Journal content

An SEO expert recommended how to stay relevant during unprecedented times

Written by Jennyfer Espiritu, Journalist

2020 has been a pivotal year for the hospitality and tourism industry due to COVID-19. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, the World Health Organization effectively declared a pandemic outbreak, prompting the government to impose stay-at-home orders, advising against non-essential foreign and domestic travel. Within a month, travel became virtually impossible. As a result, the $1.8 trillion global industry has come to a halt, disrupting the livelihoods of over 300 million people, including travel publishers large and small.

It was difficult for travel-focused publishers to create relevant content when people weren’t willing to go out and risk their health and safety. Yet despite the unprecedented challenges, smaller publishers like Local Adventurer, Be My Travel Muse, and have seen massive growth, amassing a total of over 10 million views in organic search in 2021 alone. The teams’ willingness to adapt to the current situation was at the heart of their breakthrough. According to Founder Hailun (Marco) Feng, when COVID-19 hit, they shifted their focus from travel to home content which increased search demand. And much of the content was based on reviews, surveys and polls, and independent sources, giving the site the advantage of maintaining and producing travel content even when it’s nearly impossible to travel.

In 2021, the newcomer also launched faceted navigation which allows readers to search for destinations and guides using filters such as ‘best time to visit’, ‘located in’, ‘best for’, ‘cost’ and ‘visa and vaccination requirements’, acting as a one-stop-shop for trip planning. While such a feature is common in e-commerce, this is the first time it’s been used in publishing, giving readers a whole new way to find and consume content. Additionally, during the pandemic, when infections and policies change frequently and evenly, it gives publishers more flexibility to present information in a timely manner without too much manual input. Feng said, “this feature will continue to be refined for better results.

As many sites have started covering pandemic-related news, Feng recommends finding the right angle to stay on-brand. Unless it’s a health site, avoid topics that are too much about people’s lives and wealth. Google’s algorithm imposes strict rules for categorize websites as YMYL (your money, your life), and you risk losing rankings for covering such content without the right expertise. “In early 2020, we removed all of our insurance and health related content from the site, which didn’t work at all, resulting in a slight increase in organic traffic. A reference section is also added at the bottom of each article to signal our authority to Google.

Another recommendation from Feng is to regularly review content to ensure information is accurate so readers can have the same experience as before the pandemic. For instance, this piece was losing organic visibility as it was not updated to reflect local health and safety guidelines for restaurants, but saw its rankings increase after the update. If you don’t have the resources to do this or do it quickly, an alternative is to add an announcement bar to your site to remind readers to check with the venue before making reservations.

While it all might sound simple, Feng revealed that it takes a lot of effort, involving 15-25 hours of research, editing, fact-checking, and adding references and visuals for each piece. Additionally, to stay competitive as a newcomer, they have created unique formats like grouping long-form content by geographies, types, and genres or using a transparent ranking system to rank recommended sites on top. .

Hailun (Marco) Feng
[email protected]

countex tracking