At the start of August I was invited along to a travel blogging event in Leeds with Icelolly.com, the holiday price comparison, for a day full of hanging out with lovely bloggers and listening to expert talks accompanied by nibbles and cocktails. There were great talks on the day covering SEO for travel bloggers, how to work with brands (and not sell out), and all things video.
It was fantastic to spend a day having fun and learning at the same time, so here are some of my key takeaways from Blog at the Beach that I hope you might find useful too!
SEO for Travel Bloggers – Rob Frost from WMG
Even though the content of Rob’s talk wasn’t new to me, he did a great job of explaining SEO for bloggers in a clear, concise way. Rob provided lots of takeaways to put into action if you aren’t already doing it – and a nudge in the right direction if you know you’re not doing everything you could be!
There are plenty of simple things you can do to improve the quality of your website in Google’s eyes, many of which you can do easily using the Yoast plug-in if you’re using WordPress:
- Title tags – this should be between 30 and 65 characters; this means your title tag (as opposed to your blog post’s title) may need trimming down to fit
- Moz has a title tag preview tool that shows you how your title will appear – useful since different characters are different sizes!
- Meta descriptions – this is the summary that shows up below the title in Google’s search results; if you don’t set one then Google will pull a random sentence to display so it makes sense to write one that lets the searcher know what the post is about; it helps to add a call to action in there to encourage click-through
- Internal linking – this is basically including links within your blog content to other parts of your blog; if you refer to something you’ve written about before, link through – it encourages readers to explore more and lets Google know the pages you’re linking to are important.
Top 3 Tools to Use:
- Google Search Console (the re-branded Webmaster tools) – gives you insight into what search terms are bringing people to your website
- Google Adwords – allows you find the best keywords to use based on what people search for; go for terms that have a good search volume but low competitiveness for the optimum chance of ranking for this; base your content around this keyword but don’t stuff it full or it won’t read naturally and will look spammy
- Google Analytics – once set up, you can view all of your blogs vital statistics: traffic, bounce rate, referring websites, and so on.
Rob kindly counted us down to cocktail time during his talk and we were treated to a selection of concoctions by The Alchemist, a buffet of tasty treats and the chance to take some snaps in the pop-up beach area.
Working with travel brands without losing your style – Monica from The Travel Hack
This was the talk I was most excited about for the day – I’ve been a huge fan of Monica’s since discovering her blog through working on a campaign for London City Airport where Monica was one of the judges for the challenge. The topic was also one that I think affects most bloggers, in travel or any niche, and it was refreshing to see the areas of reviews and payments talked about openly. Accepting payment or products can sometimes be frowned upon but, so long as you only write about what you love, create great content and keep your own personality, these things can help us to create better content (running a blog would be an expensive business otherwise!). Here are some other key takeaways from Monica’s talk:
- Only accept what you love – when you get approached with all sorts of offers, it can be tempting to go for something that you wouldn’t usually talk about or buy for yourself. Monica hits the nail on the head perfectly with this: “Anything you blog about should also pass the ‘Best Friend Test’” – if you wouldn’t recommend it to your best friend, don’t blog about it!
- Find your niche – this came up time and time again; it isn’t about pigeon-holing yourself, but rather building yourself up as an expert in a field. The more you are an expert in an area, the more opportunities you will get and the more value you will provide to brands and your readers
- Don’t be afraid to approach brands – this is much more than putting a generic request out though; you need to be targeted in your approach! Monica set out these pointers for what to include in your pitch:
- Who are you?
- About your blog
- Do you have a specialist niche? No? Get one!
- What do you want?
- What will you provide in return?
- Why your brands are a good match
- Examples from your previous brand collaborations
- Testimonials (or link to media pack)
- Can you provide any extras such as videos, professional photos, coverage on larger blogs, websites or print publications? If you provide something of great value or you can prove you can increase their sales then you can work on paid collaborations too.
You can find a full round-up of Monica’s talk on her blog.
Travel Video Q&A – Greg from Travizeo
Greg’s passion and enthusiasm for videography was evident right from the start of his very energetic talk. I think everyone in the room left buzzing with ideas!
- Use natural lighting – and lots of it
- Video with a raw, unedited feel is popular right now – and great if you don’t have masses of time to spend editing (take advantage of it!)
- It’s not the camera that counts, it’s what you do with it – getting steady shots are far more important than fancy equipment so start small!
So that’s my Blog at the Beach round-up of what was a great event – you can get a further peek of the day over on Icelolly’s blog.