For most travel and activity businesses, Google is the primary way new visitors will find you online—be it through a Google Search or on Google Maps. But fighting for top spots in the search results is a full-time job, and not one that many business owners have time for. Luckily, Google is making it increasingly easier for businesses to be found, allowing you to have a presence in local searches with just a few minutes of work.
Make sure Google can read your website
Google looks at your website more-or-less as a person would—it reads the pages, looks at images, and clicks through all the items in your menu. To ensure Google is able to access your website, read it, and then list what it finds in search results, turn to Search Console, one of the search engine's most powerful tools.
If your website has been configured incorrectly and Google can't access and read it, the Search Console is where you'll find out. And, depending on the nature of the problem, Google will usually suggest ways to correct the error too.
Search Console also has many more useful tools to help you analyze your website's performance, including Search Analytics, which shows you how well your website is performing in search results; Pagespeed Insights, which gives you information on how your website works on different screen sizes; and a messages area, which Google will use to send you important updates about your site.
Tell Google what your business is about
The words and phrases people type into Google to find products, services or information are known as “keywords." The keywords Google will associate your business with rely almost entirely on the words used in your website's copy. Without specifically mentioning certain things in the text of your site, you'll never appear in search results for those keywords.
For example, a kayaking business needs to tell Google that they offer kayak rentals and kayaking lessons by talking about them on their website. A campsite needs to tell Google they offer pitches by the night, and how much they cost by listing them publicly. But don't go overboard with these keywords: If it's obvious you're trying to beef up your keyword count, Google will simply ignore it—or worse, punish you by burying you in the results page.
A simple rule of thumb: Create a website which works really well for your visitors, and Google will reward you with good placement in search results.
And this is another area where the Search Console can help. One of its features, Content Keywords, broadly tells you what Google thinks your website is about by showing you how many times you mention specific keywords. Ideally, the services you're selling should be near the top of this list. If not, it's time to tweak your website a bit.
Tell Google where your business is located
Appearing in local search results is vitally important for travel and activity businesses. Most searches take place on mobile devices now, so you need to be as visible as possible to travelers passing through your area and in search of a fun activity.
The most basic way to tell Google where you are based—and to appear to local searchers—is to simply include your address and phone number on your website. Google will take this information and be able to deduce your location, and pretty soon you'll be appearing in local search results.
Another important step in attracting local searches is to get your business listed on Google Maps. Google My Business—the search engine's home for many of its small business services—allows local businesses to easily create Google Maps listings and verify them by linking the listings to their websites.
It's easy to claim your Google Maps listing. Simply search your business on Google Maps and touch "Are you the business owner?" and follow the prompts provided.
Your Google Maps listing can contain plenty of information above and beyond your address and phone number. You can add opening hours, photos, and invite customers to review your business. The better your reviews, the more people will find you online, and the more will visit you in real life. You can even add a link that directly points customers to book your activity or rental.
In just a few minutes, these simple updates can vastly increase your online searchability.