Because travelers and locals are going online to search for things to do in their area, it’s easy to see why being in a good position on search listings is an important goal for tour and activity operators.

But it’s getting harder to do. For those of you who have been keeping up with the latest in SEO (search engine optimisation), Google has de-standardised rank, so that how your website ranks in their search engine will change depending on a bunch of factors you can’t control – such as a user’s search history or whether they’re logged into a Google app (such as GMail).

So in today’s competitive online environment, how can tours and activities stand out in search results?

Here are some tips from eyetracking research conducted by Mediative in The Buyersphere Project. They apply to both paid and natural search listings:

1. Use selection criteria words

When your customers search online, they may have some requirements that they aren’t overtly searching for. The issue could be that they want a trusted company, or certain offerings, or to see competitive pricing information.

You only have a certain amount of characters to capture the reader’s attention, so use words that gain trust and reduce their hesitance to buy from you.

For example,

  • You could say “day tours, night tours, and multi-day tours” to show you have a variety of options
  • You could include the words “award winning” or “voted best operator in the area” to show how reliable your brand is
  • You could say “scuba diving starting at XX per person” to highlight your competitive pricing
  • You could say “book instantly from our site” to assure them that booking is a quick and easy process

Understand your customers’ typical objections to locking in a booking. It may be different depending on what type of customer they are – family, corporate, traveler, couple.

If you’re unsure what will work, then ask them! There are a bunch of creative ways you can do this – through social media, at the end of a tour, or by offering an incentive.

Otherwise, if you have some online advertising dollars to spend, you can always test what works using paid search.

2. Have scan-able search listings

Mediative revealed that when we scan search listings, we do so for only 2-3 seconds. That’s only enough time to read less than half a line of text!

The good news is that we also scan the first 3-4 listings in the shape of an F (down, then to the right), and click through to the page to learn more. If we don’t find what we’re looking for in that first set, we’ll repeat until we do.

This means that all is not lost if you’re not ranking #1 (although it helps). To grab attention, consider that our eyes are drawn to pattern variations. Drop numbers and symbols where you can (eg. “2013 Eco Tour Award Winner” and “AUD $50 per person”).

And once they click through to your website, make sure it’s easy to find your contact information no matter what page they land on.

3. Trigger intrigue

In simplest terms, your (soon to be) customers need to feel like you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for. There’s a reason they are searching for a tour or activity like yours, so cater to it.

For example, is it to relax? Is it for romance? Is to get an adrenaline rush? Or is it to have some lighthearted fun with friends?

The words you use in your listing has to reflect that and get them to want to learn more about it. Create pages for each tour or activity package if necessary so that it’s entirely focused.

For more online marketing tips for tours and activities, be sure to download our free ebook:

Tour Operator eBook

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