As we all know, making the first move in business has its advantages. What not everyone realizes is just how effectively you can leverage this situation in terms of SEO. I’ve been doing SEO for years and I also own an online pool store, so when I got wind of a particular big opportunity, I jumped at it. The results were impressive.
The quick back story here relates to the Americans With Disabilities Act. After being signed into law by George H.W. Bush, pieces of the legislation have slowly been rolled out. When I heard the deadline for assisted pool access was being given a deadline of March 2012, the light bulb went off. This was going to be big.
The main form of assisted access that would meet these regulations was hydraulic pool lifts. This was a very small industry with only a couple fairly large players who never had much competition, because, let’s be honest, how many of these things have you ever seen? But, now there were going to be 300,000 pools in the United States that needed a pool lift.
The Plan, Part 1 – On Site Changes
First off, we needed to carry the major lines of pool lifts if we wanted to have any chance of reeling in web traffic to our store. We added the most popular products from the major players and made sure we had unique content about the lifts on each page. Google is not a big fan of duplicate content, so we got away from the manufacturers’ descriptions and wrote our own descriptions. We made sure to have page titles that included the brand, model number and major keywords for the category, namely “pool lifts”, “swimming pool lifts” and “ADA pool lifts”. We added a category for pool lifts in our main navigation and also added a link to the main pool lifts page off of our home page.
Aside from products, we wanted to make sure we were set up as an educational source as well. Considering ADA compliant lifts cost somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000, we knew there would be plenty of potential customers who wanted to do their homework before making that kind of investment. So, we did our homework and wrote our own educational guide. Again, we avoided copying directly from the ADA site, as Google would see that as duplicate content and it wouldn’t help us out in that capacity. While it wasn’t perfect, what we had for content definitely set us up as well as the top couple players.
The Plan, Part 2 – Link Building
For the average business owner, the unknown key to ranking high in Google is link building, that is, finding high quality, relevant links to your pages. We knew pool lifts wasn’t the sexiest topic, but we knew we could at least find a few places that would likely link to us – we just had to figure out where they were and what our pitch would be.
We had an established relationship with a site called Swim University, which has a blog about anything pool related, so we reached out to the site owner and offered an explanatory post about these new regulations. Shortly thereafter, we had a link live on that site (which you can see here). This was a good start, but we still wanted more links to beef up our status. We found more guest writing opportunities on sites dealing with disabilities, as we found them to be receptive to our cause (such as this Cerebral Palsy site). We also maintained two high ranking blogs of our own for Swimtown, so we created posts on those that linked back to our pages. Finally, when we realized it was difficult to get listed on a lot of other disability resource sites and pages, we figured we’d build our own. We put up a directory to help people find qualified installers (a real need for the end customer) and promoted it to installers so they would get themselves listed. The end result of that is our site poolliftinstallers.org, which has a big ad for Swimtown on it and also links back to our site. Two birds, one stone.
This was by no means perfect, but the original deadline for the lifts was March 15th, 2012 and was later pushed back to May 18th and once again to January 31, 2013. Needless to say, the waters have gotten deeper and more competitive since that second deadline. But, a large number of lifts got moved by that second deadline and as we were ranked in the top 3 for our main keywords (and a huge number of other lift related terms), we saw some huge benefits from our efforts. Here’s a snapshot of the traffic.
Obviously, the huge rush was at the first deadline as every hotel owner and commercial pool in the country panicked to either buy a lift or learn more, and the graph above is just organic search traffic that included the word “lift”. We peaked the week of the deadline with 1,717 lift related visits, but typically were getting 400-600 per week (due to Google not providing all search data, our true traffic numbers were likely substantially larger than this). I’m not at liberty to say exactly how much revenue this turned into, but I can say pool lifts have been a huge contributor to our sales being up more than 250% year to date for 2012.