Travelling the world and blogging about it seems like a dream job for many Millennials trapped in office jobs that barely cover their rent. But it can be hard to develop a way to turn that passion into a sustainable lifestyle. Fortunately, other people have done it before and you can do it too.
Personally, I am not a travel blogger. I’d rather sustain a nomadic lifestyle using SEO. Writing for a living often ruins the fun of it. That being said, travel blogs can be a great option for many if you go about it in the right way, especially if you are a good writer.
While it may seem like the internet is inundated with good looking nomadic travel bloggers already, fear not! Many don’t keep it up over the long haul, are lousy writers or haven’t the foggiest idea of how to grow an audience.
There are articles that already mention how to make money travel blogging, so I decided to approach it from a different angle that hasn’t really been discussed. SEO can be a powerful tool for any travel blogger who wants to grow their website, traffic and ultimately monetize it. That’s why I am going to tell you how to do it.
Think of Google as a way to grow an audience. Who hasn’t Googled a destination and discovered multiple travel blogs of varying quality on it. In this post, I’m going to teach you how to establish that presence in search and then how to make money off of that traffic.
In general, there are 3 ways SEO is going to help your travel website generate income:
Selling Ad Space
This is an obvious one, but it’s worth pointing out that the more traffic you are able to generate (which SEO can play a huge part in), the more you will be able to make money off of selling your ad space. If you are new to travel blogging, the fastest way to monetize your site is by using Google display network advertising.
While I’m no expert on how this works, I believe your paid based on how much traffic your site generates. It might not generate a huge amount of income, but it’s a start. Some feel that display advertising cheapens the look of your site; however, those purists aren’t going to cover your expenses to chase your dreams.
If you are a bit more established and have developed an audience, you can partner with advertisers to sell your adspace directly to them or through some other kind of marketing partnership. This approach can be much more lucrative but is a lot more work. You will need to do cold emailing and other outreach techniques in order to find potential customers.
Growing Your Audience
Having a strong presence on Google is going to yield additional traffic on your website. It’s up to you to turn some of that traffic into followers and fans on Facebook, Instagram and email. Later in this article, I’ll cover some ideas for how to actually convert this traffic. But for now, just understand that having a strategy to convert search traffic into followers will definitely boost how much you can charge brands and other marketing partners for access to your audience.
Accepting Sponsored Posts & Other “Guest Posts”
In case you weren’t aware, much of my daily work as an SEO Specialist involves searching for sites that will accept my content. That’s because receiving a backlink from another is critical to any SEO program. This is especially true for websites that are legitimate and have authority in Googles eyes (an entire industry has sprung up, mostly based in India, of websites that exist solely for the purpose of accepting paid articles. Google, however, is getting smart enough to know these links aren’t legitimate).
In general, I pay anywhere from $150-200 for a sponsored post on a website that has a strong search presence and likely well over a thousand unique visitors a month. You don’t even need to post these articles anywhere your audience would see them (unless you value the content). For the most part, I’m happy so long as the article is live with my link as follow.
Sure, this might be in violation of the Google guidelines. Google isn’t going to put food on your table and everyone does it.
Also, Fuck Google.
How to Expand Your Website’s Search Presence with SEO to Make Money
Now that I’ve described the three general models for monetizing website traffic, you are probably wondering how to get there. Well, the good news is I’m going to tell you. And there’s even better news just around the corner.
The Foundation of Any SEO Strategy for Travel Blogs is Great Content and Lots of It
That’s right. The challenge of any SEO program is regular content creation. The good news is that’s your full time job right now.
It’s essential that you write as much as possible, ideally every day and not just a short post. Within Google, articles that are longer consistently outrank those that are shorter. If you are able to write a thousand word article (with lots of pictures of course) every day or two, then you will already be ahead of the competition. That takes dedication. But if you aren’t dedicated then you are going to have to find another way to earn a living.
How to Optimize a Post for Search
Whenever you write a blog post, there are a few essential things you need to do in order to make sure your post is optimized for search.
Include keywords and related synonyms throughout the post
In order to rank for a search term, you need to have it present throughout the article. While most of that will happen naturally, you need to make sure that certain aspects on the blog (think title tag, h1, body copy, meta description) contain key phrases you might want to rank for.
For example, if you want to rank your post about the Tbilisi in Georgia, make sure Tbilisi is in the title tag & mention throughout the page. You can also be more targeted in your article’s approach (e.g. “10 restaurants in Tbilisi to die for), which is more likely to be visible in search when that specific phrase is used.
In general, you want about 2.8% percent of all words (this is a general rule above all it should be natural). This should be the target keyword (e.g. Tbilisi, restaurant) as well as related phrases (e.g. Georgia, dinner). In SEO, we refer to these as LSI keywords. They are important now because Google’s algorithm is now smart enough to understand the relationship between things. You need take advantage of it.
Link to your other articles in your post
Whenever your reference something remotely related another one of your blog posts, it’s important your link to it within your article. Not only will that send readers to that post, but it transfer helps the article that receives the link rank better in search. This is called internal linking and is a tried and true SEO tactic. In general, try to link to 3-5 other posts within your article if possible.
Add article schema to your posts
While the least important of the three tactics, if you are technical enough you should always add article schema to your posts. Article schema is a form of data on your site designed to let Google know exactly what it is crawling. To add article schema, just generate a snippet of code using this website. Fill in the form and paste it in the text field of your wordpress site. Schema will help your article rank better and boost your authority as an author in Google’s eyes.
Optimizing the rest of your site for search
Create a real domain
In 0rder to rank well in search in the long one, you need to register for your own domain name and hosting. Don’t use any free services like blogger or wix. Use namecheap or godaddy to buy the domain and hostgator for hosting. While this generally takes an initial investment of around $100, you will be setting your website up for long-term success. I also wrote a post about 10 SEO tactics for new websites if you want more advice on this topic and more.
Build links to your website
After creating great content, link building is the next most important tactic to getting your site visible in search. Because you have made it this far in my article, I’m going to share with you 10 sites to help you get create a solid backlink profile, which will help all of your articles rank better. Most of these are free and even those that aren’t cost $5 and are totally worth the expense.
In addition, you should try guest posting on other travel blogs and quality content sites in the travel industry. But on the hole, once you have a solid foundation created from the sites mentioned above, I’d focus 95% of my efforts on creating content for my blog.
Implement a strategy to convert traffic from search
Once you start generating traffic from organic search, you need to have a strategy in place to convert them to followers of your website. Here’s what I would recommend:
- Add recommended posts to the end of every article. This will help get readers more engaged with your site.
- Create a Facebook page, have social icons at the bottom of your post and encourage readers to link your page.
- Ditto for instagram.
- Have a field in the top of right of the page (as well as scatter elsewhere throughout your site) to capture their email to be notified of any new posts.
Create a “Guest Post”,”Sponsored Post” or “Write for Us” page
If you have done everything I’ve mentioned, this is sure to be a money maker. SEOs like myself often use Google to find guest post sites by searching [insert topic] + “write for us” or “guest post.” By making this visible with an SEO friendly webpage, we are more likely to find you and more like to pay you to post an article on your site.
Best of all, if you have grown your audience using social channels and email marketing, you can upsell potential customers with promotion. Some people might pay.
That’s all for me. If you have any questions, feel free to reach or comment in the post below.