>So if I can trouble you to start again at the beginning - my content has been copied to dozens of websites, each containing copied content from dozens of other websites. My web traffic has dropped markedly since the end of 2015.
Ah yes, the travel industry. Like this site if we were discussing vacation rentals.
Those sites have an inherent weakness. They are lazy. Oh, and they are also pixel limited.
What do I mean? Check any listing. Any listing. What do you see? 150 words. or maybe 200. Pixel limited. No matter what the listing, there is a physical size limit. If reviews are allowed (and often they are encouraged), there is a limit on the word count of the review. Images? Restricted in physical size.
They are also lazy. Copy, copy, copy again again and again.
But so are the property owners themselves lazy. The property owner submit a near perfect copy of their own website to one of these travel sites. And that near perfect copy of their website listing on the travel site is then copied by others.
For starters, never give a 3rd party site your best work. If you have ever submitted your site to one of these travel sites, go back and change the copy. Don't make it crap, just don't make it a direct copy of your site. For example, if you have primitive tent camping and travel trailer hookups, maybe you only mention the TT hookups on the information you provide to other sites. This way you reserve mentions PTC for your site only.
BUT, you say, they copy your site. Sometimes yes, most of the time they are copying each other. it is easier and faster. BUT for those that manually copy your site, do them a favor and make each of your pages content rich. Notice the pixel limitations of the travel site I linked? Guess what, once your page is larger than their pixel limitations, they stop copying your content in full. Maybe they only copy the first 150 words. So why not have 800 on each page? Ooops, no more copying all of your page.... now they just copy the first two paragraphs.
And, like I mention, I suspect you have tried to enrich you site. I am willing to bet that you have pages of local attractions. Great for generating eyeballs. Horrible for booking customers. Too many peeps are chasing the information with queries like "information about famous river" instead of "booking campsite near famous river".
You want the "booking campsite near famous river" type queries. The rest of them are just traffic. Traffic that does you no good unless you can convert them.... and if they are not campers, you have 0 chance of ever converting them.
Does this mean you need to keyword stuff every page with "booking campsite near famous river" type words? NO. But each important page of the site should have a conversion focus. (Or be a pure support page, which has no reason to be indexed).
Speaking of indexing.... your about and contact pages have better be indexed. Footer business card (business name, physical address, geographic reference point if desirable and local telephone numbers) should be in the footer in text form and every page of the site. That way "campground" and "London" are found on every page. Yes, I know you are most likely not in London. Nor are they any campgrounds along the Thames River in London. Wanna bet next week this thread will rank well for campground on the Thames River in London ?
Actually I am pretty sure the thread will rank will for inexpensive campground along the Thames River in London near the London Eye because I mentioned the same twice, using sightly different keywords. If mention the same thing a 3rd time, then I am keyword stuffing.
Speaking of keyword stuffing. Don't do it. Too many people try. Or they list every possible location in the known world, Google is getting better and better knocking down sites that stuff keywords or location spam.
One more thing.... I have noticed a trend in the news industry of combining multiple stories on a single page. Not like a blog with click here to continue reading, but actual articles feeding into the next article. There is a reason for the same.... long tail keyword matching. So mentioning madame tussauds london wax museum with the London Eye, I have provided TWO possible keyword matches for this page. Add in a discussion about Shakespeare and this page might match well for many tourist destinations near the Tower of London that visitors from the United States might want to see during their 3 week vacation in London.
OH, BTW, I have mentioned London so many times that Google is going to declare this thread pure spam. Now take a look at your pages. Campground is mentioned how many times?
>But my, maybe naive view, is that the longer I can keep someone on the site the more likely they are to book, I wasn't trying to offer consideration of the effect of bounce rate on ranking
Hmmm. No. Something you haven't considered in keeping visitors on the site in trying to increase the bookings is that interested visitors might also just be interested in what the surrounding area has to offer and will never book with your campground. So the more content rich your site becomes, the more you discuss the neighboring scenic/historical/whatever attractions the more you are inclined to attract visitors who want to read up on the surround attractions. And the fewer the bookings relative to site traffic. In simple terms intentionally making your site sticky (fewer visitors hit only 1 page) is not going to increase the bookings.
In other words it is a balancing act. You want bookings. But in the process of making your site content richer, you will generate fewer bookings per visitor. This doesn't mean your bookings will go down. Quite the contrary. if you have 1 booking per 50 visitors now, you might have 1 booking per 200 visitors later, but your total visitors will increase from 500 to 5,000 with a corresponding number of bookings increasing from 10 to 25.