We are as an industry in truly exciting times where we have online marketing opportunities, that will NEVER arise again. Pretty serious stuff. This is all due to the infancy of semantic search - the search engine algorithms that determine what is presented to a traveller why they are searching for holiday ideas.
It is a time where you have the opportunity to really strengthen your business or destination brand in a way that you will never be able to do again. How strong and tight your brand is will determine your success. And because we are at the beginning, opportunities are nigh for big and small business.
We are on a level playing field for the first time in years and years. So let’s do this!
When Google switched over to semantic search (contextual search) a couple of years ago, it changed everything. We are on the cusp of big things. Never will we be here again.
So, I’m not going to give you any hot new trends for 2016 in this blog piece. What I would like to give you are the greatest evidenced-based opportunities you are likely to see for 2016 and in fact…for a very long time.
Tourism Marketing has transformed
Marketing has transformed, and 2016 is the year to adjust…or be left in the dark ages. Marketing and branding are both closely tied to internet search. Everything you do and say on the web from now on will impact on your brand and your search impact.
The difference between then and now is that you have two types of customers to impress with your strong brand: travellers and Google. And if you confuse your potential customers and Google with a weak fragmented brand, both will go elsewhere. They won’t be able to figure you out.
Trust Reputation Authority
I’m revealing opportunities that we will never have again. It is about creating a depth and wisdom to your brand that only trust, reputation and authority can deliver. To deliver these key elements successfully, it is going to take one key ingredient – time. And luckily we are at the beginning of our internet revolution.
Because we are at the beginning of the switch to semantic search algorithms and broadly speaking, ‘The Internet revolution,’ you are well primed to create what David Amerland; author of Semantic Search refers to as Trust, Reputation and Authority.
You need to have these three key ingredients as part of your online brand in order for Google to consider your website when it presents pages and sites to a traveller.
These are the key ingredients for you to create and build on. They affect both your online and offline brand. Without these things, the search engines will not take you seriously and will not present you in a traveller search query.
And more importantly, without these things, travellers will not buy from you or travel to your destination.
When travellers search for inspiration when planning holidays and vacations, they turn to the Internet. Google will only present pages and websites that it trusts, deems to be of good reputation and which seem to have authority in their ‘niche’.
Why does this all this matter? Because travel is one of the most consumed verticals on the Internet.
Internet search is the one constant tool people turn to for inspiration and travel planning at every point across the path to purchase.
What Contributes to Trust, Reputation and Authority?
1. Content, and lots of it - fresh, continuous and of variety.
The only way your customers and potential customers are going to find you on the Internet via search is with content. If you don’t have content, travellers will not find you. It is that simple. This is generally the answer I give people when they ask me why they should focus on content marketing.
Your content should be genuinely useful, be shared and commented on, and on your social media platforms. Your followers should be engaged and you should be having meaningful conversations with them.
2. Strong brand.
This means, not trying to be all things to everyone. It means strong marketing and consistently talking to your well developed and evidence-based persona’s or segments.
Weak brands that are fragmented and inconsistent are hard for travellers and Google to trust. You won’t be found.
Plan totally for mobile. More people are searching on mobile than ever before, and are often more likely to search on mobile than on a desktop. And as we saw this year, Google are penalising those websites that aren’t mobile friendly.
The Internet and Google has changed the way our potential customers find us and what information they will receive, and in doing so, has profoundly changed how we need to market our businesses and manage our online presence.
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