John Akerson's Thoughts

Business, technology and life

Surfing Nicaragua, Ice-fishing Iraq and the Greatest Living American

Surfing Nicaragua? Ice-Fishing Iraq?

Yesterday I was discussing Surfing in Nicaragua with a good friend.  He was a bit perplexed. His client, Two Brothers Surf Resort in Nicaragua would like better results online – and the consensus is that getting the results that they want will require their website undergo some search engine optimization.  That shouldn’t be hard… I’ve swum the Chagres river in Panama and dived the barrier reef in Belize, but to me the idea of surfing in Nicaragua seems pretty unique. Well – EXTREMELY unique.  

From a search engine perspective, It should be fairly easy to do some good work for Two Brothers Surf Resort.  I would think the same thing about, say, Ice-fishing in Iraq.   Look at it this way, if you wanted to build a website to sell ice-fishing  tours of Iraq, how difficult would it be to optimize that for search engines?  Your competition would be nearly zero, so it should be a matter of common ice-fishing-Iraqsense.   In that same regard, I had never heard of surfing Nicaragua, so I thought, offhand, that it couldn’t be terribly difficult. In search engine terms, the darker the room is, the easier it will be to see a single candle.

Search Engine Optimization is not a dark art, it is common sense. It is using the principles that the websites use to ensure your site is ranked appropriately.  Search Engines WANT to work for people who do searches. The better they work, the more valuable their results are. But search engine’s don’t hire people to visit the businesses and bloggers behind the websites that they rank, the only evidence of the website’s relevance to a person searching for a particular keyword comes from the objective information that comes from two places. One place is on the website. This information includes domain name, keywords, titles, headings, alt tags, and text and the features of the site. The other place is off the website. This includes domain registration, inbound link quality, representation on and links from other sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

I started by looking at the site.  The pictures of surfing Nicaragua are awesome… but I wanted toSurf Nicaragua - Two Brothers Surf examine their site from a search engine perspective. There’s an automated tool for that, Website Grader. I highly recommend it.  Two Brothers Surf Resort’s website scored a 37. (on a scale of 1 to 100)  That’s not good… it reflects real opportunity for improvement.

The automated Website Grader reflected that there were no headings,  the Page Title was a simple “Two Brothers Surf Resort, Nicaragua “, there were 39 images on the main page with no ALT text 38 of them.  The domain was set to expire in less than 4 months, there’s no redirect from twobrotherssurf.com to www.twobrotherssurf.com, it was last crawled about a week ago, the Google Page Rank is a 3 – on a scale of 1-10! There is a great article about page rank here.)

And it gets worse and worse. There are no links for TwoBrothersSurf in either the DMOZ directory or the Yahoo Directory. There is no blog, no del.icio.us, no Digg, no RSS, no newsletters or conversion, no Twitter, no Facebook, no LinkedIn, and nothing on Wiki about TwoBrothers Surf.  (as a side note, HubSpot, the maker of Website Grader has a nice, free Internet Marketing Kit here. )

If Stephen Colbert can be ranked #1 by/in Google as the “Greatest Living American” through somewhat questionable and perhaps nefarious search engine optimization, then I think it should be reasonable for TwoBrothersSurf should be ranked in the top #5 as “Surf Nicaragua” and “Nicaragua Surfing”  in both Google and Bing.  They face stiff competition from the Popoyo Surf Lodge – owners of “surfnicaragua.com” a domain that scores a 60 on Website Grader.    Their competition is a moderately bright candle.

So – how can Two Brothers Surf improve their results? 

Here’s the beginning of a plan to improve their site

  • Select phrases and words that are relevant and important.
  • Note initial search engine results for those words and phrases as benchmarks
  • Begin an ongoing marketing campaign  that includes  *social media. (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, linkedin, de.licio.us, etc.) as well as *traditional media (prweb, prnewswire, marketwire, local press,etc)
  • Refine their website. (Headings, ALT tags, locally-hosted blog, newsletter, keywords, sitemap, robots.txt, etc)
  • Refine externally. (DMOZ, BOTW.org, Business.com, Yahoo Directory, Wiki, etc)
  • Write a brief guideline for web changes to ensure that their website retains quality.
  • Renew their domain for multiple years.
  • Consider buying NicaraguaSurf.com – which may be owned by a squatter willing to sell – and making another version of their site.

That is not a spammy search-engine blitz, it is time consuming basic work, but if they decide to do it, everything should be possible for TwoBrothersSurf.com in a few weeks, and should improve their results in dramatic fashion.  

Could it be harder for Surfing Nicaragua than for Ice-fishing Iraq?

What do you think?

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November 11, 2009 - Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Continuous Improvement

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