Welcome to get found more easily on search engines - a starter guide for SEO. It is almost the end of February already, folks, which is kind of crazy. 2023. We're going to tackle this subject matter today. Hopefully, you guys, we'll learn some stuff, and if you don't, then maybe you can teach me some things. But if you have questions, be sure to drop them in our chat here and we'll get to those at the end. And if you're watching this later on, you could definitely do that in the comments as well.
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About Rest & Relax ROI
We'll talk a little bit about us first because that's fun. So we do partner exclusively with RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds, or part of the ARVC community, excited to do that. And then we talk about the M5 system, which is an RV park centric marketing system. And as you see here, this little mountain, we really focus on those four areas of reputation, resell, reach, and retarget to help build a marketing system for the people we work with.
I am your host, Mark Rowan. I grew up on a working West Virginia sheepfarm /campground, and I did study communications. I'm one of the few people in the world, apparently, that studied in school and then end up doing it as a profession. So here you go. You can tell your friends about me. I did meet my college sweetheart Jenny, and we got married in October 2000. We didn't get married at Liberty, but we met there. I do have four amazing kids: Elena, Kay, Cassia, Josiah, Addie. One dogo, Holly. My oldest is going to be graduating high school this year, so that's exciting. They're all doing great things. I have personally been helping a company with their online presence for more than 20 years. This agency stuff, we started up back in 2014.
What You'll Leave With
All right, so that was about me. Now this is about you, what you're going to leave with today, hopefully, once again, some stuff that you can utilize, three areas we're going to cover that's going to talk about improving your search engine presence and your visibility. We’re going to have some actionable information leave with today. And of course, if there are any questions, we'll be glad to answer those.
Opportunity to Reach More Guests
What's the opportunity here? It's about being seen, making it easier for your guests to find you. That's always a good idea. You want to attract the right audience. There are lots of different types of parks, campgrounds, but who do you want to show up at your place, can gain the competitive advantage in your area and then improve online experience and convert at higher rates as well. It is a cost effective activity compared to traditional marketing, whether that be TV or print or even radio, and the measurable results that can be capitalized on.
Is It Broke? Fix It.
If you've been or have seen our webinars before, we always have a nice little broke down RV and we don't want to leave it that way. We want to fix things. You might have had a website of your dreams, you built it, but they didn't come. If that's the case, we want to try to remedy that, right? Here are some common issues we encounter. Not enough traffic to your site. Everybody wants more traffic, typically. I mean, some people may have too much and we're happy for them. Then not having a mobile friendly site, that's always a no no. Your Google business has not maybe optimized the way it should be and not enough relevant content on the site. And then no actual strategy to target the right guests. You're not actually tracking or analyzing what you're doing. We want to avoid all those things and we'll address some of that today.
Why do we care about search engines?
I think we're all pretty aware of them today. We'll touch on a couple of things, but it shouldn't be a surprise that it is a primary way that people are discovering whether it's their researching the products, the service, or your parks. It's the way to go online, right? In order to be found, you got to make sure that that website is optimized for the search engines. They are constantly being updated. They're evolving. On our end and for you guys, staying up to date is a huge part of it all. The local search is also big, so you got to optimize for those local queries as well. SEO is just one of the elements of a well-balanced digital strategy. That could include social, video, email ads, other things as well. But we definitely suggest being involved all those on some level.
Here's some stats to back up why we're talking about this. 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. You might be aware of this because you probably never do that when you search for things. So that's the reality. We got to get a little bit higher up for people to find this through organic searches. An SEO will drive 1000% more traffic than organic social media. Now, let it be said that we are actually proponents of social media. We help people with that too. It's a part of the package, right? But when it comes to what do you want to prioritize, you might want to think about this. 93% of all web traffic is via the search engine. Then when you look at how much traffic comes in, it's 53 over 50%, right, of the organic search come to your site. This is a great stat as well. 14.6 close rate for any SEO leads. For people that have been in sales closing, 14.6 is a pretty good clip for people that maybe don't know you at all.
Obviously the reason being is that you have formulated your site in such a way that when people search for what they're looking for, they find you. That means they're ready to take action, hopefully booking a spot or doing whatever with your part. 46% of these searches are related to local. So whether it's someone in your area that's going to come hang for the weekend in that case, or someone that's traveling to your area or through it, those are all related to local searches. We're going to talk about three areas understanding the algorithms, optimizing your site, and monitoring and tracking.
