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The top 10 questions our clients ask us about Digital Travel PR – 2024 Update

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With recent buzz surrounding the best practices for link building, we've decided to dust off one of our previous popular blogs and give it a shiny new makeover (after all making the most of good content is always what we advise our clients!). So grab your seatbelt and prepare for takeoff as we embark on a journey to explore the latest and greatest in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing. Welcome aboard! Written by Tara Schwenk

As a forward-thinking agency, we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the curve in an industry where the ground seems to shift as frequently as the sands in the Sahara. In the world of SEO and digital PR, keeping our fingers on the pulse of industry changes is not just a priority—it's our modus operandi.

Let's face it: the digital landscape is unpredictable. What was considered gospel yesterday might be ancient history today. Advice changes faster than the weather (and sometimes just as unpredictably). But fear not! In the midst of this whirlwind, we're here to be your compass, guiding you through the stormy seas of SEO and digital PR.

The debate surrounding the importance of links has become somewhat of a familiar tune. But just when we thought we had a handle on it, Google's Gary Illyes decided to drop a bombshell. In a statement in late 2023, he essentially threw a curveball into the discussion, suggesting that perhaps we've been placing too much emphasis on links. According to Illyes, they haven't even cracked the top three ranking factors for quite some time now. This revelation has once again set tongues wagging and keyboards clacking as SEO enthusiasts scramble to reassess their strategies in light of this new information.

In a plot twist that even the most seasoned SEO aficionados didn't see coming, a recent study published in the hallowed halls of Search Engine Land—the proverbial Bible for nerds like us—has shaken the very foundation of our beliefs. Brace yourselves: according to this groundbreaking research, links may not be the golden ticket to the keyword kingdom that we once thought.

In fact, the study boldly proclaims that links fundamentally do not improve keyword rankings across the board. And if that bombshell wasn't enough to make you do a double take, here's the kicker: even in cases where links do have an impact, it's a selective affair, with certain sectors (think wellness and outdoors) reaping the rewards while others are left out in the cold.

So, here we are, faced with a paradigm-shifting revelation: links may not hold the key to SEO success that we once believed. The natural question arises: what do we do now?

Despite Google's downplaying of their importance in recent years, links still hold value as indicators of user endorsement for your content or products. Redirect efforts based on where these endorsements are strongest, whether that means creating more content in that area or intensifying promotion. While links might not always translate directly into higher rankings, they offer crucial intent-based data for optimising your strategy efficiently.

Why does it matter and what should you consider in your strategy:

Despite their diminishing role in direct ranking factors, links still offer valuable intent-based data for optimising your travel brand's strategy. By analysing the types of content or products that attract significant link activity, you gain insights into your audience's interests and preferences. This data enables you to fine-tune your offerings and promotional efforts to better align with what resonates most with your target audience.

Let's say your adventure travel brand offers opinions on affiliated outdoor gear and equipment in addition to guided hiking tours. If you observe that articles or guides featuring gear recommendations receive substantial link traction, consider expanding your content strategy to include more in-depth gear reviews, packing guides, or expert advice on outdoor equipment. Additionally, explore opportunities to collaborate with influencers or outdoor enthusiasts to amplify the visibility of your gear-related content and attract more inbound links.

Nearly a decade ago, the SEO community was abuzz with the realisation that brand mentions mattered—a lot. Google itself filed a patent on the topic, sending PR professionals wild with speculation. Dubbed the "Panda patent," it introduced the distinction between ‘express links’ (your standard hyperlinks, whether follow or nofollow) and ‘implied links’ (mere references to a target resource, sans hyperlink). They would look something like…

The rationale behind this distinction is refreshingly straightforward: Google knows that people buy and sell links like hotcakes, so why not pivot away from this potentially manipulative link economy?

But alas, old habits die hard, especially in the stubborn realm of SEO. Despite Google's nudges towards a more holistic approach, SEOs have long been fixated on links as the be-all and end-all of optimisation. And to be fair, it's worked like a charm—up until now.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so too must our strategies. And that means recognising the value of brand mentions in SEO, not just as a means to an end, but as a genuine reflection of a brand's presence and influence in the digital sphere.

Why does it matter and what should you consider in your strategy:

It's time to double down on measuring brand mentions—it's always been a staple measurement and KPI for our clients, but now, it's more crucial than ever. With the evolving landscape of digital PR and SEO, brand mentions offer invaluable insights into your brand's visibility and influence in the digital sphere. In response to this, SEMRush - one of the major SEO tools on the market - has recently launched a new application to measure brand mentions, making it easier than ever to keep track of your travel brand across every corner of the internet.

Consider your approach to sharing links during conversations with journalists. Instead of solely focusing on backlinks, emphasise the importance of brand mentions and how they contribute to your brand's narrative and authority. By strategically incorporating brand mentions into your interactions with journalists, you can amplify your brand's presence and credibility in the media landscape, bolstering your SEO efforts simultaneously.

