Building a new website is a monumental task. No matter how quick and easy you try to make the process, you will end up putting a lot of work in at least one end of the build.
However, where you put in that time and how effectively it is used can easily be determined very early in the planning process, provided you make sure to understand where things can go wrong and how best to avoid them.
This guide to the 21 biggest mistakes a Travel Business can make when building a new website will help with just that.
Common Pre-Build Mistakes
Choosing a Bad Platform or WordPress Theme
Often, when looking for a quick and easy way to launch a new travel website, prospective site owners will choose to use a platform like Wix or Squarespace.
Others may choose to go down the WordPress route, but build their travel site using a drag-and-drop WordPress Builder like Elementor or Divi.
These options are heavily marketed as an easy way to create a website without knowledge of code or web design, which is reasonably accurate in most cases. Still, the damaging side-effects of these options remain unseen until it is too late.
Sites built using these platforms are unavoidably bloated with unused code and dependencies that you may never actually use, resulting in excessive page-speed impact and, ultimately, bad SEO.
Additionally, it is increasingly likely that you will run into features you want to add to your website but can’t because of the limited capabilities of the platform you’ve chosen.
Let’s say you choose the path of least resistance, and you use one of the above solutions. We can guarantee that unless you have your heels firmly dug into a trendy niche market, you’re going to hit a wall in terms of your SEO and Google rankings, affecting your business in the long run.
And what happens then? You’re going to want to move your site to a bespoke custom-built platform more suited to your needs, without all of the bloat associated with your previous choice.
Well, you’re in for a bumpy ride in that case. There’s no magic button you can push to transfer all of your hard work and content to a new platform; you’re going to have to start from scratch and build the whole thing from the ground up.
Trust us, starting on the right foundations will benefit you for years to come.
Not Considering Your Needs for a Bespoke Build
In contrast to our above advice, you also shouldn’t rush head-first into a bespoke solution.
You need to put some thought into your bespoke build and figure out what you need from it. Working closely with a developer to make your needs clear and having a clear dialogue with them throughout the build is very important.
Doing so can help ensure that your platform is simple and easy to use. A Bespoke WordPress build can cover all of your needs while also being approachable enough for you to update without incurring expensive costs relating to upkeep, maintenance, and content population.
A poorly-built website will require more dev hours to maintain and update than one purpose-built to suit your needs.
Not Doing SEO Research Before a Build
Before starting any build, you need to understand what is required for your site to rank well on Search Engines.
Consider things like FAQ Schema, proper header structure, Title Tags, Permalink Structure, Meta Descriptions and more.
The better you understand the requirements, the more you can ensure that your website covers everything you need to get as many eyes as possible on your business.
Choosing a Bad Booking Platform
Many travel website owners will naturally want to integrate or provide a way for customers to book travel packages via the website.
There are many risks to consider with most solutions out there, to name but a few…
- Some platforms cause a lot of SEO issues, such as having faceted navigation with separate URLs for all portions of a listing or having content hidden until a user manually reveals it, effectively hiding it from Google.
- These platforms will often not have ease-of-use in mind, so adding new listings results in hours of lost time, populating sheets and sheets of data and content that you could otherwise populate in a smart and automated manner.
Choosing the right booking system—or, indeed, building a bespoke one—can be just as important as the website build and should be considered in granular detail as soon as possible. This way, you can ensure you cover any potential issues before they can present themselves.
Failing to be vigilant about this can come with a high cost both in time and money when you inevitably have to bite the bullet and upgrade.
Choosing the Cheapest Build Option
As the old adage goes; You’ve got to spend money to make money.
Often, when faced with a new web build, it can be tempting to try and save as much money as possible, but this will almost definitely come back to bite you.
Getting a bespoke website built is going to cost a pretty penny, especially if it’s going to suit your needs perfectly. Doing so will mean hiring experienced and talented developers whose services won’t come cheap, and if they do, you should be suspicious as to where they’re cutting corners!
A well-built website will not only provide the best results for growing your business (and making money) but will need less maintenance down the line.
In the end, if you do things properly and follow the advice in this article, you’ll save money without needing to pay for constant maintenance and upkeep.
Not Properly Briefing your Agency/Developer
Another reason why you should understand your needs is that you will need to convey them properly to whoever builds your website for you.
Failing to understand what you need will lead to everyone spending time and money on a product that doesn’t work for you. This naturally results in spending even more time and money on amendments.
Creating a good, clear brief will save you thousands of pounds and hours in the long run and allow you to get your site up and running much quicker.
