration. Creating a travel blog for your site is a great way to entice customers to consider planning a holiday with you or even to optimise your content for the keywords you wish to rank for, you must have a travel blog.
Ensure Your Business is Listed in Online Directories and Citations
If you're looking to increase the online traffic and footfall of customers who set foot into your travel agents, then an excellent way for you to do this is for you add your business's website and information onto online directories and citations. Unfortunately, gone are the days when you would put an advert in your local newspaper or in the yellow pages to increase your customer base, today everything's made a move over to digital.
To ensure that you are adding your business to the correct directories and citations, you should follow these essential steps to ensure that your directory submission is beneficial to your business, instead of being detrimental.
- Only post your business on directories which are relevant to your industry – is there a vast online directory specifically for car rental services? Avoid it. Is there another popular directory which doesn't let you choose the online category of Travel? Avoid that too. If you want to increase your customer base in the correct ways, you'll need to post your business to directories which are related to the travel industry.
- Ensure that the directory is administrated – unfortunately, there's nothing worse than an online list that isn't screened or administrated as usually, you'll find that all types of unreputable businesses and spam sites will be found on there also and you don't want to be associated with them. Instead, only submit your business on to directories which have a screening or approval process for any submissions that they receive.
- Any directory which asks for a reciprocal link – reciprocal links, unlike backlinks don't provide your site or the other party's site with any value. Instead, if a directory asks for you to provide a link back to their site in the form of a link, advert or banner in return for you being featured on the website, you should avoid these sites also.
For more information on which directories and citations you should be submitting your business to, you can take a look at our directory submissions guide.
Carry Out Some Competitor Research
Want to know how and why your competitors are ahead of you in terms of coming up with the latest creative campaigns to get customers and ranking in high positions for keywords you also wish to rank for too? Then carry out some competitor research to ensure that you're getting a better understanding of your competitors' strengths and weaknesses to use them to boost your rankings and develop an SEO strategy which will work for you.
For more information on how to carry out competitor research, we've covered it all for you here in our 5-step process to competitor research.
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly
You're probably already aware of the fact that anyone who is considering going on holiday won't just immediately purchase tickets from you straight away. Instead, the majority of your clients will consider a lot before buying tickets and will in all probability return to your website numerous times to check details such as destinations, accommodations and prices.
Where your customer checks these details may vary whether it's the at the office, at home or when they're commuting too and from work, you have to ensure that your website can be easily viewed when and wherever your customers are to ensure that they choose you over your competitors. That's why you must ensure that your site can be viewed on both mobile and tablet devices in addition to laptop and desktop computers for better user experience.
If your website isn't responsive or mobile optimised, there's nothing to stop your clients from using another competitors site that they can use on mobile, which you'll want to avoid at all costs. If you want to ensure that your website is optimised for mobile devices, you can use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and follow both their recommendations and our guide to better mobile optimisation.
Optimise Your Site for Keywords Suitable for Your Business
As a business, you'll be aware of the products and services that you provide, which is why when it comes to optimising your website for keywords you should ensure that you choose keywords which are both related to and suited to your business. For instance, even if the keyword' backpacking holidays in Thailand' has a high volume and low difficulty but your business provides European holidays only, then you'll want to avoid targeting this keyword, and although this may seem like common knowledge to some, you'd be surprised at how many companies target keywords that aren't related to their brand in order to rank in higher positions.
In addition to this, you should also consider what the keywords, key phrases and search query your target audience is searching for to reach them directly. It can also help to take a look at the pages which are ranking in the top positions for any keywords you think are excellent opportunities to rank for to understand what exactly customers are looking for with that keyword. Are they looking for a blog post? Are they looking for deals and prices? Or are they merely looking for advice or information on the subject? Asking all of these questions will help you rank better in search engines such as Google and provide the user with the information they want.
Use Local SEO
People tend to go to their nearest travel agents instead of trekking far and wide to find a travel agency, so you'll want to ensure that you do everything that is within your capacity to make sure that you appear at the top of the search engine results when a search with local intent is made (meaning that the searcher is looking for local products, services or businesses). Local SEO involves just that, and with a few optimisation techniques, you too could be appearing at the top of the local pack SERP feature.
Create a Google My Business account – by claiming your GMB account your business will be featured in local packs and to the right-hand corner of the search results every time someone searches for their local travel agents or your brand. Your GMB will provide users with all the information they need to know before they consider visiting you in person or using your services, such as your opening times and days, address, reviews, website, as well as any images of your establishment. Ensure you provide customers with all the information they need as 88% of customers who view local business listings will visit the business within 24-hours.
Get your customers to leave reviews – Google wants to be able to provide its searchers with the best result possible meaning that they are always more likely to recommend those local businesses and achievements that have positive reviews over those that have weak or no reviews. That means you need to ensure that your customers are leaving reviews, you can do this through incentives such as prize draws and discounts, or you can ask them politely through email, over the phone or once' they've booked their vacation with you in person.
Optimise your content for keywords with local intent – It's estimated that around 46% of all searches made on Google are for local results, therefore' you'll want to take advantage of this and optimise your website and content for keywords which display some of that local intent and outrank your local competitors.
Add your business to local directories and citations - by adding your local business to a local directory, you’ll ensure that you reach out to customers in your local area who are specifically looking for your services. Don’t miss out on the great opportunity of gaining a lot of local footfall by skipping this all important step.
Earn Backlinks to Your Site
One final way to improve your SEO and digital marketing strategy is by obtaining high-quality links from reputable and relevant sources. However, you should avoid any techniques which are considered to be black hat SEO, such as using PBNs (Private Blog Networks) or paying for links, as it can have detrimental effects on the overall optimisation and health of your website. Instead, you want to ensure that you are obtaining the best possible links by reaching out to reputable sources through outreach and content marketing methods. As well as ensuring that you are providing high quality and valuable pages that websites will want to link to naturally, as it might help for you to know that no reputable source or website will link out to a page or website which is of poor quality.
For more information on how to obtain high-quality backlinks, you can take a look at our guide that' we've created to help you do just that.
Although the travel industry can be an extremely competitive market to target, it is possible to do so with effective digital marketing and SEO strategy. And whether you choose to carry out all of these techniques or just a few of them, you should be able to outrank your competitors with your SEO strategy and impeccable content.