In the digital business space, getting to the top of search results is a make-or-break situation. After all, the higher your rank in search results, the more likely people will visit your site. It’s no joke: sites that appear on the second page of Google’s search results see 95% less users than websites on the first page.
So what can you do to get your website to the #1 spot on the first page of search results? Well, it’s not a question that has a clear-cut solution (heck, there’s an entire industry that revolves around doing just that), but there are a few ways that you can D.I.Y yourself onto the top.
Optimize Your Website
There’s something to be said about clean, easy-to-use websites that put them right at the top of search results, and there’s a good reason: an accessible website gets more traffic because people prefer using it, and it helps if Google can find it with SEO, and it helps even further when that website can be accessed anywhere at any time.
There are tons of techniques you can do to optimize your website so it’s more likely to appear on search engine results, and while it’s always best to rely on your professional digital services provider, you could work on it with your company’s web development team. If you’re going to work on optimizing your website on your own, here are some things to keep in mind:
Clean Up Your UI/UX
UI/UX refers to ‘user interface/user experience’ and it’s a concept in web design that forwards the idea that a digital tool’s user interface should be intuitive and easy-to-use so as to positively impact the overall user experience. Basically, if a website makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for and easy to navigate, it makes their experience of your website positive and, ideally, enjoyable.
This means a few things: first, you need to make sure that your site’s sub-pages (e.g. your About Me, products and services pages, Contact Us, etc.) are neatly organized into easy-to-read tabs and categories. This goes a long way into creating a site map that’s easy to navigate and overall better for users and search engines.
Don’t Forget Mobile
One more thing: make sure your site is accessible both on desktop computers and smart devices like smartphones and tablet computers. Remember: more than 2 Billion people access the internet via their smartphone, which accounts for 51% of all internet users. That’s a pretty big customer base that you shouldn’t alienate by having a website that isn’t accessible via mobile.
Of course, if you want search engines to find you (and believe us, you want search engines to find you), you’re going to have do a little bit of SEO.
SEO is the Way to Go
SEO refers to “Search Engine Optimization” and it’s a series of practices that involve making your website more visible to search engines. SEO refers not just to a single discipline, but rather, a collection of elements that web developers need to think about in order for search engines to find your website better.
Here’s how search engines work: when a website is created, it’s logged into the registry of a particular search engine. When an internet user searches for something, the search engine uses a program to sift through the registry to find the most appropriate website. For the search engine to know what the “appropriate” website is, it matches certain words (called keywords) that are present in the website and compares it to the words that a user searched for.
Once the search engine finds websites that match the keywords used by the internet user, it then makes a list of these sites and, using a few other factors, determines which sites go to the top. It’s a complex discipline and it’s best you rely on a dependable SEO services provider to help with your SEO needs.
But what exactly are these ranking factors that Google and other search engines use to find websites? Well, the exact details of that are kept a secret (don’t believe any digital marketer that says they have the one-and-only way to rank!) from the general public, but there are certain factors that have been proven to work, both for ranking websites on Google search results and providing customers with a positive experience.
One of the most important aspects of keeping your website at the top of search results is activity; that is, the more active your website is, the more likely Google will place it as number 1. Active websites are websites that receive a high volume of internet traffic –whether it’s site visits, comments on your blog posts, or constantly updated products and services pages –on a regular basis.
Refresh Your Pages
Google loves seeing websites that get a lot of traffic because it tells them that people like your website, they like what they see, and they trust what you’re giving them. One of the best ways to do this is to refresh the pages of your website with fresh content as often as possible. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you have to change everything about your site on a daily basis; rather, make sure that your pages are constantly up-to-date with relevant information.
But perhaps one of the best ways to have constant, high-volume internet traffic on your page is to maintain a blog. With a blog, you can create content that’s relevant to your customer’s needs and can link back to your main website. More on this later.
Engage Your Customers
Another ranking factor that Google appreciates is engagement; that is, Google likes it when a website interacts with its users, and vice-versa. The more users engage with a website, the more a search engine thinks that the website is relevant for a particular set of keywords and other ranking factors.
But how do you engage customers on your website? There are tons of ways to keep them engaged, and you are limited only by your creativity: start conversations on your blog by having a comments section, site surveys of what customers want to see on your website, heck, some websites even have mini-games. Whatever it is, however, just make sure it’s still relevant to what your customers want and it doesn’t interview with good UI/UX.
