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State Tourism Website Traffic Analysis | Q3 2019


Methodology

The third 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. 

Michigan Takes the Lead

The website volume traffic leader has changed for the third consecutive quarter.  The third quarter was led by Michigan, with an average monthly total of 849,506, followed by Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida, and California. In this quarter only 28% of the state tourism websites showed an increase in traffic over Q2.  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 716,294.   

Mobile Traffic

Mobile traffic decreased by 11% from Q2 to 64%.  There is no clear indication of why it has dipped, but the overall average for the last three quarters is 72%, which is in line with other industry data.  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

The state of Tennessee leads in pages consumed per session with just over 4, followed by Oklahoma, Delaware, Ohio, and Virginia – which are all hovering around the 3.5 pages per session range.  Oklahoma leads the pack with an average time on site of 3:01 followed by West Virginia, Delaware, South Dakota, and Wisconsin

Website Engagement

In terms of overall engagement, Delaware is at the top of the list followed by Alaska, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Tennessee.  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 Q3.  The leader for the top incoming site was Google at 70%, down slightly from 74% in Q2.  This again solidifies much of the published data that shows a majority of travel planning begins with a search.  The second most common referred traffic source for state tourism offices was TripAdvisor at a distant 12%.

The top two outgoing sites were Facebook and the National Park Service. Facebook was responsible for 40% of the downstream traffic – an increase of 8% over Q2 – and the National Park Service at 20%.  

Alaska and California lead the way with eight of their outgoing traffic links reaching travel, tourism and hospitality sites while Florida, Georgia, Hawaii and Michigan following with seven each. 

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State Tourism Website Traffic Analysis Infographic | Q3 2019

What Does Facebook Know About the Links You Share?

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Have you ever wanted to see how well links performed in the past on Facebook? Have you ever posted a link to Facebook and the picture is too small or the text is completely different? Facebook offers a great, free tool that lets you preview a link and tells you what the platforms knows about the link.

Read on to find out what Facebook knows about the links you share:

The Tool

Facebook Links Sharing Debugger

Facebook itself has written that “people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions”. This means that links are one of the most important ways you’re sharing content on Facebook, and, therefore, knowing exactly what Facebook knows about your link is crucial. Luckily, they provide a tool that lets you know exactly what they know about your link: the Sharing Debugger.

What the Tool Shows You

The Preview

Why Your Website Needs to Be Faster - Facebook Link Preview
Note: Feel free to click the pictures if you want to learn more about the topic.

It will show you exactly what the link will look like on desktop before you post it.

Likes, Shares, and Comments on Facebook

See Facebook Likes Comments Shares on Links - 10 Questions With Facebook Partner Manager Ramiro Sarabia

That’s right. Facebook tracks how many likes, shares, and comments every link gets and stores it for future reference. One of the many reasons you’ll find this tool is useful!

Other Info About Your Facebook Links

Facebook Links - URL, title, description, type, tags, site name, author, publisher, and locale - 5 Things Every Great Instagram Photo Needs

The Facebook Sharing Debugger will also pull the URL, title, description, type, tags, site name, author, publisher, and locale from the link, as well as the last time it was updated.

How it Works

The tool identifies information about a link in a very similar to the way that looking at someone’s driver’s license can tell you their age, eye color, and height. When you copy the URL into the Sharing Debugger, it will pull data. Instead of a card, Facebook, along with every other social media site, uses code included in websites called “OG Meta Tags”.

Driver's License Example

For instance, just like if you have brown eyes, your driver’s license might say “EYES BRN”, if the title of your blog is “How to Natively Schedule Posts on Instagram”, the code simply will say “og:title” and “How to Natively Schedule Posts on Instagram”.

Why is this Significant?

Facebook Links Picture too Small Example - 5 Things Every Great Instagram Photo Needs
In this case, the picture is too small.

On face value alone, the information the tool shows you is extremely valuable. You can adjust to make sure your link is set up for success and it allows you to see what picture will be used and how it will look. If you see that it has very little engagement in the past, it’s worth refreshing the photo, title, and description – and possibly the content, too!

How to Use this Information

Ensure the Information is Correct

Ensure the Information is Correct - Checklist

The first thing to do is ensure the information is correct. Ask yourself:

  • Is the picture what it should be?
  • Are both the “title” and “description” accurate?
  • Is the “type” appropriate?
    • If it’s a blog, make sure it says “article”.
  • Do the tags make sense?
    • For instance, if it’s a winter activities landing page, you want to make sure “summer fun” isn’t tagged.
  • Is the site name right?
  • Does the locale say “en_us”?
    • This means that it’s in English, and its country of origin is the United States.

