The travel industry has experienced volatility in recent years, but that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible time for marketing and investing in a business.
In March 2021, the owner of a local electrical bike tour company from San Francisco messaged Easy Mode Media to talk about options to improve their Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
While the owner had a decent understanding of SEO, there was no time to implement best practices and keep up to date with changes in the industry.
Investing in SEO is all about the Return On Investment (ROI), this case study for the travel industry will cover important metrics and the overall strategy used to get there.
Here is the short version of the results for this small tour operator:
- Organic traffic increased 266.67%
- Conversion rate increased 77.47 %
- Engagement rate 105%
- Website contact (emails and calls) 100%
- Return On Investment (ROI) 431.25%
What is meant by 431.25% ROI? The 3-month cost for this campaign was $3,000 USD and saw a return of just over $16,000 USD – so ~$13,000 USD, after the cost of the campaign.
For every dollar invested into this SEO campaign, $4.31 in revenue was generated for the business.
What actions were taken to get a 433% ROI?
This campaign was laid out at a 3-month minimum. Keep in mind, SEO is a long-term strategy, but in this case, several low-hanging fruit opportunities were identified early on and were taken advantage of.
After the initial success of this campaign, it has been extended to 6+ months. The strategy will evolve from what will continue to provide results.
Month 1 – Technical audits and website health
There were several broken links and images scattered throughout the site. While many of these issues may be invisible to a user, Google doesn’t miss them.
Broken links/images, long-redirect chains, and http/https mixed content issues (among a few others) were crippling the website’s ability to outrank its competition.
Fixing this was a crucial first step – you can optimize content and build great links, but technical issues will always weigh down the next steps.
Month 2 – On-page optimization and competitor research
Identifying what local customers were searching for is the next important step – how can you answer a reader’s questions if you don’t know what they are typing into Google?
Competitors are a great source of secondary research. What are your main competitors doing with their website? What content and keywords are they targeting?
In the end, organic search is a competition. There are only so many ‘top’ positions, so your site needs to answer them better.
Month 3 – Off-page optimization and authority building
Building authority is crucial. Backlinks are still an important factor in ranking and gaining these links can be difficult and costly.
We identified several strong competitor links to target and organic outreach to gain the best links that gain real long-term authority for the website.
What are the main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for this travel campaign?
When we talk about ROI in SEO (and marketing in general), we need to focus on what matters for the individual business goals.
This will be a conversion of some type, in this case, people booking bike tours in San Francisco through their website. This is a basic monetary conversion and while that was the overall goal, there are important factors to measure how this goal is successful. After all, results-driven optimization is the key.
The more traffic funneled through Google leads to more chances for a conversion. This is a good way to identify certain implementations are work but is only a small part of the puzzle. So we need to dive deeper than this.
Increasing traffic is only valuable if there is some sort of conversion that is taking place – in this case booking a tour online. Optimizing this conversion rate is a critical component in any SEO strategy. It’s what drives a high ROI.
Conversions won’t happen if there is little engagement throughout the website. A customer experience with little engagement shows a misaligned targeting or some on-page issue causing friction. Improving this has several positive effects.
CONTACTS THROUGH THE WEBSITE
Sometimes a user has very specific questions, so contacting further can be seen as a positive experience and allows the development of what the target audience is searching for. Typically, the conversion rate from website contacts will be higher.
What results did we see during this initial campaign?
Now we have identified the main factors to improve, the results are what is important. This is over a 3-month period (March – June) and continues to grow.
- Organic traffic shot up from 34 to 308 in a 30-days period, an increase of 266.67%
- Conversion rate from organic sources improved 77.47%
- On-site engagements improved from 84 to 172 (link clicks, pages scrolled, etc)
- Contact forms on-site were broken, this grew from 0 to 136 once fixed.
- The initial ROI of this campaign was 431.25%, but with higher enegement, time on page and improved optimization, te effects of SEO will compound over time.
What are the next steps in improving results further?
Moving forward, the campaign is looking healthy and the outlook is extremely positive, but there is always something else to improve with SEO.
Technical audits are conducted periodically to ensure the site is healthy. While on-page optimizes and A/B testing continues to improve the user experience of the website.
Finally, off-page optimization or building authority around the brand and website is crucial to cementing that top position in Google. Strong backlinks consistently being earned for the website will improve the authority Google (and other search engines) give to the website.
What does this mean for the travel industry and SEO?
Even though the year 2021 hasn’t been kind to the travel industry, tour operators are beginning to look to improving their online marketing and improving the SEO of their website.
Local tour operators can take full advantage of international lock downs to get domestic traffic and customers, while international operations can begin to get ready for when the borders open up.
From a travelers perspective, it can’t come soon enough and being ready for that influx of people starved of new international adventures will be a crucial turning point for many businesses in the travel industry.
Interested to see if Easy Mode Media can help your travel company? Contact us today for a free consultation and recommendations without the hard sell – we want to help you.