Keyword research can be a confusing and time-consuming process and there is no perfect way to do it. It’s all about trying different things and testing. There is no black and white – it’s all shades of grey – but you need to analyze the results and make decisions based on what you see.
Keywords are not set in stone – you can change them at any time, but it’s good practice to start with a small number of keywords that relate to the core offering of your business (e.g. “flights from London to Rome”) and then experiment with others that catch your eye as you go along.
In this guide, designed for SME and smaller travel companies, you will find:
- Guidance on how to find the best travel keywords
- An introduction to keyword research
- Longtail keywords in the travel sector
- Using Google trends to form better marketing and travel content campaigns
- Judging “keyword difficulty” and prioritizing what you’re going after
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is where you use tools like Mangools or Ahrefs Tools to analyze the searcher queries that are using your keywords.
You then use this data to update your content on your website so that when people search on Google for more information, they get the most relevant content on your site.
Researching which keywords you should target will help to ensure that your site gets ranked when people are searching for their needs in Google. If you don’t think about it in advance, your content could be missing out on very relevant traffic.
Travel Keyword Research Basics
The aim of keyword research is to find terms that are high in demand so you can rank well in search results. Search terms are often broken down into three areas to differentiate between them.
- Long Tailed Keywords (LKW): LKWs are phrases like “best hotel in London” that include words like “in” which indicate they can be used to describe things; LKWs tend to be longer and less common than phrase-based keywords (also called Phrase or Short-Tailed keywords) but if your niche is strong enough, you could get good search volume for these longer, more complex phrases. LKWs oftentimes have high commercial intent and a lower conversion rate, but it is possible to rank for them.
- Phrase-Based Keywords (PBW): PBWs are shorter words that can be used to describe a specific topic or product, such as “flights from London to Rome”.
- Broad Keywords (BKW): BKWs are things like “travel” or “hotels” which don’t relate directly to a specific article, but can qualify traffic resulting in more sales.
Long-Tailed Keywords (LKW): These are terms that can be used on their own to describe a specific topic, eg “flights from London to Rome”. To get clicks you need to include some other words on the same page which make up your LKW, eg “Best Hotels in London”.
Phrase-Based Keywords (PBW): These are more specific terms that are usually used in conjunction with another noun. Example: “flights from London to Rome” might be used as PBWs with “hotels” or “airports” or even both.
This ensures there is some context for the users who are looking for the destination. Users will see the destination and decide if they need to make a booking. Example: “flights from London to Rome” is an example of a LKW, but we could also use “Best Hotels in London” as a PBW as well as having the PBN (Phrase-Based Number) as the destination phrase.
Broad Keywords (BKW): Broad keywords relate to small sets of general terms that can be used for multiple locations or products, such as “hotels” or “flights”.
Using the above guides, if someone searched for “flights from London to Rome” they would see your list of best hotels in London with your list of best air routes to Rome.
Long Tail Keywords In Travel
In the travel industry, there are a number of niche markets that have a very high searcher demand for factors such as price, convenience, and practicality.
Travel websites that specialize in these niche travel markets can rank very highly for these long-tail keyword phrases to help with SEO strategy. This is because the long tail keywords also contribute to large amounts of organic traffic from visitors who need those services.
For example, “budget hotels” can be used as a phrase or as a broad keyword term. If someone is researching for a budget hotel, they probably know what they are looking for and there may only be a few results that will satisfy their search parameters.
However, if you look at the keyword data for “budget hotels”, you may find out that there are more searches on Google than you initially thought. This is because people use the phrase “budget hotels” as a broad keyword term for general hotel pricing.
Using Google Trends
Google Trends is a useful tool if you want to find out how much interest there is in certain topics at specific times of the year. You will know a lot about your travel niche’s seasonality already, and understand your high and low periods – but Google Trends can also help you identify when people start looking, and which queries they use.
There are some really great trends available on Google trends that are very useful for your keyword research. Here are a few examples:
You can see how seasonal demand is, or whether there are seasonal fluctuations in the number of searches for certain keywords. This is good to know if you’re targeting long-tail keyword phrases because you can see what time of year people make the most purchases in your niche market.
By using Google Trends you can also see if people search differently depending on where they live, so if you want to find out if there is a difference between UK and US searchers when it comes to what they search for when it comes to travel, this is a good place to start.
Google Trends can also help you understand how your market, and user base, have changed following the Coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst the above graph shows the impact of Corona, it also helps identify that people typically started looking for a hotel, for December 31s around the last week of August. Armed with this information, you can adapt your marketing calendar, content, and messaging efforts accordingly.
How to Judge Keyword Difficulty In Travel SEO
Keyword Difficulty is a well-known and persistent myth in SEO. Many people think that the easier and more generic the keyword, the better. This isn’t always true; in fact, it can often be worse.
Whilst this definition has helped businesses to understand the concept of difficulty in AdWords, most people don’t really know how to use it when attempting to evaluate each keyword they find. They may not even be aware that they need to measure difficulty at all.
How To Estimate Keyword Difficulty in Travel SEO
Most third-party tools, as well as Google Ads, will offer a form of “competition” or keyword difficulty metric.
Take this with a pinch of salt.
Consider the value of the keyword phrase to your business. This will help you determine whether it is worth purchasing that particular keyword phrase on AdWords. For instance, if your business sells budget hotels, it’s not likely to be lucrative to purchase an expensive hotel in London using the “cheap hotels” keyword phrase.
Keyword Difficulty Vs Keyword Value
The main problem with estimating keyword difficulty in SEO for certain types of businesses is that there are some concepts that are hard to estimate objectively or measure properly. Since these kinds of keywords do not necessarily correlate with actual revenues per click (RPC), there is no way to apply a formulaic approach when making your decision.
Instead, you have to rely on educated assumptions and your own understanding of your business, your customers, your competition, and what your own data is telling you.