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SEO guide for your cruise travel agency (NOT SUITABLE FOR THE SEASICK)

SEO guide for your cruise travel agency (NOT SUITABLE FOR THE SEASICK)

The market for cruise booking is a crowded one in the UK, where in 2016, 1.9million people took a cruise. Cruises are dominated by large booking agents and companies with massive budgets to market any type of cruise you can imagine.

For example, Cruiscritic.com sends their army of content writers to even the most sordid of cruise ship parties (although they won’t report on the sordid details). It’s hard to find a cruise related topic that hasn’t already been covered by them.

To make things worse, Google is leaning toward bigger brands, which forces smaller companies and travel agents to rely on Google Adwords quids to get traffic and make some money...or resolve to sell cruises locally from a high-street shop, which them makes you rely on footfall and commercial rent!

 

The bright side

In the era of the long tail, small cruise travel agents (like Fusion Cruises) still have a chance. If you have less than £1000 budget a month, the right minimal SEO strategy can bring you great rewards with little risk.

It’s just that your strategy will be to focus on a niche at the time and then move on to the next.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, but keeping things tidy will make the whole difference. I once made the mistake of trying to rank a small cruise travel agent website for too many cruise-related keywords at the same time and it didn’t work.
Let’s dive into what does work.
 

cruise fiesta.jpg

6 SEO strategies for your cruise agent

 

Choose the right niche

In the cruises industry, there are millions of different things people are searching for. It’s impossible to target all of them at the same time.

What I suggest is that you choose a niche that has three characteristics:

  • It’s profitable

  • You have a great package for it

  • There is high demand

Then commit to that niche until you get results.

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to see what keywords people are searching for.

Imagine that you can offer great deals on cruises that depart from Rome.

We see that there is an average of 880 Google searches for this term.

 

Further research on this topic (cruises from Rome) is necessary because there will most likely be lots of variations in the way people search for cruises departing from Rome (...and I just wrote one possible variation!).

Just to be clear, you can still offer other packages and destinations. Niching down to cruises from Rome is for SEO purposes, which as you will see will have compound SEO benefits into other areas of your website.

 

Set your goals in stone

Set your niche goals and stick to them until you achieve them unless there are some good reasons that make them impossible to accomplish. Changing goals depending on the results obtained is a huge error that leads to nothing being accomplished at the end of the project.

In this case, the main goal would be to rank on the first page of results for ‘cruises from Rome’.

You need to bear in mind that Google has become better at understanding semantics and the connection between keywords. For this reason, you must think in terms of topics and related subtopics rather than in terms of keywords. In this example, we stick to the keyword in order to make it simpler.

Then, at the end of each month, we will monitor the rankings with ahrefs (premium) or Google Search Console (free).

Now you may think... how to translate those 880 monthly searches into net profits for my business?

 

How to calculate the benefits of being on page one of Google

  1. Calculate the average search volume. In this case, 880.

  2. Being on page 1 would mean by average we will have a Click Through Rate of 9%. So that is about 80 people visiting our site every month.

  3. Calculate the conversion rate, the number of people who make enquiries from the total traffic. This tends to be around 4% if you are converting fairly. So we would get 4 leads interested in our services every month.

  4. Calculate your lead to customer conversion rate. This tends to be high for cruise travel agents, so we can say that 3 out of 4 leads will turn into customers.

  5. Last, calculate your net profit per customers yearly. If you get 3 customers every month that’s 36 a year. If each one of them gives you a profit of £500, that would mean that the benefit of ranking on the first page for ‘cruises from Rome’ is £18,000 a year.

 

Optimise your page (on-page SEO)

Once you find your target you need to ensure Google knows that your website is optimised for those particular topics. Here are some things you need to consider:

Meta titles and meta descriptions: these are used by Google to display the search results. Make sure you optimise for higher CTR rather than stuffing your keywords on it. Look at other results and stand up from the crowd.

I would suggest:

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 15.51.28.png

URLs: these need to have clear associations with the theme.

