10 DIY Website Auditing Tactics for Travel Agencies
Whether you are building upon an existing SEO project or starting a new online marketing promotion, it’s sometimes hard to understand where to begin. We’re going to share some of our basic in-house checklist items for those who want to explore a more DIY SEO solution.
Each travel business is unique, and requires it’s own unique technical review. However, for the purpose of this post, we’ve purposely made the list a bit generic to fix the problems we most likely encounter.
Self Auditing SEO Website Tips
Every marketing consultant has their own checklist they follow for their clients. It really is the best way to make sure you aren’t missing an important search engine optimization component. In SEO, your website is only as good as your checklist. You’re only as good as the checklist you follow!
1. Submit Your XML Sitemaps
Telling the search engines which pages of the website you’d like indexed is the job of the XML sitemap. You’ll need to submit your XML sitemaps directly to Google via Google Search Console if you are not already. If you’ve already submitted them previously, are they up-to-date and accurate? Did you remember to add a video and image sitemap as well as content? If it’s a WordPress site, check to make sure you’re not generating sitemaps for content you don’t want indexed and/or have set to meta noindex. Examples would be slider sitemaps, category and tag sitemaps. After you have submitted your XML sitemap to Google, the Google Search Console will display a Sitemaps report. The report will display how many URLs are being indexed.
2. Identifying Any Duplicate Content
The content on your website must be original and not copied from any other websites. If your content is duplicated from anywhere else on the web, you could be at risk for a drop in web rankings. Occasionally, you’ll want to double-check to make sure your content is original, especially if you have multiple people able to update your content. An easy way to check is to do a Google search. Use a unique snippet of text within quotes from your website content. On the results page, are you seeing the text show up anywhere else besides your domain? If so, attempt to determine the source. Perhaps they are using an RSS feed or Content Syndicate to scrap your website.
What if you are not the original content owner, but received the content through your own RSS feed? Will your website be heavily penalizes for duplicate content? Not necessarily. Google does not actually penalize a site for having duplicate content unless it believes that the site is using deceptive practices to manipulate search engine rankings. Occasionally citing an interesting article you found should not be a problem as long as there are loads of original content on the site as well. If you are concerned, please contact us for a consultation.
3. Test Your Page Load Time
A page that loads quickly can really increase your page rankings. To test your site, choose a sampling of the site’s most common pages (Homepage, blog, destination page, etc.) with Google’s Page Speed Insights. Take a note of your score for mobile and desktop ratings. Now, pick 2 or 3 of your competitors and run the same test through Google Page Speed Insights. How well do you compare to their scores? Not scoring 100% on the test? Don’t worry, must of us aren’t. Even your Google Analytics code can cause you a ding for expired headers. Worry more about being in the 80+ club for both desktop and mobile.
4.Quality Content Check
Search engines want more than just non duplicated content on your Travel website. They want good quality content. But what constitutes quality content? Below are a few of the major action items that we add to our website checklist.
- Readability – Did your quest for keyword insertion overtake your ability to make readable content?
- Word Count – Pages with nothing to say don’t index well. Am for no less than 150 words per page. (More is better)
- Indexibility – If copy isn’t indexible, Google can’t read it. Quick tip, if you can do a keyboard copy and paste to the text, it’s indexible.
5. Site Architecture
Plainly put, site architecture deals with how easy it to navigate your site. Are your internal links setup in a way that makes sense? One sign of a high quality website is great usability. If you have 100 links in your main navigation, you aren’t clearly telling people the path you’d like them to head down. For travel, site architecture tends to follow this path: Main Pages (General Interest Pages) – Destination Pages – Hotel Pages – Package Pages – Purchase Path. Here’s a short list of site architecture items to look out for:
- Are there any annoying road blocks to your purchase path? (persistent popups, etc)
- Can forms be filled out easily? Is autofill enabled?
- If you have advertising, is it placed off of the main content area so it’s not confusing?
6. Local Search Check
Occasionally double-checking your local search results is a must-have for your SEO checklist. Local citations will have a great impact on your rankings. Often shortened to NAP, Name, Address, and Phone Number is a common term used by Search Marketers. Check your local listings to make sure all three of these are correct. This includes your local yellow pages, chamber of commerce, and any government or educational links you might have. Ideally your website contains Schema.org markup contains your NAP that exactly matches your local citations.
7. Server Errors
Server errors can be a major ding to your SEO, simple things like checking the padlock icon doesn’t have an X, slash, or red label indicating your certificate is invalid. You’ll want to make sure all your secure HTTPS links are being indexed, and not your insecure HTTP links. Do a search in Google for a site:domain.com. (Except put in your website domain.) Are you finding any HTTP URLs indexed? If you see any HTTP links showing up, do a quick 301 redirect to their secure HTTPS.
8. ADA Compliant
The 300 pound gorilla that nobody wants to look at is already at the table, and that’s ADA Compliance. But the great news is that mostly anything you do to help your website become more ADA Compliant will also help your search engine optimization and help your ranking in search. Becoming ADA compliant is too big of a topic to cover in a simple blog post entry, so we highly encourage you to do some of your own research, W3.Org is a great place to start
9. User Interface Testing
This one is so common sense but often forgotten in the shuffle to get a website up and running. Do people actually know how to use your site? Are they headed down the correct paths? Your analytics will key you into problem areas, but not actually tell you WHAT the problem is. One no brainer is to browser check your pop-ups. Not every website needs or benefits from a popup. And sometimes an overly enthusiastic web dev can add way too many point of contacts for a popup. Have you visited all the pages that you have a popup on different mobile devices? Are you blocking the flow of traffic by making it hard to navigate?
10. Remote Resources and Spam Check