SEO is more important now than ever. COVID-19 is affecting all businesses, and Boat Marketing Pros wants to help you through it! We’re giving some resources to help keep your boating business running smoothly through the COVID-19 outbreak and how you can utilize digital tools to improve communication with your customers.
Hosted by Atilus & Boat Marketing Pros CEO & Digital Marketing Manager, Harry Casimir & Sydney Fahrenbruch. Read the transcript below, transcribed as Otterhttps://otter.ai
Welcome to the ultimate Boat Marketing Podcast. Today we have very interesting topics to go over primarily because of the current situation with Coronavirus, COVID-19. I know last episode we dive into the overall overview of keeping the business running.
But this episode we want to go into more details & specifics on SEO. And with me today is Sydney Fahrenbruch, who’s the digital marketing manager at Atilus, we can go back and forth here to discuss some of the takeaways and key things that you can do with the current situation to improve your SEO and improve your ranking online.
So without further ado, Sydney, can you take us away? Tell us what are the things that we were seeing in the market and things that the opportunity you see a boat dealer can take advantage of to get ahead of the pack?
Yeah, so like you said, we did do another episode where we talked more about digital strategies and things you can do with Coronavirus, and the time that we’re in, one of the things we kind of touched on was how it’s a good time to focus on SEO. Like we said, SEO is more of a process, it’s a multi-faceted thing that you do where there’s a lot of different factors that affects your organic ranking in search engines.
There’s a bunch of different strategies you can do to help improve those rankings. It is something that typically takes time. So during this kind of uncertain time that we’re in if you find yourself with either some extra time you can commit to it, or you kind of just want to take advantage of the time that we’re in and put a focus on to SEO, and then it does kind of take a few months for you to start seeing good results. So when things start getting back to normal and more people will be shopping and things like that you will have put that time in to see the results that you want to see.
And as we know obviously with any purchase pretty much, people typically go to the internet and go to search engines for when they start looking, but especially with an industry like boating, because it is such a big purchase decision for a customer to make they want to really do their research so they will be searching online before they just show up to a dealership and look for a boat. So it’s really important to have a good SEO strategy in place as a boat dealer or anyone in the boating industry.
That’s fantastic. What are some of the things that you see or you think that boat dealer well, whether it’s a boat dealer or a boat rental, boat repair, shop, storage, whatever that they do, and that in their world in the business, especially for the marine industry? What are the things that you see or you would recommend they do and they can take advantage of during this special situation with Coronavirus?
Yeah, so I’m going to kind of get into some of what I consider the steps to take to develop your plan for SEO. Some of the things I talked about will be a little more on the technical side, so obviously, for the business owner or the general manager or that person, you might, you know, everyone’s different. Some people have more technical knowledge when it comes to marketing or websites & digital marketing, some people don’t. So you can kind of take with this, what you can do for yourself. And then if you are, working with an agency, things you can communicate with them and work with them on. So, some things might be more technical, but kind of just tailor it to what you can do. And I’ll try to talk about, different ways that you can work with whatever level that you have.
I think the first step towards developing your strategy for SEO is to kind of take a look at the data that you have available to you and decide what keywords you want to focus on. With your website, and whatever PPC campaigns you have, you do have a lot of search data. So for me as a digital marketing manager, the first place that I would look is in your analytics. You have Google analytics on your site. And if you also use what’s called the Google Search Console, they have organic search data available to you. And you can look at what queries people are typing in to find your site organically, and you can see your average placement for them.
So that’s a good place to start to kind of look at what keywords you’re already ranking for what people are searching for to find your site. And if you are running Google ads, or PPC ads, you can look at your search terms in there. And then that gives you an idea of obviously what keywords and that’ll be based on what keywords you’re bidding on, but what kind of keywords that you want to focus on what you’re getting the most traffic from there. So that is, you know, a little more on the technical side, you have to go into some of those sources to find that data. But there are other things you can do.
You can look at like your sales data, like if you use a CRM or even just talk to your people that answer your phone in your sales department and say like – Hey, what are the kind of questions that people are asking? Are they asking a lot about this specific manufacturer? or are they saying they’re in this specific area, they want this specific type of boat? Kind of get an idea of what things people are looking for.
From then, you can see what keywords you want to focus on. Obviously, as a business owner, you know, your popular boats that you carry on, you know what areas a lot of people come from, you know what types of boat people like. So kind of use that combined with the data to focus in on a certain set of keywords that you want to focus on.
When we say a certain set of keywords you want to focus on it’s basically whatever you do to try to get your website to rank better. The kind of content you’re going to put out the kind of blogs you’re going to do should be focused on the things that you want to rank for. If someone searches that into Google, you want your website to appear for that. So basically just kind of break down the data that you have available to you and figure out what keywords you want to focus on.
