Most people in the travel niche have difficulty building quality links to their site. Even the big brands are struggling. If you check out some of the link profiles of the bigger brands you’ll be amazed at what crap links help them rank.
In the last couple of years I worked for mostly sites in the travel industry and along the way I experimented with a lot of ideas I had on building links. Some of them worked, some didn’t. Some of them though, worked really well. In this post I’ll highlight the 3 most effective link building strategies in the travel industry I have found to date.
The secret behind all link building techniques
Basically all link building techniques come down to one single mindset. And that is asking yourself the following question:
To what group of people is my site/content useful? And on what sites do they hang out?
Sounds simple right?
But most people do it wrong.
Most people focus on relevancy in terms of content, what you need to look for is relevancy in terms of context.
If your site contains holidays to Greece, most link builders will search for sites about Greece and see if they can get their link on there. This is a rookie mistake and will not be really successful.
You see, those sites are already solving the same problem your site is, or it’s very similar. And therefore won’t post a link.
To be truly successful in link building you’ll have to dig a little deeper. It’ll be explained further in the three link building techniques in this post. Hopefully, after you understand all techniques, and you understand why they work, you’ll be able to think of techniques on your own.
Travel link building technique #1: Local events
Keep in mind the main questions about link building:
- To what group of people is my site/content useful?
- On what sites do they hang out?
Now, let’s apply these to local events, whether it’s a summit, festivals, business events, musicals, anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re a global tour operator or a local independent hotel owner. Pick a local spot and find all local events.
People travel to go to these events. So there is an opportunity there: your site is useful to those people.
So to answer the first question “To what group of people is my site/content useful?”. The answer is, people travelling to the summit, festivals, events, etc.
Now, the second question: on what sites do they hang out?
Well, easy! The sites of the events. Doh!
And once you start looking for these events in Google you’ll find a lot of them have information on accommodation and transport on their site. They often actually list the hotels nearby. They list B&Bs, hostels, car rental services, holiday homes, restaurants etc.
Even if you’re a bigger site with thousands of accommodations you can create a dedicated page with the best accommodations near “Event X” and add in some information on price, accessibility and public transport options. Then contact those events and ask to be mentioned.
You are solving a problem of the target audience of the events’ site.
Of course they will link to you!
String Summit – They list a bunch of hotels at the bottom of the page. No links though, so convince them to link to your site.
London business school – As of now they only list two hotels in London, a couple more would be more beneficial for their users, wouldn’t it?
Summit point motorsport park – This is actually a motorsport park listing lodging options nearby.
The summit at Snowqualmie – Another great example, a wintersport spot providing a list of lodging options.
Travel link building technique #2: Niched down content
Yes! It’s here! I’m going to preach the whole ‘content is king’ thing!
While this technique is about content, I’m also going to explain what content is king and why. So you can actually put the advice to practice.
Somebody once told me to choose a small niche to sell my services to. He explained this in the following way: let’s say you want to start an accounting agency. You don’t know how to market it and go to the bookstore to buy a book on how to market your business.
You find two books: one about marketing and one about marketing an accounting agency. The book about marketing in general is €40, the one about marketing an accounting agency is €80.
Which one do you buy?
The book about marketing an accounting agency of course! Even though it costs twice as much.
Thanks! A lesson in sales, but how do I apply this to link building?
Well, in link building this principle gets even better!
What if you would write a piece of content on your site that would only benefit a really small percentage of your userbase.
Again, think: “To what group of people is my site/content useful?”. And make that group of people really small.
The reason why is because these groups of people might be small, but, the number of sites they hang out on might be big. And, the competition might not have targeted these groups yet, because they’re so small. So your content will be the only content in that small niche.
Maybe this is getting vague, sorry for that. Here are some examples to clear things up:
- Holiday homes/hotels for people with physical disabilities
There is a small group of people who have a physical disability, but if you’re a hotel which provides an accessible room, make sure to promote that fact to the sites they go to. The number of sites for people with physical disabilities is very large. Think of support groups, hospitals, organizations and nonprofits, etc. There are a lot of sites out there to help them, they want to provide the best help possible, if you provide rooms that are accessible, you are that help, and they are happy to link to you.
- Fishing holidays
Fishing, or any other hobby, are great opportunities for sites in the travel niche. There are literally hundreds of fishing groups and clubs, webshops and fansites. These people go on holiday too, if you can provide a list of hotels/holiday homes that provide fishing holidays, near a lake, or with the facilities needed, they are happy to link to you.
- Fireworks friendly holiday homes
In the Netherlands it’s a tradition to light up fireworks on new years eve. But, some people just don’t like it, especially if they have pets that get stressed out or small kids. I’ve seen a very successful link building campaign listing a bunch of firefork free holiday parks. They listed all firework free parks in the Netherlands and targeted all sites related to small children, pets and nursery homes. It was a great success and reached national press.
