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August 24, 2022

8 Common SEO Mistakes Your Travel Brand is Making

After a lull in many holiday-related searches during the pandemic, UK searches for ‘travelling to Spain’ have grown by 540%, and searches for ‘last minute holidays’ are up. Gone are the days of domestic staycations; people are searching for amazing holidays and they want ones that are bigger and better than ever.

Search is the most used touchpoint in the consumer journey for tourism and travel, with research for flights, accommodation, and other forms of transport being conducted primarily using search. From initial inspiration to researching details, considering reviews, and comparing prices, online search is the main touchpoint across the entire holiday planning process which the average person spends 10 hours on.

With search playing such a major role in marketing for the travel and tourism industry, search engine optimisation is essential for all travel brands. However, there are many SEO pitfalls unique to the travel industry which we see too many brands making. These are some of the major SEO mistakes your brand needs to stop today.

Filling your home page with pictures and videos

We get it, your luxury villas look outstanding against a vibrant sunset and the infinity pool glistens invitingly, but travel brands who only use visuals with little text on their home page are missing out on a big SEO opportunity.

For SEO purposes, your home page shouldn’t simply be a pretty portal to the rest of your site; it should be filled with keyword-rich text to take advantage of the home page’s link equity. After all, the home page is probably the most linked-to page on your site – why would you let this opportunity go to waste?

There’s no need to get rid of the visuals, but make sure that they are accompanied by valuable text that is optimised for your important keywords. Moreover, if you haven’t included high-quality image alt text already, now’s the time to do so. Alt text helps search engines to understand the content of your website, helping it rank higher for relevant topics.

Side note: it’s not just the home page that needs a lot of text. If you have pages on your site with very little writing it’s likely that their ranking will be damaged by what Google calls ‘thin content’. Make sure that every page has unique and relevant content, or consolidate pages together to avoid this common SEO pitfall.

Neglecting mobile optimisation

Optimising your website for mobile is vital for two reasons: mobile friendliness is now one of Google’s top ranking factors that determines where your page appears in the search results, and a bad mobile UX can lead to you missing out on customers. In fact, a negative experience on a brand’s website on mobile makes a person 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future, compared to if they had had a positive experience.

With 48% of US mobile users happy to research, plan, and book a whole trip to a new destination using just their smartphone, many users still switch back to desktop before making the purchase. 54% of leisure travellers say that mobile limitations or usability are their main reasons for switching to desktop after researching on mobile. This means that you risk losing customers when they see your competitors’ offerings or re-evaluate their decision during the device switch. To avoid this, make sure that your website is mobile responsive and that every page loads quickly and is easy to use to encourage customers to complete their booking on their phone or tablet.

Furthermore, mobile optimisation for travel websites isn’t just important in the lead-up to holidays. In the months leading up to a trip, travellers search for activities across multiple devices, but once they arrive at their destination the majority of their activity searches are on mobile. Failing to optimise your site for mobile could mean missing out on more than half of experience bookings. Mobile optimisation also goes hand in hand with local SEO, with mobile searches for ‘things to do near me’ or ‘activities near me’ currently on the rise.

Internal linking without a strategy

Improving your internal linking is one of the easiest ways to improve your website’s search engine optimisation, and yet many brands fail to do it effectively.

Internal links help visitors move around your site, making it easy for them to find the information they need and pushing them towards conversion pages. They also help search engines understand the content and structure of your website; the more links pointing to a page, the more important it is in the eyes of Google.

Strategic internal linking isn’t including a few links to old blog posts at the end of a page; it means carefully creating a structure for your site through the ways pages link to each other. One tip is to create category pages that bring together all the different pages that link to each other. FOr example, this could be a category page for Menorca or Seville where you collate everything (accommodation, experiences, transport, and more) related to those places. Don’t forget to include useful anchor text that is relevant to the page you are linking to; a ‘click here’ with no description of the destination page is unhelpful to search engines.

Only optimising for high volume keywords

If you want a lot of traffic to your site, optimising your content around the most searched keywords is a good strategy, right?

