Do you know which phrase is the most searched one on Google? You can guess – “SEO”. This is more than a sufficient indicator of how important this piece of the puzzle is essential in your digital travel marketing strategy.
If it is not information relevant enough, I will tell you that some hotels and apartments I have worked with have increased the number of direct bookings via the website by even 50%, thanks to SEO. For some, this meant an increase in revenue for several tens of thousands of Euros per month!
What is SEO and why is it important in tourism?
SEO is an acronym of words Search Engine Optimization; when translated, it means optimization of websites for search engines such as Bing and Yahoo, but primarily refers to Google since it is, without any doubt, the most used in practice, so we will concentrate on Google Optimization.
SEO is essentially a set of diverse activities that represent the optimization of a particular website page or the whole website to be highly positioned in Google search results for a particular keyword or phrase.
Simply speaking, if you are familiar with and actively apply SEO techniques in an adequate way, you have a much greater chance of getting your website at the first place in Google Search for the desired keyword.
If you own an apartment in Athens, you would surely want to be well positioned for keywords such as “accommodation in Athens”, “accommodation Athens”, “apartments in Athens”, “apartments Athens” and the like.
The average traveler today begins his journey on Google. Tourists seek information about destinations, attractions, tours, accommodation, food, transportation. If your offer is not on the first page, it simply means that you do not exist.
Therefore, it is very important to be well positioned on the search engine; however, competition is enormous.
It’s not that easy to rank on the first search result page for many desired keywords. But if you are not there, then consider yourself invisible because most users do not even open the second page of the Google Search results. There is the joke that criminals are hiding corpses on the second page of Google because no one will ever find them there.
Being well positioned at Google for a particular keyword is better than having a commercial on national television during the news, even better from a good Facebook advertisement and a Facebook page with tens of thousands of fans.
Because people don’t go to Facebook to buy something. They use it for fun and you’re trying to attract their attention by advertising and offering them your tour package tour or spa weekend. In most cases, your ads are annoying them.
However, when a tourist searches for something on Google, he/she really wants it and is probably ready to book. It’s not the same when a man logs in to Facebook to chat with someone and just catches a glance of your advertisement for your Athens apartment, and when he is actively searching for it on Google with the term “Athens apartment”. In the second case, he is in a “buying mode” and is really interested in it, and if your apartment is among the first search results you can expect a booking because you are at the source of active demand for what you offer, if you are ranking well.
Another great advantage of a good position on Google versus TV or Facebook advertising is that it’s completely free, you ‘’just’’ have to earn it. However, free is just an illusion, because to get to the first page for a high volume competitive keyword and to hold it requires a lot of time and effort, and that costs.
Many big companies claim that investing in positioning on search engines has a greater share in sales growth than all other types of marketing together! To make a website that nobody can find through Google and other search engines do not make any sense. As online search engines are the primary source of visits to web pages, a well-optimized page will have a higher number of visits, leading to higher sales, or more reservations, reads, requests, and more. Basic SEO is of great importance for websites whose goal is to get more visitors and convert them into buyers.
What should you know about Google search?
Google is the most used search engine in the world. People who use Google want to find certain information. That is why Google’s primary goal is to provide the exact information the user is searching for and provide them with the best possible results related to their search query.
To achieve this, Google is constantly improving the search system and is increasingly striving to truly “understand” the user intent behind the query. For example, if we search for “coffee in Belgrade”, Google tries to understand whether we are interested in a coffee factory from Belgrade, coffee shops where you can buy coffee, or maybe the nice places in a city where good coffee can be drunk. Based on this understanding, it is providing relevant information. Google tends to give us the best possible data because if users do not get what they are looking for, they will turn to some other search engines and that would be a disaster for the company.
Therefore, keep in mind that you have to be a really high quality and relevant search result for a particular query if you want to be on the first page (for that search query).
You should know that Google (like other search engines) does not see your site as seen by visitors. Google watches and reads the website through HTML code that looks like this:
The secret of SEO science is in HTML code that is not visible to people, but it’s important for the search engines’ “spiders” and it’s important that the code is optimized and error-free. Google regularly searches the Internet with its own robotized search engines, the so-called “spiders” that index the entire Internet.
Google is, as already said, getting better in understanding what you have written on a website, however, if you can help them to understand the content of your page with high-quality optimization and proper code, then you will have the better chance to reach first-page ranking for a particular keyword.
A frequency of websites indexing is very important. With new websites, Google sends “spiders” once a month, even less often. If Google notices that the website is regularly updated with fresh content then the “spiders” will visit it more often. This means that every new piece of content will be indexed sooner and generally, the entire website, depending on the quality of the content, will have better positioning in the search engine for different keywords.
However, if the spider can’t find fresh content then the re-indexing of the website will be even less frequent and Google will consider the website less relevant.
On page and Off page optimization
SEO optimization has two basic parts, which are essentially completely different:
- On-page and
- Off-page optimization
These are two completely separate SEO areas and I will write about them in separate posts. For now, here are just basic explanations.
On-page optimization is what mostly depends on you, the website owner. On-page optimization is a set of actions that are focused on how to create, set up and schedule content on the web, to the quality of HTML code, selection of domains, keywords, website structure, speed, mobile responsiveness and so on. So, simply speaking, it is related to your website and what you can change, in order to better optimize the whole website and specific pages for specific keywords.
Off-page optimization, as its name suggests does not have much to do with the website itself, and represents activities that take place on some other websites in order to better optimize your own site. To put it simply, off-page optimization represents strategies to get high-quality backlinks from other websites. This activity is also known as link building.
For the end of this introduction, it is still necessary to add that SEO can’t be done overnight, months and years are needed for good optimization.
In order to know SEO, in its essence, you have to constantly monitor events in this area because the changes are very common and dynamic. Google constantly changes the factors that affect the search results; all in order to help users who are looking for something get the best possible results. Because of this, it often happens that some recommended SEO technique becomes dangerous just after a few months.