When we talk about Search Engine Optimization one of the key ingredients (besides your content) are the backlinks. Building high-quality backlinks to your travel website will increase your authority of your domain to boost your rankings in Google.
Google’s algorithms are complex and always evolving, but backlinks remain an important factor in how every search engine determines which sites rank for which keywords.
If you have a travel website and looking for ways to increase your organic traffic from Google, then you are going to enjoy this article.
Google alone has more than 200 factors that determine a site’s rankings, and one of the most important factors is backlinks.
When MOZ, a popular SEO company, interviewed tons of internet marketing experts; they all agreed that getting backlinks is the number one factor that affects a website’s search engine rankings. But before we dig deep on how to build niche specific, travel backlinks, let’s get to know more about backlinks first.
What are backlinks and how do they work?
A backlink is created when a website “links” to another website. In search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing – linking to a website is counted as a “vote.”
When website A links to website B, search engines see it as a vote for website B to rank higher in the search results.
Therefore, the more links that website B has, the higher it will rank in the search results.
Backlink Quality versus Quantity
Although quantity is one of the factors that affect a website’s ranking, Google is also looking at quality.
A link to a highly authoritative website like the Huffington Post is a lot more effective than a link from “Joe the Plumber.”
This is because it is a lot harder to get a link from Huffington Post than with “Joe the Plumber.”
Another reason is that, as more authoritative sites are experts, for them to link back to you means your site is also worthy of an expert’s opinion.
The importance of being relevant
In addition, Google also looks at how relevant is that backlink to a website. So, a link from Huffington Post to a travel website is not as effective as the backlinks from TripAdvisor that is travel related.
In a nutshell, Google is looking at:
- The number of backlinks a website is getting.
- The number of backlinks gained overtime.
- The backlinking process has to be natural. Paying people to link to your site is prohibited.
- How related those websites are.
- Domain Authority or how authoritative a website is. A Domain Authority (DA) score is from zero to a hundred. Examples of websites with a hundred DA are Google.com, Facebook.com, and YouTube.com.
So, assume that you’re getting a ton of backlinks; you’re getting them from related websites and they have a high Domain Authority – your rankings are surely going to climb.
What are do-follow and no-follow backlinks?
There are two types of backlinks; do-follow and no-follow links.
A do-follow link is like telling the search engines that you want to help a certain website to rank higher in the search results. One good reason that you are linking to a site is when you had an excellent experience while visiting it; the site has engaging, informative, and useful content.
When you decide who you want to link to because it’s reputable or you’re citing a source, even if it’s a competitor in your niche, as long as it’s providing content that is comprehensive and thorough – you want to make those links a do-follow.
On the other hand, a no-follow link is when you are linking to a site but you are telling search engines not to follow that link.
Some of the reasons why you want to no-follow a link is because:
- It’s an affiliate link.
- A company paid you for the ads on your blog.
- You wrote about a site that’s doing something terrible and you think it should not exist.
- It’s on blog comments.
And speaking of no-follow links on blog comments, WordPress CMS (Content Management System) does this by default.
The guys at WordPress don’t want marketers to just go in and write tons of spammy comments on a particular blog in order to get links.
Search engines want you to no-follow links that can be easily manipulated.
For example, if you’re promoting an affiliate offer and that company has thousands of affiliates like you, Google wants you to no-follow those links because if you don’t no-follow them – that site can “unfairly” rank higher.
One thing to remember though… the higher number of do-follow links that a website has is not always an indication that it will rank higher in the search results.
Likewise, a website that has a ton of no-follow links doesn’t always mean it’s going to rank lower.
There’s a lot of other factors that determine a site’s rankings. But of course, the more do-follow links that a website has, it is supposed to, in theory, help with the rankings.
Are backlinks still important in 2020?
Absolutely. According to a recent industry study by Brian Dean from Backlinko, the number of domains referring to a certain site is still the top ranking factor in terms of SEO.
Search Results Ranking Factors then and now
Twenty years ago and onwards, SEO experts had only a handful of ranking criteria and they are:
- Meta data and
- On-page optimization
These three ranking factors remained to be relevant up to this day.
As mentioned earlier, backlinks still matter. However, there are additional factors that every webmaster should consider (in terms of backlinks).
- Total number of domains that are linking to your site. Of course, when we mention “domains” here we mean those that are of high-quality.