Now, when you say keywords, and I know you mentioned the Google search at the same time Especially right now given it’s Corona season, unfortunately to boat dealers probably looking at okay, I may want to cut back my spend on Google ads. If they already had that in place, what would be the key reason you would want to use Google search console to boost up your SEO? How would that work? How can you make this work in combination with what you’re looking to accomplish from an SEO perspective?
Google Ads and PPC and SEO, can work together as your overall marketing strategy. But they are really separate.
You know, you can have a high budget and Google Ads that’s driving a lot of traffic to your site, but that’s not going to help your organic search rankings. You can use that data of seeing what people are searching for, to then further incorporate it into what you do for SEO, but really, as far as how Google indexes your site and how it ranks it and prioritizes it, it’s not really going to have an impact on that. So really, depending on where you are, some clients that we work with, if we’ve been working with them for a while and building up their SEO strategy, they do really well in both PPC and SEO. You might not do as well in one or the other, but you are open and still operating, I encourage you to keep your ads still running.
But if you want to focus on SEO, SEO does take time, and if you are working with an agency, there is going to be a cost associated with that. But in terms of what’s actually being implemented, it doesn’t cost money in the sense that it’s not like pay per click where you are paying for the ad spend, there’s no ad spend associated with SEO. So in that sense, it is a little bit more cost-effective when you compare the two.
That’s fantastic. Very good explanation. I really like that because I know one of the things that again, I know some people know exactly how the search function from a PPC perspective works with Google. And they know the big difference between SEO and pay per click, but I just want to make sure we clarify that for anyone that might be new to this are trying to figure out where the best way they can get the most for my money and my time. As Sydney mentioned a moment ago, those are two different elements. But you can use your PPC to your advantage in terms of seeing what’s out there.
So we went over another taking a look at your data from your analytics to possibly looking at the CRM to pick out where some of the key elements are, and where you want to target. We don’t want to dive into the CRM itself. But it is very interesting that you mentioned that because some dealers we work with don’t use CRM, and some do.
The one that I have seemed to be extremely successful and doing extremely well are usually the ones that take CRM very seriously because CRM can tell you what are the things that’s worked well, what are the things that not working well. I know I have seen where there are places that people don’t take CRM too seriously partly because the team may not used to using computers all the time and CRM is a little bit tricky, but what is CRM does is basically you can track certain things.
For example, you can see how well are campaigns running? How did that newsletter work because sometimes you can connect your newsletter platform, let’s say whether you use MailChimp, use Constant Contact Us, whatever you have for your email system, you can connect that to your CRM to give you a better idea.
By looking at the data, you know where your leads are coming from, what are the kind of activities that’s been generated by a specific campaign and you can pull that directly from your CRM and give you a better idea. If you already been in business for a long time. Let’s say you’ve been running this business or the business has been around for 10-15 years. That’s a lot of data that you have at your fingertips. You may not realize it, but let’s say you have this documentation somewhere in papers.
The second you convert them into a CRM put them inside of a CRM, this is information that you can use to really, not only go back to generate additional leads and upsell past clients, but that can give you even better insight into your data, seeing what drove those people to come to you. And from there, you can utilize that data and strategize from an SEO perspective to retarget and go after those potential clients. So CRM can solve a lot of problems. And thank you for mentioning that.
So I know we went over the data. Now we know we analytics, the importance of analytics, the importance of having PPC in place where you can use the data from the PPC to help guide some of the elements and SEO, you can use your CRM data to help guide as well. But what are the things that you’ve seen and you know, boat dealer can do right now to help as well along the way for SEO boosting?
Like I said, there are a lot of different elements that go into SEO. It’s not just I mean, there are like SEO checklists and things you can find out there. But it’s not a black and white thing. There’s a lot of different elements that go into your search rankings. And there’s a lot of different things you can do to try to improve them. That being said, if I had to kind of divide it and split it up into two general categories, I would say you have your content-driven side of it. And then you have your more technical side of it.
As a business owner or a manager or someone running the business day to day that maybe doesn’t know everything, when it comes to that super technical side of your website, and setting everything up on the back end, the content side is really going to be more where you’re probably going to be able to do a lot more produce a lot more.
One of the best ways to produce content is just to do blogging. Most websites, if you have a WordPress website or other platforms, they usually have a blog that’s pretty easily built into them and you really just push out content based on the right keywords that you got before, based on the research that you did. Think of content that you can produce that is either informing or being educational or answering a question or serving some type of need that your audience is going to be searching for. And it’s kind of twofold. It helps you get in front of those specific searches. And then just adding more content to the website in general just helps with your overall ranking.
