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When Georgia Goodall moved to Normanton a year ago, she knew there was a shop and a big crocodile statue in the main street. That was all that came up in the top search engine hits for the town.

She said it was not until arriving and making local friends that she realised there was fishing, four-wheel driving, plenty of camping spots, and a lot more on offer than the crocodile photo opportunity.

“I arrived 12 months ago, I drove my little Mazda 2 from the Gold Coast to Normanton,” Ms Goodall laughed, recounting the 2,122-kilometre journey.

“When you google Normanton … you’ll find that the only thing you see is a huge crocodile in the main street, and the [grocery] store.

“It fails to mention that there’s a gym, a bowling club, tennis courts, footy fields, gold, the rodeo, numerous fishing locations, and heaps of camping locations.”

While a quick search of Normanton now also shows attractions in nearby Karumba, including the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre, Ms Goodall said she believed the top online hits for Normanton could be a lot more enticing.

Ms Goodall loves the region, has met her partner there, and has no plans to leave.

But she said for regions to attract more skilled professionals, like herself, they needed to step up their online presence and have their region’s highlights showing in the top five search results for the town’s name.

Search engine optimisation

To appear high in search engine results, backend operators of websites must have a good understanding and be effectively using an online tool referred to as SEO — search engine optimisation.

SEO is what draws traffic to a website, news article, or blog post, and are set by the person either writing the content, or the webpage designer.

As an example, an outback town named Jonesville might use SEO keywords such as Jonesville, outback, tourism, to do, or attractions. So if someone typed into a search engine “Jonesville to do” the page would be more likely to appear in the top search results.

The most valuable outcome from successfully using SEO is the organic (free) traffic that can be gained from being higher on a search result list.

SEO can be complex and take a lot of time to get right, but the benefits cannot be understated.

Tourism and SEO

Mr Gschwind said this year SEO-specific workshops will be made available to councils and operators to ensure they are effectively promoting the best aspects of their regions.

“As service providers in the tourism industry, we have to be savvy … and connect to our visitors in a way we never had the opportunity to do before,” he said.

“Upskilling is a challenge for all of us. The QTIC has last year, this year, and will next year implement the Government-funded upskilling program, a capability program, that covers some of these topics.

“We have literally hundreds of workshops that have gone on and will go on to give opportunities to operators right across the state to upskill themselves.”

While Mr Gschwind said he had no data available, he said it made “all the difference” to appear high in search engine results.

Post Author: Kelly Butterworth

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