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SEO Travel’s 12 Hour Charity Travel Marketingathon Bonanza…
Want Free Insight from Industry Experts?

At SEO Travel, our favourite thing is helping small and medium sized travel businesses improve their marketing to grow their business.

Whilst we do our best to price our services affordably so we can help as many people as possible, we know that not all travel companies can afford to invest on an ongoing basis.

One of the main challenges those businesses have as a result is that they don’t have any trustworthy guidance on what they should be doing and what activities will give them the best bang for their buck. There is a huge amount of information online, much of it contradictory, difficult to follow and impossible to implement.

Enter our 12 Hour Charity Travel Marketingathon Bonanza (#12HCTMB)…

Whilst we do our best to share as much information as possible about how we do things with step by step posts like these, there’s nothing quite like talking to someone directly and getting their help and advice.

So, to try and help some of the people who need a bit more guidance but maybe can’t afford the ongoing fees of an agency, I am going to offer free consultancy calls for as many people as I can fit in to a 12 hour period.

The plan is to book 30 minute telephone slots with each person. We will take a look at their sites beforehand and put together some key strategic recommendations, then use that 30 minutes to run them through the suggestions, as well as answer any burning questions they have.

That will give us 24 slots over the 12 hour period, and we’ll be running it on a first-come first-served basis. Don’t worry, I’ll have an official snack assistant on hand to keep me fed and watered throughout the day!

As we’re doing it on the phone it is open to anyone around the world regardless of location, as long as you can be available in the 12 hour period.

As an added bonus, we’ll also be giving £10 per consultation to the Care with a View charity from our own pocket. As well as helping small businesses we also want to help others in need and think this is a great opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to a fantastic charity that we know makes a difference. You can read more about them here.

We’ll be asking everyone who signs up for the free consultation to match our £10 donation in return for the free advice (though it won’t be compulsory). Hopefully it will be seen as a small price to pay for valuable advice from industry experts at the top of their game that would usually cost much more, and all in aid of a good cause. Cumulatively we know it will add up to an amount that can make a difference and will be extremely gratefully received.

The 12 Hour Charity Travel Marketingathon Bonanza will take place on Thursday March 21st from 8am to 8pm UK time.

If you’re interested in gaining one of the spots sign up on the form below. As I said, places are limited and we’ll be running this on a first-come first-served basis so sign up fast if you’re interested.

I’ll then confirm with you directly if you’ve landed one of the places to work out the scheduling for the day.

Good luck!

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About the author:

Tom Mcloughlin

Tom formed SEO Travel in 2011 when he saw the struggle agencies were having offering a quality service to companies in different industries. Having worked in SEO, PR and as a writer, as well as travelling extensively, he brought together all his skills to offer a specialised service for travel companies. The company has grown from there as we have continued to get great results for clients and steadily attracted new business.

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How We Gained 124 Links With PR (A Step by Step Guide)

The basic premise of PR – informing and persuading – is a concept as old as communication itself, while the PR industry is believed to have officially set up shop circa the early 1900s.

Yet with the development of smartphones, social media and selfies, the past 20 years has arguably played host to some of the most dramatic and fast-paced changes the sector has ever seen.

Traditionally, the cornerstone of a PR success would have been a front-page headline, but as the old adage goes, today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper – and no-one wants someone eating their chippy tea off that press release they spent hours perfectly crafting.

That’s why we focus our travel PR efforts online, where you can continue to reap the rewards of your hard graft long after the last chip has been devoured.

You see, these days an effective PR strategy is not just about flashy headlines and brand exposure; clever PR tactics are also the ideal solution for gaining strong links on top tier sites, which will boost your SEO performance and long-term visibility to potential customers – hooray!

Sound good? Read on to find out how you can make online PR work for you by following our step-by-step process.


PR Case Study

In just one year of running PR activity for our client – a Rome based tour company – we have been successful in securing over 100 links and over 300 pieces of coverage, including links on some of the strongest sites going – we’re talking MSN, Lonely Planet, Business Insider, The Telegraph…to name just a few!

Not only did our PR work result in hundreds of pieces of top tier coverage for our client, we also saw traffic to the client site increase 182.59% year on year throughout the duration of our PR activity. This was through a combination of increased referral and organic traffic to the site. Referral traffic to the site grew as a direct result of users clicking through to the client site from PR coverage, while organic traffic experienced a boost due to improved visibility for the site – thanks to the SEO impact of the backlinks we achieved.

Our key goals for our client were to:

  • Gain strong backlinks on top tier sites
  • Gain coverage on reputable news and travel sites
  • Increase traffic to the client site

And the results?

  • 124 backlinks to the client site
  • 76 links with a DR of 50+
  • 337 pieces of coverage
  • Coverage on top tier publications including MSN, Telegraph, Lonely Planet, Yahoo, Business Insider and Huffington Post
  • 182.59% YOY increase in site sessions
  • 257.24% increase in referral traffic to site
  • 159.53% increase in organic traffic to site

Read on as we break down exactly how we achieved these results, so that you can do the same for your own business.

What is Online PR?

We break our PR activity down into three separate strands. These are:

  • Reactive
  • Proactive
  • Creative

When you manage to hit the right spot from each of these angles you are almost guaranteed a PR success story.

Read on to find out more about how we approach each of these three elements.

Reactive PR

Reactive PR activity is pretty simple really – while PRs undoubtedly need journalists in order to achieve results, believe it or not, sometimes journalists need us too!

Reactive PR is about capitalising on those times when the journalist needs us. This could be journalists who are looking for a quote from a travel industry expert; a package to include in a round up, or a recommendation from a destination specialist.

