CruiseSouthampton.com – How to Get Over 1000 Unique Daily Visits Without Acive SEO or Keywords

Although Widgety provides its Ships and Cruises API to a wide range of travel websites, we only actually manage one commercial website ourselves – CruiseSouthampton.com

CruiseSouthampton, originally launched in 2012, was completely rebuilt last year using our own API to feed through content about Cruises, Ships, and Operators, as well as Places in Southampton.

The website is our in house testing platform from which we plan to freely share insights, analytics and ideas with everyone. We use it to test new fields, plugins, and showcase our content.

A brief history and key stats:

  • It was rebuilt using Cameleon CMS (Ruby on Rails’ version of Wordpress) in May 2016.
  • Current revenue is from local businesses paying for their Hotel, Shop, Car Rental etc to be listed.
  • The site has no paid for advertising on Google or other search engines.
  • There are no dedicated SEO tags or keywords on the site.
  • There are no “visible” banner ads on the site.

And yet the website achieves a high level of unique and repeat visitors:

  • An average of 1,000 daily visits (over 350,000 in 2016 alone) spending an average of 2mins 45 seconds on the site.
  • With 72,000 unique visits, the Cruises Homepage is the most popular landing page, followed by Cruise Terminals, and Parking.
  • In 50% of cases, users landing on specific pages from search engines have clicked on a cruise or ship.
  • Over 100,000 cruise searches were made in 2016 throughout the website, either for a specific cruise, region, or ship directly.

Thoughts on how the website has built up good traffic without paid for SEO or dedicated in page optimisation?

  • There are over 300 detailed, well written pages about content that other websites do not provide in one place, each constantly updated through our API. Search engines seem to like this live feed of good quality content.
  • The site scores very highly as one of the best sources for information on specific cruise terminals or combinations of search terms such as "P&O Cruise on Azura from Southampton this June”.
  • Related, non-cruise or ship pages deliver traffic from Search Engines – local car parks, shopping centres and specific hotels are heavily searched for on the web, with CruiseSouthampton page coming in the top 5 results.
  • The site has excellent links from a few key sites that are themselves very highly ranked, such as Southampton airport, and the official port cruise list as well as several local hotels.
  • Key links from dedicated cruise websites that no one else seems to engage with e.g. cruisewiki deliver longer times spent on site as well. Cruisewiki referrals can spend over 4 minutes on the website.
  • Traffic from NON Google search engines such as DuckDuckGo, Bing and Yahoo spend consistently longer on the website, 2min 50 as opposed to 1min 40.
  • The site itself works perfectly on mobile and is fully HTTPS, which has been really important to search engines since last summer.
  • The API is used to keep videos (mainly YouTube links) and events updated for each place and page.
  • There is a good level of Facebook and Twitter followers. While we haven't really done much lately, initial tweets back in 2012 when we launched included information on ships leaving that day, and linked to the dedicated page on the site. We are still seeing benefits of this 5 years later.
  • Time spent on the dedicated cruise ship pages has increased to around 3 minutes for Royal Caribbean and P&O cruise ships especially. Crucially the mobile versions of these pages have experienced no less time spent due we believe to their fully responsive design.

We understand that we are not a travel agent and the site can "look different". We also understand the URL and focus is less on overtly selling cruises. However we think there are many lessons that can be applied to relevant websites, especially regarding the importance of good quality content and compatibility with a range of devices.