The key to attracting more visitors to your tourism website is to make it easily findable on Google and other search engines. Think of it this way, your website has two main, but different goals:
1) Rank well on search engines
2) Engage and convert your target audience
Possibly not as simple as it sounds, hence why it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. And why your inbox undoubtedly has a raft of spam from shonky SEO wannabes!
For most, getting a website found on Google seems like a ‘dark art’. Something shrouded in mystery that only the techy and interweb people know the secret handshake.
While in reality, it doesn’t need to be that complicated.
Even though there are reportedly over 200 factors that go into Google’s ranking algorithm, Google, in fact, tries to make SEO as easy as possible. Google’s quest is to ensure the reader (that’s you and me!) gets the best possible, high-quality search results.
In the quest to keep your search results relevant, Google updates the algorithm frequently. Inevitably, this leads to ranking changes requiring someone to optimise your website to improve rankings.
In August 2022, Google rolled out the Helpful Content Update, another winner in the SEO stakes. Suppose you have been writing helpful tourism website copy for your target audience, not for the Google gods. In that case, your website will win from this update.
But, to the topic at hand – to understand SEO a little more, let’s go back to basics….
Search Optimisation Basics
Search engines are software programs that help people find the information they are looking for online using keywords or phrases on the internet.
Search engines send out crawlers to explore content on the internet. They follow links from one site to another, building a map of the content called a search index. These crawlers evaluate your website content, determining what kind of information it contains.
SEO simply stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of optimising your website to gain organic, unpaid traffic on a search engine results page (SERP).
SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) are the listed results search engines offer in response to a user’s specific word or phrase query.
Google SERPs include:
- organic search results
- paid ads results
- featured snippets
- knowledge graphs
- video results
SERPs determine if and how your site appears on Google’s first page.
Metadata is the information you input on your webpage and lets the Google’s algorithm understand whether your website’s page contents are relevant and valuable for your visitors.
It’s part of your on-page SEO practices and covers these three pieces of information:
1. URL (your web page)
2. Page Title / Title Tag / Meta Title (heading)
3. Meta description
Your website’s Content Management System should have an area where you can input Metadata on each page. WordPress has numerous plugins to enable this – our favourite is All in One SEO which has a free or paid offering. Shopify and Wix have their own inbuilt metadata page areas.
And that brings us to…
If you want to increase your website’s visibility and traffic on Google, meta descriptions might be the answer.
What Are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions are character snippets used to summarise a web page’s content. Search engines display these snippets in search results to inform the reader of the page’s topic. They should ultimately compel readers to click on your page in the search results to learn more.
Also, meta descriptions are displayed when sharing your page URL on social media. So it doesn’t just benefit your rankings but the opportunity to be found across multiple touchpoints.
Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
Besides offering the ability to compel the user to take action, they are used in the Google algorithm to determine how your page ranks for specific keywords. They can be the difference in your website page ranking for keywords/phrases such as ‘best vineyard stays’ or ‘best cafes’ or disappearing on page 7.
Note: If you have not written your meta description on a webpage, Google will pull it from the copy on the page. The problem, though, is it may not accurately portray what the webpage is about or compel readers to click through to your website. Hence, why you must make sure every single webpage on your website has an accurate meta description explaining that pages content.
Tips on Writing Meta Descriptions
Great meta descriptions can compel readers to click, so how do you write meta descriptions for search engines and people?
1. Write for Your Reader
Keep your tourism customer in mind and write for them. What will they be searching for when they visit your region? What products, services, or information do you offer on your webpage to help them find what they are after? Does your meta description answer their query?
2. Include Keywords in Your Meta Descriptions
Including keywords in meta descriptions will help:
1. Search engines understand the page and better rank your content.
2. Reassure users that the page covers the relevant search topic.
Avoid keyword stuffing as you may risk a search engine penalty. Each page’s meta description should have two or three keywords per phrase and be relevant to the page’s content.
3. Include a CTA in Your Meta Descriptions
Calls to action are a great way to compel the reader to take action.
Learn more, read more, and book online are all great calls to action for tourism website pages.
4. Experiment With Character Length
Meta descriptions can technically be any length. Google, however, truncates between 150 – 160 characters. So going over this length will result in cut-off content. This isn’t necessarily bad because if you write a great description with a few ellipses at the end, the reader may wish to click on the description to find out more.
However, experiment with this to see if it drives more traffic to the page or less.
5. A/B Test Your Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are a great place to experiment with different keywords, phrases, or CTAs without creating permanent changes to the website design.
Write a meta description for a page and see how it goes for a few months. On Google Analytics, note the website traffic, clicks and bounce rate. Then, rewrite the meta description in a few months and monitor Google Analytics again.
Keep a copy of the A meta description, as you may want to change the description back to the original or tweak it for further testing.
6. Do Not Duplicate Meta Descriptions
Write unique meta descriptions for each webpage, product page, and post. Individual meta descriptions increase the probability that search engines understand what content is on a page and how it compares to other pages on your website or the internet.
On e-commerce sites, this is particularly important as several products may have similar content. So keep the meta descriptions unique so search engines and your readers can differentiate content. ,
7. Do Not Use the Same Page Meta Title for the Meta Description
Use individual meta descriptions and meta titles for each page of your website. The meta description is under the title. Include keywords in your meta title and meta description, but never use the exact wording for both. Don’t waste that space!
Wrapping It Up
Meta descriptions are essential to attracting more visitors to your tourism website by making it easily findable on Google. Meta descriptions should be compelling, descriptive, and unique to each page. They are an integral part of SEO, and it’s something you can manage yourself. And remember to include meta descriptions on every page of your site, including blog posts and product pages.