Content strategy and SEO copywriting: Council parks

Highlight impacts

  • Over 40% year-on-year increase in site visitors
  • Dramatic reductions in customer complaints

The challenge

Essex Country Parks’ rangers, who maintained the Essex Country Parks website, felt it wasn’t ‘pulling its weight’. They had underused facilities such as meeting rooms and sports courts, and often received calls asking questions the website was meant to answer. They were receiving a lot of negative public feedback around car parking costs, and had worked hard to make the site address this – with little result.

My brief was to work only on developing content within the existing WordPress template.

Essex Country Parks 'About us' page

My response

I audited the site’s content, visiting every page and noting SEO, accessibility and usability problems. Some of my observations were:

  • SEO and accessibility techniques weren’t being used.
  • Parks were not adequately described.
  • The site lacked ‘social proof’, such as quotes from review websites.
  • Pictures and language was often perfunctory and uninspiring. Tone was frequently negative, especially when talking about car parking costs.
  • Organisation of information was confusing and unhelpful.

I used Google Analytics to seeing how users were getting to the website and travelling through its contents. I looked at what search terms brought traffic, and noted those that could work harder. I identified pages where users were leaving without having visited a target page – a good indication of where people were getting confused or frustrated.

I reviewed competitor and parallel websites, noting useful features and better ways to organise information.

I presented all this in a report to the head of the Digital Channels Programme, who was enthusiastic for me to go ahead.

I then set about enhancing the content. I researched each park online, finding blog posts, TripAdvisor reviews and inspiring photographs released under Creative Commons. I reviewed Google’s listings for each park and made sure it was accurate. I interviewed a ranger from each park to understand its features, what was exciting about it, typical visitors and anything they really wanted visitors to better understand. This was especially helpful in making sure target search terms were right.

Essex Country Parks park facilities detail screenshot

Presenting the revised content to the park rangers and their supervisors, I summarised the new features:

  • inspiring, licensed photos of each park illustrating its appearance and facilities
  • social proof by way of quotes from TripAdvisor reviews and bloggers
  • full, SEO-optimised, well-organised descriptions of each park
  • SEO meta titles and descriptions, Google Maps listing updates
  • parking costs detailed on individual park pages and their purpose explained, rather than on a central page, which had previously been a major exit point.

Essex Country Parks - Great Notley park example copywriting screenshot

The results

Rangers were delighted with the new content and gave useful feedback as I implemented it. Launching shortly before a long weekend, site visits jumped some 40% on the previous year, and have stayed up since.

In the months that followed, Rangers remarked they were spending less time answering phones and dealing with complaints about car parking costs. Event and park attendance was up. Rangers became proactive in managing their site and serving its audience, reviewing and discussing their Google Analytics trends monthly, providing frequent news, new photographs and adding other useful content.

I’m glad this project succeeded in getting more people to visit these lovely parks, and freed Rangers’ time to do vital conservation and education work. We couldn’t have hoped for better results.

Use my services

If you’re looking for some inspiring SEO copywriting or content strategy for a public service or outdoor experience, I’d love to do something like this again. Please get in touch for a free quote.

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