Patricia and I just returned from speaking in Quebec City at â€œ Les Assises touristiques 2007â€ – Tourism Quebecâ€™s Annual Conference. We presented on a panel discussion the impact that technology was having on tourism. The panel which was moderated by Claude Peloquin, included Tourism Quebecâ€™s Julien Cormier, David Joly, Internet Director for Transat Distribution Canada, the â€œChicksâ€ (we need to brush up on our French!) and Simon McDermott, Co-founder of Attentio (a company that can track the â€œBuzzâ€ within the Social Media world â€“ imagine that!).
We presented on the first steps in optimizing your web presence to be found by your target search audience. A great question posed by our panel moderator Claude asked what can Tourism operators do with a small budget to start really building on their web presence. I find that sometimes we are scurrying around trying to keep up with the latest technologies (such as RSS feeds, Blogs etc) and we forget that the first steps are easy and can be done relatively inexpensively by properly optimizing your website to be found by the search engines, and thus your target consumers. So what can you do today with a small budget to improve your search engine visability and traffic?
1. Determine what your keyword target market really is (not what you think it is). Use keyword search tools like Overture orÂ SEO BookÂ – these tools are free and will give you an idea about what your customers are actually searching for.
2. Apply your target keywords to re-write your Titles/Tags and Descriptions â€“ this is your Ad space on the search engines â€“ these title tags will be what appears in the search engine and what the search engine will see to determine if your website is a relevant result!
3. Make sure that your website body copy is content and keyword rich â€“ both for the search engines and for consumers.
4. Create an internal linking strategy within your site â€“ hyperlinking keywords to other places within your site that contains further information. This creates the â€œlink pathâ€ that you want both your customers and the search engines to follow to make sure they are accomplishing what you want them to – purchasing your product or service!
5. Track! Use Analytics tools such as Google Analytics (it is Free) to start understanding how people interact with your website. Your website needs attention â€“ it is not a static brochure of your product or services â€“ engage your customer â€“ and use your webstats to understand how people are finding you and how they are interacting within your site.
Simon from Attentio (Attention â€“ without the â€œnâ€ â€“ how fun!) presented about the impact of Social Media (websites, forums and Blogs such as Tripadvisor, Nooked etc.) on branding. Attentio offers a service that measures the â€œBuzzâ€ around brands within the social media space. This presentation has lead to a great “Blogologue” around how social media is truely the next level of online marketing – andÂ it is critical toÂ measure in order toÂ understand buyer behaviour.Â (Chick Definition:Blogologue – an onging discussion occuringÂ withinÂ Blogs).Â
The Internet is quickly evolving beyond search to include social networks like facebook or blog sites such as Travelpod as the steps consumers take through the buying cycle. Gone are the days that a banner Ad on a travel information site could seal the deal in closing a travel purchase. Consumers are now interacting with other â€œlikeâ€ consumers instead of simply reacting to pushed out marketing messages.
The lively discussions actually lead me to have a little bit of â€œBloggers Blockâ€ as I tried to determine how to summarize our latest Chick adventure. Quebec City was a whirlwind trip jam packed with interesting people and discussions â€“ I look forward to our next visit!
[tags]social media optimization,seo, sem, tourism marketing, online marketing, RSS, Blogs, Blogologue, search engine marketing, Attentio [/tags]Â