Link building is an important strategy to help get your posts to the #1 spot in Google. The more links pointing to your new article, the more SEO juice this provides.
Of course, they need to be quality links too. A link from say HuffPost is going to have more weight than a link from a random low quality site. Links from domains with high traffic and a high Moz Domain Authority (DA) or Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) are going to be more worthwhile than domains with low traffic and low authority.
If you look at travel articles that appear in the #1 spot on Google, they usually have 10 or more links from other websites pointing to them. (I usually use a tool like Keysearch to check backlinks). Some articles have hundreds or even thousands of backlinks pointing to them.
Take, for example, Nomadic Matt’s page on backpacking Australia. He ranks #1 in Google for the keyword “backpacking Australia”. On closer inspection, his URL has over a thousand backlinks, with some backlinks coming from sites like Lifehacker, Observer.com and World Nomads.
But how do you get people to link to your posts?
Link building can be a tricky and time consuming process. In an ideal world we’d just create quality posts and they would gain natural links just from other people sharing the content. But the reality is that most bloggers are also actively working on building travel backlinks too. This is why I suggest both sharing on social media and email outreach.
Read on for my top tips on how to build backlinks to your travel blog:
Write “top blogger” lists
An easy way to get backlinks to travel websites is to write a list of top bloggers. You could focus on a particular region, such as “top 100 bloggers in the U.S” or “50 top bloggers in the UK”. Alternatively you could write a more specific list such as “top foodie influencers in New York” or “the best travel influencers on Instagram”.
Once you’ve published the post you can then contact all the bloggers featured in the article and encourage them to share it. Some of them will probably link to the post from their press page. It’s an easy way to start building travel backlinks without too much effort.
For example, when I built my USA-themed travel website I then immediately published an article “50 Top American Travel Bloggers Who Will Make You Eager to Hit the Road”.
The travel blogging community is quite a friendly community and many will open to doing link exchanges. You can search for travel blogs online and then pitch the idea of a link exchange where you link to one of their posts and they link to one of yours.
3-way link exchanges (involving 3 domains) are even better. Say for example you own two websites. You could link to the other blogger from your main website and then you could ask them to provide a link to your secondary website from their blog.
In your email, remember to be thoughtful and friendly but to-the-point. Bloggers don’t have time to be reading super long emails. Tell them you like their blog and what would be in it for them.
Ask to be featured in travel blog directories
Many bloggers have travel blog directories on their blogs. Create your own travel blog directory, link to them, then email them and ask for a link on their travel blog directory. Examples of travel blog directories you can join include:
Note: Always make sure to read the blogger’s guidelines for directory submission first.
Share your posts on social media
Every time you hit publish you should be immediately sharing your posts to sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. While the links are no follow and don’t have as much weight as other types of backlinks, social shares still count as backlinks. Social signals tell search engines how popular your article is and therefore contribute to your site’s organic search ranking.
Many bloggers are having great success with Pinterest. Pinterest is like a visual search engine and often images from Pinterest will come at the top in Google image search. If your pins go viral it can generate thousands of pageviews for your blog. So make sure you’re posting around 15 images per day to your Pinterest boards. You can use an app like Tailwind to make scheduling easier.
Comment on blogs
Although blog commenting doesn’t have as much influence on SEO it still can’t hurt. If you’ve just started a blog, look for other travel blogs where they allow blog comments with the option to add your website’s URL. Make sure you read the other person’s post properly and then write a few sentences in your comment. Don’t just write “great post!”. If a blogger thinks your comment looks spammy then they often won’t publish it. Some blogs just have commenting turned off or they use plugins like Disqus or Facebook comments. I don’t bother with those because you can’t link back to your site.
Sign up for HARO
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is used by journalists looking for expert sources for their articles. If you sign up to HARO you’ll get daily emails with requests from journalists. Sign up to the “travel” category and you may be able to offer your expert advice and get a link back from the journalist’s article. You may get lucky and end up being featured on sites like Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Reuters or The New York Times.
Contact brands and companies you mention in your posts
Say you write a piece on “Top Things to Do in New York”. If you mention certain attractions, tour companies, hotels, coffee shops or restaurants, you could contact the business owners via email and let them know they’ve been featured in your article. Some of these business owners may share the article on social media and link to it from their website.
