Improve SEO, Make a Splash Online
It can seem like magic—you plug a question into Google and moments later, hundreds of thousands of search results pop up on your screen.
But those search results are no accident. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important factor for anyone building a website, and especially so in the tourism industry. Without SEO, customers researching a destination may have trouble finding your tour or activity online. So it’s vital to improve SEO and follow a great strategy.
Search engines such as Google rely on complicated algorithms to choose pages that are relevant to a search query and then rank those pages based on popularity (if lots of people visit a website, Google assumes it must be useful.) To appear on the all-important first page of results, your website needs to have relevant, quality content.
This doesn’t mean simply stuffing your content full of keywords—Google has figured out this tactic and you may be penalized if you overuse keywords or fill your pages with irrelevant keywords.
However, there are a number of ways you can improve your search ranking. And by expanding your company’s visibility in organic search results, you’ll boost the chance of customers finding and booking your service.
1. Use Descriptive Page Titles to Improve SEO
One of the simplest ways to optimize SEO is to make it easy for search engines to find your content. Search engines have two main functions—to “crawl” (search) the web for relevant pages, and then to rank those according to “authority” (popularity). Using descriptive page titles makes it more likely that a search engine will find your content via a number of search terms.
For example, instead of naming your page “Whale Watching Tours,” consider using a more descriptive title that includes your company name, city, and description. In this scenario, a page titled “Ocean Bliss Victoria Whale Watching Tours” is likely to do better in online searches than a page titled “Ocean Bliss” or “Whale Watching Tours.” That’s because Google is more likely to find your page if someone searches for a number of terms (such as “Victoria whale watching” or your company name, “Ocean Bliss”).
Beyond SEO, a descriptive page title will also stand out when someone is scanning a page of Google search results.
A few technical points to keep in mind when editing page titles:
- The title of the page is set in the <head> tag of the website. This does not have to be the same as the <h1> tag for the page.
- Be sure to include a single <h1> tag on your page as web crawlers are particularly looking for this tag.
When writing blog articles it is also imperative to write a compelling headline as well as be descriptive. Here is an awesome Free Headline Analyzer tool that we frequently use at Zaui.
2. Regularly Refresh Content
Search engines like to eat fresh content. That doesn’t mean completely reinventing your website every month—but regular content updates will help improve your ranking. One of the easiest ways to deliver rich, quality content is through a regularly updated blog.
A good rule of thumb is to update your blog at least every week. If you’re worried about writing too much or too little, try aiming to create weekly posts between 750 and 2,500 words. It’s a good balance between the time needed to create fresh content, providing value to visitors and of course, providing a big enough target for people to land on through related Google searches.
3. Stay Up to Speed
Your website should be as fast as possible. A fast website creates a good user experience (no one likes waiting for pages to load!), as well as improves SEO. Faster websites rank higher on search engines, have higher conversion rates and more page views per session, opening up more opportunities for sales—so it’s well worth shaving off a second or more if you can. Here is a fantastic article from MOZ that goes deep into SEO best practices for optimizing page speed.
Some key tactics to consider:
Google analysis: The average user expects a page to load within one second on desktop and three seconds on mobile. As the time to load increases, so does the “bounce rate”—that’s the rate at which users leave your site. Google has created a tool to let you analyze how your website’s mobile speed compares to competitor pages. You can also input information regarding average sale value and conversion rate and review how Google thinks page speed could boost your revenue.
Compress images: Make sure your site uses images that are compressed for web versions and sized correctly. For example, if you have a thumbnail image for your tour, you don’t need to load the beautiful 3600×2400 pixel version on your website. Simply shrink it down (640×640 pixels should do just fine) and you’ll find that your site is much faster. As a general rule, try and keep all site image files less than 500 KB.
Leverage browser caching: This refers to the process of storing data in a temporary storage area called a cache. Browser caching is useful because it provides a faster user experience. For example, a visitor to your home page who navigates elsewhere on your site does not have to reload all the content on the homepage again if they click back, because these files are automatically stored in a cache.
Minimize design items: Reducing the number of things that need to load per page can drastically improve page speeds. Sit down and be brutal to the design process. Do you have a list of tours in your menu bar with thumbnail images? Those images require an extra http request from the browser to load, which can slow down the page load speed. Consider what’s really necessary to make your site both beautiful and user-friendly.
4. Be Mobile-Friendly to Improve SEO
Mobile-friendly websites are more important than ever before. Recent research indicates that 80% of last-minute travel bookings are made on mobile devices. What’s more, a mobile-friendly website can improve SEO.
That’s because Google now indexes websites first based on their mobile-friendly ranking. As a result, it’s more essential than ever to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Use google’s tool https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly to test your website to see how mobile-friendly it is.
5. Register Your Site & Make it Secure (SSL)
Finally, make sure you have registered your website with search engines like Google and Bing to make sure they are aware of its existence and will crawl it regularly. You should verify your ownership of your website using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. There are a host of tools within these two tools that will help you improve your SEO.
Registering your site will also ensure that you have a clear sitemap.xml file that crawlers can use to map out your website. If you use WordPress for your website, you can use a number of different WordPress plugins to achieve this.
Getting an SSL Certificate for your website is a key part of your SEO and website design. It is easy to do with your hosting company as most offer a free SSL certificate which is sufficient for most websites.
Finally, make sure you claim your free Google My Business listing. This is where your company’s map, address, and reviews automatically show when your company comes up in search. This is a critically important step for local tour companies to properly represent their business online. See an example of a Google Business Listing below:
Optimize Your Website, Optimize Your Success
SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. By implementing a few key practices and focusing on the user experience, you can improve SEO and create a website that’s both beautiful and easy to find.
About Zaui Software
Zaui is a technology-leading reservation and management software for maximizing online bookings and reducing costs in the tour, activity and transportation industry. Automate bookings, connect to Online Travel Agents (Viator, Expedia, etc), live cross-selling of products, real-time inventory, POS and mobile applications, powerful analytics. Based in Canada’s outdoor adventure capital of Vancouver, British Columbia.
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