- Total number of backlinks. To make things clear, this is NOT the total backlinks you get from every domain. Your site might get more than one backlink from a single domain.
- High-ranking websites, along with their popular keywords have about a total of 3,000 backlinks.
Meta data is as important as ever. Click-through rate or CTR is still considered as a top ranking factor.
Every webmaster should pay close attention when creating the title tags and meta description for their site. Creating a compelling link title is as important as it was years ago.
On-page optimization still matters a lot.
This maybe old-school but webpages with optimized H1 and H2 tags still rank better than those who doesn’t have header tags.
While we say that offpage optimization (which backlink profile is a part) weighs more than onpage SEO, a good onpage SEO sets the ground for other websites to link back to you.
Ranking factors to consider in 2020
- Mobile friendly web pages.
- Faster load time on desktop and mobile.
- HTTPS encryption.
More and more people are using smartphones, and almost everybody is browsing the internet using their mobile devices. Therefore, it is imperative that your website is not just intended for desktops but should be mobile-friendly as well.
As a webmaster, you should check your webpages if they load as fast the top-ranked websites or else – you’ll be left behind.
- For mobile devices, the page load time should be about 2 seconds.
- On the desktop, your web pages should load in about 3 seconds.
With all the cyber-attacks going on around the web. More and more internet users are concerned with their security and privacy. Google’s Chrome browser are now blocking sites that don’t have HTTPS encryption.
If your site is not encrypted, chances are you are getting less page views every day, which could affect your search engine rankings.
How to build good quality travel backlinks?
There are several ways to build backlinks to your website, but in this article I will cover the ones that are actually work.
1. Guest posting
What is guest posting?
There are sites that accept articles from other than their own writer/s.
Usually this is due to the fact that they really do not have the time to post as much as they want to, so fresh articles from the outside are welcome.
The writer does not get paid, but in return, the writer can add a dofollow link in the article (a contextual link) or in the author’s bio to his website. A contextual link has, of course, a heavier weight than a bio link.
Guest posting still generates a huge amount of backlinks to your site. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to visitors from other travel websites. Guest posting is always a great opportunity as travel experiences are always welcome to other sites.
Use the following search quires to find guest-posting opportunities:
- your keyword + guest-posts
- your keyword + become a contributor
- your keyword + submit an article
- your keyword + want to write for
- your keyword + contribute
- your keyword + become an author
It is also a chance to get discovered by more people who are looking for more information about travel which your only your webpages can provide.
2. Broken link-building
Broken link-building is finding high-quality sites related to your niche and looking for links to resources that are no longer available. The next step is then to email the website owner about the broken link.
There’s a Google Chrome extension that can help you find broken links and it’s called Check My Links.
An email with a friendly approach and a nice introduction always works.
Explain clearly that the link to a certain resource is no longer working and politely offer your link instead.
When done with a good approach, you can most likely win a backlink this way.
And why not?
You are offering that site a quick fix to a broken link. No website wants a broken link because it shows Google that your article is not being monitored and updated for relevancy.
3. Press releases
If there are events in your area that are related or significant to your business, you should consider writing a press release about it. If you’re really good at writing press releases, bloggers and journalists might think of reposting your article.
That’s free exposure for you and more backlinks to your travel website.
4. Link to relevant sites in your niche
You can’t just wait for authoritative sites related to your niche to link back to your site. You need to be proactive by reaching out to them.
Once you have selected which sites you have linked to, send an email to the webmaster to notify him about it.
There’s a small chance they will link back to you. According to a blog by Neil Patel, some of those sites might tweet out your post which can generate a great exposure as well.
5. Business directories
If you haven’t submitted to a local business directories yet, you might want to do it soon as people are also looking at these directories for products and services on any niche.
This is useful especially for travel sites as travel information is one of the most popularly searched businesses online.
6. Content promotion
You may have done this already.
If not, then it’s about time to promote your travel website and content on social media and your other online channels. This is a great opporunity to get backlinks to your website naturally.
7. .edu backlinks
Every SEO expert would agree that backlinks from .edu sites is great at boosting your site’s search engine rankings.
If you have a travel blog and want to get some good quality travel backlinks from .edu sites, you can check out the resource pages from various universities in your area.
Most resource pages have links to web sites that are helpful for the faculty and their students.
If you find that they are do have links to travel blogs similar to yours, send them an email and tell them that you have webpages that they might find helpful too.