Keep People on Your Site Longer
One of the main goals of engaging content and fresh pages is to keep people on your website longer. The amount of time people spend on your time is measured by digital marketers in terms of ‘bounce rate’, and it refers to the number of people who leave (i.e. bounce) the site rather than staying. The lower a website’s bounce rate, the better, because it means people are staying on your website, and the longer they stay, the higher your chances of converting them into leads, and potentially, turning them into customers.
It also looks good on search engines: in particular, Google loves websites with low bounce rates because it lets their algorithms know that the site is relevant to a user’s needs and is engaging enough for people to stay, which ultimately means that the site is trustworthy.
Content is Always King
So now we know that your website needs to be optimized and it needs to be active, and that to do those things, you need content that is relevant. But what exactly does that mean? Well, to put simply: your website needs content that people actually care about. In the 21st century, marketing collaterals that exist solely to advertise a product or service simply don’t cut it anymore.
Rather, consumers in the digital age want more than just being told to buy something, which means your content needs to be able to address key issues and pain points they have about a particular topic. Having a blog in your website is one of the best ways to not only drive traffic to your site, but it also works to increase your website’s trustworthiness and overall value for your customers.
Of course, no one can accurately predict every single your customers will have about a particular issue that your company is involved in, but there are certain types of content that remain ‘evergreen’, which means it will be forever relevant to what your company does and the kinds of issues your customers face.
Take a good, hard look at your products and services and the most common pain points and issues people have about the industry you’re in and create content that addresses them. Remember, this is better than creating post after post about topical issues that would be irrelevant to users in the future.
Personal Value = Engagement
The more value your content offers your customers, the more likely that they’ll be engaged, which ideally leads to them being more likely to patronize your website. Again, the digital age has made marketing much more customer-centric, which means consumers are looking to buy products that add value to their lives; the age of ‘brand-centric’ marketing is over, and people want products that have use rather than prestige.
It’s one of the reasons why evergreen content is important: it’s the type of content that answers important questions and issues people have over a particular topic, and if you’re able to provide that in a concise, informational, and overall enjoyable manner, then you’ve already won half the battle of coming up at the top of search results.
Getting your website to the top requires a complex series of disciplines that professional digital marketing service providers can do for you, but if you want to do it on your own, just make sure you have the bandwidth to learn as much as you can about these ranking factors to, ideally, get your page at the top of search results
7 Ways You’re Wasting Your Time with Outdated SEO
If you’re reading SEO articles from 2013 and applying them to your content today, you’re doing it wrong. If it gets to 2025 and you’re still reading this article… you’re also doing it wrong!
There are some cornerstone principles in SEO and a lot of good advice from great sources. However, if you’re getting too much of your advice from older sources, you could inadvertently be practicing bad SEO. With this topic in particular, you can’t afford to take too much out-of-date advice.
When Does SEO Go “Out of Date”?
There’s a lot of good stuff that comes in old packages. You can learn some valuable lessons about how SEO works, and how it worked historically, from articles published by authority sites years ago. The catch is that you shouldn’t put tactics or specific strategies into action unless they’re targeted to Google’s latest algorithm updates (other search engines too, but mostly Google).
Search engines regularly update their algorithms in a constant effort to keep providing users with the best results possible. Every time a new, significant update is released, it’s time to re-evaluate your SEO strategy to make sure you’re still doing all the right stuff.
Everything can change in an instant. One minute, it’s all about exact match keywords, and the next day people are talking about LSIs and long-tail keywords to promote their SaaS products.
The point is that SEO is an ever-changing practice. Search engines may know we’re doing it, but whenever we get too good at it, they just change up the rules again. For that reason, there’s no time limit or specific expiration date for good SEO practices. But, with every update, you need to learn what’s in and what’s out so you can use your time and effort wisely.
If you’ve been taking advice from older content, even if it’s from authority sites, or if you haven’t updated your SEO strategy in a while, it’s time for a quick check-up. Make sure you’re not falling into any of these time-wasting SEO traps!
7 Ways to Waste Your Time with SEO
#1 Stuffing Keywords Everywhere
Image source: Freepik.com
We can all agree that keywords and key phrases are important. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they might be your competitors trying to sabotage your efforts. However important keywords are, it’s time to stop pretending they are the end-all-be-all of SEO. Stop throwing awkward keywords all over your content and expecting that to help you rank. Stuffing is just plain bad SEO today.
