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SEO for Travel Blog | Bump Up Your Rankings & Increase Traffic

Travelling around the world, taking photos in remote locations, and living the life everyone dreams of isn’t as hard to cultivate as you might imagine. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies; there is a lot of hard work that goes into being a travel blogger. But without the help of SEO, you could be putting in all of the hard work and seeing none of the results.

After all, nobody wants to write content that no one actually gets to read. If you want your hard work to start paying off, then implementing a content SEO strategy on your website is a must. But there are so many different elements of SEO that need to all work hand-in-hand to make your travel website a success. Keep reading to find out more about SEO for travel blogs.

How to SEO a Blog From Scratch

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If you are starting with a blank canvas (or domain), you will need to learn a lot about SEO to ensure your website starts out on the right footing. You need to ensure your travel blog adheres to the following guidelines:

  • Create a siloed URL structure
  • Ensure you have a functioning sitemap
  • Create category pages
  • Ensure optimal site speed
  • Create EAT pages (more on that later)

And much, much more… If you are at the very beginning of your travel blogging journey, read the essentials of a travel blog to find out how to get started.

SEO for Travel Bloggers

If you are tired of writing content that never gets read, then SEO can help you increase your rankings in Google SERPs and the traffic to your website. But why is having more traffic important?

Well, traffic is an indication of the number of people that have actually read your content. And the more people visit your site on a monthly basis, the easier it is to start making money from your travel blog and turn it into a full-time career.

Like the sound of “travel blogger extraordinaire”? Find out how to make your dreams a reality.

Pick a Niche and Stick With It

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So you’ve chosen the travel niche, but the travel niche is REALLY BIG. It encompasses travel destinations all across the globe and topics stretching from accommodations, things to do, tours, day trips, road trips, dog-friendly destinations, and the list goes on…

So it’s best to do something we call niching down. Picking a sub-niche, and a sub-sub-niche, in order to come up with a very specific set of topics for your site. Why do we recommend this? For a couple of reasons:

  • The travel niche has a lot of competition – tour companies, concierge services, hotels, and the ever-growing population of travel bloggers are all competing to rank for topics in the travel niche. This means you either have to compete with the masses or write topics that very few other people are writing about (but there is still a demand for). This can be a tricky thing to find, but we actually have a topic mining service that can help you do just that.
  • Google likes to know that you’re an expert – Google only ranks posts that it feels you have enough expertise to write about. So if you’re writing one post about each country in the world, the likelihood that you will rank any of them is very slim. However, if you focus on a region of France and write all the travel content you can about that specific region before moving on to the next, Google will likely consider you an expert in that area. Alternatively, if you want to write about many different countries, pick a certain niche within travel to write about. For instance, backpacking through each region – then Google could consider you an expert backpacker.

Write Content Clusters

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As mentioned above, it’s important to write about a topic in its entirety (in many different posts) before moving on to the next topic. These are called keyword clusters. So if you decide to focus your site on France, start with a region, e.g. Brittany. It’s best to write about every travel topic to do with Brittany before moving on to the next region.

This way, Google starts to notice your site as an authority in that region. If you want your site to be about backpacking all over the world, start with a series of backpacking posts that focus on the keyword “backpacking in x” in a series of countries. Once those have been written, you can start a related series of topics such as “cheapest hostels in x for backpackers.

Finding keywords that have a large number of searches and are not difficult to rank for is where the tricky part comes in. As mentioned before, we can actually do this for you, but if you want to tackle this yourself, we would recommend using a tool called Keysearch when looking for travel SEO keywords.

While there are more in-depth tools like Ahrefs, they come with a hefty price tag, so it would only be worth it for SEO agencies such as ourselves.

Aim for Long-tail Keywords

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Another important factor in choosing the right keyword is to aim for long-tail keywords. E.g. “backing in x” wouldn’t be as easy to rank as “how to backpack in x for free”. The more specific your keyword, the easier it will be to rank, and the more likely you are to satisfy user intent.

Why is Satisfying Searcher Intent Important?

When someone comes across your page in Google SERPs and clicks on it, it is as if they are voting for your post. The longer they stay on your post, the better it looks to Google. However, if they spend a few seconds on your post before leaving and going back to Google SERPs, this is an indication to Google that you are not satisfying searcher intent.

If this happens a couple of times, your post is likely to drop in rankings for the keyword that a specific user used to find your post. In general, this is not something you want happening often, so ensure that the keywords you are targeting are highly relevant to the post you are writing.

