Driving Traffic to Your Travel Blog
Guest post by Matthew Barby of Melted Stories.
Since the start of the year I’ve been running my travel blog, Melted Stories. The project started when some friends and I went travelling around East Asia, so we wanted to have a place to share our stories.
Since then, the blog has evolved a great deal. I’ve partnered up with a few other well-known travel bloggers to turn Melted Stories into a hub of travel stories from around the world.
For me, traffic generation is a core focus for building a community within the blog – the search engines being a primary target. This is where my background in digital marketing, and more specifically SEO, comes in handy.
I’m going to share with you a few ways to help increase your search engines rankings and start bringing in good quality traffic to your blog…
Keyword research is an incredibly important part of any SEO campaign. With blogs in particular, you’ll want to be targeting keywords that are quite specific and are searched for fairly regularly each month.
An example of a keyword that brings in a lot of traffic to my blog each month is ‘teaching English in Thailand’, where one of my articles ranks on the first page. This keyword alone generates around 1,000 unique visitors each month.
There are loads of different tools available online, both free and paid, but you don’t need to use all of them. In fact, there are loads of free tools that you can use that will do most of the job on their own. Here are some of the tools that I use:
- Google Keyword Planner (free)
- UberSuggest (free)
- Keyword Eye (paid monthly)
- Keyword Snatcher (one-off fee)
- ScrapeBox (one-off fee)
- SEMrush (paid monthly)
As I said, you don’t need to use all of these. If I had to recommend the essentials then it would have to be Keyword Snatcher, Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest. You can check out the full process that I use in the video below:
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about on-page optimisation because there are loads of great resources online that explain the process very well.
My advice here would be that you don’t want to target more than a couple of keywords per page on your blog (not including slight variations like plurals, etc), and you want to try and make sure that you get your keyword within the content at least once.
The easiest place to do this is within the page title of your article. For example, if you were trying to rank for the keyword, ‘things to see in Istanbul’, then your page title could be something like this:
Amazing things to see in Istanbul – From a Food Lover’s Perspective
My advice is not to just stuff keywords into your articles to try and rank them well in the search engines because it’s going to just cheapen your content. Make sure that you strike a balance between SEO and user experience.
Here are a couple of extensive resources for on-page optimisation:
Link building is arguably the toughest, yet most important part of your SEO strategy. As bloggers you’re probably all aware of the importance of links, but understanding how to obtain links to your website is another matter.
Images can be a golden ticket to gaining backlinks. If anyone has used any of the images from within your blog that haven’t been corrected attributed to you, then you’re well within your rights to request they either place a link to your site under the image or remove it altogether.
You’re probably thinking, “Great! Now, how do I know if someone is using any of my images?”.
The answer to this question is ‘Google reverse image search’.
All you need to do is paste in the URL of your image and you can find any website that has used the image. Assuming that you own the copyright to the image, you can get in touch with the webmaster to request they correctly attribute you as the copyright holder – win!
Getting your content in front of industry influencers can be a key driver to gaining organic backlinks to your content (i.e. natural editorial mentions). It’s in your best interest to be engaging and interacting with these people!
Engaging and interacting with these people isn’t always the hard part; finding them is. This is where I call on a few other tools to help me out. The tools I use here are BuzzSumo (free) and Followerwonk (paid monthly).
BuzzSumo is an amazing new tool (it’s actually still in beta) that allows you to find the authors of content that has been shared in great numbers. These are the content influencers within your niche.
All you need to do is navigate over to the influencer search feature within BuzzSumo and type in a keyword relevant to the type of content that you write, for example, ‘Thailand’. This will then display the Twitter accounts that have been producing the most influential content related to Thailand.
You can then follow these users, engage with them and even look at approaching them as guest blog targets.
On top of this, you can use the ‘Top Content’ search within BuzzSumo to find really popular content around a topic of your choice that you can then base your content around. Essentially, use it as a content research tool.
The next tool, Followerwonk, can go even deeper into finding social media influencers. You can perform searches within Followerwonk to find travel-related Twitter users that have a lot of engagement on their tweets. I also use it to find writers to use within my content team.
I’ve outlined my whole process in the video below:
Finding Guest Posts the Smart Way
Getting featured on other blogs is a great way to build high quality links to your own website. It’s a strategy that I use a lot on my own blog (check out this) and it’s a widely used tactic by many webmasters.
The process of finding guest blogging opportunities is where I often see blog owners fall down.
So many articles on guest blogging say the same old crap (I’ve done it myself!) about typing the following query into Google:
Intitle:Guest Post + KEYWORD
Now, the issue I have with targeting sites gathered using queries like this is that there are hundreds of others doing the exact same thing.
The likelihood of your email request being seen in amongst all the other noise isn’t very high. Why waste your time on trying to compete with the hundreds, if not thousands of SEO companies targeting these sites?
Here’s an easier way…
Go back to your list of influencers that you found from BuzzSumo/Followerwonk and find a few of their Google+ accounts.
What you’ll find it that within their Google+ ‘about’ section, there’s a list of the sites that they have contributed guest posts to (under the ‘Contributor to’ section).
This list of websites is a perfect place to start your outreach and should land you some great opportunities.
This method can then be taken to another level – this is through searching for something that appears on most guest posts… an author profile picture.
This is where Google’s reverse image search comes in useful again.
Simply navigate back to one of your influencers’ Google+ profiles, right-click on their profile photo and select ‘Copy image URL’ (Note: you could do this with their Twitter or Facebook account instead if you’d prefer).
Now paste the URL into Google image search (by clicking on the little camera icon).
Once the search is performed, Google will return a list of sites where the profile photo of the author has appeared – i.e. all of the websites that they’ve blogged on!
Pretty awesome, right? You can see a few more ways to find good quality guest posting opportunities within this article that I wrote.
Matthew Barby is a digital marketing consultant from the UK as well as an avid traveller. He runs the Melted Stories travel blog that focuses around South East Asian travel. You can catch him on Google+ or Twitter with any questions you want to ask.