Hopefully, you’ve heard this advice before. But, considering how easy it is to find content online that’s full to the brim with awkward phrases, out of place keywords, and obvious stuffing, it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge yet. You can still find people pushing the idea that a 1-3% keyword ratio is ideal, using exact match keywords only. This is a great way to get penalized as a spammer!
People hate reading stuffed content, so search engines updated algorithms to detect awkward repetitions and keywords or phrases that are overused or out of place. If your site is overflowing with keywords, you’re unlikely to get the first page or earn a high ranking at all.
What to do instead: Focus on making content that’s valuable and beneficial in some way to your site visitors. Use keywords, but make sure they blend into the content seamlessly, rather than trying to fit awkward exact match phrases into an article. Spend more time perfecting keyword placement rather than keyword ratio.
#2 Having a One-Track Mind
Repetitive keywords and phrases are never a good idea. If you’re putting the same optimized phrases in every SEO title, tag, meta description, alt tag, captions, etc., it’s time to switch it up. Often, when a search engine detects repetition like this, it will consider it spam and won’t count any of these things towards your ranking.
You need to focus on creating unique content that’s relevant to what you’re posting or the pages of your website. No two pages should have the same meta descriptions, titles, or otherwise. Stop cutting and pasting keywords and key phrases to fill in the blanks.
What to do instead: Write unique everything whenever possible. If you have a lot of content, focus on a few keywords, and remote them out into otherwise unique and useful content. For pages that have numerous image alt tags, opt to have a few images with unique alt tags (even if some are blank) rather than all page images having the same alt tags.
One of the ways you can write unique content that caters to the various kinds of your audience is creating user personas. This way you can get really granular with what every kind of user wants and deliver targeted content to them that solves their specific pain points.
#3 Stressing Over Exact Match Domains
Clever things to do back before 2012 or so was to get an extra keyword associated with your business by putting it directly into the domain name itself. Although it sounds logical, it makes somewhere between minuscule to absolutely no difference today. A 2012 Google algorithm update made exact-match keywords in domains far less important and the usefulness compared to the quality of the site overall.
The biggest problems with exact match domains are that they look spammy, they limit your business activities, and there’s no solid data showing they’re worth the sacrifice. It’s not essential to get an exact match domain.
What to do instead: Choose a flexible domain name that can grow with you and that doesn’t make people cringe at the thought of clicking on your links. Example: Acmecameres.com versus Bestpolaroidcameras.net
#4 Focusing on the Wrong Devices
Image source: Freepik.com
As of November 2019, just over 52% of internet users worldwide connected via mobile, compared to a little over 45% on computers. If you narrow it down to Europe alone, that changes to 53% mobile and 43% of computers. Who are you targeting with your SEO?
If you’re building your entire site around desktop view and optimizing everything for computer users, it’s time to update your strategy. User experience is a major ranking factor, meaning your site needs to be attractive and easy to use for all people. Sites that focus exclusively on desktop users are notoriously difficult to navigate on a mobile device or tablet.
What to do instead: Optimise your website for a seamless experience on any size or type of device. You should have a useful mobile site that works on small and large phones as well as tablets of varying sizes. The desktop version should still exist, but you shouldn’t be so invested in making that the best version of your website. There’s a good chance of more than 50% of your site traffic is coming from mobile users.
Also, look into having dynamic content that gives recommendations to users. This can be adjusted to give more mobile-specific or desktop-specific recommendations based on usage. It’s a great strategy to keep people moving around your site.
#5 PBNs and Bad Links
Are people still using PBNs (Private Blog Networks)? This has always been considered a semi-black hat SEO trick, meaning it could get you in big trouble if you were discovered. Some site owners would take the risk because of the fast results. In case you’re considering it for yourself: It’s not a thing anymore.
The cost and time needed to set up an effective PBN today could be better spent doing actual SEO work. To rank for a competitive keyword, you could waste thousands of dollars (not an exaggeration) and tens to hundreds of hours setting up dummy blogs. With that amount of capital and time, do something worthwhile, such as a legit link building strategy.
What to do instead: Launch a guest posting campaign to get your links from legit, existing sources. Guest posts on authority domains can give you the link juice you need without risking a penalization from Google.