If you can provide a journalist with the exact missing information they need for their story, it is a pretty safe bet that they are going to use that information in their article,  which means some swanky coverage for you – easy!

Where to Find PR Requests from Journalists

Ah, we hear your cry and don’t worry, we have the answer!

First things first, it is possible to find journalist requests absolutely free. This means, so long as you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can kick off your PR activity without spending a dime!

One free resource which we have found to be useful in sourcing journalist requests is HARO.

HARO:

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a free online service where journalists post requests outlining any information they need for a story they are working on.

You can subscribe to the mailing list and will be updated on a daily basis of requests from journalists, spread across topics ranging from healthcare to tech to travel – their email alerts handily break each request into relevant categories so you can hone in on your specific niches.

Twilert:

Another cost-effective solution for keeping on top of journalist requests is Twilert.

For those who may not know, Twilert is an email alert which keeps you posted on any new tweets containing any specified keywords.

The most popular Twilert for keeping on top of journalist requests is the aptly named #journorequest, which is widely used by journalists and bloggers looking for story tips.

Taking this a step further, you can also set up Twilerts for more general phrases relevant to your brand – in this case phrases such as “travel industry expert” and “interview with travel specialist” which may throw up opportunities to provide expert quotes and insights for a journalist’s story.

Twilert subscriptions start from just $9 per month, but of course, if you’re on a strict budget you could cut out the middle man, and simply head over to Twitter to search for recent #JournoRequest tweets yourself.

Specialist Services

There is also a multitude of specialist paid media services, which you can use to keep updated with journalist requests.

One commonly used paid resource is Response Source which is one of the biggest names in the media database world, and covers a wide variety of sectors – great if you want to keep updated on requests across a variety of different niches.

There are also a number of resources specifically focused around certain niches. If you’re in the travel industry we highly recommend using TravMedia, which is the main platform we use for our reactive PR activity.

If you’re not in the travel industry, have a search to find other similar services in your own niche.

TravMedia is a media network specifically focused on the travel industry, and is used by journalists working on travel stories to get tips and packages from travel brands.

With TravMedia you get an email each time a request is posted by a journalist, meaning you can hop straight on it.


How to Pitch to Journalists

As with any sales approach, the most effective strategy is to keep it simple and concise.

Firstly, make sure you refine down the recommendations you’re sending over to the journalist and don’t overpitch.

Your chances of success are far greater if you send the journalist a ready to use nugget which fits the brief perfectly, rather than a back catalogue of every product you’ve ever sold.

If you send over too many irrelevant requests to the same journalist you might find yourself on their blacklist.

At the absolute maximum, never send over any more than three suggestions in one email.

Often, journalists will request a specific subject header, and in some cases a particular format to the body of the email. If they do this, make sure you follow their instructions or your email will most likely end up in their trash folder.

If the journalist hasn’t set out any specific instructions, the below format typically works well for us:

Subject: TravMedia Response – Nighttime Adventures

In the subject line make it clear you are responding to their request and replicate the same title which they have used in their request, so that they instantly know your email is something of relevance for them.

Body:

Hi [insert journalist name]

Hope you’re well and had a great weekend! <- Friendly opening greeting

I saw your TravMedia request looking for night adventures around the world and I wanted to let you know about the amazing night tour of the Colosseum with Roma Experience: <- Get straight to the point as to why you’re contacting them

Roma Experience’s Colosseum Under the Moon tour, is the perfect choice for travellers who want to explore the fascinating sight as a VIP. The Colosseum averages around 4 million visitors every year, but the exclusive Roma Experience night tour is limited to just 25 participants, meaning you can enjoy your visit free from crowds. The small group size ensures all participants feel immersed in the tour and are able to hear and interact with the expert tour guide easily.

This special tour also offers participants access to restricted areas of the Colosseum including the arena stage and the underground dungeons, which it would not be possible to visit during the day.

This exclusive new night tour is a unique and special way to see the Colosseum whether you are visiting the world-famous amphitheatre for the first time or want to explore the ancient ruins in a whole new light, quite literally. <- Brief description of product/relevant information

Find out more > https://www.romaexperience.com/rome-tours/night-tour-colosseum/ <- Link to relevant on-site info/product

I hope this is of use and please let me know if you need anything else at all. <- Friendly sign-off

Thanks,

[Your name]

Does it really work?

Well the above email got us a sweet link on one of the fastest growing travel news sites out there, so we’d say yes, yes it does.

Through our reactive PR work with this client we have secured coverage on sites including MSN and Yahoo.

Top Tip: An extra advantage of TravMedia is that, unlike other sources, the platform provides you with the journalist’s email address, rather than having you respond to the journalist via the platform.

This means you can keep a note of the contact details of every journalist who posts on the platform in your contacts database, which will come in handy when you move on to the next step – proactive PR.


Proactive PR

When you think of PR, the first thing that comes to mind is no doubt press releases. While they may not be anything novel, press releases are the bread and butter of the PR world, and a well-crafted and well-distributed press release is still a surefire way of picking up a heap of coverage.

Just look at the coverage we got on Lonely Planet, Telegraph and Robb Report for our Rome client – all from press releases.

Finding Ideas for Press Releases

Just because press releases aren’t a new concept, doesn’t mean they need to be boring. Picking the right topic for your press release is one of the most important factors in ensuring your release hits the mark.

When deciding on a topic for your press release you should make sure it ticks off one of the following:

  • New
  • Unique
  • Timely

If it fits all three, even better!