Consider the items in the below list, all of which will help you ensure your final products suits your brand and your offering:
- How do you want visitors to your site to view your company? Luxurious? Affordable? Serious? Welcoming? What “vibe” do you want them to feel?
- Who is your target audience? Who are you reaching out to?
- What are your competitors doing? What do they look like? How can you implement or improve on what they’re doing?
- What kinds of specialist functionality is your website going to need? Do you need contact forms? CRM Integration? Payment Services?
- What pages is your website going to need? Try to draft up a sitemap to provide.
Make sure you also provide the designers and developers with a full style guide relating to your brand; logos, colours, fonts, and more.
If you don’t feel like you’re particularly good at putting what you want into words, providing a complete list of existing websites that you do and don’t like will give them a good physical reference of what you’re hoping for.
At the end of the day, every person and company is different, even if it’s subtle, so the needs and wants will vary from project to project. Even the best developers in the world are not psychic; expecting them to know precisely what you need will get you nowhere.
Providing an Unrealistic Deadline
Building an effective, SEO-friendly, and presentable website takes a long time. Especially one with specialist functionality.
It is essential to understand this from day one of the build. Depending on the complexity of your new site and the size of the team you’re working with, you could be looking at anywhere from one month to six months of development time to get everything right.
If a developer offers everything you need within a week, this should raise many red flags for you, and you should investigate their portfolio of work closely. They are likely offering a templated solution and not something bespoke to your needs.
You should work closely with the development team to understand the requirements and decide a realistic time frame for the build. If you try to rush the build with unrealistic deadlines, you will force corner-cutting, which will need to be resolved down the line at the cost of time and money.
Not Considering Assets and Content
Don’t forget when you’re putting together a new website build that it will need content. Every page will need plenty of well-written text and eye-catching imagery if you’re going to get anybody to spend more than 10 seconds on your website landing pages.
New website owners will often demand a website within a short deadline and then leave content creation to the last minute.
If you want to avoid holding things up and getting in your own way, you should be drafting content and sourcing imagery from the moment your developers are briefed (or, better yet, sooner than that).
You will need to consider every paragraph of text and do proper SEO keyword research to ensure that it is all valuable for getting you ranking in high positions on search engines for the key phrases you wish to target.
Not much of a wordsmith? Not to worry, there are many thousands of copywriters and copywriting agencies out there. Find the right one for you and then make sure they understand the requirements, the tone you wish to convey, and the quantity of copy needed.
When it comes to imagery, there are countless royalty-free imagery websites out there that you can source images from. However, you will need to do your due diligence. Make sure you understand the copyright protection laws around any picture you source and give appropriate recognition to any photographer/artist that requires it.
You should consider sourcing imagery yourself and maybe paying for a photographer to take some professional and exceptional images that can make your website look its best. Relying solely on free resources can cause your website to fall flat and look too “stocky.”
Another significant consideration for imagery is the quality, resolution, and resultant size of the files you choose to put online. All images should be resized appropriately and optimised before being put on your website.
These days, most camera devices (even just mobile phones) take photos in up to 4K resolution. These images look fantastic, but their file size is enormous. Large images will quickly fill up your allotted server space and take much longer to load for your website’s visitors, who will inevitably get bored of waiting and leave to browse one of your competitors’ sites instead.
Cutting Corners on Hosting
With all the considerations you need to mull over for a new website build, it’s hard to push hosting to the back of your mind.
You have a great website with a beautiful design and excellent content, and all you want to do is get it up online, so how you put it up isn’t that important, right?
Your hosting is the lifeblood of your website. A good hosting service will allow your website to be visible to thousands of users at once, securely contain valuable data, and run crucial automated maintenance processes.
When looking for a hosting service, you should consider the following:
- Do they provide enough storage to suit your needs? Websites grow. Successful ones, at least. You’re going to be adding more content and imagery over time, and the last thing you’d want is your whole site going down because you uploaded one picture too many.
- Are the servers powerful enough to serve your website quickly to multiple simultaneous visitors? The goal of a successful website is to have as many visitors on it as possible; nobody should have to turn away potential customers because their servers can’t handle the extra work on a good day.
- Are the servers secure enough to prevent nefarious cyber-attacks? Some websites contain valuable user data, especially those that process payments; you don’t want to leave this kind of information exposed.
- Do the hosting providers give adequate access and control to your developers? Being stuck and unable to restore your website in the event of a disaster is a stressful time for everybody involved. Without—at the very least—full access to error logs, you and your developers might find yourselves up a particular creek without a paddle.
