How to Boost Your Traffic and Conversions with SEO
You know you need to improve your Google search rankings. After all, more than 60% of all leisure travelers search for and make travel arrangements online. And so you are aware that if you want these searchers to find your business, you have to appear in the first few search results on the first page on Google.
But the online market for leisure activities is tough. To get ahead of your competitors, you must not only present your offers in an appealing way but also take some important SEO factors into account. Tour and activity providers who pay attention to SEO factors have better chances of achieving good ranking results on Google and other search engines. This helps you to attract more relevant visitors and increase your sales.
In this post, we’ll look at the basics of SEO as well some easy-to-implement technical tips. We’ll also look at what NOT to do, or avoiding the so-called “black hat” SEO tactics.
Ready? Let’s go.
Table of Contents
- The Basics
- Technical tips
- Avoid Black Hat SEO: Preserve Your Rankings and Reputation
Start with security
Good technical SEO begins with the basics. That means, first of all, make sure your website is hosted on secure servers because this aspect will affect everything else. Your server or servers should be reliable with little to no downtime, as well as being extremely secure as proof against hacking and data loss.
Google watches these things, and, as a result, they can affect your rankings. If, for example, your hosting servers frequently go down and/or go down for long periods, your rankings will suffer. Besides, potential customers won’t be able to find you during such events. And if your site is affected by malware or is hacked, you could get blacklisted and removed entirely from search results. You definitely want to avoid this happening.
Know your target audience
To start the process of SEO you need to outline your target audience. Ask yourself questions like:
- Who are the visitors to my page?
- How old are they?
- Where are they from?
Tools like Google Analytics also help you to find out more about the behavior of the visitors of your website. With this important information, you can take specific measures aiming to reach your target group.
Create good content
The content of your website is a very important ranking factor for Google. Google needs content, but only unique and educative contributions. A text created for a website should at least be 300 characters long and include the most important information and the relevant keywords. It should also be well structured and include different paragraphs with subheadings.
Another important point here is avoiding duplicate content on your website and other platforms. Duplicate content is content that can be reached via different URLs. This can happen within one domain or within several different domains. Google rates duplicate content badly because it impairs the usability of a page. To avoid that you need to create unique content for every web contribution you want to make.
The first things that show up in a Google search are the title tag and the meta description of your site. Their content has to be chosen carefully because they need to attract the customer directly. Be careful with the length! Too long titles or descriptions get cut off.
Internal links are shortcuts between your own pages. This helps you to build a system of navigation within your homepage and also improves the usability of your site. It also helps your customers finding other offers or subpages they would not usually find.
You may be wondering, then, what you can do besides continuing to crank out lengthy content, which works, but takes considerable effort and quite a bit of time. Well, you also need to work on technical SEO.
Basically, technical SEO is all the SEO work besides actual content creation and promotion. It provides the necessary foundation that will allow your content to do its job – that is, to rank high for relevant keywords and phrases.
So let’s take a look at some crucial technical SEO tactics to improve your rankings.
1. Enhanced Load Speed
People now expect instant information and instant gratification. According to Think with Google, almost half of consumers will abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. That’s why in 2010, Google announced page load speed as a ranking factor, and that they would penalize websites that did not comply with it.
Enhancing site load speed, then, is a crucial technical SEO tactic to improve your rankings. And here are a few ways to improve load times:
- Use only essential WordPress plugins and get rid of anything that isn’t really necessary.
Optimize images and graphics by compressing them – Tiny PNG is a great tool for that!
Try using a content delivery network (CDN) to enhance your site’s speed and performance.
You can also check your current page speed loading statistics on this helpful website from Google.
2. Crawlable Architecture
Another good technical SEO tactic is to make sure your site’s architecture is crawl-friendly. If it takes a visitor more than, say, three or four clicks to reach a particular piece of content, Google’s spiders will take longer to crawl your site and index that content. And, as a result, your rankings will suffer. So you need to categorize content in such a way that it takes only a click or two to access it. An easy way to start with categorizing your website content is by creating sitemaps.
3. Crawl Error-Free
Besides making it easy for Google spiders to crawl and index your website, you also need to eliminate any crawl errors. Broken and incorrect links are the chief culprits here, which usually result in a “Not found” crawl error. Remember: one of the primary objectives of technical SEO is to make it easy for Google to find and index your content and then lift you up in their rankings. One of the best free tools out there to check your broken links is a Google Chrome extension called Check my Links.
4. Mobile Responsiveness
More than 50% of all online searches come from mobile devices. Consider also that in the leisure industry, mobile bookings currently account for about 40% of all digital bookings, and that figure is expected to top 50% by 2021. It is essential, that your site is responsive and mobile friendly.
Therefore Google ranks a website higher that is adaptive to mobile usage. This so-called responsive web design is crucial for every website or online shop and its ranking results.
