Alexandria Tourism is a not-for-profit organization promoting the Alexandria, MN area with support from the local lodging providers. The same website had been in use for several years with decent interaction, but no growth and an unsustainable setup for making updates.
We sat down with the director to lay out a new design that would attract more search traffic, increase visitor engagement, and be much easier to update.
The old site didn't accurately represent the area well. The "cabin feel" only pertained to a few resorts. The new look needed to capture the lakes area as a whole.
The confusing structure of the old site was a problem for both visitors and search engines. It was tricky to find the right content and frustrated visitors would exit the site. For search engines, the content didn't have a consistent structure and duplicate content resulted in poor indexing.
The structure also caused problems when updates were needed. Some attractions had the same static content in four places throughout the site. This meant for every update, the administrator had to hunt for every iteration to change the same content multiple times.
We started with a goal of being able to represent the area for each season. The background image would feature the pristine lakes in the summer, beautiful leaves in the fall, and snow activities during the winter. The rotating theme gave the site a more lively feel while allowing us to keep the branding consistent.
To increase visitor engagement, we needed to dramatically simplify navigation. We had multiple discussions with Alexandria Tourism on the structure of content, category organization, and reducing the degree of separation between the visitor and resources.
One way we dramatically simplified the content was through the use of guides for each season. Each guide was combined dozens of pages into one easy to read page.
content management system
The biggest issue with the old site was the method of content management. Too much time was being spent on keeping details up to date instead of expanding the value of the content.
We restructured the site with custom post types for events, accommodations, and attractions. For each of these post types, we added intuitive custom fields for each entry and a custom content template.
On the backend, the administrator could now enter content much faster and edits would only have to be made in one place. On the frontend, all of the layouts now had a consistent feel. Plus, we could now pull entries from anywhere on the website to leverage the resources for categories, guides, and more.
search engine optimization
Search engines need an easy to understand website and targets for keywords in each search. The new structure removed duplicate content and provided an intuitive sitemap. Immediately Google, Bing, and Yahoo! started showing all pages higher in the right searches.
To optimize each page for specific keywords, we added in a plugin that gives real-time feedback to the author. This meant that an author unfamiliar with keyword optimization could draw in a lot of traffic from search engines.
total traffic up 151%
search traffic up 57%
pages/visit up 58%
"CYBERsprout has done a phenomenal job with our website for Explore Alexandria Tourism. They find out exactly what you want in a website and create a cutting edge design to represent your vision and execute your goals. Outstanding service to clients and are highly responsive to any questions, changes or troubleshooting. An outstanding resource in taking online development to the next level!"
~James Feist, Tourism Director