Optimization

Optimizing or Fixing

The next step is optimizing the Facebook link. If the picture is too small or generic, swap it out! Make sure the title, or headline, is interesting and actionable. Next month, we’ll dive deeper into the subject of optimizing your links.

How to Change Your Preview

Talk to your webmaster about Facebook Links

The easiest way to change what your link preview looks like is to talk to your webmaster. However, you might be able to do it yourself, as most website platforms have “Featured Image”, “Title”, and other similar options in the editor.

Want to Do Some Coding?

However, if you’re able to add some code to the “header” section of a single page, Meta Tags is a tool that can be used to debug and generate the Open Graph code for any website. With Meta Tags, you can experiment and edit your content, then preview how your webpage will look on Google, Facebook, Twitter and other sites.


Conclusion

Link-type posts are the best way to drive traffic to your website from Facebook, and this tool gives you an insider look into the social media platform’s data so you can optimize your link for success. If you’re looking for new ways to stay updated on destination marketing, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter or follow us across social media at the links below! 

Why Your Website Needs to Be Faster

Mobile web traffic
Why your website needs to be faster

We expect rapid results in our everyday lives. Nowadays, we have practically unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips. Consequently, if your site doesn’t load fast enough on mobile, users will go somewhere else. It’s that simple. But how fast, is “fast enough”? Read on to learn why your website needs to be faster:

What Load Time Looks Like

We slowed down our website’s load time to give a sense of how long 10 seconds is on the internet. If you were scrolling on Facebook and clicked a link, how long would you wait for it to load?

Case Studies on Site Speed

It’s impossible to be engaged by content that you can’t see.

Why It Matters

Why Your Website Needs to Be Faster
Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed
Source: think with Google

At TwoSix Digital, we see tourism websites with at least 50% of web visits coming from mobile and, typically, it accounts for about 60-70% of traffic. This number is growing every year. This is why it’s imperative to ensure that your website is quick enough to keep users interested.

Above, you can watch that same video with drop-off statistics based on load times.

How to Test Your Site

how to test how fast your website is on mobile

Each web page on your website is different. Each has its own pictures, information, and features. A great way to see the load times of pages on your website is with Google Analytics’ site speed tool. Google also offers an easy “Test My Site” tool that analyzes different URLs and reports on mobile speed. If you want to see exactly where your page is slowing down, then check out WebPageTest,.

How Fast Should Your Website Be?

If a slow mobile experience drives customers away, a fast mobile experience can help attract and keep them.

think with Google

We recommend keeping your page load times to under 3 seconds, and try to have at least one thing visible on your screen, such as a menu or image within the 1st second.

How Do I Make My Website Faster?

why your website needs to be faster use lazy loading
An example of “Lazy Loading“, when images appear blurry at first.

The first step is to contact your developer and tell them your benchmarks – specifically for mobile. While desktop speed is important, mobile site speed is paramount. Compressing images and text, along with employing a technique called “lazy loading“, are good places to start. If you want to go a bit more in depth, check out these recommendations.


Today, site speed is one of the important aspects of a website, and comes into play before content is ever seen. Consequently, it will always affect how effective your digital marketing will be, and should be considered a priority. If you’re looking for new ways to stay updated on destination marketing, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter or follow us across social media at the links below! 

5 Basics of Google Analytics

If you constantly find your self wondering how to use Google Analytics (CA), you are not alone. Although Google Analytics has been around for several years now, there are still many marketers that feel overwhelmed even just opening the platform. It is a key tool in learning more about your website and audience and how you can ultimately reach your marketing goals.

In this blog we are going to go over the 5 basic measurements that will give you key insights to the overall effectiveness of your website.

To get started, go to www.google.com/analytics/ and sign in. Once you sign in, click the “audience” drop down menu on the far left and then click “overview.”

WHAT: “Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.”

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: The number of website visitors is a great indicator to the effectiveness of a CVB. It’s important to not only know how many people visit your website, but to also compare it year-over-year.


WHAT: “Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.”

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: This number provides a grand total of the number of pages that were viewed on your website within a certain time frame. This can be a much more impressive number to share, and can highlight an effective website for inspiration.


WHAT: How long people spend on your website.

