10 ways SEO can make your travel posts and blog Better

SEO tips and tricksMany things are said about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a good many of them wrong and misinformed. The most common of the critiques is that there is a trade-off between writing for your readers and writing for Google. A compromise between having a blog focused on content, readability and character, and a blog that is optimized to be scanned, indexed and searched.

Not only is this untrue, but more often that not good white-hat SEO tactics will make your blog better. Better for your readers, better for you, and better for the people that want to find what youre producing be it a product, information, or entertainment.

Good SEO tactics the kind of SEO that you could proudly append to the bottom of any post, describing to your readers what you did and why you did it can make your blog more readable, accessible, and just plain better.

Heres how.

1. Focus.

Write posts that are detailed and thorough yet sharp and well defined. Posts that could be mistaken for entries in the encyclopedia. Great stories that have a distinct theme and subject. This is what readers want and its also what search engines want.

Search engines dont like long unfocused and rambling posts (they dont know how to index them) and neither do your readers (they find them vague and usually boring). And even you the blogger benefit on this one. One of the biggest challenges bloggers face is thinking up enough interesting topics to write about. When you go throwing 3 or 4 different subjects into a blog post, not only are you confusing your readers, but youre also blowing off what could have been 3 or 4 different posts. Stay focused and everyone wins.

2. Conciseness

Similar to focus but more concerned with word choice as opposed to themes and topics. Trim the extra words from your posts and make sentences crisp, clear, and streamlined. Computers are not as smart as people when it comes to deciphering meaning so if your readers are having trouble with passages then so is Google. Make sentences short, easy to understand and memorable.

Also watch your use of pronouns, hackneyed phrases, and generic verbs.

Lets look at 2 example sentences:

A. When we got there everyone was waiting impatiently.

B. When we got to the hotel all the other guests were waiting to check-in.

Theyre both describing the same scene but the first one assumes the reader knows what youre talking about (and some might not). The 2nd one is not only more clear but also has a number of keywords that people might actually be searching for. Hotel, guests, and check-in are certainly much more commonly searched than everyone and impatiently.

This might seem like writing for Google, but it will often make your writing more clear and easy to read. Remember as well: not everyone reading a travel blog has English as their first language.

3. Use headings and sub-headings within a post

Common SEO advice is to use keywords and keyphrases in headings and subheadings; and bold them in a couple of key sections throughout the text. Sounds like common tactics in the print industry long before Google was founded.

Headings, blockquotes, and bolded text grab peoples eyes and arrest their movement down the page when theyre starting to scan. They also make it easier for search engines to determine the main topics of a post or page.

4. Use a diverse array of media

People love posts with images, charts, and videos and so do search engines so use them. If you make videos embed them on their own page within your website and be sure to transcribe the audio into text that will appear below the video. This is good for Google and Bing it tells them what this video post is about but also good for readers. It allows them to quickly scan the content to see if they want to watch it, and also allows visitors with a slower connection to consume this information even if theyre not able to stream the video.

5. Post ideas

Do you want to know what topics search engines are interested in? Use a keyword tool to find out what words and phrases are being searched for.

Do you want to know what topics people and your potential readers are interested in? Use a keyword tool to find out what words and phrases are being searched for.

These are not separate ideas. As a blogger you should be interested in solving some demand an answer to a question, a desire to be entertained, a need to feel motivated and inspired and search engines are in the business of solving these demands by finding you.

Obviously youre doing your readers a disservice if youre writing posts just because they appear in a keyword tool. So stick to what you know.

But using a keyword tool is akin to emailing your friends and asking If you were writing a post on mountain climbing what topics would you want covered? Keyword research tells you what the answer would be if you had 2 billion friends.

6. Load Time

Google has stated clearly that load times are one of the signals they use to determine quality of a page. Readers undoubtedly like fast loading pages as well. [Todd here, we have a very helpful discussion in the forums on how to increase the speed of your site with some simple WordPress plugins]

7. Use descriptive names and tags for images

Though search engines have made huge strides with image recognition software they most definitely are not using it on all images on the web. By using keyword rich file names, employing descriptive alt and title tags, and making smart use of captions search engines will have a pretty good idea what the image is about. Clearly humans are not as dependent on these hints but a good caption and title tag (the text that shows when you mouse-over an image) will give readers a much richer understanding about the context, location, and details of an image.

8. Use a descriptive URL and directory structure

Google likely uses URLs and directory structure to attempt to understand the subject of a post and so do readers. The URL string can often be the link text for a post and the only thing a reader sees when making a guess regarding a posts subject.

9. Have an easy to navigate website

Google doesnt index everything on a site so attempting to have the majority of your posts 1 to 3 clicks away from your homepage can make it more likely that all of your posts will be found by search engines. Readers like this too, and few things are more annoying or will have users clicking away from your site faster than making content hard to find.

10. Make awesome resource pages.

Google and people both love resources pages. If youre planning a trip to India theres nothing better than a list of high quality links to good information. The trouble is, resource pages are hard to do well. To the uninitiated resource pages can seem an easy and thoughtless attempt at attracting links but theyre not. To do them well requires a lot of legwork, regular updating, and a keen eye for knowing what people are interested in.

