Site navigation: how to structure your content to connect with your audience

It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, but if you’re a DMO, you have to come pretty close. Be they leisure travellers, group tour operators, or event planners, DMOs need to engage with multiple audiences while staying true to the location they represent. A few months ago, we highlighted some content housekeeping strategies to help you serve both your destination and your visitors, but in order to really capture an audience, your audited content needs to be set into a proper structure. Now that the quality of content on your site is optimal, it’s time to organise it so that it connects with each and every one of your target audiences in a deeper and more meaningful way. 


What Do Your Visitors Want?

Irrespective of the type of traveller they are, the majority of those who visit a DMO’s website will almost always be searching for three specific things. First and foremost, your visitors want inspiration. Whether their senses are piqued by striking images, unique text, or even interactive tools that enable them to explore your destination virtually, inspirational content can hold considerable sway when it comes to helping would-be travellers decide to visit a particular destination. Secondly — whether it’s further details on local events, nearby event venues, or visitor attractions — travellers want information. Finally, many visitors to your DMO’s site will also be looking for booking tools to enable them to secure accommodation or transportation in and around your destination.

Beyond these three key points, it’s worth examining the analytics of your website to better understand both your visitors’ traffic patterns and what, exactly, your users are looking for during their visits to your site. This will give you a better idea of which pages receive the most views, which pages receive the most engagement, and finally, where and how traffic enters into your website. These findings — combined with further information on the keywords visitors utilise when searching your site — will inform how your navigation menu should be structured and named.

Structuring Your Navigation: A Brief Overview 

When it comes to actually arranging your site, put that research into practice by creating an easy-to-use navigation menu. In terms of the number of top level options, it’s important to keep these to a minimum; between, four and seven navigational categories should enable you to accommodate the kinds of searches that your visitors are undertaking. Bear in mind these functional categories — which may, for example, include phrases like “stay”, “things to do”, or “accommodation” — will need to be easily understood by both a search engine and a wide range of individual users. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of your visitors will be seeking content related to leisure travel and tourism and so it’s worth structuring your navigation accordingly. More specialist content — say, for members of the media, partners, or planners — can be accessed via a discreet, secondary navigation bar. Remember: by keeping the broadest possible appeal in terms of the structure of your website, you are feeding directly back into your mission as a DMO, to appeal to the widest possible audience. While you may never quite be everything to everyone, with a carefully structured and thoughtfully laid-out site, you’ll never be too wide of the mark. 


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