Let's jump right into the algorithms. We're going to understand a bit about that today. What are these algorithms that we've all heard about? Unfortunately, they are super complex, so we're not going to understand everything about them, but we can get a better idea. But they do determine the relevance of in ranking websites in the results, they take into account a wide range of factors. Some of those include the keywords being used, the backlinks to the site. We'll talk more about that. Website structure, we'll talk more about that content, we'll talk more about that.
Generally, google still controls the majority of the search engine market. More than 85% of the people use it to find what they're looking for. If you optimize for Google, you're doing a pretty good job. We didn't put it in this particular presentation today, but some of the new news in the search engine world is Bing has incorporated ChatGPT into their search interface. That is somewhat of a game changer as well. So they're trying to win back some of that search engine market. We'll see how it goes.
We'll touch on that for a second. It is a very important factor of the algorithm. When they type that query in, whatever that keyword phrase is, the search engine is going to try to match what they can find out on the Internet with what you typed. This important part for us to be involved with is researching and choosing the right keywords that are relevant for you in your park and that are being used by those potential customers.
The research portion of it, that's where you're going to understand what's going to be most effective for you personally. Here's some tools that we'll recommend that you can check out. Google keyword planner. SEMrush Those are a couple of places where you can see how many times a keyword is searched for and how much competition there is. If there's a lot of competition for a particular keyword, it's going to take longer for you to break forward in the first page results. Everybody wants to be on the first page, and that's how the keyword research is going to help you find out if that's how long. Potentially it's going to tell you how long, but if you know there's a lot of competition, you're just going to be in for a little bit longer haul to get it done. Use these tools and identify the keywords being used by potential guests to find those parks again.
Once you've researched them and found what you need, what you really feel like is going to do your website the right way. You're going to want to put it in the right places. There's the meta tags, there's header tags and there's your content. Meta and header tags, you are not going to see those on your live website. Your users are not, but the search engine is. The content is a part that everybody reads. You're going to also put them on image file names, the alt tags. Once again, alt tag is a behind the scenes thing that the engines are going to be able to understand, even the file names themselves. People are not going to see those things. But importantly, the robots on the internet will. Don't overuse those keywords. Keyword stuffing is another term for this. Back in the day, people got away with that. Early days of the search engine. The old timey times people just did as many as they could. Now it could hurt your rankings if you try to do that. Be natural when you use keywords on your site.
Also known as inbound links. Other websites are linking to your site. It's a vote of confidence. That's how search engines see it and they are factored in to determine where you might be ranked. According to a recent study, the number of backlinks on a site has the third most important factor in determining where you rank. It's pretty high up there. I will say as a caveat, these kind of things, ranking factors are constantly shifting. We've already kind of alluded to that, but I think they always will be pretty important in regards to being able to rank well.
What's that look like? It can be challenging, but there are several strategies, not all of them maybe you would want to use. Guest blogging, broken link building, link bait are all options. It can be very time consuming. It's not like when we talk about SEO, it's talked about time investment in general. If you're trying to get leads tomorrow, you want to do a Google ad campaign or another PPC potentially. Just be aware of what you're getting involved with when it comes to SEO. High quality backlinks from reputable sites can have a very significant impact on your search engine rankings. If you're getting a bunch of links from AAA or some of the big players in the camping industry. That's going to be huge for you. If they highlight you on, let's say, Woodall's Campground magazine, they put a link on their front page and if it stays there, that's huge.
These things we're going to get into a little bit more later, too. But these are important factors that also the engines will take into account. They're trying to provide the users with the most relevant and informative sites. The structure is what helps them do that. It's a part of the site being structured properly and providing good content. It's about having clear and simple navigation, responsive design that mobile devices will like.
high quality content, informative, relevant. Those are all big parts of doing content the right way. Once again, the natural keywords, make sure they're showing up. Then that's going to look like blog posts, infographics, videos that you're providing value to your guests. It's helping the search and understand that you are a good result for what people are looking for.
optimizing your website
We've kind of already dipped our toe into that. We're going to go a little deeper.
What is that? You might say it's pretty clear. It's the stuff that you have control of over on your website. You have control of your content. You can put whatever you want on there. Once again, we talked about structure, how your site is set up, how you're using your keywords. You want to once again write that high quality content, providing value using target keywords. We talked about the images, descriptive file names with the alt tag that include your target keywords. These are the kind of everyday things you can do to help be found more easily.
