The Importance of Backlinks for Your Tourism Website
When starting out with a website, you likely searched for (or will search for) something called ‘Search Engine Optimization’ or ‘SEO,’ and you likely came upon keywords as primary results. It makes perfect sense that what you put on your site’s pages has a direct impact on how those pages rank, but you may be surprised to know that keyword placement – which falls under on-page SEO – is only half of the game. Backlinks fall under off-page SEO, and they make up a large portion of the other half of necessary SEO measures to make your website successful organically.
What are Backlinks?
Simply put, when another site puts a link to your site on any of their pages, it creates a backlink. This is also why they fall under off-page SEO, as all backlinks to your site will happen on websites that are not yours. For example, let’s say you run a walking tour company in Boston and your friend has a blog about walking tours in cities across the USA. If your friend were to link to your site in their blog on Boston, that would be a backlink.
How do Backlinks help SEO?
Let’s think of a situation where you’re in high school running for class president. In this scenario, your website would be you, and your classmates would all be their own websites. To win the election, you obviously want a lot of votes. Now, Google is like the school principal in this situation, and they are moderating the election. Think of backlinks as votes. Each one you get means someone trusts you and sees you as relevant to being class president!
In a literal sense, backlinks are other sites giving your site a vote of confidence. Google sees these ‘votes’ and takes them into account when assessing your site for trustworthiness and relevance. The more backlinks you have, the more likely you are to be ranked higher in organic results. Backlinks from local sources can also have a fantastic impact on your local SEO.
Are all backlinks equally strong?
Unfortunately, continuing with the class president scenario, Google is like a corrupt principal. To them, not every vote is equal. Let’s say your rival gets 100 votes from all of the best students – the ones who are involved in sports, get great grades, and never get in trouble. On the other hand, you get the exact same amount of votes, but your votes are all coming from the students who aren’t involved in school activities, get failing grades, and are constantly getting into trouble. Principal Google is going to look at this and think that if you are getting votes from bad students, you must also be bad. Even though you have the same number of votes, Principal Google will elect your rival as the winner since their votes came from better sources.
While the quantity of backlinks is definitely important, and you want as many as possible, you cannot ignore the quality of your backlinks. Quality will make the biggest difference between a strong link profile for your site, and a weak one.
What determines the strength of any single backlink?
Your backlink source is one of the biggest factors of importance when building backlinks as a good source can give you a very strong backlink, and a bad source can even hurt your organic rankings. Let’s say you aren’t running for class president for a moment, but are voting instead. Would you trust the candidate sponsored by some big company like CNN or would you trust the candidate who is backed by Spam.com? It’s important to note, however, that just because you find one good source does not mean you should focus on getting a whole lot of your backlinks from that source. It’s fine to get multiple links from the same source, but each successive backlink will be weaker and weaker. It’s like getting multiple votes from the same person in the class president scenario. Principal Google will likely consider the first vote and not all the extra ones. Focusing instead on getting at least one backlink from a large number of different sources will prove a much stronger strategy.
In order to have proper SEO value in Google’s eyes, your backlink must be tagged as DoFollow. This tag basically just confirms to Google that your backlink source agrees to pass on their SEO strength to your site through this backlink. A NoFollow tag means that your link will still get exposure value and possibly draw in traffic – but will mean nothing in Google’s eyes. A NoFollow link is almost like a student recommending to other students that you are going to be a great class president, but when it comes time to vote they don’t do anything.
The anchor text of the backlink can also make one link stronger than another. Anchor text is the text on the source page that has your site’s link embedded in it. This is an example of anchor text that links to the TourismTiger home page. It’s best to have the anchor text contain keywords for your site or branding terms for your site. For example, “check out this site that will help you build a sales-focused tourism website” or “TourismTiger makes websites.” It’s also possible that the source just places a naked backlink (as they’re called) which would be the exact URL also being used as the anchor text like so: https://www.tourismtiger.com/. The anchor text just provides additional information to Google in regards to specifically why this source is giving you their vote of confidence. It’s even possible to have no anchor at all if your backlink is tied to some image on the source site. Returning again to the class president scenario, this would be like allowing students to fill out a “Why vote for this candidate?” section on their ballots.
How can I build a strong backlink profile for my tour website?
Luckily, there are a variety of great ways to build backlinks naturally! While building backlinks is going to be more time consuming than something like changing keywords on your site, sites with strong link profiles are going to have an easier time moving up and staying high in organic rankings.
If you’re wondering what your current backlink profile looks like, as well as a handful of competitors, our backlink profiling service can help you map everything out and develop a backlink building plan going forward.
For tourism websites specifically, some of the best sources to start looking for are news sites, travel blogs, and local accommodation websites. Of course, you can also look for sources that fit the specific context of your tours well. For example, if you do an architecture walking tour in Chicago, you may want to get a backlink from an architecture-specific news source. Another example would be that if you do tours in a national park, you can get links not only from that national park, but also from the government website that oversees the management of all the national parks in the country.
Lastly, in the discussion of backlinks, it’s also worth mentioning citations. These are basically a weaker version of backlinks that work particularly well for local SEO, and on a general basis are going to be easier to get!
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