It’s useful to start learning about SEO as early as possible. But as bloggers are also learning simultaneously about many other important aspects, like digital marketing and running a business, it can make SEO feel like a burden. And it’s true, we travel bloggers are not just specialists in one area, we have to master many marketing techniques and tools to succeed. For most, search engine optimization can start with simple steps, like activating the Yoast plugin on WordPress. However, Yoast is just the beginning. As most of your competing travel bloggers also utilize the same plugin and the basic SEO features it offers, you won’t be able to set yourself apart from your competition.
In this how to post for Bloggeries, I explain the basics of selecting winning keywords, something Yoast can’t teach you. A year ago I started a travel blog called Dream Work and Travel, which I used to practice web design and SEO, before I started offering these services professionally to clients. Since I write about travel, we’ll focus on the travel blogging niche but these principles are applicable to all bloggers.
What are good keywords for travel bloggers?
Travel bloggers are in a competitive market, as we compete against large organisations, such as tourism boards, travel operators and popular destinations. For a new travel blogger, it’s important not to choose keywords such as “London” or “New York”, because these keywords have been used online for decades. It’s unlikely that you can get past New York Times on Google’s first page, unless you target more specific keywords. Another aspect to consider, is monetizing your blog and if the keyword indicates “buying intent” or not. Someone searching for London on Google is more likely to search London related news or events in the city, than to search for the best little dog park in the zone 6, behind that particular supermarket. That’s why you should aim for “buying keywords”, such as “where to buy tickets for Thames ferry”. Such keywords are also known as long tail keywords.
Search volume and competition online
Now that you have established that a new travel blogger should aim for long tail keywords instead of super competed destination names, you need to check if there is actually interest towards your chosen topic. This is one of the most important steps for blogging from the SEO point of view. Why do you need to check the keyword’s search volume then? Let’s imagine the following scenario: thousands of runners have prepared for a marathon. They have invested time in their training and they have invested money in their travel arrangements. When the day comes, the runners gather at the start line. And when the race begins, suddenly everyone covers their eyes.
A few start running in a circle, some trip over, only a few make it to the finish line with their eyes covered, and that’s mainly because of luck or because they have completed the same race a 100 times before. This is exactly what happens, if you are not sure about your blog post’s search volume or existing competition, before you write the post. You may write an awesome piece and as Google says, you need to write good content. But what happens if the content is great but nobody is interested in reading it? By checking the Google search volumes in advance, you can maximise your chances that the right kind of readers see your post. The ones with immediate buying intention.
How do you check the data before writing a blog post
There are different tools for this purpose. Google Trends seems to indicate some search trends, but the data may not be accurate enough. A pro SEO tool called Ahrefs can check the search volumes and existing competition for you, but Ahrefs is so robust, that it does a million other things too. Other tools that you can check out are called Moz.com and Majestic. Some of these tools offer you a chance to try them for free. When choosing a tool, you need to be able to check the volume of Google searches as well as the current competition. Add 50-100 keywords, chosen from your keyword list for each blog post you write. This should bring you organic traffic, even after your social media traffic has died long ago.
How to improve your old blog posts
You should also keep an eye on your Google Search Console. Log in to check the queries, clicks, impressions and your position in Google searches. It’s good practice to keep going over your old travel blog posts, adding lots of keywords from your Google Search Console results to the blog posts and re-publish the article with the current time and date. Search engines love up-to-date content and by improving your old posts, you show that you are making sure your website stays current.