Your website is your most important online asset. A healthy website is crucial to the success of your online presence and for the majority of travel brands, it’s crucial to the overall success of your business.
It is also the online asset that you have the most control over in terms of content, look, functionalities, etc …. And the ability to change those as you see fit. This is the main reason why you need to invest in your website first. Social profiles, PR campaigns, YouTube channels and the like are all secondary to your website. Your website is the foundation in which those tactics are built on, which is to ensure that if one of those tactics fail you still have a solid foundation holding you up.
A healthy website has fresh content. You MUST be able to add that content yourself or in a way that is affordable. You need to take action now if you are in a situation where you are holding off on making website changes because the cost is prohibitive or the process is too complicated. Get control of your website or make sure it is with someone you trust.
When looking at your website design, the sky is the limit, but two of the more important considerations are mobile-first and speed.
Mobile-first is how your website is now being index by Google, the most popular search engine. Your website is now being ranked based on how it renders on a mobile device versus a desktop computer. This is because the majority of people now access the internet on mobile devices. So it is absolutely crucial that your website meets mobile standards.
Use Google’s mobile site tool to test how mobile-friendly your website is.
Because of this mobile-first approach, the speed of a website has become even more important. A slow website will literally prevent your site from showing up in a search result. Here is a tool that analyzes the content of a web page and suggests ways to make it faster: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
What we’ve talked about so far are elements of search engine optimization or SEO, which are basically the things you do to your site to help search engines know what it is about. Beyond the technical design aspects of SEO, which Google clearly defines, there is a more mysterious side. It is made up of a variety of factors that determine what search terms your website will be displayed for.
This secret recipe is held tight by search engines, but we can distill it down to a known fact – people use search engines to answer a question or solve a problem and search engines attempt to display the most relevant answer.
So when people ask – how do I get my site to rank on Google? The answer is easy – Provide the best answer to what people are looking for.
Take a moment and think about what types of questions your ideal customer would type in a search that your product can be an answer for. An easy place to start is with your actual inquiries. Are there any recurring questions people ask you before they book or purchase? Any barriers to purchase that need explaining. If so write some content on your website that answers those questions. Each answer should be its own webpage. This is where an active blog can provide value. If you don’t think you have the time or resources to do this just think about how many people found their answer somewhere else because you didn’t show up in a search result?
A great tool to help you decide on what particular word combinations or topics to use is Google Trends. It allows you to see what people are actually searching for. And you can filter by region, industries, time and more.
This is just the first of many in SEO, but it is an important one and if done properly you will see results. It is also achievable for most businesses without needing to hire an SEO expert.
Once you have all this great content on your website the next step is to drive some traffic to it through social media channels. We’ll save that for the next episode.
Scott Adams is the president of Birchbark Media, a digital marketing agency based in Peterborough, Ontario that focuses on helping to market and improve the online presence of travel brands and destinations both regional and abroad.