The future is artificial

We've all felt the shiver down our spines, like a dark cloud looming on the horizon—the inevitable launch of Google's new AI-powered search engine.

The realm of AI is a labyrinth of complexity, but we're not in the dark entirely. We know that behind the scenes, large language models (LLMs) are being fed text data from the internet's most prominent platforms. We know Google's relentless web crawlers are out there, building and refining the Knowledge Graph, one link at a time.

Suddenly, text takes centre stage. It's the fuel that powers these LLMs, shaping the very fabric of AI-driven search.

And here's where it gets interesting: in this new era of search, entities reign supreme. Brands, products, places—they're all entities in the eyes of Google's algorithms, each playing a vital role in shaping search results and user experiences alike. So, as we brace ourselves for the AI revolution, remember this: in the world of SEO, entities are king.

Why does it matter and what should you consider in your strategy:

Let's say you run a travel website offering adventure tours. By recognizing the importance of text in AI-driven search, you ensure that your website content includes relevant keywords such as "adventure tours," "hiking," "rafting," and "outdoor experiences." Additionally, you use structured data markup to provide search engines with clear information about your tour offerings, including destinations, itineraries, and pricing.

Make sure your brand is also accurately represented across all online platforms. This includes your website, social media profiles, and local listings. Consistency in how your brand appears online helps strengthen its authority and relevance in search results.

We understand that maintaining online content can be a challenge, and details like naming images or hyperlinks may not always be top of mind. However, as Google transitions to an AI-powered search model, these seemingly small details become crucial. In an AI-driven environment, where algorithms rely heavily on text-based information to understand and index content, properly naming images and hyperlinks is essential for ensuring visibility and relevance in search results. It's like tidying up your digital space—ensuring everything is labelled and organised not only enhances user experience but also improves your chances of being discovered by AI-powered search engines like Google.

The clearer the better - it’s the perfect time to check that your images aren't named "pool image 3" or "beach pic final-final."

If there's one nugget of marketing wisdom we could impart, it would be this: spread the word about your existence far and wide. It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

Yet, somewhere along the line, marketers veered off this path and adopted a mindset that being listed on search engines was the ultimate goal. This notion was further simplified to just paying search engines for visibility. And for the past decade, we've hung our hats on this approach. You can read our blog on the pros and cons of PPC for our thoughts on this.

But here's the reality check: it's not that straightforward.

People don't hop onto the web with a laser focus; they land in the chaotic middle of a Google search. They click, they skim, they get sidetracked by WhatsApp messages, and before you know it, they're off watching One Day on Netflix.

Days, weeks, or even months might pass before they circle back to their initial search query. They click on a mix of ads and organic listings, rinse, and repeat until they finally make a decision.

Content marketing therefore emerges as the unsung hero, amplifying your presence while simultaneously building crucial links and brand mentions, without prioritising one or the other. Content marketing allows you to enter the core superpower of publicity: reach.

You craft the narrative, spread the word, and connect with folks who've never even heard of you before. And here's the kicker: Google's watching. It's indexing your content, absorbing your expertise, and recognizing the value you bring to the table. It's the epitome of E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, served up on a silver platter for the digital world to see.

Why does it matter and what should you consider in your strategy:

We strongly advise travel brands to prioritise the creation of highly relevant and engaging content for your audience. It's crucial to shift away from the notion that simply being listed on search engines or paying for visibility is enough. Instead, focus on crafting compelling narratives and valuable content that resonates with your target audience. Remember, there's no shortcut to success. By consistently delivering high-quality content that addresses the needs and interests of your audience, you not only amplify your brand's presence but also build credibility and trust—essential components of Google's E-A-T framework. So, roll up your sleeves, dive into content creation, and let your brand's expertise and authority shine through.

A great example of a travel brand mastering content creation is Intrepid. They prioritise producing highly relevant and captivating content that resonates deeply with their audience. Rather than solely relying on traditional marketing methods or paying for visibility, Intrepid invests in crafting immersive narratives and visually engaging content that ignites wanderlust.

Their content showcases a diverse range of travel stories, destination guides, and insider tips curated to provide valuable insights and inspiration to their audience. Intrepid's blog features a wealth of articles and travel guides tailored to different interests and travel preferences, from off-the-beaten-path adventures to cultural experiences.

Through their extensive range of curated content, Intrepid has become a trusted source of inspiration and expertise for travellers worldwide. Gaining links, and rising high on Google at the same time.

Great news for PR professionals?

Digital PR is the intersection of traditional PR, content marketing and SEO. Digital PR is about applying all these tactics to a brand, to build credibility, trust, through organic search and awareness. And it's highly likely that some of us are too laser focused on the organic search part of the equation.