Guess what? You do not have control over off page SEO directly. It's going to include things like the backlinks. We already mentioned social media management, brand dimensions. If you participate in online communities, discussion groups that are related to the RV park industry, you can establish yourself as an expert, build that brand awareness. This particular strategy of guest posting is a really good one. It's one of the most acceptable ways to do it. You're going to go to other relevant sites, can provide good content they can use. It will build your brand, establish that credibility, and they can link back to your site. Guest posting is one of the ways you can really get some mojo on SEO.
So just like it sounds, it is about the technical aspects of ranking. We're talking about your website speed, slow is bad. Mobile friendly -- I think we understand today people are on their phones a lot. Make sure you are serving sites that help people in that manner. Once again, the structure of your site also is important. Https encryption so we're talking about securing your website to protect user data just before we move on to the next thing. They definitely search engines will maybe potentially penalize you if you do not have a secure website when it comes to search engine results. If there's two fairly equal results and one's secure and one's not, you could lose out the battle there.
The structured data markup is another way to stand out in the search results and people can understand what's on your site and improve in parents. You've seen these probably in your search engine journeys in the past. It might be something like when someone searches something and the result comes up and then you see maybe a rating that's attached to it or you potentially in this case maybe have a snippet that would allow someone to book directly from the search engine result. Those are what we're talking about with structured data markup. It really helps make your results stand out beyond the other organic search engine results.
Improve website speed
I feel the need, the need for speed. Search engines definitely are saying that they tend to favor websites that load quickly and that's just about providing a great user experience. Correct. And you can compress images, you can minify code, you can use a content delivery network. You may have heard of CloudFlare, that's a CDN and that's just another way to deliver your site in a quicker fashion. Some of these other things, there's tools that you can implement on your site to help do all those things we just mentioned. Minimize http requests. Your website is making requests to the server over and over again. The more of those you have on a site, the longer it's going to take for it to load. If you don't know what that's all about, we can talk more about that at another time. Very glad to do that. But those are things that definitely affect your hosting provider. The type of plan you have or the type of provider you have can also affect your speed and eventually your organic search results as well.
It's a big part of it because we understand that it is about providing a good user experience and it is a very important part of technical SEO. Your site is going to load faster because it is optimized for mobile devices. We've all been on sites that are still like old school and they try to pull them up and read them and all that kind of stuff. It's not good. Google in the past few years ago already shifted to mobile first indexing. They're prioritizing sites that are set up for mobile. Be aware of that. Once again, people that you're competing against for that front page and they're already doing this and you're not. Don't get in the game. And of course, this also helps increase engagement and conversion rates for the mobile visitors. Google is taking all these things into account when it comes to how you can rank.
optimizing website structure
It's talking about being having clear, organized content that's going to help the search engines understand the purpose and the theme of your site. The search engine crawlers can find and crawl your web pages more easily. It makes it easier for them to be indexed, of course, the user experience, that's really what Google and all these massive companies that have thousands of people working for them. Yeah, they're trying to make money and they're doing a good job of it, but we're all trusting that they're trying to provide the best possible result for the people out there. We should be doing the same thing.
The thing is, here, when you're having a better experience, people can stay on the page longer and reduce your bounce rate. Your bounce rate is all about how long someone stays on your site before leaving. If your bounce rate is high, like 80% of the people come to your site leave within a certain amount of time. They are on there for a few seconds of leave. Google's tracking all this data so they know that's not a great site to deliver if people don't want to stay. All this architecture can really help your relevance and authority.
Optimizing for Local SEO
It is a big part of the whole package here. We've talked about this in previous webinars. Optimizing your Google business profile. It's part of the Google Maps. It's part of the local pack. When people search, they might be traveling through the area. What's the RV park near me, right? Those are the things that are going to pop up. They're prime spots that you want to be able to take advantage of. Talk about. Once again, optimizing website for local keywords, using whether it's city names or other attractions, whatever the case may be that's around you, add those in, use them appropriately. Local listings, creating those listings in local directories and business listings. Build those local backlinks whenever you can from other businesses in the area, maybe news outlets. If you're doing something new, this would be relevant with news outlets and you want to do a press release, then you can get links for that way, and it's a legitimate way to improve your search engine results. That's going to just help your authority. This is our final section today.
