Travel Agent Marketing Ideas

Author

George Oberle

George Oberle

Travel Marketer

George Oberle is a second generation travel industry veteran. He owned and operated two mid‐size travel agencies over a 20 year period. He was a webmaster and SEO specialist at a large regional travel agency for five years. In 2011 he created and coordinated the Travel Blog Project which guided 230 travel agents through a 100 day online marketing effort encompassing blogging, social media and search engine optimization for websites. George started the LinkedIn group Travel Content Marketers. He is now a Silicon Valley based webmaster and entrepreneur.

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Agent Marketing Articles

SEO For Travel Agents


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Free Web Traffic

Most websites receive more traffic from the free search engine organic results than all the other sources combined. While the ability to “game” the search results has significantly decreased in recent years, there are still a few ways to help your pages place well. Here is a breakdown of contemporary SEO techniques:

Keyword Phrases
Before we discuss search engine optimization (SEO) we must start with an understanding of the concept of targeting keyword phrases. So we begin appropriately with a discussion about keyword phrases and how to discover them through research.

When a person’s brain takes a raw thought and applies the process of making meaning out of it, their mind uses its verbal mechanism to assign a few appropriate words to the thought. These words are generally what people type into a search engine to find information about the topic. In web marketing terms, these few words are known as a keyword phrase.

To illustrate how this works in search, go to Google and start to type something travel related into the search box and see what suggestions automatically appear. Google is providing these suggestions based upon phrases other people have use previously to search for something similar. These suggestions provide you with keyword phrases to consider targeting.

Execute the search for one of those keyword phrases. In the results presented, you will immediately notice the sites in the natural or organic search listings are not there by accident. The keyword phrase you typed into Google is probably included in the clickable link in the returned results. This is because they crafted the title of their article to include the targeted keyword phrase. You now begin to see the impact of targeting the right keyword phrases.

“The basis for all online marketing is rooted in targeting high traffic, high converting keyword phrases.”

Keyword Research
Consider for a moment if you had a web page that appeared as the number one listing in Google when you typed in your targeted keyword phrase. Yippee Ki-Yay!

However, what if that page had only a couple views per day? How could that be?

The answer to why this Google #1 listing would have such low page views would probably be found in knowing how many people search for information using that particular keyword phrase.

Fortunately we can avoid the situation above by using some online tools to research the popularity of keyword phrases. You must do the research to find the best keyword phrase to use for a specific page or post. Keyword research allows you to discover which phrases people search with when they consider a topic. If you make the mistake of targeting the wrong phrase, your page views will suffer and the number of people who leave your site after viewing only one page (bounce rate) can increase to as high as 90%!

Keyword phrase research provides critical market knowledge you need to be a successful marketer.

Keyword Research Tools

SEO Friendly Web Pages

SEO is like a puzzle, the more pieces in place the more complete the picture becomes which translates into where your web page ranks in the search results. Conversely, the more missing SEO pieces the lower your page might appear in the results. So let’s break it down:

The SEO Basics

These three items are really easy to implement and will make the largest impact on your SEO efforts.

1) Choose Your Title Carefully – When creating your article include a keyword phrase in the title that someone might type into Google to find the type of information your web page is providing. Preferably the first words of your title.

The title of your article is the most important item on your web page with regards to how the search engines rank your page. Instead of writing your article and then stuffing a keyword phrase in the title, try choosing a keyword phrase first and then craft your article around that phrase.

– 75 Characters maximum in your HTML title.
– Include your targeted keyword phrase in the title of your article.
 
2) Body Content – Your targeted keyword phrase should be included once or twice, but not more than three or four times in the body of your article.
 
3) Duplicate Content – Write your own articles and descriptions. The search engines love unique content not found anywhere else on the Internet. Conversely, they truly despise finding content they’ve already found listed on a another site. They call this Duplicate Content and it’s a huge red flag. The search engines will never list a site that provides word patterns and articles they have already found on another website. Avoid posting content on your site that appears anywhere else on the web.

Intermediate SEO Tactics

Let’s dig into a few techniques you can use to improve the SEO a bit more for your posts. Most of you use WordPress to power your website which is the best decision you’ve made. In the Admin area where you are creating your page or post, you will notice there are two tabs in the upper right of the content area; Visual and Text. Clicking Text will allow you to see the code that is being used to render your article as a web page. There are a few simple items you can add to help your pages place well in search.