Brand mentions should take precedence, preceding even the link itself, and now Google has all-but confirmed this is the case. Yet, it's the symbiotic relationship between the link and the mention that truly powers organic search.

Sure, everyone appreciates a good link—it streamlines search users' journeys and adds value. But it's the brand publicity that propels the link forward. Brands serve as beacons of familiarity and trust in our information-saturated world, simplifying decision-making processes for consumers burdened with choices.

Traditional PR and content marketing tactics excel at nurturing these brand-consumer relationships, fostering trust and loyalty over time. What digital PR brings to the table is a modernised approach, harnessing these tried-and-true tactics to fuel organic search growth in the digital era.

And make no mistake, this trend is here to stay. Google's preference for brand mentions, alongside media and prominent publishing platforms, is evident. As we look to the future of search, the goal remains clear: more brand mentions, not fewer. These mentions serve as the lifeblood of organic search growth. Not only do they yield a share of valuable links, but they also generate a significantly higher volume of brand mentions—a powerful currency in the digital landscape.

Now, it's time to delve back into our oldy but goldy blog and uncover the burning questions commonly asked about digital PR. Whether you're seeking guidance on building brand awareness, securing media coverage, or enhancing your online presence, our blog covers it all.

So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and let's explore the timeless wisdom that continues to shape the digital PR landscape…

As you know we’ve been in the business of Travel PR for a very long time (over 17 years to be precise). But around 3 years ago we started offering Digital Travel PR alongside traditional PR. Digital PR is a completely new discipline that combines SEO and PR.

Digital PR also happens to be the fastest growing PR and marketing discipline in the UK and the US as more brands realise the power of combining traditional storytelling with digital capabilities.

We are currently the only specialist travel PR agency in the UK to offer both traditional and digital travel PR combined to our client roster of sustainable tour operators, city tourist boards, and privately owned hotels.

Offering something new also means that there are a lot of questions from clients and potential clients (and in fact industry peers).

So we thought it would be helpful to collate the most frequently asked questions and answer them in one of our blog posts.

We’ve already covered what digital PR is and how it works – and showed you some of our team’s best examples of digital PR for travel brands. But we’ve only just scratched the surface.

So, in this post, we’re going to address some of the most common questions our clients ask us.

1. Why do I need Digital PR at all? And what does PR have to do with Google?

So, in the past PR and SEO operated pretty much separately. PRs got coverage in newspapers and magazines. SEOs looked after the website. PRs were in charge of storytelling and making a brand name famous. SEOs were in charge of making sure the website got found for certain searches and keywords.

That all worked pretty well whilst Google’s algorithms were relatively basic – stuff in lots of keywords, do some guest blogging, have a website that’s technically sound. SEO done.

However, as Google’s algorithms got more sophisticated they were able sniff out keyword stuffing. Google now actively penalises buying links and guest blogging (an SEO’s favourite way to obtain links) as this can sometimes lead to really poor quality links, which in turn means that you won’t really get found if someone searches for “family holidays” or “best country house hotels” or “birdwatching holidays”.

PRs on the other hand are great at storytelling and getting mentions of the brand name in A-list newspapers, but they don’t tend to know how you can make PR work really hard for Google. They don’t understand the importance of a balanced backlink profile, of doing a strategic competitor backlink analysis and understanding PR’s big influence on how travel brands get found.

So there are problems in both camps. SEOs know Google, but are not primarily storytellers. PRs are great storytellers but tend not to be digitally savvy.

And then you had the content marketers come along and say “hey, ditch PR and SEO. Content is all that matters. Just work with us! Great content is all you need to get loads more customers”.

But like most things in life if someone promises an easy solution to all of your problems you are best advised to think again.

Epurple google digital marketing seo online marketing GIF

2. So what do travel brands need to do now to get found – or “The holy trinity of PR, Content and SEO”

Real question

“Marketing got so complicated in recent years – I don’t get it anymore. Why do I need PR, Content and SEO. I don’t have the budget for all three”

The truth is that PR, SEO and Content are inextricably linked. And with the introduction of Universal Analytics next year even more so.

So let’s paint a picture to explain what we mean:

Imagine you are a tour operator, a hotel group, a travel start up.

You want to be known for – and found for – certain things, i.e. the holidays you offer. “bird watching”, “wildlife trips”, “wellness retreats”.

So you are building a website. A website is like building a house. You want strong foundations, a solid structure.

That is what technical SEO is for. A fast loading, mobile optimised, technically sound website. But that house is still only a house. A house that nobody knows exists and is hard to find. Because lots of other people (i.e. your competitors) also have houses. And they all look the same.

So how do you make sure your house stands out?

You make it beautiful. You paint the windows, you put up some curtains, you put flowers in the garden.

