SEO for Place Marketing: How Is Your Website Ranking?

Explore tips for improving your organization's search engine presence, review a sample of popular key terms for place marketing by focus area and receive a complimentary report of your website's current keywords and rankings.

How is Your Website Ranking on Search Engines?

Every day, travelers, investors and talent turn to search engines for information to guide them through booking and location decisions.

When your target audience searches for information about things to do, quality of life or business data in your region, does your organization’s content show up? If not, you’re missing out on an opportunity to share key messages with highly valuable users. This also means your destination’s narrative is in the hands of the internet – for better or worse.

Ready to have a stronger share of voice across online search results? Below are three high level steps to help your DMO, EDO or IPA analyze, strategize and optimize towards appearing on search engines for important keywords.

Step 1: Identify Currently Ranking Keywords

Not sure how your website is ranking on search engines? You’re in luck.

In partnership with Vetrano Digital Marketing, readers of The Place Brand Observer are eligible to receive a complimentary list of current keywords and ranking positions for their websites.

To receive your keyword list, simply click the button below to send an email request to Vetrano Digital Marketing. Be sure to include your name, organization name and the URL you’d like to evaluate.

Step 2: Analyze Your Content Gaps

After you have a list of your current rankings, the next step is to evaluate your strengths, content gaps and areas of opportunity.

As you review your keyword list, evaluate if you are appearing in one of the top 3 spots for your organization’s brand name. Also check if your site is appearing for the name of your region or destination, though this term is likely more competitive, so may be less likely to appear in your top rankings.

In addition to your place and organization brand name, you should also be owning a portion of the search engine results page for keywords related to topics that are important in place decisions.

Exact keywords vary depending on your organization’s goals and audience. It can be helpful to create a list of the content themes you want to rank for. Looking at the main topics of your website pages can be a good place to start.

To help with your brainstorming, below are a couple of popular keyword search themes, broken down by focus area:


  • Things to do in [destination]
  • [country] travel itineraries
  • Best places to visit in [larger region]
  • Top attraction in [city]
  • Where to stay in [destination]
  • Hotels near [attraction]

Investment Promotion & Economic Development

  • Major industries in [region]
  • Tech companies in [city]
  • [Region] demographics
  • Largest employers in [location]
  • Corporate taxes in [city]
  • Manufacturing in [region]

Talent Attraction:

  • Living in [city]
  • Moving to [region]
  • Best places to live in [larger state]
  • Jobs in [city]
  • Top companies in [city]
  • Best neighborhoods in [city]

Step 3: Create a Strategy to Appear for Important Keywords

Once you have a firm understanding of your current positions and content gaps, you can focus on building strategies to improve rankings and drive intent-driven traffic to your website.

For most organizations, deploying a mix of SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search is the most effective way to reach and engage key audiences. Search engine optimization involves a process of tweaking your existing content, optimizing some technical elements of your website and creating new pages or blogs to rank for the keywords you want to target.

SEO is very valuable and can be high yielding over time, but it is important to know that changes can take 3-4 months to be fully recognized and implemented by Google. And even then there are elements, particularly on the technical side, that take consistent effort to produce steady growth over time. Much like place marketing itself, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

Paid search is a quicker and effective way to appear at the top of search engine results page for important, high value keywords and can be customized for any budget. Targeting parameters will allow you to focus your bidding on specific audiences, geographies and exact match keywords to maximize your return on investment.

In addition to boosting your content to the top of search results, paid search also works hand-in-hand with SEO efforts, as driving highly engaged traffic to pages will help Google see that the page is valuable to users which can help it rank better organically over time.

Ready to Dive In?

Whether you are just getting started with search engine marketing or you lead a team of seasoned pros working toward results, it is always a good idea to do a high level assessment and evaluate new opportunities for growth.

Conducting bi-annual or quarterly pulse checks on your digital presence is a great way to keep driving improvement and moving the needle toward your high level place marketing KPIs.

Brianna Vetrano

Digital Marketing Consultant, Vetrano Digital Marketing

Brianna specializes in SEO, paid media and digital analytics for the place marketing industry. Over the last decade, she has helped more than 70 place marketing, tourism and hospitality organizations drive meaningful KPIs through strategic, data-focused digital marketing. Connect with Brianna on LinkedIn and learn more at