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Building a Tourist Community Website With WordPress: Content Rules

By Amir Helzer of ICanLocalize

The responses previous article, Developing a Tourist Community Site with WordPress here on about Baripedia showed me that we’re not alone. It’s great to see that others are using WordPress to build tourist community websites. Thanks to everyone who commented, and special thanks to those who came over to the Baripedia site and shared their own thoughts and expertise.

bariloche hiking among the waterfalls in argentinaAs you know, I’m trying to develop a new community tourist site for the small vacation town of Bariloche, Argentina, my home. This isn’t an ordinary tourist site, nor tourist community. Positioned in the foothills of the Andes Mountains and surrounded with numerous lakes, tourists come year around for the beauty, peace, water sports, hiking, climbing, and skiing. My goal is to help the various tourist businesses and activities work together to promote themselves on this blog. This means making some serious administrative and design decisions to keep all of these businesses happy.

You’ve been so helpful with your comments and input with this series, I’m eager to hear more.

Here’s a quick reminder of the main points I wanted to discuss as part of this series, and some of the things you commented about, helping me figure out how to build our tourist community blog:

  • Who will write and manage the contents?
  • How to drive visitors to the site.
  • What design issues to consider for navigation, menus, etc.
  • What features and services to offer via the blog to help visitors learn more and want to visit my tourist community.

Content is King, Even on Tourist Blogs

After much internal debate and input from you, I’ve totally revised our original plans, starting with the content.

I’ve decided that all contents for Baripedia will be written by a professional journalist and the process is underway right now. It turns out that the slowing economic environment had created a great opportunity for hiring affordable talented people who were out of reach a couple of months ago.

Melissa, our new content manager will be responsible for writing all new content and edit contributed articles as they come in. In so doing, Baripedia will be a single WordPress site, not a collection of multiple independent mini-sites using . This was one of our hardest decisions to make, and one that I caution you to really investigate thoroughly before deciding.

For local businesses, they didn’t have time nor expertise to write blog content nor support a blog. They also don’t have the technical expertise to develop one of their own, the reason I wanted to create this community tourist blog in the first place. These aren’t writing or editorial experts. They work long hours on their tourist businesses, giving their customers the best experience possible during their stay in Bariloche. Adding another task, especially one they are unfamiliar with, just isn’t appropriate. They will learn the benefits of blogging and social media in time, but they need the proof. Part of building this tourist community website is to help them learn.

This decision addressed the most critical issue we had to deal with: attracting visitors. Our plan is to use the next few months to build the content on our blog, using search terms and keywords as well as worthwhile information and content that people want to know when planning their vacations to our area.

We’ll be writing about tourist attractions, activities and provide useful tourist information. I want Baripedia to be our own online “tourist information” center for the city of Bariloche.

Currently, we have scheduled ourselves to publish an article a day so we’ll have most tourist attractions covered by the summer in January 2009. That’s a huge undertaking, but we’re up to the challenge.

Technical Issues That Still Confront Us

Now that we have a handle on the execution of the site, running under a single WordPress full version, and how and what content needs to be developed on the site, it’s time to look at the rest of the technical issues that still confront us in our challenge to setup our community tourist site.

This means we still need your help and input.

The tourist community sites I’ve look at seem great, however, since they were all built using the same platform, they share some common limitations.

For instance, I searched Google for “The west coast of Rhodes” to see what came up as an example of my competition in that part of the world’s tourist business. The first result I got is Discover Rhodes – The West Coast of Rhodes. Yes, I did search for that specific keyword phrase, and it’s the top of the list, so it’s the right result – or is it? Is it a really good example of a tourist website that my site should follow? Maybe, maybe not.

As I explore our competition, I’m learning a lot about how tourist sites work, and don’t work. In my next article, I’ll dig deeper into some of the lessons I’m learning about tourist sites, and how we are working, with your help and input, to make Baripedia even better for our community.

By Amir Helzer of ICanLocalize and Baripedia
Helzer is the founder of ICanLocalize, a human translation service for websites and publishers, developer of Baripedia, a community tourist website and WordPress blog for Bariloche, Argentina, and a web developer.

Articles in the Building a Tourist Community Website with WordPress Series

7 Comments

  1. Posted December 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, marketing will forever be king. Content can be so-so and still work.

    • Posted December 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Marketing will always be important, but we’re talking about the building of a website here, one with original content that helps readers and searchers. I support Amir’s belief, as well as the belief of many, that writing good content can make or break a website or blog. It’s the old “you can lead a horse to water” bit, but it works. :D

  2. Posted December 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    [offtopic] I love dict.leo.org -now I understand your figure of speech … *you can lead a horse…*[/offtopic]

    Yes content is king! And good content is the best marketing for a website. Give the user what he would like to *find*.

    good luck with the project

    Monika

  3. Posted December 19, 2008 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    We’ve been building a rich content “vacation guide” site for Puerto Rico over the past 22 months. Our traffic results are not _great_, but I’m happy with them. It’s further proof that good, original content … and this part is key … that answers questions and is helpful … will drive a site.

  4. Posted December 20, 2008 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    We’ve been building travel related sites from 1995 and I can tell you that this web niche is extremely competitive. Check the Google index and you can see that it is oversaturated by sites that are using the right SEO recipe but offer no actual or pertinent content at all, they’re just trying to sell bookings. For me, a travel site with focused on a certain location (like the island of Rhodes in our case), has more probabilities to offer really useful content when compared to a mega travel/accommodation site. But unfortunately search engines doesn’t think so. For them sites like Tripadvisor.com or Expedia.com have more authority and are getting a better exposure, no matter the keyword. So, at some point, you’ll have to come into terms with this fact and will try get a better position in the search engines. Fortunately, WP with the help of some plugins and some careful planning can assist you in this task, helping your site to gain some popularity. So, to be honest, no, content is not king but if you manage to attract visitors into your site then the content will play key role into keeping their interest high.

  5. Posted December 21, 2008 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Hi nikos,

    What kind of promotional activities have you done to make discover-rhodes more popular?

    I’ve got a shareware business that’s doing pretty well. It’s a tiny site, but still manages to stay on the front page of Google for the keywords I need (which are quite competitive). Here are the things I’ve done for it:
    * Regularly, come out with press releases. Some appear in print magazines and some online.
    * Build working relationships with other small businesses and offer complementary services. Naturally, this includes links back and forth, but the links are not the main point.
    * Offer free stuff that people love to link to.
    * Appear in related listings.
    * Contribute articles to other sites.
    * Run an active newsletter and remind people that I still exist.

    All these activities can be applied to any business. I also think that small tourist community sites can cooperate to build a ring. The same people who visit Rhodes might be interested in trips to South America, and vice-versa. A ring of several dozens of tourist related sites, in different parts of the world stands a much better chance of competing with experida than any single one by itself.

  6. Posted January 16, 2009 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Promoting a travel site for a Greek tourist destination is a very difficult task. As I said previously, there is a great keyword competition and if you use AdWorks the keyword costs are very high. For us, Discover-Rhodes.com is more of an experiment to see where we can get with WP and some plugins. Of course you need a lot of qualified and, mind you, low cost content which in our case came from other sites we own and/or manage. The web ring you refer is an old idea. I think a web site like 9rules.com only for selected travel web sites or blogs would be a better solution. Anyway, I’m open to suggestions.


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  1. [...] Building a Tourist Community Website With WordPress: Content Rules, I described how our new tourist community website, Baripedia, has made the decision to hire a [...]

  2. […] your guidance, you helped me determine which WordPress version and setup to use and how to manage the content on the site, understand better how navigation and usability, the visitor’s experience, is most important […]

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