So blogging is a great place to start as many blogs as you can produce as possible. And a lot of times obviously, if you’re working again, with an agency, they kind of know the right way to incorporate keywords and things like that, but just you as a business owner can write blogs as well. We have a lot of clients or people we talked to that say, I’m not a writer, I don’t know how to write and things like that. But when you think about it, you are the expert in your field or your industry that you work in, you know everything there is to know about the boats that you’re selling. So just kind of take your expertise and translate it into that. So blogging is a great place to start.
Then you can also kind of just go through your website, whether it’s on the homepage about page, different pages that you already have on your site, and with the keywords that you have in mind, kind of think about ways that you can incorporate them. And again, not everyone knows how to update content on their site. So you might have to be working with an agency or whoever you have with your website.
Another way you can create good content is either video content, or audio content, podcasts like we’re doing now, those can really help, you can add them to your site as well. And it’s just more useful content, informative content for your audience. You can also always cross-promote it on social media, things like that.
Last but not least, there is metadata which this kind of crosses over between technical and content because the metadata is basically something you do update through the back end of your site, but it is driven by keywords. So just make sure that’s updated, and it’s in line and it’s relevant with the keywords that you want to be ranking for. And if that’s something you don’t know how to do, because you do have to log into the back end of your site and updated on the page you can work with, whoever is helping you with your website or your agency to do that.
That’s fantastic. So I need to produce this content. And you’re right, most people don’t have the time, or don’t enjoy writing. How long you think a blog should be? And is it something that takes more time? Because it all depends. Some people can write in 1000-word blog posts and a minute where other people would take a few years. So I guess it all depends on your writing skill.
But how long should they blog be? What are some of the elements a blog should include? Because I’m trying to think of this if I were a boat dealer marketing director, I might have an idea, but if I were a dealer, owner or general manager, sometimes not all of those guys are super technical. They are technical, some of them are but not everyone is technical in that field. They know what they know and when business really well, but technically when it comes to writing like this is not what they do. So how long should a blog post be?
I would say 500 words is a good baseline to start with as far as actually gaining organic traction on it. And really putting out a good amount of content, I think 500 words, I would say, two to 300 words, at an absolute minimum, anything under 200 words isn’t really going to do much for you. And if you can get it up to that 1000 word plus range, that’s going to be good. If it is useful content that you can fill out to that level. That’s great. But I think 500 words is a good place to start.
And as far as what things you need, I would say the title is really important. Like I said, you kind of think about what people are searching specifically with blog posts, they are a lot of times gonna appeal to a longer keyword and maybe a question. So that’s something when I’m personally writing blogs, I always try to think of what’s a question that someone could be asking and how can I answer it with this blog. So you can kind of let that kind of guide you on how to set up the content and how to set your title. The title is a lot of times what’s going to decide people actually click through and read.
And then I think another important element kind of on the other side of it is a call to action of some kind. So whatever content you have that you can provide to your audience to answer their question, you know, give them some useful or informative content and make sure you end with some kind of call to action. Say, if you want to learn more about the boats that we carry, or the service that we offer, or this or that, give us a call here today, contact us online, come into our store, something like that. This content, you’re pushing it out there and you want it to lead to something for you. So to include that call to action is really important.
Very important. I agree. I mean, I have seen a website where they have left the user hanging on what to do. This is an opportunity for you. You don’t have to do a hard sale on those blog posts, but you do want to give people an idea.
So let’s say, for example, you write a blog, on how to get your boat license in Miami Dade County. Well, you can give as much detail as you can, but you know, there are people that just put simply want to talk with someone and obviously you want to be the resource for that. But if you wrote a blog about how to get a license and someone come to your site, they read about it, you might as well tell them what they could do next.
Tell them, hey, if you need help with this, we know DMV, but we might be able to help it especially some boat dealers, they have special workers within the sales team that really specialize in a variety of things, including helping people get certification and certain things. Or you could simply say well if you need help with this, we do have resources available we would love to talk to you and even walk you through.
To be honest, this is more of a public service that your giving, but that’s possibly a potential customer because if someone is getting your license and making sure they are legally able to navigate to get their boating license it’s clear that they have the interest in boating eventually they may not be able to buy from you or don’t want to buy from you right now but they will remember the people that helped them. So little call to action like that help.
This is something that this is a great opportunity for you to get in front of your potential customer I know Sydney mentioned meta tags earlier. If I could add to her point made, meta tags used to be really the king of all content. Nowadays, although it doesn’t carry as much weight, it’s an extremely, extremely important. Those who know a bit more about and then marketing know, when you search for something.
