As we pointed out in a blog post yesterday, the travel industry is highly sophisticated in its use of digital marketing, and SEO in particular.

A report from Epiphany and Searchmetrics found that TripAdvisor dominates organic search rankings, but other travel sites are achieving high visibility in SERPs by targeting niche keywords and building high quality backlinks.

Another section of the report shows that a majority of sites are failing to make the most of videos and images to maximise their search visibility. 

It has a big impact on traffic, as page one visibility in SERPs can often be achieved more quickly through good universal search rankings.

And good visual content is integral for the travel sector, with people keen to see pictures and video guides of places, tourist attractions and hotels.

So why is it so important, and which sites are getting it right?

Video optimisation

In a recent blog post, Vayu Media’s vice president of sales and marketing Jennifer Dunphy highlighted the importance of video content to universal search rankings.

A recent comScore study found websites that contain video hold a viewer’s attention for more than two minutes longer than sites without video content. This is beneficial, as time on site is one factor that can boost search rankings.

Similarly, a study by aimClear found that videos in search results have a 41% higher click through rate than plain-text results.

And if that’s not enough proof, Dunphy highlights a study which found that having a good online video marketing strategy can increase your likelihood of achieving first page Google rankings by up to 53 times.

So clearly video has a benefit for search rankings, yet Epiphany’s report found that few travel sites are taking advantage.

Our beginners guide to optimising video content shows that it can be achieved fairly simply by using keywords in a description of the video or a transcript, embedding keywords in metadata and filenames, and allowing comments.

Image optimisation

The benefits of image optimisation are similar to those for video, so a few simple tweaks to images can help boost your site’s visibility in search rankings.

According to Search Engine Land, sites need to include keywords in image file names and in the image alt tag. They should also be uploaded to photo sharing sites with relevant captions and tags.

Furthermore, images need to be positioned near keyword rich content and sites should limit the number of images on each page.

Which travel sites are getting it right?

Epiphany’s report found that TripAdvisor has achieved an impressive image visibility score by optimising images to appear in the top few positions for almost 8,000 traffic-driving keywords.

Many are generic keywords, such as place names, which drive a high search volume.

Monarch has achieved high visibility by embedding videos on pages that target very competitive keywords.

For example, at the time of writing the report, a search for ‘Florida Holidays’ showed Monarch ranking on the first page of Google with an embedded video.

However Monarch, TripAdvisor and Expedia appear to be the exceptions rather than the norm – for the most part travel sites aren’t making the most of video and images to improve their search rankings.

According to the report:

Usually, achieving a top ranking for such competitive keywords may be a long and costly objective, but increasing prominence through use of video is a great way to increase traffic relative to ranking position.