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By Bronwyn White

Destinations, hotels and tourism businesses should seize the opportunities of digital democracy created by the semantic search revolution that has only just begun

WHEN Google switched its algorithm to semantic search in 2013 it began to clear away dodgy SEO practices and leveled the playing field for small operators and destinations. It made it easier for small businesses to create an honest strategy to rank well online in Google and the search engines.

A few years on, the main outcome is that page one of a Google search will be different for every user, every location and every desktop or mobile device.

Today, tourism businesses and destinations therefore have the opportunity to rank well for their ideal customer in Google’s organic search results – as long as they commit to building online trust, reputation and authority over time.

Relevance and trust are the new currencies in town. They have given travel businesses and destinations opportunities that we are unlikely to see again. It’s like being at the beginning of time once more, a time when tourism businesses can not only survive online, but thrive.

However, there’s no quick fix. If you want to be on the first page of your ideal customer’s Google search – as has done for the terms “travel research” in certain regions – you have to be consistent in your online marketing. This means consistency in branding and content marketing. Post relevant, good quality content and post often.

To get results you have to be clear about who your customers are and have a well-defined brand that guides your visual choice and gives you a consistent tone of voice and messaging.

The Five Steps
Clear branding and customer targeting are the baselines. In addition, there are five steps you have to also take:

1) Make sure you’re on Google My Business (it’s free).
2) Ensure your site is mobile friendly (you can check here for free – and Google gives you tips how to make your site mobile compatible).
3) Realise that content is king. Create content that is useful, relevant and meaningful.  Ensure quality over quantity
4) Make sure your web site and your social media platforms are soundly branded in terms of content, language and image choice.
5) Ramp up the number of images and videos you have on your site (Google loves this).

For visual content don’t think you need to spend big money on video production. You don’t. Videos uploaded from smart phones are often deemed more ‘authentic’. For example see “Whale of a Time” or “Who are Roo Looking At?” here.

Importantly, to achieve a strong online presence in the brave new world of semantic search all the above elements have to work together. Remember, travel related content is the most watched content on YouTube. In western countries people spend about 13 hours doing online research before making a travel purchase (22 hours in China).

People everywhere are perplexed and overwhelmed by the abundance of digital marketing choice. If customers are confused by your brand, search engines will be too. So focus your online branding, messaging and be consistent.

Turn the above insights into action and put an end to ‘hope marketing’.

The full Five-Step Tourism Marketing blog can be read here.

About Bronwyn White

Bronwyn has 22 years experience in the travel and tourism industry in the areas of market research, sales and marketing. Her extensive career includes organisations like Qantas Airways, Destination NSW and TNS Research.She has experience in a wide range of travel and tourism services, including: market research / insights,Internet marketing,strategic and tactical marketing consultancy and executive officer services for regional tourism organisations.

She also runs a well respected seniors travel blog,
Bronwyn is also the published author of Seniors Travel Tips, a global travel guide for seniors.

Contact: Ann Sriwongsa / (+66) [0] 91 806 0484

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