Tour and activity business owners, operators and marketers want to know more about a tiny little word that’s thrown around often: SEO.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of setting up your website to gain better visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The goal is to earn your website one of the top spots on Google and other popular search engines.
Done correctly, SEO can significantly increase your web traffic. But without fully understanding the process, it’s likely to produce little more than a headache. That’s why we’re here to give you the skinny on this packed word.
- Focus on high quality content – that’s the way to win.
- Earn high quality links from authoritative sites linking to your company’s website.
- Build a better website and book form experience. You want user time on site, book form conversions and organic search traffic to climb, and bounce rate to fall.
1. Submit your site to Google Search Console
A submission of your website through Google Search Console isn’t a necessary step to be seen in Google search, but a brand new site or a site with big changes can submit its URL directly to help the Googlebot quickly add your website to Google’s index.
2. Prove you’re secure with a https site
Having a secure https site, rather than an http site, is important for SEO. It’s a lightweight signal for now, but Google is only going to put more emphasis on the importance of having a secure website in the future.
Work with your website developer and your website hosting platform to make this happen.
3. Measure success with Google Analytics
SEO isn’t all about ranking. A better way to measure SEO success is to look at your Google Analytics account and see if organic traffic from search is increasing, and making you money. (PS – here’s how to automatically track sales sources and conversion metrics in Google Analytics from online bookings with FareHarbor.)
4. Optimize meta descriptions and titles
Meta descriptions and titles don’t have an impact on search ranking, but they do affect your site indirectly. Use them to entice a searcher to click through to your page’s results instead of elsewhere. And, guess what: click through rate is Google’s #1 ranking factor in 2015.
5. Value intent over exact matches
The days of filling your website with exact match keywords are long gone. Instead of matching keywords typed into the search bar, Google now matches the searcher’s intent with the general intent of your page.
Google looks for synonyms related to your target keywords. By using synonyms and related terms, it matches your end goal to the searcher’s end goal. If it finds your page to have relevant and quality content, Google will send the searcher to you.
6. Write clear, succinct headlines
Write a stellar headline – somewhere between 4-9 words – to inform people, not search engines. Present your most important concepts upfront and close to the top of the page. Remember, you’re optimizing your page for users first and foremost, which means that you want to tell them ASAP on what your page is about through a clear headline.
7. Stay away from keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the practice of filling a webpage with as many keywords and meta tags as possible. While this technique worked in the early stages of SEO, it’s now a prohibited practice and will negatively affect your SEO.
8. Stick to the basics on your homepage
Your homepage doesn’t need a lot of content, but it does need some. Your homepage content should be lengthy enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located, your value proposition, and what visitors should do next (book a tour!).
Visitors should leave satisfied, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed — and definitely not confused.
9. Focus on the quality of pages, not quantity
You don’t need a whole bunch of web pages. That’s not necessarily better. Focus on the quality of pages, not quantity of pages.
10. Think critically about user experience
Good user experience is a requirement. Google uses website engagement as a part of their ranking algorithm. Use your Google Analytics to ensure your site has a fast page load time and an average of at least 2.5 page views per visit.
11. Utilize alt text for all your site’s images
Optimize your images using alt text and descriptive image file names to boost your page relevance.
12. Make sure it’s mobile-ready
This one’s a no-brainer. You must have a mobile optimized site. Websites that aren’t mobile optimized saw an average of 5% decline in organic traffic in 2015. Work with a website developer to make sure your site is mobile-ready.
Off Site SEO Tips:
13. Create a solid Google My Business account
Local SEO is a new player in the game. Verify and optimize a Google My Business Account with a brand and location page. Looking forward, Google will continue to take steps to show the best local content in search results.
14. Network with influencers in your industry
Backlinks are important. Link building with quality sites is still one of the top 5 most important ranking factors. Never pay for links. Connect with people in your area or in your space, organically requesting they add a link to their site about you on their partner page or in a blog post.
15. Keep your backlinks clean
Google knows if you have suspicious sites linking to you. Get rid of them, or you will see a drop in rankings. Monitor your backlinks in Google Search Console, then disavow any suspicious links pointing to your site.
SEO affects all corners of your marketing strategy, from website content and technical site makeup, to user experience and influencer marketing. But in the end, it’s about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query.
The better their experience with you – from your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) listing and the quality of your content, to the user experience of your site and book form — the better your organic search traffic will be.
Many of these tips were inspired by a great article on SEO myths demystified for 2016.