How can your boat rental business increase bookings by using Google Ads

google ads boat charter 4

For those who are new to the concept of search marketing, Google Ads is an advertising service offered by Google to businesses that want to run ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) and its advertising network. When you perform an online search, Google Ads are the top ads that you see under the line “Sponsored Links” located on the right-hand corner or on top of the Google search results.

google ads boat charter 2

Boat rental operators can craft ads by targeting keywords that people would likely use when searching online. Whenever a keyword is used for an online query (e.g. “boat rental” or “boat hire”), it will prompt your ad to be shown. Some business owners prefer ad scheduling which only shows their ad on certain days or business hours when they are more equipped to handle customer inquiries. Negative keywords can also be used to prevent ads from being shown to people who are not ready to book. Examples of negative keywords are “compare”, “reviews”, “news”, “jobs”,  and similar words that suggest that a user isn’t ready to purchase yet.

How can Google Ads help your rental business

For a small business like a charter boat company, Pay-per-click (PPC) ads that appear in Google search results pages can help drive traffic to its website which can potentially convert into customers.

Below are several advantages of using PPC ads for your boat rental company:

1. Reach users who are actually interested in your service

Choosing the right keywords and budget can propel you to the top of the results page. Properly targeted keywords such as “rent a boat online”, “hire a boat near me”, or “boat charter for rent” can make your ads appear on the screen of potential customers at the very moment that they are looking for a boat rental service.

You can even build authenticity and trust in the industry which can generate higher leads and traffic to your website through Google Ads. According to recent studies, most web visitors believe that the initial list of websites that appear on the top portion of the search result page are bona fide businesses that are safe to engage. 

2. Target searches based on your location

google ads boat charter 3

In most cases, search results outside of your area will not do you any good. Google Ads, however, allows you to target your searches based on geography which increases your chances of connecting with potential clients near you. For instance, if you’re a boat charter operator in the Malaga region of Spain, you can adjust your ad to only be shown to people located in Malaga and nearby municipalities like Fuengirola and Marbella.

3. Send a potential customer to your chosen page

When your website appears on search engine results, you usually have little control on which of your webpage will appear. Google Ads, on the other hand, gives you control which page the user will land. You can use your homepage as the landing page but it is highly recommended to use a custom page whose purpose is just to get a boat rental reservation. An ideal landing page contains vital information such as the type of boat, its specifications, fishing equipment onboard, along with pricing, and photos. Website navigation should be removed so that the user will only have two choices, either make a booking or exit the page. This increases the odds of getting a reservation whereas a page with navigation can result in a user getting lost in other pages and losing interest.

4. Monitor results with ease

It is hard to determine the effectiveness of old fashioned ads like print, radio, or television ads as there’s no way to track which channel your sales came from. But that is easy with Google Ads – you can even monitor important metrics such as:

google ads boat charter 1

Quality Score – the measurement of how relevant your advertisements, keywords and landing pages are to the person looking at your ad. Higher quality score often leads to cheaper ads

Click Through Rate – the ratio of the number of people who view your ad in connection with the number of individuals who actually click on it

Conversion Rate – how often a click on your ad translates to a booking

5. Get results quickly

Another major advantage of PPC advertising compared to other marketing channels approaches is the amount of time to see the results of your efforts. You may have to wait several months to see the impact of SEO on a website while a PPC campaign can increase the number of bookings overnight.

How much does Google Ads cost

There’s no exact fee for Google Ads since the cost depends on many variables and it operates on an auction or bidding model. You can control costs, however, by allocating a daily budget and pay only when a user clicks the ad. Cost also depends on the keywords you use. For example, the keyword “boat rental los angeles” is quite popular because it has 1000 people using it in search queries every month and each click can range from $1 to $4. Rule of thumb is the higher the monthly search queries, the higher the bids. Cost per click is also influenced by geography and the device (desktop or mobile) the ads are shown.

What are other advantages and disadvantages

Did you know that you can “steal” traffic from your competitors?  If you search for a specific boat rental company in let’s say Mexico, you’re bound to get a few ads of their competing. The reason behind this is that some boat charters take advantage of the popularity of leading boat charters in their area.  Call it an aggressive online marketing strategy and it may work for some. However, tapping into the stream of traffic meant for your competitors may be more expensive as it may spark a bidding war between you and your rivals.