To give this more context, ideas may include a new product you have just launched, a specialist service which only you can provide or an exclusive offer being run in conjunction with the release of a new movie or in celebration of a notable anniversary.

Press releases we created for our client include:

  • Launch of a new VR tour (new, unique)
  • Launch of underground Colosseum tour (new, unique)
  • Launch of Colosseum at night tour (new, unique)
  • Spooky Halloween tours in Rome (unique, timely)
  • Leonardo da Vinci anniversary tour (new, unique, timely)

The most important factor when deciding on a press release angle is remembering that you are providing a journalist with a story. If you can’t see what the story is behind your release, don’t send it!

How to Write a Press Release

There are many different ways in which to write a press release, but to paraphrase the common saying, “Writing a press release is like playing the piano, first you must learn to play by the rules, then you must forget the rules and play from your heart.”

As you’re just getting started, let’s begin with learning how to play by the rules, before we start going off key.

As we mentioned earlier, the purpose of a press release is to send a journalist a story, so many of the same principles which apply to writing a news story also apply to writing a press release.

With any news story, potentially THE most important element is your headline – if you don’t have a clear headline, you most likely don’t have a story!

In news a headline is what draws a reader in, and with a press release your headline is what will draw a journalist in. If you have an enticing headline, a journalist can envision how they will frame their story and why it would appeal to their readers.

An example of a strong headline would be:

“Brand new Rome at night tour showcases Colosseum in a whole new light”

Once you have your headline sorted, the next step is making sure you cover the 5 Ws and the H – another core news principle, which should also be applied to your press releases.

Not a clue what we’re talking about? The 5 Ws and the H are the six questions which any news story should answer. These are:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • When?
  • How?

Given that the journalist has to answer all six of these questions in their news story, it only makes sense that you provide them with the answers to each of these questions in your press release.

So now you know what to cover, but where do you start?

Well let’s go back to the core news principles and this time discuss the news pyramid. The news pyramid is the standard structure which journalists use to format their story. The rules of the pyramid are that you start with the most important information at the top of your piece, leading down to the least important background information at the end.

This formatting works for multiple reasons – firstly it gives the reader the must-know information right from the start quickly and easily. It also means if the editor needs to chop off the last paragraph of the story for space reasons, no important information will be lost.

When writing a press release, think of the journalist as both a reader and an editor. This means following the pyramid structure will allow them to:

  • Immediately access the information they need to understand and take interest in the story
  • Stop reading or chop off the end of the release without worrying about losing key facts

Essentially, writing a successful press release is all about making the journalist’s job easier – provide them with all of the information they need for their story, show them exactly how they can angle the story, and structure the story in a sensible format.

The easier you make it for the journalist, the greater chance there is that they will use your release.

We typically send out one press release per month for our client, and we use timely hooks to focus the release by keeping on top of what is new with the client; monitoring for new trends in the industry, and tracking the latest news headlines, pop culture events and momentous dates.

Top tip: As the key goal with online PR is gaining links which will boost your SEO performance, increase the chances of having a link to your site included in the article by adding at least one link to your site within the press release. If you hyperlink a relevant phrase in the text there is even more chance the journalist will simply copy this into their own write up too.

How to send out a press release

Now, no matter how great your idea is or how well you’ve written your release, if you send it to the wrong people you won’t get any coverage – fact.

A scattergun approach of throwing your press release out into the wild and hoping it sticks, is not the way to go about your outreach. Instead you want to take a super-targeted approach.

As Liam Neeson may say, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will have you read my press release.”

Now remember that contacts database we spoke about earlier, this is where that comes in handy.

If you’re set up on a system such as TravMedia, every time a request comes in from a new journalist add them to your database taking note of their name and contact details as well as the publication(s) they write for and the general topics and style of writing which they tend to cover. You can Google their name to find out more about their writing and interests.

If you aren’t set up on a media database, or even if you are, there are other ways to find contacts to add..

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Link Building for Travel Blogs. 7 Ways to Get Great Links…
How to Build Links for Your Travel Blog

If you have been travel blogging for any amount of time, you should be aware of the importance of link building in improving your blog’s performance.

If you rank anywhere below page 1, your content is unlikely to get many visitors from Google. So why not make the effort and get some links to some of your posts that are stuck on Google’s page 2 and 3.

Don’t know how?

Well here are 7 ways to get backlinks that will help you start ranking higher.


Guest on Travel Podcasts

Podcast usage is increasing, mostly, due to the fact that you can multitask while listening to them. For example, many people enjoy them while commuting, washing the dishes, doing laundry etc. Podcast fans represent a huge untapped audience and one that is mostly ignored by online content creators.

Not only do very few people create their own podcasts, they rarely pitch to be a guest on other people´s podcasts. This is a big opportunity being missed.

Guesting on podcasts is a lot easier than landing traditional guest posting gigs is. Not to mention the fact that appearing on podcasts has the added benefit of giving you a break from writing.

Here are the top benefits of guesting on podcasts and gaining powerful backlinks:

  1. You receive tons of traffic just as you would if you wrote a guest post.
  2. You don’t need to create new content. All you have to do is answer the podcast host’s questions about your expertise (we all have one)
  3. You get to connect with your audience on a more personal level. They hear your voice and get a glimpse of your personality. This enables you to form a far stronger connection with them than the written word does.
  4. You get great backlinks, from the show notes, for your homepage and often for any articles you mention.

Getting featured on a travel podcast is a simple 3 step process:

1. Find email address

2. Pitch what you want to talk about

3. Arrive on time for the podcast interview

First, you need to find the email address of the podcast host. You can usually find that information on the “about me” or “contact” page. Or, you can use a free Chrome extension like Voila Norbert or Snov.io. With just one click, these find and show you all of the emails that are connected to a domain.

