Search benefits of the blogosphere

Thanks to elliance.com for this infographic explaining the benefits of blogging.

Have you Googled your hospitality or tourism business lately? If you have a small business in the restaurant, lodging or other tourism-dependent industry, you know its not easy rising above travel industry juggernauts like the Expedias, regional membership or review sites. But by building good, keyword-rich content on a regular basis, you’ll be prompting search engines to index your site more often, and get better visibility.

Why would a tourism or hospitality business want to blog?

Blogging allows you to create fresh content for your website, and a sound way to build community and your brand. By writing about topics of interest to you and your audience, you’re slowly establishing yourself (and your business) as a thought leader and expert of sorts in your field or region. Hubspot research has determined that a business that has a blog gets 55% more website visitors and a whopping 434% more indexed pages.

On using social blogging to grow a business, Inc. Magazine agrees,

It’s not about creating a sales pitch for your product or service. Instead, it’s about generating interest and keeping your audience current on news, events, and the latest product developments.

Arguably the best way to create content and stay search engine-fresh is by blogging. Adding a blog to your existing website is easy and low-cost – even free if you set it up and brand it yourself. In fact, if your website is built on something like WordPress, activating a blog is as simple as a click of a few buttons. For sites that aren’t blog-ready, or you’re unable to host a blog with your current website, consider free hosted blogging platforms like WordPress.com (not .org, which is for self-hosted sites), Blogger, Tumblr, or Posterous. The topics you write about will (and should) always have an opportunity to point back to your website.

What to blog about

Say you own an inn, b&b, or remote resort. Does your property have a destination restaurant? Is it seasonal? Do you host weddings and events? Are there all sorts of activities guests engage in while they are staying at your place? Blog about it. Consider these topics that past and future guests might enjoy reading about as they plan their next visit:

  1. Share recipes
  2. Interview guests of interest
  3. Nearby activities, events, festivals
  4. Personal inspirational stories
  5. Video: events, chef’s instructional, tour of the property, wine tastings, farm-to-table, wedding clips, etc
  6. A guest family highlight
  7. Property pets
  8. Local news of interest
  9. Renovations and improvements
  10. Staff highlights

Basically you can blog about anything that interests you. Your enthusiasm will be reflected in your writing and therefore (hopefully) be interesting to your audience. For tips on how to write compelling stories that people will actually be interested in reading (think copywriting, good headlines, chunking up up copy, etc) tap into the indispensable help offered at CopyBlogger.com, ConversationAgent.com, MenWithPens.com, and ProBlogger.com

Promoting the blog

Once your blog is installed and you have a handful of posts to browse through, you want to get the word out that your a brand new blog and please, come read it.

The first thing you want to do is add a nice big link to the blog on your website. Or, if your site is already a WordPress site (as is your blog), make the blog active by adding it to your navigation menu. You’ll want to make it an obvious link, not something hidden in a sub- sub menu. After all the work you’ve done (and will be doing) to keep it active, let it be easy to find on your website.

Others ways to promote are a shout out on your email newsletter, and draw attention to the blog itself and individual posts on your social places like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Use a Facebook feed app like NetworkedBlogs to automatically pull your new posts onto your business’ Facebook fan page.

Another excellent way to garner traffic to your blog is to start reading and commenting on other blogs. Maybe there’s a popular food writer, wine guy, or local know-it-all who blogs about your destination. Check out the blogs of neighboring businesses, local celebrities, journalists, and associations your are connected to. Add their blog feeds to your RSS reader and comment when so inspired. Go beyond local influencers by tapping into LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats. If you are interested in destination marketing, check out #tourismchat. Random Thursday afternoons of pre-determined topics that are really great for exploring issues that matter to those in the field. Most everyone who chimes in to #tourismchat seems to have a blog, so its also a good place to start digging in.

Tourism Currents

Tourism Currents' Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray

People who blog about blogging for tourism

Some of my favorite websites about all things tourism marketing, including blogging:

  1. Sheila Scarborough’s SheilasGuide.com
  2. Becky McCray’s SmallBizSurvival.com
  3. Sarah Page’s TourismTech.com
  4. Todd Lucier’s TourismKeys.ca

Sheila’s and Becky’s TourismCurrents.com is an excellent resource for learning how to market a tourism dependent business with social media. I met both the these fine ladies at BlogWord Expo in 2010. Enthusiastic, brilliant, and darn funny.

Get started today

Building good content takes some time, and blogging on a regular basis can increase your search engine visibility by leaps and bounds. Search for blogs in your industry for inspiration on topics, design, and other content. Its never to late to start creating an online personality for your business.