Being one of the most competitive sectors online, travel has seen huge growth off the back of significant investment into organic and paid search exposure through Google.
As the search engine has started to become more stringent with their guidelines (Penguin and Panda being the most notable), many websites are being served penalties from the search giant for violation of these guidelines.
Based on link-cleansing projects won over the last 12 months, around 50% of projects have been for travel websites.
With penalisation becoming a real threat to many businesses (not just in travel), future proofing any SEO investment for longevity and adherence to Google’s guidelines is key. Here are some tips on how travel websites can steer an SEO campaign in the right direction.
1. Travel Companies Don’t Need A Website For Every Resort
It seems that very few travel companies only have one website. We have seen a range of set ups, from a company who had about 20 microsites each with a highly keyword focused URL for every resort that they served, right down to the seemingly innocent situation of having a website for each of their brands.
If travel companies have microsites then there is a strong case for removing them, because at best they will be seen as duplicate and spammy. At worst, they could be interpreted as an attempt to manipulate rankings by increasing the number of links to your main website. If travel companies have multiple brands, then they should only link sites together using the brand name or the URL itself as the anchor text. Keyword optimised anchors linking between a company’s own sites will lead to trouble.
2. Avoid Overuse of Competitive Anchor Text
It is no secret that keyword optimised anchor text has long been a key ranking factor for all search engines, and this position is unlikely to change any time soon. Travel is not unique in this respect, but sites operating in less competitive markets tend to have a better mix of anchor text within their backlink profile.
Anchor text examples such as ‘corporate holidays 2013’ or ‘beach holidays Spain’, are clearly keyword targeted, whereas anchor text like ‘Bob’s Holidays’ ‘www.bobsholidays.com’ or the simple ‘click here’ are good for breaking up the keyword focused links. Play it safe, vary the text, and ensure branded anchors are employed within any outreach activity being conducted.
3. Be Wary of Travel Directories
Most industries that have engaged in linkbuilding via directories have links from sites with ‘SEO’ or ‘dir’ (short for directory) in the title, making them incredibly easy to spot. However, the travel industry seems to have its own micro-community of SEO directories that are dressed up as legitimate travel websites. Take ski-ski-ski.com for example. The domain sounds perfect for linking to a winter holiday company but in reality the links give little value. In fact, more could be gained with a link from a reputable, but unrelated website.
4. Conduct a Link Audit & Cleansing Exercise
Conducting an initial audit helps to identify any potential risks to a website, and a good digital marketing company will do this on a regular basis to ensure everything is looking healthy. Providing an auditor has a clear understanding of how to qualify a link as being detrimental, a plan of action can be quickly identified. Once a plan is confirmed, housekeeping can be carried out to reduce the risk of a penalty, thereby strengthening any further SEO investments being made.
Whilst these tips give an indication, particular attention must be paid to the guidelines we are all governed by. Only with a clear indication of what the mighty Google is looking for all travel websites to adhere to guidelines over time and leverage organic traffic for the benefit of sales and customer acquisition.