– The SEO experiment

I wanted to really dig into how SEO plays a role in the travel industry, I knew from past experience that it is a very competitive industry with billion dollar players which have hundreds of thousands of backlinks.

I was realistic and completely understood that ranking on the first page of Google would require years of commitment, thousands of travel articles and natural back-links from many good sources.



  • Objective:To rank for a travel related term for a particular destination
  • Time Frame: 90 days
  • Budget: 350 EUR

The concept behind

I wanted to create a travel website that would rank for a specific destination which was the:

Geneva in Switzerland

I wanted to start from scratch so I did not purchase any existing domains so I started with ZERO link juice.

But I had a few tricks up my sleeve which I’ll share in more detail in other articles

The budget

The total budget would be 350 EUR, this would need to cover everything from hosting, content, website development and analytically software.


As I run my own dedicated server which I use to host this blog and various other tools of the trade (proxy server, file server, e-mail server) and host 10+ other websites I’ve created over the years, so hosting was not an issue.

Web Analytics

The obvious choice was to use Google Analytics as its amazing and free, but what should I use to measure my SEO rankings. The tool I’ve used and have come to respect greatly is SEOlytics. Sadly however for such a small project as this one, I could not spend my entire budget on this. I used a self-hosting solution called SEO Panel and used proxy servers in Switzerland to emulate my location.


Working with freelance writers

Finding good content writers to work with is always difficult, Knowing this I awarded 3 content writers the task to produce 6x articles within two weeks. From there I would remove 1 relancer and repeat the process again until I worked with only one freelancer.

project description

Content structure:

The entire website is structured around Categories and tags, in total there are around 60 articles which have been submitted, each article focuses on a particular long-tail keyword, tags are used to combine things to do, such as skiing, swimming, restaurants and attractions. there is also tags for time of the year and is combined to make long-tale keyword article lists:

[tag] + article keyword + [category] =   summer things to do in Geneva // winter skiing in Geneva

website structure for seo

From around 60 articles I was able to make 400+ pages. The pages did actually serve a purpose and were not spam, this is because the articles shown were actually relevant to the search query.

For some of the tag/categories which I ranked to be high importance, I acquired another content writer to write 400 word descriptions about that category an example of this is the Geneva travel information category page (see how I backlinked the keyword there :o).


46 days into the experiment I successfully ranked on a weekly average of 3 on Google results page for the United kingdom.

What was most suprising is that MySwissHoliday ranking higher then which is the Swiss national turisom board website that has backlinks from .gov .edu and many swiss outlets,

I believe that this was due to the following strategies:

  • The use of Google Authorship SERP positions
  • The use of exact match long-tale keywords
  • The understanding that Google prefers to rank content which is newer and updated recently
  • The use of social signals such as Twitter and a paid Facebook and Sumbleupon campaign to acquire natural backlinks.
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