Optimise your tour for search engines

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, can seem like a technical subject, but you only have to focus on a handful of simple tweaks to make sure your tour is at the top of search results because we’ve already done the technical work for you. Every page of voicemap.me has all sorts of metadata under the hood, amplifying whatever effort you make on your own, and search engines are how the majority of VoiceMap users first discover a tour.

The most important concept to understand is that SEO has two parts: on-page and off-page optimisations. It’s a simple distinction. When Google and other search engines crawl the internet, they look at what is on a particular page to rank its relevance for specific search terms, as you’d expect. What is its title, for example? How long is it? Is it well written? All of this falls under on-page optimisation.

But they also look at what is happening off the page, elsewhere on the internet, referring back to that particular page. This basically comes down to the number of links to your tour from other websites, along with the authority and reliability of those website. A link from the New York Times, for example, sends a much stronger signal than a link from a regional paper.

Off-page optimisation tends to be more powerful, and it was a focus on these off-page indicators that made Google the world’s most useful search engine.

On-page optimisation #

You can’t actually do all that much on-page SEO for your tour. It is an audio tour after all, and the script needs to work for the human ear, not Google’s web-crawling spiderbots. But you can use the fact that every location has its own page, with its own url, to your advantage.

Let’s use our Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen as an example. You’ll find the cover image along with all the final touches at https://voicemap.me/tour/london/theatreland-tour-with-ian-mckellen. For the tour’s map along with the script for the first location, just add /sites, i.e. https://voicemap.me/tour/london/theatreland-tour-with-ian-mckellen/sites. For the location about the longest running play in history, at St Martins Theatre, add /st-martins-and-the-ivy to /sites, i.e. https://voicemap.me/tour/london/theatreland-tour-with-ian-mckellen/sites/st-martins-and-the-ivy. And so on for every location on the tour.

Each of these urls is its own page and for the right keywords, its on-page optimisation is an automatic byproduct of the way we structure our tours. There are two ways of using this to your advantage:

  1. Don’t just share the link to your tour’s cover page, with the photo and final touches. If you’re referring to a specific location, share the url for that location instead.
  2. Choose the titles of your locations well, so that they match the script and resemble the sorts of keywords people might use in searches. (Our editors try to help you choose titles that improve your tour’s SEO.)

Off-page optimisation #

Off-page optimisation comes down to one thing, at least for the purposes of this tutorial: links to your tour from other websites.

If you have a website of your own, the absolute minimum you can do is add a link from there to your tour. But not all links are equal, and you need to choose the words that point to your tour’s urls carefully. It’s also a good idea to have the link – or links, pointing to more than one of the tour’s locations – in an article with original writing. Links that appear off to one side don’t work as well. Linking to your tour with an image is even less effective.

When you choose the text that points to your tour’s url, it’s worth using the same keywords you expect your audience to use when they’re searching for for products like it.

We recommend some of the following keywords:

  • “audio tour app”
  • “self-guided” and the transport type plus the word “tour”, i.e. “self-guided walking tour” or “self-guided driving tour”
  • “audio guide” also works well, especially for indoor tours or tours of a specific attraction

But every tour is different and you’re the best judge of what is most popular on your tour – or what your audience might punch into a search engine – and you’re best off combining this insight with our suggestions.

For more advice information on how to link to your tour effectively, including basic technical instructions, take a look at this post on our blog. It also tackles probably the most powerful but hardest aspect of SEO: getting other people to link to your tour, especially large, institutional websites. This article about VoiceMap on CNN is one example. Links like this validate your tour and drive referral traffic, which is more than twice as likely to lead to sales. But they also have the long term effect of pushing you further up Google’s search results than just about any other factor.

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