Fishing charter captains need to be savvy when it comes to search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO)—at least as far as understanding how potential customers search for their services online, and how to make sure their website appears as a top result.
(I get it, you have a lot of other things to think about besides all these digital acronyms.)
To save you the trouble of trawling through the backwaters of Google for hours, I’ve put together this quick guide to SEM and SEO for fishing charter businesses.
SEM for Fishing Charters: The Basics
SEM is one of the most effective ways to market your charter business and attract new customers.
When someone’s looking to book a fishing charter, the first place they’re going to go is… you guessed it, Google. They’ll type in something like “fishing charter Cedar Key” or “fly fishing Tallahassee” and hit enter. From there, they’ll scan the top results.
While ranking on page 2 may have been a thing at one point, in 2022, rarely will any of your potential customers ever look past the first page of search engine results.
If your charter business website is appearing on the first page of results (preferably in the top three), you’re more likely to get clicks, leads, and new customers.
Since fishing businesses are often seasonal, it’s obviously important to make the most of your SEM efforts during your busy season.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should neglect your SEM efforts during the off-season. In fact, planning and executing a well-rounded SEM strategy year-round is essential to the success of your fishing charter business.
Search Engine Optimization for Fishing Charters
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, ensures that your fishing charter business is visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), when potential customers are searching for the types of charter services you offer.
There are a ton of factors that contribute to your business’s SEO—way too many to list here. But a lot of them revolve around the content on your site, your site’s design and organizational structure, and the way other sites link to yours.
Local SEO for Fishing Charters
Even more so than a lot of other so-called “brick and mortar” businesses, boating and fishing charter businesses need to focus their SEO efforts on “Local SEO.”
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online presence to ensure that your business is visible to potential customers in your geographic area.
It basically ensures that your business is visible in local search results, when potential customers are searching for fishing charter services near them.
Why is it particularly important for fishing and boating businesses?
Simply put, people are looking for a charter business that is located near them, or where they’re planning to vacation.
You don’t need to rank highly in national search results when 99% of your potential customers are going to be searching for charter businesses in a specific city or part of the state.
Very few people are sitting in Nebraska right now thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what the top fishing charter business in the continental United States is? Wherever that is, I think I’ll go there on vacation.”
(Sure, it happens—but how much effort do you want to focus on getting that one guy?)
Instead, your customers are typing in locally-focused keyword searches, i.e. “fishing charters sarasota” or “fishing charter in siesta key.”
By optimizing your website and online presence for local search, you can make sure that your business is visible to potential customers who are searching for fishing charters in your area.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Fishing Charters
A SEM strategy that can be highly effective for fishing charter businesses is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
PPC is a type of online advertising in which businesses bid on keywords and phrases that potential customers are searching for. When someone searches for one of the keywords or phrases that you’re bidding on, your ad will appear in the SERPs.
You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, hence the name “pay-per-click.”
Just as with SEO, when it comes to marketing with paid ads, Google is the 200-pound alligator gar in the lake—and for good reason. As of June 2022, 92.49% of all search engine queries go through Google.
PPC advertising on Google can be an effective way to market your fishing charter business because it allows you to specifically target potential customers who are already interested in the types of services you offer.
When it’s not done haphazardly by an overworked business owner using guesswork, PPC can also be a very cost-effective way to market your business—since you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
The key to a successful PPC campaign is to carefully select the keywords and phrases that you bid on, so that you’re targeting potential customers who are most likely to use your services.
Of course, you also need to make sure that the content of your ads are well-written, engaging, and relevant to the keywords and phrases you’re bidding on.
And—speaking of well-written, relevant, content—let’s move on to…
Content Marketing for Fishing Businesses
Content marketing is another SEM strategy that can be used to market your fishing charter business. It basically involves creating and sharing informative and engaging content that is relevant to your target audience.
You’ve definitely encountered content marketing in the wild—whether you realized it at the time or not. You’ve probably even come across content marketing for fishing charters before. You know, those blogs on all of your competitors’ sites that have names like “The Fishing Report,” or “What’s Biting,” or “The Captain’s Log.”