For example, when you go to Google, and you search that boat dealers name or the best boat to buy now or something like that, when you look at the search results, Google stacks them on top of each other. And you can see that it says the name of the website. So the first thing you see up there, it’s usually the title of that page. And the second thing you see in there, it’s most likely the URL and it’s very tiny, tiny bit of things.
And then the second thing is a description of the site. That’s why the meta tag is extremely important because it gives a search engine – Google or Bing or Yahoo, whatever you an idea what this page is about because you describe it and the description within the meta tag. And then when the result is displayed for the end-user that’s looking for that information, your information, the description, the page dialog is read in there.
You often see sometimes when you search for certain things, you see the result that showing without this description, just the URL, chances are it’s because one, you type that specific keyword and is a very, very unique niche. So there isn’t a lot of websites that describe that item. That’s why you see only that. But the site that’s showing first, Google gives a really high priority on the site that displays proper information.
Obviously, there’s a lot of other things that the algorithm looked for to display the result. But one of the things that it does look at is how relevant your search is to the result. So that’s where that’s why your meta tag is very important. But also, that’s how SEO works in general, again, doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to be. But it is still very important because it gets people the result that they looking for.
Sydney, we talked about the data, how we use that we use about we talk about the content itself, how to properly write content, possibly the length of the blog post should be, and making sure on the content-driven as well, making sure that the homepage, the about pages, your message is very consistent. And this is one of the things that I think that’s coming up. More of a prediction, it’s not written anywhere, but I think eventually search engine with almost like human, where if the content doesn’t make sense, even though you have a ton of content, but if it doesn’t flow – so for example, if you have an about page that talks about something completely different. That’s not relevant to the service page or that’s not relevant to the contact page.
I think search engine marketing for those who produce content has to be consistent. This is why it is really important to show who you are as a boat dealer. Then here are the brands that you sell, you basically tell people how long you’ve been in business, and this is what we do for a living or something like that. But all of that content if you take on what I just said, this is almost like the same content you said differently. We sell boats we service boats, and so forth. So it is important for your blog to be consistent as well to what you do. So it’s not like you’re gonna write a blog just for the sake of writing a blog.
This is why we’re taking a look at your data, your analytics, your CRM, how you got & captured your current leads is important so that way it helps drive the business, and also making sure to be consistent throughout. It’s not just the blog posts, you’re gonna write what is the content throughout the site. Now the other piece to this is Sydney, I know one of the elements to all of this to tie it up is really how all of this comes about when you have the data, you have your content, what are the elements? Or what are the key things that a dealer needs to look at? Or at least make sure the agency they’re working with is aware and should to ensure that all that good did all that good content don’t go to waste?
Yeah, so the content is a really big part of it. And like you said, Google is changing. They’re constantly updating their algorithm, but the direction that they’ve been moving towards is like they said, to try to almost be more like a human in the sense that, it used to be a lot of tricks and techniques you could do, but now it’s really just seeing your site for what it is and if you have good useful content on there, and if it is what that user is searching for.
So content is really important, but there is a technical side of SEO, and more if your website is secure. And if everything is kind of set up properly in the back end, and it does check for errors and Little things like if there are broken links, if there are images that aren’t tagged, and things like that. So there are some different tools you can use, you can use the Search Console, which will tell you if there are any errors and indexing and crawling your site. And there are also third-party tools you can use to do a technical audit. And they’ll tell you where there are errors on your site.
For the most part, this is going to be a little more on the technical side. So for you as the business owner or the manager, I don’t necessarily recommend you going in and trying to fix these errors, but just being aware of it and you know, working with the agency or whoever’s managing your website to make sure whatever work you’re putting in, like you said, on the technical side is going to pay off or any work you’re putting in as far as the content is going to pay off and you don’t have any technical errors that are preventing your site from doing well organically.
That’s fantastic. And one of the things I know again if I could echo what Sydney just said especially for security. As some of you may know, back in 2017-2016, that’s when Google say on their browser, which is Chrome browser, and even Firefox adopted this as well. I know Microsoft is pushing the new browser that’s coming out right now if you’re an early adopter of Microsoft, some of the new browsers are coming out with the same feature as Chrome.
If anything on their website captured users’ information, and the website does not have an SSL, an SSL is a secure socket layer. Basically, is just to help secure your site. So if you receive any kind of form field on your websites or whether someone can subscribe to your newsletter, there is a contact form and your contact page so people can submit the information – then Google’s treats your website as a website that will capture people’s information
Therefore, it is highly recommended that the website has a security layer in SSL. If your website does not have a security layer on there, this is where you get docked for technical SEO, because Google expects basically all website to have an SSL by now. And it is very critical to have that. It’s not expensive. It’s actually I know here at our company, that’s something I believe we give that is part of our website, we totally if we have your website for a client, you automatically have an SSL because that’s part of what we shoot for from a technical SEO perspective.
