Our Tourism Training Live session last month focused on digital marketing strategies for tourism businesses, including search performance, website techniques and social media marketing, all in the context of effective content marketing approaches. (You can see the recording of this session here).
One of the questions addressed during the above session was "Should I blog?" - a question that came from a small tourism business owner whose website currently does not include a blog section.
For a travel website with relatively small reach, can adding a blog be a helpful way to increase visibility and boost search performance? Are the efforts and resources needed to run and maintain a blog worth it? And when a tourism business chooses to blog, what's the best way to create content for and promote the blog?
With these questions in mind, the following are some thoughts on blogging and its roles and (possible) benefits for travel brands, as well as tips on how to make blogging an effective part of content marketing efforts.
Benefits of Blogging: How Can Blogging Help Your Tourism Business?
It's important to realize that there is no single "right" answer to the question, "Should I blog?". Each business and each website needs to address this question based on the company's specific situation.
Having said that, here are some key benefits of blogging that are relevant to tourism businesses of any size, and that are important to know regardless of whether you currently have a company blog or not.
SEO & Search Traffic
Blogging - regularly publishing fresh content - can mean that your website gets more opportunities to have your content indexed by search engines, and thus more opportunities to appear on search results pages. According to this post by Omnicore, "websites with 300+ indexed pages in Google drives 236% more leads", which is relevant to blogging because "each new indexed page opens up an opportunity for you to show up in search".
Links, particularly those coming from relevant and trusted sites, are another key factors that determine the value and authority of your website in the eyes of search engine algorithms. According to this infographic by Quicksprout, "websites that blog typically have 97% more inbound links" than websites that don’t blog.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s not just the fact that you have a blog that attracts links; it's the quality of content that you're pushing through your blog that will make a difference in your link performance. Having a blog, which means you're sharing more content more often, just increases the chance of your content being found.
Establish Authority and Build Trust
Blogging is an excellent way to showcase your knowledge in your niche, and to show that you're a trustworthy brand. Building trust through quality content is a more effective way of convincing prospective customers to book with you than advertising. The Omnicore piece mentioned above also notes that "70% of consumers learn about a company through their blog rather than ads."
Building trust takes time. You will need to monitor your performance patiently over several months or even years, adjusting and improving your approach along the way, to really see the tangible benefits of blogging.
How To Blog: How to Effectively Share Your Stories
If you are going to blog for your business, do so because you can make blogging an important part of your content marketing efforts, and NOT because you think a blog is another section of your website you need to have.
As you develop your blogging strategies and plan your blog content, remember these key points.
Solve Your Customers' Problems
Use your blog as a tool not to promote yourself, but to answer your customers’ questions and to address their needs. Being helpful is an extremely important way for your company to build trust. As described in this piece by content expert Jay Acunzo: "Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote."
The best way to make your blog post shareable is to offer useful information. "Remember," says Andy Karuza, "most people share not to help you so much as to help themselves. So, how can you make people share your video in their own best interests? Make it informative and helpful. If the video has good insights and information, and the person can help their followers by sharing, they’re likely to 'be the hero' and share it with others."
Blogging will be worth it for your business if you can do it well, and - importantly - do it consistently. Consistency is important because having regularly updated blog posts is one of the key factors that will attract more readers to your site. Also, from the analytics perspective, it's important that you blog consistently and track blog-related traffic data on a regular basis over time.
Use Your Blog to Earn Leads
Blogging can also be a great way to strengthen your relationships with customers. By consistently providing interesting and relevant content, your company blog can serve as an effective tool to support your conversion goals (the goals you set for what you want your site visitors to do on your website). Create content to strengthen different points of customer interactions, and help connect the dots for your customers by being the go-to place for finding what they want to find.
Travel & Tourism Blog Examples and Lessons Learned
When you invest time and effort into crafting blog posts, you of course want your readers to engage with your content, and many other sites to talk about and link to your posts.
Here are some blog examples by travel and tourism businesses, and key takeaways for those seeking effective blogging ideas.
One good way to make your blog content more attractive is to write informative and thoughtful pieces about topics that are on many people’s minds - for example, important current events in the industry, exciting new developments in your field, and new trends that are getting everyone excited. Think about popular or "trending" topics that are relevant to your field, and develop content by contributing to the discussions around those topics.
This post by Intrepid Travel ("Why we no longer ride elephants"), which is among the most shared articles on their website, has gained a lot of views, shares and comments - including some "mainstream" buzz like this example. The topic resonated with many readers, and generated meaningful conversations both on and off the blog platform.
Another good example of covering a timely topic by offering informative and thoughtful content is this post by WTM Responsible Tourism Blog ("Why I think the DearTripadvisor Campaign is wrong"). Instead of simply sharing facts about the campaign in question, the author shares informed and insightful opinions, as well as engaging readers in the topic.
Note, though, that successfully engaging readers in meaningful conversations is not just about a single post on an interesting topic; it’s also about brand awareness and reputation that you build over time by consistently sharing quality content focused on relevant topics (in this case, topics relevant to responsible tourism communities).
Write Scan-able and Share-able Posts
In addition to being trustworthy and sharing newsworthy content, you can also help increase the chance of your blog posts getting more views by making it more eye-catching. It's a well-known fact, for example, that list posts are good at attracting clicks because they are easy to scan even for readers with short attention span. They are also highly shareable because the headline makes a very specific promise to the reader about what they can expect - as long as the content actually delivers on that promise.
Here are a couple of great travel blog content examples taking advantage of this format. This article by Country Walkers ("The 11 Best Reasons to Visit Provence") offers a comprehensive list of exciting destination highlights, helping travelers visualize what it's like to visit Provence.
There are many possible variations of this approach that travel brands and destinations around the world can copy to highlight some of the most exciting reasons why the travel experiences you offer are special: e.g. "7 reasons why you shouldn't miss ...", "10 reasons to add ... to your travel list this year".
This article by SEEtheWILD on conservation vacations ("5 Things to Consider About Conservation Vacations") also uses the scan-able list format to share helpful tips for travelers in a digestible manner. Listing these points summarized around five key questions travelers should ask helps make the article easier to follow and the advice more memorable.
Offering tips for travelers in a list post format is another idea that many travel blogs can copy, from how-to guides to "do's and dont's" advice.
Share Stories of Real People
The people on your team - from the passionate managers to the knowledgeable guides - are among the most important “assets” your company has, and this is also true when it comes to content marketing. Your customers want to connect with real people, not logos or brands. Sharing your stories from the perspectives of your team members, therefore, can be a great way of engaging your readers.
This post by Ecoventura ("Celebrating our Naturalist Guides: Ivan Lopez") features one of their local expert naturalist guides, who play a key role in creating a memorable, educational experience for their guests. The article also encourages readers to get to know the important roles of naturalist guides, which is a great way to inform prospective customers about what they can expect when visiting the Galapagos and what makes Ecoventura special.
In addition to featuring people on your team, creating a series of articles based on the personal perspectives of someone who is the face of your company can also be a good approach to sharing real and relatable stories that showcase who you are as a company and as a brand.
Natural Habitat Adventures' blog section, for example, includes a series titled "Ben's Musings", which shares articles (written as if they are letters) by the company founder Ben Bressler.
Your company's founder, director, or team leader most likely has lots of exciting experiences. Why not turn their thoughts and perspectives into engaging stories to share with your community?
What do YOU think? Is blogging an important part of your company's content marketing efforts? Have you tried any of these tips and approaches? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments field below!