Travel SEO Case Study

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Vertical: Luxury travel

Services: SEO strategy, technical SEO, content development, link building.

Results in a nutshell: Organic traffic grew by 567%. The website’s most important pages rank for 368 bottom-of-the-funnel (aka money) keywords. Over a hundred high-quality warm leads each month, where the average value of each lead is over $1,000.

SEO Project Beginnings

The state of the website when we started our SEO work for this luxury travel company.

The Challenge

The client is one of the top players in the luxury vacation rental industry with 38 years of history. However, they noticed that even newer competitors were passing them by on the search engines. This client had many 10+ rankings, but they didn’t receive much traffic from these positions. 

The website was built on older technology, and no proper SEO audit had been done on the website. In addition, pages have been weak from a content perspective. The site had decent inbound links, but these links were pointing mainly to the homepage. 

The additional challenge was that just a few months into the campaign, the client had to pause most of the activities due to the COVID lockdowns. 

The Goal

The client knew that SEO had the best ROI for them, especially relative to customer lifetime value. They provide exceptional service, so they have a lot of repeat business. 

A 10%-20% year-over-year increase in villa rental inquiries from organic search visits was the original goal.  

Strategy in a Nutshell

The SEO strategy included three main elements. SEO doesn’t have to be overly complicated. 

  • SEO Audit, on-page technical updates, and optimizations
  • Creating high-value, authoritative content structured in silos
  • Building links, homepage and internal

And one more important factor is consistency. In other words, consistently working on the above three factors.

A Closer Look at the SEO Strategy

Step #1 SEO Audit

We created a 37-page SEO audit and competitive analysis. Even though it’s a long document, this audit was highly actionable. We used ICE scoring to order the specific recommendations based on impact, confidence, and effort. 

Altogether, we found 1763 errors, broken links, images, and pages with issues. 

Fixed duplicate and empty title tags on 457 pages. Added 124 relevant internal links pointing to important destination pages. 

We recovered 26 broken inbound links by redirecting them to other relevant pages within the client’s website. 

Step #2 In-depth Keyword Research

Multiple iterations of topic and keyword research were completed. We identified topics and pages we wanted to extend and keywords to cover using newly developed pages. 

We started out with a topic research where we identified the main topics. We then created individual keyword research and brief/outline for each new page. 

individual keyword research

In Ahrefs we also identified content gaps — the pages our competitors had and ranked for and our client didn’t.

Since the site had some history, we could focus on the bottom of the funnel (aka profitable and commercial) keywords and topics. If this weren’t the case, we would have focused on easier, top-of-the-funnel information-type keywords first so as to build authority and trust with search engines. 

Step #3 Created Silos

One of the changes we have made is to build out and use silos, instead of adding content to blog posts. This way, we have improved the organization and accessibility of the content.

We decided on the important, destination-related keywords often sought by people and easily accessible to search engines. The shift from adding content to blog posts to using silos has positively impacted our website’s organization, user experience, and SEO performance. 

With silos in place, website visitors and search engines easer found additional information about a specific destination they were interested in. They had all the relevant information and links in the same section of the webpage, so they didn’t have to search the site for it. 

This created a longer time on site and a better overall user experience.

Step #4 Content Update and Development

High-quality, helpful content is one of the most important aspects of any successful SEO strategy. 

We had identified a few very specific user personas so we could tailor our content to them. 

So far, we have written and published 93 new pages and updated and extended 45 pages. Since the client has local knowledge of the destinations they service, wherever relevant, we added a unique “pro tip” coming from them. This allowed us to make these pages stand out. 

When you’re creating the brief and outline for each page, be sure to take a look at the top 10 results of the SERPs.

Pay attention to the type of sites that pop up and the type of content they have. Are they listicles, long-form info articles, comparisons, etc.? 

These are the types of content Google is expecting and ranking. Missing this step is a surefire way not to have a good position on the SERPs. 

Step #5 Link Building

After publishing in-depth and informative long-form content, our next focus was on establishing links to many of these pages. 

After all, high-quality, relevant backlinks are one of the main drivers behind a successful SEO campaign.

After we put together our list of websites and contacts, we eliminated the ones that were either blacklisted or not a good fit.

Our link-building efforts primarily centered on providing value to people we reached out to. So we weren’t just asking if we could publish a post on their blog. Instead, we wrote a unique email pitch and always tried to provide value and build relationships. 

One of these was when we leveraged our client’s 20K+ Facebook followers, and offered to promote the new blog post we created for them. 

Once we were in the negotiation phase, we made sure that we only proceeded with websites that met our strict criteria. 

Here are some of the most important criteria we considered during the website negotiation phase:

  • Relevance. Only topically relevant websites.
  • DR-30+ (Domain Rating)
  • More than 1000 monthly verifiable organic traffic. Double-checking to be sure the website is not playing tricks with redirects, or going after high-volume irrelevant keywords to boost their traffic numbers
  • No PBN sites
  • No outgoing links to banned topics (CBD, online casino, adult, etc.). Since we are in the travel space, links to brick-and-mortar casinos are OK, but travel sites in general should not link to online casino websites. 
  • Low spam score – making sure we stay out of bad neighborhoods.

Overall, we reached out to 1,823 website owners and acquired 112 highly relevant links to various pages on the client’s websites. 

We also completed other types of link building, such as link reclamation, broken link building, and gained high-value links via the HARO strategy.

Results

Keyword Growth

Keyword positions started increasing after 4 months; however, during 2 of these months, the campaign was essentially paused. 

After a slow start, we were back in business and at the 12-month mark, the number of top 3 positions had grown by 51%. By the 24-month mark, the site had added 224% more top 3 rankings than when the project began, Jumping from 112 to 363. 

Organic Traffic Increase

Organic traffic similarly started increasing after 4 months into the project. At the end of 12 months, the site realized 121% organic traffic growth

And by the 24-month mark, the site was seeing a 318% increase in traffic. 

Finally, at the writing of this case study, this number is 567%. Monthly traffic went from 1,673 to 11,158. In other words, the organic traffic has increased by almost 7X. 

Just like our client, we were happy to see this level of growth, especially when they were expecting 10%-20%. 

More Inquiries for Bookings

At the 12-month milestone, our client saw 208% more inquiries year-over-year. 

We are thrilled to have contributed to such remarkable growth. To reiterate, SEO provides the best ROI. 

Want to see similar results at your travel company? 

Start by scheduling a FREE Strategy Session.