From Outdoor Instructor to Web developer and SEO addict..how did that happen?
When I decided to set up Relentless Adventure as a Limited Company back in 2018, I planned to be drawing upon my personal portfolio of skills, instructor qualifications and passion for the outdoors in order to grow from Freelance Outdoor Instructor support to a fully fledged Outdoor Activities Company providing UK based Instructor level training. My naivety was probably rather high at the time, as little did I know that just as much time in the months that followed would be spent updating websites, managing Google business, advertising and marketing.
As a 'Newbie' business, attempting to compete with the established providers, I hoped that word of mouth, my reputation, demand for activity and my portfolio of qualifications alone would be enough to drive the business forward. Fast forward 6 months, and it's amazing how much I have learned along the way.
It would be unfair of me to write this without some mention of the ongoing pandemic, so i'll mention it just briefly and move on, C-19 was a huge factor for Relentless Adventure in 2019, as it was for many others; work dried up and frustration ensued, but it was also a fantastic opportunity, it enabled me to focus on some other elements, elements I had definitely overlooked during the initial start up.
So...that brings me forward, the website! Sometimes I curse, sometimes I want to cry, sometime I jump up and down with excitement as something works or I climb a search ranking; but ultimately the website is probably the single biggest marketing tool for any Outdoor Activities Provider, it provides a mechanism for potential customers and those outside of your immediate circle to find you, to review you, you see your offerings and ultimately review your recommendations. Without the website how would a potential Mountain Bike Instructor find me or my Mountain Bike Instructor training? It quite simply can make or break your small business.
To put some context on this, when I first considered building the website, I approached a number of 'experts', and after having been relentlessly (slight play on words there..) spammed with many offers of website design and optimisation, costing from a few hundred pounds to thousands of pounds, one thing stuck out for me as potential experts were sending me examples of their work...... Typo's, and 404 errors.
Can you imagine as a mountain bike instructor for example; posting a picture on social media of a skills session, but there was clearly a flat tyre or candidates not wearing a helmet? Or as a climbing instructor; a picture with the climber incorrectly tied in? Ultimately I felt the same, I wouldn't want to highlight failings as an instructor, it would damage my reputation, so why on earth would a web developer do exactly that? The answer was really rather simple, there was a huge supply of people willing to take my money, but ultimately not always for the best product. In the end, I decided that as I was not completely IT illiterate, I would do it myself.
And, so there I was on day one, the website was small, comprising static content, designed for people who know of Relentless Adventure to find more information. I thought it was pretty good. Just how wrong I was. At the time, I had no clue about SEO (Search Engine Optomisation), no inkling of just how important this was to appearing at the top of Google and other Search engine results. I didn't even know it had an impact - behind the scenes I genuinely believed a search as simple as 'Mountain Bike Instructor Training near me' would give me all the 'hits' I needed. Hours and days have since been spent tweaking key words, reading articles and playing with SEO, and ultimately tweaking every aspect of the website to ensure that it tracks and displays to exactly the target audience I seek.
Its fair to say there's always a little joy when you watch a key word search, move your business up Googles search rankings, knowing that its getting more and more hits. Its almost addictive, and not a week goes by where I didn't feel the urge to check, and tweak as needed. Sometimes a slight change is required, sometimes content requires updating, its a genuine part of the business, and a necessity, just as I check all my equipment before a session, I regularly check my online presence, my competition, and when needed adjust my strategy accordingly.
Its probably also worth a tiny mention on website visitor location. Did you know your inbuilt analytics can tell you the location of your web visitors, not just that, but whether they accessed from a mobile device or computer, their age, their sex, how long they were on your site? From your analytical searches, you can see where your visitors are located, and through this medium ensure that your targeted SEO is hitting the areas where you need it, don't be afraid to use the tools in your arsenal, they are powerful tools, designed to develop your business, and they are fundamental to your success.