Don’t play by Google’s rules and the consequences can be dire. You will be punished and that may mean you are bumped from a page 1 ranking to somewhere in the deep, dark search abyss never to be heard from again!
Sounds a little melodramatic, so let me explain.
Put your customer hat on for a moment. Type into Google keywords a tourist may use to search out their specific needs when traveling to your region.
What you will see is either a listing of Google populated content (pulled from Google My Business listings); your regions’ main tourism website or even other articles written on your region. It all depends of course on what keywords you typed into the search browser.
So, what do you as a savvy tourism business owner or marketer need to be doing to make friends with Google and get your website ranking higher in search?
Good question. Before we jump in – let me clarify 1 point. There are reputedly over 200 factors that influence where your website is ranked by Google.
Google tweaks the algorithm constantly to ensure the end user (that’s you and me!) get the best possible relevant, high quality search results.
You gotta like that!
So here’s our take on how to improve your website rankings and stay friends with Google.
1. Responsive websites rock
Responsive simply means it fits or adapts to the size of the screen on which it is being viewed – one website viewable on many devices.
If you don’t have a responsive website, Google will punish you in the mobile search rankings (i.e. when people search you out on mobile devices).
You may think, “meh – who cares. It’s only on mobile devices“.
Reportedly, by 2017 less than 13% of people will be using the internet via PCs.
That means, over 87% of people globally will be using mobile devices i.e. smart phones and tablets to view the internet. So if your website isn’t easily readable on their devices, do you actually think they’ll be interested in your tourism offerings.
A website works for your business 24/7 – can you really afford for your most valuable online real estate not to be responsive?
Google thinks not!
2. Google My Business
Claim your Google My Business listing and keep it up to date.
It saves time as it avoids the need to make duplicate entries while still providing information across Google products. You need only to enter your business information one time and it will populate into all of Google’s services. As Google notes “Google My Business connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+ “.
Blogging is an impressive way to generate fresh content; it can also solidify your credibility and build brand awareness.
Quality content is still the first element Google looks for when cataloging and indexing webpages and a website blog is a great way to do that.
4. Tweak your website copy
You may find creating new content consistently via a blog just too difficult, so consider making changes in wording or adding or removing entire sections of your website copy.
Google sees the significance of edits and changes as a freshness factor.
Another freshness factor Google likes, is how often has the page been updated over time? Has the content been updated weekly, monthly….Never?
Google does love fresh content, but an older page that is regularly updated can work equally as well.
5. Use a mix of multimedia
Images, videos and other multimedia elements act as a content quality signal.
It’s not just about copy, so spruce up your website with quality imagery, videos and make sure these are optimized with keywords via alt tags.
If you’re using videos, hosting via YouTube may get preferential treatment in search rankings – Google owns YouTube.
6. Add Helpful Supplementary Content
According to SEO expert Backlinko, adding helpful supplementary content such as currency converters, weather apps etc. may assist as Google may take this as an indicator of a webpage’s authority.
BONUS: it’s also helpful to possible visitors to your website.
7. Set up an ethical Linking Strategy
Ever been taken down that rabbit warren when you read an article on one website page and there’s a link you click on…. three hours later!
Think of the web as a spiders’ web with so many tendrils all linking together – it really is called The World Wide Web for a reason.
As a website owner, you want to create good link juice (a colloquial term referring to the power of external [inbound – links to your website & outbound links from your site to other websites] plus internal links from one page on your site to another).
Ensuring you use all three linking practices ethically on your tourism website helps with search rankings.
However, the number and quality of inbound links to a web page contribute to a site being considered significant. For example, if a page has 100 quality links leading to it, it will be ranked higher (in Google’s estimation) than one that only has 20.
So if you create informative, quality content, other websites may want to share your content on their websites (ethically), and you will receive inbound links organically.
Other tips to gain quality inbound links include:
Write press releases
Most print publications now have an online equivalent. So when you write a press release, not only should you submit to media release sites (there are paid and free versions), also send directly to the quality print magazines you have built a relationship with.
If it’s relevant information, in most cases they’ll be happy to include in their online publication and link back to your website.
There are numerous online article depositories and other well-known blogging sites that allow writers to submit articles and make them available to their readers.
Ensure you include your contact details at the end of your article and link it through to your website. Many readers if they have enjoyed your article, will then go to your website to see what else you have to offer.
Online Directories & Review Sites
There are many quality online directories, review sites and industry-specific places you could be listing your business to build quality inbound links.
A link from a website considered an authority site by Google will pass on more link juice. This is another good reason to join your regional and state tourism associations as these sites usually rank extremely high on Google search rankings!
Make relevant comments on topically relevant business blogs. Don’t go overboard and make this the only link building strategy you undertake.
Matt Cutts, former head of the web spam team at Google, cautions on how you represent yourself in link comments. He suggests using your personal name rather than the company name or keyword-rich “name” to avoid any problems.
8. Be Social
Yes, participating in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn & other social networking sites can create inbound links to your website and therefore increase your page rankings.
Keep in mind though a social media account with 10,000 followers, minimal posts and little engagement may be interpreted differently than a page with 1,000 followers, lots of posting and high engagement.
Also, ensure social sharing is easy with social share buttons on your website as the amount of page-level social shares may influence the webpage’s link value to Google.
9. Terms of Service and Privacy Pages
These web pages’ signal to Google that a site is trustworthy.
10. Website Load Speed
Remember, Google is all about offering quality, relevant content to users when they search online. Google may believe that part of this offering should include a good user experience and that means NOT frustrating the hell out of the user!
Similar to not having a responsive website, a slow loading website can really peeve users. It’s believed Google uses site loading speed as a ranking factor also.
This is not a definitive list of how to improve website rankings for your tourism website, but it will give you a good idea on where you can be making improvements in your digital marketing strategy, so your business is found easily online.
Until next time…..