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5 Stages of Travel Agency Website Growth

Updated November 29, 2023

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “If you build it, they will come.”

That may work for a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, but do you know what it won’t work for?

Your travel agency website.

No matter how great your website is, how beautiful the imagery is, or how carefully the words are chosen, simply hitting the “publish” button won’t get you very far.

Building your professional website is a vital step, but it’s only the beginning of your travel agency website journey. There are actually five stages of website growth that you need to go through in order to tap the full potential of your custom website.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you make a purchase, at no cost to you.

Stage 1: Understand your numbers

If you’re going to grow the number of visitors and the amount of potential clients your website brings in, you need a custom website. If you don’t have a custom travel agency website, start with that.

Once your website is published, it’s time to start growing your site.

The first stop on the road to travel agency website growth is knowing where you currently stand.

When you travel you’d never say “I’m going to end up in New York. I’m not sure where I’m starting from, but somehow by tomorrow I’ll be there.”

Instead, you’d start by figuring out where you’re going to travel to New York from so you know how long it’ll take to get there. Are you starting in Washington, DC with just a short hop flight to New York? Or are you starting in LA, with a long trip and multiple hours of flight time in front of you?

It’s the same when you’re starting the journey of website growth. You need to know where your website currently stands, and where you want it to go.

To find that information, you’ll need to do some research. Google Analytics is a great place to start.

Take a look at how many people per month are visiting your travel website. Are those numbers growing?

Once visitors land on your website, how long do they stay? Are they viewing multiple pages, or spending time on one page?

Are they closing the website immediately? If they open your website and then close it quickly it’s called a bounce, and your bounce rate is one of the most important numbers to look at. A low bounce rate means people are sticking around and reading your content.

If you have plenty of visitors and a high bounce rate, you know you’re getting website traffic, but either your content isn’t engaging them or your website design is driving them away. On the other hand, if you have very little or no traffic, you need to focus on attracting more visitors.

Get into the details a bit. Are there specific pages that are getting traffic, and others that aren’t? Try and figure out what’s going on and why.

If specific pages are getting lots of traffic and others aren’t getting any, Google Search Console can give you some clues as to why. For example, I had some pages on my travel blog that were doing really well, and others that weren’t getting much traction.

A closer look at Google Search Console told me that Google hadn’t indexed the pages that weren’t getting visitors, which means they weren’t showing up in search results. I was able to manually submit them for indexing and fix the issue.

If you use a website builder like Wix (which I think is the best website builder due to their website template options that work well for travel agents) or Squarespace, you also have access to a dashboard that can give you valuable information. Check out their reporting capabilities and see what you find.

For websites that are built with a specific travel agency website builder, check and see what type of reporting functionality is included.

Stage 2: Keyword research

Now that you have a website for your travel company and know how much traffic you’re bringing in, it’s time to do some keyword research.

Keywords are the words or phrases that someone types into a search engine like Google. What is someone looking for when you want them to find your website?

Come up with a list of 15-20 keywords and phrases. They should be fairly specific, and directly related to what your target audience would be looking for.

For example, if you're booking a lot of cruises, you might want to target keywords like “first time cruise tips” or “best family cruise”. If you sell specific destinations or types of travel, you’ll want to target keywords that align with those.

Once you have a list of 15-20 keywords you think would be good, you’ll need to use a keyword research tool like Moz, Ahrefs, Semrush, or Ubersuggest. Each of these marketing tools will allow you to research a certain number of keywords, usually 5-10 per day, and will give you detailed information about them.

You’ll see numbers related to the number of times per month the keyword is searched for, search difficulty (it may be called keyword difficulty in some tools), and cost-per-click (CPC). Search difficulty is a ranking of how difficult it is to rank for that keyword, and CPC is the estimated amount it would cost to create a sponsored result that someone clicks on when they’re searching.

What you’re looking for is keywords with a decent number of searches and as low a number as possible for search difficulty.

If only 10 people per month are searching for something, it’s probably not worth trying to rank for that keyword. It doesn’t do you any good to rank for something that no one is actually looking for!

Most tools will also give you related keywords. If you enter the keyword “what is the best family cruise line” into one tool you’ll see that it gets 390 searches per month, with a CPC of $1.80 and a search difficulty of 64. But you’ll also discover that “best family cruise line” gets 1,300 searches per month, with a CPC of $1.86 and also has a search difficulty of 64.

When you look at those two keywords, it’s clear that you’ll benefit from more searches by ranking for the keyword “best family cruise line,” and the search difficulty and CPC are very similar. So you’ll replace your initial keyword, “what is the best family cruise line” with the better keyword “best family cruise line.”

As you continue researching your keywords, you’ll find some additional keywords that you didn’t think of initially. Go ahead and add those to your list too.

Once you finish your research, you should have a list of 20-50 keywords, along with data on search volume, search difficulty, and cost per click. Now that you have that information, it’s time to narrow down your keyword list.

Each page of your website can only hold a certain number of keywords while still sounding natural and unforced. That means each page is limited to just a few keywords.

Choose 2-3 keywords that you want to rank for first, and incorporate them into your website as often as you can while still having the words flow in a natural, conversational way. That means one keyword for every 200 or so other words on the page.

