A Bulletproof Guide to SEO for Travel Bloggers

seo advice travel bloggers can use

Don’t worry – you don’t need to get this joke to enjoy this post. Promise.

You’re not gonna believe this…

After interviewing ten top travel bloggers I discovered something incredible.

I discovered that – on average – each blogger gets between 50 – 70% of their total traffic from the search engines.

Which – as someone with years of SEO experience – was encouraging.

But what if you don’t know much about SEO?

What if you just want a simple blueprint to help
improve your rankings…

without fighting through countless SEO books, blogs and forums to find the answers?

Fear not, because…

The Travel Blogger’s “Secret Weapon” To SEO…

Is not so secret.

In fact, it’s pretty simple when you think about it.

Let me explain: SEO can be distilled into two elements. The first is to create targeted content for your audience on a regular basis (how you define “regular” is up to you).  If want to post weekly, post weekly. Wanna post daily? Then post daily.

But whatever you do, make sure it’s on a consistent basis.

The second step is getting other sites to link to you. Obviously, the more influential the site, the more valuable the link.

So…

If You Want High Rankings (and the Traffic That Comes With Them) You Need Three Things…

  1. the keywords people are searching for online (e.g. “things to do in South America”)
  2. high-quality content targeted towards those keywords
  3. links from authoritative sites

That’s it, really.

Let’s look at each in greater detail…

Step #1. Find the right keywords.

To find the right keywords you’ll need to use the Google Keyword Planner (formerly the Google Keyword Tool). This wonderful (and free) planner lets you quickly see WHAT people are typing into Google and HOW OFTEN they type them in.

For example, let’s say your blog is about South America. Hopefully it’s a hybrid blog, but if not, that’s cool too.

Fire up the Google Keyword Planner and log in:

  • Click “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”
  • Type “South America”
  • Click “Get Ideas”…
  • Select the “Keyword ideas” tab (it defaults to the “Ad group” tab; make sure to change this!)

Now, let’s look at what the Google Keyword tool dishes up:

more keyword results on travel for SEO research

Google’s Keyword Selections (click to enlarge)

Wonderful.

With just a few seconds work we’ve got a solid layout of phrases people are actually SEARCHING FOR in Google.

See those numbers on the right hand side? Those are how many times people search for those phrases each month around the world.

Pretty cool, huh?

There’s no guessing. No shooting in the dark. We literally see the DEMAND for each phrase. An endless stream of market research at our very fingertips!

But hold on, buckaroo.

We need to be realistic, here. After all, just because a BAZILLION people search for “South America” doesn’t mean we’re gonna get on the first page of Google, right?

Right.

So we gotta lower our expectations. Instead of going after these huge phrases – and compete with the likes of Wikipedia, Lonely Planet and other beasts of the online age – we’ll focus on keywords with less than 3,000 searches.

Please don’t treat this number as Gospel. Because it isn’t.

Some smaller phrases are EXTREMELY competitive (while other, larger search terms aren’t) – but I want to give you a benchmark to work with.

Also, please keep in mind…

If you use the Google Keyword Tool and there is a column marked “Competition” – ignore it. That competition refers to the paid advertisers (called Google Adwords) and not the SEO competition.

Onward.

Step #2. Write an optimized post around that keyword.

Now that you’ve chosen a keyword that you’d like to write about, be sure to include those keywords in your article.

I know. Shocking, right?

But it’s not just in your article. You’ll need to add it in your Title tag, meta description and your URL.

Save yourself the trouble and just install the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin. In addition to a whole gaggle of other goodness, it automatically reviews your post to ensure you’re doing all this.

Observe:

yoast seo plugin for seo

Yoast SEO Plugin (click to enlarge)

Just type in your “Focus Keyword”, hit “Save” and… voila!… an instant, automatic checklist for SEO sweetness!

Easy, right?

But we’re just getting warmed up.

In fact, up until this point we’ve done only the basics. Now it’s time to take this strategy into…

THE STRATOSPHERE!

Are you excited yet? I am.

