What is SEO & How it Works for Small Businesses in Tourism

by Last Updated: Apr 12, 2023SEO, Small Businesses

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In the world of digital marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential tool that can help businesses improve their online presence and reach their target audience.

The problem is that for many businesses, SEO is perceived a complex and technical subject. This is because business owners often struggle to understand the basics of how it works and what needs to be done to implement it effectively.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to explain the basics of search engine optimisation with WordPress in simple “layman’s” terms.

We’ll explore what is SEO, how it works, why it’s important and how it differs from other forms of digital marketing.


What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website to increase its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) with the ultimate goal of driving traffic to a website through organic search results.

Ok, but what are organic search results?

Organic search results relate to the listings you see on the first page of a search engine (eg. Google) after conducting a search for a specific term or query.

Unlike paid advertising (sponsored listings), SEO is an unpaid method of marketing – the top positions are earned not paid for.


The Importance of SEO in the Tourism Niche

SEO is a critical component of any digital marketing strategy.

According to a study by Search Engine Journal, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. This means that if your website does not appear in search results, you are missing out on potential customers.

Additionally, SEO is a cost-effective method of driving traffic to your website.

Unlike paid advertising, SEO does not require ongoing expenses to maintain traffic. While it may take time and effort to implement a successful SEO strategy, the long-term benefits can be significant.

Finally, SEO can help to build trust and credibility with your existing audience and potential future customers.

When your website appears at the top of search results, it signals to users that your website is relevant and trustworthy. This can increase the likelihood that users will click on your website and engage with your content.

That is why it is especially important to focus on simple ways you can improve Google SEO for your business, especially if in the Australian tourism niche.

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How SEO Differs from Other Forms of Digital Marketing

While SEO is a critical component of any digital marketing strategy, it differs from other forms of digital marketing in several ways.


1. Paid Advertising

Paid advertising, also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, involves placing ads on search engine results pages or other websites.

With PPC advertising, businesses pay for each click on their ad, and the cost per click varies based on the competitiveness of the keywords and the demand for ad space.

Unlike SEO, PPC advertising offers immediate results, as ads can appear at the top of search results within hours of launching a campaign. However, it requires ongoing cost to maintain traffic, and the cost per click can quickly add up.

Additionally, users may be more likely to click on organic search results, as they are perceived as more trustworthy and relevant than ads.


2. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing involves promoting a business through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This can include creating content, running ads, and engaging with followers.

While social media marketing can help to build brand awareness and engage with potential customers, it does not directly impact search engine rankings (outside of Youtube/Pinterest that is).

While social media can indirectly impact SEO, by increasing brand visibility and driving traffic to a website, it is not typically a direct ranking factor. However, social media can be a powerful tool for building backlinks, as well as improving overall brand authority and reputation.

3. Email Marketing

Email marketing involves using email to promote products or services to a list of subscribers, it doesn’t allow you to reach new customers (who aren’t subscribed to your email list).

While email marketing can be an effective way to reach existing customers, it does not directly impact search engine rankings.

4. Content Marketing

Content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable content to attract and engage a target audience.

While content marketing can improve search engine rankings by building backlinks and increasing website authority, it is not a direct ranking factor. Additionally, it requires ongoing effort to create and distribute content, which can be time-consuming.

5. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves partnering with other businesses or individuals to promote products or services in exchange for a commission.

While affiliate marketing can drive traffic to a website and generate revenue, it does not directly impact search engine rankings.



An Introduction to the SEO Pyramid

Given SEO involves a multitude of steps to achieve the best results, the concept of the “SEO Pyramid” was developed to help to simplify the process.

The SEO pyramid is a framework that’s used to explain the various components of a successful SEO strategy. It’s a model that breaks down the different elements of SEO into three key tiers:

  1. Technical SEO
  2. On-page SEO
  3. Off-page SEO


1. Technical SEO

At the base of the pyramid, Technical SEO is the foundation that supports the entire structure.

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimising the technical aspects of a website to ensure that search engines can crawl and index the site effectively.

This includes factors such as website speed, mobile-friendliness, website security, and structured data. Without a strong technical foundation, the rest of the pyramid is likely to be less effective.


2. On-Page SEO

The next tier of the SEO pyramid is On-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to the optimisation of individual pages on a website. This includes factors such as keyword research, meta tags, internal linking, and content optimisation.

This pillar of search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential for ensuring that search engines can understand the content on a website and how it relates to the user’s search query.


3. Off-Page SEO

At the top of the pyramid, Off-page SEO focuses on building the authority and reputation of a website through external factors such as backlinks and social media engagement.

Off-page SEO is essential for establishing a website’s credibility and authority within its industry and improving its visibility in search engine results.

While each tier of the SEO pyramid is critical, it’s essential to understand that they all work together to form a comprehensive SEO strategy.

A website with strong technical SEO may still struggle to rank highly in search results if its content is poorly optimised or lacks authority in its industry.

Likewise, a website with high-quality content and authority may struggle to rank if its technical SEO is lacking.


The Benefits of Using the SEO Pyramid When Building Your Strategy

One of the key benefits of the SEO pyramid is that it helps businesses prioritise their SEO efforts.

By focusing on the foundational elements of Technical SEO and on-page SEO, businesses can establish a strong base for their website and ensure that their content is optimised for search engines.

Once these elements are in place, businesses can focus on building authority through off-page SEO.

Another benefit of the SEO pyramid is that it can help businesses avoid common SEO mistakes.

For example, businesses may focus too heavily on:

  • Social media or building backlinks without ensuring that their website’s technical and on-page SEO is optimised.
  • Keyword stuffing (A BIG no no!) and fail to provide valuable content for their users.

The SEO pyramid provides a framework for businesses to ensure that they are covering all the essential elements of an effective SEO strategy.