Sometimes a boat rental website may not rank on Google for any related search terms.  Google Ads can help a boat operator with this kind of predicament by bringing traffic to their website immediately. A well-run campaign is an excellent way to temporarily amass users while the website is being optimized for SEO or while other sources of traffic are being built such as email marketing, social media ads, and others.

If you need professional help in starting an ad campaign, Captain Panel offers digital marketing and SEO services. Please contact us to learn more about services.

Smart SEO Strategies for Diving Centers

seo diving center

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral component of a strong, solid marketing plan, not just for mid-size and large business institutions but also for small businesses like dive centers. In a nutshell, implementing the right blend of SEO strategy can bring a scuba diving center more qualified customers, improve business visibility, yield higher Return on Investment (ROI), boost credibility, and give insight into customer behavior.

An effective SEO strategy may be summed up into four key points.

1. Optimize your website for actual users and not only for search engines.

Digital user experience

Before delving into SEO, the company should first put emphasis on digital user experience which can deliver higher satisfaction for your target customers and eventually supplement your SEO strategy.

Think of it this way, your website is just like your home. If you plan to invite visitors, you would want them to feel welcome the moment they step through the door until it’s time to say goodbye. Preparing for houseguests involves making your home spotlessly clean, removing unwanted odors, and organizing the rooms to make your visitors’ stay comfortable and enjoyable.

diving website

This concept is also applicable to a diving center. Establishing a good first impression on your visitors can inspire them to stay, check out your website, and eventually convert to customers. Begin by presenting a visually appealing and functional website which is easy to use, loads fast, and simple to navigate. The visitor should have relative ease making his/her way around the website otherwise, a user is likely to abandon his/her browsing activity if it takes too much effort to go through various web pages before finding the information that he/she needs. The website should have well-constructed pages that are easy to comprehend and contain relevant content that can drive the individual to find out more about your services.

Enhancing your website for users is just the tip of the iceberg because search engines don’t see a webpage the same way as people do. This is where SEO strategy comes in starting with optimizing content with keywords.

Target market identification

Sometimes in our desire to create websites with the perfect keywords, we tend to neglect the fact that we are creating pages for people and not solely for search engines.  The goal to rank high and drive traffic may not matter as much if the users do not like the actual website.

Given this premise, identifying who your site visitors are is a crucial step. It’s difficult to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time if you don’t know who you are aiming it for. Ask yourself, who are the most likely to avail of your services? Dig deeper by considering factors such as age, gender, marital status, buying power, geographical location, etc.

The most active visitors of a diving center website are usually amateur divers, professional divers, and folks who want to learn scuba diving. The site may also get a share of other visitors who likely love to travel, sports, or lead an active lifestyle. On average, dive center demographics are usually male age 20 to 35 years old. By knowing more about your customers, you can structure your page copies to appeal to their wants and needs.

Keyword research and optimization

After identifying your target market, the next step is to determine what your users are looking for. Visitors of a dive center website generally want to find out about the courses being offered, duration, requirements, dive locations, and corresponding fees.

keyword planner

It’s best to perform keyword research before writing the content by creating a list of keywords that you should target. You can generate a more in-depth list by adding keyword categories appropriate for your intended audience. Take note that targeting the same keywords utilized by leading competitors in the market might not give you the edge that you are looking for since they are considered more established and have a wider customer base. To come up with a more effective content marketing strategy, SEO specialists recommend performing extensive keyword research. The Google’s Keyword Planner is a good tool which can help produce a list of strong keywords; enable one to spot gaps in the market that can strengthen your web pages, and determine the relevance of these words in both national and local areas. Another helpful SEO tool is the Google Search Console, a free tool that also tells you what keywords were used if a user.

Content organization

Once you’ve laid out the groundwork for effective keywords, you can begin the task of writing engaging content for your diving website. Inject keywords naturally for a smooth flowing content, rather than carelessly stuffing them to avoid getting flagged by search engines.

Your site’s content should be arranged in a logical manner, not just for SEO purposes but also to give site users relative ease in finding the information that they need. For instance, it is rational to arrange your dive courses based on the level of learning starting from beginner courses and down to advanced diving courses.

