If you’re out there traveling, and coupling your travel with blogging, then you understand one core fact: there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. Sure you could spend hours tinkering with and tweaking your site, but instead you roll with what you have and focus on the fundamental core: good writing and great photos.
That being said, as a blog, even at the beginning, you should take those small extra steps toward search engine optimization (SEO) for your travel website. SEO generally refers to the practice of tweaking your site and posts so Google and the major search engines know exactly what search keywords relate to your site and each of your posts.
Let’s set the parameters here I am talking about tweaks that are completely on the up-and-up, standard practice in the web-world and help the search engines classify your posts. As travel bloggers this is particularly important since we can be a creative bunch, and those artsy titles and colorful descriptions can mislead the search engines as to what a post is actually about.
There are four key (and easy) tasks you can implement today, from this point forward; with just 20 minutes of legwork you’ll be set to implement a new travel blogging SEO routine. Seriously, these tasks are so simple to add into your posting routine and will make a huge difference in making your blog/website/small business better optimized for the search engines. And a better optimized site means the travelers can find your recent niche post about a fantastically amazing taco-shop in Dublin when they head to Google to search for Mexican food in Dublin.
Before we get into the four simple tasks, let’s take a quick look at what a keyword is and why you should care. Keywords really refer to keyword phrases that searchers type into the search engines to find information. In the previous post example, although the arty title for the post (the one your users see at the top of your article) might be A Delectably Spicy Dublin Dinner, there is little likelihood anyone is searching that phrase. Instead, consider this as your functional title that reflects†consumer search habits: Mexican Food in Dublin, this phrase would then become your post’s primary keyword.
If you’re running on WordPress (or any popular self-hosted blogging platform) then you can easily add a plugin on your site that will allow you to quickly add an SEO title and description to each and every post you write. These tags are used by the search engines and guide visitors to your site so they know exactly what content they are getting when they click a link in the search engine results pages.
For WordPress sites, WordPress SEO is a newer plugin with a lot of great functionality while All in One SEO is an old standard and will serve you well. The plugin will appear on the editing screen of every new blog post so before you publish, alter the meta title information to reflect a prominent keyword phrase from your post, while the description should be a short “pitch” for the content in your article.
Your site should have a permalink structure that includes a unique description in the URL for each post. Before you publish the post edit the URL to reflect the most popular and likely keywords for your post. If you wrote about that taco restaurant in Mexico then update your url to something like this:
With this structure, your most likely keywords are included in the URL and they reflect the actual content the user will find inside your post. No surprises here! Just use the first main keyword that comes to mind for what you’re talking about.
Images are a huge part of the search engine business, as well as an integral part to any travel blog. So help travelers find your photos! Optimize them with simple keywords that precisely name what they are. To do this, name the file before you upload it to your site (I don’t want to see these: ìIMG_9987″ instead name it Mexican Taco 1, ìMexican Taco 2, etc).
Add a title and alternate description (ALT attribute) to the photo when you insert it into a post this functionality is built into WordPress, it gives you the ability to easily write keyword alternate photo descriptions right when you upload the new photo. The ALT tab is visible to the search engines and will be used if for some reason your image fails to load that means you’re helping your site navigability in addition to some savvy SEO skills.
Make your website a spider web of links and navigation. If you’re talking about an old post, link to it! Although building outside links is one type of SEO (and not a part of our quick-step plan to optimization ñ that takes a bit more effort!) you can certainly help your visitors find content on your site and share some link juice with your old and most popular posts.
This is an important step, so start right now and in each new blog post make an effort to link back to at least one highly relevant old post/category page/tag. Don’t do this arbitrarily, you want to help your reader experience, so only link to relevant items that were already a part of your travel narrative.
These four tasks will conquer that initial SEO hurdle: you’ve started. You are on the path to a properly search engine optimized site. There is more you could do (isn’t that the case with just about everything in life?!) but these are a start and doing them now means you won’t have to go back in a year and do it all over again once you start focusing more intently on SEO!
As a note of caution go light with the SEO keywords, you can over do it. Trust me, just a keyword tweak here and there is enough to keep you well optimized and moderation is the key. These extra tasks should be a part of every single new post, it won’t take you more than 4-5 minutes extra to run down the list and make sure each has been completed.
I know you’re busy, hey, I’m a travel blogger too, so with our lifestyle in mind, these are the four steps I never let lapse, even when I’m blogging on limited internet connections and rushing off to catch that epic 16 hour train ride.
This was a guest post by Travel Blogger Extraordinaire Shannon Odonnel of A Little Adrift. She and “That Travel Guy,” Andy Hayes have revamped and updated their DIY SEO ebook to the new and improved Get Traffic Now. We reviewed DIY SEO and it helped us immensely. Andy’s expertise in website optimization has helped us throughout our travel blogging careers. By teaming with Shannon, they have developed an excellent resource for anyone looking to get notices on the web.
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