They’re not just posting those photos of what their customers caught on the boat to show off (though that’s definitely part of it). They’re also posting them to attract more fishing charter customers, while boosting their local SEO at the same time.
And it works!
The goal of content marketing is to attract potential customers to your website or blog, and then convert them into paying customers. Content marketing goes hand in hand with SEO, since the content you publish can drastically improve your website’s search engine rankings.
Content marketing can be an effective way to market your fishing charter business because it allows you to build relationships with potential customers, and position yourself as an expert in your industry (and let everyone know about it).
When done correctly, content marketing can be a very cost-effective way to market your fishing business.
But to be “effective” in any sense of the word, your content needs to be engaging, interesting, and extremely relevant to people who want to hire your services.
They’re not going to be interested in content about, say, snorkeling in Dry Tortugas if they’re looking for fly fishing in the panhandle. And Google isn’t going to rank you in results for fishing charters in Tallahassee if all your content is about the Keys.
In other words, you can’t rank for the most profitable search terms—or attract the visitors who are most likely to become new customers of yours—by just posting any content that mentions “fish.”
Examples of Content Marketing Topics for Fishing Charters
Here are some examples of content that would be considered relevant to people searching for fishing charters in your area or helps build your overall authority in the industry:
- The best time of year to go fishing in your area
- The best fishing spots in your area
- Types of fish you can expect to catch in your area
- The gear you need for fishing in your area
- Rules and regulations for fishing in your area
- How to plan a fishing trip
- The types of charter services you offer
- The rates for your charter services
- What to expect on a fishing charter
- Questions that people frequently ask you before going fishing/while they’re on the boat
All of this content would be relevant to someone searching for fishing charters in your area, and would help you attract potential customers to your site. (Now, just come up with 500 more ideas like these.)
This strategy also lets your clients, Google, and other search engines know that you are the industry authority in the area.
A way I look to put it, when speaking on the importance of topical authority of general fishing knowledge in your area, is like this:
Lets say you write about trips, seasonal targets, and all the things that are client focused. At the same time you talk about gear, tactics, “how to catch” a certain species, and so on – this builds your authority library (your own wiki).
Then, when someone searches “fishing charter near me” (and this is the number one search for most guide sites), Google responds with “Hey, you’re in luck, the fishing authority of the area, who is also a charter company, is just down the street. Win – Win!”
The key is to make sure that the content you’re creating is actually interesting and informative, so that people will want to read it.
And it needs to be properly search engine optimized, of course , so that people will actually find it when they’re entering relevant search terms.
As you can see from the list of ideas above, your content should be specifically related to the charter services you offer, in the geographic area that you’re targeting. Or, things that are of interest to the type of people you’re trying to attract. For instance, you can always mix in some general content about boating, fishing equipment, general fishing tips, and so on.
But, for the best results with content marketing, there’s no way around it—you need to have a plan.
You need to plan and execute a content strategy that includes when/where/how often your content needs to be published, optimal ratios of the different types of content you post, and much more.
Sounds great, right?
Now, who has the time to actually sit down and do any of this?
If you’re like most of the captains I know, the answer is: not you.
You’re too busy running your business, dealing with customers, and actually going out on charter trips to be able to produce high-quality content on a regular basis.
But in 2022, if you want to get more business—you need to find a way to make it work.
The good news is: you can hire an expert in Search Engine Marketing for fishing charter businesses to handle everything in this guide!
I’m a SEM expert utilizing modern methodologies to reach a larger audience through brand contextualization and targeted audience acquisition. I have a proven track record, and I specialize in helping businesses exactly like yours get seen by people who are actively wanting to hire you.
But, I also fish. Unlike other marketers, when you say you’re “sight casting to a tailer”, “scoping the flats for a push”, “Got a PB bucket mouth on a topwater frog” or “Banging ‘poon on the long rod” – I know exactly what you mean. Alongside, I’ve marketed for fishing guides since 2008 and can provide real-world data from previous and current campaigns that show – what I do works, and sticks.
If you’re interested in generating more profits for your fishing business through search engine marketing—let’s connect. Click here to contact me or schedule a call.