2. Take advantage of online directories as they give a free link and can help with referral visits.

When you already have the content which is the body and soul of your website, then it’s time to focus on promoting them. This refers to the efforts of increasing visibility to your new content starting by building links to your website and a good way to jumpstart this is by joining online directories.

If you were born in an era when people used to flip through thick Yellow Pages to look for a particular company, then think of online directories as a digital version of that and more. With the influx of technology, those thick book-form directories have become outdated and replaced by online data.

google maps

Listing your diving center in online directories do not only provide advertising for your business, but it also presents opportunities to build your image. Boost your online presence by providing the accurate address, email, contact numbers, description of your business, website link, photos, and even videos. Below are some recommended online directories (arranged in no particular order):

  • Google Maps
  • Bing Places
  • Yahoo Local Listing
  • Foursquare
  • Hotfrog
  • Yellow Pages
  • White Pages
  • Manta
  • Yellow Bot
  • Four Square
  • TripAdvisor
  • Find Divers
  • Divers Directory Worldwide
  • Dive Site Directory

You might be surprised if you search for your business name online and discover that your business shows up in other directories that you didn’t sign up for. The reason behind this is that other business directories create their own listings by pulling from larger directories. Although this can amplify your presence on the Internet, it’s advisable to check these unsolicited listings to ensure that the information provided is correct.

Many online directories allow their users to make specific searches such as industry, product, service, and location. That’s why it’s important to provide detailed and accurate information about your diving center so that the directory can connect your business to potential customers, even if they don’t specifically type your business name.

Adding your dive center in online business listings is also a great way to support and further validate your business. The exposure can increase brand awareness and win the trust and reliability of customers.

3. Use social media to its full potential.

Social media has evolved into a powerful tool that businesses use to get the word out about their company, products, and services; not just on a local field but on a global scale. The best thing about it is that it’s often free and it can be done in real time.

Modern-day consumers rely on social media to know what’s hot and relevant and what’s not. They also check social media to gauge a company’s viability. A dive center can capitalize on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to strategically build awareness about their company and grow their customer base.

Facebook – With a whopping two billion plus active users, Facebook is considered today’s leading social media platform. It makes it a top choice for many businesses today that are looking for ways to extend their online reach. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Create a Facebook Business Page for your diving center reflecting the name of your business. It’s recommended to use your business logo as the primary photo for your Facebook page and select a captivating cover image (example: an underwater shot of one of your top diving destinations). Fill out the “About” section with basic information, brief company background, and milestones of the company.
  2. Connect your website to your Facebook page and vice versa. Add a Facebook button on your website so that visitors can easily click the button to visit your page. Also, add the link of your website under the “About” section of your Facebook page so that social media browsers can be directed to your online site.
  3. Post relevant content that your target audience will be interested in. Keep your followers engaged by regularly posting updates, photos, and videos of your diving courses and trips. You can also announce promotions and upcoming diving lessons, activities or trips on your page. Remember to make your content interesting enough to inspire your followers/visitors to share it.
  4. Communicate with your followers on Facebook. Acknowledge individuals who comment on your page and respond to questions promptly. Take note that small businesses like a diving center benefit from personal interaction.
  5. Add a call to action links like “Book now” on top of your page. This Facebook feature can help your diving center drive leads to enroll in your diving course or join your diving trip.

Instagram – Since it’s launch in 2010, Instagram (IG) has reached 800 million users in 2017 and its community is still growing. This is why business organizations consider this photo and video sharing app as an effective marketing tool in today’s modern world. Here’s a simple guide on how to use IG to promote your diving center.

  1. Set up an Instagram Account. Choose an IG name that’s the same as your business name and your logo as your IG profile photo. Set up a free business profile by putting a short description of your diving center, address, contact numbers, and website link.
  2. Start posting! Once you have your account then you’re all set to go. Start posting great photos of your diving courses and trips that your targeted audience will find interesting. Make it a point to tag the location of your photos to showcase the beauty of different diving locations.
  3. Put relevant hashtags to make your post more discoverable and attract attention.
  4. Add an Instagram button on your website to direct visitors to your IG account.
    Follow other IG users. Give your Instagram a good head start by following other users such as influencers in the diving industry, customers, scuba divers, and other individuals who might be relevant to your business. Following users may inspire some of them to follow your account in return.
  5. Respond to comments and questions promptly and establish a good relationship with your followers.