When using Hunter, you can even type in the name of a person and search for his or her email address.

Next, you need to send him or her a kickass email explaining why they must have you on their podcast.

When writing my emails, I like to leverage the “6 factors of influence” that Robert Cialdini revealed in his book ‘Influence’. For those who don’t know – Cialdini is to the science of modern persuasion what Henry Ford was to automobiles.

Here are the 6 factors:

1. Social Proof

People are more likely to do something if others are doing it too. That is why we like to read Amazon reviews before we buy a product. If an item has a 4 and 5-star rating, aka social proof, we are more inclined to buy it than a recently listed product that has no reviews. Good reviews create a “tried and tested” vibe. To us, positive buyer reviews provide social proof that the product is worth buying.

So how can you include some social proof in your email?

There are lots of ways to do it. For example, you can mention a couple of your recent podcast appearances. Or, perhaps a couple of recent guest posts, a major award you have received, etc. In short, anything that shows you in a good light and relevant for that podcast.

2. Consistency

People are hardwired to be consistent, in all areas of their lives. Once they take a decision, they try to make sure all future behaviour is consistent with it. 

To make use of this principle, reference a podcast they have already done which talked about a topic that is similar to the one you want to talk about. This helps the website owner to realise that they like the topic, which makes it more likely they will agree to let you revisit the subject as a podcast guest.

3. Reciprocation

This is the simplest influence principle to apply. It is effectively – you scratch my back, I scratch yours.

We tend to return the favors others do for us, even little ones.

Therefore, you could mention one of their podcasts that you shared on Facebook, Twitter etc. Or how you have told your blogger friends about their podcast, something they know helps them to reach more people. Only say this if you really have done it. Honesty really is the best policy.

4. Liking

People listen to people they like and trust. Building trust takes a while. But, you can get them to like you fairly quickly.

Complementing them about their work is a great way to get your likeness meter to climb. When doing so, always be specific and reference something that you genuinely like. For example – “Episode 24 where you talked about health and sanitation was sooo good. I did not know that squatting toilets are common in India and that I would need to carry toilet paper with me while travelling there.” This is way better than using a general comment like  “I love your podcast, great work”.

Cheap praise is worse than no praise at all.

The other way to get someone to like you is to be more human. Way too many people write their emails like robots. Often, what they write is void of any emotions and far too formal. They use awful stiff sentences like “ Looking forward to your favourable response”. *Puke*

You really want to let your personality shine through. Write as if you are writing to a friend. Use informal language and avoid the standard things you expect to hear in outreach emails.

5. Authority

People have a tendency to obey figures of authority. All kinds of things can represent authority to us. For example, job titles and uniforms are both signalling mechanisms that indicate authority. You are more likely to take the advice of a dentist for your tooth problem than your aunt’s home remedy if you have just those two opinions.

Using authority in your emails is a tricky one. You can’t say that you have a Ph.D. in travel or that you are the three times backpacking champion.

So, here is what you can do:

Mention the number of years you have doing what you are pitching about. Let’s say you want to talk about making money by selling your travel photography online. You should state the number of years you have been selling your snaps for. Generally speaking, the longer you are involved with something, the more you know about it.

Secondly, you can mention, the kind of results you have achieved, to date. Continuing with our last example about selling pictures, you can mention the money you have made so far or the kind of places your photography has been featured. Even if you have not been doing it for long but have had impressive results, the host will definitely want to have you on his or her podcast.

6. Scarcity

The shorter the supply of something, the more you want it. That is why sales pages have those “deal ending in” counters. They really do make you take action right then and there.

To be honest, I have not yet found a way to use scarcity in my pitch emails and don’t think it necessarily applies in this instance. You don’t want to sound too pushy so it might be best avoiding this one.

So those are the principles. Here is an example pitch email. It is for “7 things you need to know before you travel to South East Asia”:

To make your job even easier, here is a huge list of travel podcasts you can appear on.


Pitch to travel blog directories

There are tons of travel websites that selflessly maintain a list of other travel blogs. It is really great to see how supportive the travel blogging community is. Thanks to these lists, thousands of readers find hidden gems and upcoming bloggers can easily get more exposure.

To get listed on these directories, all you have to do is send an email to the blog owner. But before you send the email, carefully go through the fine print mentioned on the page itself.

Some blog owners ask for a link in return for adding your site to their list. Usually, this is a bad deal for you. Sure, you get a link, but it is usually a weak one. However, in return, they get a strong link from an actual blog post on your website. I would suggest that you only email those bloggers which will include your site on their list without asking for anything in return.

To find travel blog directories, just search for the following query in Google – “Travel blog directory”

To save you the trouble, I have compiled a list of the best travel directory sites. Included in the list is the contact details you need.

LINK TO GOOGLE SHEET(Make a copy of it)

Remember to use the email etiquette you learned above when approaching these site owners.

Find Collaboration Opportunities in Facebook Groups

Collaboration posts are where the travel blog owner invites other bloggers to contribute content to a topic. For example – a blogger might ask for contributions for an article like  “The best places to visit in Paris with children”

All you have to do is send one or two paragraphs to them to contribute to the post on their website. Think of it as a mini guest post. You could perhaps suggest visiting the Eiffel Tower and add something a bit more unusual like the fact the Aquarium has a petting pool or that you can book children’s cooking classes in Paris.

The effort required to contribute to a collab post is way less so, ROI wise, collaboration posts can be an easier approach than guest posts.