Tags – You will hear the term “Tag” used when discussing SEO coding techniques. Tag is a jargon term used for html code that carries meaning as opposed to code that determines how a page renders. Placing your keyword phrases in Tags allows you the opportunity to let the search engines understand how to catalog your page.

Heading Tags – The use of “H” tags also known as heading tags is an important tool to let the search engines know what your page is about. Heading tags can be H1 through H6 and are an ideal place to put your targeted keyword phrase. The search engines assign the most importance to the H1 tag with declining importance on down to the H6 tag. In blogs you can use header tags within your post’s body copy to reinforce the main keyword phrase. For those who know a bit about CSS, heading tags can be stylized to render in any font, size or color you choose.

To understand how to use heading tags appropriately, consider the analogy of a book:

  • h1 – The title of the book
  • h2 – The Chapter Titles
  • h3 – Sub-Chapter Titles
  • h4 – Paragraph Headings
  • h5 – In sentence bold text
  • h6 – In sentence text

It’s really pretty simple to use H tags. As you post your article to your website, wrap the keywords in the appropriate H tag. They should look like this:

<h2>My Keyword Phrase</h2>

Note that if you are using WordPress, most likely your theme will automatically wrap the article title in an H1 tag. So your on-page content should begin with the H2 tag.
 
Image Alt Tag – The search engines cannot see images. Alt tags allow you to let the search engines know what an image is about with words. Alt tags are used within the code to display an image. Each of the pictures you post on your blog should have an Alt tag with an appropriate keyword phrase. Here is an example of an alt tag in an image call:

<img src=”MyImage.jpg” alt=”Kaanapali Beach Hotels” width=”400″ height=”300px” />

Advanced SEO Tactics

Inbound Links
If you consistently post great content, your loyal audience may post a link on their website or blog pointed back to your site. Inbound links pointing to your site are a very important signal the search engines use to rank your site. They figure if your site has a lot of other sites linking to it, your site must provide valuable content and may be worthy of higher ranking in their search results.

However, caution must be taken not to have your website listed on “link-farm” sites. Don’t buy inbound links! These link-farm sites have little of no content and just hundreds of links. Their sole purpose is to “game” the search engine listings and the search engines hate them. If Google finds your site listed on a link-farm site they will eliminate it from their search results.

Taxonomy
How you structure the flow of traffic from the home page down to your article pages matters to the search engines. Think of this in terms of how you structure your main site navigation with the pages you include in the drop-downs. Google affords the highest rank to your home page and then next highest to your category pages and finally the content pages within the categories. Understand and adopt this principle to your site navigation.

SEO Friendly URL Structure
While there is some debate among SEOs as to how Google factors the URL in search, there is no reason not to address it on your part. If you have a WordPress based website, you can easily create SEO friendly URLs.

– Create your categories with a one or two word keyword phrase you are attacking.

– In WordPress, from the Admin Dashboard, go to Settings >> Permalinks and click the setting “Custom Setting” and in the text box input: /%category%/%postname%/

– As you create a post in the Admin area you will see a box along the right column where you can assign it to a Category. Check the appropriate category.

– Now your URL might look something like:

www.mytravelsite.com/hawaii-hotels/kaanapali-beach-hotel-accommodations

 

Final Note – Resist the temptation to stuff your page with keywords. The search engines will penalize your site if your keyword density vs. total words is too high. As stated earlier, just make sure your keyword phrase is in the title and once or twice (no more than four) times in the body.
 
Conclusion
There are many factors that affect how your website nd pages appear in the search listings. It is an ongoing effort for improvement. However, your article titles are important as is the frequency at which you post new articles and the number of links pointing to your website from other high ranking sites. These are the most important factors to impact your online success. Good luck!

Additional SEO Resources

 

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Author

George Oberle

George Oberle

Travel Marketer

George Oberle is a second generation travel industry veteran. He owned and operated two mid‐size travel agencies over a 20 year period. He was a webmaster and SEO specialist at a large regional travel agency for five years. In 2011 he created and coordinated the Travel Blog Project which guided 230 travel agents through a 100 day online marketing effort encompassing blogging, social media and search engine optimization for websites. George started the LinkedIn group Travel Content Marketers. He is now a Silicon Valley based webmaster and entrepreneur.

View all posts by