With the internet and social media constantly joining people together from all around the world, we are now being exposed to all kinds of new places and travel experiences that would have been considered ‘off-the-beaten-path’ until now. According to Travel Mindset, social media has become a new form of a travel guide that not only advises people on where to travel, but actually how to go about traveling to and experiencing a particular destination. But how exactly does any given social media platform actually persuade someone to travel to a specific location around the world? It’s largely done through influencer marketing.
By now, pretty much everyone has heard about influencer marketing. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you can learn more about influencer marketing on our previous blog post by Danielle Rohe. Right now, travel influencer marketing is huge on social media, especially on Instagram where people seem to be living vicariously through influencers’ photos. While a picture can be worth a thousand words, Instagram photos can only be so helpful when it comes to planning your next getaway. Sharing entire travel guides, or e.g. a list of 10 places you must see in a certain country, on Instagram just isn’t the most user-friendly experience. That’s why many social media travel influencers also use a blog to supplement their social media platforms.
Travel influencers must keep a strategy in mind for every post they make. For their blogs, SEO strategies are essential to bringing in traffic and leveraging their blog to make a living wage. I could spend this whole blog post covering the simple strategies to boosting your blog’s SEO, but I’ve already covered that in my other blog posts: Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research, 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your SEO Right Now, and How To Refresh Blog Content (And Why It’s Important). So instead, I’m going to strictly go over more specific SEO strategies for travel bloggers.
Website Information Architecture
First, let’s start with your blog’s foundation. Let’s say you’re new to the industry and you’ve written 50 blog posts. That’s great! But it’s only great if your website is easy to navigate and guides people to those 50 blog posts. That’s why it’s essential to have a clear and organized site architecture. According to travel blogging expert Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt), finding a niche is key. “Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Go narrow. Go deep,” Kepnes says. Many times travel related blogs can overlap in several categories, so it’s important to pick a subject that you wish to talk about and don’t steer too far from your chosen subject. Once you have defined your niche, it should be pretty easy to find a few general topics about your niche, and then write about deeper subtopics within those general topics.
The example above is from The Blonde Abroad. She’s been a travel blogger for nearly a decade, so she started her blog before it was necessary to have a specific niche in order to stand out. That being said, she still breaks down her site into small categories. As you can see, she has a general category of ‘Type of Trip’ where she then lists smaller subtopics that are different types of travel such as solo travel, adventure travel, or budget travel. When you click on a particular type of trip, you’ll see recent blog posts about a visit to a particular destination and/or other posts related specifically to that type of travel like how to pack for your trip. The information architecture on her website keeps her information organized and flowing smoothly, drawing first-time visitors in and helping them find what they’re looking for quickly. Without a proper information architecture, visitors to your site are bound to get lost and probably frustrated with your site before leaving it altogether.
Proper Tracking and Analytics
Expanding and making money from your blog is pretty difficult without metrics that you can use to prove to companies that you and your blog are worth investing in. Sure, you can make money solely from social media if you have a ton of followers and a high engagement rate, but if your blog also has high traffic and conversion rates, then you’re worth even more to potential investors! In order to show off these metrics, you’ll need to ensure that Google Analytics is installed on your site, as well as Google Tag Manager which you can use to install click tracking, implement scroll tracking, and run A/B tests.
Installing Google Analytics (GA) can vary depending on what platform your site is on, but it is generally pretty simple. Just be wary not to make these common mistakes when setting up your GA.
Once Google Analytics is installed, you can set up goals that will help you track conversions. For instance, let’s say you have a newsletter signup option on your blog. Every time someone signs up for a newsletter, that can be considered a ‘conversion,’ and you can set up this tracking in GA.
However, goal tracking doesn’t just have to be about signups or affiliate purchases. For example, maybe you’re working with a certain area’s tourism board to increase visitors to their city or country. You’re not only sharing epic photos of that location on your social media accounts, but you’re also offering a free guide to that location on your site. In Google Tag Manager, you can set up Event tracking to see how many times someone has clicked the button to download the free guide. These are one of many kinds of metrics an investing company would want to see to ensure they made a good investment by working with you.
