How step by step keyword research led to an SEO goldmine
Thomas Cook was a travel company, who provide package holidays to hundreds of destinations around the world. This article gives a step by step breakdown of how they uncovered a huge SEO opportunity.
The first step in any SEO journey is keyword research. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about the sort of things they might type into Google.
The simpler the better. Start with the most basic search term you can think of.
For example, Tenerife is one of Thomas Cook’s most popular holiday destinations, so let's start with that keyword.
Now, we’re not actively trying to rank here, we're just trying to get an idea of what sort of content might work. And once you start sniffing around Google will give away more clues than a Scooby-Doo villain!
Firstly, let's have a look at what Google suggests in the dropdown:
And then the related searches:
This gives us a list of potential ideas to work with:
1. A guide of the top things to do in Tenerife
2. A blog about the best beaches in Tenerife
Now, it looks like the majority of Thomas Cook’s competitors are drawn to the first article.
But I actually think the page about the weather might offer more value. Let’s explore!
As great as guides and blogs are at ranking for a targeted keyword, they take a lot of manual work to put together. In contrast, leveraging an API, one weather template page could be duplicated across every Thomas Cook destination. It presents a unique opportunity to rank for hundreds of different keywords in one fell swoop.
In reality, however, getting any significant organic traffic from “Tenerife weather” is doubtful.
The page is dominated by weather.com's huge box. And the results beneath are the BBC and The Met Office which are going to be pretty impossible to displace.
Could we be less ambitious
In my own head I'm now thinking:
Ok. “Tenerife weather” might be too ambitious. But is their any longer tail alternatives we could try ...
As always my first point of call is Google. What does Google suggest in the dropdown:
And what do the related searches say:
This definately feels like a Eureka moment. Instead of just one page for “Tenerife weather”, what about twelve pages, displaying weather info for each month of the year.
A confirmatory check on Ahrefs shows very healthy search volume with a low keyword difficulty score. The dream!
And that’s exactly what Thomas Cook created.
Thousands of weather pages. One for each month of the year. One for each holiday destination. All accompanied by the perfectly placed call to action reminding customers to book their holiday.
Does it work?
One million percent. Thomas Cook has 3,744 different weather pages in total pulling in nearly 500,000 organic traffic every month.
Now, homing in on just Tenerife weather:
Interestingly, the page pulling in most traffic is the main weather page. The huge traffic volume more than compensating it's low page rank. This main weather page, however, does only account for 25% of total traffic showing just how valuable the supporting monthly pages are.
You might also be wondering why there are 67 weather pages just for Tenerife. Well, Thomas Cook don't miss a trick. They also have one page for every month of the year for towns within Tenerife. For example:
This is great to hoover up traffic for the longer tail keywords.
We started out typing Tenerife into Google, followed the trail of breadcrumbs, and ended up creating an army of weather pages mopping up some mega organic traffic.
This is textbook SEO marketing:
1. Find out what your customers search for
2. Create pages which rank for those searches
To quote Glen Allsop top quality keyword research is
finding the relevant search terms that your competitors have missed
And every single one of Thomas Cook’s competitors has missed this golden opportunity. What’s obvious in a case study, is far from obvious in the field.
Keyword research takes patience. And telling your manager your going to spend the majority of next year creating 4,000 weather pages takes cojones.
If you're in the mood for another, I've written this gem about the “[competitor] alternative” page trick.
— Thanks, Harry