Having re-read a number of recent posts, I have a nagging feeling that the tone of the website is a bit too negative. It’s not intentional, and it’s born of frustration that that sailing is still predominantly an amateur pastime, and that amateurism extends to the way in which the sport is sold.
While the sailing industry is not the only one to be slow to adopt new media techniques to promote itself, there is still a long way to go to educate those trying to do sailing marketing about how to use techniques that other industries and other sports are using to grow at unprecedented rates.
A recent article, by a major sailing race promoter contained the phrase:
“The territory of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and other obscure internet techniques are strewn with pitfalls…”
In a recent survey by SEO software company, Linkdex, found that ‘being on top of Google and other search engines’ was the second most important promotional activity for business. The most important was word of mouth, which is accelerated and improved by things like social media.
65% of businesses surveyed said that Being on top of Google was important to their business and 49% would invest more in SEO in the coming 12 months.
Those who understand how clients and customers make buying decisions don’t see SEO as an ‘obscure technique’, but a business imperative.
The good news for companies, athletes and brands who want to win in the world of sailing and yacht racing is that the naivety of the industry as a whole means there are quick wins to be had.
In fact, if you know what you are doing, you can pick almost any keyword phrase in the sailing industry and rank number 1 in Google with relatively little effort in a very short time. (Of course that phrase might not be one that brings any visitors, but that’s a different part of SEO)
I’m one of the first people to put my hand up and say that I underestimated the importance of Search Engine Optimisation to my business. But when you think about it, Google is the starting point for so many of our buying decisions, having your products and services invisible in search engines means that other businesses are taking your customers.
You know that logically, but what have you done about it? When was the last time you thought about what someone might type into Google to find what it is that you have to offer? When was the last time you read your press releases to see if they contain the phrases you want to be found for online? When was the last time your PR agency pitched a link back to your website as hard as they did a story?
Here’s some tests. We typed ‘Sailing jacket’ into Google and not one of the recognisable brands features in natural search results on the first page. Not Henri Lloyd, not Musto, not Gill, not SLAM*…
We typed ‘race sails’ into Google and the manufacturers did better, but North Sails is not number one, and we bet you can’t guess who is without looking.
We typed ‘wining race sails’ into Google and North Sails isn’t even on the first page, but Neil Pryde is on the top spot.
SEO is an obscure internet technique until you realise that you might be losing sales if you aren’t doing it.
Disclaimer: David Fuller is the CEO of Pilote Media, a digital marketing company that publishes yachtsponsorship.com. He also consults to Linkdex – the SEO software tool mentioned in this article.