And here’s why: there about a zillion posts on keyword research (this one is especially good) but none really “give you the goods” on how to do the most important step which is…

Step #3. Build links to your post.

Aha! This is where many travel bloggers get stuck.

But fear not: the answer is quite simple, and will drastically improve your blog’s SEO.

Better still, it will help each new post rank for these keywords, sending you more free traffic while helping your old posts rise higher in Google as well!

Surely this solution is illegal, right? Or at least quasi-unethical?

Nope.

The answer is quite simple:

Introducing The 4×1 Technique: A Simple SEO Technique for Travel Bloggers

And it all starts with guest posting.

Many bloggers think they should post every day. Which is fine… but if you haven’t built up an audience you are shouting into the wind.

So why write every day when no one’s listening?

Or – put another way – why write every day where no one is listening? Why not write every day and post it where other people will read it, react to it and reach out to your blog for more of your killer content?

So here’s what I propose: 

For every one post you write on your blog, write four guest posts and link back – using variations of your keyword – to that EXACT post in your bio.

Don’t just link to your homepage. Link to the last post you wrote on your own blog.

And notice I say “variations of your keyword”. With the Google gods getting finicky, it’s best to make your links look as natural as possible. So if your keyword is “South American road trip” you can use links like “South American trips” and “South American road trips” to help mix things up a bit.

But why do this strategy at all?

Well…

There are three tremendous benefits to the 4×1 strategy…

The 4x1 StrategyFirst, you are sending traffic to each new post.

You’re not simply posting and hoping someone will mention it -you proactively go out and make it happen!

Second, you are building “deep links” to your site.

Most links go to your homepage (which is totally fine) but links to pages “deep” within your site (e.g. blog posts) show your site is valuable throughout. This is huge for ranking that specific page for your keyword!

And thirdly, you are improving your overall Domain Authority (see my guide to guest posting for details on this).

As your Domain Authority grows, so will your rankings for thousands of terms you’re not even trying to rank for!

I’m not exaggerating.

In fact, if you have some traffic already, check your analytics. Chances are, you’re already getting traffic from hundreds (maybe thousands) of phrases people type into Google every day.

Now you’ve got the blueprint for getting thousands more ;)

So here’s what you need to do next:

  1. Leave a comment below explaining how you’ll use this strategy.
  2. Share it on Twitter or Facebook.
  3. Use the Google Keyword tool to find a relevant keyword with less than 3,000 exact searches.
  4. Write an extremely good, juicy post about it.
  5. Use the Yoast plugin to ensure your page is optimized.
  6. Write five guest posts linking to your post.
  7. Rinse and repeat.

OK, numbers one and two are optional (but highly appreciated!).

Will you use this strategy? Why or why not?

About adamcosta

Adam Costa is co-founder and Editor in Chief of both Trekity.com and TravelBloggerAcademy. He currently lives... um... somewhere.

Fill out this simple form and gain INSTANT access to Travelblogging 101: The Ultimate Guide to Building & Running a Profitable Travel Blog!

Comments

  1. All sound advice – I just have one question – who the heck is Ryan Gosling?

  2. I already do a lot of guest blogging, but always link to my home page — taken note of the 4×1 approach, and will start linking to specific blog posts instead of always to my home page, and see how that goes.

    Avid Yoast fan already!

    - Jay

    • Hola Jay,

      Good to see you here again! Yep, the 4×1 technique helps boost both the Domain and Page Authority of your blog, which can translate to higher rankings. I fully intend to do it here on TBA and on Trekity in the future.

      Cheers,

      Adam

  3. I stand with your wife on Ryan Gosling. The rest of your post makes sense to me too. In the few months since I started blogging, it has been interesting to see the search terms that find my blog each day and I like the idea of building a strategy around SEO. I was not aware of the Google Keyword Tool, but I will be using it from now on. Thanks!

    • Hi Allison,

      This strategy is super simple (cuts out all the “rocket science” of SEO) and based on long-term strategies.

