Hi Dave -
I, too, feel your pain. You've obviously put in a lot of time and work on your site, and I can imagine it's incredibly frustrating to not see the results you'd like at this stage.
I just took a look at 5 or 6 pages on your site. Here are my thoughts for whatever they're worth:
1. I'm afraid that with your choice of niche, you've bitten off much more than you could ever chew.
A travel site about a country that has 25 distinct regions covering a geographic area of over 100,000+ square miles? Yikes!
I have enough of a challenge providing in-depth
coverage of Cape Cod - a small (relatively speaking) peninsula that has 15 towns and a total area of only 300+ square miles. I can't imagine tackling my entire state, let alone a whole country!
Have you given any consideration to narrowing your niche?
2. I do see "you" in some places - but not others.
For example: On your Top 5 Adventure Activities page ...
I loved reading about your bungee jumping adventure. Your description of your own experience
really brought it to life for me. Of course, I still wouldn't do it - I don't have the nerve to jump!
For other adventures, though, (e.g., skydiving), it seems as though you're writing about other people's experiences - not your own. Your descriptions are beautifully written, but they're lacking the "you" factor that Jacki mentioned.
It's that "been-there-done-that" element that your site visitors are looking for. That's what will differentiate your site from TripAdvisor, Frommers, etc. More importantly, from a search engine and SERP results perspective, it's that unique personal experience
-based content that adds value to the web. That's what Google wants.
Again, this brings me back to my concerns about the breadth of your niche. Can you really give your site visitors a personal
"been-there-done-that" viewpoint about activities, attractions, lodgings, etc. for an entire country???
If not, then you're left trying to compete with TripAdvisor, Frommers, etc. ... and that's a thankless task. If you don't provide more/better/different info than they provide, the big guys will out-rank you in the search results every time. (Don't ask how long it took me to learn that
lesson the hard way.
3. I also wonder whether your choice of keywords is hindering your progress with the search engines in some cases.
Of the pages I looked at on your site, two examples jumped out at me:
1. "new zealand regions" is currently showing demand 104 / supply 1498
It could be that this time of year is not New Zealand's tourism season, so demand is showing significantly less in the off-season than it would during your prime tourism season. Otherwise, those numbers seem way off for generating traffic.
In my case, the biggest issue for people planning their first-ever visit to Cape Cod is deciding which town to choose as their home base and which town(s) to visit in their limited time here. They know absolutely nothing about the area, so they're looking for someone to give them the inside scoop about each town.
I'd imagine the same would be true for first-timers to New Zealand. If that's so, then your regions T2 and its related T3s should bring you a ton of traffic.
If you're determined to cover the entire country of New Zealand (
) on your site, then I'd recommend you do some research to find out whether the "which region(s)" question is as critical to New Zealand first-timers as the "which town(s)" question is to Cape Cod first-timers. Go to the big travel forums (TA, Frommers, Lonely Planet, etc.,), look at the New Zealand forum, and see how often people ask a "which region"-related question.
If you find that it is
a hot topic, then find the best T2 and T3 keywords you can, and laser focus on writing the most informative, value-added pages you can about each region - from your own "been-there-done-that" experience. Then promote those pages on social, on your site, and every other way you can think of.
Also, consider using C2 or FB commenting on those pages to allow people to ask you questions about each region.
If your research shows that "regions" is not as hot a topic as I'm guessing it should be, then see what the most-asked questions are, and do the steps above (brainstorming, content writing, promoting, C2/FB) for those topics.
If you write about what people are most interested in learning about, do it well with a ton of "you" in your content, and promote the heck out of the pages, that should help get your traffic rolling.
2. "inter island ferry" is currently showing demand 91 / supply 44.
I'm wondering if you might have gone a little too generic with this keyword. I just did a quick "incognito" Google search for this term, and I found that the top servh results were for inter-island ferries in Alaska, Cape Cod, the US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii.
I also did a quick BI and saw that the keyword "ferry new zealand" has demand 144 and supply 41. If I were looking for info about New Zealand ferries, I'd use a NZ-specific search term like this - not a generic one that would apply to all inter-island ferries around the world.
Again assuming that it's now off-season for NZ tourism, and that the demand for most/all NZ travel-related keywords will be better in high season, then I'd expect the keyword "ferry new zealand" would be pretty easily winnable with a well-written, content-rich webpage. It's certainly worth a try, IMHO. This could be one of those "low hanging fruit" keywords that brings in a bunch of traffic.
As I said at the start of this ramble, these are just my thoughts for whatever they're worth. I hope something I've said is helpful for you.
And last but not least, I'll echo what the others have said. Consulting with a Pro is the best idea in a situation like this. I'd urge you to do it. You'll be glad you did, I'm sure!