The fourth and final installment of our quarterly state tourism website traffic analysis for the 50 official state tourism offices was published today. The analysis was conducted by the TwoSix Digital team to benchmark and rank traffic to each tourism organization’s website. The analysis graded each state by total traffic, average monthly visits, the share of mobile vs. desktop and engagement factors like pages per visit, average visit duration and bounce rate. We continued this month to track inbound and outbound links, which gives us some perspective on where the visitors are coming from and where they are going after interacting with state tourism websites.
California Takes Back the Lead
The website volume traffic leader has changed for the fourth consecutive quarter. The fourth quarter was led by California, with an average monthly total of 968,190, followed by Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Michigan. All five of these states were also in the top 5 in Q3, but traffic numbers shifted around just slightly to put California at the top once again. In this quarter only 18% of the state tourism websites showed an increase in traffic over Q3. This indicates that a majority of the states ramp up their promotion and receive the most traffic during the traditional summer travel planning season. The average number of visits to all state tourism website was 537,014.
The average mobile traffic share remained at just about 64% from Q3 to Q4. However, we can confidently say that most sites are well over 70% in terms of mobile usage. And, it is a clear reminder to all tourism organizations that mobile optimization is still one of the most important parts of any online promotional campaign.
Pages Per Session
West Virginia takes the lead in most pages consumed per session with 3.38, which, on average is lower overall than Q3. West Virginia is followed by Tennessee, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Ohio, all hovering around 3.2. West Virginia also leads the pack in average visit duration for the quarter at an average of 3:28, followed closely by Wyoming, Maine, Alaska, and Connecticut.
West Virginia also leads the engagement category with an engagement score of 10. They are closely followed by Alaska, Wyoming, Tennessee, and Connecticut. This ranking was calculated by using a weighted scale based on the number of page visits, time on site and bounce rate. We then calculated the overall engagement rate on a scale from 1-10 and ranked the states from 1 to 50.
Incoming and Outgoing Sites
We continued to track the top incoming and outgoing websites in Q4. This quarter we focused on the categories of the websites that were top incoming and outgoing traffic sources. 78% of state tourism websites had at least one search engine among their incoming referral traffic. Of these search engines, Google undoubtedly led the way as the most used search engine to find tourism websites.
This again solidifies much of the published data that shows a majority of travel planning begins with a search.
For outgoing traffic, we also looked at the categories of the top outgoing traffic websites. We discovered that 28% of state tourism websites had at least half of their outgoing traffic directed to local tourism and hospitality partners (hotels, CVBs, etc.). While 48% of states had at least half of their traffic go to either tourism partners or recreation websites. The National Park Service led the way in the recreation category for outgoing traffic from state tourism websites.
Alaska was the only state to have 9 out of 10 of their outgoing referrals going to local tourism and hospitality partners.
We would like to remind you that this data is being provided via a third-party website analysis application called Similar Web. We would like to emphasize that we do realize these numbers will not be “apples to apples” in terms of overall website visits recorded through Google Analytics or other tracking software installed on an individual website. But, by collectively recording the aggregate data from an identical source utilizing the same methodologies, we can draw a very accurate analysis of the traffic.