Making travel content really count

Oct. 31, 2011 | by Jeremy Head

I’m taking part in a panel session at World Travel Market (WTM) next week on the 9th November at Excel in London’s Docklands. It’s titled Is just blogging about travel enough?

There are many ways you could answer this question and the panel features people with quite different expertise so I imagine it will be a really interesting debate. It’s got me thinking about the quality of content. We create travel features and destination guides to go both on our clients’ websites and on carefully selected blogs and websites to help amplify the messages we are trying to get across.

For way too long, content has tended to be almost an afterthought in the online world. But I’m increasingly optimistic about the future for content creators given the noises I hear from my SEO and Social Media colleagues here. The Panda update of the Google algorithm was a shot across the bows for people creating high volumes of poor quality search term-chasing copy. From now on, the watchword should be ‘quality’. And the importance of social buzz around this content for making it rank better is something that should be given real consideration as well.

So here are some suggestions for creating content that really counts:

Research – what kind of information are your customers and prospects looking for? Before you start creating content you absolutely have to know. We use a range of research tools to help us understand who it is we are writing for and what their interests and concerns are. Typically these tools include search term research, focus groups and questionnaires and social media research. Ideally we take a blend of all of these to get a really complete view.

Invest – frankly quality content costs. In the past people have  been reluctant to spend decent amounts on content, but right now I think that those who do put really decent budget behind content creation will see it pay off as search engines get ever better at sifting the wheat from the chaff. Do it now and get ahead of the game! I commission expert freelance travel writers who really know their stuff. And because we have done the research, I can be really specific about what they need to write for me. So a destination guide might be specifically targeted at families – and thus I’m asking for restaurants with baby-changing facilities and kids’ menus and hotels that provide cots in the rooms.

Be creative – don’t restrict yourself to words either. Video is just massive these days. It doesn’t have to cost a huge amount of cash to create really compelling video content either. Often it’s the short and simple ‘how to’ video that really gets the views. Consider images too – the old truism about a picture telling a thousand words is particularly apt on-line where people are almost always short on time.

Target – something the Social Media team here has really taught me is that it’s better to go where your customers already are than expect them to come to you. So don’t assume the content you create will all necessarily be for publication on your own website or blog. Maybe there’s a great family travel blog where a feature about family-friendly restaurants and hotels in Paris would work really well and, crucially be seen by a far wider, appropriate audience.

Promote – Twitter and Facebook are becoming seriously valuable when it comes to getting the word out about your content. If you’ve already built strong followings on Twitter and Facebook you’ll be ensuring your investment in content really starts to pay off – because you’ll be able to promote it and find ways to encourage people to engage with it far more easily. Increasingly we’re thinking how we tie it all together, by coming up with spin-off ideas from the content we’re creating to encourage interaction and engagement. So how about a competition to win a family break or an easy-fold pushchair ideal for taking on the plane which also links to the content we’ve created about family friendly hotels in Paris?

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    Comments (3)

    • SEO Consultancy

      Great advice, found this really useful. Thanks Jeremy.Mar 29, 2012 02:38 pm

    • Jeremy Head

      Hi Anna
      Yes, those sessions were ridiculously overcrowded weren't they. Hope they are given larger rooms next year. We've talked to quite a few local production companies about creating video for clients - none in the travel sector yet though. Feel free to get in touch on email - firstname.lastname [at] icrossing[dot]co[dot]uk.
      Many of the sessions from WTM are now available on video. (For some reason hours is limited to only the first 16 minutes which is really disappointing):

      Best wishes
      JeremyDec 8, 2011 03:51 pm

    • Anna Walton

      Thanks for the interesting post Jeremy. I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, I missed your talk at WTM. I'm sure you're aware that it was practically impossible to get into any of the seminars, unless you lined up an hour in advance! I hope it went well.
      I use digital media to help particularly Swedish companies, including travel companies, set up and grow in the UK. I work in partnership with Magnetic Media, a new Brighton based corporate and travel video production company, so I would have loved to hear your opinions on the matter! Video is, as you know, massively on the rise and a fantastic way to improve visibility, traffic and Google rankings.Dec 7, 2011 08:26 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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