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If you’re an aspiring travel blogger, there are a lot of different ways to promote your work. You can build up a huge social media presence, but don’t forget to focus on basic SEO for travel bloggers as well!
So, what exactly is SEO? The acronym stands for “search engine optimization.” When your posts have better SEO, they will rank higher in a Google search and get more clicks. I know it seems intimidating (especially for new travel bloggers) but once you get the basics down you’ll see how simple and effective it really is.
In July, I stopped focusing on my social media and began working on improving my travel blog SEO. Since then, I’ve seen my daily visitors continuously increase from 25 per day to over 100 and growing. If you’d like to see the same, implement this basic SEO for travel bloggers on your site today.
1. Install and Use Google Analytics
Most of you have (hopefully!) done this already, but if not, it’s a must. Google analytics are free, and it will take you about five minutes to follow these steps to install it.
Once you have it set up, you can start tracking your visitors. Use the “Audience” overview tab to see how many visits you’re getting, and how much time people are spending on your site. Use the “Acquisition” overview to see WHERE your traffic is coming from (social media, Google searches, etc.) and finally, use the “Behavior” content drill down tab to see which pages are the most visited on your site.
The content drill down tab is a very useful tool, because it helps you understand which posts are the most popular, and then write more like them. Are you articles about budgeting always getting hit? Or maybe everyone is reading your destination reviews from a specific country… whatever it is, create more!
2. Install Yoast SEO
The next step in basic SEO for travel bloggers is installing Yoast SEO. It’s a free plug-in on WordPress, and is totally invaluable in making sure you rank. It will add a form below your post and as you write it, it will tell you what you need to improve like adding a meta-description or more keywords, filling out the alt descriptions for your images, remembering to link to internal and external pages, and more. Use this on every article you write going forward, and go back to your old ones to make sure they pass their SEO guidelines as well.
3. Write for Obscure Keywords
Ok, maybe obscure isn’t the right word, but you need to be very careful about the keywords in your articles to avoid getting buried in the mass of blog posts on Google. Did you know millions of blog posts are written EVERY DAY? You have to work hard to stand out, and basic SEO for travel bloggers will help you do so. That starts with keyword research.
So, how do you pick the right keyword for your post? Here are some ideas:
1. Google the keyword you want to write for (ex: snorkeling in Playa del Carmen) and see what comes up. If the first few hits are TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet forums that is a good sign. It means not much has been formally written about the topic, and it will be easy to rank with your post. If there’s already two pages of content published by high authority sites (like BBC Travel or National Geographic) your lil’ post probably wont make the front page.
2. Brainstorm what you would search for to find different variations on the keyword that will get hit. Instead of Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, it may be better to use “Unique Places to Snorkel in Playa del Carmen” or “DIY Snorkeling Trip in Playa del Carmen”. The goal is to always, always try to be on the first page of Google.
For Example: When I visited the Rainbow Mountain in Peru, it had already been covered by tons of travel blogs and I knew it would be hard to rank. Instead, I set my focus keyword in the Yoast SEO plugin to Mount Vinicunca, the actual name of the mountain. Because of that there was way less competition, and now my article is the top Google hit for the search, outranking Wikipedia and even Forbes.
4. Guest Post
I once read online about someone who’s professor gave them great advice “Try to get rejected by something every day.” I love it! Email people and sites you think you have absolutely no shot at, because you never know what might happen.
When you are guest posting, you need to understand Alexa Rank. This will tell you the rank of your website vs. every other one in the world. If you website ranks at 5 million, don’t waste time guest posting on a site that ranks at 12 million, because it probably won’t improve your SEO or send much traffic to your site.
The best idea is to try for big names like BBC Travel, HuffPost, Forbes, etc. You can also look for niche sites that are focused on the country or topic you are writing about, like a travel site focused only on Peru, or hiking gear, or all about finding cheap flights.
One great travel blog that I have guest posts on is The Planet D. Their Alexa Rank is 95,000 (that’s great! The lower the better) so a backlink from them (aka a link on their website leading to mine) improves my SEO because it tells Google that an authoritative website trusts mine.
