Published on September 4th 2017
4 basic principles to get you started with SEO
As competition is fierce within the online travel industry, you want potential customers to land on your website when searching for the products you offer. It is probably one of your main marketing objectives to generate more website traffic. SEO is a good way to help you reach that objective, but what is it really? And how can you use it effectively?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It basically consists of a bunch of techniques that help your website gain a good ranking in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo when making use of organic search. The goal of SEO is to make your website more visible to potential customers who are looking for your product and therefore get qualified leads - that is, visitors who have a high potential of turning into customers.
Google and other search engines display the website sequence on their page based on several criteria, of which keywords is one of them. For example, the more relevant Google thinks your website is for certain keywords, the higher your website ranks. Keywords are therefore an important basic principle to use, but it is not the only one.
Basic principles of SEO
When reading about SEO online you may find websites giving more than 20 principles or techniques for you to use to optimize your online findability. They will talk about title tags, image tags, inbound and outbound links- just to name a few. We are guessing you are looking for some straightforward techniques that can be implemented, which help your travel business grow.
Additionally you can use SEO techniques to the extent that is workable for you and your business. Take content creation, this truly is the main principle for SEO. Blogs, whitepapers, images and even videos can be of great effect. You might not feel intrigued at first to invest heavily in such activities as they are time-consuming, but do consider that without relevant content your site can not rank. Fortunately, you can take a pragmatic approach in using different content tools.
1. Create relevant content
Besides having a good website that clearly communicates your products and added value as a company, search engines value relevant, fresh content. As your web pages do not change often, it is advisable to have additional relevant new content updated on your website regularly. That way, when potential customers perform a search (on Google, Yahoo etc) you have a much higher chance of being found, as the freshest and most relevant content will come up first.
There are different content tools to do this. Blogging is a very popular tool used for SEO as well as for broader marketing purposes. Where blogs used to involve mainly personal web logs, businesses have started to use them intensively for marketing as well as blogs being businesses in itself.
As mentioned earlier, you decide for yourself what content tools to use and to what extent. We will focus here on blogging as a very effective tool to get started with SEO. This requires a significant time investment, as the payoff is limited in the beginning, but you do not have to write all of the blog content yourself. You can look for guest writers or hire freelancers.
Starting a blog on your website
What differs between a blog and a website is twofold; a blog, as said previously, holds fresh content which supports your SEO. Second, and as a result from the first attribute, a blog allows for customer engagement.
One aspect of customer engagement is writing about what is going on in your business (events, deals, new products), it keeps your customers up-to-date. You might already have something like a newsletter or other channels such as social media in which you communicate this information. Doing this on a blog that is integrated into your website is a worthwhile addition, as it makes good content for SEO.
A second aspect is that, with your blog, you can create credibility as a company. Blog about interesting topics of which you have knowledge, and make it possible for your potential customers to interact with you via commenting options.
2. Choosing and using the right keywords
As we already mentioned, keywords are an important aspect to think about and implement when working on your SEO. We say ‘to think about’ first, as it is not just any keywords that help your business.
Think like your customer does. What keywords would he/she use in, for example, Google when looking for your product? If you are offering kitesurfing lessons on Hawaii your main keywords should include at least the word “kitesurfing”, and maybe even “kitesurfing Hawaii”. If you do not know which keywords are being used by the target audience in your industry, you can use free tools such as Insta Keywords to help you find relevant keywords.
Once you choose the main keywords for your website it is time to incorporate them into your web content.
Optimize using keywords; where and how
It is said that the first 200 words within a web page are given most value by search engines. The main place to use your keywords is therefore near the top of the page. Use your keywords in headings and titles to be relevant here. They can then be used accordingly throughout the rest of the page. By using your keywords in notable places, it emphasises the importance of those keywords to the particular page.
The second question, then, is how to use the keywords on your website. There are particular do’s and don’ts here. You can use multiple keywords on one web page but you should not try this if this means you will have to compromise readability. Your aim should be to write SEO content without the reader noticing . The best approach for keywords, therefore, is to have one main keyword for each page.
In addition, you can and should use variations of that keyword. Variations are often similar to the main keyword, with one or more extra words (e.g. “kitesurfing”- “kitesurfing Hawaii” - “kitesurfing lessons Hawaii” - “book kitesurfing lessons Hawaii”). You can use any of these keywords as part of a phrase, which also makes them more readable.
Important note: Google can penalise you when you are over using keywords, which could result in a lower ranking of your website. When you feel like your web text, containing your keywords, is pleasant to read, you can assume you are safe.
3. Optimize the technical side of your website
So far we have focused on content and how to organize that content on your website from a text and writing point of view. Technical aspects of your website, such as page speed and ‘mobile friendliness’ (mobile usability) are just as important for your ranking on search engines. Visiting websites on mobile has risen over the past few years and currently is at 50% or more of total web visits. That is why Google announced in March last year that mobile friendly websites will be rewarded in their search engine.
Next to these two aspects there are more technical aspects to optimize. To be complete here, the technical indicators for ranking in Google are; page speed, usage of heading tags (H1, H2, H3), URL structure, crawlable link structure, the use of a sitemap (an overview of all the pages on your site), Robots. txt and Meta tags. As this might blow your mind when just reading them, we advise you to have someone to do this work for you.
At least now you have an idea of the technical topics that should be covered for your website to be optimal for Google search results.
4. Organize your (internal) link structure
Hyperlinks, also just called links, on your website have a role in SEO. They can be external, linking to a page outside of your own domain, or internal, linking to a page within your domain. We are focusing on internal links here. However , again as with content creation and optimizing the technical side of your website, there are far more techniques you can use for SEO. We will not discuss these here, to keep it pragmatic.
The most important benefit of internal linking for SEO is the number and quality of links on a page, they are ranking indicators for search engines. This is because they tell search engines something about the importance of that particular page.
Internal linking in practice
Use internal links for your website - it can be done very practically. Decide upon what page or pages on your website you feel should become more evident when performing an organic search in Google. The best is to select them based on their current ranking and to choose the one (or two ) that rank on the lower part of the first page of Google. These are the pages within your domain that are getting a high number of impressions, but a low number of clicks.
You then should start to link to this page from other web pages within your domain. Think of relevant pages here where it would make sense to add a link to the page you want to have ranked better. However, there is a paradox. You should not link to the same page exhaustively. Try to link to different specific pages deeper on your website to help them rank higher. The same goes for the number of links per page: try not to overdo it.
We can state that there are many ways to work on SEO for your company website. We have tackled some of the basics here, however, the topic is quite extensive and there are numerous ways to optimize your website for search engines. Keep an eye on our blog as we post more information on this topic regularly.