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: The longer people stay on your site, the more likely they are to convert. If you are seeing session durations under 90 seconds, it’s time to make your site more engaging. 


WHAT: The average number of pages people visit on your website.

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: This metric helps determine if your website inspires people to click around, or leave from the homepage. We like to see websites with 3+ pages per session.


WHAT: Percentage of people who “bounce out” of your website.

HOW: Audience > Overview

WHY: High bounce rates can indicate a couple things:

1) Your content does not match the promise of what they hoped to find.

2) Your page took too long to load.

3) The content was unappealing (bad imagery, useless information, too much information, etc.)

4) The content was so useful that people did not linger on the page because they found what they needed. Keep these things in mind when evaluating a page with high bounce rates!

Note: Average session duration, pages per session and bounce rate: These metrics are also tracked for individual pages on your website. The majority of this data can be found on the left side bar under Behavior > Site Content.



Now that you’ve learned these basics of Google Analytics, continue your learning at the links below:

For more hot tips on digital marketing and tourism, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow us across social media at the links below!

How to Create an Effective Partner Listing


Partners are a large part of destination functionality, as they help build the destination experience. As a destination marketing organization, it’s important to provide informative, accessible and detailed partner pages on your website. This will not only help your consumer feel well-informed before they arrive but also during their visit when they’re looking for ways to experience your area. Here are the basic elements to help you create an effective digital tool for your visitors: 


1. Basic Information

Start it off simple by including all necessary, basic information that will aid visitors in learning about the partner: 

  • Name 
  • Address – be sure to include cities if you work with several different cities as one organization
  • Phone Number 
  • Hours 
  • The partner’s website 
  • The partner’s social media accounts 

2. About Section / Summary

Be sure to include a small summary of what type of attraction, hotel, restaurant it is. For example: is it a ‘family friendly’ or an adult bar-style type of restaurant? These small details will help your visitors learn about the partner without having to leave your site! Here are some examples of what to include in your summary: 

  • Hotel Amenities 
  • Type of cuisine 
  • Type of environment 
  • Ticket cost or entrance fee
  • Special dietary options on the menu

3. Maps and Directions

Knowing where to go and how to get there is key for visitors. By putting a clickable map on each partner page along and/or a “Get Directions” function that goes to a mapping website, you will give them the easiest access to your partners. Is the place hard to find? Is parking difficult? Including these helpful pieces of information in the partner listing will help your visitors find their way!


4. Media

Include high-quality images of the product in the partner listing. For example: 

      Hotels: Include images of rooms, the lobby, any accommodations or special amenities

      Restaurants: Include images of top food items, drinks and overall aesthetic

      Attraction: Include images of key elements of the attraction and any amenities


5. Related Content

Integrate any related blog content on the partner pages. This could include things like “Top 10 Places to Eat in Grand Rapids” on your restaurant pages or popular trip itineraries like “48 hours in Dallas” on attraction or hotel pages. This is a great way to get more traffic on your blog posts and to continue to give your visitors more tools to improve their visit! 


6. Reviews

Integrating reviews is a great way to keep a user on your website rather than heading to TripAdvisor or Yelp. Plus, it will help them better make the decision on where they want to eat, play or stay without having to leave your site. Check out this examples:


7. Your Visitor’s Guide, E-newsletter & Social Profiles

Finally, it’s essential to make sure to add important consumer content like your social media profiles, a link to subscribe to your e-newsletter and a link to download your destination guide somewhere on every partner page, such as in your footer. Including these on your partner page is a great way to give your visitors every possible resource to keep them informed. 


Effective partner pages are important destination-drivers, as they help build accessibility for your visitors. When you are putting together a partner page, always remember that your end goal should be to create an optimal digital space for your visitors to easily navigate and learn more about your partners. 


For more ways to stay up-to-date on the latest digital marketing & tourism trends, be sure to follow us across social media and subscribe to our newsletter


10 Things Your Tourism Website Needs

A destination’s website is usually one of the first search results returned when a potential visitor begins exploring options for their next vacation or getaway. It should be an all-encompassing representation of the destination’s brand. Websites with such large collections of information can sometimes overlook key features that can enhance the digital representation of the destination.


