Optimising your travel site for conversational search.

The way that users search is changing.

Whether the travel industry likes it or not, it’s time to adapt to a new way of searching — voice search. With ridiculously smart and intuitive virtual personal assistants within the general public’s grasp, intelligent voice query tools like Siri are becoming the norm. In fact, a survey of 39 SEO experts listed “voice search” third in a list of the largest SEO trends for 2017 and beyond.

Whilst the majority of people still type words and phrases into a search engine, this is likely to change, and we could see a distinctive growth in conversational search. These impending trends need to be factored into the digital marketing efforts of all travel companies. 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020 according to comscore. Which means that failing to embrace this method of searching may lose out to competitors, as well as neglecting at least half your audience.

When exploring the potential of this type of search you must, first of all, understand why it’s growing in popularity. As the years have passed, we’ve seen a growing demand and response to products that rely on voice control; starting with Siri from Apple, to the release of Microsoft’s Cortana and even Amazon’s Alexa.

What’s the deal with Conversational Search?

Well, the answer is simple. It’s quick, effective, functional and smart. People can give their phone orders hands free, and easily research travel information on the go. It can be quite frustrating manually typing queries into a phone every time you need some information, and searching using the spoken word means your device does all the hard work for you.

How do you incorporate Voice Search in your travel marketing efforts?

This search technique requires you to consider what your customers are asking and what they want to know, rather than what they may typically type into Google. When people talk to their phone they often search in question format and optimising for answers also presents the opportunity to appear in Google’s Answer boxes.

When people use their voice to search they rarely use one word, such as ‘holidays’. They might say,

‘Alexa, give me some holiday inspiration’, or ‘where are the best places to go on a beach holiday?’

Instead of optimising your site for generic phrases such as ‘cheap flights to Ibiza’ you need to adopt a conversational approach to search and instead optimise around questions like, ‘where is good to go in Ibiza?’, because if we want to know something, we ask questions in the hope that we’ll get a relevant answer. This is fundamentally the principle on which voice search depends.

So think less keyword planner, and more Answer the Public. If you’re not familiar with Answer the Public, it’s a query generation tool that provides questions that people ask around a particular topic. So, if you put in ‘Ibiza Holidays’ for example, you get results such as:

Ibiza holidays what to do
When does Ibiza holiday season start?
Ibiza holidays with swim up rooms
Ibiza apartments near nightlife
Ibiza holidays with free child places

Consider all the related queries your customers might have around a destination or travel listing, and make sure you answer them in the content. This will obviously be beneficial for both typed and spoken searches, but it will also make your content better equipped for all sorts of voice searches.

Latent Semantic Indexing

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), in search terms consists of finding synonym phrases related to a topic area. LSI is a technique that could prove useful when it comes to serving up answers to spoken questions on travel landing pages.

In travel it works like this. If someone’s searching for ‘Barcelona airport’, they may also search for or be interested in car hire, getting around Barcelona and things to do. You basically cover all bases in your content. Imagine you are your customer, and you’re researching a travel destination for holiday ideas, what sort of questions might you ask? Make a note of all these questions and endeavour to answer them in your content.

Moving towards voice search also requires having more of an insight into the minds of your customers. What might they be thinking before, during and after travel and what barriers might they face? And if they ask one question and get a specific answer, what might their next travel query be?

Spontaneous local searches

Consider spoken travel searches that are carried out on the go, for example, spontaneous local searches around activities and things to see and do, help with directions and getting around. If you can cover this in your copy you’re good to go.

Another aspect you could consider for optimising your travel site for this type of search is the addition of FAQ pages. An FAQ area allows you to engage with your audience, in a conversational format; it is the perfect opportunity for you to incorporate the questions that people are asking, as well as provide them with a relevant answer.

Get savvy.

It’s apparent that voice search is here to stay. Therefore, savvy businesses within the travel industry need to consider its importance and the vital role it plays in increasing web traffic and even conversion rates. We are experts in providing digital marketing strategy for travel companies.


This article was first published on the Strawberrysoup journal here.

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