Ensuring that your travel agency website is visible and relevant to the internet’s search engines is an important strategic objective. Because travel is such a large segment of the transactional traffic on the internet, however, many travel agents feel daunted by the prospect of having to compete with the thousands of other sites for search engine ranking. Yet, with a bit of planning and commitment, a travel agency web site can find itself high in the rankings of the major search engines. The resulting traffic and potential for new sales opportunities can certainly justify the effort and time necessary to accomplish search engine optimization.
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Fortunately, the principles behind search engine optimization are not difficult to understand or even to accomplish. Let’s begin with a good understanding of some of the terminology necessary to the discussion. A Key Phrase, or Search Term, are those words someone types into the ‘search’ field of Google, Bing or other search engine. The search engine then returns pages of results with a Ranking – the position each result has from the first result to the last. The goal is to achieve as high a ranking as possible. Thus, one of the key tactics in search engine optimization is Key Word Analysis – determining which search terms are most likely to be used and then ensuring your content carefully and intelligently addresses those search terms.
Search engines index sites by reading them with “spiders” – robotic programs that move from page to page on a site and pick up on the topics there by phrases, links and generalized content. Search engines can only read text. They do not read images, Flash animations or other graphics. Thus, the textual content of your site is the heart of a search engine’s quest. Relevant and appropriate links from other web sites enhance the ranking assigned to your content by search engine. Search engines understand such links as a verification of the importance and relevance of your site to third parties.
A misunderstanding of the above principles have caused many companies to attempt to manipulate search engine indexing. These “black hat” techniques include loading text on a site with a given search term, sacrificing the readability of the text. Other techniques include hiding repeated search terms on a page, creating mini-sites that link to the main site, paying “link farms” to link to the main site and use of automatic article and page generators to create content. The technicians for Google, Bing and the other search engines are constantly fine-tuning the algorithms, or logic, by which rankings are determined to avoid such ruses.
There are two fundamental keys to search engine relevancy and ranking:
- A focused key word analysis
- Strong, relevant and original content
These two elements, enhanced with smart website preparation and maintenance, will do more for your rankings than all of the clever manipulation in the world.
The first step in any good SEO campaign is to hone in on the site’s niche. “Travel” is a big niche – too big for most agencies to contemplate. “Hawaii” is a big niche too, but we are getting closer. Try this – search Google on the term “Hawaii Honeymoons.” What site comes up in the first few results ? Travel agencies!
How many brides to be do you think type into Google the phrase “Hawaii Honeymoons“? How valuable do you imagine this site’s ranking on Google might be? The tighter you can niche your search engine strategies, the better your search engine results will be.
For the next week, we are going to help you design a plan for your own site’s search engine optimization strategy.
Tomorrow – Key Word Analysis and Content