Travel Design and SEO
The first session I attended at the 2007 SES Travel Conference in Seattle was Designing for the Senses and Search. This session had some really great tidbits from the excellent panelists, SEO expert Mark Jackson, Usability guru Matt Bailey, and moderator Todd Sarouhan on the travel website design process as it relates to SEO.
Like everything else in search, a website begins with keyword research. First, decide which terms you want to compete for, determine who else is competing for them, and figure out what chance you have of realistically ranking for them within a reasonable amount of time.
Your keyword research will also help you to see how many terms you should consider optimizing for. This will help you to determine how many web pages you will need and what those pages should be about.
You do get a slight boost in the search engines – and with humans – by using good keyword terms in your URLs. Decide which pages should be optimized for which keywords and try to get them into the URL for that page.
A spreadsheet showing pages, URLs and keywords for each page is then created as a road map for building the website. This will essentially give you everything you need to create an on-site site map, as well.
Then, write the titles and descriptions for each page. Only then should you begin building the site and writing text for the pages.
When redesigning a site, do not use new URLs unless you absolutely have to.
Matt Bailey urged us all to understand our audience and their needs. He said, “If they can’t find it, it’s not there.” Improving usability will increase your conversions and what’s good for usability and accessibility is also good for SEO, so everybody wins.
Label things what they are – again for users and search engines. Try breadcrumb navigation, but make sure you do it right. He gave the Rapid City CVB website as an example of how to do both labeling and breadcrumbs correctly.
The usability of your booking engine is also important, so look at every little detail. Make certain you give clear directions, that your forms allow for international addresses and if someone makes an error in the process, you tell them how to correct it.
In my opinion, this was one of the best sessions at the conference with plenty of detailed, actionable tips I can start using right away.