Written by Tom McLoughlin –
The advent of the internet gave travel companies a whole new avenue for exposure.
Where once you may have had to rely on outdated brochures, grainy photos, or (worst of all) Uncle Gary’s boring slide show about his trip to Bermuda, now anyone can create, curate, and share photos, videos, and stories from their vacation in seconds.
And while this is great for exposing people to lesser-known attractions and must-see destinations, it has also created massive competition for web traffic.
You can’t post yet another image of someone propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or recreating the cover of Abbey Road and expect to attract visitors.
To stand out in an over-saturated field, you need to find a way to separate your content from everyone else, drive traffic, and capture the eyeballs of your targets.
And ad-hoc blog posts just aren’t going to cut it. You need a content strategy.
Not sure what that is? Maybe you have a vague idea but no clue where to get started when it comes to creating one?
Or just want to brush up on the essentials and polish your existing content strategy? You’re in the right spot.
In this piece, we’ll dive deep into developing a content plan of attack for your travel business and equip you with the knowledge you need. Let’s get started.
How To Get Started
If this is your first time developing a content strategy, the task may seem overwhelming, and you may be unsure where to start.
Take a deep breath; creating a great travel content strategy is easier than you think.
The best place to get started is at the beginning. And that means assessing where you currently stand to make the right decisions about what to do next.
For example, if you’re a small site with no links, starting your content production focused on long posts that target highly competitive keywords probably isn’t the best approach.
Likewise, if you’re well-established and have a strong link profile, creating content purely for generating links might not be the best investment of your time.
To decide where your time is best spent, you should decide on your priority.
Do you want your content to attract new links? Or do you want to focus on driving traffic by ranking for phrases in Google?
If you’re a brand new site or have a small link profile, I recommend focusing on content for links first.
If you are well-established and already have a decent link profile, you can probably move straight into creating content for traffic.
So, how do we approach those two things?
Strategizing For Links
Google’s search algorithm values quality links to your site.
But what if you’ve just launched your website or been running it for a while, but you don’t have many incoming links? The answer is obvious: You need to acquire some links.
Once you’ve created content that accomplishes this, you can then develop the type of content that generates traffic.
These two things working in conjunction will give you a much better chance of ranking well and attracting traffic, but more on that later.
In the meantime, let’s look at some different approaches to creating content that attracts links to your site.
Make Them Refer To You
If there is one thing bloggers love, it’s statistics.
Creating pages on your site that cover key statistics relating to the travel industry is a great way to pick up links over time when journalists or bloggers are looking for sources to reference.
This might be a list of the key statistics relating to travel in Greece, a page based on family travel numbers, or a list of Southern California’s most popular tourist destinations.
If you have the stats, someone will need them.
This isn’t a quick win that will get you lots of links fast, but if you create enough of them, they can build a sterling link profile over time.
Don’t Forget Your Studies
A more immediate way to get links is by researching and creating studies highlighting new findings.
This is a classic PR play that gives you new material to pitch to journalists that can get you coverage and links on top-tier sites.
If it’s seen by the right people interested in your new findings, you can start seeing the links roll in almost immediately.
This can be done by small companies on a budget by combining existing datasets to create new results.
For example, this piece we created for a client was featured on Lonely Planet, the Independent, and various other top-tier publications.
Be A Resource
Note: This is not creating resource pages!
There are lots of quality resource pages out there that list the best articles on a certain topic. To get featured on them, you need a resource worth linking to.
Fortunately, you can create one and then pitch it!
There is no one approach for this, though using the quality of the pieces already on the page should be a good guide. This guide breaks down one process of creating one.
In travel, this could be things like pages linking to the best guides about destinations.
Opportunities can also lie in more niche areas like guides to accessible travel in a particular location. If it’s useful and linkable, it can serve as a resource, which means links.
Try Your Hand At Podcasting
Creating a quality podcast worth its salt takes time and effort, but by doing so, you’re creating a truly linkable asset.
A quality podcast, particularly in a unique niche, will help you stand out.
Not to mention the amount of content out there highlighting “the best podcasts for XYZ” offers a huge opportunity for picking up natural links.
Other benefits include:
- Establishing yourself as a thought leader.
- Connecting with influencers.
- Establishing potential partnerships.
And so much more.
Roundup What’s Happening In Travel
An oldie but still one that can offer huge value if executed correctly is the roundup, a.k.a. “what’s happening in (blank)” posts.
This allows you to connect with key people, and if you choose wisely, you may find people to include with press pages on their own sites.
Referencing them will often lead to links from the people who have been featured.
Loads of fantastic new travel content are being shared daily, so you should never be short of inspiration on what to include.
Once you’ve created enough posts for link building and picked up some momentum, it’s time to move on to your content for traffic.
Plan For More Traffic
Okay, we’ve got the strategy for generating links sorted. Now let’s move on to developing the type of content that will drive traffic.
When you reach this stage, following the process below should give you a good structure for creating content that succeeds in increasing your search visibility.
Audience Personas Are A Great Help
Audience personas get a bad rap, but if you keep it simple and use them correctly, they can help you devise a content strategy that reaches the right people.
They exist mainly to create a clear picture of who you’re targeting with your marketing.