Some backlinks will just happen naturally. But sometimes you have to put in that extra bit of effort and do some email outreach. Find websites that have written articles on a similar topic to yours.
Compose a friendly email letting them know that you discovered their article and you have a valuable resource that may be useful to their readers. Suggest that they include it in their post. Some websites will ask for money in return for posting the link. Others will be happy to include it.
Replace broken links
Another method you can use is searching for articles that have broken links. Ahrefs has a tool for this and there’s also a free Chrome extension called Broken Link Checker. Let the website owner know that the link is broken and that you have a better article that they can link to in its place.
Guest posting is a valuable method in the link building process. Visit your favorite travel blogs and see if they have a “Write for Us” page or “Contribute” page. Something along those lines.
You can even run a search in Google with something like:
Travel Blog + Submit a Post
Travel Blog + Guest Posts
Travel Blog + Write For Us
Travel Blog + Contribute
To get you started, here’s a list of over 200 travel blogs that accept guest posts.
Roundup posts + listicles
Roundup posts involve contacting a bunch of bloggers for their opinions on a particular topic. For example you could write a blog article on “The Best Destinations to Visit in Europe in Winter.”
You’d then reach out to several different bloggers, kindly ask them what their favorite destination is in Europe to visit in winter, then tell them you’ll give them a backlink. Once you’ve published your article, send them the live URL and encourage them to share it and link to it from their own blog.
If you’ve launched a new product or you have something “newsworthy” to say then you could submit a press release so it gets sent to thousands of journalists. They may pick up on your story but your press release will also often automatically get picked up by press release/newswire websites. It’s an easy way to get some backlinks to your travel website. You can try sites like eReleases, Send2Press or PRWeb and submit your own press release. Remember to follow their writing and structural guidelines.
Forums & answer sites
Forums are a tricky one because shameless plugs of your own stuff can really irritate people. That being said, if you’re a regular participant in a forum and you stick to the forum guidelines, you can link back to your website once in a while. Try Q&A sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers, or forums like Reddit. You could also post in travel specific forums such as TripAdvisor, Rick Steves or Fodor’s.
Local business directories
Local business directories are another way to get an easy backlink to your blog when you’re just starting out. There are tons of blog directories and local business directories where you can list your website. Some are completely free while others will require a small subscription payment.
Reach out to journalists
Want to be featured in sites like Business Insider, Forbes or the Daily Mail? Some bloggers have exploded in popularity just by being featured in these publications. Find feature articles on bloggers that you like and then look at which journalist wrote the article. Find that journalist’s contact details and then email them pitching your idea. Of course, you’ll have to have a newsworthy angle that will grab the reader’s attention.
Examples of blogger features:
Amar Hussain of Gap Year Escape – A travel blogger who visited all 7 continents in 7 years shares his top travel tips, Business Insider
Johnny Ward, OneStep4Wward – How This Blogger Made $1 Million In 3 Years And Is Visiting Every Country On Earth, Forbes
Kierstin Rich, The Blond Abroad – Meet the blonde financier who ditched her high-flying job, The Daily Mail
Often you’ll be able to find the journalist’s Twitter or Email at the top of the article. If not, you can try to search for them on LinkedIn.
Submit your site to Bloglovin’
Bloglovin’ allows you to follow your favorite blogs and discover new ones. It aggregates RSS feeds, so if you submit your site to Bloglovin’ other users will be able to discover your latest posts.
Create great content
It goes without saying that you should be creating great content. If your content is really informative, detailed and useful then people are more likely to link to it. Create headlines that will grab the reader’s attention and share them on social media. If your content is really shareable then you’re more likely to get backlinks naturally without having to put in as much outreach.
A final word…
Backlink building is an important part of the SEO process but it’s not the only part. In order to have a winning SEO strategy you’ll need to be creating regular, quality content. You should also be researching keywords and making sure your posts are SEO optimized using a plugin such as Yoast. Make sure you do plenty of internal linking and ensure that your site loads fast so you don’t lose visitors!