Use Original Images

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Google has recently been releasing a series of core algorithm updates that aims at weeding out content that is not truly authentic. One of the ways in which it picks up on inauthentic content is the use of unoriginal images.

While it is not a bad thing to use stock images, Google knows that they weren’t taken by you. So try to add as many original images to your posts and throughout your website as possible.

This way, it understands that you have been to each destination. But what if you haven’t been to a destination and you still want to write about it? There are ways you can navigate this problem.

You can use a combination of free images and images from other travel bloggers (not without their permission). There are Facebook groups like the travel image collab group dedicated to this exact problem. There, you can ask other travel bloggers if they have images of a certain location. In those groups, people are more than happy to help out in exchange for a link to their website.

How Many Images Should You Add Per Post?

Travel is a very visual niche, so users (and Google) want to see a lot of images. As a general rule of thumb, we like to add images every 100 – 200 words to break up the text and keep the readers interested.

Don’t Write Thin Content

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Thin content describes a post that doesn’t have a lot of content on it – less than 1000 words. While you don’t need to go overboard with a 10,000-word post, you don’t want to be publishing posts with 200 words in them either. These short posts also don’t provide much value or help to the reader so are best avoided.

So, where is the sweet spot? We generally aim to create posts that are between 1500 – 3000 words, but this is heavily dependent on the topic. If you are writing a one-week itinerary, then you may not be able to fit the entire itinerary in a 3000-word post, so your post will likely be around 5000 words.

Find Out How Many Words You Should be Writing for a Specific Post

But how do you know what word count you should be aiming for? A good way to do this is to look at the top 3 ranking posts for the given keyword you would like to rank for. Find the word count of each of those posts using SEO Quake, and aim for the average word count when writing your own post.

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If you don’t want to go through the manual hassle of checking word count, SurferSEO also provides a suggested word count if that is a service you would like to use.

If you already have thin pages on your website, it’s best to beef those up with a little more content or delete them altogether. Do note that if the post has links pointing to it, you should delete and redirect it so that you don’t lose valuable links to your travel blog.

Add Links (Internal & External)

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Apart from sticking to the general guidelines for writing a post, you should be adding both internal and external links to each post that you write. What are internal and external links? Glad you asked!

  • Internal links: links to other posts or pages on your website. You can add as many internal links as you want (without disrupting the user experience), but you should aim to link to relevant content. We like the guideline of adding a MINIMUM of 2 internal links per post and making sure that the first link in a post is an internal one.
  • External links: links to other websites. You should aim to link to authoritative sources with information that could be useful to the reader, e.g., if you have a “how to get around” section in an itinerary post, linking to a train timetable would be very useful to your readers. It is also important to ensure you are not linking to a competitor’s website. We like the guideline of adding 2 – 4 external links per post.

Monetise Your Content

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Once you’ve put a whole lot of hard work into creating useful and interesting content for your readers, it’s a good idea to monetize your travel blog. After all, if you ever want your travel blog to transition from a passion project to a full-time job, it’s going to need to bring in revenue.

There are various ways you can monetise your travel blog, but these are a couple of the easiest ways to do it:

  • Become an affiliate marketer: If you affiliate yourself with different travel brands, you can make a commission from every booking that you send to their site. These are some of the most popular affiliate programs for travel bloggers.
  • Put ads on your website: While many people are apprehensive about putting ads on their website, in many cases, they actually make your website look more authoritative. There are a couple of companies that do this, so do research on the best ROI before committing to one. However, these 2 are some of the best in our experience:
    • Mediavine (50 000 users per month minimum to get accepted)
    • Ezoic (5000 users per month minimum to get accepted)

Build Links

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If you want Google to view your website as an authority, then you need to acquire links to your travel blog. There are many tactics for building links, but the best way is to acquire them as naturally as possible.

Create profiles for yourself as a travel blogger on different platforms, and you will generally have the ability to add your domain link to your profile. You can also interact on forums, answering other people’s questions and linking to your post on the topic.

There are also Facebook groups like Link Building + Guest Posts + Collabs, where you can engage in activities like guest posting or link swaps with other like-minded travel bloggers. If you are just starting out, then groups like Link Building for Newbie Bloggers would be a little more suitable.

Which Pages Should You Build Links to?

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It’s important to be strategic about your link building, acquiring links to pages you want to improve in rankings. That being said, you don’t want it to look spammy, so don’t build 20 links to the same page at the same time. This is of course with exception of your homepage which can acquire many links without negatively affecting SEO.

