Benoit Gourdon, president EMEA at Botify, says the travel industry does not always appreciate how powerful organic search can be for performance marketing
Guest Post: How your organic search strategy can prepare you for the unpredictable
The repercussions of the pandemic are still being felt in the travel sector, even though, for many, it seems like a lifetime ago.
With just 6.2% of the world's travel destinations closed to tourism, the 2022 World Travel and Tourism Council’s Economic Impact report shows that only the Asia-Pacific region is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.
Travel businesses have learned from the pandemic that change is a constant and the ability to adapt with agility is essential to remaining relevant and competitive. Travel was booming in 2019.
Weekend trips to see relatives and friends in European countries and long-haul flights to party in Thailand were easily available to all. However, these options all but disappeared almost overnight when the world went into lockdown.
Organic search is not always considered as the powerful performance marketing channel it is by the travel industry, even though the first steps almost everyone takes when booking a flight or hotel is searching.
By organic search forecasting, the process of analysing search data to inform future business direction, a business can more effectively manage their organic search strategy to drive more relevant and therefore impactful results.
While this is done using internal data, companies should also consider external variables such as economic, political, and social factors and marry both internal and external factors when planning for organic search success.
Reacting to the current news cycle
With high inflation and a global recession looming, people are naturally being more cautious with their spending.
The good news for the travel industry is that Brits aren’t yet willing to give up their holidays now that it’s possible to take them again with 61% planning on going abroad in 2023.
However, this doesn’t mean that they will continue to travel in the same way as they had prior to the pandemic.
To stay competitive in the current economic climate, travel companies must adapt and offer such things as budget holidays, all-inclusive, and package deals. Adjusting key words to suit these terms will help the consumer and your business.
Organic search professionals in the travel sector also can continue to provide relevant content based on what consumers are looking for by keeping up with travel news and responding appropriately.
Looking at wider trends
Businesses should also think about broader travel trends, for example, the availability of wheelchair-accessible trips.
Brands can uncover these trends by examining competitor data and analysing a breakdown of keywords that are driving visitors to their site.
In this particular example, reworking the organic search strategy and making wheelchair accessibility information far easier to find through search could win back customers from competitors.
This could also apply to other trends. Consider environmental concerns, for example. It is evident that this is a key concern for many people, particularly when it comes to taking flights.
By tailoring a site’s organic search strategy to offer eco-friendly hotels and flights with carbon off-sets, those looking for a more environmentally friendly holiday will be led to a site with corresponding content first.
Marrying wider organic search changes with current trends and news
Organic search practitioners within the travel industry also need to adapt to the changing search landscape.
Just last month, Google made significant changes to its algorithm, dubbed the ‘Helpful Content Update.’
This update prioritises genuinely helpful content while penalising content that appears to have been created purely for the purpose of ranking well.
Organic search practitioners should be aware of these updates so they can make meaningful changes to their search strategy, rather than implementing updates that will no longer resonate if there has been a major overhaul in how content is ranked or crawled.
Therefore, in the context of the travel industry, understanding the changing organic search landscape as well as keeping abreast of travel trends is key.
By knowing that many people in their 60s are looking to take a gap year, that interrailing has gained momentum again, or that more people now want all-inclusive holidays, organic search practitioners in the travel industry can update their strategy by creating content that is reflective of these changing behaviours.
The power of data
The power of data in making any of these predictions and decisions cannot be underestimated.
Data is an incredible tool that should almost always inform the reason any business decides.
As much as we’d all appreciate a crystal ball to predict the future, data can help you make an informed decision rather than a wild guess. This is why organic search forecasting is critical to your overall search strategy.
Travel companies should be investing in receiving organic search data so they can understand where they are going wrong, what they are doing right and then make better-informed decisions.
Additionally, many organic search tools also allow you to see your competitor's data, providing your business with even deeper insight into what keywords could help your business rank better.
While nobody could have ever predicted the pandemic, a tight organic search strategy centred on data, can help your business plan for change that will certainly come – although hopefully not on such a scale any time soon.
However, with the current economic climate, unpredictable events are still on the horizon.
Not only is it never too late, but there’s also actually never been a better time to invest in your organic search strategy.