The goal of every tourism destination is clear: get heads in beds. But more often than not, visitors start out as online visitors researching your destination. And hopefully, those online visitors are visiting your blog. So how do you maximize your blog’s potential for capturing their attention and engaging potential visitors?
Regardless of whether you’re a city, park, region, resort, museum, or DMO, blogging can be a powerful online marketing tool for your business. Here are a few best practices we’ve learned from working with our tourism destination clients. They’ll help you fully optimize your tourism blog to set you on the right path for bringing in new visitors — both to your website and your destination.
1. Know your target audiences
Before you start writing that next post, ask yourself, who are we trying to reach? The answer shouldn’t be everybody. By writing to specific target audiences, you narrow down your content to attract and engage those who are most likely to visit. This means you have to know who your target audiences are.
What type of visitors most often visit your destination, or what type of visitors stay the longest or spend the most? Perhaps they’re suburban parents with 2+ kids in elementary school looking for a summer getaway. Or perhaps they’re meeting planners looking for a large venue space to host a conference. After you figure out who to target, next figure out what their interests are, what questions they most commonly ask when visiting, and what initially attracted them to make a visit. Tailor your posts to pique their interests, answer their questions, and engage them with relevant content.
2. Search optimize your posts
Make sure your posts are easily found via search. Use keywords in the header, body and metadata of your blog posts. When blogging, you should have a keyword list you want to rank highly for within search. These keywords should be a mix of your tourism organization’s actual name and its location/major attractions. For example, if your organization is a convention and visitors bureau for a city in the American south, then you would want to write for keywords…
- By region, such as “Best southern cities on the gulf coast”
- By state, such as “best cities to visit in Arkansas”
- By attraction, such as “best conference centers in the mid-south”
Think about what your visitors might search for when researching your area/region/state. These help generate useful, effective keywords with which to optimize your blog posts. Again, to optimize your post, you’ll need to make sure a keyword appears in the title/headers of your post, multiple times throughout the body of the post, and in the meta data (title tags, alt tags, meta description). If you blog using WordPress, there is a handy plugin called Yoast to help optimize your post and metadata.
NOTE: This is just the beginning of a full-functioning SEO plan. Search optimizing your site to rank highly on targeted keywords requires a fully developed and executed plan that takes time to yield results. If you’re interested in how we can help you fully optimize your site, give us a call!
3. Make your posts shareable
Along with making sure your posts are easy to find on search engines, you want your posts to be easily shareable on social media. Each post should have buttons that allow readers to automatically share links to the post on a variety of social media platforms. It’s important to include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other sites that your company has a presence on.
4. Use short videos
As a tourism destination, you have great opportunities for video. Create short, 1-minute films touring through different areas of your city, park, region or facilities. Create testimonial videos interviewing staff, residents and frequent visitors and ask them what they love about their destination. Follow a family or individual while they experience a day at your destination. Videos don’t need to be long or complicated. Keep them simple but engaging. Incorporate the videos with your blog posts, embedded with the post’s text.
For more ideas, check out these weekend adventure videos we helped produce for Rogers, Arkansas.
5. Use plenty of photography
Tourism organizations should always have original, high-quality images of their destination, rather than stock photography. Like video, photography is a great medium for showcasing your attractions. Use photos as large, attention-grabbing header images or in between paragraphs to break up long columns of text. Try as often as you can to feature people in your photos, interacting with your attractions, whether they’re staff members, residents, visitors or professional models. People always want to see what your destination has to offer.
6. Use guest bloggers
Don’t rely on just one person to create all of the content. Ask other staff members and even visitors to help write content. Guest bloggers bring a fresh prospective to your destination and new tone to your blog. Ask a local business owner to share why they love your city’s community and introduce upcoming local events. Ask a frequent visitor what their top favorite activities to do are at your destination. Or ask the head of your organization to share little-known secrets or behind-the-scenes stories about your attractions.
If you have trouble finding guest bloggers, then consider Q&A-styled posts. Send a list of questions to a staff member, resident or frequent visitor, then (with their permission) repurpose the Q&A into a blog post with the interviewee’s picture.
If you’d like to learn more about how your tourism destination can improve its blogging —and overall digital marketing — contact Thoma today.