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.
Search Engine Optimization started unfortunately when webmasters discovered that by changing some webpage elements, they can then manipulate search engine results. As more and more people used search engines, finding information over the internet became easy but the results were often tainted by spam caused by early SEO practitioners. Search engines, such as Google, sought ways to clean up the spam by devaluing websites that use “black-hat” or spammy techniques.
Over the years, SEO professionals have realized that search engines reward a website that complies with webmaster guidelines by placing it high on results pages. Since then, Search Engine Optimization has evolved from duping search engines, to providing the best user experience; which in essence is what the guidelines are all about. Search Engine Optimization today is complex and covers a wide range of disciplines including keyword and market research, copywriting, reputation management, website design, data and analytics, conversion rate optimization, website usability and user experience, to name a few.
How can SEO help water-activity operators?
SEO can be a very effective marketing channel that will increase website traffic and grow your business. Through SEO, individual boat charter operators will be able to get the same or greater online visibility than landings and marinas; water activity centers such as diving centers and wakeboard parks can get more reservations. A well-optimized website will level the playing field between small companies and large enterprises.
Campaign performance is also easily tracked due to numerous tools available, which makes ROI calculation pretty easy. Let’s tackle other benefits you can get out of Search Engine Optimization:
SEO will bring plenty of traffic to your website
A properly optimized website can get placed on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). Having the first position is like setting up a store at the corner of a busy intersection. Your business will get maximum visibility with a big portion of those people who’ve seen your store/website eventually becoming one of your customers.
SEO brings the best leads
While traditional marketing and advertising methods such as billboards, TV commercials, and print ads are akin to cold-calling; SEO is based on user intent. It allows a website to market to people who are actually looking a product/service related to them. These leads fall lower in the sales funnel and have a higher chance of conversion. Marketing to the right people is one of the reasons why SEO has the best advertising ROI.
SEO is non-intrusive
Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by an ad while watching a video, reading an article, or using an app. Chances are, it happens to all of us at least once a day. Traditional and online advertising are sometimes disruptive and annoying. Unwanted ads will not only result in the immediate click of the X button and loss of a sale, they can also lead to a brand with a tarnished reputation. SEO is good for all industries because it allows them to only market their services/product at a time convenient to the user.
SEO will help people find your website
Let’s say a boat captain hired a marketing agency to design and create a website for his fishing charter. His website will serve as the first point of contact for potential customers but unless people can find the website, then it is as good as having no website at all. An optimized website will rank for its brand as well as words and phrases associated with it. This leads to the next benefit.
SEO creates credibility and reputation
Over 90% of users do an online research first before making a purchase and nothing turns off a user more is a brand that can’t be found on the web. This creates the impression that the brand is either fake or not reputable. To the consumer’s point of view, ranking high in search engines is like having a vote of confidence and this can only be done through SEO.
SEO is cheaper than other marketing channels
Traditional advertisement, such as a radio and TV commercial, can cost millions of dollars. Digital advertisement, like banner ads and AdWords, are cheaper but can be unsustainable for long periods. A well-run SEO campaign cost is minuscule in comparison. Normally, the biggest cost involved is the start of the campaign where research, website development, production of new content, and optimization are involved. Once the campaign is on par or exceeds target metrics, the cost will be far cheaper as the needed resources will only be for maintenance. After the initial phase, organic traffic can be considered “free” because there’s no cost involved for every click, conversion, or impression unlike pay-per-click ads (PPC).
Can you optimize a website by yourself?
Yes, absolutely! There are many DIY guides you can follow. But beware; there are pitfalls in doing SEO yourself. There’s a good chance that you might unintentionally do something prohibited by webmaster guidelines and get your website penalized. Having a professional or an agency do the work for you guarantees better results in less time. Let the specialist(s) work their magic, your time is better off spent doing what you do best anyway.