6 Ways To Build Digital Footprint & SEO For Travel Brand And Destination Marketing 

Link building for travel brands can be more difficult than in other verticals. Since the mid-nineteenth century, when the modern era of travel began, the travel industry has placed a premium on content and organic audience.

In the twenty-first century, organic traffic from search engines, web platform and social media has been a significant driver of eyeballs to travel companies. Links are the new press, and they’re just as important for travel brands as they’ve always been. Use these suggestions to build links and gain more exposure for your company.

1. Exposure/Press Tours

Press tours are exceptional to the travel industry, as there are not many other industries where it truly makes sense. To put it simply, a travel brand connects with a travel journalist to offer them a free trip in exchange for expected coverage. It’s also one of the most common ways to get coverage, as it’s somewhat of a no-brainer for both parties. This also corresponds between the lines of sponsorship and an organic influencers exchange. This line can be drawn in an agreement set up of both parties.

When an agency like Ronel tours demands positive coverage in exchange for the trip, then it’s definitely in sponsorship and advertising territory. If the free trip is given, regardless of the outcome, then it’s more in the clear for an organic exchange. This can be quite an expensive way for a travel agency to build links and good publicity. It’s natural for a hotel to offer a few free rooms during their off-season to a group of journalists and Influencers. The hotel in turn gets some publicity coverage and the rooms wouldn’t have gone empty.

Where the Return on Investment won’t be viable when the travel brand like Ronel tour is to fully fund a whole expensed paid to tour experience and also ensure that the experience is top-notch. There’s also a huge dependency on who the journalist is. If it’s a writer for The Daily Graphic, go for it, as that will pay dividends for years. If it’s a handful of travel bloggers that just started recently, you’ll want to consider that arrangement.

2. Product Publicity

In product publicity, the travel agency creates a temporary or outlandish offering to get the attention of people and a targeted audience.

The best example is Xperience Ghana announcing the Malibu beach house that you can stay in for GHC150 a night. This is a stunt as it’s only available for two nights and is in partnership with Xperience Ghana for the Ghana day celebrations. While overall silly and entertaining, it’s just the thing the bloggers and influencers would want to write and be part of.

3. Guest Posts

Guest posts are extremely hard to place in the travel industry. There’s something about travel bloggers that makes them demand money for any guest post on their blog from brands.

Perhaps the boho-chic Tulum vibes they project in their posts don’t jive well with your infographic about packing light for a trip to the Bahamas. I suppose you can’t blame them to some degree.

When a travel brand first thinks of starting a link building campaign, the obvious conclusion is pitching travel blogs, which makes sense on the surface. The reality is that they’re a tough cartel to crack.

Most of your outreach will be met with demands of payment of a few hundred dollars, regardless of the traffic quality of the site.

The workaround? You want to find lateral industries that are accepting of guest posts.

Business, tech, productivity, parenting, and health blogs tend to be much more receptive to your contribution of free content.

Find overlapping angles that address both markets, such as facial recognition in the travel industry, where you’re pitching security blogs but also still on topic with travel.

4. Paid Links

Paid links are a touchy subject in the SEO world, but they do exist in reality.

More often than not, if you dig deep, you’ll find well-known cruise lines and hotel chains paying for placement on travel blogs and other websites, which perpetuates the cycle of demanding payment for links.

According to Ahrefs, there’s no other industry that demands paid links more than the travel industry:

For those who have built links in the industry, you can’t be too shocked, yet it’s still insane that it’s 3-5x more common than in most other industries.

There’s a problem in travel with paid links, but it’s likely fueled by the demand from travel brands and the dream of travel bloggers to travel the world and live off their blogs. A potent combination that leads to this chart.

Should you buy paid links as a travel brand? I’d recommend against it unless you’re experienced in the field.

In the short run it may work – even for a few years – but as those blogs accept more and more paid links that may deteriorate the value of your link over time.

There are plenty of other ways to earn links with a bit more creativity and thoughtfulness.

5. Visual Content

Visual content for travel link building typically comes in the form of creative maps, infographics, or custom smaller visuals. The nuanced approach here is it comes down to designing the visual to target the right market.

If you create an infographic about “travelling light” you have to think about who’s going to be receptive to this.

Travel bloggers will ignore you and 99.5% won’t post without payment, so you have to creatively think of lateral markets that would be interested in engaging with your idea.

You also can’t focus too much on your product or service, or it will look too self-serving.

The proof?

My team and I once pitched a travel service-oriented infographic to 3,000+ bloggers and got only a handful of placements. So there’s a lot of weight to choosing the audience and content well for it to be a success.

The solution once again is to find linkable markets open to sharing third-party content, or if you are targeting high-end travel magazines, to go above and beyond and create premium visual content campaigns that will stand out against the deluge of mediocracy.

6. Surveys & Unique Data

Surveys can work well, depending on the audience and the content.

They can be subject to similar nuances as mentioned above in the visual content section, but there’s a little more leeway as you’re actually providing original data, and not just mashing up some old content with a new design.

Surveys work particularly well with actual journalists and the national press if they have a broad appeal. Find an interesting angle and present new information, and journalists may be highly receptive to this.

Another angle is to find a niche industry – such as cybersecurity – and craft your survey toward those bloggers and journalists.

Choosing the Strategy for your brand.

Most Importantly, there’s no one perfect method for link building to use a hundred per cent for your travel brand or agency. As time moves on there are newer trends which way the best suit your brand exposure, therefore you would want to mix it up and align it with your marketing strategy to yield the best results.

If you’re looking for pure branding and exposure, you’ll want to go for more of the strategies that will get you higher-end press and allow you to go viral. If you’re trying to promote a specific set of products, services or in marketing a destination, you’ll want to look at press trips or guest posts, where you can control the outcome a little bit more and get more product-oriented. When you are in the business of travel marketing and brand building, it’s important to make sure that you are maximizing your SEO and link building efforts. Whether you’re a local business, a tourism board, or an online travel agent, your efforts will be in vain if your target audience can’t find you digitally.