We already know why Travel PR and SEO strategy work so brilliantly together; that incredible combination of “fame and findability”, delivering media exposure and search engine discoverability.
But not all links are equal.
For instance – links from a highly regarded, relevant and reputable publication are far more powerful than links from an unknown blog about every topic under the sun. In fact, links from “all subjects” blogs and article farms are a total waste of time; they do nothing at best, and damage your backlink profile at worst.
We’ve also explained how a diverse backlink profile is better for SEO. But there’s another element to backlinks; as well as where they come from, it’s important to consider where they lead to.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the best links lead to the homepage of our website – it’s like a brand marker, and can sit unpacked in text without looking out of place. But that’s not always the case, and most of the time, links to specific pages on a website are far more beneficial.
These are “deep links”; links into category pages (think spa, F&B and conferences if you are a hotel, think specific itineraries or destinations if you are a tour operator), product pages or specific problem-solving content of a website. These links take users deeper into a website when they click on them – straight to the relevant content. It’s content plus context – and that’s a killer combination.
Why are deep links important?
While your homepage is important, it’s in reality more of a container for what you do, sort of like a storefront. Getting links to pages beyond the homepage has multiple benefits starting with user experience.
Imagine your website as a supermarket; the homepage would be like the entrance – you know where you are and what the place is all about, but you still have to navigate to the specific things you want.
Your category pages would be like the aisles in the supermarket – where pages are sorted by type; products or services. This is where a user will go to for an overview of the things you can do for them, just like browsing an aisle at a shop.
For a travel brand, a subpage of packages could be said to be like the shelves – and the final product, service or booking page would be like the product itself, sitting on the shelf. And deeper still, there’s the packaging labels, with company info, founders’ stories, and sustainability credentials.
Okay – now imagine that, thanks to some great PR, your hotel website has won a link from a prestigious travel magazine website in an article about a brand new package. But instead of linking to THAT package on the website where users can book, they’re taken to the homepage.
This is kind of like plonking them outside the entrance to our hypothetical supermarket and saying, “right then – go and find a can of beans!”.
Instead of doing this, a deep link can be used; one that takes them directly to content about the new package, where the user can learn more and even make a booking. That’s a far more positive user experience – like having a personal shopping guide take you exactly where you need to be.
Today more than ever, the way Google ranks websites is increasingly dominated by user experience – so improving it is a must. But it’s not the only way deep links can benefit your search engine presence.
Enhanced relevance – enhanced rankings
Google ranks individual webpages – not whole websites. So, while having lots of backlinks to your homepage isn’t in any way a bad thing (and quite often, that’s where we’d expect to see the majority of your backlinks going anyway), the benefits of those links only trickle down into subsequent pages to a certain, small extent.
Google seeks relevance. And a big part of that is context. These attributes ultimately provide a better user experience, and that’s Google’s modus operandi (especially after the last big update in 2021); to give good experiences from search, and the results they provide.
Deep links give users a better experience by taking them directly to the linked content – but they also give Google additional context about the linked content, and how relevant it is to the linking domain or page.
For instance – let’s say you get a link from a website that reviews spa days. The link is within a longform review, full of rich content (text, images, videos – you name it), and it points to a specific spa day package at your hotel or wellness resort.
This is a highly relevant, deep link, with perfect context. It’s pure gold – especially if the review is glowing!
As we’ve said before, having homepage links is great, and expected. But using deep links properly gives context and relevance to your links, and builds strength deep within your website.
Links help web pages to rank in search. According to Google:
“PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is…”
PageRank is an old algorithm, but Google is practically built on it – and while the algorithms are constantly tweaked and updated, links still play an important role.
And it works at the page level; which means deep links to key pages are super important if you want them to be found in search.
So, how do you get them? You need really, really good content.
Let’s talk realistically for a moment.
Nobody – that’s absolutely nobody – is going to link to salesy, boring, thin content.
You might think your website is the best thing since sliced bread. And yeah, it might be absolutely smashing. But it’s just a website. And there are hundreds of websites, just like yours, all doing the same thing.
You need to create linkable content; the stuff nobody else has. It can be creative, or it can be boring to absolutely everyone except for those in your target audience – but whatever you do, you need to give people a reason to link.
Digital PR is the secret sauce for link building, and building deep links within a website. It’s the intersection between SEO and PR, which delivers a profound effect on search visibility and relevant press coverage.
It’s a big topic, which we’re going to be covering in much more depth through 2022 – so watch this space. But the crux of it is this;
Through thorough research, creativity or usually, both, you make an asset that nobody else has and place it within your website.
A data study. An infographic. An unbelievable video. Something totally unique, and only available at one source; your website.
The offshoots of this kind of content alone can keep your strategy calendar full for months; but when you pitch and present your assets to the press and digital outlets with the right story behind it, you’re capturing lightning in a bottle.
The momentum builds and the links come in – and with the right asset, targeting and promotion, the piece can stand on its own indefinitely, generating new links passively. If it ranks well, or has been designed with SEO in mind, it can continue to gain links and win traffic for your website.
And that leads us to another point: Whatever you do, DON’T take that content down!
In a sad example, we conducted an extensive study and created a rich asset for a client. Our work won them press coverage and links to their website – but shortly after the campaign had run, their web developers took the asset and associated web pages down.
All those links, lost. All that deep-linking relevance, gone. Not even redirected (we learnt a valuable lesson from that: web developers might be great at building websites, but they are often clueless about how to market them and clueless about SEO and digital PR. Now we know to tell developers: don’t ever take that website asset down! You’re taking the links down with it!)
Once you’ve created your asset, it can live online forever. Don’t make the mistake of taking it down. Orphan it – as in, make it so it can’t be accessed from anywhere else in your website – but don’t get rid of it.
Deep links from PR stories
Another way of getting deep links is when pitching a story or PR piece. If you have a specific URL you can give to a journalist to feature – one that explicitly refers to the topic they’re covering – then that’s the best link to get. We understand this can be difficult, and that even a homepage link is better than none at all. But with the right story, a personalised pitch and a strong webpage to share, you can better your chances of getting a link – to the page you want.