Avoid Black Hat SEO: Preserve Your Rankings and Reputation
The good guys wear white hats, and the bad guys wear black hats. It’s an old saying especially common in the genre of western movies in the US. Similarly, we have white hat SEO and black hat SEO. Problems arise when white hat edges toward or even becomes black hat SEO – often a real concern for leisure providers and tour operators whose area of expertise is definitely not SEO.
What Is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is any underhanded practice in violation of a search engine’s guidelines used to rank higher in search results. The idea is to “game” the search engine algorithms to get an unfair advantage over competitors vying for those same spots in the search engine rankings. While black hat techniques do work, the effect is often short-term, and the ultimate result is usually penalization and/or a drastic drop in rankings.
Common black hat tactics include:
Cloaking – This practice involves presenting one piece of content to searchers/users, but showing a different piece of content to search engines. The idea is to get content to rank for keywords that are actually irrelevant to the content.
Keyword stuffing – A related black hat SEO tactic, keyword stuffing involves filling a piece of content with all kinds of variations of a keyword to manipulate search results. But it creates a poor-quality user experience, making the page rank for irrelevant queries.
Shady redirects – This is simply the practice of sending a user to a URL different from the one they actually clicked and so sending them to an unexpected destination.
Paid links – Multiple backlinks will help search engine results. Black hat tactics manipulate rankings by buying a ton of backlinks. This is considered a link scheme and is in violation of Google’s ToS.
Results from Black Hat SEO
Now, here are three examples of what can happen with inadvertent or deliberate deploying of black hat SEO tactics:
BMW – Back in 2006, when the practice was a little shady but still common, BMW was using “doorway pages” – “a kind of redirect designed specifically for search engines.” And at the time, they held the number-one spot for several important keywords. But when Google discovered this use of doorway pages, BMW’s site was penalized, and its domain authority plummeted to zero. So any kind of page created with the sole purpose of inflating rankings is a risk and can put you right back to square one ranking-wise.
Brad Gerlach – Online entrepreneur Brad Gerlach used a link wheel to gain momentum and rankings for his site. A link wheel is an “SEO linking scheme that involves a paid exchange of links for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.” It does work – for a while. Gerlach expanded his linking scheme, scaled up with content spinning, and was listed high in the search results for many pages on several of his sites. Eventually, though, his black hat techniques were discovered, and his rankings and pages fell into obscurity.
Trolling Motors – Trolling Motors, a site created by Andrew Youderian, achieved high rankings when Youderian enlisted the aid of a supposedly reputable SEO agency. But unknown to Youderian, the agency was using black hat tactics like “spammy, keyword-rich anchor text and unnatural, manipulative posts for links on off-site sources.” Then, in 2012 when Google’s Penguin update hit, the bottom fell out Trolling Motors’ ranking, and the site lost 80% of its traffic.
How to avoid using black hat tactics by accident
Now, we’re certain you wouldn’t deliberately engage in any black hat SEO practices. Sometimes, though, it’s not that hard to do inadvertently, so here are two keys to avoiding accidental black hat SEO.
1. Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. It’s not really that difficult to commit this offense in an effort to get as many of those critical keywords as possible in a piece of content. The trick here is to let keywords appear naturally – don’t force them in where and how it doesn’t feel right – and shoot for a keyword density of between 1% and 3%.
2. Also, ensure that your content is both helpful and relevant. Search engine algorithms are now geared toward ensuring a good experience for readers/users. As always, the purpose of content – blog posts, landing pages, articles, reviews – is to build a relationship based on trust.
Content may be king, but no king can rule effectively without the support and assistance of many others. And that’s what SEO does. Once you’ve got all the SEO pieces in place and your site is ranking high, people will find you and your tour and activity offerings much easier.
As usual, you should start with the basics. Focus on security and knowing who your target audience is. Then, create valuable content around their needs.
To make sure people click on your page in search engine results, always optimize your title tags and meta descriptions. Try to keep it short and explain the key benefits of accessing your page.
To make sure your website is well structured and easy to navigate, it’s crucial to implement a solid internal linking strategy. Try to add useful directions within your content to pages that supplement whatever the reader is currently viewing and thus provide more value.
The basics of SEO are important and you can’t forgo them. In addition, there are some technical SEO tips that go hand-in-hand with the above. These include enhancing your page load speed and making sure your site is easy to crawl and error-free.
In addition, make sure to use a mobile-responsive theme for your website so it looks good on both desktops and smartphones.
Last but not least, as a leisure provider and tour operator, your reputation is your most valuable asset. So you must avoid black hat SEO like the plague if you want to be successful long-term.
So there you have it, that covers most of the basics you should know about SEO so that you’re well on your way to climbing up the search engine results.
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