A Quick Start Guide to Optimizing Your Travel Company’s Blog Posts for SEO
Over the last few posts I’ve looked at why your travel company needs a blog page, and the mistakes you should avoid, so now it’s time to see how you can make the most of getting those readers (and future customers) reading your informative content.
Now, we already know that blogging is critical to your travel company’s success. But if you needed some more convincing, here are just a few statistics to back that up:
- Websites that include a blog bring in 97% more inbound links.
- Businesses that blog generate 67% more leads than their non-blogging counterparts.
- Original, new content gives 434% more indexed pages.
- Results #1–5 on the first page of a search query account for 68% of all clicks.
A well-written and consistently updated blog is one of the most cost-effective channels for spreading brand awareness, growing your reputation, and ranking on the search engines.
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And in a world where over 80% of consumers conduct online research before making any purchase decision — and a full 60% begin their product or service hunt on a search engine like Google — you need all of that.
Blog. It’s not just for hippies, stay-at-home parents, and conspiracy theorists. It’s for modern, savvy business owners in every industry.
But where to start?
One CMS To Rule Them All
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned veteran, your best bet is WordPress.
It’s the foundation for 26% of the internet, powers some of the biggest names online (including Microsoft, The Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola, The New York Times, and NASA), and there are 18 new WordPress posts published every second.
A WordPress blog puts you in some excellent company, to say nothing of the 42,000+ plugins that allow you to customise your blog to meet all of your specific needs.
So blog. On WordPress. Install a professional theme (Elegant and Thrive are two great options), select a few choice plugins, and get down to the work of greater online presence and better search engine visibility.
But — there’s always a but — it’s not as easy as cranking out a few posts over your lunch break and waiting for the inevitable traffic avalanche to arrive. You need to do some prep work. You have to optimize those posts for maximum effect and exposure.
Search engine optimization — or SEO — can seem daunting. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz and The Advanced Guide to SEO from Quick Sprout give you a thorough and comprehensive education in the subject.
But be warned: they’re lengthy, and possibly more detailed than the average blogger is looking for, at least in the beginning. What’s an eager-but-time-poor blogger to do?
There are things you can do today to increase your SEO. It’s not complicated. It won’t take 3 weeks to grasp. And it will make a positive impact.
It’s called on-page SEO. And you’ll be an expert by the end of this page.
Keyword Research is the Key
All words are not created equal. In the search engine battleground, you want to be found for the “right” words. Google handles 40,000 queries per second, 3.5 billion per day, and 1.2 trillion per year.
That’s a lot of potential.
Keyword research ensures you’re going after the right words. The words that people are actually looking for. The words that relate most to your particular travel company.
When we need something, we generally start with Google. We enter a couple of words into the search bar, and explore the results that show up.
Spend some time considering exactly what words will attract your ideal customer. What phrases sum up what you do, and what you’re offering?
A stellar post targeting a keyword with little or no volume will languish in obscurity. You need people to look for what you’re writing. That’s the whole point.
Keywords fall into two basic categories:
- Fat Head — typically 1–2 words, very broad. Account for roughly 30% of all search queries. For example: “discount vacations”.
- Long Tail — usually 2–4 words, more specific, but much lower volume. Account for the other 70% of all queries. For example: “cheap flights from chicago”.
People tend to go after fat head keywords because they have higher search volume. But it’s harder to rank for them, and the competition is fierce.
Here’s the trick: target long tail keywords specific to you and your business instead. The volume may be lower, but it will bring ultra-focused traffic to your digital doorstep.
You might also include Buzzsumo in your research. It allows you to search by topic (keyword) or domain to see what’s popular and what websites are writing about it, among many other useful features.
Subheadings Are Just as Important
Once you have a list of useful, relevant phrases, you’ll want to create a post built around each one (one post = one keyword). You need to target those words or phrase — and its variations — in your on-page optimization.
The following parts of each post should be built around your chosen keyword(s):
- Title — limit to 65 characters or less, with the keywords as close to the beginning as possible. Make it catchy but informative.
- Headings and subheadings — Used in the search ranking algorithm, these break up your text, and clarify the context of the post. Include variations.
- Introductory sentence — Include some variation of your keyword within the first sentence. Let readers know the post will fulfill whatever need brought them there.
- Concluding paragraph — Reiterate the keyword using another variation in the conclusion.
- Anchor text — the words hyperlinked to another post or page influence your SEO strength. Anchor text should use a varieity of types, including generic, branded, naked, long tail, and exact match.
- Title tags and meta descriptions — This is your sales pitch, the blurb that appears below the title in search page results. They provide greater insight into what your post is about. While they’re not necessarily part of the ranking algorithm, they are still important.
- Image tagging — These are another great opportunity to let the search engines understand the page. The alt and title tags provide a little extra keyword oomph to your post.
The crucial point about this is to be strategic. Never engage in keyword stuffing.
Overuse of the same exact keyword will annoy your readers, get you penalised by Google, and accomplish absolutely nothing of value.
Use your keywords or phrase naturally, and utilise variations whenever possible.
What is Yoast SEO & Why Should You Use It?
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? While it may appear to be time-consuming and tedious at first, you’ll develop a sixth sense about it. It’ll become virtually automatic.
Even better, there are several WordPress plugins that can do the heavy lifting for you.
Plugins are an effortless way to optimize your posts. And the godfather of SEO plugins is Yoast SEO.
There are other options, but Yoast is the most comprehensive and user-friendly.
The Yoast plugin is simple and straightforward.
Enter a “focus keyword” into the appropriate field, and its real-time page analysis tool will automatically check all the important bits for you. It’ll make sure your title, headings, meta description, images, and main body include your selected focus in appropriate amounts. If it doesn’t, it’ll highlight that shortcoming.
The plugin uses a handy Snippet Editor to tweak how your post will appear in search engine results. Polish the title, rework the meta description. Make it perfect. Just take a look at how easy it is:
Everything you need. And all conveniently listed at the bottom of your post. It’s SEO that everyone can do.
Does the Traffic Light System Really Matter?
Yoast SEO uses a wonderfully simplistic traffic light system to evaluate your on-page optimization.
A green light beside the description, and the SEO is spot on. Yellow? It could be better. And red means it doesn’t meet the minimum recommendations. You can’t get easier than that.
A quick glance at the post summary, and you can immediately see what’s working, what needs a bit of attention, and what you’ve completely missed the mark on. Adjust, refine, and polish as necessary.
It’s not complex. But it does work, provided you adjust the content and not the focus to get that magic little green light.
Just to illustrate my point, take a look at the below image. This is a blog post about optimizing SEO for blog posts, so I’ve got my keywords set. But look what happens when I use those 4 crucial words: Red Lights!
You should aim for readability over the aforementioned keyword stuffing. No one wants to read something clearly written to trick the search engines into placing it at or near the top of the page. Write for your readers…not Google and Bing.
The best blog posts masterfully balance natural keyword targeting with readability. The needs of the search engines with the (more important) needs of the readers. And all from the page.
Download the plugin today. Make it a part of all content creation. Check past posts to evaluate their SEO effectiveness. It only takes a minute, but the positive impact on your business can last a lifetime.
Already an SEO Expert?
Are you already optimising your blog posts? What tricks or tools do you use? Share your experience in the comments below.
Perhaps you’re looking for more tips? We’ve put together a handy email course: How to Grow Your Travel Business With Content Marketing, with plenty of ideas to help get your company up to speed with your competitors.
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