So it is very, very important that you keep track of those elements. And part of what happened, especially with technical SEO as well is that the algorithm changes every five seconds Google changed that thing so often is not even funny anymore. So it is important for you to keep up to date on the changes that are happening. So to ensure that your website is not getting bombed for these things that you could just really get fixed with just a second or two, so it is really, really important to look at your site as often as you can.
If I may, one of the things that I know we do for most of our clients is providing a detailed report on at least once a month or twice every other month. So to ensure that you at least have an idea of how your website is functioning. Now, the advantage of this is that it tells you some of the errors that are happening on your website. Sometimes you just don’t have the time or don’t pay attention to those.
Something might happen on your website. You don’t even know let’s say for example, there was a great piece that was written by a really well-known person on your website, and you will link to that blog posts or article or what have you, and you have no control over their website, they change that link, for example, they change it or they remove that content. Well now, all of a sudden now your website leads your visitors to a dead link, something like that. It’s very hard, almost impossible for you to know.
Because once you update your website, it’s not something you constantly go to check on that link. But if you do have reports that come back to you, especially from an SEO perspective, you can look at your reports, glimpse at it and see you have last month, you have seven working links, then you knew exactly where they were. So that is why it is really, really important that we highly encourage that if you receive a monthly report from your agents, you at least take a look at it. And if that’s something that you need help with, as you know, continue to mention here we’d be more than happy to take a look at this for you at no cost. We know how difficult that is from an SEO perspective.
Guys, very technical. This is something I know working with many, many business owners and dealers, we know that’s a challenge for them. So that is why if you should definitely get someone that knows This thing to help you figure it out, again, technical SEO is super difficult, but it takes some time and knowledge to get to navigate through it. And it should be part of your SEO strategy to ensure that you not only providing good content, you’re looking at your data, you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, but you will cover on the technical side because that’s where you will get hit very hard if this information is not proper.
And one of the things that I did not mention here, I know we had a full podcast just about that, is ADA. You might say, what about ADA? ADA is the American Disability Act. What does that have to do with a technical SEO? Well, a website that is fully ADA compliant is I would say 99% of the time, most of the technical SEO audit will pass fairly easily.
Almost everything you heard about from a technical SEO perspective like working links, images that don’t have proper tags and images don’t make sense the meta tags are not in place, the header for that page or for the blog posts or for whatever that is is not properly tagged, well, if your website meets ADA compliance, all of those have to be in place for you to meet ADA compliance, meaning that if your website compliance, your technical SEO is basically solved, so I thought I would mention that here.
And I know I’ve been going on but Sydney, do you have anything you can you want to add to from an SEO perspective, or before we wrap up here, any additional things you would like to add to this?
That’s a really good point that you made about ADA, which is what we talk about a lot when it comes to ADA does also a lot of the times fall in line with best practices for SEO. And as far as SEO, as I said, and I always try to express it’s not black and white. It’s not a one size fits all approach. There’s a lot of different things that go into SEO.
So this is just more of a big picture that you can see if you’re a business owner. You’re in the boating industry, you want to try to improve your organic rankings at this time, here are some things you can do and some things for you to better understand it can go a lot more in-depth than this. And I think we’ll probably do a future episode maybe breaking down SEO even more and more of some of the things that go into it.
But I think at this time, whether it’s that you do have extra time because things are slowing down, or you just want to take some time to put a little more of a focus on this. I think it is a good time to you know, get things started.
That’s fantastic. Well, thank you. And Sydney, if I could echo what she just said is a good SEO is not a sprint is a marathon. Prepare for it, get it done, and get ready because it’ will be a long haul. And again, this is not a set and forget it kind of thing. SEO requires a little tweaking here and there that really sometimes takes some technical skill.
One of the things that we have on our website, boatmarketingpros.com you some keywords from a local market perspective so maybe visit our resource section on our website. We have some of the elements from the blog, we do have a blog post that dedicated to just keywords for what dealers maybe you can download this list of keywords to work with.
So with that, this has been a great podcast. If you need any additional information, please feel free to visit us at boatmarketingpros.com. As we always say if you have tips, comments, questions for us any additional topics you would love for us to cover in this podcast. Feel free to email us at [email protected] and this is a wrap for us. Thank you so much for joining me.
Learn more about Boat Marketing Pros’ SEO services here.