Stage 3: Content strategy & SEO planning

Once you have your list of keywords and you know which 2-3 you want to focus on first, it’s time to start working on ranking for those keywords. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO.

In order to rank well for a keyword, especially in the competitive travel industry, you’ll need a strategy.

Take a look at your website. Would it make sense to add a page where you could naturally incorporate some of your keywords? If you plan cruises, and you want to rank well for a keyword related to family cruising, you could create a specific “family cruises” page where it would be very natural to include your keywords multiple times.

This is also where a travel blog comes in. Since each post in a blog is a separate page on your website, as you create posts they start to incorporate your keywords on more and more pages.

But the key is to make sure there’s a theme to your posts. You can’t put up random posts about whatever strikes your fancy and think you’ll rank well for anything.

If you’re a family cruise planner, what types of blog post ideas can you come up with related to your family cruise keywords? Maybe posts about the best kids areas on cruise ships. Tips for traveling on a cruise with extended family. The best cruise line private islands for family fun. You see where I’m going, right?

Create content pillars, or central content themes, around the keywords you want to rank for, and start creating content. That’s what content marketing for travel agencies is all about.

But just creating the content isn’t enough. Writing a post and hitting publish is one thing, but writing content that improves your search engine optimization (SEO) is a combination of art and science, words and web design.

You’ll need to understand a bit about technical SEO in order to have your content generate results. Get familiar with title tags, meta descriptions, heading creation, and how to structure a URL and it’ll drastically improve your results.

I’ll be publishing a future post specifically about each of these elements. Stay tuned or subscribe to our email list so you know when it’s published!

Stage 4: Traffic growth

At this point you should start to see the traffic to your website start to grow. Your efforts are paying off, but there’s more you can do.

Another great way to drive traffic to travel agency websites is using social media. Use tools like Later, with its Link in Bio functionality, to drive traffic from specific Instagram posts on your travel business account to specific pages on your website. Include links to related content in your Facebook posts.

While there’s some debate on whether including an external link hurts your reach on social media, the fact of the matter is that you want traffic to go to your website, not your social media profile. A slightly reduced reach on a post is worth it if it’s sending people to your website.

It’s much more important to get people to your travel agent website, where you can connect with them directly via an email list opt-in, then it is to have a large social media following. You want people to join your email list, because then you have a direct connection. Without that direct connection you have to rely on a changing social media algorithm and hope your audience sees your posts.

In this stage you’ll want to continue keeping an eye on your website and social media analytics as well, since they tell you something about your audience.

Are there certain topics that get more engagement on social media? Are there certain posts that get more clicks from Google? If so, create more posts and content around that topic.

You can also refresh content that has done well in the past instead of constantly recreating the wheel. Google likes fresh content, so if you had a post that did well six months ago, update it and republish it. Include a notation at the top or bottom with the date it was updated, which helps Google know it’s current.

You’ll see this a lot on news sites and large travel publications. Instead of writing a new article, you’ll see something along the lines of “this article was originally published on [insert date] and updated on [current date] with additional information.”

Large publications have staff members whose entire job is taking past content and refreshing it. That’s because, if you’ve created high-quality content, you can get a lot of mileage out of it.

Stage 5: Conversion and business growth

Once you have some traffic going to your website, it’s time to start experimenting with opt-ins and lead generators. These are two different words for the same thing. They’re both something of value that you give away for free in exchange for someone’s name and email address.

Your goal here is to turn someone from a one-time website visitor into an ongoing connection. What can you create that they would want, and would be willing to give you a bit of information (their email address) in order to get?

It can be almost anything. A destination-specific travel guide or packing list, a sample itinerary, a checklist or cheat sheet, a quiz, or whatever your specific audience would want.

Once you’ve created it, add it to your website with a way for people to get it. I like ConvertKit for this. Their forms can be embedded on almost any website and are automatically formatted for mobile devices, making for a good user experience.

When people join your email list, send them a series of emails, preferably through an automated system like ConvertKit, letting them know more about you, your company, and how you help them create the vacation they’ve been hoping for.

These emails are called a nurture campaign or a drip campaign, and are designed to increase the “know, like, trust” factor between a new subscriber and your travel business.

You’ll also want to send regular emails to your email list. How often you email is up to you, my recommendation is weekly if that’s a schedule you can maintain.

Your emails can be short, but they should either be informative on their own or, even better, provide a teaser of valuable information, like linking to a blog post. This is my favorite email technique, and one you’ll see me use each week if you're signed up for my emails.

Create new content on your website each week, then use your email to let people know what you’ve created and why they want to read it. This way you get the SEO benefits of the website content, plus you stay in close contact with your email list.

The bottom line: Growing your travel agency website

Growing your website traffic isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, work, and strategy. But once you start to get traction, it pays off!

The best travel agency websites, the ones that make it look so easy, have been focusing on business growth for an extended amount of time. Those travel agencies understand their potential customer well and focus on attracting them.

But it's something all travel agents can learn to do better! Your website can work for you, attracting the website visitors and potential customers you want to work with.

Those new website visitors turn into leads, which in turn become new customers. A new customer means a traveler with a new booking, which results in more revenue for your travel agency and more money in your pocket!

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