Let's Give Them Something to Talk About
Many factors can impact the success of a website, and success can be measured in many different ways. When it boils down to the question of "what are your website goals?" the most common responses are increasing the number of website sessions and site engagement (lower bounce rate and increased time on site).
So how do you achieve these goals? While there are several factors that can impact these metrics, I am going to focus primarily on how developing better website content can help you meet your goals.
1. Quality Content
Research has shown that travel content is widely consumed and continues to show growth year over year, as shared by Expedia Media Solutions in their study of a Traveler's Path to Purchase. Furthermore, travelers could have hundreds of touchpoints (Google Recent Trends study) throughout the booking process. So, it isn't surprising that people are looking for inspiration and guidance as they're booking travel. In order to be part of this process, you not only have to provide content, but quality content.
To help illustrate, this past weekend my husband and I decided to go on a food tour offered in downtown Tucson. The downtown area has undergone some revitalization in recent years, and we wanted to check out the new scene.
On the tour, we met a few other couples that were visiting from out-of-town. As soon as they realized we were from the area, they started asking questions, such as, "what are some things we could do during our visit?" and "are there other stops we should make?" and "how do we find....?" I think the only thing we didn't cover much was food and that was because our food tour guide was a wealth of information and knew all of the hot spots to visit.
This recent encounter with out-of-town visitors to Tucson illustrates a truth in travel planning: people want the local insight, where to go (or not go), the dos and don'ts, the best of, etc. Why not give them what they want; relevant content that answers questions and provides local or persona-targeted perspectives through an accessible channel like your destination's website.
2. Fresh Content
Let's also not forget providing fresh content. Creating new pages and/or updating content on pages to ensure it reflects the most current information is important. Outdated information from a previous year or event details in the metas or on-page content often results in users searching for another source of information, without looking back. That's not what you want from your site visitors.
I see a lot of destinations incorporate pages that they can update frequently while keeping the same URL. Examples include things to do this month, or seasonal pages that you can update and keep all year long. Your SEO Analyst and Content Creation teams can help provide strategy and tactics on how best to create fresh content and refresh that content to best serve the needs of your audiences.
As you formulate a content strategy, and before you get the creative juices flowing, don't forget to research the top keywords to include in your content. This will help provide some structure to what you're about to write through a focused topic and primary keyword. Keyword research that includes search volume (average monthly searches or AMS) include the details people are searching for so webpages on your website have a better chance of ranking higher in search results.
You can also use the Google Search Console (GSC) to see what keywords searched in the past 90 days are resulting in impressions or click-throughs to your website content. Using multiple metrics including Keyword AMS and your site performance in relation to popular search terms/phrases will help you identify gaps in your website's content and how to improve currently ranking content pages. These and other insights are a part of the Content Audit & Roadmap option through the Simpleview content engagement to help you develop a data-driven content strategy.
For example, if you're writing about Fall Festivals, Labor Day events, or where to eat breakfast, keyword research could help identify those activities or places people are searching for that you may want to include. But remember don't overstuff the pages with keywords, and keep the content engaging and editorial.
4. Internal Links
On the surface, internal links provide the easiest way to keep a visitor engaged, but they actually do even more than that. Internal links provide an information hierarchy and help ranking power. For example, if you're writing a blog post, consider adding internal links to listings mentioned in the post, events discussed, or even link to static pages that could provide more information.
These links will help keep visitors engaged, and allow the search engines to crawl your website and find interior pages. So when you're writing content consider site architecture, and how a new page you just created could get more traffic by providing an internal link from another page.
5. Thin Content
When creating new content, it's important to strike the right balance. Longer written content does not always mean better content or user experience. Consider the difference between providing content that is useful and answers the question being asked, versus long, drawn out written content that does not focus on the central idea nor engage the reader. Confusing, unfocused, or poorly structured content can cause users to leave your website.
How should a DMO strike the balance between developed content (which may take up space to do the topic justice) and focused, helpful messaging? It can be tricky, and there isn't a one answer fits all response. Mainly, ensuring you're providing the most relevant information, expressing authority (knowledge and experience) on the topic, and including multimedia content such as videos, images, graphs, etc. are the best practices.
As you can see, I have only tackled five elements of content that can impact search engine optimization, and there are several other categories and elements to discuss; however, content is one of the most important factors impacting SEO. When evaluating your website's metrics, consider these five elements as they relate to content and your content strategy.