Twitter – This microblogging tool enables people to post short messages called tweets up to 140 characters long. A tweet may be short but it has the ability to amplify snippets of content, as well as links of in-depth content, photos, and videos. Check out the following business tweeting tips.

  1. Create a Twitter account that reflects your business name and use your logo as your profile photo.
  2. Compose brief and straight to the point tweets to communicate various things about your business. It can be something about diving courses, diving tips, diving trip announcement, highlights of a dive adventure, and so on. You may include links of your web pages to inspire readers to check out your website.
  3. Insert relevant hashtags to enhance your Tweets like images, videos, and other graphics.
  4. Encourage Twitter conversations by replying to “mentions” and direct messages whether it’s customer feedback or inquiry.
  5. Stay attuned to the Twitter community. Retweet relevant tweets that align with your business objectives and values.
  6. Follow other Twitter accounts such as customers, individuals in the diving industry, social media influencers, underwater photographers, and others in similar professional organizations.
  7. Include a Twitter button on your website to lead visitors to your Twitter account and get a chance to gain new followers.

While the direct SEO benefit of social media is minimal, it can influence people who do own relevant blogs to tag or link to you if your content goes viral. Another side benefit is that your website can gain additional traffic whenever people click to your posts.

4. If you have the resources, consider getting in touch with influencers like local media and bloggers to give your services some PR.

More businesses are tapping into social influencers’ ability to prompt engagement with users. The possibility of working together with social influencers may depend on the cost needed to launch this kind of marketing effort.

A diving center with the right resources can collaborate with local media and bloggers who best fit the company’s objectives and values. Choose influencers who have sufficient followers, whose tone and style complement your service, and has the credibility to promote your business such as scuba diver bloggers and travel adventure bloggers.

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You can give them discounts or even free lessons or dives in exchange for positive coverage (and links) on their website and social media accounts. It’s a small price to pay compared to traditional TV and print advertisements.

Rewards of an optimized diving center website

Optimizing your diving website can drive higher search engine rankings, improve your visitors’ experience and boost your online presence. As your diving center gets pushed above the hierarchy of search results, more people will see the name of your business and become familiar with your company and the services you provide, regardless if they have booked with you before or not. This kind of exposure will eventually pave the way for targeted customers to find your diving center and avail of your services.

If you need professional help designing an SEO strategy that is best for your diving center, CaptainPanel has a team of experts that is always ready to work with you to improve your ranking in search engines. You may contact us to learn more about our SEO and conversion optimization services.

Qualities of an excellent fishing charter website

qualities of a good fishing charter website

Let’s face it, the internet has revolutionized the way we live our lives today. The web keeps us connected with people from different parts of the globe at any time. Communicating, getting information, and shopping for goods and services are all possible without leaving the comforts of our home. In fact, with just a few strokes on the keyboard, we can buy almost anything we want from basic needs to luxuries.

As more people become digitally-savvy, it’s important to establish an online presence to drive your business in the millennium and there’s no better way to start than to build a company website with all the right components.

If you’re in the fishing charter business, here are some key ingredients to consider when building a digital platform where potential customers can learn more about your fishing trips and engage in them.

Your website has to be visually appealing

First impressions always matter! Many people say, “do not judge a book by its cover” but in reality, we often make snap judgments based on outer appearance. The same thing applies to an online site; a visually appealing website can catch the attention of the visitor and ultimately convince them to book a charter.

soleman

Check out these simple tips that might help you come up with a visually attractive website:

Choice of color scheme – Lack of color can be boring but using too much can be a distraction. The rule of thumb is to choose two or three primary colors (preferably from your company logo) that go well and refrain from using extremely vibrant hues that can make your fishing charter website look tacky and appear unprofessional. Remember, your target market is anglers and not children, so don’t overdo the use of colors to save it from looking childish.

Avoid flashing images, auto-playing multimedia, or anything distracting – Animations, blinking or flashing graphics, auto-playing music or videos, and pop-ups (also called interstitials) are not only annoying but they can disrupt the reading experience and drive an individual to leave the site. Imagine a user trying to browse quietly through your website in a cafe, only to be shocked by the loud sounds from an auto-playing video. Shattering the calm and peaceful atmosphere is embarrassing enough but being unable to locate the mute button can make matters worse! Keeping this tip in mind can save users from experiencing such an awkward moment.

