So you've got a travel blog? Awesome.
Maybe you've heard that 33% of US travelers use travel blogs for travel advice and that 72% of online marketers describe content creation as their most effective SEO tactic (optinmonster.com).
But perhaps you're wondering, "Why isn't my travel blog getting more love from the search engines?"
Let me answer it by asking a question of my own: Are you setting your blog posts up for SEO success?
Why it’s important to research keywords for SEO
At the heart of every Internet search are keywords. These are the words people type (or say) in order to find what they are looking for. "Hotel" for example, or "eco friendly resort," or “Siri, are there any eco friendly accommodations in San Juan?”
Search engines use keywords to match people’s search queries to relevant webpages, which are then listed as search results.
Because search engines use keywords to determine search results, if you’re not using the same language as your potential readers/customers, then it’s going to be rather difficult for them to find you.
This is why keyword research is so important. It’s the process of discovering what words and phrases your audience is searching for so you can optimize your blog posts to reach them.
How do I do keyword research for my travel blog?
There are a variety of websites and apps that facilitate keyword research. Some are free, others are not.
All of these tools work in the same basic fashion. You enter a word or phrase for which you want to be found and it provides a list of similar words and phrases that people are searching for. It might look like this:
In this example, we’re using Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner to search for the keyword “sustainable travel.” The results include:
- Eco travel
- Eco friendly tourism
- Eco friendly travel
These results give you an idea of what people are searching for—but they may not fit with what you’re writing about. And it gives you zero context. You have no insight into what the searchers really want to know.
That’s why I recommend Answer The Public for SEO keyword research.
Why I love this keyword tool
Answer The Public is different from other keyword research tools. Rather than spitting out a simple list of words or phrases, it shows you the actual questions searchers are asking! It does this by tapping into the auto-suggest results provided by Google and Bing.
Go to AnswerThePublic.com and type in your desired word or phrase on the home page (you can also choose your target language and country).
Hit “search” and you’ll get results that look like this:
In our “sustainable travel” example, we see that searchers are asking:
- What is the most sustainable way to travel?
- How sustainable is air travel?
- Why is it important for tourism to be sustainable?
In addition to these question-based search results, you’ll also see preposition- and comparison-based searches like:
- Sustainable travel *in* Europe
- *Is* sustainable travel possible
- Sustainable travel *and* living
And finally there will be an alphabetical listing of keywords more similar to the results you get with other SEO keyword research tools.
All together these results are a travel blogger’s treasure trove. You’ll find content ideas, headlines that write themselves, and a peek inside the reader’s mindset (what do they really want to know?)
Sometimes, the results show you that searchers are using a particular keyword differently than you are. For example, one of the results above is “sustainable travel to work.” This indicates that the searcher is thinking about their daily commute, not tourism. This is incredibly useful information.
How to use these travel keywords for SEO
I suggest doing your SEO keyword research before writing your blog post. Use Answer The Public as an idea generator to help shape your article from the beginning, rather than an afterthought you tack on at the end.
Choose your topic and run your search(es). Click on some of the suggested results to see what is currently ranking for that keyword phrase.
If page one is dominated by heavy hitters like National Geographic, Frommers, TripAdvisor, and Conde Nast, then you’ll have a hard time breaking through (because Google tends to favor well-known brands). So you might want to target a different keyword phrase.
Often the questions surfaced by Answer The Public can be turned into an entire blog post on their own. Other times, it makes sense to combine several of the suggestions into a single post that takes a deeper dive into a particular subject.
Now you're ready to start writing! Don't worry about how many times you repeat your keyword phrase in the article. Just be sure to include it in certain strategic places.
The downside of using Answer The Public to find travel keywords for SEO
One of the drawbacks of Answer The Public is that its results are pretty literal.
You’ll notice in the Google AdWords example above the Keyword Planner recognized “eco travel” as a synonym for “sustainable travel.” Answer The Public doesn’t really do that. All the results will typically include the exact phrase you entered.
To get around this, you’ll have to come up with synonyms and alternative phrases on your own and search them separately. Unfortunately, the free version of Answer The Public limits you to just three searches per day. After that, you’ll have to upgrade to the pro plan.