Solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not the arcane and difficult to achieve strategy many would like you to believe. You too can be an SEO superhero without spending a fortune on consultants. No matter how many times Google or the other other search engines refine their algorithms, original content and relevance rise to the top in terms of importance to making SEO work. For travel agency websites, however, the challenge is particularly acute.
Original content is easy: write your own content on topics on which you can write authoritatively. Relevancy is a bit wider topic, however, encompassing a number of factors. The search engines want to display results most relevant to the questioner. Because travel is such a large segment of the transactional traffic on the internet, however, many travel agents feel daunted by the prospect of having to compete with the thousands of other sites for search engine ranking. Yet, with a bit of planning and commitment, a travel agency web site can find itself high in the rankings of the major search engines. The resulting traffic and potential for new sales opportunities can certainly justify the effort and time necessary to accomplish search engine optimization.
Fortunately, the principles behind search engine optimization are not difficult to understand or even to accomplish. Let’s begin with a good understanding of some of the terminology necessary to the discussion. A Search Term is those words someone types into the ‘search’ field of Google, Bing or other search engine. The search engine then returns pages of results with a Ranking – the position each result has from the first result to the last. The goal is to achieve as high a ranking as possible. Thus, one of the key tactics in search engine optimization is Key Word Analysis – determining which search terms are most likely to be used and then ensuring your content carefully and intelligently addresses those search terms.
Search engines index sites by reading them with “spiders” – robotic programs that move from page to page on a site and pick up on the topics there by phrases, links and generalized content. Search engines can only read text. They do not read images, Flash animations or other graphics. Thus, the textual content of your site is the heart of a search engine’s quest. Relevant and appropriate links from other web sites enhance the ranking assigned to your content by search engine. Search engines understand such links as a verification of the importance and relevance of your site to third parties.
A generic search term like “Travel Agent” is going to return more than 55,000,000 results. However, because of the location specific nature of the search engine algorithms, a searcher will typically receive results in their locality first. Smart SEO keyword analysis would, therefore suggest throughout your writing to include the term “travel agent” as well as the name of the locality (typically city) where the searcher is likely to be located e.g. “Tallahassee Travel Agents” rather than “Travel Agents.” For example, your "About Us" page might contain the sentence "ABC's travel agents have been serving the Tallahassee market for 15 years." If you service niche markets, terminology important to the niche should be frequently used. In each instance, however, make sure the usage is in a solid context, logical and important to your writing as opposed to “key word spam” where the relevant key words are randomly used.
This article, for example, uses select key words in the title, in the image tags, and in the text itself. The article has enough length to increase the amount of time a person might spend with it (the “dwell factor”) and by sharing it on social media, I have increased the linkage to and from the article. The use of video likewise has a positive SEO impact.
Naturally, there are many other important steps to take in a solid SEO strategy such as the proper use of the Google Webmaster tools, thankfully easy to implement for SEO purposes.
Recently Voyager did an extended webinar on SEO you might find useful. While we focus on the use of our Voyager system to achieve higher rankings, the same principles will also apply to most other sites where the user has some degree of control over the textual content of their site. Let us know if you find it useful. Additionally, here is a really good infographic on SEO from our friends over at Social Media Today.