In the second instalment of the series on SEO for travel bloggers, we look at the best way to get your travel blog to number one on Google.
Read the first part of the series for the basics, before you move onto becoming number one on Google – SEO for Travel Bloggers: Part One.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve decided to get serious about your travel blog. No longer just a creative outlet or part-time hobby, you want your blog to appeal to wide audiences: beyond just your very supportive mum.
Studies show the majority of people only click the first three links that come up on a Google search. Most don’t even make it past the first page.
So, if you want more people to come to your travel blog, naturally, you’re going to want to be number one on Google.
But what’s the secret? There are so many different strategies and tips flying around the web, each proclaiming to magically shoot your travel blog to the top instantaneously, that it’s often hard to cut through all the white noise and find out what actually works.
There is a way, however, to make Google sit up and take note of all the awesome content you’re churning out. Here’s how to do it:
Don’t listen to the SEO ‘gurus’
If you’ve arrived here looking for a quick fix or an overnight solution, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Chances are, while researching ways to better market your travel blog, you’ve come across a whole heaps of so-called SEO gurus, with a sleeve-full of brilliant tricks and strategies promising to rocket your website up to number one on Google.
It’s easy to get sucked in by these SEO soothsayers, especially when they present you with a whole lot of incredible screenshots, case studies and ground breaking ideas.
But, while these strategies seemingly work for them, there a few reasons why you’ll never be able to replicate the same results:
- Their example, ‘case study’ pages are normally fact and statistic-based, meaning that other websites are more inclined to link to them as a citation or reference.
- They curate huge, content heavy and traffic crazy websites that are already ranking highly on Google
- For every piece of evidence they present for why their technique works, there are probably a hundred others that failed. You’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
So, is there really a quick way to get your posts to number one on Google?
Well yes, yes there is, but unfortunately they won’t be on your own travel blog.
The quickest way to make your travel blog number one on Google
Inspired by all the case study, screenshot-wielding SEO gurus out there, I decided to run a little experiment of my own.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about keeping motivated as a new travel blogger. It gained close to 200 hundred social shares, including from some bigger-name travel bloggers, which drove thousands of new, unique visitors to my site.
So, a week later I submitted the same post to BlogHer, to see how the two would go side-by-side.
And, here are the stats from BlogHer:
Mine are much better right? So, naturally, you’d think that a page with more traffic, social shares and backlinks would be higher on Google.
That’s where you’re wrong.
Have a look closer at the first two numbers on the Ahrefs toolbar:
And this one belongs to BlogHer:
The Domain Rating is an index which measures the authority of a website, according to its traffic, backlinks, and content – the URL rating is proportionate to this.
BlogHer’s domain rating is triple mine, because it’s a long-established site with mountains of continuously updated and clicked-on content. Even though the post itself hasn’t gained much traction, the fact that the entire website bears a lot of weight is enough to rocket it to number one on Google.
Which it is:
My post on BlogHer is the first result when you Google ‘how to stay motivated as a new travel blogger’, whereas the original, here on The Longest Haul, isn’t even in the first 10 pages.
So, I guess at the end of it all, there is actually a way to instantaneously become number one on Google.
Sadly, it doesn’t involve your travel blog itself.
The sad reality is that in a world with so many travel bloggers – let alone actual websites – there are so many other places your traffic will go. Regardless of how much effort you put into your posts, sites with a higher domain authority than you will beat you at the game, nine times out of ten.
TIP: When running Google searches to check the position of your travel blog, always open a new browser window in ‘incognito’ or ‘private’ mode. This is because previous searches you’ve made and websites you’ve visited could affect the results.
The best way to make your travel blog number one on Google
Let’s get one thing straight – Google is smarter than you think, and it doesn’t like to be tricked.
Any kind of sneaky strategy that will rocket you to the top overnight is brilliant in the long-term, but, once Google gets wind of it, it’ll punish you… hard.
Google is old hat. It’s a fan of good sportsmanship, of playing fair and shaking hands post-game. It hates cheating, and isn’t afraid to penalise.
That’s why you’ve got to do everything the right way. It takes time, effort and patience but, trust me, it’s better in the long run. You’re in it for The Longest Haul…
Step One: Keyword consistency
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: keyword consistency is one of the best things you can do for your blog. Have a look back at my first post, SEO for Travel Bloggers Part One, to find out the simplest way to keep good keyword consistency throughout your blog posts.
Step Two: Social Media Marketing
I used to be really shy about using social media – self promotion made me feel icky and uncomfortable and super pretentious. Now, however, I’ve realised that social media is the best way to get traffic to my site. I can’t just sit around and hope that by some magical stroke of luck, my travel blog will go to number one on Google. I’ve got to tweet about it, post about it, and make a lot of virtual noise. Have a look at this post to find out how to use social media to drive more traffic to your website.
Step Three: Backlinks
Having a lot of links pointing towards your website will also improve your rankings.
Unfortunately, commenting on other people’s blog posts (even ones that have an RSS plugin, like CommentLuv, installed), won’t do the trick. This is because comment sections on blog posts have a ‘no follow’ tag, meaning that Google won’t count them as an actual backlink.
That said, however, it’s still important to comment on other travel bloggers’ posts. You’ll still get a lot of referral traffic, and, more importantly, you’ll make another blogger’s day (wink, wink).
Instead, to get backlinks to your website, you’ll have to ask for them.
Once you’ve written your post, start searching Google for similar articles. If you see any sections that you think might benefit from a link, or you find a link that’s broken, send the writer a friendly email offering them yours. Here’s an example of a what I might write to score a backlink for this post:
Just a quick word to say I really like your blog, your post on SEO tools for bloggers was really informative and engaging.
I noticed you included a couple of lines on travel bloggers – I’m actually a travel blogger who writes a lot on digital marketing and good SEO techniques. I’ve written a post on how to make your travel blog number one on Google (put the link here), and thought it might be helpful to some of your readers. Feel free to link to it in your post!
Once again, fantastic blog – keep up the great work!
If you’ve got good keyword consistency, a fair amount of traffic, and a few ‘do follow’ backlinks for every one of your blog posts, your domain ranking will improve and, more importantly, Google will start to take notice.