Here are 10 common things that we see missing from websites:

1. Social Media Profiles

One best practice is having your website linked to your social profiles. You should also be linking your social profiles back to your website! Often, websites have social icons, but they’re not positioned in a place that is readily visible to users. A best practice is to have the social icons at both the very top and very bottom of your site. Here is a great example:



2. Social Content

Another best practice is to share your social profile content on your website. It’s best to place them on multiple pages and locations within your website. It can be done through embeds of social media posts within your blog or article page content, a user-generated content feed to your home page, or by displaying your own social feeds directly on the site.

Multiple sites we have also integrated reviews into the listings to make it easy for consumers to gauge the quality of the destination’s accommodations, restaurants and attractions. See the example from Visit Oakland for what review integration looks like.

Here’s a great example of a User-Generated Content feed from Discover Kalamazoo:


3. Detailed Partner Listings

Partners like restaurants, taverns and attractions are an important amenity to potential visitors. To ensure users don’t leave your website when viewing activity options, these locations should be as detailed as possible and convenient to access.

These listings should include dynamic maps, turn-by-turn directions, and links to items like menus and special amenities. Of course, don’t forget contact information and also their social accounts! Not only do thorough listings keep users engaged, it can also improve your organic search marketing results.

Here is a great example of a detailed partner listing including review integration from Visit Oakland:


4. Listings Positioned with “best” at the top

While the detailed partner listing are an integral part of educating consumers on the destination’s amenities, strategic placement of these items is essential.

A best practice is featuring local hotspots and locations that are unique to the destination. It’s best to highlight the locations that provide a differential rather than list all of the generic locations categorized alphabetically.

Our suggestions to optimize the listings are: order by what you consider your best, sort by categories, or order them by reviews based on TripAdvisor or another review site. Look at the way Discover Lancaster County organizes their listings by some of their biggest impacters for inspiration.

Listings Website Optimizations


5. Niche Landing Pages & Itineraries

The bulk of the content featured on a website content should be centered around niche audiences and vertical content. Enhance this aspect by asking the following questions:

  • What makes your destination unique?
  • Do you have specific blogs/article pages centered around this differential?
  • Do you have landing pages that are centered around this activity?

Visitors like easy access to unique and niche travel product in a destination. By displaying detailed content on a vertical or interest driven page, it can help tell the story of a destination and provide inspiration to visit.

Here’s a great example from Traverse City Tourism. They are known for Cherry Blossoms and wine tasting, which are both prominently placed on their home page – along with itinerary suggestions.


6. CTAs: Above-the-Fold

Call to Actions (CTAs) are beneficial to a social media and website strategy. As consumers are using the website to plan their visit, leverage your CTA’s to garner additional consumer information.

Some CTA examples that we often see on websites include “Subscribe to our E-Newsletter”, “Plan Your Trip Today”, “Save Big in Minnesota “, “Check out our blog post.”.

Keep the CTA’s integrated throughout the page content and “above the fold” so that users can see them without scrolling.

A scroll map indicating how far the majority of users scroll when they open a website’s home page.

7. Site Optimization/SEO

Most trip planning begins at a search engine query and a few quick tips can help keep a site relevant in the search rankings.

The first step would be to ensure that the website has covered the basic fundamentals like having the appropriate title tags and descriptions along with uploading a current site map.

An additional item to fortify your listing results would be to include a schema mark up language. To find more on www.schema.org.

Finally, site security has recently grown in importance, make sure your site includes a SSL certification.


8. Site Search and Navigation

Websites will large amounts of content can create some challenges in the navigation and exploration process. In order to simplify this process for visitors, it’s important to integrate a dynamic search tool into the site.  It creates an ease of use and the ability for consumers to find things fast. The best place to position a search navigation tool is at the very top of the page.

Another way to create easy navigation for your users is with tile navigation.


9. Mobile Friendliness

The majority of web browsing happens on a mobile device, so making sure that the website is responsive and easy to navigate on mobile.

Even if a website is mobile friendly, it’s also imperative to optimize it to load quickly.  To check your load speed on mobile, check out this link or utilize this tool in Google Analytics.


10. Brand and Personalization Integration

Brand integration is the most important part of any website, so making sure that you are on-brand is imperative. The website should relay a visual message beyond just the written content! Make sure all of your logos are consistent and you add your brand colors and fonts to the site. Display your hashtag in a prominent location and make sure that the personality of your brand is shining through. Here are 15 more ways you can improve your website’s branding.


Conclusion

Websites are a fundamental component of every destination’s digital presence! Staying up-to-date on best practices for your site is a great way to make sure that you are doing everything needed to make a lasting impression.

To stay updated on the latest digital marketing trends, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!