      If you’re already getting search traffic, this will definitely help increase it!

  4. I LOVE Ryan Gosling! Sorry, couldn’t resist :) Have a hard time finding time to guest post, but that is where my site weakness is (not enough backlinks) and it shows – with over 300 pages of decent, high-quality content I have under 15k visitors monthly, only a PR3, etc. etc. One of my most popular posts is an ‘extra’ type of post that I wrote solely from keyword research, so I know what you say WORKS!

    It’s just you can’t build a site completely off of that (or guess you could but not sure how interesting it would be in the long run, get return visitors, etc. not just folks searching for one topic/page then leaving…) – need to flush out a concept with lots of long-tail search terms, and maybe take a bunch of chances with content you think folks are going to like (can introduce in a newsletter for example) but may not show up on Google Adwords Keyword Tool. At least that’s what I’m hoping… LOL!

    • Hi Molly,

      You’re right – you cannot just build a site for search engines.

      For others reading, this advice is GOLD:

      “(You) need to flush out a concept with lots of long-tail search terms, and maybe take a bunch of chances with content you think folks are going to like…”

      If you can create a page of content which targets 1-5 keywords (like explained in this article) that’s GREAT.

      However, you should always focus on your READERS… and sometimes that means writing posts with zero SEO work.

      For example, the recent post on Trekity’s first week of results was not optimized for anything – it just seemed like something people would dig.

      But no matter what content you produce, you should definitely focus on building links to each and every page.

      Good stuff, Molly. Keep it coming!

  5. Ryan Gosling is more than the guy in The Notebook.

    Honestly he is one of the best young actors out there. I highly suggest you watch the following movies! They are not chic flixs I promise!

    Drive
    The Ides of March
    Lars and The Real Girl

    • Not chick flicks, huh? Hmmm…. Darcie’s tried that one on me before ;)

      • Drive is probably the furthest thing from a chick flick you can get! I am curious… I want to start a new site for a specific destination. The market is saturated so the obvious easy domains are already taken. I’m wondering if you can use google adwords to develop a domain name? Such as ThailandVacations.com would probably be taken but if you serched for thailand and than took one of the popular co search words and used that as a domain would that create instant traffic?

        • Hi Alexandra,

          Absolutely. You can definitely find keyword rich domain names using the Google Keyword tool. (e.g. “Travel Blogger Academy” targets the phrase “travel blogger”).

          Just make sure the domain is memorable. “ThailandVacations.com” is great, but you don’t want something long and spammy looking like “ThailandKoLantaResort.com”.

          In short: keyword rich domains are great, but don’t sacrifice branding.

  6. Just starting to guest post and I never thought about linking back to anything other than the homepage, though I can see the great benefits of building deep links…I am going to do that on the next post. As a slowly and organically growing blog I would love to see a little more speed, thanks for the great article!

    • Hi Cheryl,

      This is MUCH better than simple posting all links to your homepage. It spoon-feeds quality content to Google on a regular basis and helps your entire site gain authority.

      Btw, what type of content would you like to see more of here?

      Cheers,

      Adam

  7. As much as it pains to me see that Ryan Gosling totally stole my look, I have to you’ve really condensed the critical SEO points in this post Sir Adam. For that I salute you (not a Nazi one mind, that would be unruly).

    4 posts for every post is machine like work. Get Gosling films running in the background and all will be good however.

    • Will,

      Gosling’s got nothing on you. Matter of fact, you deserve an award for being the first male (besides me) to comment on this post.

      Machine like work? Perhaps… but too many bloggers focus solely on their own content… when they should focus on building an AUDIENCE.

      Cheers,

      Adam

  8. I have every read every post and listened to every interview. I tinkered with Google Ad Words too. Tonight we are going over a strategy to improve our blog before it goes live August 1st. I cannot thank you enough — except I may be divorced soon because I said “I love you, Adam” loud enough to be overheard by my significant other. Otherwise, thank you.

    Lane

  9. Great info! Love the 4×1 idea.

    Would love to know if you did this and what blogs/niches you chose to send the guest posts too.