Here is a list of facebook groups where you can find collaboration opportunities:

Travel Collab Post Opportunities

Circle of Travel Bloggers

Next Level Travel Blogging

The Aspiring Travel Writer

DNW – Making money from Blogging

Just search for collab in the search bar and sort by most recent results like this:


Make Link building buddies

This link building strategy was introduced to me by Glen Allsop, founder of viperchill.com in this post. Basically, you, along with a couple of travel blogging friends, link out to each other’s sites whenever you guest post on a third-parties´ website.

This is how it works:

When you publish a guest post on someone’s site, you not only link to yourself, as normal, you also link to one of your link building buddies. Your link building buddies do the same when they are guest posting on other sites and links to you.

This approach enables you to get way more juice out of your guest blog posting efforts than if you are just getting one link every time you write a guest post.

Don’t overdo this so it looks unnatural though, you should always respect the place you are writing the post for, always writing great content and only including links to resources that add to the content of the post you’ve written.

Reverse image search

Your images are a link-building goldmine. As you know, sourcing good travel pictures takes a ton of time and effort. Understandably, most site owners resort to using other peoples pictures.

If you want to build links using your images, you need to make sure that they are easy to find. To do that, just upload them to Flickr and categorize them under Creative Commons. This step is very important. Categorizing pictures under Creative Commons tells anyone that they are free to use the images if they link to your site along with it. Most people comply with this and link to your site when they use your pictures. There is no other link building tactic as passive as this.

While most people do link to your site, there are always those lazy ones who don’t bother. So, how do we deal with them?

First of all, make sure you only upload your very best pictures. Ones that people are the most likely to use in their posts.

Why not upload everything, you ask?

Well, this is because you will be using Google Reverse Image Search to find out which sites have ended up using your images and check you have got the requested link. Therefore, you really do not want too long a list of photos to wade through.

After you find the sites that are using your images and not linking to you, all you have to do is email the site owner and ask for the accreditation link. Nine out of 10 times, you will get your well-deserved link.

Travel SEO Support

The Travel SEO support group is a Facebook group that is run by the lovely people of Two Scots abroad and Savored Journeys

This Facebook group is aptly named. Joining them will take your blog’s SEO to the next level. Here you can even set up three-way link exchanges with other travel bloggers.

A three-way link exchange looks something like this – Travel blogger A links to Travel blogger B. Travel blogger B links to C and Travel blogger C links to A. This is a crazy effective way to build great backlinks and help others at the same time.

Three-way exchanges are better than two-way ones. This is because two-way exchanges are super easy for Google to detect. In the past, they were heavily used by spammers to manipulate rankings.

However, in my experience even two-way link exchanges are beneficial. Just be careful not to use them too often and do them in a natural way. If you want to be completely safe, just take part in three-way exchanges, which are slightly more difficult to arrange.

The way it works is that someone shares details of an article that they need links for, along with articles on their site that they are happy to link out from. Mentioning your Moz DA is also required. This enables people to decide if they want links from you or not. Usually, people prefer to exchange links with bloggers with a similar DA to theirs.

Bloggers who are interested in an exchange, comment on the post. From there, you add the commenters with whom you wanna exchange links to a group chat and discuss how it will be done.

Get listed on Blogroll pages

I bet you have at least a dozen friends in the travel blogosphere which you check out, and leave comments with, regularly. Visit them again and see if they have a section similar to “Blogs I follow” or “Blogroll”.

Many blog owners like to share a list of blogs similar to their own or ones that they like, with their readers.

Sending a simple email asking to be included will bag you a solid link. Of course, if you already know the blogger, it will be easier to get the link. Even if you have not talked to the blogger before, you can use the principles shared in the first tactic to write a persuasive email and get your blog mentioned. If your website is similar to theirs it is an even more effective way to build backlinks.

SUMMARY

So there you have it people – 7 super effective tactics to get solid links to your travel blog. If you choose just one of these that appeals the most and apply it you’ll undoubtedly see an improvement in performance. If you can develop things over time so you cover many of them then you’re performance will make great strides forward.

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Here’s How We Gained 29,072 Visits With One Piece of Content

Writing fantastic content is important for many reasons; conversion, engagement, brand loyalty and SEO amongst them.

If you’ve been trying to get away with cheap and nasty content just for the sake of getting a particular number of words on a page then you need to start reassessing why you are creating content in the first place.

In the travel industry people want to be wowed and be drawn into a story that excites them and entices them. ‘Good’ won’t do if you want to be found by that person in the first place, and then engage them when they find your content.

In this post I am going to run through the exact process we use when writing new content for ourselves and clients that gives it the best possible chance of performing well and bringing in new visits and potential customers.

Nearly 30,000 Visits With One Page

Proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say, so to illustrate the success of this approach I’ll be using an example we created for our client Roma Experience around Palatine Hill, a particular attraction in Rome.

This piece of content attracted 29,072 visits through organic search to their site in 2018 alone, and ranks highly for a wide variety of competitive and well-searched for phrases.

This is also the process we’re following when creating the content for our Live Case Study site on pages like this. If you’re not already, you can sign up to follow along with exclusive updates and insights on that here.

So buckle up, make yourself a nice brew and get ready to make notes…

Start With Keyword Research

As with everything we do, the first job is always keyword research. If you don’t know what people are searching for, how do you know what to write about?

There are a variety of ways of coming up with ideas for keywords to target. My two favourites are:

  • Analyse competitors to see what phrases they rank for
  • Input head terms into a keyword tool and see which variations it suggests

I recently wrote about the process we use for keyword research so I won’t regurgitate that, but if you want to know more you can see that here.

