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Friday, February 24, 2012

How Long Tail Keywords Can Shoot Your Site to the Top of Google

Having trouble getting your site ranked highly in the search engines? Then you should try "long tail" keyword marketing -- it's the strategy I use to get my camp's website, AlohaBeachCamp.com, top rankings on the first page of all the top search engines.

As you probably know, keywords are the words or phrases people type into Google and other search engines to find what they're looking for. If the keywords they enter match the content on your site, your website will (hopefully) be displayed.

What are "Long Tail" Keywords?

"Long tail" keywords are keyword phrases comprised of three, four, five or more words, in contrast to much shorter one or two word less descriptive ones (which may be referred to as "short tail" keywords).

For example, "camps" and "summer camps" are "short tail" keywords. Conversely, "Horseback riding summer camps for kids in Atlanta Georgia" are long tail keywords. These types of keywords are much more descriptive, specific, and much easier for you to rank highly for, because the competition for them is much less intense.

Why Long Tail Keywords are Better Than Short Ones


Let's say you want your website to show up on the first page of Google for the keywords, "camps" or "summer camps." Well, unless your site's been online forever, you've got tons of quality links pointing to it, and/or you're paying through the nose for in Google's Adwords program, you're screwed. There's too many camps who want the same thing; too much competition to ever rank highly for these generic keywords.

Instead, you should go after "long tail keywords" where the competition is often so manageable, you can practically OWN those keywords (literally corner the market) with respect to the search engine results. The added benefit is that these long tail keywords will bring you highly targeted website traffic, because the people searching on them will realize you've got just what they're looking for.

Examples of Long Tail Keyword Marketing

Let's say you run a summer gymnastics camp for girls in Des Moine, Iowa. Someone searching for a camp like this might type the less descriptive keywords "summer camps" into Google, and we can say with relative confidence your camp won't show up. But now let's say your website and blog are optimized for the following more specific long tail keywords: "summer gymnastics camp in Des Moine Iowa for girls." Now anyone who types THESE words into Google will see your site first ... and that's the power of long tail keyword marketing!

Let me give you another example. My own camp, Aloha Beach Camp, does not rank highly for the generic (short tail) keywords "camps" or "summer camps" (in fact I don't want it to). But I basically DOMINATE the local market for the various long tail keywords I'm after, which include "los angeles summer camps," "los angeles surf camps," "surf camps for kids," "beach summer camps," "summer camps los angeles," and many others. My site is ranked as high as #1 or #2 for many of these long tail keyword phrases. The traffic I get from them is certainly not as high as if I were ranking #1 for the short tail keyword "summer camps," but the majority of prospects coming to my site in that case wouldn't even be useful to me since most of these people wouldn't even be looking for an L.A. beach and surf camp. The long tail keywords I use deliver traffic to my website that's highly targeted, and therefore comprised only of hot prospects who are specifically interested in what my camp offers. And few other camps in Los Angeles (or anywhere, for that matter) can compete with that.

Now as you might guess, and I just touched on, there's gonna be A LOT fewer people searching on your long tail specific keyword phrases than short tail, generic ones. But that doesn't matter to you, not one bit, because your long tail keywords are highly specific. This means Google will KNOW your site is the best one to show  website searchers (your prospects) when they search on your long tail keyword phrases.

Your task now is to discover which long tail keyword phrases your prospects are searching on so you can optimize your website and blog for them. (By "optimize your website and blog," I mean writing descriptive pages and posts which include your long tail keyword phrases in the page content, title tag, and description tags of your webpages and blog.)

There's a number of free tools online you can use to find out where you rank now for various keywords and keyword phrases. I'd start with this one. Then check out Google's keyword selector tool which serves really nicely as a long tail keyword generator tool by suggesting long tail keywords with low competition related to what you're after.

