It’s a strong statement, but I’ll go ahead and say it – MozCon is the best intermediate/advanced inbound marketing search conference in the business. If you or someone on your staff does inbound marketing work, I highly recommend attending in 2013 if want to grow your unpaid traffic. OK, you didn’t come to this post to read my praise, so I’ll skip to the good stuff. Read on for 10 useful tips from MozCon that will increase unpaid traffic to your travel site.
EAN @ MozCon – Understanding the Google Algorithm
Our very own Martin MacDonald announced SERPwatch at MozCon, which is a first of its kind project we are developing at the Expedia Affiliate Network. SERPwatch allows us to understand the travel segment and the Google algorithm like never before. Specifically, we will be able to drill down specifically on the travel segment to measure which sites are climbing and falling in the Google search results. Today it is extremely difficult to measure this since Google updates their algorithm roughly 500 times a year. Some of the big named updates like Panda or Penguin have a huge immediate impact on the search results, but it takes us weeks to understand the impact these had on our partners. SERPwatch fixes this problem by allowing us to accurately measure the impact of algorithm updates within 24 hours. We will then be able to analyze the impacted sites to understand why they gained or dropped in the search results and notify our partners as soon as possible.
Safer Link Building
Paddy Moogan from Distilled.net went over 35 ways to build quality links to your site. In a post-Penguin landscape where link building is a dangerous game these tips are very welcome.
1. Guest blogging is a safe and simple way to gain quality links. Write quality content for a related website and they attribute it to you with a link to your site. An example of this would be writing an article about the top hotels in Rome for a blog specializing in Americans traveling to Italy. Finding Guest Blogging opportunities today is much easier than it used to be thanks to websites like these:
2. Similarly, check if your competitors are Guest Blogging by searching on Google or setting up Google Alerts for the bylines or names in your competitor’s posts. Another option would be to pull up your competitors backlinks via Open Site Explore and search for any links with “Guest Post.” You can then reach out to those same sites to secure a Guest Post opportunity.
3. Are you posting original images on your site beyond what we provide? If so, use Google Alerts or a reverse image lookup since as Tineye.com to see who is using your images. Contact those sites using your images asking for a link to your site.
4. Perhaps my favorite tactic comes from finding broken links and getting those to link to your site instead. You can enter a search query on Google for something like “discount hotels in las vegas inurl:links” or “blog post orlando spa hotels”. When you pull up a search result use a broken link checker on the page to find a broken link that would make sense for your website. If so, you can reach out requesting they link to you instead. Then to take that one step further, enter that broken URL into Open Site Explorer to see if any other sites are linking to that same broken page. If so, reach out to them as well.
Long-Term Success on Google
Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive delivered what I would call a State of the Union address for Inbound Marketers on Google. The gist of it being that shortcuts are no longer an option for sustainable success. Shortcuts worked for a while with on-page factors and then Panda hit and wiped out a ton of those sites. It worked for a bit longer for sites that built (*cough* bought *cough*) a bunch of perfectly optimized anchor text links and ranked for keywords they had no business ranking for. If your site recently lost a majority of its Google organic traffic you have to take a hard look into the mirror. Does your site offer real value? Is the Internet a better place because of your website? If not, then why would Google rank your site highly?
5. Signals that your site isn’t going to succeed long-term on Google:
- Your site has no original content, or the original content you have is of low quality.
- You have little to no followers on your social media accounts (or you don’t have them to begin with).
- And you have no engagement with the followers you do have. Social Media is meant for back-and-forth conversion.
6. Signals you are doing the right things for long-term success:
- You frequently interact and add value to your customers via social media.
- You have rabid fans.
- Your site stands for something. You aren’t just another travel site with a search widget and a list of hotels. You share your expertise. If your site specializes in selling hotels in Tokyo then your site needs to have best in class content to reflect your expertise.
7. Building followers is the new link building. Adding value in the Social Media space is the easiest way to earn more followers. Look at Social Media accounts from proven brands to see what is working for them. Don’t copy them outright, but measure what is being shared and commented on to help form your social strategy. A great tool Will mentioned was Followerwonk which allows you to comb through Twitter data to find new followers and understand your existing ones.
8. Your unique content is a huge competitive advantage. Make sure no one copies it by setting up a Google Alert for each piece.
9. A simple trick to find more keywords to target
and content to write is to simply not press enter on Google when typing in a search query. Then you should check those terms in a keyword tool or Google Insights
to see if there is opportunity there.
Using Facebook to better understand your auidence
10. This is a collection of thoughts that came together thanks to Marty Weintraub of aimClear. Regardless of whether you advertise on Facebook, you can use their data to better understand your followers and to come up with ideas for relevant content.
- By looking at the data in Facebook Insights (accessible from the homepage of Facebook after you are logged in) you can view demographic information that can help you better understand your customer base. This includes their gender, age, where they live (country and city), and their language. This is extremely helpful in determining how to approach your Facebook page and who you should be writing content for.
- On your business page, click on Build Audience and then Create an Ad. From there, go to the Choose Your Audience section and you can enter demographics, precise interests (such as travel), and find out what else this audience is interested in. Maybe it’s hiking or photography. That can give you some ideas for content on your site or discussion topics on your Social Media channels. The concept of psychographics is a very deep one and it expands far beyond the scope of this post.
I hope you found these tips useful and you can use them to grow your travel sites!
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