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Convention and Visitors Bureau Websites – They SHOULD Rank, so why DON’T They

When it comes to providing valuable information on local hotels, attractions, restaurants, and events; no one does it better than the local Convention and Visitors Bureau websites. However, as you’re probably aware, most people don’t start their search on these sites. Instead, they go straight to Google and do searches on “hotels in San Diego,"  “golf courses in Miami," and even “things to do in Austin." Unfortunately, what often ranks first in Google is NOT the official Convention and Visitors Bureau website for the city being searched. Instead, what ranks is an assortment of websites that want visitors to either book a hotel, purchase a golf package, or click on AdSense ads. Why Does this Happen?? Having worked with such a website in the past, I understand the confusion and pain Convention and Visitors Bureau site owners have in understanding why they don’t rank as high as they should. They often have the better content, but often have trouble ranking.  In most cases, the reasons are 1) lack of basic SEO elements utilized throughout the site and 2) stiff competition that has been around for a long time and is highly optimized. A Real-life Example Let’s take a closer look at a real-life example where a Convention and Visitors Bureau website is being outranked by other sites. The specific example is the Austin, TX site http://www.austintexas.org/ [1] and the term “things to do in Austin”. Here’s what ranks: [2] 1.    http://www.thingstodoinaustin.com [3] [4] 2.    http://www.austinwebpage.com/tourists.htm [7] [8] 3.    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g30196-Activities-Austin_Texas.html [10] [11] 4.    http://studentorgs.utexas.edu/acccf/section/nstudent/todo101.htm [12] [13] 5.    http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2741956-austin_things_to_do-i [14] [15] So where does the Austin, TX Convention and Visitors Bureau website http://www.austintexas.org/ [1] rank? They rank #10 [16] [17] They’re on the first page, but are the very last result on the page. Is this fair? It sure doesn’t seem fair…especially since the Austin, TX Convention and Visitors Bureau website has some amazing content and the sites that are beating them are either outdated or obviously using SEO tactics to get ad revenue for the term “things to do in Austin”. So what can the Austin, TX Convention and Visitors Bureau website (and other Convention and Visitors Bureau sites) do to improve their rankings? Here are some general things that a Convention and Visitors Bureau site can do to better optimize their website and improve their rankings for terms they should rightfully rank higher for: Optimize Website Structure/Content Surface Valuable Content Integrate Reviews/Ratings Leverage Relationships By doing these 4 things, a Convention and Visitors Bureau website will be able to better align their content with actual terms people search on, ensure the search engines can find and surface their content, and provide validation to their content through reviews/ratings and educational/government website backlinks.