I am screening for the best answer/profile to pick a pro I can set up a call to further help me develop that link building strategy. It has to be based on the newest Google standards.
We work with one of the big cruise sites in the UK and it's all about making the site deserve to rank higher by continually improving the site via design & content. Google wants to rank popular sites so you need to (as Simon points out) figure out ways of getting influential sites to talk about you and link to you. PR is the only real way to build links these days.
The "best link-building strategy".
You're asking the wrong question.
The right question you should be asking yourself, is:
"How, through marketing (which is aligned with my proposition and what my business stands for) can I secure coverage and citations in the target publications that are relevant and respected by my customers". This is what the major search engines are far more likely to reward.
Don't build links. Build an audience.
Don't want to build an audience? Then create content (not just text) which is worthy of taking attention from sites with an audience (this could be the mainstream travel media).
I say it to all my (work) friends, contacts and clients.
> Build defensive approaches to your marketing.
Well firstly, "the newest Google standards" actually discourage basing your SEO campaign on pure link-building. To avoid the eventual "Google hammer", you should start by focusing on generating natural traffic over generating a bunch of links - if you do that right, you can then activate your own users to share your links themselves and start gaining press traction as well.
Plus, Google's search results are moving more & more away from the basic notion of "whoever has the most links with the right keyword ranks highest", and more towards "the website that provides the best data & content will be ranked highest". That doesn't mean link building is dead, it just changes the strategy from what most people think of when they say link-building. There are still plenty of viable techniques though:
- Press: Signing up for a service like HARO is time-consuming, but if you keep it up you can generate several organic press mentions & likely even interviews. I don't know your travel company's SEO/marketing budget, but press releases with a good angle can be a great source of these as well.
- Social backlinking: I'm not talking about just basic Facebook/Twitter marketing here...there are a lot of other options to create social authority figures that people come to/subscribe to. Group Pinterest boards, services like Paper.li, Scoop.it, etc.
- Q&A - Ever considered a Reddit AMA (Ask me Anything)? I haven't researched travel-related subreddits before, but I've done these for other companies I've worked with and it always generates at *least* a boost in traffic and usually a number of signups.
- Guest blogs: Careful with these, Google's been cracking down on guest blog networks & spammy blogging techniques lately - but they can still generate traffic when used properly.
Also, if you haven't already, make sure you've got your deals marked up with proper schema. It's easier (and in my opinion soon to be the primary method) to get links & traffic from Google when your website is providing data to the Knowledge Graph. Let me know if you've got any questions.
How would a physical retail chain generate more traffic? Online, many of the long-term principles are the same.
Experiment with high-traffic "billboard" ad spots.
Build more locations to attract passers by.
Choose the prime locations.
Fine-tune your presentation.
Identify the most relevant venues for your target demographic. BE THERE!
Build visibility in terms of high-converting content in relevant places.
Own rather than rent space.