When choosing your anchor text, you should use a wide variety of anchors so that Google doesn’t flag your website for unnatural link building. While using keyword-rich anchors is great, you should also build a couple with generic anchor text such as “click here” or “read more”.

Building links with branded anchor text is also important – branded anchor text would be the name of your website. And lastly, naked anchors are also an important part of link building and consist of just the domain URL. These are generally easy to acquire when creating a profile on a forum or other platform.

Consider EAT

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EAT, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust, has become a huge deal in the SEO community in recent years. This is because Google is placing emphasis on EAT as a ranking factor.

So how should you demonstrate your EAT to Google as well as your readers? Here are a few ways:

  • Create an author bio that explains why you are an authority in your specific travel niche.
  • Have a privacy policy and terms and conditions page on your website.
  • Acquire links from authoritative sources (this could include writing guest posts for high DA/DR websites).
  • Keep your content up-to-date and relevant.
  • Display your credentials:
    • Awards
    • Certificates
    • Books Authored
    • Speaking engagements
    • Conference panel inclusions
  • Have a contact page where readers can get in touch with you.
  • Provide your opinion in your posts to show Google and readers that you are not a robot.

Track Your Site Performance

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It’s important to know how well your site is performing and analyse traffic trends, keywords, and posts to see where you can improve. The best way to do this is by setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console tracking.

While Google Analytics gives you valuable data about your audience, Google Search Console allows you to monitor traffic, traffic trends, keyword rankings, as well as page performance. These handy tools provided for free by Google are some of the best travel blogging tools you can make use of.

Audit Your Posts Performances

Once you’ve started tracking your website, you can give your website a mini-audit every couple of months to ensure you are heading on the right track. While you may not have access to the high-end tools that we make use of in our website SEO audits, Google Analytics and Google Search Console are enough to give you data to work with.

So what should you be looking out for when doing your mini website audit?

  • Pages that have dropped in rankings
  • Pages that are climbing in rankings but haven’t quite made it to page 1 of SERPs
  • Pages that were written over 6 months ago but are still not performing well
  • Keywords that are appearing in GSC but you have not yet written about

Travel blogger SEO tip: Once you have completed a mini-audit of your website, you will need to prune your content to ensure your website is in good SEO health.

Practice Content Pruning

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Content pruning is the act of finding the pages that are underperforming and removing them so that Google crawlers can prioritise your best posts. It also includes making improvements to pages that are performing well (or have recently decreased in rankings) so that they can continue to improve in rankings.

Deleting Underperforming Content

If a post was written a couple of years ago and is not ranking well and has only received a few clicks, it’s probably a good idea to say goodbye, or consider a major overhaul and upgrade.

If the post has no links to it, you can simply delete it. But if there are other sites linking to that page, you will need to delete it and redirect it, as this will retain the valuable link. You can find out whether a page has links in Google Search Console.

Optimise Content to Improve Rankings

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When optimising already existing content, you will need to look at what keywords the page is ranking for in Google Search Console. Try to look for phrases that you are ranking for but have not yet been included in the post and find a way to include them (only if they are relevant).

In some cases, you will also want to add some additional content to the post, update old content, and possibly build a link or two to the page. If this sounds like too much work, we have an optimization service, so we can handle this for you.

Travel blogger SEO optimisation tip: when choosing posts to optimise, do not choose posts that have a couple of keywords ranking in positions 1 – 3, as changing these posts may cause them to drop in rankings.

Ensure a Great User Experience

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When visitors come to your travel blog, you want them to have a great user experience (UX). Spend time navigating your website as if you were a visitor to ensure that everything works seamlessly. Here are a couple of things to look out for when it comes to UX:

  1. Ensure all your buttons are working – there is nothing more frustrating than continuously clicking a button that doesn’t seem to have any response.
  2. Make sure you are not linking to broken pages – this is annoying for the user and could cause them to leave, but it could also affect your SEO and rankings.
  3. Your site should load efficiently – Cloudflare announced that BBC lost 10% of their users for every additional second their page took to load. That means that if your site takes 10 seconds to load, there will be nobody left to spend time on your site.

Improve Your Travel Blog SEO

Whether you want to find out how to be a travel blogger or you’re a seasoned veteran hoping to brush up on your SEO skills, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be on the right track. Improving your rankings and increasing the traffic to your travel blog may be harder than it was a couple of years ago, but it’s still very much possible.

If you need help with your strategy, content, auditing, or anything in between, please reach out to us, as we’d love to help!

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