The chances of getting your links posted on these sites are low, but that’s all you’ll ever need. A handful of links from .edu sites are enough to improve your rankings in the search results.
Many people don’t realize how powerful infographics are in generating backlinks. They are still popular and always get shared on other sites as well as social media like Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, Facebook.
Using an embed code generator can make your infographics more shareable to social media sites and other websites for that matter, which in turn can generate more backlinks for your site.
If you have visited websites that offer products or services you may have noticed that most of these sites have a section for customer testimonials on their homepage.
Businesses love to show testimonials to their visitors because this adds value to their credibility.
What’s great about giving testimonials to a business is that the website owner himself will ask if you have a link to your profile or any links that you own as proof that you’re a real person. Be sure to select websites with high Domain Authority rating, of course.
10. Discussion boards and answer sites
Another great way to do link building for your travel website is to join discussion boards such as Quora, Reddit, and Yahoo Answers. There might be someone who would ask about travel and this is a great opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge about travel.
You can leave a link to your website after responding to a query.
Just remember when posting in such boards and answer sites to know the rules before posting.
Keep in mind that these discussion boards are usually offering no-follow links.
11. Roundup posts
With your website, make sure there’s a blog. Once you have a blog, the next thing you should do is to interview every single expert within your niche.
If you’re in the travel niche you can do a Google search like “top travel blogs.” The point is to find the top influencers within the travel niche so you can interview them for your blog.
A roundup post is asking the influencers within your niche their individual opinion.
You are asking the same question to all those influencers. The goal is to find out what everyone one of them thinks about that one question.
Once you get all the responses, create a blogpost about it and make sure you link back over to their website. It is important to add their face/image within that blogpost.
Once the blogpost is released, email them back and ask them to share the content. This is a great way to get more social shares.
When you get more social shares you get more visitors you get to your website, a portion of them may even link to you.
As they link to you, you get more social shares – your rankings will surely climb.
12. Find unlinked mentions
Have you ever thought that some travel website or travel blogger might have mentioned your site in a comment somewhere on the web but haven’t put the link to your site?
Do you know that this is a huge opportunity to get additional travel backlinks to your site?
Mention is an online tool can help you find those unlinked mentions on the web.
Another great thing about this tool is that it can show you exactly who’s talking about your travel website. Another tool that also does this is Buzzsumo.
Combining Mention with Free Backlink Checker is even better.
This second tool can tell you if the site, where your business was mentioned, has a high Domain Authority or not.
Which in turn, will help you decide if re-claiming that unlinked mention is worth it or not.
If everything looks good, your next step is to send them a message.
You should first thank them for mentioning your business and then ask them if they’d be willing to add the link to your site.
13. Reverse image search
Looking for places to guest post can be hard. It can be a daunting task.
But there’s clever way to do it!
You might have heard of reverse image search before. It’s a way to look for the origin of an image.
For your link building campaign, the first thing to do is to look for someone in the travel niche who have been busy writing guest posts on a ton of travel blogs.
Next, look for their published post and right click on the photo/image of their author bio.
Lastly, do the reverse image search. You should get a list of the site’s he/she have guest posted to.
Another value of this reverse image search is to find out who might have used your infographic, table, or chart, but did not cite you as the source.
And when you do reach out to that site, you can thank them for citing your visual element, but tell them that as you worked on these visual elements, while it is under copyright, you don’t mind that site sharing it as long as they cite you as the source.
14. Competitors backlink check
If you want to check on the Domain Authority rating of a certain website, or their backlink profile you can go to Ahrefs.com. Just put in the URL of that website and it will give you the result. However, the software comes in with subscription packages so it’s not totally free.
If you’re going for the free alternative to check DA, search on Google for the Open Site Explorer and it will take you to MOZ.com. Put in the site’s URL and it will show you that site’s authority rating.
Although not as much of a big help in your link building campaign, blog commenting matters too. Just be sure to select blogs with high Domain Authority, must be within your niche, and use the No-follow Google chrome extension.
Link Building still matters when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. And yes, backlinks are still important in 2020 and beyond.
The old ranking factors such as backlinks, meta data and on-page optimization are still relevant.
Then some of the other important on page ranking factors are faster page load time, improved security and privacy for internet users, and for web pages to be mobile friendly.
Which of these link building tactics do you think you would like to try out first on your travel site?
Let me know in the comment section!