How to Get Your Camp on the First Page of Google Within Minutes

All of us want our camps' websites to show up on the first page of Google. Posting classified ads could do the trick. I've learned through trial and error how to get my camp listed on the first page of Google posting ads on Craigslist, OLX and Backpage. You should try it. Here's an article that tells you how. You might find your ad shows on the the first page of the search engines immediately (and I mean within minutes).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Top Two Questions I'm Asked Most Often

As you can imagine I get many marketing questions from camp people. Two of the more common ones are:

  • What's the single best marketing strategy camps can use?
  • Do you ever speak, and if so, when and where?

As to question #1, I'm sorry to say I don't know it! I wish I did, because marketing our programs would be a whole lot easier if I did. Truth is there really isn't just one marketing strategy you should be using. If you're just using one marketing strategy, and your competitor's using three or four, you're gonna get beat no matter how good yours is. (As I always say, the more lines you have in the ocean, the more fish you'll catch!) So I suggest promoting your camp with as many strategies you can do extremely well, rather than just one "good one" or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, so freaking many that you're spread too thin to do any of them well.

Regarding the second question, I do speak from time-to-time and have offered marketing workshops and seminars in the past. I hope to offer another one soon. One issue is there are lots of busy people who read this blog who live all over the place including the US and Canada, so it's not easy finding a convenient place and time for everyone to attend.

However, in the past year I have been refining on a new marketing system I'm dying to share with you. This program will work for anyone, anywhere, in terms of adding new kids to your camp (including doubling and even tripling your enrollment) and/or adding anywhere from $10,000 - $100,000 or more in revenue to your operation by next summer. This is not a pie-in-the-sky claim, it's a guarantee and as soon as we can nail down a place and time to get together I'll show you how.

My best guess at this point is the marketing seminar will take place in this fall in September or October, either in Palm Springs, California or my hometown of Los Angeles. Palm Springs is favorable because there's less traffic and congestion and a beautiful place for families to recreate and unwind after a long camp season. More info coming soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to Market Your Camp the Green Way

Here's a great way to get community exposure for your camp, do great things for the environment and make lots of  kids and parents aware of your program: Start and sponsor a recycling program at a local school or sports field. I've been doing this for the past month at my boys' little league field and also did it about 5 years ago when my daughter was playing softball. 

Here's what you do. Contact your local little league, kids basketball league, youth soccer league, public park, or even a local school to form a "green partnership." (The best prospects you'll find are those without recycling programs.)

When you reach them, be sure to say you've noticed they don't have a recycling program, and you'd like to place a few recycling bins (they can be small) at their respective locations. Tell them you'll buy the bins and maintain the recycling program. The only thing you want in return (which you don't even need to tell them) is to put your name and phone number and/or website on the bins. (I've been doing this for the past month since little league started and my phone's been ringing more this February then usual, and one reason why is because people tell me they saw my bins at the baseball field and what a great idea it is!)

Now I don't want you to leave this post empty handed or with any uncertainty how to proceed, so here's the exact transcript (exact letter) I use when setting these programs up. The following letter is yours to copy and use as you see fit. (I used this one to propose a new recycling program at my daughter's softball field several years back:)

Dear West Valley Girls Softball (WVGSL) League:
My name is Eric Naftulin and my daughter, Sarah, plays in your West Valley Girls Softball League. I also help coach her team, Purple Reign, in the Minors division. I'm writing to you because I'd like to establish a recycling program for the WVGSL at Hughes School where the softball games take place.
At the conclusion of each softball game, I always make a point of cleaning up as many bottles and cans around the fields as possible, but lately I have noticed most of the trash cans are already full, not with trash, but also with bottles, cans and other recyclables which I assume are being purchased from your Snack Bar, so here's what I was thinking.
I own a local summer camp for kids called Aloha Beach Camp (which many of the girls who play in the WVGSL Softball League attend). I'd like to place some new recycling containers at the fields. The containers would be clearly marked so people would know that the softball league now recycles bottles and cans, and that Aloha Beach Camp is the program's sponsor.
As the program sponsor, I would pay for and maintain the recyling containers and bring all the recycled bottles and cans to the local recycling center on a schedule you see fit. Since I own a beach camp, I was thinking we could split the proceeds whereby 50% would be donated back to your league, and the other 50% donated to Heal the Bay which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping southern California's coastal waters safe, healthy and clean.