For example:

sharkiecruises.com/destinations/cruises-from-rome

Site structure: this concerns the overall site and not only your niche services. The site needs to have a logical structure so that Google’s crawlers find it easy to understand and to crawl. You should create an XML sitemap to help Google with this.

Internal links: they are fundamental to offer a good user experience and indicate Google the hierarchy of your content. For example, if we are to promote the ‘cruises from Rome’ page, we could, for example, add a section on the homepage that prominently links to that specific page.

 

Technical SEO things to consider

The site needs to be easily found by Google, so you need to ensure that there is nothing blocking Google’s crawlers to enter the site.

You can check this by Googling ‘site:yoursite.com’ and check whether Google shows the pages of your website or not.

Another increasingly important aspect is loading speed. It’s important that your site loads fast, so the images must be the correct size and your server must be fast.

Last but not least, using a secure protocol has become important as this is a minor ranking factor, especially in travel websites.

 

Create Content

Google wants to serve great content to their users, and they are increasingly using your user experience metrics to determine how ‘good’ your content is.

Therefore, you should be keeping an eye on the following metrics:

  • Average time on site

  • Bounce rate

  • Conversion rate: the number of leads divided by the number of sessions

Plus, if you promote your content effectively you’ll get backlinks, which are fundamental for Google to determine your authority and give you higher rankings.

The bottom line is: create content that is incredibly useful across the different stages of the user’s journey:

1. Dream

This is when users are getting really excited about their potential cruise. You want to create a blog or resource page with great visual and inspiring content. Here is the type of content you can create.

  • A travel influencer roundup with their opinions of Rome and cruises departing from Rome

  • A documentary you do yourself of one of the cruises you are offering

  • Lists about the best of Rome and any of the ports you can sail to from Rome

You can then recycle that content into articles, videos, infographics and even podcasts. Make sure that your informative content has strong calls to action that link internally to your services. In this case, your ‘cruises to rome’ page.

 

2. Plan

At this stage, your potential customers have already decided they want to go on a trip, so you need to give them all the practical information they need before choosing you. Information on prices here is crucial, but also information about the process, how their trip is going to work, all the activities available on the cruise, and much more.

Content examples:

  • ‘Cruises from Rome’ page with all the options available

  • Cruise packages pages with all the info they need to know

  • Guide on how to prepare for your cruise departing from Rome

  • Best hotels to stay before embarking

 

3. Book the holiday

Your service and product pages need to make it incredibly easy for the customer to book or to call you for more information. The user experience here is crucial.

 

Promote your content

Your content can also help you rank your service higher in the form of new backlinks that you get by promoting your service and informative content.

You should recycle your content into different formats:

  • Blogs

  • Infographics

  • Guides

  • Videos (YouTube)

Also, you can publish a number of Facebook post for each piece of content you publish. By doing this you can get:

  • More traffic from Facebook

  • More visibility on Facebook

 

Guest Blogging

This is about writing an article on someone else's blog or website. The idea is that you give them your expert content and in exchange, you can link back to your website from your biography or even from the copy of the article itself.

You get backlinks but also you can benefit from referral traffic and new friends in the industry.

This is currently one of the most reliable ways of building backlinks without breaking the bank or launching aggressive PR campaigns.

 

Local PR

Your local newspaper press is constantly looking for good and original stories to talk about. By specialising in a specific niche you have more chances to be the only one in your community that works on that.

Ensure that wherever you are featured, there is a backlink to your website. Newspapers have high link authorities.

 

Compound benefits of SEO

The best bit of focusing on a niche topic is that you will get backlinks and traffic that then benefit other services you offer.

Make sure that you get clear goals (i.e. ranking on the first page or on position 5) and then you move on to the next niche or query and start working towards dominating another page of search results.

You will still need to compete with the cruise juggernauts I talked about earlier, but you can at least expect to steal a chunk of their market. If you scale this process, you can potentially make a lot of money and save yourself time.

 

Conclusion

Niching down is the key to promoting your cruise agency. Once you get first page results for an interesting topic, you move on to the next.