#6 Pretending That Voice Search Doesn’t Exist
Image source: Pixabay.com
You can put your head in the sand, but voice search is already here and is only set to increase in use from now onwards. Here are a few interesting snippets about voice search:
- 20% of searches on mobile are done through voice search
- 40% of adults use voice search regularly
- Almost 50% of people use voice search for product research
- From 2008 to 2016, the number of voice searches increased 35x
- 16% of Americans own smart speakers at home
There’s a lot going on with voice search. It may never fully replace text search, but it’s a convenient search method in certain situations. We can expect voice search to keep growing. It’s not just a short-lived trend.
What to do instead: It’s time to accept that voice search is a common thing and begin optimizing content for it. Product-related searches and answers to questions are the perfect place to start. Increase your page load speed, structure your content in a favorable way, optimize for casual/natural speed keywords, and shoot for local SEO.
#7 Writing Super Short Content
You may have read an article or two a few years ago talking about how long-form content is dead. These predictions did not come true. In fact, the opposite has turned out to be the case.
Short-form content is often seen as cheap or unhelpful. Some people may just want a short answer, but a majority of users place higher trust on websites with long-form content. They assign automatic authority to the site. We just don’t see this happening with short-form content.
For reference’s sake, long-form content is anything above 1,200 words, with short-form being anything below that. True long-form content is likely to be 1,500+ words.
The problematic assumption is that no one wants to scroll through such a long piece of content on your site. However, content consumption and customer experience metrics show that’s not true. People do enjoy long-form content, and many people seek it out as opposed to shorter pieces of content on the same subject. A thorough, well-thought-out piece of content that answers every question is better received than a short piece in many industries.
What to do instead: Add long-form content as a regular part of your content marketing strategy. You can gradually begin writing and posting more long-form pieces to build up the attractive links on your site.
A quick disclaimer: Long-form content is only good when you format it properly. No one wants to read a 5,000-word article without paragraph breaks or a 3,000-word blog post that’s not spaced out with subheadings, shortlists, appropriate screenshots, etc.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information out there. With so many sources writing about SEO all the time, there’s also outdated information that’s not relevant today. It’s tricky to wade through the sea of information to find something that’s both useful and still relevant, but it’s worth trying!
If you’re still practicing any of these bad SEO strategies, it’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new to get your site back on track towards page 1.
8 Ways to Building Links & Getting Press Coverage for Your Travel Brand
As with any business or brand that has a website, building links is an integral part not just to remain visible but to get found whenever someone looks for a product or service online.
While some experts believe link building no longer has a direct impact on SEO, some industry leaders believe otherwise.
However, for brands to thrive in the travel industry, they don’t only need link building to stay relevant, they need press coverage as well.
In this blog, we will discuss the most effective ways to building links as well as the methods to getting press coverage for your travel brand.
What are the 8 Ways to build links and get press coverage for your travel brand?
1. Guest Posts
In SEO, guest posting or guest blogging is writing and publishing content for another website that is within the same industry. The main goal is for the guest blogger to promote the brand he represents. This is where guest blogging services become important.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to building links and is beneficial to both parties, which are the host website and the guest blogger.
- The host website needs regular quality content for their audience to consume. Fresh and updated helpful content drives people to keep coming back to the site.
- Guest bloggers need websites where they can promote their brand.
Here are other benefits of guest posting for your travel brand:
- Brings traffic back to your site
- Boosts your domain authority
- Gets exposure for your brand
- Connects you with a new audience
- Build connections with peers in your niche or industry
2. Resource Pages
A resource page is a webpage on a website that contains a list of useful links and resources for a specific topic. Having your site listed as one of the resources on these pages is a great way to build links for your travel site.
Using resource pages for travel link building can help to increase your brand’s relevance. This is because the links listed on resource pages are related to the topic at hand.
Resource page link building is too immense to cover for this blog and so here are comprehensive guides from the SEO industry’s top content providers.
3. Press Trips
Press trips are paid trips for travel writers that are funded by organizations in exchange for content creation or exposure for a specific brand. It is a way for a state or country, city, resort, or a private brand to get positive publicity.
Examples of these organizations are:
- Public relations firms
- Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs)
- PR companies
- Private brands and
- a tourism body
The main purpose of press trips is to allow travel writers or journalists to write articles based on their personal experiences in a specific travel destination.