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The Five Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use complex algorithms to rank websites in their search results.

Their algorithms consider a variety of factors including the relevance of the content, the user experience, the website’s authority, and the overall quality of the website.

SEO involves optimising a website to align with these algorithms and improve its ranking in search results.

There are several key elements that contribute to a successful SEO strategy.

These include:

  • Keyword Research: Identifying the search terms that potential customers are using when searching for products or services related to your business.
  • On-page Optimisation: Optimising the content and structure of your website to align with the search algorithms, including using relevant keywords, optimising headings and tags, and improving site speed and usability.
  • Off-page Optimisation: Building the authority of your website by earning high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites.
  • Technical Optimisation: Ensuring that the technical elements of your website, such as the site structure, mobile responsiveness, and security, meet the standards set by search algorithms.
  • Content Creation: Developing high-quality, relevant content that engages your target audience and aligns with their search queries.


An image showcasing "What is seo" including the 6 key areas of SEO.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.


1. Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy.

As mentioned above, it involves identifying the keywords and phrases that your target audience is using to search for products or services related to your business.

By targeting the right keywords, you can attract the right audience to your website and increase your chances of converting them into customers.

To start your keyword research, you can use a variety of SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, UberSuggest, SEMrush, and Moz to discover the search volume and competition level of your target keywords.

These tools can help you identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business and/or have the highest search volume.

Once you have identified the right keywords, you can incorporate them into your website’s content, meta tags, URLs, and other on-page elements to improve your website’s relevance and ranking on search engines.

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2. On-Page Optimisation

On-page optimisation refers to the process of optimising the content and structure of your website to make it more search engine friendly

It includes elements like title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, image alt tags, internal linking, and content optimisation.

  • Title tags are the most important on-page element that search engines use to determine the content of a web page. It is the title that appears in the search results and should be optimised with your target keywords and should accurately reflect the content of the page.
  • Meta descriptions are the short descriptions that appear below the title tags in search results. These descriptions should also be optimised with your target keywords and should be written to encourage users to click on your website.
  • Header tags (H1, H2, H3) are used to structure the content of a web page and make it easier to read. They also provide search engines with an understanding of the content hierarchy of the page.
  • Image alt tags are used to describe the content of images on a web page. They are important for accessibility and can also be used to optimise images for search engines.

Internal linking refers to the process of linking to other pages within your website.

It helps search engines understand the content hierarchy of your website and can improve the user experience by making it easier for users to navigate your website.


3. Off-Page Optimisation

As mentioned above, off-page optimisation relates to building the authority of your website by earning high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites.

Link building is one of the most important off-page SEO strategies and can have a significant impact on your website’s ranking on search engines.

There are two types of links:

  • Internal links
  • External links

Internal links are links that point to other pages on your website (ie. within your own website) whereas external links are links that point to your website from other websites (ie. external to your own site).

To build external links, you can use a variety of tactics like guest blogging, broken link building, and creating high-quality content that other websites will want to link to.

When acquiring external links, it is important to focus on quality over quantity. Links from high-authority and relevant websites are more valuable than links from low-authority or irrelevant websites.


4. Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimising the technical aspects of your website to make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website.

It includes elements like website speed, mobile-friendliness, and site structure.

Website speed is a critical factor in SEO, as search engines prioritise fast-loading websites. To improve your website’s speed, you can optimise your images, minify your CSS and JavaScript, and use a content delivery network (CDN) to cache your website’s content.

Mobile-friendliness is also important in SEO, as more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.

To ensure that your website is mobile-friendly, you can use a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and test your website on different mobile devices.

Site structure refers to the organisation of the content on your website. It is important to have a clear and logical structure that is easy to navigate for both users and search engines.

You can use a sitemap to help search engines understand the structure of your website.


5. Content Optimisation

Content optimisationis the process of creating high-quality and relevant content that is optimised for search engines.

It includes creating content that is well-written, informative, and engaging for your target audience.

The content should also be optimised with your target keywords and should include images and videos that add value to the content.

It is important to create content that is unique and original, and not copied from other websites. Duplicate content can harm your website’s ranking on search engines, so it is important to create content that is unique to your website.


Two Important Considerations When Building Your SEO Strategy


1. SEO Should Not be Treated in Isolation.

While a well-executed SEO strategy can improve a website’s online visibility, it’s just one component of a broader digital marketing strategy.

Businesses should also consider other digital marketing channels, such as social media, paid search advertising, and email marketing, to reach their target audience and achieve their business objectives.

By adopting a holistic and strategic approach to digital marketing, businesses can achieve their online objectives and succeed in a competitive online landscape.

Image showcasing the basics of SEO (search engine optimisation)

2. SEO is Not a Quick Fix

SEO takes time and requires ongoing effort to maintain and improve a website’s search engine visibility.

Therefore, businesses need to be patient, persistent and prepared to invest the time and resources necessary to see long-term results.

In Summary:

What is SEO & How it Works for Small Businesses in Tourism

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for businesses of all sizes.

Unlike paid advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and affiliate marketing, SEO is an unpaid, organic method of marketing that requires significant effort and time.

This makes it is a critical component of any digital marketing strategy especially within the tourism niche, as it can help to:

  • Increase your visibility in search results
  • Improve your website’s authority
  • Attract more traffic to your website
  • Build trust and credibility with potential customers.

While it requires ongoing effort and time to implement a successful strategy, the long-term benefits can be significant.

By focusing time on quality keyword research, on-page optimisation, content optimisation, link building and technical SEO, you have a greater chance of attracting the right audience to your website and increasing your chances of converting them into loyal customers.

By incorporating SEO into your digital marketing strategy, you can set your business apart from the competition and achieve long-term success and growth.

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