Travel agents have played an important role in the travel industry in the past, but these days the internet and search engines have stormed ahead with polls suggesting that around 80% of trips are booked online.
Although many hotels and flights can be purchased on popular mainstream websites, it’s the independent tour operators and travel agent websites are the preferred place to purchase more bespoke holidays online.
The issue is that there are thousands of tour operators in the UK, so how should any one of them stand out and improve their SEO (search engine optimisation) so that they can be found?
Well first of all it’s important to find a niche, and with the travel industry this is usually easy. Tour operators usually have their own specific market(s), for example “walking tours in the Himalayas”, “European battlefield tours” or “charity cycling tours”.
Using the example above “tour operators” yields 39.3 million results whilst “charity cycling tours” only 578,000, and “charity cycling tours in Peru” has 197,000, so by marketing to a niche we’ve already reduced the competition by almost 200 times.
With careful selection of niches and keywords, and structuring a website and articles around these, it’s possible to make your marketing explode and start generating visits to your website.
Warning - It is possible to accelerate this process by obtaining high quality links to your website. It’s important to emphasise ‘high quality’ here, and by these I mean links from Lonely Planet or the Telegraph’s travel section, for example. Some SEO companies go for a quantity of links rather than quality, and by doing this get their clients removed from Google altogether (don’t trust SEO companies). High quality links are hard to come by, but very valuable.
One you have increased the traffic to your tour operator website through SEO it’s important that the website itself gives users the information that they need so that they remain interested, and encourage them to click through to get in touch or place an order. This is of course where we, as expert web designers for tour operators can help, but to get you started here’s our list of the top 5 mistakes made on your company websites.
Finally, it’s important that websites are mobile-friendly. Until recently was primarily because in the travel industry a lot of customers sit on their sofa watching TV whilst browsing for a holiday on their phone or tablet. But since Google’s changes in April 2015 having a mobile-friendly website will actually benefit you in search engine results (mobile friendly website and Google’s ranking).
Hopefully this article outlines why SEO is specifically important for tour operators and travel agents, but as well as that it’s crucial that websites are designed with both users, and mobile phones in mind.
We are Webbed Feet UK, we offer website design and SEO for tour operators and travel agencies.