Here are some DMOs for press trip opportunities:
- International Media Marketplace (IMM)
- TBEX Europe and TBEX North America 2020
- Travel Media Association of Canada
- IPW | U.S. Travel Association
- Society of American Travel Writers
- North America Travel Journalists Association
- The World Travel Market (WTM)
- International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association
- Travel Classics Writers Conference
- Visit Europe Media Exchange (VEMEX)
4. Product stunts
Product stunts are effective ways to get a lot of links and attention from the press. These stunts are often temporary and unconventional. They could be a hilarious YouTube video or an interactive landing page.
The content should be original and relevant to an audience and that it kindles strong emotional reactions. A product stunt that goes viral can make a brand famous overnight, as well as get tons of backlinks.
Although not travel-related, one good example was Sony’s cool, interactive landing page that has amassed more than a thousand backlinks.
The landing page was for Sony’s “be moved” campaign. It showcased the collaboration between the engineers and artists for the brand’s products.
5. Dream Job Stunt
Another method that is sure to get press coverage is the dream job stunt. The process involves creating an eye-catching job offer that often runs for a short period of time. It often comes with a contest with a hard deadline.
A dream job stunt can generate a lot of attention if done well.
The best example is when The New York Times launched its search for a travel writer in 2018. The contest gained tremendous attention especially from the thousands of writers who are vying for this dream job.
The winner of the contest was given a bucket list of assignments and travel to places such as South Korea, Chile, and New Orleans. Besides that, the winner becomes a content creator and the face of the brand.
Dream job stunts have become a new and exciting way for brands to get publicity and help writers jumpstart their careers in the travel niche.
6. Visual content
Image-based online content is considered as visual content. They come in the form of:
- Online videos
- Memes and
- Slide decks
It is necessary that you include visual content as one of the ways to building links since visual social media platforms are growing rapidly.
For instance, a poll conducted by HubSpot reveals that the trend in online marketing is heading towards visual content.
The results showed that of all the business owners who participated in the poll:
• 33% plan to use Instagram
• 48% plan to add YouTube
• 39% plan to add Facebook video
…as distribution channels for the coming year.
Here are more stats to give you an idea of how important visual content is.
- Visual content has a higher chance of getting shared on social media than other forms of content according to a Buffer study in 2014.
- Next to blogging, which is 38%, the percentage of marketers who said that visual content is the most important form of online content used by businesses is 37%.
- Over 67% of small business owners admitted that video content had a direct effect on their business.
- According to research by LifeLearn in 2015, the people who have heard about an information only remember 10% of it 3 days later. On the other hand, people retained 65% of the same information that has a relevant image.
- There was an 80% increase in the people’s willingness to read a piece of content that has colored visuals (Xerox, 2014).
- A 2015 study by Social Media Examiner showed that 71% of digital marketers use their visuals in their social media marketing.
7. Surveys & Unique Data
Data is one of the ways PR agencies and businesses get decent press coverage, increase brand awareness, and direct sales. Getting press coverage through data is an excellent marketing tool for business owners and marketers alike.
Take note that people in general read data stories because they are insightful, useful, or surprising. However, it’s about how it affects people and it’s not always about the numbers.
Since data can be somewhat confusing and the main points often get buried, here are guide questions if you want to create content that’s worthy of the media’s attention.
- Does your content offer something new to the readers?
- Does it highlight a specific problem?
- Does it support or contradict a claim made by a person in power?
- Does it help the readers in making a decision easier such as how to vote or where to shop?
To make your content clear and meaningful, you have to deliver it in a way that makes it easier for people to relate to. You have to talk in terms of per person, per day, or per week.
8. Paid Links
Although buying for links is taboo and getting caught results in being penalized by Google, there are a handful of brands that are paying for placements on websites and travel blogs.
Surprisingly, there seems to be a demand for paid links in the travel industry, according to Ahrefs.
However, you should not attempt to buy links unless you have enough experience in the field.
There are no definitive ways to build links that will work 100% of the time. As a travel brand, you need to mix the methods for link building and getting press coverage that will align with your overall SEO and digital marketing strategy.
If you want brand awareness or exposure, you’ll need to do the stunts mentioned above.
Press trips and guest posts work well if you want to promote a specific set of products. Why? Getting a little bit more outcome in the content and to get it more product-oriented is under your control.
Surveys, data, and visual content can help you if your goal is to generate top-of-funnel organic traffic.
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