You are about two steps ahead of the game when you are selling something as cool as adventure tourism. It is most likely you have a lot of cool photos of beautiful places and people having fun – who doesn’t want to see this. Hey, it could be worse, you could be selling porta-potties or items that just aren’t that glamorous.
When it comes to adventure travel and guided tours, the market is pretty darned competitive. Anybody who has set up shop in any place worth seeing knows it doesn’t take long before there is about two or three more companies just like yours offering the same service. So what can you do?
Here are a few tips we have put together from working with a number of adventure tour companies and analyzing not only their websites and marketing plans but also their competitors.
Optimized Photos and More Photos
Photos and more Photos. Believe it or not, some adventure tour websites skimp on the photos. They put one or two up in the header and then maybe, just maybe, one more in the body. Take advantage of utilizing and leveraging your great photos by integrating them throughout the body of your website. But don’t stop there, make sure each photo is carefully named with a keyword identifying where it is and after that image is uploaded tag it with a title and alt tag that match that keyword.
- An Example would be – if you have a photo of a remote part of Yellowstone Park that you take guests, don’t name the photo after this remote area that few have heard of, instead call it “Yellowstone park scenic trail” or something to that affect. Do this for every photo you put up on every page and do it often. Google Images is a popular search tool. You can find it at http://www.google.com/imghp. Give it a try. Type in one of your trips and see whose photos come up.
- Who shows up? Let’s see if they played by the rules with naming their photos, using title and alt meta tags behind the photos in the website code? I typed in the search phrase “grand canyon hiking tour” within Google images and received a number of photos. In order for me to understand why Google decided who would show up before the others, I had to take a look at the code. The first two photos code looked like this:
<img src=”image/hiking.jpg” alt=”Daily Grand Canyon Hiking” title=”Grand Canyon Hiking” width=”700”>
The second image was a little different, this company didn’t name the image right but they used this keyword in their alt tag. “grand canyon hiking tour”.
<img alt=Grand canyon hiking tour” src=”/images/DSC0052.jpg style=”width 350 px” height 263px”><em>Grand Canyon Hiking Tour
If I scroll down pick out one of the last images I see this image, which is clearly people on a grand canyon hiking tour but the image is labeled like so:
<img style=”width:280px;height:156px;” src=”/uploads/img_397_2.jpg” alt=”image”
In this situation, the website is actually well optimized, has the right title and description tags but the photo itself flopped.
What we can gather based on doing a lot of these types of searches and tests, comparing websites and information is the following:
- As mentioned before naming your image with a keyword and its alt and title tag are best practice.
- Your website should be well optimized with the right title and description tags per page; all contribute to their photos doing so well.
- Your website should have a healthy set of links pointing to it.
- Image size is often indicated in code of images showing up higher up in the image search.
Links and Publicity
So here is the deal, links back to your site have always been a big deal. They still are, the trick is obtaining links honestly and this requires some big picture planning and time. For adventure travel companies, your ideal links are coming from journalists or bloggers who feature your service on their very popular magazine or website. With this said, you have to ask yourself why somebody would want to feature you – why not feature your competitor.
You have to identify your Unique Selling Point (USP) – what makes your company different, cooler, more interesting? If you don’t have a USP then you need to really focus on obtaining one.
Here is an example. Cycle Greater Yellowstone has a handful of competitors when it comes to guided bicycle tours in Yellowstone National Park. When we look at the Page Authority of the website we see they have a rank of 45.
Why is it so high? Notice the competitors below them aren’t doing as well We take a look at where there links are coming from and we see among many links this cool article written in Mother Earth News about the cycling company titled “Green Transportation”. This page on Mother Earth News has a value of 44, which means they are passing some of that juice back to Cycle Greater Yellowstone.
Begin brainstorming about what is newsworthy about your trips or service and then approach journalists with a pitch. Make sure their site does have a high Page Authority and is reputable along with a large following. Having this occur you kill two birds with one stone – obtain a great link and get exposure before potential clients who may sign up with you.
It also doesn’t hurt that the article has a link to Cycle Greater Yellowstone at the beginning of the article as Google like first links before secondary and last links.
Lateral and Contextual Marketing
We Googled from our personal computer the phrase “jackson hole wyoming wildlife tours” Two sites that had identical Page Authority came up in first and then third position. We wanted to know why one would get first position while the other got third. We looked at their social media shares to see if that made the influencing difference. It seemed the website in the third position had more shares and likes (which may be why it ranked above other competitors but why not above jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com?
See graphs below before we move on.
After looking at a number of metrics, knowing we couldn’t examine every metric because Google takes into consideration hundreds of factors, we did notice that Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris had a higher Domain Authority. This combined with its high Page Authority pushed it to the top.
So the answer to the riddle is that everything must fall into place with regularity and rhythm to get the numbers you need behind the scenes to show up well in search engines. (I say this with the stipulation that search engines and rankings aren’t the only way to book business and make more sales – it is just one of many ways therefore don’t think it is the end all to the be all).
To obtain high quality Page Authority and Domain Authority means the following:
- Lots of quality links back to your website
- Optimized website
- Great structure of the website and usability
- High click through rate on site
- High use of social media sharing, likes, google+.
- Engagement with your materials such as comments on your blogs
- Fresh content on your blogs
- Strong internal linking
- Removal of spam links
To read more about factors Google takes into consideration when rating your site, you can read this article we wrote on SEO in 2014. Within this article you will read about other factors important in marketing your company such as:
- Quality and quantities of reviews on Google, TripAdvisor and more.
- Writing quality, helpful and informative content.
- Building trust and integrity on the web.
A Strong Social Media Presence
As Google looks to determine your site’s authority and whether the content and information on your site is of any interest to readers, one of the first places they check is Google+, Twitter and other online platforms.
With Google’s semantic search, Google maps interactions and relationships between people, their interests, what others feel is important enough to share or comment about – to determine who and what plays a role in how your website will rank.
Social media is the primary stepping stone of all content’s presence – without social media it is likely your content will not get discovered as easily nor ever go viral. Building the foundation of your social media presence by building relationships, collecting influencers and building quality followers is key in then helping your own content get recognized and promoted.
While you think your brand rocks enough you don’t need to engage with others nor do you feel it’s worth your time to maintain your social media accounts – think again. Social media isn’t just about passing around fun jokes or quotes but truly about helping your own SEO efforts out.
Check out what The Great River Road, known for their Mississippi River Tour info is doing with Pinterest. They are thinking outside of the box and have developed a set of boards highlighting all the areas one can explore the Mississippi while sharing amazing photos. Incidentally they are showing up on Google in first place for the query “Mississippi River Tour”.
Behind them in second place is American Queen Steamboat Company who has luxurious steamboat trips. In looking at all their social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube – they are covering their grounds well and staying deeply involved.
Content That Matters
Gone are the days of shallow content that any second rate writer could whip out that meant nothing but had a lot of strong keywords in it. Now content has to answer questions, provide solutions, be of real assistance to people if you want your content to get recognized, linked to and passed around on social media. Remember content does not have to just be writing – it can be videos, audio, photos, and more.
For instance, this Montana fly fishing website offers Fishing Reports for all of the rivers they fish from as well as the temperature. You can see how people might bookmark this page and return to it time and time again. This information may not always be used by potential clients but even if the locals are using it they are building up that website’s page authority by the number of visits to this page, the time spent on the page and any sharing they might do of the information on this page.
Practicing all of these items in a consistent manner and not just when business is slow, will help your business start to pick up traction over competitors or maintain first positions within search engines over time.