Utilize relevant images or graphics – The right images or graphics can bring vitality to a boring site and turn it into a powerful platform for your business. For a fishing charter, you can capture the interest of your target market by putting photos of your location, boats, and clients holding their catches.

Aside from selecting relevant photos, you should also pay attention to the file size and resolution to optimize the use of graphics. Selecting low-quality and pixelated images may be considered poor taste and give your fishing charter website an unprofessional touch while high-quality photos more than the recommended size might slow it down. A web designer recommends adding no more than five images or graphics (1MB or less) per page.

Post only images of the actual charter boats, equipment, and amenities to prevent potential clients from making uninformed purchasing decisions. Misguiding users, whether intentionally or not, with impressive photos that are not yours and far from what you offer in reality may lead to complaints, negative reviews, and loss of customers.

gaviotas
Gaviotas features photos of its charter fleet on their website.

Use appropriate text and font – The standard black text on white background is a safe combination and commonly used in many websites but that doesn’t mean that it’s a mistake to use other color combinations. You may do so, provided that the colors you choose are pleasing to the eyes. When it comes to font types, use those that are easy to read and commonly available on most computers. Whimsical fonts are cute but they may not be appropriate for your audience so it’s better to stick with the more classic types. Good font size for paragraph text may range between 10 to 12 pts.

Have a simple and easy navigation

Navigation is just like a compass; if you’re going on a forest trail, it’s wise to carry one to lead you to the right path. Otherwise, you might get hopelessly lost in the dense vegetation. The same concept may be applied to a website because the navigation system helps web users find their way through the different pages.

A good website should have a simple, clear, comprehensive, and structured navigation system that people can easily understand. The visitor should have no difficulty going around the website and finding the information that he/she needs with a minimal number of clicks.

The menu tabs should be ideally positioned on the top of the site or on either side where they can easily be seen. For better user experience, limit the tabs between 5 and 7 and cut down the number of clicks required before acquiring the information needed.

phantom website
The menu tabs of Phantom Fishing are strategically placed on top where they can easily be spotted by readers.

Nobody likes a slow website

In this Internet-driven world where instant gratification is highly favored, many individuals have somehow developed short attention spans. As a result, more online users expect fast loading websites and have little patience when it comes to web pages that take more than three seconds to load. Individuals are easily frustrated by turtle-pace websites and are likely to abandon their browsing activities in search of similar but faster loading online sites. Fishing charters that want favorable conversation rates should ensure that their websites have acceptable loading speed to sustain the interest of potential clients. In addition, websites with fast load time are rewarded by Google with excellent positioning in its search engine results pages.

You might wonder, how fast should a website load? Maile Ohye from Google says:

“2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights are examples of tools used for testing website load speed. Below are actual Pingdom Website Speed Test and PageSpeed Insights performed for one of our clients, Phantom Fishing.

speed test
As you can see, Solmar Sportfishing has a loading time of 1.12 seconds which meets the ideal standards.

Your website needs to have informative content

Content is the body and soul of the website and a quality one should have original and engaging content.

For a fishing charter business, the goal of having a website is to convince visitors that you have everything that they are looking for in a fishing charter. Here are some essential pages recommended by a web specialist:

About Us page – This section is dedicated to the charter company’s history or background, mission and vision, and information about the owner, captain and the other team members. This is where you can share the biggest and best fish you’ve caught on your charter and fishing tournaments that you’ve won. Make it more interesting for potential customers by sharing stories and showing some photos. This page may also include specifications of your fishing vessel (the type of boat, model, engine, speed, capacity, etc.), electronics, equipment, and amenities. Showcase the best photos of the boat in different angles to convince customers that your charter is worth their time and money.

Fishing trip information and pricing – Describe your fishing trips by telling your customers what they can expect including duration, package inclusions and exclusions, and related fees. Always provide accurate pricing and avoid surprising your guests with unexpected fees like gas surcharges and tips after they arrive at your boat. This page should have a visible “Book now” button that customers can click to allow them to easily book reservations on your website and conveniently pay online using a credit card or debit card.

