I have been working in SEO for several years and recently started working on a travel blog.
While looking at other travel blogging sites I noticed that many travel bloggers were making the same SEO mistakes that were holding back their blogs from receiving consistent traffic from search engines.
I decided to dive deeper and looked at 50 blogs that had a Domain Authority less than 45. They all have plenty of content and are past the beginning stages of starting a travel blog.
While some had unique problems, I noticed three main areas each blog was failing in. Addressing these issues should help these bloggers greatly increase their traffic gained from organic search.
3 travel blogging SEO mistakes
1. Not writing content people are searching for
The number one issue I see with travel blogs is that the content does not match what people are searching for.
When someone goes to Google and searches a query they want a specific answer. For example, the query, “free things in NYC” is going to send users to sites that answer the query and are optimized for it. Many bloggers do not approach their post as a response to a query people are searching for that they can provide an appropriate response to.
I recommend travel bloggers do some form of keyword research before writing any post. Both during ideation and when you already have a blog post idea in mind.
For example, lets use Lima Peru as an example. Think of a few ideas of what people might be searching for. Check the number of monthly searches to see if you are right on or if other search terms come up.
I did this using the Google Keyword planner, a free tool (once you sign up for Google Adwords). Quick Sprout has a good video to go over how to use the tool. I only use the keyword planner to get search volume, not to look at competition.
Once you have this list, search the term to see the competition level. By installing the Moz toolbar you will be able to see the Domain Authority of sites within search results.
You will notice some queries are extremely competitive and the first page is ruled by sites like Time, Tripadvisor and other sites with high domain authorities.
Even so, there are plenty of keywords with decent traffic where you can find less established sites ranking.
For example, the results for “things to do in Lima” is full of sites with a domain authority in the 90s, while the search for “Lima day tours” has a site with a DA of 18 in the 3rd organic position!
Once you have selected a few keywords for a post, incorporate them in a natural way throughout the post using basic on page optimization.
I also think keyword research should not stop you from writing any post. There are tons of reasons to decide to post something based on other channels like Pinterest, as part of your branding or just because you want to.
In these cases, I would still encouraging using the keyword planner to see if a small tweek in the topic could make a difference in sending organic traffic.
If you want advanced SEO, use SEMRush. It is the most powerful SEO tool ever and has yielded incredible results, not just in optimizing our site, increasing our search engine visibility and keyword ranking, but also helping us look good to clients when showcasing the ROI we give to them. Yes this leads to more work for us!
Test it here:
Most bloggers have links going to their website, but tons of bloggers only build links to their home page. Getting links that go to a specific, deeper page can have a huge effect in helping that page outrank other blogs with higher domain authority.
There are many ways to build links to specific pages of your website. Here are some great resources to get you started:
3. Basic technical mistakes
Many in the travel blogging niche are on WordPress and use the Yoast SEO plugin to target related keywords, but this is not enough.
There are several other things you can do to help Google understand and rank your site.
- Internal linking – Just as you need links to content from outside your website, internal links within your content will also help. For example, if you have several posts about Australia, make sure the posts link to each other.
- Proper Categorization – Make sure you have category pages for any topic you have a few posts for. A great way to do this is to publish a page that is linked in your navigation for each topic.
- Improper use of tags – Whenever you use a new tag in WordPress it creates a new page. These new pages are often duplicate content of each other and add no value to your site. Instead of using multiple tags, focus on creating good category pages!
- URL Structure – By default, WordPress makes your blog post URL the same as your title. A better way to do this is to have it reflect your categorization and site structure. For example, the URL for a post titled “Things To Do in Lima” would be www.domainname.com/peru/lima/things-to-do. This incorporates keywords into the URL and creates a site structure that makes sense.
Take it a step further by making a unique page that has the post with a description and additional context added that ties them all together. This way not only can your post improve in rank, but the category can gain traffic as well.
Lonely Planet does a great job at this. For example, their Rome page has more content than just a list of posts. Don’t be discouraged by their design, it does not need to look that pretty to be successful.
While SEO can be complex and takes time, making these improvements should get your travel blogging efforts moving in the right direction to start getting you organic traffic.
Do what you can and keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy.
Social and other marketing techniques give results and should be a focus as well. SEO takes more time and does not show results for a while, but once they are earned the results last.
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Dan Bagby is an avid traveler, majored in International Studies at the University of Utah and has a slight obsession with digital marketing. He currently works as the SEO Analyst for Whole Foods Market and has started to combine his love for digital marketing and travel on his blog, PackThePassport.com. You can connect with him on Twitter and follow the evolution of his blog on Instagram and Facebook.