Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that Google plays a crucial part in driving qualified visitors to your website. How strong your online visibility is for relevant search queries is what will make or break your digital presence. From people researching best places to stay before the Tongariro Crossing to what to pack for a day hike with children in Te Anau, Google is a crucial part of the online travel research and booking process.
The way people are searching for information has changed. In 2019, short key phrases are rare (think ‘walking in New Zealand’) – users prefer much longer, more granular wording. Searching for something like best NZ Great Walks for teenagers has become the norm – because people believe searching this way will yield far more relevant results to the kind of information they’re looking for.
How has Google responded?
With user experience at its core, Google has responded by updating their algorithms to match this change in search behaviour.
The first step was taken in Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update – an algorithm created to begin understanding full phrases and sentences, rather than focusing on keywords. This began the official switch from a keyword to a topic focus. A couple of years later came Google’s 2015 RankBrain update; an algorithm to understand the context of people’s search queries.
Algorithms have now evolved to be able to understand the topic of a search and link it to similar searches they have had in the past, therefore allowing Google to deliver web pages which best answers the search query. The way Google ranks tourism websites has moved to favour those that embrace topic-based content organisation.
What does this mean for your tourism website?
Google is now favouring websites that organise their content based on certain topics. Since competition to be found and rank highly on search engines is fierce, tourism operators are competing against each other to implement the best search engine optimisation (SEO) practices possible. If a tourism site does not have a focus on topic-based content organisation, it is unlikely to any kind of substantial Google visibility. This is where the Topic Cluster approach to SEO comes in.
The Topic Cluster Model
In light of these algorithm changes, SEO experts (like us!) are employing the Topic Cluster approach to ranking in Google. This model is a way of organising a site’s content pages using cleaner site architecture, where the website is structured in clusters of topics.
The model begins with a website’s home page having a number of pillar pages, each surrounding a different topic. Off each pillar page are a number of linked content pages, which directly relate to that pillar page’s topic and different relevant keywords. This model shifts a website’s focus towards targeting specific topics you want search engines to recognise you in as the expert – so when somebody searches for them, you rank highly for users.
Why should I embrace topic clusters to lift Google visibility?
The Topic Cluster Model makes it easier for search engines to find information from your site as it is organised neatly in terms of topics. By using a clear, orderly arrangement, your website tells search engines what should be prioritised and creates a network of engaging content that offers a better user experience. Google is then more likely to rank your pages higher, which will in turn drive more traffic to your website. Don’t forget that with the Topic Cluster Model, every time a single content page does well the entire cluster increases in Google rankings as a result – one of the key perks to this approach to SEO!
Getting started with topic clusters
If you’re looking at website optimisation or a new website this year, we would strongly suggest you employ the Topic Cluster approach to organising your content.
- Get started by completing an SEO audit, and understanding which pages are your MVP’s in terms of traffic generation, and which are dragging the chain.
- From there, combine search phrase research from your target audiences to define what your key topics should be
- Build these key topics out with more granular information that is related to the topic itself, but is more targeted at a specific, longer tail search phrase
- Get writing!
Learn more about what best practice looks like when it comes to content marketing here.
How can we help?
With every website (even our own) we create or optimise, we use the Topic Cluster Model when creating the content layout. We believe that by using this model, the approach to content becomes more streamlined, making search engines and your users happier – and more likely to convert. We see an increase of organic visitors (people who come via Google) of around 5% – 10% every month compared to websites that don’t use this approach to SEO.
The topic cluster approach to SEO for tourism ensures you have the foundations in place to rank higher on search engines, increasing traffic on your website and driving more people through the conversion funnel.
Shift your approach to SEO to the Topic Cluster Model this year to create a seamless, conversion-driven experience for people researching and booking travel.