These are also fantastic keyword research resources:

Backlinko – Keyword Research for SEO (see the Creating Niche Topic List section in particular)

Keyword Research with Ahrefs

Putting yourself into the mind of your audience and considering all the possible topics they might search for is a great way to get ideas outside the box that your competitors aren’t targeting.

For our Roma Experience example, we decided to think about all the individual attractions that users might be interested in visiting if they were going to Rome.

We then took those attractions and put them into a keyword tool to find out if they were well searched-for and, if so, which ones were searched for the most.

We ended up with a selection of great options, like Palatine Hill, St Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum.

Which Phrase to Target?

Once you have decided on the topic you are going to target with your content you need to plug that into your favourite keyword tool to see which phrase people search for the most and what other variations people search for.

This will form the basis of many key elements on your page, like the URL, headings and general structure.

Pick Your URL

We found that the simplest variation, ‘palatine hill’, was the phrase variation with the most volume, so that is what we used as the URL for the page:

https://www.romaexperience.com/palatine-hill/

Your URL should reflect the most competitive phrase you want to target with the page as it is a key ranking factor and we consistently see a strong correlation between ranking performance and the URL of the page.

The most competitive phrase won’t always be the shortest one, so be aware of that when doing your research to avoid reaching the wrong conclusion for such an important element of the page.

Plan Your Structure

Whilst you are in the keyword tool and finding out what the phrases are with the most volume you should also be paying close attention to the modifiers of that main phrase.

These modifiers will tell you how you should structure your page, and what you should use for sub-headings throughout the content.

We found people were searching for phrases like ‘palatine hill tickets’, ‘palatine hill facts’ and ‘what is palatine hill’ so these all became sections of the page when we created it.

You can also use Google’s predictive search for ideas of sections you should include in your content. This is based on phrases it believes are semantically related and also commonly searched for, so is a strong indicator that including them will pass on the right signals.

You should also look at the pages that are already ranking highly for the phrase you are targeting and use those as a guide on what sections you should build into your structure.

Wikipedia is renowned as being extremely well-structured and so is an excellent place to look for ideas.

We looked at other high-ranking pages and found them using headers such as ‘What to See on Palatine Hill’ and ‘How to get to Palatine Hill’ so we also incorporated those sections into our page.

On Page Features

So we know what we are targeting, we know the sections we are going to use, it’s time to start writing.

But there’s more to a great page than just reams of prose.

To give your page the best chance of ranking you need to make sure you include certain features that illustrate to Google that the content is structured well and includes everything it would expect to find.

Header Tags

You should have a sensible header tag structure on the page that illustrates how the content is formatted.

Your main title should be an H1 tag, then your main sub-headers should be H2 tags, then any headings within those sections should be H3s.

Too often we see header structure all over the place, because headers are being used for styling instead of structure. That is bad habit that many web designers use and you need to get fixed if you have been lumbered with it.

(If you’re interested in web design which avoids those bad habits we might be able to help ;))

Intro Paragraph

You should start your page with a quick summary of the topic and what the page is about.

This allows Google to immediately see relevant phrases high on the page, as well as being an important factor in trying to gain featured snippets in the position 0 spot.

It shouldn’t be too long, but should include the phrase you are targeting with the page somewhere (if anything ours is a little long on the Palatine Hill page).

Internal Page Menu

When you are creating in-depth pages like this they will generally be quite long and have a high word count, so including a table of contents is good for user experience as well as giving Google a clear signal as to the structure of the page.

This table of contents is essentially made up of links that jump to the relevant section on the page. As well as reinforcing the structure they can also help you gain sitelinks in your search result that help attract the users attention in improve click through rate.

Images and Other Media

Good content is not just made up of text, it relates to everything that makes up the page, such as images, video, tables, bullet points and more.

Including as many different types of media and formatting will make the page richer and more appealing to the user. This leads to all kinds of positive signals, such as visitors staying on the page longer, which then results in a page ranking better too.

This comes with the caveat of ensuring that using images and video doesn’t slow the page down too much. Images should be compressed and optimised for the place they are being used and used to a reasonable extent without overdoing it.

Videos should be hosted in a way that allows them to load quickly (usually embedding from Vimeo, YouTube or other third-party platforms).

Internal Links

You should always link to other relevant pages on your site from your content.

This shows that you have a site with other relevant information and creates a strong silo that also helps towards ranking performance. When Google is looking for experts on the topic it can see you are not just a one-trick pony and cover the variety of topics that would be expected of an authority in the area.

External Links

As above, it makes sense that if you are an authority on a topic then you will reference other good quality sources and authorities.

Google uses links as its key way of indexing the internet, so it follows that it will like pages which help it carry out that job in an effective way.

We often use a further reading section to incorporate this, which also brings with it an added bonus of providing outreach opportunities to tell those people they featured on your page (which may lead to shares and links coming your way).

Page Speed

Once you’ve written your content, created the page, uploaded media and have the page ready to go you want to check the page loads quickly.

All that effort will be in vain if it takes ten seconds to load. Users won’t hang around and search engines won’t be interested in delivering it to their users.

Compress images, host video in the right way, get the relevant caching in place and do everything you can to create a quick page. If you’re not happy with it then remove some images or dial back some of the formatting on the page to help make it quicker.

But What About Keyword Density?

You’ll notice I haven’t talked about keyword density, TF:IDF, LSI or anything else related to how many times you should include particular phrases in your text. And with good reason.

When you are writing content you should write it for users and aim to create something that reads brilliantly, gives the user all the information they need and is presented beautifully.

If you do that, combined with the guidance in this post, you will naturally end up with a page that has the right phrases included a sufficient amount of times.