Monitoring & Tracking
A big piece of making sure you're being successful, setting measurable goals. This is good for any part of your life, right? You want to make it true with SEO as well. Make sure you're tracking your progress and your measure and effectiveness of what you're doing. It could be, hey, I want to make sure that traffic is increasing because we know what that ultimate means. Obviously, we'd say the whole time, we want to make sure our rankings are going up, we want to increase the number of bookings at our park.
Tracking Search Engine Rankings
All these things are goals that you can track the rankings themselves. You want to see how you're performing, and then also that allows you to identify what you need to improve, right? Tools that allow that to happen once again. Google Analytics. That is free. Ahrefs, SEMrush. I believe both of those you can start out with a free account for the most part. I think you're pretty set on that, and they have a lot of great data that you can input to find out how you can improve your site for SEO.
Analyzing Website Traffic
Once you've got that all set up and you begin to analyze that through, for instance, Google Analytics is a free tool. You see how people are interacting with your site. Things like what's getting the most traffic, what keywords are driving, where the people are coming from, when they're coming. Those are all great data sets that you can get into. That's just a little bit of what you can do. There's a whole lot more. Like I said, it's all free, which is good.
Measuring Conversion Rates
When you measure your conversion rates, what does that look like? We're looking for what specific actions are people taking when they hit your site, and we want to measure that as well. How many bookings are you getting? Are people filling out the contact form, maybe even a phone call or something of that nature? You can also track, if you have the right software set up, like the M5, you can see how effectively that is converting guests by measuring those rates that you see there. Also a big part of conversion rates is A/B testing. You can also have different versions of pages, especially if you're sending traffic to a landing page. You can optimize like a booking landing page, right? You're wanting to see how much better you can get at converting people, talking about changing your headlines, out your call to action, the layout, pictures, all those kind of things you are able to do that. A/B test functionality that can really help you learn what works best.
Using Heat Maps
Heat maps are a cool thing you could also implement. You can see how people are interacting, which pages like how they're interacting on an individual page, which links they click, where they spend the most time, and really helps identify where it needs to be improved and to be optimized better. We talked about it already, these are moving targets.
Keeping Up With SEO Updates
All of us are in this journey when it comes to being optimized, you want to be informed. It's just changing a lot all the time. They're updating the algorithms so you got to test and monitor this stuff and that analytics tool and other tools we've mentioned and really help you do all that and identify those areas of improvement. After you've been informed and you've tested, monitored, you can adapt and adjust, you can update your content maybe. Maybe you need to change your keywords. Try out some new SEO techniques that are being implemented, other places that maybe you've heard recommendations on as well.
SEO Common Mistakes
We're about to finish up our time together here and we want to go over a couple last things here. Common mistakes. You've heard a little bit about these already keyword stuffing. The idea that you're going to put as many words that you think people will search for as possible. No, thumbs down. Ignoring the user experience. Once again, we don't want to have the high bounce rates. We don't want low engagement or decreased conversion rates. Make sure you could have people that are not super tied into you. Because your website is kind of like a little baby whatever. You see it all the time. Get other people maybe to go through it and see if there's anything annoying or doesn't make sense and see how maybe you can improve that way.
Poor quality content that could be not having enough, being like a bare bone site or just the content itself is not written well, it's not converting people, it's boring, that sort of thing. Not considering that local SEO we talked about, do not forget to optimize your Google business as a part of your overall strategy and then a part of that too. Even with Google Business, it all works together is inconsistent. Business information, don't want to have that. Whether your address, you want your address to be the same across everywhere on the internet, phone number, maybe you've changed it at one point. Once again, make sure it's the same across the board. That can lead not only to confusion, to the people that you're trying to have come visit you, but also low rankings.
SEO Best Practices
On the flip side, what are our best practices for SEO? We talked about it at the beginning, we're finishing at the end. Make sure you're conducting the research that you need to so that you can serve the people you need. Claim that Google Business, we hammer that one a lot because it is a powerful part of your and it's freethe. Good thing about Google Analytics, Google Business, Google Search Console, those are all free tools for you to use. Now whether or not you know how to use them, that's another thing. Talk to Rest & Relax ROI. The software itself is good. Now if you want to do Google Ads, guess what, you're going to pay. Publish that high quality content. You know, maybe it's not necessarily doing something like I need to put something every week. Maybe you spend time and do once a month and have something really nice to put out that's going to help people. Think about how you're going to benefit someone else when you create content.