When you are pitching guest posts, make sure the website you pitch to accepts guest posts first (you don’t want to spam them with requests if they don’t) and second, make sure they don’t already have similar content on their site. Once your post is up on their site, you should see the traffic it sends over in your Google analytics account at Acquisition –> Overview –> Referrals. If one guest post sends a lot of traffic, pitch two or three more to the site.
5. Publish More Content
Learning basic SEO for travel bloggers is all well and good, but you also need to be writing a lot if you want your blog to take off. The more content you put out, the more visitors you will get. Google will also regularly look at your website. If they see new articles every time they come, that’s great for your site. If there have been no updates since their last visit, it’s bad for SEO.
How much should you write? At a minimum, you should be publishing at least one article a week, but aim for two or three instead.
If you’re not traveling at the moment, there’s still plenty to write about! Brainstorm topics that affect you during your travels, or just write whatever comes to mind. Some examples of non destination based articles on my website include What is a South American Suicide Shower?, Six Insane Living Places We Can’t Believe People Actually Live, and The Truth About Traveling Full Time.
Since I started focusing on publishing much more regularly in July, my Alexa Rank has dropped from 9 million to 1 million… not bad!
6. Publish Better Content
While I’m on the topic of content, publishing better content is also imperative when it comes to basic SEO for travel bloggers.
One way to do so is by improving your writing. I write for a living so I get tons of practice, but most people don’t. There’s no bigger turn off than a blog post riddled with typos or grammar errors. If your writing is a little rusty, browse free writing courses on Coursera and Udemy to brush up on your skills. Or, if you want a more in-depth course specific to travel writing, check out Nomadic Matt’s Writing Course.
Another good idea is to make sure your headlines are catchy to get those clicks (but you don’t have to be click-baity and annoying either. Just make sure they clearly explain what your article is about so people choose to click YOURS on their Google search).
Also, increase your word length. Something that takes 15 minutes to write is just not going to be worth reading. I often click on links when I’m researching my next trip that have no value whatsoever, and it annoys me when a title looks promising but the article was just promotion or fluff and is a waste of time to read.
When people are planning trips, they want to hear about your experience, but they also want all the info they’re looking for in one place. So that means for an article about weekend trip for example, you should include everything: what you packed, how you got there, where you ate, and most importantly, the cost!
Millennials talk about money and it’s no longer taboo (thank God) so please, please, spell out the budgets and costs for your bus, or your hostel, or your month long trip through a country. For prospective planners this is often the most important factor in making a travel decision.
7. Improve Your Load Time
This is more important than you think. Did you know that Google reports that 53% of people will leave a page if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds?! Don’t do all the work to get visitors on your site, only to lose them at the last second!
The most common things that people do wrong to slow down their load times are not optimizing their photos for size (or using too many pictures), using things that slow down their website like cumbersome sliders or fancy animations, having a poor hosting plan, and not minifying or caching. I’m currently tackling this problem on my own site, and am working on improving my load time with these steps:
1. Check the page speed at Google Insights. The higher the score the better. Just like a school grading system, 90-100 is best and lower than 60 is failing.
2. If you have poor load times then there are different ways to fix it. For beginners, the easiest solutions are plugins (not too many though, because too many plugins slows down your site too). I use EWWW Image Optimizer, WP Fastest Cache, and Fast Velocity Minify to help improve load speeds but there are a lot of others that work too.
8. Sweat the Small Stuff
You’re trying to grow and compete with established travel blogs, which means every little bit helps. Always add alt attributes to your photos. Always respond to comments on your blog. Always make sure every link on your post works and points exactly where you want it to go. Always make sure you use lots of headers and break up the text for easy reading.
Anything you can do to keep people on your page longer will help. Add videos to your posts, and use nice pictures (check out Unsplash for gorgeous free stock photos for your non-destination articles). If you take the time to tweak these small things for every post, it will help your SEO.
Basic SEO for Travel Bloggers
I hope these tips on basic SEO for travel bloggers have helped! Take your time to start implementing these into your own blog and watch your visitors grow on Google analytics. If you have any more simple steps I missed, please comment below and I’ll add it to the list. If you try out some of these and see results, let me know!! Best of luck to all you travel bloggers out there, and safe travels 🙂
PS ready to take your blogging one step further? Check out this in-depth travel blogging course from one of my personal travel inspirations, Nomadic Matt. It has interviews with experts, personal feedback, and more to help push your blog to the next level!