That’s what good content on your website is for. Something that says to Google and your potential customers this house is prettier than that of your competitors. A great blog, regularly refreshed content, content with the right URLs and keywords. Read here how to do content audits for travel brands.

But it’s still only a house in a forest of other houses. And it’s pretty hard to find. So that’s what you’ve got signposts and roadsigns for.

And guess what these roadsigns are? PR links! PR links from really good quality (read A-list) publications or super relevant niche publications.

And finally, how do you know strategically where to place those roadsigns (i.e. which publications and websites) and how big should the signs be (nationals vs niche?). Do a Digital PR backlink audit and gap analysis. Compare that to the competition. Where do they have links that you do not. Where do they not have links, but you could have some.

Real question
“How can you help me with my backlinks? My traditional PR hasn’t got a clue, they just focus on print. If it’s online pitching, sometimes they get links and sometimes they don’t.”

Our answer

Short answer? Yes, digital PR gets backlinks. And most importantly high quality backlinks on high domain authority sites like the Times, the Guardian etc. But it’s really difficult as many of these publications need a strong reason to WANT to link to you.

So how do you give them strong reason to WANT to link to you?

- A great story (what good traditional PRs excel at)
- A digital asset that sits on the client website and thus FORCES a journalist to link (developed by our very own data researcher)
- The knowledge of where that asset should sit on the client website (assessed by our very own Head of Content and SEO Tara).

Excuse Me No GIF by CBC

So what does a digital PR campaign do that a traditional PR campaign can’t? Traditional PRs often confuse Digital PR with just placing articles online, and getting their clients on social media. Digital PR is so much more than that, and has many more benefits.

In the crudest, quickest description we can muster… a Digital PR campaign involves creating a digital asset, based on the audiences you want to target, to put live on your website. This digital asset has to be newsworthy, but too rich, impactful, or outright amazing to explain in words – effectively forcing journalists to link…

We haven’t even touched on idea generation, audience insights, data collection, or any of the deep research that makes that asset possible – that’s all for another day!

4. Does Digital PR double up the work of traditional PR? Are you pitching to the same journalists?

Jimmy Fallon Idk GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Real question

“I have a traditional PR – how can you create a campaign and not pitch to the same journalists as my traditional PR?”

Our answer

We can’t. We will pitch to the same journalists – but probably wider, too if that is what our PR audit has thrown up. It depends onwhat issues we identified in your backlinks around the quality, quantity, relevancy, and variety.

The truth is, you can’t avoid the same journalists if the campaign is of a very similar nature to your traditional PR campaigns. But we can explore different angles in the campaign, to widen the sectors we can approach, and the pool of journalists within them. We will also work really closely with your existing SEO team. Often we’ve found they are just glad to have found a PR agency that understands the job of an SEO and how we can work better together, hand in hand.

So really, you shouldn’t be paying for both a traditional and a digital PR agency. You should find one that can do both.

5. Can digital PRs work alongside an existing, traditional PR team?

SpongeBob gif. SpongeBob pretends to crank his fist like a jack-in-the-box, and his thumb rises and pops out for a thumbs up. He then gestures to his thumb like

Real question

“I don’t want to worry my current PR agency with you pitching to the same journalists. Can you give me a narrative of how I can get you on board for Digital PR, and tell them without annoying them ?”

Our answer

Well, we offer both traditional and Digital PR because we believe that a holistic approach is best for our clients. They get the best of traditional PR and future proof their business by introducing digital PR into the mix.

We’ve come from a traditional background and felt that PR is too often “fluffly”. But as we introduced Digital PR we noticed that it also has its shortcomings. So we now create completely bespoke PR solutions for each client, depending on what we find when we look at their previous coverage, their data, their backlink profile and that of the competitors.

So in truth it means that your current PR probably will be worried – and you would probably be wasting your money having two agencies.

If, on the other hand your main problem is a lack of high quality links and your SEO is struggling, then we can come on board for specific Digital PR link building projects. We would then work alongside your SEO and tell the PR that all we are doing is 2-3 link building campaigns a year around certain topics such as “sustainable trips”, “milestone celebrations”, “small group tours” – whatever it is you need to boost.

Don’t tell anyone, but ultimately of course we’d want the full contract for both traditional and Digital PR!

So there you have it, part 1 of the questions we most frequently get asked when it comes to Digital PR for travel brands. Next week we’ll tackle 5 more questions around budgets, ROI and the kinds or resources you need to be able to provide in order to get a successful Digital PR campaign off the ground.

Digital PR for travel brands

Lemongrass Marketing is a specialist PR agency for travel brands. We combine traditional PR and digital PR for travel all based on customer insights– to deliver campaigns that speak to your audience, and get measurable results.

Let’s start a project: call +44 (0)1865 237 990 or send an email to