Three Steps for Evaluating Your DMO’s SEO Keywords

May 12, 2021

Capturing the imagination of travelers as they conduct online research is a critical component of any destination marketing strategy.

Even small DMOs invest a lot of time, money, and resources into building websites and content programs to help prospective visitors learn more about their destination. However, if the content isn’t visible to people who are researching online, your DMO is likely missing the opportunity to engage with thousands of intent-driven, high-value visitors.

As they say, the first part of fixing a problem is identifying that you have one. Understanding your current standings will help you do that. The three steps below can help you evaluate your current rankings and create a plan that improves your visibility on search engines.

1. Pull Your Current Rankings:

Knowing what keywords your site is ranking for, and where on the search engine results page (SERP) the listing appears is key to building a strategy for improvement.

Using an SEO analysis tool like Moz, which has free and pro versions, makes it easy to pull a snapshot of your current rankings. It can also give you a look at some other SEO factors like Domain Authority.

(If you want a complimentary, comprehensive list of keywords that your site is currently ranking for, please reach out to [email protected] to request one.)

2. Evaluate Keyword Quality:

Once you have the list of keywords that your DMO website is ranking for, evaluate the terms by asking questions like:

  • Does the site appear in the top three positions for the destination name? The top three listings receive the majority of search clicks, so if you’re not appearing here, your web traffic will suffer.
  • Are the keywords largely aligned with what my target audience is searching? We see it all the time — the top keywords driving to a destination’s website aren’t as relevant as they’d like. This means you’re reaching less-engaged prospective travelers who are more likely to abandon than book.
  • Do the current ranking keywords have decent monthly search volumes? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it… you get the drift.
  • Are there important keywords ranking below page one (lower than position #10)? This may reveal opportunities — with some tweaks to the content—to help those keywords climb up the ladder and into the top three.

Not all terms that are ranking are going to be relevant or have significant search volume, and that’s ok. But homing in on the most relevant and important keywords can help focus your optimization efforts.

3. Identify Content Gaps:

If travelers are searching for information about your destination, is your DMO’s content answering their questions?

Look through the list of ranking keywords and evaluate if there are important themes or queries for which your site is not currently appearing. For DMOs, especially for small and midsize destinations, these can often be keywords related to:

  • Things to do in [destination name]
  • Things to do in [destination name] with kids
  • Attractions in [destination name]
  • Best cities in [state name]
  • [breweries, restaurants, beaches, museums, wineries, parks] in [destination name]
  • [destination name] visitor guide/ travel guide
  • Hotels in [destination name]
  • Events in [destination name]

Once you’ve analyzed your website’s current SEO standing, evaluated the quality of your ranking keywords, and identified the gaps in your current content, it’s time to build an SEO strategy.

Create a plan to optimize pages that are currently ranking below page one to help boost their ranking position using SEO techniques and best practices. In addition to optimizing current pages, create new content to address content gaps and answer questions being searched by intent-driven travelers interested in your destination.

Ranking well on search engines requires ongoing effort and strategic actions, but when done properly, these actions can yield significant and measurable results that will drive traffic to your website (and travelers to your destination) for years to come.