Content marketing for tourism: how to win when you just can’t rank
Gone are the days when planning your next holiday began with purchasing the right guidebook. Eagerly leafing through chunky tomes to find the best restaurants, destinations and hotels has been replaced by equally eager scrolling through popular travel blogs and online forums.
But what does this mean for the businesses that depend on that internet traffic? Especially smaller agencies trying to compete with travel giants like TripAdvisor, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet?
When it comes to SEO for tourism, it’s all about small wins
There are hundreds of factors that affect how a page performs in search. Smart content marketers can use a knowledge of these ranking factors to beat competitors – for instance by writing more, including videos and inline images, and sprinkling keywords. Sometimes, however, it all comes down to a site’s credibility and you’re simply ‘too small’ to rank.
This is particularly true in saturated markets like travel and tourism. ‘Travel’ is tied with ‘free’ and ‘software’ as the most difficult single keywords to rank for in Google (92 per cent difficulty), according to Moz, and the rest of the top 25 is also stacked with keywords related to this sector, including:
- Flight (91 per cent difficulty)
- Hotel (89 per cent difficulty)
- Car (89 per cent difficulty)
- Trip (87 per cent difficulty)
In short, when everyone’s writing the same stuff, ranking can be impossible for smaller industry players.
At Castleford, we sometimes use what we call a Small Wins Strategy when faced with this problem. Here’s how it works.
How does the Small Wins Strategy work?
This content strategy evolved from our work for one of our travel and tourism clients who was constantly finding themselves beaten in search by bigger organisations. Our solution? Stop writing the same articles.
When you’re vying for small wins in search, you’re looking to answer the niche questions. A ‘big win’ for example, would be a top spot for users searching for things like, ‘What are the best beaches in Fiji?’ While this is a question many travellers will have, it’s also one many travel sites will have answered – and that means it’s going to be really hard to rank for it.
When you run the search, the first page doesn’t look too pretty for those trying to get a spot. Top results include:
- A bulleted Google Answers box in the first spot
- Three separate Trip Advisor pages, including a landing page and two forums
- Venture Fiji
- Lonely Planet
- Flight Centre
- Islands Magazine
— Islands (@islandsmagazine) June 13, 2017
Even if you write something better, different and more engaging, chances are you still won’t rank. But you could compete for some of the same users by answering a different question they’ll have.
Small wins would include any articles your users are searching for that your competition isn’t writing. So, if you’re trying to hit sunseekers in Fiji, why not write a more creative, niche article that answers user-friendly search terms like:
- Where can you buy beach equipment in Fiji?
- Which beaches in Fiji are best for young families?
- Hidden beaches in Fiji
Run a quick analysis of any of these and you’ll find some definite opportunities. The big guys still show up, but they aren’t necessarily answering the question your users are asking. If you can, however, you’ll have an excellent shot at ranking.
For our particular travel client, answering niche questions helped us rank on the top page – and the top spot – across a number of topics, including:
- Childcare services in Bali
- Nightlife in Vanuatu
- Hiking in Fiji
They key to our success was looking for small wins – we weren’t writing the best ‘things to do in Fiji’ or ‘Tips for visiting Bali with children.’ article. We found similar questions that had yet to be answered.
The final point to make is that, with fewer people in general searching for niche topics, a good Small Wins strategy needs to target lots of little topics in order to match the kind of traffic volumes you would get from dominating a big one.
Takeaway tips for content marketing in travel and tourism
Beyond using Castleford’s Small Wins approach, there’s a lot you can do to improve your search performance in travel and tourism.
- Ensure your site is mobile-ready. Many of your users will be browsing on holiday using a smartphone or tablet, so make sure your site looks good and loads fast on mobile.
- Up your word count and be different. Writing more is always a good way to rank, and if you do decide you want to put a more standard, general article up on the blog, think about ways you can make it different to your competition. If you’re writing a ‘best beaches’ article, for example, be sure to include some that aren’t showing up elsewhere and include unique information about best times to visit, secret coves and amazing snorkeling.
- Write media-rich pieces. When it comes to travel and tourism, pictures and videos are huge. To appeal to your users, stack your articles with heaps of Instagram embeds, tweets, photos and videos.