Getting traffic to your website is a top goal for any tourism business owner. But SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, seems so old, like it’s been around a hundred years. Nowadays it’s all about Instagram, Youtube, Facebook ads and influencer marketing. But guess what, tourism SEO is still number one. By a longshot. For most travel businesses Google Search traffic exceeds 60% of all traffic sources, even paid traffic. Don’t believe me. Ask your webmaster to have a look at your Analytics. I’ll bet you it’s more than half of your visitors and those social media referrals and other channels don’t even make double-digits.
But here’s the thing: most business owners have a bad case of Shiny Object Syndrome, and are always chasing the latest social media gimmicks, or whatever their digital marketing agency is recommending. So if SEO is still important, why is no one talking about it and everybody keeps declaring it dead? Because it’s hard to do, takes commitment, and the payoffs are often far in the future.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if there was a way to establish your authority on a subject, bring in cold traffic and boost your search rankings, that could be done (relatively) easily without breaking the bank? There is, and in the SEO world, we call them ‘Hub Pages’ or ‘Guides’ and they should be a key element of your adventure travel marketing strategy.
In the most basic sense, Hub Pages are a collection of articles, videos, podcasts and related content that serve as an online course on a subject. The point is, you create and source valuable content, and arrange it almost like a Wikipedia page on whatever niche is important for your business. This showcases your depth of skill and knowledge and your prospects will quickly get to know, like and trust you, and the traffic results can be staggering.
It used to be that your blog was just a big dumping ground for whatever you felt like writing. Got some new gear over the winter? Blog about it. Did a reno on the lodge? Write a blog post. Think people are searching for fun stuff to do this summer, write a blog post titled ‘Fun Stuff to do This Summer.’ Then stick them all in your blog and eventually (and thankfully) they’ll just get buried and forgotten about.
Well things have changed. Nowadays, if you want to rank higher than page 100 on Google for anything, you’d better put some strategy into it. Begin by taking a high level view of your tourism business. Who are your ideal clients? What do they care about? What is your point of differentiation or value proposition? Spend some time, or get some help figuring that out. Then brainstorm what keywords you need to rank for. Keyword research is kind of like cooking a steak, there’s no one way to do it, but the techniques are pretty much the same and you know it’s done right by the final result. My technique is very similar to this one from Brian Dean at Backlinko. I also like Keywords Everywhere as a great free tool and Chrome plugin, and Answer The Public.
Once you know your keyword strategy the next step is creating a content calendar to map everything out. So for example, if you’re a fishing operator in southern Alaska, you might wind up with a partial list that looks something like the following:
King Salmon Fishing in Alaska
Flyfishing Rivers in Alaska
Equipment for Fishing in Alaska
Wildlife Viewing in Southern Alaska
First Nations Experiences in Alaska
Planning a Trip to Southern Alaska
Choosing a Fishing Lodge in Alaska
Alaska Grizzly Bear Tours
Aim for ‘evergreen’ content here, stuff that has a long shelf life and that your prospects will find valuable for a long time and consider both blog posts and videos.
If you’ve been doing any amount of blogging, video or photography, you may very well have some great content pieces ready to go. Or perhaps you’ve got some that just need a refresh or update. Mark those down and commit to getting them fixed up. Blog posts should be long form, in depth articles that show off your authority and knowledge of your niche. Aim for at least 1000 words or longer, with embedded images, video and graphics if you have them.
For stuff that’s totally missing, you’ll need to create it from scratch. This is where things get difficult for many travel business owners, especially if you don’t have a writer or blogger on staff and don’t have the time to do it yourself. If that sounds like you, don’t worry, there are several ghost blog writers out there, some focussed on the outdoor travel niche, that can deliver high quality content for a lot less than you’d think. To make things go as smoothly as possible, make sure you have a list of keywords, reference articles and at least a basic outline.
Google likes to see you linking to outside sources as well as creating your own valuable content, so go and find a few other articles on your subject, ideally from high quality editorial sources like magazines, industry blogs or even your DMO, that a reader would find useful and informative.
Ideally by now, you’d have at least 12-15 articles, split into about 3-4 categories with searchable H2 title tags and descriptions, including at least one curated piece for each category. Now, this is the important part: the Hub Page is a ‘web page’ and should contain your most valuable keywords you want to rank for in the URL and be in your website’s main navigation. The individual posts all go in your blog, while the Hub Page itself has the post titles and two-way links to them, and outbound links to the curated posts. This valuable, keyword rich content and linking structure, internally and externally, is what Google deems important to your Domain Authority and what will rapidly boost your ranking in search results.
Since it’s unlikely your competitors are doing any of this, you can quickly dominate your niche. As a proof of concept, John Jantsch was able to get in the top Google results for ultra competitive searches such as ‘marketing strategy’ and ‘mobile marketing’. Have a look at the page here to study the structure and linking strategy and imagine what you could do with Hub Pages for a far less competitive niche in the tourism space.
You’ll quickly begin to see traffic to this page, so don’t let it go to waste. But before that traffic comes, ask yourself what you want visitors to do. Do you want them to request a call, fill in a form or book a trip? At the very least, consider offering a ‘content upgrade’ on this page, such as an ebook or something just valuable enough to get a visitor to opt into your mailing list. Even if you don’t get an email address you can run retargeting ads to any of these visitors on Facebook if you have the Facebook pixel installed on your site, so there are plenty of opportunities to move this new incoming traffic into your funnel.
Hub Pages also serve like a giant FAQ page that your prospects will find valuable for getting to know, like and trust you. And for high dollar value trips, that have a long sales process, these pages can even be a powerful sales tool for your sales team.
And there you have it.