Valerie Stimac knows why SEO matters for your blogging success. She is an SEO Coach for Wanderful Creator Members and just launched her SEO course with the Wanderful Academy. Get her top tips here and check out the course to learn more.
When I started travel blogging seven years ago, I had heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but it was not a pivotal part of my strategy. I spent several years writing articles, trying to figure out how to get traffic from social media, and frustrated that my site wasn’t growing.
Then I decided to try and learn how to get my site to show up higher in Google – through SEO – and my whole blogging journey changed.
Suddenly I was getting traffic, emails, and even income from my readers and the actions they were taking on my site.
SEO is now considered to be a critical foundation for any successful blogging strategy.
Why SEO Matters for Bloggers
SEO separates the influencers – who build large audiences on social media platforms they don’t own – from creators, who build loyal communities of readers who are equally inspired to book and buy experiences and products from them.
Influencers generally don’t need SEO; creators absolutely do.
My success with SEO is part of what inspired me to work with Wanderful to create the SEO for Travel Bloggers and Businesses course.
SEO made it possible for me to leave my full-time role in 2018 and rely entirely on my websites (yes, I now have several!) to pay my bills, student loans, and travel expenses (until this year – now I’m saving up like crazy!).
If you’re uncertain about whether SEO is really that important, I’ve put together some of the reasons why I think SEO matters for your travel blog or business.
These reasons apply right now in 2020, but will also be accurate for years to come.
#1: Organic Traffic is Free
No matter what stage your blog or business is in, it’s always a good idea to get as much as you can for free. That includes traffic you can then use to make money in other ways (like advertising and affiliate marketing).
When you do SEO well, you receive more “organic traffic” – the official term for visitors that come to your site from a search engine for free.
Just like social media channels, you can get free traffic and paid traffic. But unlike social media sites, it’s still very possible to get a lot of traffic for free from search engines.
(Social media sites are increasingly “pay to play,” meaning you have to get ads to reach people – even the followers you already have!)
There are certainly lots of algorithms that search engines use to decide which pages should rank for which terms and in what order.
But learning the basics (and more advanced skills) of SEO and applying them well will help you take advantage of the algorithm to get traffic without having to “pay to play.”
#2: Search Engines are Getting Smarter
Speaking of the search engines and their algorithms: yes, it’s getting harder to get the free traffic mentioned above. But that’s mostly because search engines are getting smarter.
Note that we’re talking mostly about Google – that’s because Google-owned sites comprise over 90% of searches done on the internet!
While Google and other search engines do have design features and other cool things that interfere with people clicking to our websites, they also have algorithms that border on the level of AI.
As search engines get smarter at understanding and ranking pages, that makes good SEO skills even more critical for website success.
The rules that used to apply – even as recently as five years ago – are just not going to cut it anymore if you want Google to love your site and send you free traffic.
That’s part of why I spend several modules in the SEO for Travel Bloggers & Businesses course talking about advanced-level SEO topics.
We cover concepts like E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) and other ways you can make your site even better for readers. That grants your site more favor with Google and other search engines.
#3: Google Isn’t Going Anywhere
As you learn about SEO, you’ll soon understand that everyone has a love-hate relationship with Google.
We love Google when our sites rank highly and we get lots of free traffic.
We hate Google when there’s an algorithm change and we get less traffic. Losing traffic can cause a cascade in lost income and opportunities.
A lot of people have become frustrated enough to advocate using other search engines to try and convince their readers to do the same.
But here’s the reality: Google isn’t going anywhere.
Most of our lives are also part of the Google ecosystem. Consider your email, calendars, contact lists, and so much more, all within Google.
Guess what else is part of the Google ecosystem? Those helpful recommended searches when you’re surfing the internet or trying to remember the name of that one music video on YouTube.
Yes, Google is a big company – maybe too big, since they don’t really have fair competition to help them “do no evil” like their old company motto. But they’re also insanely helpful to us as users and as site creators when we’re willing to do SEO the way they want it done.
It’s okay to get frustrated in your SEO journey if Google doesn’t always treat you fairly. But it’s also important to stay up on Google news and updates so that you can continue to do the best SEO possible and reap the benefits that are available from this search engine giant.
#4: SEO Helps You Establish Expertise
Did you know that people consider many sites that show up #1 or #2 on Google to be experts in that topic?
I didn’t realize that until I started getting emails from readers and it became clear that they thought I knew everything possible about the destinations I was writing about.
Doing SEO well and ranking highly gives your readers the perception that you are an expert. And you can use that to your advantage!
Obviously you shouldn’t pretend to be an expert about a topic or destination if you’re not, but this is one of the unsung benefits of SEO people often forget.
If you are an expert to Google, you’ll be an expert to other people, too. You can use that to pitch new opportunities like partnerships, press, and even speaking gigs.
#5: Travel Sites Need SEO (Even During a Crisis)
We’re launching this course in a challenging time. The Coronavirus pandemic brought the travel industry to its knees in early 2020 and we still don’t know the full, long-term impacts of the economic contraction we’re living in.
But despite the increased risk to public health and the economy, people continue to dream about destinations and plan trips. And, yes, people are even still traveling.
As travel creators and businesses, we are still in demand.
That’s only going to increase from this point since we’ve likely experienced the worst shock to the industry already.
Learning why SEO matters will help your business show up when people search travel topics you’re an expert in. It will help your business or blog to grow and could even insulate you against any uncertainty in the future.
This is an exhausting, stressful time. But it is also the time to invest in your blog and your business so you can be as well placed as possible when the world opens for travel again.
Feature image by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels