The last thing any business wants to do is to deter customers from making a purchase. However, this is precisely what some companies are doing as they focus on getting tasks done as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The combination of evolving technology, tight budgets, and intense competition means that it is all too easy for travel companies to lose sight of what really matters – creative, compelling and unique content.
But with so much else to contend with, how do travel businesses gauge what search engines class as "quality content" (at the same time as making 100% certain your content isn't condemned to Google's 'must try harder' pile)? To help you on your way to SEO excellence, here are five tips to ensure your content is unquestionably search engine-friendly.
The holistic approach
If you are still focusing your SEO efforts on individual keywords, stop what you are doing right now. Optimise your content so it covers the subject matter in its entirety. With the move towards semantic search, Google is now more equipped to identify what searchers are looking for in their results. Using content clusters (groupings of related content) will make content more comprehensive and relevant for users. Also make sure you include related words and terms. For example, a search term such as 'ski holiday' can be related to the words 'hotel' and 'Alps'. Other related words might include 'ski pass', 'exchange rate', or 'flights' – not as closely connected, but important nonetheless.
Google also takes into consideration how easy (or not) it is to read copy. There are various readability test tools available, such as the Flesch-Kincaid scale, which assess word and sentence length. When writing content for a non-specialist audience (such as holiday-makers) keep it clear, legible and easy to understand.
In 2012, a high number of words on a page often had a negative impact on its search engine ranking. Fast forward to 2014 and a study by Searchmetrics revealed that the average length of top-ranking webpages was around 975 words. However, this is a classic example of quality, not just quantity, so keep content unique and relevant to your audience. Travel lends itself perfectly to in-depth content with topics such as 'things to do in... ', 'know before you go', and responsible tourism making perfect reading matter.
The visual touch
Not only do images and video get the thumbs up from search engines, they are also favoured by web users. Research shows that pages featuring between six and eight images do pretty well when it comes to search engine rankings. Of course, we're talking nothing less than good quality, relevant images complete with alt tag. Images are a particularly important part of online content for travel companies; in a business which relies heavily on inspiration in the decision-making process, the presence of beautiful images is always going to be a must-have.
Keep advertising to a minimum
Studies show that the less adverts a webpage contains, the higher it ranks in the results. Plus, you should always keep in mind that your audience is looking for interesting, holistic content, and doesn't want to be bombarded with disruptive advertising.