Wrong. Just because lots of people are searching for ‘villas in Spain’ or ‘Spain holiday’ doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re ready to convert. In fact, these queries are often linked to the interest and discovery stage of the marketing funnel; conversions are still a long way away.

Moreover, these high-volume keywords are extremely competitive. Your organisation may not have the resources to compete with industry giants like Booking Holdings for these vague keywords. With more than 25% of people clicking the top Google search result and just 2.5% clicking the tenth result, there’s no point going after these non-specific keywords with their low ROI.

To drive conversions, you’ll need to target long-tail keywords which have smaller search volumes but are more relevant to your offering. You’ll limit the search quantity, but improve the quality of relevant traffic visiting your website and making a purchase.

Optimising your content for long-tail keywords such as ‘luxury beach villa Marbella’ and ‘best adults-only Mallorca hotel’ allows relevant traffic to find your site and makes it more likely that you’ll make a sale.

Focusing on branded terms

No matter how popular your brand is, you’re unlikely to find success by optimising your site around branded terms. The customer journey for travel involves a lot of research and price comparisons; users are unlikely to be searching for your specific branded terms for the majority of their process.

When it comes to booking flights, people tend to stick with a preferred brand. However, travellers booking accommodation or ground transport are more willing to book a new brand instead of one they have used before, primarily because of good prices or deals. Brand loyalty doesn’t mean much to travellers, especially if your competitor is offering a great package or a lower rate.

Understanding search intent is key to improving your site’s SEO. What are people actually searching for? What short-tail and long-tail keywords are they using? Which search terms have had the highest ROI in the past? Do some keyword research and base your optimisation strategy around this instead of branded terms.

Using the same old SEO strategies you’ve always used

SEO isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a constantly evolving practice. With hundreds of Google algorithm updates every single year, it’s no surprise that the techniques that once worked are now useless or even detrimental to your SEO.

Keyword stuffing, buying links, using article directories, and churning out long but low-quality blogs are just a few dodgy techniques that may have helped SEO in the past but now only hinder it.

To ensure your SEO efforts are still holding up, it’s essential to do regular audits of your site’s technical performance, content, and backlink profile. Then, you’ll need to resolve these issues. Disavowing low-quality links and cleaning up your keywords should be priorities for SEO today.

Spending your search marketing budget on PPC rather than SEO

Even though it can be successful in the short term, the problem with PPC or pay-per-click advertising is that it is only useful while you are paying for it. PPC adds no value to your site over time. On the other hand, SEO may take longer to see results, but it’s setting a stronger foundation for your website. Even if you take a break from actively doing SEO, the benefits of your improved domain authority, website technicals, and content optimisation will continue to bring relevant traffic to your site.

As we know, the Covid-19 pandemic was disastrous to the travel industry. It’s expected that the travel industry will not return to pre-pandemic advertising spending levels until 2023. Situations like this reveal the importance of long-term search marketing plans rather than short-term gains. PPC is renting, while SEO is paying a mortgage. Which would you prefer?

That said, we’re not telling you to quit PPC altogether. PPC ads can have an amazing ROI when used carefully. For example, using PPC to target keywords that demonstrate high purchase intent (queries that include terms like ‘book’ or ‘buy’) can be a great use of PPC because the customer has already done all their research and is ready to spend their money. Similarly, you may choose to target branded keywords with PPC because these also indicate a customer is ready to make a purchase. However, in the stages leading up to purchase, SEO is likely to be more beneficial.

Not having a dedicated SEO team

To succeed with your SEO strategy, you’ll need a team of technical SEO whizzes, content writers and strategists, and a strong backlink strategy from your digital PR team. You’ll need people with their finger on the pulse of search, keeping up to date with the latest algorithm updates to future-proof your search rankings. Travel brands without a dedicated SEO team or agency are missing out on the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Looking for expert SEO assistance? Viaduct Generation can help. We’re an experienced SEO Agency that helps brands secure relevant organic traffic and drive conversions. Get in touch today or book your free website audit to learn how SEO will take your travel brand to the next level.

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