Optimize Images for SEO
One piece that many travel bloggers forget about when building their blog is sizing their images for the web. It’s understandable; you travel around the world and take some AMAZING photos, so the last thing you want to do is reduce the size and/or quality of your photos just so your page will load faster. However, this part of blogging is probably one of the most important, especially for travel blogs. Google considers page speed load time to be one of the most crucial parts of a user’s experience on a site. Pages with slow page load times won’t rank as highly in the search results if the time is very slow. Which means it’s time to take those images, size them for your site (there’s no need for an image to actually be bigger than the resolution it would display on your site), make those images responsive so they can modify with different screen sizes, and compress those images (without losing all of its quality, of course). Learn how to do all of this from our very own Ruth Burr Reedy as she goes in-depth on how to resize images for SEO.
Images are also another way for people to find your blog. Anytime someone clicks on one of your images in the Google image search results, it will take the user to your blog. However, your images must contain a few key pieces of information in order to be optimized for SEO and rank higher in the search results. First of all, you always want to include alt text with your images. It doesn’t have to be a long descriptive statement about the image. We actually recommend that it be something simple and short that describes the photo for those who can’t actually view it. It’s also important to title your images with keywords so it’s easy for Google bots to see what your image is about when crawling your site. Placing the image near surrounding text that is relevant to the image and utilizing captions can benefit you in the image search results, as well.
Increase Domain Authority
With everyone competing to be the next big travel blogger, standing out among the crowd isn’t always easy. You want to be unique and bring new and helpful information to those planning their next family getaway, business trip, solo vacation, or whatever audience you’re speaking to. It’s important to cover topics in your niche that your readers want to learn more about. To find out what readers want to see, we recommend utilizing Google Analytics to find out what keywords page visitors are searching for on your site.
As you continue to write quality content relevant to what readers are looking for, your blog will grow and gain traction. You will probably begin to see other travel bloggers, news outlets, companies, magazines, etc. sharing your information on their website and link back to you. The more sites that link back to your blog will increase your Domain Authority, which is technically not a Google metric (it’s actually a metric developed by Moz), but it can still help you gauge your link equity, which is a big factor in how well a given page or site ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs). To increase links back to your site, you can also collaborate with other travel influencers on guest blog posts to create unique content from different perspectives.
Social media can also play a big part in domain authority as well. Not only does sharing your blog posts on social media bring more eyeballs to your site, it can also result in more people linking back to your blog as they discover and enjoy more of your content. This is one reason why bloggers often create entire social media campaigns promoting their posts.
There are also many black-hat methods for gaining backlinks that we do not recommend. You can learn more about UpBuild’s view on authority building here.
Target Featured Snippets
Once your blog has gained some traction and is ranking higher in the SERPs, you may start to notice that your blog and/or blog posts are reaching the first page of the search results for specific keywords. Once you get to the first page of the search results, your next goal could be to earn a featured snippet for your content. Featured snippets are usually an answer to a user’s particular question that is displayed above the traditional organic results, which is technically considered position zero in the SERPs.
As a travel blogger, you want to be the site that search engines pull from to answer questions like in the example above. Google pulls this information from websites that are not only concise and clear when it comes to answering a user’s question, but also from sites that make it easy for Google bots to understand the content on the page. In order to make it easy for Google to understand the content on the page, you want to be sure that your blog post is keyword optimized, headings and subheadings (H1s and especially H2s) refer to the question at hand, and that the page title also contains the presence of a vital keyword. These signals alone could leap your blog above everyone else’s and get you to position zero in the SERPs.
While these tips will generally help you, there could be other areas of your website that might need more attention. If you’re serious about travel blogging and maybe you’re starting to make a living out of it, we highly recommend working with a reputable SEO consultant and at least having an SEO Audit performed on your site to really know what you need to work on first. Every travel blogger’s site situation is different, but hopefully these tips will help you get higher in the SERPs and to the next level as a travel blogger. Safe travels and happy blogging!