This doesn’t have to mean all the bells and whistles of names, job descriptions, and hair colors. It can simply be a prompt to identify who might buy your product or be an amplifier for your business.
If you come up with a few personas with loose descriptions, you can use this to guide what content they want.
We’ve found this particularly useful in identifying our clients’ shoulder interests.
In other words, just because we’re marketing for travel companies doesn’t mean the audience is only interested in travel.
So, why not create content that caters to those shoulder interests, too? This lets you get in front of the audience and feed them into the travel element.
Keyword Research Pays Off
You’ve thought about who the audience is, and now it’s a case of identifying the things they search for the most. It’s time to dive into keyword research.
Follow a process like this to identify the phrases with the best volume, but don’t neglect the wider opportunities available.
You shouldn’t think about the top five or even 10 phrases you want to rank for.
Instead, you should consider all the phrases relevant to you and your product or service.
In travel, this funnel is huge because there are so many areas that people research before making a booking.
This might be the best time to visit a place, what to do in a location, or simply details about individual attractions.
You shouldn’t move on until you’re satisfied you’ve covered everything that could be involved in that journey.
Know What You Have
Once you’ve identified all the phrases relevant to you, it’s time to see if you’ve covered them already.
Perform a content audit and cross-reference the keyword research with your current rankings and identify content that needs to be created, improved, or updated.
Group Things Together
Once you know what content you already have and need to create, it’s time to start prioritizing what to work on first.
Focusing on topic clusters is a great way to do this because it will help you build out sections of the website which rank well more quickly.
You can do this by taking your keyword research and categorizing it into different topics.
Sometimes, multiple keywords can be targeted with one post, while others will be on the same topic but require a post of their own.
For example, you might have a post about “the best time to visit the Maldives,” but the keyword research also highlights that “The Maldives in November” also warrants a page in itself.
Once you’ve broken that down for all relevant phrases in your keyword research, you should create all the posts in one topic area first, rather than randomly picking posts across different topics.
This will create a good cluster for you and make all the content relevant, consistent, and well-supported. We’ll dive more into the writing process in just a bit.
You can then roll this out across different topic areas until you’ve covered all your key areas.
Build A Solid Content Structure
Once you know which pages you will create, it’s time to start creating them.
The first thing to consider is structure and making sure you use the best possible URLs and folder structure.
You don’t want to change this down the line, so ensuring it’s as optimized as possible the first time is key.
We usually use the main target phrase for the page as the URL slug.
Once you’ve created all the pages within a particular cluster, you also want to ensure they are linked together well. Ideally, this will be in a structured way rather than doing it ad-hoc in links within the content.
A table at the start or end of the posts that links to all other pages within that cluster clearly shows Google they all belong together.
Keep An Eye On On-Page Factors
Finally, it’s time for the writing itself.
Make sure you use the right structure and any particular keywords you’re targeting with the article.
We analyze the pages ranking on page one of search engine results for our target keyword and then pull together the header structure of those pieces to amalgamate into one ultimate post that covers everything.
Incorporate elements like a good header structure, external links, and a table of contents at the start for longer posts where necessary.
Create Content That Converts
Many people forget when creating a content strategy that the pages actually do the selling!
If you spend all your time and effort driving more people to your site with content but don’t update the text on key pages to help convert those visitors into customers, all your efforts were for naught.
Tell Them Who You Are
People who find you further down the marketing funnel might decide they’re interested in your offering and want to learn more.
Where do they go?
The About Us page, of course.
Make sure that when you’re putting all your efforts into writing content, you spend some time on your About page (including creating one if you haven’t already!).
Make sure it drives home all your key messages and feeds people one step closer to making a purchase.
You compete against many huge brands in travel, so you must get people to trust you immediately.
One way to do this is to include signals like which publications you’ve been recommended in, testimonials from existing customers, and links to review sites.
Something To Remember You By
Some people aren’t quite ready to enquire or buy right now.
How can you make sure these people see you again?
With content, of course!
Create downloadable assets that your audience will be interested in and ask for their email address in exchange for the content.
Once you have that email, you can nurture the relationship through activities like remarketing.
Creation Is Just A Start
Another important but often forgotten part of the content strategy process is reviewing, testing, and monitoring how it performs.
It’s possible to create something that performs well straight out of the box by following the processes above, but there will always be areas you can improve.
Identify these by:
- Monitoring how well different pages are ranking.
- Updating them to push them forward further.
Likewise, with conversion content, you can test different approaches and see what works best in converting visitors to the site.
You will reach a point in the production process where going back and updating older content may be more effective than simply rolling out more and more new pages.
This is especially true in travel, where destinations change, trends move, and up-to-date information is crucial.
As you can probably tell, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a content strategy.
Even though they’re both in the same industry, a tour company specializing in Southeast Asia’s content approach will be quite different from a Caribbean snorkeling guide company or even another tour company with a more general approach, for that matter.
Your content strategy will be as unique as your business.
One commonality among all successful content plans, regardless of industry, is their emphasis on addressing weaknesses and prioritizing accordingly.
Be honest with yourself and put in the work upfront. This will not only save you headaches down the road, but it will generate the kind of results you’re looking for.
And never forget: Your goal is to generate traffic and then convert it.
Keep that in mind, follow the tips listed here, and you’ll be sure to set your travel company up for digital success.
Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock