Travel Post-Pandemic: Optimise Your SEO Strategy to Attract Visitors
Fast forward almost three years and the world is just about up and running again – bar the cozzie livs crisis (Thanks depop drama for welcoming this insufferable abbreviation into the mainstream). Which means it’s critical that travel businesses have an effective SEO strategy in place so that potential site or destination visitors can easily find you online.
Lucky for you, we’ve built an entire crash course on how to optimise your SEO strategy post-pandemic. From practical tips such as how to create high-quality, relevant content to why SEO for your travel biz is so important, here’s hoping 2023 is the year the industry thrives again.
What does the current travel landscape look like post-pandemic?
Following the pandemic, it was obvious that consumers were going to be wary about booking a holiday – both short and long haul. The non-stop cancellations and closure of borders were basically a global advertisement to stay put, and those that were still adamant about taking a trip took planning to the next level.
This uncertainty and meticulous prep saw “free cancellation” hit a five-year high – proving that the media coverage at the time (we’re talking threats of tier systems, rumours of new strains and waves, and the unforgettable airport chaos) was making a huge impact on people’s travel behaviours.
In 2023 though, things seem to have calmed down a bit. Despite the cost of living crisis (no, we’re not saying it again), travel is on the rise. Our travel teardown doc (which you can access here) covers all the current trends of the industry, and where the traveller’s mindset is at.
Right now, the stats are looking good in terms of how many people are planning on travelling, and how often they’re looking to take a trip. According to data from the European Travel Commission, 70% of people are still intent on booking a holiday in the next six months, and 52% plan to travel at least twice – that’s a 4% increase year on year already.
Type-wise, the package holiday is suuuuuper popular because it has everything taken care of – something we believe is a direct response to the extra planning caused by Covid, plus many of them providing a budget-friendly option.
So, this is how we see the current travel landscape: people are desperate to get away after being restricted over the last few years, but they’ve also got their sensible heads on due to budgeting requirements and in case anything goes wrong.
(There’s also those who have adopted the “f*ck it” attitude – a product of the lack of stability the pandemic has caused, meaning people are willing to take the plunge regardless of the current climate.)
Wherever you sit on the scale as a traveller, it’s a great feeling for travel companies to know that this time of strife is finally finding closure.
Why is SEO important for travel businesses and how can it help overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic?
SEO helps products, services and websites prove their value and relevance for a particular online search term. All with the goal of moving the web pages higher up the search engine rankings.
Because an online focus is so crucial in the travel sector, quality SEO strategies should be a non-negotiable for any business looking to succeed in this very overcrowded marketplace.
Travel SEO is way more than working to boost your site to Google’s first page, too. Yes, this is of major importance, but there’re also the four “micro-moments” you need to nail to be considered a first-class site:
- Dreaming moments: The traveller is thinking about getting away.
- Planning moments: The traveller has decided where they want to go, now they’re making a plan.
- Booking moments: The plan is set, the traveller is booking their trip.
- Experiencing moments: The trip is booked, the traveller is thinking about where they can go/things they do on their trip.
During each of these moments, you need to make sure you have an SEO strategy that will meet the specific needs/intentions of the prospective traveller. So, let’s break it down in terms of SEO opps for them all:
- Dreaming moments
At this point, a traveller will be starting the research process, so you need to have readily available high-quality content that will resemble their dreams – whatever they may be. You’ve also got to make sure your site is found during this early phase, otherwise, you won’t be able to complete the rest of the steps.
Long-tail SEO strategies are valued here (content that uses three or more keywords, has a lower competition and search volume rate, plus a higher conversion rate than short-tail keywords).
Examples of long-tail content include:
- Dog-friendly campsites in Cornwall
- Family-friendly trips near me
- Short city break with organic coffee shop nearby
- Planning moments
During this stage, the traveller is in the process of intense research and has drastically reduced the number of sites they’re surfing. (What was 38 different websites is now just four.)
Users want instant satisfaction from their queries. For example, if they’re looking to book a beach holiday, they’re going to want access to related content easily. The traveller will probably be comparing prices and looking for the best deal during this stage, so it’s vital the services you have on offer are attractive.
- Booking moments
This is allll about user experience. Visitors need every part of your website to work correctly and smoothly in order for them to trust you. So online booking systems need to function faultlessly, with clear info and steps readily available.
Smaller brands – why should someone choose you over an OTA (online travel agency)? Consistency is key here, so it’s imperative that all variations of your brand name are the same, and they all need to be able to be discovered easily.
- Experiencing moments
This SEO strategy is basically about making sure travellers have everything they need admin-wise. I.e producing content and sharing resources on where the traveller is going.
Some TripAdvisor-style content is welcomed at this stage – as well as blogs on things to see, places to eat, etc. you could also leverage the power of positive reviews. Users love testimonials, as it gives them more confidence about their booking and whether they’ve made the right choice.
Of course, positive reviews are the product of a good outreach system to find them, plus excellent customer service. And while you can go to town on amping up your SEO strategies, it also comes down to the holiday-maker actually enjoying their experience.
A site that wins at this step has mastered the combo of search visibility and social media strategies.
Practical tips on how to optimise content, keywords, and website structure to improve SEO ranking
So you know what’s up with the micro-moments, and what type of SEO each one requires – here’s how to optimise your sites to improve their SEO rankings.
