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SEO for the travel professional

Search engine optimization is an internet marketing strategy that considers how search engines work and what people are searching for. You can optimize your website for keyword phrases people would search for when looking for the types of vacations you provide.  For example “all inclusive vacations” is a search phrase.  When you do a search on any search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) you will get a list of results.  The top three, usually shaded and described as “sponsored” along with the results on the right and the bottom are “pay per clicks.”  These companies are paying for each time a person clicks on their listing.  This can get costly and typically only agencies with large advertising budgets can afford these.  The rest of the results are natural, or organic results.  There is no cost to the company for these results.

To get into the coveted natural results, preferably on the first page, you must optimize your web page for the search term you desire.  The first step is to research your search terms.  Keep in mind that terms such as “cruise” or “vacation” are very broad, are used by thousands,  and will not give you very good results.  If you do get listed for these terms you are likely to be on page 1000 where no one will see you.  If by some quirk you do get listed on the first page your website will get a lot of “junk” traffic and you will get a lot of shoppers and dreamers contacting you.  Use search terms as specific to what you want to sell as you can.  “7 night Western Caribbean Cruise” and “Oahu Vacation Package” are much better search terms.

Once you have compiled a list of keyword phrases specific to what you want to sell you can begin to optimize your web pages.  By optimizing your web pages you are making sure the search engines can index your pages for the right keywords.  The first step is to make sure your keywords are in your title.  The title is located in the code of your web page.  If you are creating your own web pages then it is in-between the <title> </title> tags.  If you have a Nexcite by Passport Online then it is in “search engine tools” when you edit a page.  You optimize one page for a specific keyword phrase, then another page for another phrase.

Content is king when it comes to website marketing.  It is not enough to have a list of all the specials you offer.  Detailed content on the destination, cruise ship or resort is very important. Choose what you really want to sell and develop detailed content on these products.

Link popularity is also very important.  While this can be a tedious and time consuming effort, it will pay off with good search engine placement.  Get other websites to link to your website.  The key is to make sure these other websites are travel related.  If you get your local plumber to link to your website it will actually hurt your rankings.  Yet, if you get your competitor to link to your website it will increase your rankings.  Create a page on your website for links to other websites.  Put a link to your “links” page on your home page and make sure this link is not dominant in appearance.  Find out who your competitors link to and literally email the webmaster and request a reciprocal link for your site.  Always make sure you offer the two way street of “I’ll link to you if you link to me.” Linking is also based on reputation and stature. If the New York Times links to you, your search engine positioning will be considerably better than if the monthly Podunk Times offers a link.

I will close with the best resource I have ever used.  It is called “Internet Business Promoter” and can be purchased at www.Axandra.com.  This tool will analyze any web page for the keyword phrase of your choosing and tell you what you need to do to get high rankings in the search engines.  You will also be able to set up a linking campaign complete with email templates so you can request links.  You can also monitor your rankings, submit your site to search engines and more.  This product will save you so much time and effort.  Good luck!

Pat Saizan, ACC, CTC owns Saizan’s Travel based in Altamonte Springs, FL (a home based agency hosted by Travel Planners International).  For more information, you can contact Pat at Pat@SaizansTravel.com.

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