I hope you see as much value in this program as I do. I am looking forward to establishing this program with you as soon as possible. I look forward to your response and appreciate your thoughtful consideration.
All the best,
Eric D. Naftulin
Aloha Beach and Surf Camp

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Get People to Link to Your Website

Accumulating relevant links from popular websites to yours is one of the many factors Google and other search engines use to rank your site.

For instance, I run a surf camp, and one of the reasons I've been able to get my site ranked on the first page of Google (without paying for it) is a strategy I use called "link baiting."

Link baiting is any tactic you use to get others to link to your site.

Because big-time players in the surf industry, such as Billabong and Surfline, link to my site, I've been able to get ranked at the top of Google for certain keywords I'm after. (Such as "Los Angeles Summer Camps," for instance).

All it takes is creating online content they (Billabong, Surfline and others) they find useful, then they will link to my site.

You can easily do the same by employing "link baiting" tactics.  Here's a great article on what link bait is, and certain strategies you can use to get more inbound links to your website, too.

How Moms are Using Pinterest

As you probably know by now, Pinterest is the new social media rage. Here's how moms are using it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Groupon For Your Camp? No Thanks!

Just in case you're not a member of our Summer Camp Marketing Tips group on Facebook, I wanted to make this quick post about Groupon, Living Social and all the other social network discount sites. (Our group was discussing this earlier today, so I wanted to make a quick point here.)

I am aware of at least one camp who partnered with Living Social last year. I believe they sold a lot of camp enrollments through the deal, but I don't know if they were happy with the outcome or it was beneficial.

I have personally been approached at least 10 times by Living Social and Groupon over the past 3 years to run promotions with them. I almost took the bait several times, but thankfully backed out at the last minute at least twice.

Truth is, I'm still trying to find business owner (and I know lots of them) who's actually happy they participated in a Groupon or Living Social promotion. A popular pizza place in my area of Los Angeles did a Groupon deal twice last year, but they're not popular anymore because they went out of business after doing the Groupon promo.

In fact one thing I've learned is that Groupon and Living Social are typically only good for big companies who can withstand the financial loss generally incurred by participating. For example, a McDonald's restaurant near me is doing a deal with Living Social right now. I was in their store just yesterday with my kids and overheard the manager talking with her employee about how the deal is generating lots of sales, but costing them money to run it. And that's a business killer any way you look at it.

A year or so ago I found this blog post about working with Groupon. If you are considering doing so, read this first. It paints a telling story of the Groupon process including the good and bad of entering into a deal with them.

If I were you, I wouldn't do it, but perhaps you'll see it differently. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

7 Easy Ways to Jumpstart Your 2012 Summer Camp Marketing Plan

Hopefully your 2012 summer camp marketing plan is already humming. But if you're behind the 8-ball or only have a limited budget this year, here's 7 things you can plan for, and start doing, right now to get maximum exposure for your camp:
  • Make sure your website is fully updated for this summer, and change the homepage content (just a slight change is fine) every 10 days or so
  • Blog at least 3 times per week
  • Set up an active referral program, so every camper registrant refers at least one more
  • Participate/Engage/Connect with your customers, prospects and fans in/on at least one social site, and preferably two, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus
  • Don't ignore the time-tested benefits of traditional (offline) marketing, such as direct mail. To that end, conduct at least two direct mail campaigns with postcards. Postcards are cheap, easy to create, and they work
  • Set up your email marketing system with autoresponders, which can help you connect with customers and prospects automatically for pennies. (In fact you might find this is your favorite way to market you camp once you get it going!)
  • As you already know, most people start their camp search online these days. If your site is not showing up on the first page of Google or Bing, consider paid online advertising program such as Google's Adwords
Good luck...let me know if you have any questions or need any help

-- Eric