So you’ve done a lot of travelling and you want to write a travel blog. What do you write? How do you write it? What style should it be in? These are all questions that I honestly didn’t think about when I first started but looking back, there was a huge inflection point in traffic when I changed my mind set about what type of content suited my niche.
What I learned
So as most of you know, I started off blogging after I quit my corporate job and travelled all around Asia for 4 months. As a pet project, I set up my blog days before leaving and without much instruction or research I just wrote away. Since I was on the road, it seemed more natural to write thing in more of a diary style.
Right or wrong, I basically tried my best to put up a post a day telling my friends and family back home what I was up to. It was fun because it was fluid to just write about my day and post a ton of photos. I think it was fun for whoever cared to read about my trip but to everyone else, probably not so much.
After coming back from my trip, I took a look at my traffic numbers and of course they weren’t stellar. I had just started to learn how to leverage social media and my SEO was crap so that was to be expected.
I started writing a bit more and ultimately wanted to make more useful tips and tricks that I learned from my travels and then I started to see more traffic. Analyzing my traffic, it seemed most of my traffic was organic (from Google) and people kept hitting the same few pages. I then ended up writing a fun Top 10 Things To Do in Shanghai post and then things started exploding. From Google’s Webmaster tools I could see that this particular blog post was rising the ranks and as a direct result was driving a ton of traffic to my site.
I took a step back and made some conclusions that really changed the way I put together posts.
3 Harsh truths about content creation
- At the end of the day, a majority of your traffic is going to be through Google.
- Readers that come from Google have very specific questions in mind. They are intent-driven so to speak. So for example, “How many days should I spend in Barcelona” or “What are the things to do in Bali” or “Review of Conrad Maldives” etc. Write content that people are commonly searching for. Bonus points if you can do it in an area where there’s not a lot of competition for good content.
- The harsh reality is that most of your audience doesn’t care about YOU. They want their questions answered. So my diaries from my trip were great and all but they weren’t ranking high on Google at all and often times didn’t answer any specific questions people had. I realized that they were great pieces to refer someone to afterwards. That’s why my 5 day itinerary to Bali Indonesia continues to drive in the most traffic daily. It’s honestly not because I had a brilliantly crafted story in there, it’s because it ranks on the first page of Google through SEO and just the actionable information it has for someone searching for those terms.
3 types of content pieces
- SEO-centric posts that is built around answering a traveller’s deep desires for knowledge.
- Support pieces that could be stories from your travels, experiences, favorite photos or what have you. These are typically the more fun ones to write.
- Viral inspirational articles – These may not rank high on Google but it’s the kind of thing that once it catches on fire, you’ll get a crazy amount of traffic to your page. Pieces like “20 reasons to quit your job and start a new life of travel” or something like that. You see them all the time and sometimes you laugh at how many of these there are but they do incredibly well.
Figure out what’s right for your audience
I know this is going to sound a bit like fluff but at the end of the day you have to decide what works best for your audience and your goals for the blog. If your blog is meant to be written in a specific way then stick to it. It’s your niche that dictates what kind of content suits your space. For example if yours is all about photography, then by all means focus on photo essays and galleries. That’s what your audience comes back for and so to cop out to do something drastically different wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.
What changed for me
So for Going Awesome Places, you’ll notice that I’ve stopped doing the day-by-day posts when I’m on the road. For one it was way too time consuming and as I said before, I felt like they weren’t bringing as much value to my readers that wanted actionable advice.
Instead, what I do now is find a specific angle that I want to cover that would be of interest to travel planners. Focus is the key.
In the words of Russell Peters, most of your readers are the kind that just want to “take it and go”. So keep that in mind and tailor your content to exploit this fact and start seeing more traffic directed over from Google.