    Plus, do you really do that for EACH AND EVERY ONE?

    • Hi Marina,

      My wife and I primarily stick to travel/marketing sites, as that’s what we’re most familiar with. The key is to post on sites with a high Domain Authority for max SEO value.

      I’ll be implementing this strategy here on TBA shortly, but won’t with Trekity until we straighten out some development issues. Then it’s full steam ahead ;)

  10. I love this site…have got so much useful information from your posts and the course!
    I also use Google Insights for Search when researching for a post….but I will have to start using Keyword Tool again as I kind of forgot about it! :/

    What do you think about the idea of a guest post listing the top 5 hidden (or whatever) places in a country…and linking each one back to a more extensive and in-depth post that I have already written about on my blog? Or does that seem too spammy or look like the guest post was written solely for the link-backs?

    Thanks!
    Steph

    • Hi Steph,

      Glad you’re digging it, and thank you for sharing this on Twitter (this blog runs on shares and comments!).

      What should I write about next?

      • How about email newsletters…how to do them, how often, which provider to use, type of content, benefits etc! That would be really helpful!

        OR something I’ve been wondering about recently…the legalities of making money off a travel blog…do the successful travel bloggers set themselves up as self employed in their own company?

        Thanks!

  11. Hello,
    Thank you for these advices, Actually I started using the google keyword tool quite a lot recently but I didn’t thought about looking to Keyword with a low number of search(to be competitive). I will certainly take this advice into account next time I write new post.

    Thanks
    Kimo

  12. This was a useful post and I think it is rather easy to see from the other comments as well that this post is well written and useful. Thank You!

  13. Enjoyed the the post. By keeping things simple, one can think more clear on what needs to be done. I sometimes intend to over think of certain thing in seo. Your post has made to stop over thinking about seo.

    Their is no magic formal, its all about the readers, and giving them value at the end of the day.

    Have a question, would a press release help with a blog post? beside getting a links back, does it sound okay to that?

    Thank you for sharing you ideas…take care and be safe

    • Hi Zaid,

      “Their is no magic formal, its all about the readers, and giving them value at the end of the day.”

      You’ve got it!

      Re: press releases, they certainly help with SEO but are an expensive option. I’ve used them in the past as part of a comprehensive strategy and it does work… but I wouldn’t suggest it as a standalone method.

  14. Nice one. It’s great for beginners I guess. I glanced through it and found that this is what I did in the beginning on my travel blogging days. Keep up the great work!

  15. Just joined, thanks for this site. Lots of info. I’ve browsed plenty of other “blog help” sites and never signed up for the newsletter. I guess that speaks well of the content you provide here. Thank-you.

  16. nice… & intersting…..

  17. This is brilliant. Totally going to use this 4×1 strategy from now on — I haven’t read about this anywhere else on the web. I’ve been guest posting like a mad woman but always linking back to our homepage…gee, wonder why I wasn’t getting results! Thanks, Adam!

  18. One question — do you prefer the Yoast plugin to the Easy WP SEO plugin?

  19. Another wonderful write up again…even though its already a year since you wrote this article. I still find it important to thank you here. I have not been using any SEO for my blog but i will start from today. I am a Nigerian and i blog about general travel news and local content. I have also subscribed to your blog for more tips.

  20. Travel bloggers should also make sure they are reaching their target audience with the content they create. Press Releases can be part of a social strategy and are free.

    It is also important to manage your social networks and push your interesting and useful content though these channels while actively building a following.

    Curating content can also be a way to offer a consistent content release schedule on your travel blog with less time. When you have time you can throw in some unique content you wrote.

  21. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for this great post. I have started using Google Keywords planner and Yoast plugin, and I find them both very useful.

    Thanks,

  22. It is an enormously inspiring post, Thanks for sharing such useful information in your blog.

  23. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a frienmd who
    had been doing a little homework oon this. And he actually
    boought me lunch simply because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending some tme tto talk about this
    issue here on your site.

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