Creating a successful content strategy will take you a long way toward developing a successful website, but it is something that very few travel businesses pay enough attention to.
Some businesses are still to be sold on whether investing in content is a good idea, but when you look at websites like The Culture Trip investing in creating 3,000 posts a day, it’s hard to believe that content shouldn’t be on everyone’s to-do list in some shape or form.
However, even for those who are convinced content is a good area to spend time and money, there are very few who know the best way to invest that resource.
Most are blogging on an ad-hoc basis with no wider plan as to how all the words they’re writing tie into the rest of their website and business.
That is where a content strategy comes into play which guides you on what to create and when.
What’s the Starting Point?
Not all travel content strategies are created equal, so it’s important to assess where you currently stand in order to make the right decisions about where to start.
For example, if you are a small site with no links then starting your content production focused on long posts targeting hugely competitive keywords probably isn’t the best approach.
Likewise, if you’re well-established and have a strong link profile creating content purely for links might not be the best investment of your time.
The first thing you should look at is whether your priority is attracting links from your content, or whether you already have lots of links and want to focus on content which will rank for phrases in Google and drive traffic.
If you are a brand new site or have a small link profile I would recommend focusing on content for links first.
If you are well-established and already have a decent link profile then you could probably move straight onto content for traffic and see some good results from that.
So how do we approach those two things?
If you’re a new website with no links or an established site with few links, then focusing your content efforts on creating content aimed at acquiring links initially is likely the best option.
Once you’ve acquired some links with this content you can then move on to the content for traffic and have a much better chance of ranking well and attracting traffic.
You can see below some different approaches for creating content that attracts link to your site:
If there’s one thing the linkerati loves, it’s statistics.
Creating pages on your site that covers key statistics relating to your industry is a great way to pick up links over time when journalists or bloggers and looking for sources to reference.
This might be a list of the key statistics relating to travel in Greece if that is where you run tours, or a page based around family travel numbers for more general travel agents.
This isn’t a quick win in getting lots of links fast, but if you create enough of them they can build a sterling link profile for you over time.
A more immediate solution to getting links is by doing research and creating studies that highlight new findings. A classic PR play, this gives you new material to pitch to journalists and get coverage and links on top tier sites.
It can also work quickly, as by reaching out to the right people and telling them about your new findings you can start seeing the links roll in almost straight away.
This can be done on a budget by small companies by combining existing data sets to create new results, as shown by this example we created for a client that was featured on Lonely Planet, the Independent, and a variety of other top-tier publications.
Content for Resource Pages
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. If you want to get featured then you need a resource that is 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 the process you can follow.
In travel, this could well be pages linking to the best guides about destinations.
Opportunities also lie in more niche areas like guides to accessible travel in a particular location which can be extremely useful and linkable.
Creating a quality podcast worth its salt obviously takes time and effort, but by doing so you’re creating a truly linkable asset.
There aren’t many people out there doing this which inevitably makes you stand out, and the amount of content out there highlighting ‘the best podcasts for XYZ’ offers a huge opportunity for picking up natural links.
The other natural benefit is that if you create a podcast, you’re not just getting links, you also drive:
- Brand recognition.
- Visibility on other channels.
- Thought leadership.
- The opportunity to connect with influencers.
- Potential partners.
- And so much more.
An oldie but still one that can offer huge value if executed correctly.
Creating a round-up post gives you the opportunity to make connections with key people, and if you choose wisely then you may find people to include with Press pages on their own site which links to places they’ve been featured.
There’s loads of fantastic travel content being shared every single day, so you should never be short of inspiration on what to include.
Once you’ve created enough posts aimed at link building and started to pick up some momentum then it’s time to move on to your content for traffic.
Once you’ve established a good foundation in your link profile the focus can move to content aimed at driving 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.
Create Audience Personas
Audience personas get a bad rap, but if you keep it simple and use them correctly they can really help you devise a content strategy that reaches the right people.
The main reason they exist is 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 ‘people’ who you have a loose description of, you can then use this to guide what content they create.
We’ve found it particularly useful in identifying what the shoulder interests are of our clients. 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 in order to get in front of the audience and then feed them into the travel element?
Do Keyword Research
Once you have your personas ready you can delve into keyword research.
You’ve thought about who the audience is and now it’s a case of identifying the things they search for the most.
Follow a process like this to identify the phrases with the best volume, but also the wider opportunities that are available.
You shouldn’t be thinking about which 5 or 10 phrases you want to rank for, you should be thinking about all the phrases that are relevant to you and your product or service.
In travel, the funnel is huge, with 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 place or simply reading about individual attractions.
You shouldn’t move on until you’ve thought long and hard about what could be involved in that journey.
Do a Content Audit
Once you’ve identified all the phrases which are relevant to you it’s time to see if you’ve covered them already.
Cross-reference the keyword research with your current rankings and identify content that needs to be created, improved, or updated.
Once you know what content you’ve got and what you 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 and will help you build out sections of the website which rank well more quickly.
The best way to do this is by taking your keyword research and categorizing it into different topics.
Some of the keywords can be targeted with one post, whilst 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 ‘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 extremely relevant and well supported.
You can then roll this out across different topic areas until you’ve covered all your key areas.
Structure Your Content Correctly
Once you know which pages you’re going to 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 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 make sure it is linked together well. Ideally, this will be in a structured way rather than doing it ad-hoc in links within content.
A table at the start or end of the posts that links to all other pages within that cluster shows Google very clearly they all belong together.
Finally, it’s time for the writing itself.
Make sure you use the right structure and any particular keywords that you are targeting with the article.
We analyze the pages ranking on Page 1 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
One area often forgotten in a content strategy is the pages that actually do the selling!
You spend all your time and effort driving more people to your site with content, but then don’t update the text on key pages that will help convert those visitors into customers.
People who find you a bit further down the marketing funnel might decide they’re interested in your offering and want to find out a bit more.
Where do they go?
The About Us page of course.
So make sure when you’re putting all your efforts into writing content that you spend some time on your About page (creating one if you haven’t already!), ensuring that it drives home all your key messages and feeds people one step closer to making a purchase.
In travel, you’re competing against so many huge brands so it’s imperative you get people to trust you immediately.
Include signals including which publications you’ve been recommended in, testimonials from existing customers, and links to review sites wherever you can.
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 would be interested in and ask for their email address in exchange for the content.
Once you have that email, you can nurture the relationship. For example, by remarketing to those people.
Another forgotten part of the content strategy process is actually reviewing how it is performing.
It’s possible to create something that performs really well straight out of the box by following the processes above, but there will always be areas you can improve 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 coming to the site.
You will reach a point in the production process where going back and updating older content may well 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.
It’s important to emphasize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach here. You need to work out what areas you are lacking in and prioritize accordingly from the options and approaches above.
By doing that you will spend your time in the best places which offer the opportunity to see a return on your content investment sooner rather than later.
One thing is for sure though, ignoring content altogether will leave a huge hole in the net of where potential customers could be finding you, and how many convert when they do.
by Tom McLoughlin