- Do the hosting providers offer timely support 24/7? If the worst happens and your site suffers an outage, you need to get someone on that ASAP to avoid a loss. Having a hosting provider on the other side of the world who are only available during the twilight hours on weekdays doesn’t help anybody.
Common Build Mistakes
Using Too Many Plugins or External Resources
It’s easy to get carried away by adding new features to your website. Especially on WordPress, you can feel a little bit like a child in a sweet shop, surrounded by exciting and bright features and plugins that you just can’t wait to try out.
Just know that these things come at a price. Not necessarily financially, but every additional feature you bolt onto your website will cost valuable resources. By flooding your website with new trinkets, you’ll quickly affect its performance.
You should assess your needs every step of the way and ensure that whatever you’re thinking about adding is something your business can’t do without, or at the very least, is something that will boost your business enough to matter.
If these bots can’t access your site or see important content containing keywords and vital ranking information, your search result presence will take a potentially devastating hit.
Not Optimising URL Slugs
You tell us; which of these looks better?
That was a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious.
These days especially, it’s important to be conscious of the websites you visit and the information you believe from them. One very obvious red flag for many people on the internet is the URL.
A clean, professional URL shows you’re dealing with a company that puts care into what they do, and so it’s much less likely to be a scam of some sort.
But even beyond what humans think of URLs, we need to consider what our robot overlords think of our URLs.
No, not SkyNet or Mark Zuckerberg; we’re talking about search engines. They will look at our URL slugs for a clear and concise indication of what content is contained on the page within.
As the slug is the first bit of data the algorithms will be presented with, you need to make sure your first impression is good if you want that algorithm to place you higher in the search results.
Not Implementing a Sitemap
A sitemap is a roadmap to the pages available on your website. It is helpful to search engines like Google because it makes it easier for their bots to find all of your content.
This benefits you because Google and other such search engines will list your web pages a lot quicker as a result.
If you don’t have a sitemap, the bots will have to rely solely on your own internal linking implementation or external links on other websites to find your pages, which is much slower and less effective.
Not Implementing Proper Header Structure
A properly-implemented header structure naturally makes browsing the site easier from a user’s perspective. If they have visited your site for a specific bit of information, it is easier for them to get what they came for if they can skim through and find what they need.
In addition to this, we must once again think of the robots that scour through our web-based content on a daily basis. Headers allow Google and other search engines to break your page down into key content areas and rank your page based on that.
If your whole page isn’t relevant to one key search term, but a specific section of it is, then this increases your chances of ranking for an array of different terms.
Correctly layering your headers (i.e. H1 > H2 > H3 etc.) allows search engines to understand the relationship between different sections of your content and determine whether a section contains supporting content for the current section or should be considered a whole section of its own.
Not Implementing a Caching System
A caching system can allow your website to be served to the viewer quickly and efficiently.
By using temporarily-stored data in a quick-access cache, the server can avoid slowing things down by accessing databases and deeper storage levels every time a user visits the website.
Using cache correctly can be the difference between a terrible Core Web Vitals result and a great one.
Common Post-Build Mistakes
Not Redirecting URL Changes
If a URL has been live on your site at any point, there’s a good chance that search engines have already crawled and cached it. This means that even if you have since changed the URL, those same search engines are already serving the unchanged URLs to users.
Sure, they’ll eventually catch on and start serving the correct URL, but before that happens, you could be missing out on valuable traffic potential.
Additionally, links to your website can often be just as valuable as a #1 link on Google’s search results. If the search engine placed those links before you changed the URL, the extra SEO juice those links could be providing would be stuck in limbo, no longer providing any benefit.
And finally, let’s not forget that users themselves may often be bookmarking pages on your website so that they can return to them later. If you change the URL, those bookmarks will no longer work, and that’s just no good!
Redirect your URL changes so that you don’t miss out on any of the great benefits from the hard work you’ve already put into spreading the word about your content.
Using Duplicate Content
Let’s say you have three pages, all of which contain the exact same text. Maybe they serve a different purpose, target a different audience, and have other functionality options, but the fact of the matter remains; the content is the same.
When it comes to search engines, they’ll essentially be blind to those functional differences and will simply look at the text. How are they going to know which one it should list? And, indeed, under which search terms?
Make it easier for these search engines to understand your website by having specific and targeted text content that makes it very clear what the purpose and intent of the page is.
This way, you will give search engines apparent indications of where your page belongs in their endless indexes of web pages.