- Optimise for local search
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, stop reading, and go do it now. (And then come back so we can tell you what to do next.)
Once you’ve made sure that all of your info is correct, you need to add schema markup to your site because it helps Google to match your business with local searches.
Top tip: place your schema markup wherever it is on your site that you describe your business. If it has more than one location, you’ll need to add one to each city page.
Then, update your NAP citations (this stands for name, address and phone number). It’s really important this info is the same everywhere, for example on your website and on the internet in general.
Now you can add your business to local travel directories. This not only helps with SEO, i.e backlinks, but it also puts you on the map when users are searching for local businesses.
Again, reviews are important, so add any you have to your website, as they really help with local SEO. Basically, the more positive ones you have, the higher you’ll rank in search engines.
Identifying local search terms and creating local content is a further important step. Once you’ve got your local search terms and keywords, you can start adding them to your different kinds of content (blogs, videos, infographics etc.) so that they appear in local searches.
- Create high-quality, relevant content
First things first – more keyword research. Why? Because it helps your travel site rank for relevant search queries. Plus, it attracts the right demographic that could become potential customers.
Start by putting yourself in the mind of your target audience. What kind of travel content do they want to see? What keywords are relevant to your service? What are the trending travel topics? (We offer content strategy services if you’re stuck here.)
Once you’ve figured out your mix of keyphrases and words (long-tail, short-tail, etc.), you can get to work on creating that killer content to optimise your site.
The main things you need to remember are:
- Make it engaging and readable by using short, snappy sentences, headings, subheadings and paragraphs. Be cautious of using too much jargon – simple descriptive words work better – you don’t want to appear pretentious, and you certainly don’t want to confuse people.
- Write for your readers, not yourself. Your keyword research will help you with this because you’ll have a solid idea of what it is your audience wants to learn/know.
- What’s your goal or intent? Does the traveller have a question they need answering? Do you want a traveller to book a tour with you? Do you want them to purchase your camping products? Are you a travel company offering package holidays? Whatever the reason you’re writing the content, make sure that the reader is aware of it at the start, and at the end. A clear CTA (call to action) is critical here, as it directs the user to the next step/end point of their query.
- Keep your content up to date and relevant by updating it as and when it needs. This shows readers you’re on top of any developments or updates in the industry, and are always on hand to provide accurate info and guidance.
What are the latest SEO trends and best practices relevant to the travel industry?
Due to the rise in social media, online booking sites and mobile devices, there’s been a significant shift in how people search for and book their trips. Which means certain SEO trends are incredibly important within the travel industry right now, including:
- Mobile optimisation: The majority of people own either a smartphone, tablet or both, which means it’s never been more important for a travel site to be mobile-friendly. So, a website that can be easily read and navigated on a small screen, plus having a quick load time are must-haves.
- Voice search optimisation: Alexa, Siri, Google Dot – whichever you use the most – you can’t deny there’s been a spike in voice assistants. So as a travel company, it’s vital you optimise your site for voice search. This means using natural language phrases and long-tail keywords in your website content.
- Influencer marketing: The rise of the influencer is another major marketing technique you can’t miss. Partnering with influencers with a large following (and that align with your values and are relevant to your business, of course) can help you to reach a greater audience, and build trust with prospective customers.
- Personalisation: Use machine learning algorithms and data to provide personal experiences and recommendations for your customers. Because tailoring content to potential customers and taking an interest in the search behaviours and habits of consumers can catapult your company to the top in a crowded marketplace.
- Social media marketing: These days – young travellers especially – use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to not only search for potential destinations to visit but to also document their travels. As a travel company, it’s important you have a strong social media presence and post relevant and engaging content, plus reach out to and engage with travellers.
- Video marketing: Visuals are so important today, and videos are especially strong marketing strategies. (Thanks to TikTok, Instagram voted in favour of the reel, so creating and sharing high-quality, engaging video content is essential.) When sharing videos on platforms, don’t forget YouTube either!
Successful travel businesses that have effectively optimised their SEO post-pandemic
Let’s take a look at some case studies and find out what they did to achieve SEO success:
Last year, we launched a campaign that went viral with our global online visa service client, iVisa.
We built an index that detailed the happiest cities to travel to by looking at five different happiness factors (cost of living, the friendliest locals, sunshine hours, working hours and life expectancy).
Long story short, we secured over 100 pieces of coverage across eight countries, including a Metro article that during our case study write-up had 34,200 estimated views.
Holiday accommodation site Snaptrip utilised infographics to achieve coverage and links on high-profile websites.
From Manchester Evening News and Lonely Planet (for their UK filming locations research project) to their Michelin Star interactive map, their creative content offerings have increased their SEO progress.
Hostelworld continually put out great content that garners plenty of links and traffic.
Their Hoscars series is a particular highlight (where they crown their favourite hostel), and is constantly linked to – it’s the perfect example of creativity and longevity.
Their Best Nightclubs in the World post also ranked for more than 300 phrases, proving their SEO team has got the content side of things down to a T.
Travel companies *need* to invest in SEO
Unfortunately, there’s no way of getting around it – good SEO is a crucial aspect of website and business success – especially in terms of the travel industry.
From understanding the travel sector’s niche micro-moments and adopting specific SEO strategies for each to consistently putting out relevant, creative and engaging content, it’s vital you invest in SEO to attract visitors and remain competitive.