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SEO For Tourism Brands: How To Rank Content And Get Found

As the travel and tourism industry recovers, now is the time for travel marketers to invest in a revamped SEO strategy.

We all know that the last two years have been exceptionally tough for travel and tourism, from the biggest corporations all the way down to small local businesses.

For most, their focus has been on surviving long enough to benefit from the brief pockets of time when consumers were willing and able to venture beyond their own towns or cities.

But the travel and tourism industry is nothing if not resilient. And with road travel over the US Thanksgiving weekend alone almost back to pre-pandemic levels, there’s no better time for brands to invest in a revamped SEO strategy.

Consumers are already starting to plan their next trips. So how do you make sure that your business is the one they’re seeing first?

What’s Next For DMOs?

For destination marketing organizations (DMOs), attracting out-of-town guests to a large metro area has largely been their greatest revenue driver.

But due to state-based lockdowns, organizations such as Visit Philadelphia and Destination DC took on a revolutionary approach to their marketing in early 2021 by changing their focus and attention to the customers on their doorsteps who had largely been left out of previous marketing efforts: locals.

By celebrating everything local, DMOs managed to turn an otherwise completely disastrous situation into widespread hometown pride and a critical revenue driver as local tourists looked for ways to staycation and explore closer to home.

Optimizing content for terms like “what to do in [city] this weekend,” or “best things to do with kids in [city]” continues to be an excellent SEO tactic for DMOs.

By using activity-based terminology, the focus remains on individual attractions and experiences that drive traffic to both the DMO site and those of their partner organizations such as museums and restaurants.

This type of content can easily become evergreen, with the potential to rank for extensive periods of time and across multiple audiences and query sets.

Particularly for city-based businesses, the number of young families looking for activities near their home is likely extensive, along with individuals who may be searching for a fun night out with friends at a new bar or restaurant.

Remember, tourists don’t always have to be from out of town. Embracing a local SEO approach is a smart move, especially when we don’t know what’s around the corner when it comes to pandemic-related travel.

Honing in on your close-to-home audience first with content that can pull double-duty for travelers from further afield will give you a significant SEO boost long-term.

Improving Rankings As A Tour Or Experience Brand

As a tour or experience company, you may be wondering how you can create content around these popular activity-based keywords without promoting your competitors.

The answer: solution-focused searches.

While these two approaches sound similar, and there is definitely some overlap, the main difference comes down to what the user is actually trying to achieve.

You can think of the breakdown like this:

  • Activity-based – broader phrasing, the user isn’t quite sure what they want to do or see and is looking for a range of suggestions to choose from.
  • Solution-based – more focused and niche, users are trying to find an answer to a very specific inquiry or problem.

It’s likely that no matter the size or scale of your tour or experience company, the individual experiences or travel products that you offer are each tailored towards a specific group of people.

For example, your business could offer tours of various locations within one city but each of those tours is geared towards a niche interest such as local history, wine tasting, or a deep dive into a particular period of art.

Make use of each of these specific needs and audiences in your optimization – instead of trying to capture everyone with broad phrasing like a DMO – be as targeted as possible with keywords like “see the Philadelphia art museum with an expert guide,” or “best ways to see historic homes in Savannah.”

See How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: The Ultimate Guide to learn more about building out your keyword lists.

Consider integrating your content experience with a tool like Google Tag Manager in order to view search terms in real-time and serve up last-minute content to interested users.

Tours and experiences are often spontaneously booked, many less than 24 hours before the event, so it’s crucial to keep your content flexible and adaptable as you continue your SEO work.

Larger travel brands will want to make sure their enterprise SEO strategy has kept pace with recent developments in search and changing consumer behavior.

And multi-location travel enterprises will want to make sure your local SEO is on point across the organization, as well.

SEO For Travel Ecommerce Businesses

It’s easy to forget that when no one is traveling, that also means that no one is using travel-focused products, either.

But with a recent report showing that 40% of consumers have plans to pack up and head out on a trip before the end of the year, the sales of suitcases, packing accessories, and road trip essentials are already seeing significant increases in sales over the same period in 2020.

Since it may have been some time since your audience has left home, optimizing your content with product and solution keywords is a great opportunity to remind them what your product does and the problems it solves.

Phrases like “best suitcases for a cross-country road trip,” or “packing cubes for a small carry-on bag” clearly identify an issue or need that the consumer has, which you can then resolve in your site copy.

Consider building content that’s specifically targeting travelers on the go, last-minute planners, or those who may already be on their vacations.

Travel capsule company Cadence does this well, optimizing for phrases like “best leak-proof travel capsules.” After all, no one wants to arrive at their destination to find that their shampoo has exploded all over their clothes.

Think about how you could incorporate this approach into your own marketing – where else might your users be searching and shopping for travel accessories, or looking for solutions to a very specific product-focused problem?

The more targeted you can be in your content optimization, the better.

In Conclusion

The opportunities are out there for travel and tourism brands to meet users where they are and be the solution to their problems.

By pairing SEO efforts with additional digital opportunities through social media advertising and digital PR, travel and tourism brands are well-positioned to attract users from all angles and at every stage of the planning and traveling experience.

If there’s anything that we’ve learned recently, it’s that flexibility and agility are crucial to business survival and success, especially in industries subject to volatility.

By building this approach into your SEO strategy, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position to weather any storm that comes your way.

More Resources:

Featured image: Kari_Bonit/Shutterstock

Category SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Rachel Vandernick Founder & Lead Consultant at The Vander Group

Rachel Vandernick is a growth and performance marketing consultant and founder of The Vander Group. She specializes in helping consumer-facing ...

SEO For Tourism Brands: How To Rank Content And Get Found

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