Fishing calendar – Let anglers know when it is the best time to go fishing on your charter by including a fishing calendar that illustrates the types of fish that can be caught by month.

Photo gallery – Designate a photo gallery section where you can share some of your recent catches, best catches, and captions of success stories. You may also post videos of real-time fishing action to motivate anglers to book your charter.

Social media links – Boost your targeted audience’s interest in booking your boat by including active social media links on your website such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Other links – You can link TripAdvisor reviews and ratings to boost your reputation as a good and reliable fishing charter company.

FAQs – By addressing frequently asked questions about your business, you can save time answering phone calls and email inquiries about the same questions and concerns. A well-developed FAQ page can also be a way to communicate the terms and conditions of your fishing trips and manage customer expectations from the beginning.

Contact information – Your contact page should include an email address, contact number, and a Google Map. Ideally, you should answer emails within 24 hours.

Live chat that’s available 24/7

Customer service is an integral component of a fishing charter business and in today’s fast-paced world where people expect instant support, it may be a good time to give your website an edge by featuring a live chat. This is an opportunity to interact with potential customers in real-time and get to know their various fishing needs and concerns and provide them with real-time answers and solutions. A website live chat is a great way to build customer confidence and improve conversation rates. Examples of live chat software are Zendesk, Intercom, LiveChat, LiveAgent, Talk Desk, and Chat io.

fishhunter
Fish Hunter Charters uses the Zendesk live chat software.

Website security

As people become more reliant on technology, the call for better website security has increased. Discerning consumers are more aware of the threats of engaging in an unsecured website such as the risk of customer data and credit card information theft.

Here are some tips that may help protect both your fishing charter business and customers from hackers, phishing attempts, and malware attacks:

1. Keep your website’s software, security, and scripts up to date.
2. Use security software or plugins.
3. Order an SSL certificate from your Domain Provider (examples: Siteground, Bluehost, and GoDaddy). Then install the SSL certificate to activate the padlock and the https protocol and provide secure connections between your server and a user’s browser.
4. Create secure passwords and encrypt passwords.
5. Prevent users from uploading files that may be infected by a virus or malware.

In modern times like this, a website with all the right components can be a key tool for growth and burgeoning opportunities with the potential to boost customer awareness, improve your credibility, give your business a global reach, and increase your bookings.

Advantage of Online vs. Offline Bookings

online-vs-offline-bookings

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries today with the Internet playing an important part of its rapid growth. The internet has changed tourists’ behavior and as a result, the booking process is longer than before. People are comparing prices online, asking for advice through social media, or reading customer reviews before making an online reservation.

But despite the increasing reach of the internet, Americans still mostly book offline either through phone calls or going directly service provider’s physical location. But that will soon change. According to a recent study, the online channel is expected to account for 49% of all travel bookings in the US by 2020. Now is the time for tourism businesses, especially the charters and tours sectors, to embrace online reservation systems.

What are the benefits of online bookings vs. offline?

Having the option to book online presents numerous advantages that will benefit not only you, the business owner, but your customer as well.

Continue reading “Advantage of Online vs. Offline Bookings”

How can SEO help your water-sports company?

seo-watersports-company

No matter the industry your business is in, whether you operate a tour or a water park, today’s market is tougher than ever before. The internet has opened up so many possibilities but it also rendered almost every company vulnerable to fiercer competition. Failing to adapt to this changing times, at the very least, means losing a huge chunk of revenue.

One way your water sports business can get market penetration and gain an edge over your competitors is through greater online visibility. Today’s consumers are savvy and most will do an internet research first before availing any type of service. With excellent Search Engine Optimization or SEO, your company website can capture the attention of over 50% of online consumers.

But what exactly is SEO? You’ve heard of it, you’ve read about it in countless editorials, you may have seen all the whitepapers. In this article, we’ll look at how it is used as a marketing tool to help grow any business into an enterprise.

What exactly is SEO?

To most business owners, Search Engine Optimization is an enigma. SEO has that misunderstood reputation that caused even the savviest businessmen to devalue its importance. Boat captains may not even have heard of it. But to fully understand SEO, we have to go back to its roots.

Continue reading “How can SEO help your water-sports company?”