On-page, the page titles, the meta descriptions, the headings, the alt text, some of that is for the end user specifically, and some of it is for the search engines. We talked about the analytics and tracking. Google Analytics, track that website traffic, the user behavior, conversion rates. These are all big part of it. Google Search Console, I mentioned it just a minute ago. These are just two free tools. The console monitors your performance and identify the technical issues that might be going on. There you have your best practices and there you have how to get found on search engines.
We talked about those algorithms and the optimization of your site, and we just finished the monitoring and tracking. At this point, if you guys have any questions, I'd be glad to answer them. Thank you for those that are here now and those that are watching later, obviously you can always comment. I'm glad to answer any questions you have there, as well. Of course, we want people to know that they can connect with us by searching @restrelaxroi pretty much throughout the internet. You will find us Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. Glad to connect with you there as well.
Question: I'll share my screen for a second. I'm just kind of listening and working. Really good info. I appreciate it and I'm just wondering for what you might recommend for someone who may not have much budget right now to do a whole lot, but just shared a lot of tips and ideas. We just took over a campground recently. What would you suggest doing your first 30 days in the business? Just trying to get a good baseline in place for everything. Just for establishing things from the marketing perspective.
Answer: I'd have to kind of look at what you have now to understand, but I hammered it a couple of times already. The Google Business, the one part we didn't really mention, but we've mentioned in previous webinars is if you're taking over someone else, I don't know if they had a good reputation or not, but typically that's going to be a huge part of the local search results is like, how many good reviews can you get? Also building up that online profile there, like adding photos, adding videos, doing essentially like a tour of what you have to offer. Those are all things you can do. Of course, you can have your link to your website. Like I said, that is a free service.
The other big part about Google Business that a lot of people don't do on the regular is you can add posts on a regular basis like it's a social profile. Those are also pieces of how to get found better on the search engine because Google sees those, obviously. So those are things I always tell any business that we talk with, what's that business profile look like? Is it even claimed? Some people haven't claimed it. Make sure that after claiming it, optimize it. Make sure you're in the right category. It's another big thing. Some people mistakenly put yourself in the wrong category. There's other subcategories you can add. There's one primary category and then there's several subcategories. Make sure that primary is the right one.
The website is like your ... Of course, this is what we're talking about next month, right? Creating a website that converts: design, content, functionality. That's the hub of your online marketing. Whatever you can begin to do. We kind of touched on some of the things today about making sure that's SEO friendly and with the content and all that. We'll go into more detail on what a good website looks like next month, but definitely begin to just add as much relevant, good stuff. Because people are like, if they're coming into your area they don't know anything about, like, how are they going to find that out? You're going to be able to serve them with photos and videos.
Be personal. That's another big thing. Make it people want to connect with other people. Don't be afraid to jump in front of the camera and different things like that to really show the personality of who you are, what your business and your park is about.
Question: How can you determine what keywords are best for you?
Answer: You have to know your business first and foremost and then who you're trying to attract. Those two things together, like I said, the Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs or SEMrush essentially, you can go also and research similar. Like I know, Wesla, you're talking about just getting started. If you know someone in maybe in another state or seen another one that's similar to what you're providing, you can put their website in there and do some research too and be like, okay, this is what they're doing. Some of those tools allow you to do those kind of things too, to find out what similar providers, similar parks are in the middle of doing. Does that help? All right, let's just assume that helped.
That is today's webinar. Super glad you guys were able to jump on with us today. This next one is going to be deeper dive into what it looks like to have a good website.
Question: Key words aren't really just individual words, but can be phrases correct?
Answer: Keyword phrase, key phrase, keyword. Obviously, long tail keywords would be like, I'm looking for park with blah, blah, blah. All these different things. Those are easier to get ranked for, by the way, those longtails.
Connect With Us
We can keep the conversation going, actually. If you have other questions and would like to just know more whether, Monroe, if you want a little bit more detail on some of the things to do and we could actually look at your site. Obviously, we'd love to do that. You can go to book.restrelaxroi.com, find a time that works for you. Be glad to chat with anybody, anytime. We like doing that.
All right, everybody. We really appreciate you being here. For those that are watching. Thanks again, and until next time, happy trails!