Travelers search for hours on the internet to discover the perfect vacation. They exhaustively research web page after web page to find dream destinations that fit their financial and personal requirements before finally feeling comfortable enough to book a trip. This process doesn’t usually happen quickly, and travel marketers need to understand the maze of consumer-driven internet navigation in order to connect with potential travelers through the marketing funnel.

According to HEBS Digital’s The Smart Hotelier’s Guide to 2018 Digital Marketing Budget Planning, “Today’s typical online travel consumer is exposed to over 38,983 micro-moments in any 60-day timeframe and visits an average of 18 websites via multiple devices in eight sessions before making a hotel booking (Google Research).” Because this competition for customer interest is so fierce, it is absolutely imperative to implement effective SEO tactics during critical moments of the search process. After all, the vast majority of a hotel’s occupancy comes from online bookings (70-80%), and a successful travel marketer must be aware of how to capture and direct the prospective consumer’s emotional buy-in. So, let’s dig into the main reasons for maximizing SEO, discuss what it takes to capture a customer’s attention and learn how to drive those conversion rates up.

Show Up on the First Results Page of a Google Search

Search engines are the gatekeepers for the travel industry and Google is the hottest player on the market. We all know that any type of product or service needs to end up on the first page of a Google search in order to maximize ClickThrough Rates (CTRs) and that organizations on the first page of a Google search seem to be granted with instant credibility. Advanced Web Ranking shows that the first result on a Google search result enjoys a 31.19% CTR while the fourth result shows a dramatic decrease to just 6.32% CTR. The problem with getting those top rankings on a Google search is that there is some serious competition going on for the number one position. Despite the challenge of pushing yourself up the list against players with loads of resources, the value of escalating your placement by just 2x from the previous position is that your conversion rate is likely to increase by up to 50%. So, investing in top-quality SEO is absolutely imperative for hotels and other travel organizations that want to intensify web traffic, improve brand awareness and increase conversions by a staggering rate – even without landing on the first page.

Optimize Your Keyword Research

Traveler’s need to see it and become intrigued by it in order to want it. And, they need to be engaged throughout their entire search process or you will lose them to a more attention-grabbing competitor. It is necessary to determine a customer’s intent throughout the search stages so that you can satisfy their cravings before they jump the next captivating choice. Make it as easy as possible for them to find what they want and help them close the deal without complication. This type of seamless transaction requires some serious upfront SEO keyword research to determine the long-tail and short-tail keywords or phrases that compel travelers towards your offerings and keep them engaged on your site.

Employ the Usage of Long-Tail Keywords for SEO

It’s much easier to boost your search engine ranking when using long-tail keywords or phrases that are very specific to what you are selling. Fewer websites are in competition when the search gets more focused, and your site is likely to soar closer to the top of the list. Another major reason to include long-tail keywords is that it becomes easier to find an audience for a particular niche and customers are much more likely to purchase a service or product when the search has been narrowed down to very specific criteria. Plus, long-tail keywords and phrases really level the playing field for brands trying to find travelers at different stages in the marketing funnel. That fact alone makes effective SEO one of the most important investments an organization can make to bring their brand to the forefront. An example of a long tail-keyword is “waterfront vacation house with dock Charleston”.

Develop keywords from Micro-Moments, In-Destination Marketing Strategies and Niche Experiences

What makes your destination exciting, intriguing and interesting? In order to attract customers to your ads and landing pages, you need to dive deeply into what makes your product or service stand out from its competitors. Examining micro-moment information, identifying nearby attractions and discovering the most intriguing and unique experiences in your area are all important when planning a series of customer-focused SEO strategies to capture the interest of your buyers.

Micro-moments: Micro-moments happen when consumers are looking up destinations, checking for prices, reading hotel reviews, checking availability, researching flight schedules and looking for exciting activities. This is where you will isolate your more generic keywords like “hotels in Paris.”
“Near Me” In-destination Marketing: 75% of leisure travelers look up things to do “near me” (within 5 miles of their current location). Research the most popular attractions near your product or service and include them in your keywords list. TripAdvisor reported the top experiences people search for are historical and heritage tours, sunset cruises, private day tours, snorkeling, kayaking and canoeing as well as food and cooking excursions. An example of resulting keywords might be “Scuba diving in the Maldives”.
Niche Experiences: Explore the local vibe in your promoted destination to find out what the locals eat, drink, do and talk about. Discover the most interesting experiential excursions that are off the beaten path and dig up the experiences that most travelers would never find. Then determine your highly-detailed, long-tail keywords like “Cliff diving in Porto Venere, Italy near Roman ruins”.

Fill Your Site’s Underlying Architecture with Keywords

Search engines navigate the internet with crawlers or spiders to locate, store and organize web content. After storing the content, the search engine then ranks and orders the information for a user’s search queries. Because web crawlers look for keywords in common places of your website’s underlying architecture, it is important to insert your site’s optimized keywords into the file names, image descriptions, header tags, alt tags, meta titles and meta descriptions based on relevancy, competition, location and traffic needs. Make sure to update your keywords often to stay at the forefront of current searches for your destination.

Insert Optimized Keywords into Original and Creative Content

Most travelers are looking to escape from their lives and experience something that will take them away from their current situation. It is crucial to use original and creative content with striking graphics, interesting video and influential writing to make your destination stand out from the others. Make sure to show that quality matters to your organization, build trust through dependable information, incorporate important SEO keywords throughout the content and add links that tie your information and offerings together to keep potential clients on your site. Otherwise, you are much more likely to have high bounce rates and a lower CTR – which lowers your search rankings.

How Does All This SEO Information Come Together?

Capturing the attention of travelers during the various stages of the marketing funnel is the key to success. And site-specific, carefully-studied SEO keywords and phrases placed in the right areas of a website can bring search rankings up, attract customers at all stages of the search journey and help bring them to the final purchase point. If travel-related organizations want to grow in any way, shape or form, then SEO is one of the most important investments for exponential growth, higher rankings, better CTRs and increased brand awareness on the Internet.