What challenges are you experiencing marketing your cruise agent?

If you need help with your travel SEO, check out our services available here.


 

 

logical seo structure.png

Internal links: they are fundamental to offer a good user experience and indicate Google the hierarchy of your content. For example, if we are to promote the ‘cruises from Rome’ page, we could for example add a section on the homepage that prominently links to that specific page.

 

Technical SEO things to consider

The site needs to be easily found by Google, so you need to ensure that there is nothing blocking Google’s crawlers to enter the site.

You can check this by Googling ‘site:yoursite.com’ and checking whether Google shows the pages of your website or not.

Another increasingly important aspect is loading speed. It’s important that your site loads fast, so the images must be the correct size and your server must be fast.

Last but not least, using a secure protocol has become important as this is a minor ranking factor, especially in travel websites.

 

Create Content

Google wants to serve great content to their users, and they are increasingly using your using experience metrics to determine how ‘good’ your content is.

Therefore, you should be keeping an eye on the following metrics:

  • Average time on site

  • Bounce rate

  • Conversion rate: the amount of leads divided by the amount of sessions

Plus, if you promote your content effectively you’ll get backlinks, which are fundamental for Google to determine your authority and give you higher rankings.

The bottom line is: create content that is incredibly useful across the different stages of the user’s journey:

  1. Dream

This is when users are getting really excited about their potential cruise. You want to create a blog or resource page with greatly visual and inspiring content. Here is the type of content you can create.

  • A travel influencer roundup with their opinions of Rome and cruises departing from Rome

  • A documentary you do yourself of one of the cruises you are offering

  • Lists about the best of Rome and any of the ports you can sail to from Rome

 

You can then recycle that content into articles, videos, infographics and even podcasts. Make sure that your informative content has strong calls to action that link internally to your services. In this case, your ‘cruises to rome’ page.

 

2. Plan

At this stage, your potential customers have already decided they want to go on a trip, so you need to give them all the practical information they need before choosing you. Information on prices here is crucial, but also information about the process, how their trip is going to work, all the activities available in the cruise, and much more.

Content examples:

  • ‘Cruises from Rome’ page with all the options available

  • Cruise packages pages with all the info they need to know

  • Guide on how prepare for your cruise departing from Rome

  • Best hotels to stay before embarking

 

3. Book the holiday

Your service and product pages need to make it incredibly easy for the customer to book or to call you for more information. The user experience here is crucial.

Promote your content

Your content can also help you rank your service higher in the form of new backlinks that you get by promoting your service and informative content.

You should recycle your content into different formats:

  • Blogs

  • Infographics

  • Guides

  • Videos (YouTube)

Also, you can publish a number of Facebook post for each piece of content you publish. By doing this you can get:

  • More traffic from Facebook

  • More visibility within Facebook

 

Guest Blogging

This is about writing an article on someone else's blog or website. The idea is that you give them your expert content and in exchange you can link back to your website from your biography or even from the copy of the article itself.

You get backlinks but also you can benefit from referral traffic and new friends in the industry.

This is currently one of the most reliable way of building backlinks without breaking the bank or launching aggressive PR campaigns.

Local PR

Your local newspaper press is constantly looking for good and original stories to talk about. By specialising in a specific niche you have more chances to be the only one in your community that works on that.

Ensure that wherever you are featured, there is a backlink to your website. Newspapers have high link authorities.

 

Compound benefits of SEO

The best bit of focusing on a niche topic is that you will get backlinks and traffic that then benefit other services you offer.

Make sure that you get clear goals (i.e. ranking on the first page or on position 5) and then you move on to the next niche or query and start working towards dominating another page of search results.

You will still need to compete with the cruise juggernauts I talked about earlier, but you can at least expect to steal a chunk of their market. If you scale this process, you can potentially make a lot of money and save yourself time.

 

Conclusion

Niching down is the key to promoting your cruise agency. Once you get first page results for an interesting topic, you move on to the next.

What challenges are you experiencing marketing your cruise agent?

