After setting up your travel blog, it won’t be long until you start thinking about how you’re going to drive traffic to your website.
With all the travel blogs out there, it’s important that yours gets noticed. The good news is that the more quality content you submit, the more love you’ll get from Google.
If your blog is running on WordPress and the term “SEO” sounds a little intimidating to you, don’t worry — fortunately, there are plugins that can make your life a lot easier.
To make your website SEO-friendly so that search engines pick up on your content, I’d recommend installing a WordPress plugin like Yoast as well as creating a Google Webmaster Tools account.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to do these things so that you can spend your time writing about your travel experiences rather than worrying about SEO. Here are the steps:
Install the Yoast SEO plugin
To do this, login to your website and then click “Plugins → Add new.”
Next, search for “Yoast SEO” in the plugins search bar.
Click “Install” and “Activate.”
Generate your sitemap pages
If you want search engines to know when you’ve added a new post, then creating sitemap pages is one of the easiest ways to do this.
Luckily, the Yoast plugin makes the process very straightforward.
Find the “SEO” tab in your WordPress dashboard, then click “XML SItemaps.”
Make sure “XML sitemap functionality” is enabled at the top.
Hit “Save Changes.”
After you’ve saved, click the button “XML Sitemap” where it says “You can find your XML Sitemap here.” A page should pop up with a list of your sitemap pages.
If the page isn’t populated with sitemap links, go back and click “Disable” at the top of the page, then click “Enable” again, followed by “Save Changes.”
The end result should look something like this:
Keep your current window (with the sitemap links) up, because you’ll need it later.
Bam! You’ve officially generated automated sitemaps. Now search engines will know when you’ve posted new content.
Submit your sitemaps using Google Webmaster Tools
Now that you’ve generated your sitemap, it’s time to create a Google Webmaster Tools account so that you can tell Google where your sitemap is located. This will help Google easily crawl your pages without you having to lift a finger.
Navigate to Google Webmaster Tools.
Login or create a Gmail account (it can be any Google account).
Click the red “Add a property” button.
Type in your blog URL and click “Add.”
Next, you’ll be able to verify ownership with your domain name provider.
Find your provider on the dropdown list.
After selecting your domain name provider, click “Accept” and wait for it to finish the verification process.
Next, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. Find the “Crawl” category on the left and click “Sitemaps.”
Now find the window you left open from earlier in this guide — the one that looks like this:
(If you accidentally clicked out of that window, no worries, just navigate back to your WordPress blog, click the “SEO” tab on the left, then find “XML Sitemaps” and click the button again.)
The links you see on this page are what you need to use in the Google Webmaster Tools account you just created.
You’ll want to copy the end of each. For example, for the first sitemap, you would want to copy only this part: “post-sitemap.xml”.
After you’ve done that, open up your Google Webmaster Tools window and click the red “Add/test sitemap” button on the right side of the page.
Paste the line you just copied and click “Submit.”
Repeat the process until you’ve submitted every sitemap (post-sitemap.xml, page-sitemap.xml, etc).
Congratulations — you’re all done with this step!
Optimize your posts and pages
The Yoast plugin does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for you, but there are a few other things you’ll want to do if you want your content to be SEO-friendly.
Whenever you create a new post or page, you’ll want to scroll down and make sure the Yoast box is filled out.
Find the Yoast box at the bottom of your post or page.
Look for the “Focus keyword” section. Here you will want to type in a few words that describe what your content is about. In other words: If you were searching for a similar piece of content on Google, what words would you use to find more information?
If you’re writing an article on traveling to Iceland, your focus keyword might be something like “Iceland travel guide.” Whatever you choose as your focus keyword, just make sure that it’s highly relevant and that it’s included in your title and also mentioned a few times within your content.
After you’ve chosen your focus keyword, click the “Edit snippet” button.
Now you’ll be prompted to edit the title and meta description. This is how search engines will typically present your content when people search for similar keywords.
Under “SEO title,” simply add the title of your article or page. It’s best if the title includes a good keyword that accurately describes your content.
Next, you’ll want to fill out the “Meta description” section. The easiest way to do this is to find a sentence in your article that contains your keyword and tells the audience what your article is about.
After this, you’ll see a “Content analysis” at the bottom. It looks like this:
The green areas are good, and anything next to a red bullet is an indication that something could be improved.
After you’ve made the necessary improvements, scroll up and head on over and find your SEO score next to the “Publish” button. It’s an animation of a light that should look like this:
If the light is green, you’re good to go and can publish your content.
If the light is yellow or red, it means you should scroll back down to the Yoast box and make further improvements until your content is SEO-friendly (or in the green).
And that’s it! Well done. Just keep repeating this process by filling out the Yoast box whenever you add new content to your travel blog.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you in your travel blogging journey. If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments!