From claiming your business on Google to YouTube and social media images, Bronwyn White takes you through five key steps for tourism success.
Claim your business on Google My Business
Google is usually the starting point for most web users when searching for products online. If you want these users to find you, you need to help Google to locate you by claiming your free listing on Google My Business page. After creating your Google My Business page and Google+ page for your business, go ahead and post lots of useful content that includes words, videos and images.
Don’t stop just once. You will be looked upon favourably by Google if you have a continued stream of updates, images and videos. Preferably every day.
You should also get as many user reviews on Google as you can. When you get five reviews, your yellow stars will start to display – your visibility will increase.
Today’s customers are more information-focused than ever. They are looking for valuable information and genuinely useful content. That is where content marketing comes into it.
Not only that, you need content, and lots of it for the search engines to find and figure you out through their machine learning algorithms. Without content, it is impossible for the search engines to get to know and trust you.
So, to achieve real success, you need to create compelling, useful content on a continual basis. Writing only a few articles and posting them on your Facebook page is not enough. You have to constantly churn out fresh, superb content that is up to date.
The content should not overtly advertise your business, but it can revolve around any topic in the field you serve. Try to educate to sell and solve consumer problems and answer questions, rather than just selling.
It can also be extremely advantageous to deliver that useful information in a variety of formats, since it will increase its appeal to your audiences and become more shareable. So make sure your content includes images, videos, infographics, pdfs, whitepapers and others – which are relevant and relate to your written content.
Use your blog and interlinked social media profiles to distribute your content.
When it comes to blogging and content creation, always keep in mind that the more often you publish, the better it is for your online presence. So, establish a solid blog and constantly post fresh, interesting and valuable content. Be prolific!
Quality content should be a priority over quantity. Poor content that is not useful or does not engage with your customer personas can damage your business trust and brand.
And remember to keep your blog posts scannable, with breakouts, lists, bullets, images and bold. Also, use keywords and naturally and include both internal links (linking to pages within your site) and external links (linking to other sites); as they still matter even in today’s semantic search world.
Make use of visuals in your marketing
Visuals are king right now. Mike Blumenthal tells us that Google really, really wants our images, particularly in your Google My Business profiles. This is super powerful for the travel and tourism industry.
And did you know that the search engine algorithms can actually read what is in your images? So, ensure that any images you use, relate directly to your content. Your images help provide context to the words for the search engines.
Video is rising rapidly. 96% of consumers find video useful when they are buying online.
YouTube is where it all happens for video. And here is something else you ought to know – Google owns YouTube. And as I preach: if you love Google, Google loves you back. Here are a few tips to optimise your YouTube videos:
- Prioritise YouTube and upload all your videos onto this search engine. YouTube videos feature high in SERPs for relevant keywords and comments often appear as individual posts on Google+. These will be very helpful in enhancing your online presence.
- When creating the title, be as descriptive as you can and try to use keywords
- Tag as many videos as you can, but ensure they are relevant to and fit with your brand and target audience
- Video descriptions are searchable content and you should, therefore, provide detailed descriptions
- Include the name, address and phone number of your business or destination in the description in the same format as it appears on your “Google My Business listing
- Include your website URL in description.
Use social media to distribute content and engage with potential customers
Social media are a powerful tool that can greatly boost your online presence. But you have to do social media right to reap the maximum benefits and achieve a robust online presence. Your content must be engaging, of interest and genuinely useful to your customers.
I like to view social media as a distributor of your amazingly useful content.
The more engaged your followers are, the more they share, like and comment on your content, the more inbound links to your site it generates and this adds greatly to your SEO ‘juice’.
Engagement helps your trust, reputation and authority. Shareability and the fact that your followers click on your links indicates to the search engines that you distribute content that is relevant and interesting to your target market.
Always remember, it is more important to have 100 truly interested and engaged followers than 1000 followers who do not engage with or share your content.
Successful social media marketing is about creating and/or joining online conversations which keep your audience (followers) involved and engaged.
Always encourage your customers to leave reviews on Google My Business and other platforms and try to actively respond to all of them in a helpful, informative and positive tone. Great responses to negative comments can sometimes be your best friend.
Your job is to provide meaningful, useful and high-quality content that is fresh and updated on a regular basis. Try as much as you can to interact with those who see your content. Always respond to comments.
When creating content, always be true to your brand personality. Find your voice (as part of your unique online identity) and let people see and recognise it whenever they come across your content online. Your authentic voice and personality are a part of your brand and will define your online presence.
Mobile is the future of the Internet. The majority of internet users and travellers now access the web using a mobile device, and if you don’t have a mobile friendly site these potential customers will become easily frustrated with your brand, and most likely abandon you for a competitor.
You can check your own site with the Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tester tool to determine whether your site is mobile friendly. Just plug your URL into the tester tool to find out if you’re responsive.
It will let you know if you are or you are not mobile friendly. And if not, it will tell you what you need to do to make it mobile friendly.
Aside from cross-device compatibility, make sure your website is speedy and easy to navigate. Content should be easy for search engines to parse and for users to scan. Include prominent calls to action, easy-to-fill forms, and anything else that enhances navigation.
So just to recap, there are five actions that you need to focus on this year to optimise your online and digital presence:
- Google My Business
- Social media
Good luck! And please let me know how you go.