Imagine this scenario: You’ve gone live with your website and it looks great – it has everything travel shoppers need to book directly on your site. The content is good, the visuals look amazing, you have special offers, and you’ve ensured it’s mobile-friendly, but how do travel shoppers find you? The majority of organic traffic will come from search engines, so it’s important that your website ranks highly for your desired keywords.
When it comes to your website’s search engine ranking, on-page SEO is just the first 25% of what matters to search engines. The other 75% of SEO is dependent on off-page optimization, which is just a fancy way to say good quality links to your website.
What are links and why are they important?
A link is a connection between your website and another site. Links allow search engines to discover how pages are related to each other and in what ways. Since the late 1990s search engines have treated links as votes for popularity and importance in the ongoing democratic opinion poll of the web. Through links, engines can not only analyze the popularity of websites and pages based on the number and popularity of pages linking to them, but also metrics like trust, spam, and authority. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy sites receive very few links from trusted sources.
Search Engine bots look for and count link signals when determining rankings. Here are some link signals:
- Global Popularity: The more popular and important a site is, the more links from that site matter. A site like Wikipedia has thousands of diverse sites linking to it, which means it's probably a popular and important site. To earn trust and authority with the engines, you'll need the help of other link partners. The more popular, the better.
- Local/Topic Specific: Links from sites within a topic-specific community can matter more than links from general or off-topic sites. For hotels, links from sites like: popular area attractions, convention & visitors bureaus (CVBs), tourism boards or the local chamber of commerce would be ideal.
- Anchor Text: One of the strongest signals the engines use in rankings is anchor text. If dozens of links point to a page with the right keywords, that page has a very good probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in that anchor text.
- Freshness: Link signals tend to decay over time. Sites that were once popular often go stale, and eventually fail to earn new links. So it's important to continue earning additional links over time. Commonly referred to as "FreshRank," search engines use the freshness signals of links to judge current popularity and relevance.
- Trust Rank: Earning links from highly-trusted domains can result in a significant boost to this scoring metric. Universities, government websites and non-profit organizations represent examples of high-trust domains.
- Social Sharing: Although search engines treat socially shared links differently than other types of links, they notice them nonetheless. There is much debate among search professionals as to how exactly search engines factor social link signals into their algorithms, but there is no denying the rising importance of social channels.
In a nutshell, the best links for SEO are:
- Topically relevant
- One way (not reciprocated)
- Not in the footer and not site-wide (this looks spammy)
- Earned by merit, rather than bought, bartered or stolen
- Not crowded with many other links on the page
- On a highly trusted, authority site with a long history and in a pristine link neighborhood
How do you generate links?
A great way to generate inbound links is to provide helpful, quality content that others want to link to. For accommodation providers, think about partnering with websites of local restaurants, local attractions and community organizations, sharing their content and vice versa to drive traffic and improve ranking for your website.
There are many types of valuable links, such as:
- Directory links
- Links that generate temporary buzz
- Links that are paid for
- Vertical links (These are links on your own website, linking to other pages of your website; your header navigation for example.)
- Email based links
- Links from blogs
Here are 3 ways you can help earn links for your property’s website:
- Create Link-Worthy Content: Creating great content for your website is the first and most important step in earning links – after all, if you don’t have a site that anyone will want to link to, what’s the point? This means it’s important for you to provide tons of high-quality photos of your property, include lots of information about what to do in your area, and include any other interesting information you think a guest would like to know. In other words, create content that travel shoppers will find useful in order to drive sales. Having valuable content can boost your site’s ranking. FYI: Every photo, video, or description on your site is content.
- Keep your content fresh: As we mentioned above, one of the link signals is the relevancy of the content. So make sure your content is always up-to-date. Thankfully, you can easily do this in Vizlly.
- Guest content: If you have a blog, guest blogging could be useful to you as long as you select the right guest blogger. In other words, don’t just choose anyone. Make sure the guest blogger provides quality, relevant content.