You should also consider this when looking at CMS systems (like Magento) which automatically create multiple versions of a product page for different stages in a user journey.
If this is the case on your website, you can use canonical and no-index tags to give search engines a clear indication of which page is the root of the user journey and so should be indexed over the others.
Not Optimising Content
When populating your website with content, it can be easy to end up bogged down in your word count and just make sure you put enough words on the page to get your point across.
However, you need to consider how this looks to a search engine bot.
By cleverly peppering in key phrases of search terms you want to appear on search engines for, you can influence a search engine bot’s decision.
Let’s say you wrote a blog post about Malta Villas. You probably want to appear on Google when people search for “Villas in Malta”. So, make sure those exact words appear throughout your blog post just to drive it home that that’s what you want the search engines to index you for.
Don’t overdo it, though. Most search engine algorithms can smell spam a mile away, and you don’t want to be corralled into the limbo where AI-written content lives.
Not Optimising Imagery
As we mentioned earlier in this post, you need to consider the time investment required for preparing your images.
Make sure you upload them at an appropriate size and resolution for where you’re placing them. This way, you aren’t using up unnecessary amounts of storage space and affecting your visitors’ experiences by slowing everything down.
You also want to consider the SEO value of images. Sure, search engine robots can’t see your images (not yet, anyway), but there is a way for you to tell them what’s in the image.
Alt Text serves a practical purpose by telling the user what was once in the image if their internet drops out or if the image somehow gets deleted. Screen Readers can also use it to effectively inform users with vision impairment what the image contains.
But when it comes to search engines, implementing appropriate Alt Text will allow them, too, to know what is pictured. This can help influence a search engine algorithm’s decision on your position in the search engine’s index and even help your images appear in image searches—yet another avenue for you to boost your SEO.
Not Implementing Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
As we’re sure must be abundantly clear this far into our blog post, you want to give search engines like Google as much of a helping hand as possible in figuring out where you belong in the infinitely vast index of over 200 million active websites.
One other way that you can do this is by providing additional context through SEO Title Tags and Meta Descriptions.
Using a Title Tag, you can really solidify the one or two prominent keyphrases you want search engines to rank you for, and you can also influence your page’s visual appearance on search engines. (Though they do have a habit of rewriting them somewhat randomly.)
Typically the Title Tag—along with properly optimised content, imagery, and the other things mentioned in this post—is enough to do the trick. Still, in particularly stubborn encounters with search engine bots, you can employ the Meta Description too.
Squeezing a few more key phrases or relevant content into a 50-160 character meta description can give search engines a little nudge where needed.
On top of that, the Meta Description is intended to be used by search engines as the preview for your content, letting you dictate what prospective visitors see in their searches before clicking through to your site.
That being said, the search engine will often just ignore what you’ve entered and will pick out their own snippets from your content instead. But at least you’ve made the effort!
Not Internally Linking Content
Internal linking is an incredibly powerful tool that search engines use to help identify the key pages on a site. The more links there are, the more apparent it is to search engine crawlers.
This doesn’t just mean putting links in your header and footer, though. Linking to relevant pages from within paragraphs of text on key pages and blog posts will further indicate to search engines the intent and purpose of the content within.
Search engines use the linked text (anchor text) to help decide the search terms your page should appear under and how relevant it is.
You can also influence the users’ journey through your site by using clear internal links on calls to action and key phrases within your content.
Most new visitors to your site will be there to read blog posts or other informational sections of your site, but some well-placed links can subtly pull them towards your more commercially-orientated content.
Building a new website is exciting and, if done correctly, it will serve as a powerful tool for moving your business forward for years to come.
However, do not approach the project thinking it will be a quick or easy task. If you do that, you’re setting yourself up for failure and a ton of headaches.
Preparation is key here, and you need to be sure you’re willing to put in the work to produce something that will indeed be a benefit to your business and not just a resource-sapping burden.
Now, I’m sure you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things you’re expected to consider and work around when it comes to making a travel website, but we know it all to be true from experience.
We’ve worked with countless travel companies and have seen first-hand what happens if you don’t consider the warnings we’ve listed above. But we’ve also seen what happens when you do. We’ve seen the sharp spikes in traffic, the epic boosts in page speed, and the myriad benefits of having a Travel Website ranking highly on Google.
We take serious pride in our ability to navigate these troubled waters and ferry our clients to a safe and successful destination every time. So, if you find yourself particularly concerned with the journey ahead, or have already fallen prey to one of these 21 Mistakes, get in touch and we can discuss further with you to find out your needs and see if we can help!
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