If you need help with your travel SEO, check out our services available here.


 

 

Image of logical structure

Internal links: they are fundamental to offer a good user experience and indicate Google the hierarchy of your content. For example, if we are to promote the ‘cruises from Rome’ page, we could for example add a section on the homepage that prominently links to that specific page.

 

Technical SEO things to consider

The site needs to be easily found by Google, so you need to ensure that there is nothing blocking Google’s crawlers to enter the site.

You can check this by Googling ‘site:yoursite.com’ and checking whether Google shows the pages of your website or not.

Another increasingly important aspect is loading speed. It’s important that your site loads fast, so the images must be the correct size and your server must be fast.

Last but not least, using a secure protocol has become important as this is a minor ranking factor, especially in travel websites.

 

Create Content

Google wants to serve great content to their users, and they are increasingly using your using experience metrics to determine how ‘good’ your content is.

Therefore, you should be keeping an eye on the following metrics:

  • Average time on site

  • Bounce rate

  • Conversion rate: the amount of leads divided by the amount of sessions

Plus, if you promote your content effectively you’ll get backlinks, which are fundamental for Google to determine your authority and give you higher rankings.

The bottom line is: create content that is incredibly useful across the different stages of the user’s journey:

  1. Dream

This is when users are getting really excited about their potential cruise. You want to create a blog or resource page with greatly visual and inspiring content. Here is the type of content you can create.

  • A travel influencer roundup with their opinions of Rome and cruises departing from Rome

  • A documentary you do yourself of one of the cruises you are offering

  • Lists about the best of Rome and any of the ports you can sail to from Rome

 

You can then recycle that content into articles, videos, infographics and even podcasts. Make sure that your informative content has strong calls to action that link internally to your services. In this case, your ‘cruises to rome’ page.

 

2. Plan

At this stage, your potential customers have already decided they want to go on a trip, so you need to give them all the practical information they need before choosing you. Information on prices here is crucial, but also information about the process, how their trip is going to work, all the activities available in the cruise, and much more.

Content examples:

  • ‘Cruises from Rome’ page with all the options available

  • Cruise packages pages with all the info they need to know

  • Guide on how prepare for your cruise departing from Rome

  • Best hotels to stay before embarking

 

3. Book the holiday

Your service and product pages need to make it incredibly easy for the customer to book or to call you for more information. The user experience here is crucial.

Promote your content

Your content can also help you rank your service higher in the form of new backlinks that you get by promoting your service and informative content.

You should recycle your content into different formats:

  • Blogs

  • Infographics

  • Guides

  • Videos (YouTube)

Also, you can publish a number of Facebook post for each piece of content you publish. By doing this you can get:

  • More traffic from Facebook

  • More visibility within Facebook

 

Guest Blogging

This is about writing an article on someone else's blog or website. The idea is that you give them your expert content and in exchange you can link back to your website from your biography or even from the copy of the article itself.

You get backlinks but also you can benefit from referral traffic and new friends in the industry.

This is currently one of the most reliable way of building backlinks without breaking the bank or launching aggressive PR campaigns.

Local PR

Your local newspaper press is constantly looking for good and original stories to talk about. By specialising in a specific niche you have more chances to be the only one in your community that works on that.

Ensure that wherever you are featured, there is a backlink to your website. Newspapers have high link authorities.

 

Compound benefits of SEO

The best bit of focusing on a niche topic is that you will get backlinks and traffic that then benefit other services you offer.

Make sure that you get clear goals (i.e. ranking on the first page or on position 5) and then you move on to the next niche or query and start working towards dominating another page of search results.

You will still need to compete with the cruise juggernauts I talked about earlier, but you can at least expect to steal a chunk of their market. If you scale this process, you can potentially make a lot of money and save yourself time.

 

Conclusion

Niching down is the key to promoting your cruise agency. Once you get first page results for an interesting topic, you move on to the next.

What challenges are you experiencing marketing your cruise agent?

If you need help with your travel SEO, check out our services available here.


 

 

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