There is no magic number that will suddenly make you rank fantastically. If Google sees the right phrases on the page and it is surrounded by semantically relevant words and phrases then you will be in a fantastic place to rank well (and for a wide variety of phrases, not just one or two).

That’s not to say there won’t be some tweaks and honing to do once the page is live, but you’ll be 95% of the way there by following the tips above, without needing to get too technical or aggressive with keyword placement.

Final Tips

There are no guarantees in SEO, so even if you follow all the advice above it’s almost certain some of the content you create will struggle to reach page 1 at best, and flop at worst.

Don’t despair.

Different keywords have different levels of difficulty, and sometimes there are things going on in the search results that we can’t understand, even as experts who spend every day analysing them.

But if you follow this process time after time you will undoubtedly end up with some pages that do hit the mark, and it only takes one or two to bring you a significant amount of visits from your target audience and gain top rankings.

As you can see with this example, a small independent tour operator has had 30,000 more people become aware of their brand in 2018 because of one piece of content.

The best bit is that the St Peter’s Basilica page got more than 18,000 visits, the Colosseum page more than 14,000 and there are various others that continue to drive visibility upwards. This isn’t an isolated occasion or fluke. If you follow the process here for enough pieces of content it will drive more visitors to your site who are interested in what you offer.

It takes a bit more time and a bit more effort, but if you do it right there is no doubt you can grow your business significantly and sustainably with this approach.

So next time you’re thinking about rushing out a 500-word blog post about the first topic you think of (because you haven’t published something for a week) nip that thought in the bud and turn to the keyword research table, start some proper planning and take a strategic approach that can deliver you thousands of eyeballs from the people who will buy from you.

You can read the full case study of how we combined this activity with other approaches to increase Roma Experience’s organic traffic by 2,800% here.

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SEO QUESTIONS
Our FAQ for A Luxury Travel Blog

Is there a question about SEO you were always too afraid to ask?

Well, I wanted to help out the readers of A Luxury Travel Blog so asked them last month what one question they had about SEO that I could answer for them.

Here’s the result…



Are links still important?

In short, yes. But quality is the most important thing to focus on with links and not get sucked into the trap of just chasing lots of links on any site out there.

You can see some great posts below on link building which include really solid tactics for getting links which bring sustainable results:

Jon Cooper – Link Building Strategies

Brian Dean – Link Building

Hobo Web – How to Build Links in 2018

How often should you publish blog posts?

There is no perfect answer for this question as it completely depends on what time and resource you have available.

However, I would change the question slightly to focus on what kind of post you publish. It’s far better to post once a month with a really fantastic, well-researched post than once a week with a quick 300 words that you threw together.

I’d recommend making an editorial calendar based on how much time you can spend on high quality, in-depth posts and then sticking to that. Whether it’s a post a day or a post a month, that is the best approach.

Is it possible to tailor SEO to raise visibility in the mobile search results?

Google has recently moved to the mobile first index so having your site optimised for mobile devices is more important than ever.

You don’t need to do anything specifically different for mobile/desktop SEO, the main thing is to make sure that the user experience on all devices is seamless and lets them engage with the site in an effective way.

Is it better to have lots of pages on your website?

Having lots of pages on your site is good, with the caveat that they need to be good quality pages. Having lots of pages that are of a low quality will actually harm the performance of your whole site.

So if you can publish lots of high-quality, useful pages for your visitors then more is definitely better. But don’t just publish anything purely to increase the number of pages you have, as that will actually have the opposite effect.

What are the best SEO Tools?

If you are on a budget and want one tool to do lots of things for you then I would highly recommend Ahrefs.

This allows you to check technical issues, do keyword research, analyse competitors and do link building. Essentially everything you need to improve your SEO performance.

There are lots of fantastic SEO tools out there and lots of posts listing them, so I’ll stick with that as my recommendation if you need just one.

Is it good to have lots of images?

Images are naturally very important for travel websites as you want to entice users to dream of visiting the places you are selling.

However, it’s important to find the right balance of great images and good website performance. Too many images will slow your site speed down so that you don’t rank as well and nobody finds you or sees the images in the first place.

We recommend avoiding large image sliders as they weigh heavily on site speed and users don’t sit and watch them. The main thing then is to make sure that all images on your pages are optimised for the place they are being used – there’s no point having a 3MB image for a tiny thumbnail

Do you have any tricks for getting links on big sites?

By big sites, I am assuming we mean places like national newspapers and publications like Lonely Planet and National Geographic.

These are incredibly influential on SEO performance and certainly worth doing everything you can do get coverage on them.

I recently wrote about the importance of PR on SEO, and would certainly recommend people carry out more traditional PR approaches to get this kind of coverage.

You can also read a case study I wrote here on how we get featured on lots of big sites in one fell swoop with our content marketing activity that allows smaller sites to gain coverage on top-tier publications without needing to break the bank.

How many times should I use my keyword on a page?

The true answer to this is that you shouldn’t just have one keyword per page.

The best approach is to establish a topic and create a really in-depth page that covers multiple phrases within that topic.

For example, you might have a page about safaris in Kenya. This wouldn’t just be targeting ‘’safaris in Kenya’, it would also target lots of variations of it like ‘Kenya safaris’, ‘luxury safari in Kenya’ etc.

If you build out a good quality page that is tailored to the information the user wants, then you don’t necessarily need a keyword to appear lots of times. Google is now very intelligent at knowing what phrases and synonyms are related, so it’s more important to get lots of those different variations on the page rather than the same phrase over and over again.

