Surprising truths about the best SEO practices for travel companies
Does your travel company website reflect the best SEO practices for your industry? A new 2017 SEO study examined search ranking factors for the US travel industry, comparing travel ranking factors with universal ranking factors. The results showed significant differences in performance in several key areas. This indicates that some of the best SEO practices for travel companies are not the same as standard SEO practices. Understanding these differences and incorporating them into your SEO strategy can help your travel company website gain a higher ranking in searches.
Why the best SEO practices for travel companies are different
Google’s RankBrain, the AI technology that powers the search engine, can now distinguish the context of searches. It can even differentiate between searches in different industries. That means that companies can no longer rely on universal SEO rules to determine how to design websites for the best search performance. Instead, travel brands need to consider how their customers use their websites and let their customers’ needs determine what works best in their vertical.
Searchmetrics’ study examined the top 20 search results for 6,000 travel-related terms, comparing them with a benchmark study of 10,000 broader, general search terms across all industries. We distilled the study information into five actionable travel website SEO tips:
Pay attention to browsability
The top ten ranking travel pages on Google used 23% more internal links than other industry. There’s a good reason for that – with a typical B2B or B2C company, visitors come to the website to research the company and find out about products or services it offers. Visitors go to a travel company website to research and plan their trips. They need to have easy access to information on many related details. SEO for travel websites should focus on browsability, delivering intelligently linked content so users can easily find relevant information that will help them in the trip-planning process.
Longer is better when it comes to content
Content on the best performing travel industry sites was significantly longer than the benchmark standard. The study found that the top ten travel pages averaged more than 2,500 words per page, 57% longer than the 1,633 average on the benchmark pages. All the travel-related content was longer than standard, even listicles, which averaged just over 18 bullets, compared to 14 on the benchmark pages.
Focus on relevant content instead of keyword stuffing
Overall content relevance was significantly higher for travel pages compared to the benchmark for all industries. The pages that performed the best for travel-related terms stayed away from keyword stuffing to deliver relevant content that addressed the specific search needs of travelers. The need to avoid keyword stuffing has been a part of universal SEO best practices for some time, but the travel industry takes this advice to new heights. Keywords appeared on the pages in the top ten Google results for travel only three times on average, compared with 7.4 times on the benchmark pages. Instead, travel pages should focus on delivering useful, relevant content that will help travelers as they plan their journey.
Larger images vs. faster load time
Optimizing for fast load time is a standard SEO best practice for most industries, but it doesn’t seem to apply to travel pages. Travelers who are choosing destinations and planning trips prefer pages that supply large images even when those pages take longer to load. The top ten ranking travel pages used approximately 38% more images larger than 200 x 200 pixels. Larger images caused the top travel pages to have a slower load time, 10.6 seconds compared to 7.8 seconds across all industries.
SEO for travel is not standard
Perhaps the most important takeaway from this study is that SEO is not the same for all industries. An SEO marketing agency that regards SEO as the same no matter what type of company you have is going to miss important differences. This careless oversight could keep your website from gaining the high visibility you need to succeed in the competitive travel market. If you choose to have an Internet Marketing Agency perform SEO chores for your travel company, it is best to choose an agency that specializes in your vertical.
If you would like help updating your website to reflect the best SEO practices for travel companies, consider Travel Tech Strategies. As a dedicated travel SEO marketing agency, we have the experience and industry knowledge to deliver a high-ranking travel website, with expert travel SEO website design, SEO content creation services, travel social marketing services, and more.
Travel Tech Strategies is a forward-thinking market leader providing the travel industry with in-depth Big Data analysis