These are some simple examples that all have the same thing in common:
These groups of people are a small subset of people you provide a service for. But, there is a large group of sites they hang out on.
Create some type of content for these small groups and get links from all those sites. You’ll end up with: 1. high quality links, 2. a lot of them, and 3. your competition doesn’t have them.
Although it’s a small market segment, and they don’t bring in a lot of conversions, they do bring in a lot of links, and those links help rank your entire site.
Travel link building technique #3: Local authorities
To what people is your site useful and where do they hang out?
Well, let’s say you provide lodging for people in the city of Leiden, where I live. To what people is your site useful?
People travelling to Leiden!
That was easy. But, there’s more. Because they’re travelling to Leiden and you provide accommodation, who else are you benefiting that way? In other words: who else benefits if people travel to Leiden and stay in that city?
Answer: the entire tourism industry in Leiden!
So, tourists are basically the general audience in the tourist industry, no shit Sherlock, no news here. But who also benefits from tourism?
The local authorities.
They actually often have tourism promotion programs running.
So, again, to what group of people is your site useful? And where do they hang out?
Well, the group of people is tourists, and they hang out on the sites of local authorities and governments promoting tourism in that area. These are great opportunities because they are such authorities and have a lot of link power.
Check out the sites of local governments and see if they promote tourism in the area, most of them do. They’ll list lodging options, tours, car rental and activities. If you provide such a service, find a way to be listed on their site.
Again, these are government sites, getting listed is probably free, and a link from these site can help your rankings a lot!
Using the two questions, possibilities are infinite
The main idea about these link building techniques is the same. You answer the same questions over and over and think of new ways to get links to your site. Of course, I used the travel industry as an example but these questions can be applied to all industries.
If you’re looking for more inspiration I’ve started a newsletter where I send you 2 new link building opportunities per week. These are focussed on the travel niche.
It costs €15 per month and you get 2 link building opportunities a week. They’re called the link building bullets.
They are designed to help you with the creative process of thinking of practical ways to build links. Each bullet is a practical example that might be useful for you personally or might provide you with inspiration to look somewhere for links you haven’t looked before.
Of course, here are some examples.
Link building bullet #1: Berkeley.edu
The University of Berkeley has a page on their site containing hotels near the university. All hotels are linked as well. If you’re an accommodation near Berkeley, or list them on your site, drop them a line and ask to be included.
Link building bullet #2: Outbounding.org
This link building bullet is an easy one. Outbounding.org is a social bookmarking site related to the travel industry. If you, or your client, have some interesting news or content published on their site you can submit it to Outbounding. The links become dofollow when your content reaches 10 or more upvotes.
This site may also benefit you in getting more links indirectly as other webmasters discover your content and link to it.
Link building bullet #3: Euraxess
If you own a rental accommodation or a listing of accommodations in Luxembourg you can suggest to be added to this page.
This opportunity doesn’t only apply to Luxembourg though. If you search Google for “Euraxess accommodation” you’ll find a lot of Euraxess sites listing links to accommodations in the country, some of them link to permanent rental housing, but some also list short stay accommodations.
For example, Euraxess Latvia has also listed a hotel here.
If you own an accommodation in that country, just send them an email and suggest them to list your accommodation.
Also note that Euraxess is an international European research portal and is a huge authority organization.
Link building bullet #4: Tourism board of Belize
The official tourism site of Belize provides a free option to add your accommodation to their directory. You’ll receive a fully dedicated profile page on your accommodation including photos, a description, contact information and a link to your site.
You can add your business here.
Or course this link building bullet only applies to accommodations in Belize.
If you’re serious about link building
If you’re interested in signing up for the link building bullets, please do so below. I recommend though, to first apply above ideas yourself first, if you can think of great link building ideas yourself you don’t need me. That’s the main goal of this blog. There’s an abundance of clients and money to make, first use the free advice, and if you want to amp it up, sign up below.
Subscribe to the link building bullets
Monthly subscription: €8
(The confirmation email will be sent to the email address you use for Paypal, after confirmation you’ll receive information on how to change the email address the bullets are sent to.)
Well written and pretty informative 🙂 This was useful and beneficial to hotels but do you have techniques or practical examples that can be applied to Travel Agencies?
For travel agents I would start with associations (members of ECTAA.org). And see if you can become a member of any of those associations and be listed on their members page. Even better is sending in a ‘guestpost’ case study with info for other travel agencies (of course linking to examples on your site).
If the agency also has a local office you can see if you can be linked from local government/city sites as a place to go to for travel information.
Some governments or government organizations list travel agents. Some examples:
http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/es/resources/travel-agents (no links unfortunately)
I hope this helps.
Nice information and nicely explained. I would like to connect you with my LinkedIn account https://in.linkedin.com/in/ajeshunnithan
Thanks Ajesh! I just added you.