If you only had 1 hour per week to do SEO what would you do?

It depends.

If I have an established site with some good links already pointing at it then I’d spend it writing really good content.

If I was a brand new site then I’d spend the first few months writing great content, then move on to focus more on promotion and getting some great links, before going back to content.

All that assumes you’ve got your technical aspects in order, but you may need someone with more specialist expertise to help with that, and it’s less of an ongoing activity and more of something to get right at the start.

How do you track SEO success?

There are lots of metrics you can use, and the more things you track the better picture you will have of how your site’s performance if changing (and hopefully improving).

I would always track rankings for a selection of key phrases. Don’t get bogged down with just one or two, follow at least 20 or 30 that are spread over different pages of your site so you can see how things change at page level as well. You might have an issue with one page in particular and the rest of your site stays the same which you wouldn’t know if you only tracked the biggest phrases that your homepage is targeting.

Organic traffic is also an important thing to monitor so you can see how much traffic is coming to your site from search engines. You might no improve your rankings much for competitive headline phrases, but if you write lots of great content around other topics you could still see some strong improvement in traffic from good quality visitors.

Finally, bookings and enquiries are the most important one. Better rankings and more traffic is only good for you if it results in more business and profit for you. You can set up goals in Google Analytics so you can see where conversions are coming from and analyse what the most profitable traffic sources are for you. Once you have that information you know where your marketing spend is best placed to keep you growing.

If you have any more questions you would like answering or things that need clarifying from this post let me know and I’ll run a follow up if people find it useful!

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About the author:

Tom Mcloughlin

Tom formed SEO Travel in 2011 when he saw the struggle agencies were having offering a quality service to companies in different industries. Having worked in SEO, PR and as a writer, as well as travelling extensively, he brought together all his skills to offer a specialised service for travel companies. The company has grown from there as we have continued to get great results for clients and steadily attracted new business.

Ready for an increase in organic traffic?


The post SEO Questions appeared first on SEO Travel.

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Introducing Our Live Case Study…
Say Hello to the Travel Aisle.

I decided it was time to put my money (and reputation) where my mouth is.

There are a lot of people on the internet saying an awful lot of things about digital marketing, and more often than not they have no evidence behind them to support what they are saying.

I didn’t want to be another one of those people, so I thought we would start a project that illustrated everything we’re doing with clients, in real time, and hopefully give a clearer and more transparent view of what should happen in what continues to be a fairly murky industry.

And so, we present to you, The Travel Aisle:




WHAT IS IT?

We’re not selling a product or service with The Travel Aisle, so it naturally needed to follow the format of an advice site. However, we think we can still show our audience some key aspects of what’s involved in building, optimising and marketing your website online with this approach whether it is a booking site, ecommerce or just a brochure site too.

The plan is to post regular updates here on the SEO Travel blog as the site develops, showing you how and why we are doing things so you can take those learnings and implement them yourself.

We’ll also be reserving some of the extra special tips for subscribers to our newsletter. This isn’t to try and appear overly mystical, it’s just to make it slightly harder to see some of our favourite nuggets of information so that only those most committed to putting it into action can benefit. Fear not, I don’t do any ‘selling’ on the newsletter, it’s always just pure value, so don’t worry about being bombarded with promotional nonsense.

If you’re interested in receiving those extra special additional insights sign up below:


[avia_codeblock_placeholder uid="0"]

The goal of this process is to take one more step into the direction of transparency (in an industry that really needs it), and hopefully help a few people along the way who are struggling to find the right information online in marketing their travel website.

I can give you my personal guarantee that if you follow the tips we share along the way here (the plan is for this to be ongoing so it will last years not months) then your website will make progress.

On the other hand there is no guarantee this site will be a success. It’s a nerve-wracking situation for me, but I’m confident in what we do and the success we see for clients. Fingers crossed I don’t end up with egg on my face…

But, in the event the site does bomb, I know there will be great learnings along the way, and that’s the most important thing in our industry. If we can bust a myth or two along the way, and learn a couple of new things then it will be worth it.

Here’s to an exciting and nerve-jangling few months ahead, I hope you enjoy the ride…

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https://i2.wp.com/seotravel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/road-1.jpg?fit=1920%2C1280&ssl=1 1280 1920 Tom Mcloughlin http://seotravel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/logo-dark-large3.png Tom Mcloughlin2018-02-11 20:20:232018-02-19 13:39:1321 Travel Companies Getting Their Digital Marketing Right (That You Can Copy in 2018!) https://i0.wp.com/seotravel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/content-marketing1.jpg?fit=2048%2C1135&ssl=1 1135 2048 Tom Mcloughlin http://seotravel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/logo-dark-large3.png Tom Mcloughlin2017-05-22 12:12:452017-05-31 13:04:34Case Study: How We Gained 11,304 Extra Visits in 2 Weeks with Content Marketing https://i1.wp.com/seotravel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/123-Blog-Post-Ideas.png?fit=1200%2C627&ssl=1 627 1200 Tom Mcloughlin http://seotravel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/logo-dark-large3.png Tom Mcloughlin2017-04-24 17:41:222017-05-31 13:06:02123 Blog Post Ideas for Travel Companies

About the author:

Tom Mcloughlin

Tom formed SEO Travel in 2011 when he saw the struggle agencies were having offering a quality service to companies in different industries. Having worked in SEO, PR and as a writer, as well as travelling extensively, he brought together all his skills to offer a specialised service for travel companies. The company has grown from there as we have continued to get great results for clients and steadily attracted new business.

Ready for an increase in organic traffic?


The post Introducing Our Live Case Study appeared first on SEO Travel.

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