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The state of travel content 2019: Where are we now?

Feb 28, 2019

Content has long been a key part of the travel marketer’s digital toolkit. But the last couple of years have seen a sea change in what ‘quality’ content looks like and the role it plays in the travel industry.


SEO through the ages: The evolution of content

In our recent ebook, The evolution of content in the travel industry: From keywords to quality, we characterized the three key stages that travel content has been through since the launch of the World Wide Web in 1991. In this post we sum up the progress and look at just what ‘quality’ means in 2019.


The Dawn of SEO

The early days of the web into the 2000s saw the Dawn of SEO. The term ‘search engine optimization’ was probably coined around 1997, and at that time it rested on a combination of link-farming (artificially gaining links to a site to boost its search performance) and questionable content that was purely a vehicle for keywords. SEO and content production were more about trying to game search engines than be useful to travelers.

The Keyword Age

Next, from around 2009 to 2012, came the Keyword Age. Google made major algorithm changes that penalized link-farming. Previously this had been a major part of digital marketing for many businesses. The dwindling reliance on paid-for links and more Google updates shifted the focus of the travel industry towards content.

Yet still, for most travel businesses the focus of content was hitting keywords. Conversion rate optimization (CRO), user experience (UX) were priorities too, but they were nearly always handled in isolation from content, with vastly different strategic aims. Marketers were clear: the point of producing content was to drive traffic by targeting valuable keywords.

And then in 2012 Google’s Panda update changed everything1.


The Age of Quality: Where are we now?

Google’s increased focus on ‘quality’ saw a new age in content. Initially, travel businesses interpreted the new emphasis on ‘quality and ‘freshness’2 as a directive to simply produce more unique content. Soon, though, the maxim ‘useful for users’3 took hold, and more and more businesses realized that content should be about far more than targeting search terms.

These days, savvy content producers know that the factors affecting search rankings are constantly adapting – but the common theme is an emphasis on user signals4. That means it’s hard to understate the importance of engagement and usability. In 2019, it’s more important than ever to be serving travelers with content that fulfils their needs. The good news for travel businesses: that means that what’s good for conversion is good for visibility.


Optimizing content for conversion is far less about trying to game search engines and more about providing a great user experience

The evolution of content in the travel industry: From keywords to quality 


Great hotel content: Optimizing holistically

This is particularly good news for travel businesses that market hotels. The focus of conversion rate optimization (CRO) has always been user engagement – that’s what specialize in at EPS. These days, Google’s algorithms recognize that engagement signals can indicate that users are achieving their goals on your site – that identifies your site as useful and trustworthy, and as you drive more engagement, you can expect to be rewarded accordingly.

At EPS we have a dedicated optimization team that’s constantly researching, testing and deploying new developments in hotel content. And that doesn’t just mean hotel descriptions – it’s everything from image quality to size to positioning to the layout of content on hotel amenities, and a lot more. Treating and optimizing content holistically can bring widespread benefits – so while you optimize your hotel booking solution for conversion, you can also work on SEO and UX performance across your site.


To get the full picture on the evolution of content in the travel industry download the ebook.


With EPS’s versatile and intuitive API, EPS Rapid, you can connect to over 500,000 accommodations with rich content and competitive rates for travelers. This ranges from intelligent geography definitions, property categories and rich property and room images.