Let’s face the facts. If you’ve gone to the effort of building a website for your tour, you want it to be found easily.
Optimising your website for search engines is essential to boosting your organic traffic and (hopefully) facilitating online bookings. However when it comes to understanding and implementing SEO strategy, one element remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
We’re talking about backlinks.
Conceptually backlinks are pretty easy to get your head around; as the name suggests they’re links that refer back to your website (they’re also called inbound links). Yet despite this, they’re often neglected by SEO campaigns and are relegated to the too-hard-to-deal-with basket.
This reputation is a) unfair and b) ill-founded. So we’re here to bust the myth.
We’re going to explore why backlinks are important to your SEO efforts and how to master them.
Learning to love backlinks: why they’re important
If you want to get found on a search engine you need backlinks, full stop. Backlinks affect rankings more than any other SEO element (sorry keywords and meta-descriptions). In fact, as reported by Entrepreneur, industry experts have estimated they account for a whooping 80% of the weight given to your website.
Your ranking all comes down to relevancy and authority. If you have relevant, trusted sources referring back to your website you too will be seen as relevant and trustworthy, so a search-engine will rank you higher.
In addition to boosting your organic traffic backlinks will make you more appealing to potential growth partners. This works in two ways:
1. If you’re ranked highly and companies are willing to promote your content you’ve established your brand as a trustworthy player within the industry. This provides a strong launch pad when you start reaching out to potential partners - making them more inclined to consider your offers.
2. By monitoring backlinks through sites such as Monitor Backlinks, you can keep an eye on who is referring to your content. Should you locate a distributor, you’ve got an increased opportunity for partnership. They’re already familiar with your brand AND have found value from your content. From here you can reach out to them and start nurturing your relationship. If you’d like more information on partnering with distributors read our blog post.
It should be noted that if you’re publishing your own content, some backlinks will come naturally. If you want to truly capitalise on them though you need to proactively secure them.
However, building out backlinks comes with it’s own code of ethics. Failure to comply to these schemes can result in a penalisation to your ranking.
Without further ado let’s jump to the dos and don'ts.
How to successfully utilise backlinks
Do: Start generating relevant content ASAP.
Whether you're directly reaching out to companies or just relying on organic backlinks; people will only refer back to your site if you’re creating content relevant to both them and their readers. Research the trends with your industry and develop a social strategy that encompasses them.
Do: Seek quality links from trusted sources.
Each source will have it’s own weight and as such backlinks will differ in value. Ensure quality links through guest blogging on established sites (again, identify these through research), via your own social content and by generating online press releases when your company has noteworthy news.
Do: Build links over time.
A massive number spike will signal to Google that unethical link building may be underway. Amassing a few quality links within a week is preferable to an onslaught of low-quality ones. By taking your time, and proceeding with caution you’ll lift your ranking without setting off any red flags.
Do: Invest in a monitoring tool.
Monitoring tools have many benefits including the one we’ve already touched upon. In addition to helping you keep track of your backlinks and where they're coming in from, you can identify which backlinks are working for your competitors and even disavow poor links to your site that would affect your ranking.
Don’t: Pay for links... ever.
This is a clear breach of Google’s guidelines, as it results in low-quality, spammy links. Should you get caught out you can lose all of your rankings for at least 3 months, or as in most cases, even longer. It does more harm than good and should be avoided at all costs.
Quality over quantity is the hard and fast rule of backlinks. Should you keep this at the back of your mind your SEO strategy is well on its way to success!
The low season is a great time to work on business improvements such as building backlinks for your website. For more tips on how to make the most of the quieter months, download our 7-step guide.
Booking Boss is an online booking system for tour operators and attraction providers. Trusted by many in the tourism industry, Booking Boss is about getting you out of the spreadsheets and into the sun. We provide free education resources for operators like you, to make your business the best it can possibly be.