For years, I've said that good link building is just good marketing. That especially applies to the travel and tourism industry. The trick is targeting the right sites.
Here are some strategies to find sites that will drive direct traffic and build links at the same time.
Whether it's vacation rentals in Mexico or surf schools in Costa Rica, businesses abroad have a distinct advantage in online marketing. They're called expatriates.
Any destination with a number of foreigners living there has strong online communities of expatriates. They have forums, blogs, directories, e-mail list, newspapers, and more -- all dedicated to helping each other and newcomers navigate living in a new country.
These sites are filled with very detailed, useful information. As someone who has lived in two countries other than my own, I can attest to their importance.
Because these sites are rich in information, they attract high-quality links. They have been referenced and linked to by major magazines, newspapers, colleges, and government sites over the years.
Here are some example keywords to find those sites: blog, expats, expatriate, living abroad, and forum. Simply add your destination country to these keywords.
Have someone spend time on these sites. Soon enough, patterns will arise of certain sites being mentioned more than others. Those are the first ones to target.
Then go after the small sites, personal blogs, and local directories. Yes, contrary to popular belief, some directories are still valuable and people still use them.
How do these expatriate sites produce direct traffic that converts? Visit any expatriate forum and you'll find tourists asking locals for advice. This includes information about accommodations, restaurants, activities, tours, and places to avoid.
Domestic travel businesses also have opportunities to drive traffic and build links at the same time. Put together a list of all the online travel guides for your location. These could be the large players, or even smaller ones that haven't been maintained very well over the years. Some of these guides will list your business with a link for a fee.
For better link and promotional opportunities, explore the site further to discover the possibilities. The best link opportunities often aren't obvious. Find out what the site owner needs.
Perhaps they make their revenue from Google AdSense. Offer to create a new section on their site on a particular topic at no charge. Or to create a unique map for them. All you want in return is some promotion on their site. It's a win-win.
If most of your customers come from a certain driving distance, look for areas to promote in those locations.
Let's say most come from within 200 miles. Contact the local newspapers, magazines, travel guides, parenting sites, and other community sites within that distance. Tell them you want to promote your business, and offer them a complimentary weekend at your resort or hotel. All you want in return is a review.
Own a tour company? Team up with a hotel. You provide the free activities and the hotel provides the accommodations. It's a win-win.
Does your business attract people from all over the country or world? Then use Google Trends to narrow it down to the cities and countries most searched from. Here's an example for "Orlando vacation." Scroll down to the bottom half of page to see countries and cities.
As you can see, good link marketing is just good marketing. These strategies aren't even new. They were used long before the Internet and search engines were created. Ask any travel or marketing industry veteran.
Join us for Search Engine Strategies San Jose, August 10-14, 2009, at the McEnery Convention Center.