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Travel Writing in the Digital Age

Once upon a time, travel writers scoured the globe with a pen in hand ready to record the abundant secrets of the great unknown.

Nowadays, travel writers have a lot more to think about.

Search engines have completely changed the game, and now online writers need to be smarter than ever to get noticed in a crowded market.

The most well-researched, beautifully written travel article is useless if no one can find it and read it. Here are some tips for building a search-friendly online presence:

  1. Get to the point.
    Lengthy, descriptive leads work well for print, but not for online publications. In travel writing, it’s tempting to start with a poetic narrative complete with sensory details—don’t.

    The first sentence of a story should contain the main search engine keyword terms. Also, all links in the article should come early in the content. Search engines expect the most important links and content to come first, not buried into a signature.

    Also, make sure titles, headings, and summaries are to the point. For example, “The City of Lights,” will not fare as well as, “Top five Paris Vacation travel tips.” Think headlines, not titles. This does not mean to write in all bullet points and avoid any imagery. However, weave personal voice into the commentary for the best optimization.

  2. Don’t look like a spammer.
    This one isn’t as obvious as it seems. In the online world, several keywords and phrases have become synonymous with spam. For example, anything to do with weight loss or designer purses will raise a red flag. In travel writing, be aware of overusing the word “free.” Terms like “free hotel” or “free plane tickets” can seem like spam out of context. Try to rephrase sentences by saying. “complimentary hotel room” and “frequent flyer rewards” instead. Also, don’t load travel article with a ton of links. Any outgoing links should be to relevant, authority sites and should be spaced out over 100 words.
  3. Be aware of the market.
    After Travel writers have an established following, they need to diversify their portfolio online to gain new readers. Is there a large event or holiday coming up? Write about it (before it happens). People will be searching for events and “things to do” in that travel market. If a New York blogger only focuses on food, and completely ignores the Macy’s Day Parade, they missed out.

    It’s absolutely essential to have a niche, but don’t ignore the current search terms. For example, that blogger can talk about the best places to eat near the parade. By incorporating current search terms with established keywords, travel writers can widen their fan base.

  4. Maintain an active portfolio.
    Stagnant content will be the end of travel writers. Be sure to always update travel websites and blogs weekly, no matter how minor the change. Even just switching up the grammar can help keep content fresh. Also, be aware of all links on the site. Not only are bad or broken links frustrating to readers, they can hurt pagerank as well. Also, try to guest blog as much as possible to diversify readership and gain exposure. Finally, try to never delete or unpublish pages, that’s a real waste of hard work. Instead, update the content with accurate information and include links to similar pages.

Travel writers don’t have to be a Google executive to play it smart. Part of being a writer is adapting the craft for the medium. There are many algorithms and formulas the SEO bigwigs will never reveal and writers may never need to understand. However, these four simple tips are a great place to start.

~ Lauren

In what ways have you adapted your writing for the web? Share your tips!