What SEO tactics do you use that also benefit your readers? Are there any SEO tactics that you think come at the expense of readers?

The Power of Building Relationships

Free Hugs NetworkingOne of the most overlooked parts to your success, not just online, but in any field is networking.

Like it or not, “Its not what you know, but who you know” is a very real reality.

Some people think that this is not fair and spend forever moaning and griping about it. For me, Id rather just understand the reality of this, become an entrepreneur, and do what successful people do.

Networking is the fun part to your business. It is the part that I find is the easiest and can produce the greatest rewards.

Networking is simply building relationships. Relationships cannot just be beneficial to you from a business perspective, but from a personal perspective as well.

Networking Purpose

There are two very important points I want to make before I go any further. What I am outlining are strategies specifically to address how building relationships can benefit your businesses. We never ever build relationships with people purely for personal or financial gain. The rewards that come from networking are a side bonus. We build relationships with others because we love meeting and interacting with people. We always bring the attitude with us that we have the opportunity and ability to offer something of value as well.

The second important thing is these networking strategies apply just as much to the online world as it does to the physical world. Dont believe for a second you can hide behind your avatar on the computer. Everything you do must be backed by authenticity and sincerity or else your success with networking will be short-lived. If you are networking in the online world, these strategies will be applied through your online communication.

Get to know the other Person

After spending a whole day listening to entrepreneurs talk at a conference, we worked up the courage to approach our favourite speaker for the day after the seminar. We introduced ourselves, asked him if we could buy him a drink and then proceeded to talk about surfing, Australia, the US and travel. We spent the remainder of the evening into the early hours having a blast with him. Not once did we ask him anything business related or pester him for his million dollar secrets. The next day he found us to say goodbye, and spoke of the fantastic time he had with us. He gave us his personal details and said, “If you need any help with anything, give me a call.” That was a solid relationship building evening.

If you are meeting someone who you look up to in your chosen field for the first time, make sure you do not bombard them with questions as to how they can help you. First, get to know the real person. Make general conversation. They will appreciate it so much as they are used to so many people wanting to learn their magic secrets.

Make people remember you

In business, people are interacting and networking all the time. How is someone going to remember who you are? One of the best things you can do is have your photograph on your business card. This makes it so much easier for the person who is sifting through hundreds of them to remember you. Carry your business card everywhere and hand it to each new person you meet. Let them know how you can connect again and that you would love share ideas sometime. Make it casual.

Be bright, happy and positive. Smile lots, make jokes and light-hearted conversation. This is really the best way to ensure someone remembers you. In reality there really aren’t a lot of happy friendly people around so if you can be this way you will stand out.

Dont be afraid to share your story with others. There is a very fine line here between bragging and sharing. Speak confidently about what you do, allow your passion for it to shine through.

Let the person know you, know something about them and appreciate what they do. Without sounding stalkerish, mention a recent post of theirs you read, or tell them how helpful you found their latest book. Make it short and sweet.

Lose your arrogance

Im sure we have all met the person who thinks they are so far above you that you are not even worthy a look down their nose. These people stink and have no idea about building relationships. When their walls come tumbling down they will find no one around to help build them back up.

I dont care how big or how successful you are there is no one who is not worthy of your time. Besides, how do you know the success these people may have in the future?

The more success you have the harder it is to devote enough time with others who want to get to know you. It is like when you get married, the evening finishes and you feel really rude because you did not get a chance to speak to your hundreds of guest. Do the best you can. Always offer a smile at least, and a nice to meet you. People will understand you are busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat them with respect and leave a good impression.

When talking with others always ensure that you spend time getting to know them. Ask them about their life and what they do. Do not spend the whole time talking about how wonderful you and your product, website or blog is.

Follow Up

The fortune is in the follow up. Allocate time in your busy schedule to follow up with those you have recently met and would like to build a relationship with. Send them a quick email, facebook status update or even a tweet.

Let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them and you look forward to meeting them in the future. If you spoke about any particular topic, mention it with perhaps an answer, a website, or a link you can send their way with helpful information.

Always be sure to pass on your gratitude and appreciation for anything that people have taken the time to help you with. I know it is easy to forget sometimes, but you must make this a habit. I have had people contact me via email for help before, and I have taken time out of my busy schedule to help them out. Sometimes I never hear from these people again, not even a one sentence thank you. It always amazes me as that is a prime opportunity for relationship building lost. I’m less likely to help that person in the future.

Start connecting with your new friends online. Join their social communities, comment on their work and share it. This all helps to cement a deeper relationship with these people.

Entrepreneurs are always happy to network and share. They understand the power that comes from building relationships. You just never know where that relationship may lead.

Never be afraid to approach people. You are worthy of their time and you have a lot to offer. If you approach your networking from this perspective, with an open mind for learning and sharing you will build strong and positive relationships with others.

People help open up doors that you never had the clear vision to see. You also have the ability to help open these doors for others.

Caz and Craig Makepeace have been living and travelling the globe since 97, both solo and as a couple and now with a three year old. They believe life is all about the memories and their travel tips and stories at yTravel blog and their fanpage aim to inspire and teach others how to make their life a story to tell.