By Sharon Scott
Jack Richardson at The
Trades Publishing Company
gave me a call in 1993 to ask if I would begin writing a monthly column for its
publication Resort Trades. I had met Jack and his boss, Trades
Owner/Publisher Tim Wilson, in 1989 while I worked for ARDA (or, ARRDA at that
time). Jack passed away several years later; Tim and I continue to remember him
After I established my PR and content
marketing company, SharonINK in 2006, I continued to write for The Trades. Tim
and I married in 2013 and in 2017 Tim asked me to take over as publisher of The
Trades’ two publications, Resort Trades
and Golf Course Trades. Resort Trades’ audience consists of
vacation providers, including timeshare resorts, travel companies, membership
clubs, and rental companies. Readers of Golf Course Trades are course owners,
operators, and superintendents interested in staying current with their
With the advent of digital media, both titles
began to explore the opportunities inherent with the ability to offer a full
marketing mix. Because The Trades can now offer a multi-channel approach to
help vendors use both the power of print and the reach of the Internet to
promote their products, it made sense to add another feature – Content
Marketing – to the company toolbox. Engrossed as I was by my duties as
publisher and media director for Tim’s housing development, I decided to fold
the writing and promotional services from SharonINK into The Trades as THE
TRADES INK with its access to a fine team of writers, copy editors, graphic
designers, and digital experts.
Perhaps the most
significant initiative of THE TRADES is our investment in search engine
optimization (SEO). We recently promoted Carrie Vandever to the position of
Digital Media Manager. She will be in
charge of managing and leading content for the company’s various digital assets
including ResortTrades.com, the Resort
Trades Weekly eNewsletter, GolfCourseTrades.com, the Golf
Course Trades Supplier Directory,
the Golf Course Trades Weekly
eNewsletter, and all social media platforms. She will also provide leadership
in directing the development of The Trades’ search engine optimization (SEO)
At our home headquarters, we have been passing
around a game-changing book by Will Coombe entitled, 3 Months
to No. 1. Resort marketing and human resource professionals who
excel at ranking at the top of Google searches are finding the effort to learn
this craft extremely useful.
Coombe appropriately bills his masterpiece as
“the ‘no-nonsense’ SEO playbook for getting your website found on
Google.” Besides recommending it wholeheartedly to our readers, we’ve made
the book — particularly his step-by-step,
week-by-week “SEO Blueprint and Checklist” — our new corporate user’s
The reason we’re giving this so much of our
attention should be evident: We want to serve our readers, to give them enough
value that they’ll keep coming back. As they continue to review our material,
we receive our reward — higher Google ratings. And as Resort Trades receives
higher ratings, so do our advertisers…. Win-win!
I don’t know why it took me so long to fully appreciate
the value of SEO; to ‘get it.’ But since I’ve been through my Great Awakening,
I’ve taken on the mantle of evangelist. I find myself talking about it to
everyone I know!
message is perhaps being preached to the choir: In online marketing — whether
you’re appealing as a vendor to professionals in the resort/vacation/resort
rental business, or you are marketing a resort product to consumers, for
example — you can compete virtually with any competitor. It’s just a matter of appearing higher
on a Google SERP (search engine results page) than others.
When resort marketers or vendors become
complacent and feel their reputation is well established and they are being
followed by loyal customers: Bang! Along comes a disruptive interloper. And
these days, more often than not, the obtrusive intruder grabs your customer’s
attention by appearing above you on a SERP!
Try This at Home:
First Step: Keyword Research. You’ll want to
use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool whether or not you are buying an ad.
It’s free, but you have to work around a pretty persistent series of landing
pages insisting you sign up for an advertising campaign. Visit Joshua
Hardwick’s blog post https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-keyword-planner/
for a step-by-step guide to avoid the expense. Another really helpful site is
Neil Patel’s blog, https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/.
How important is Content Marketing? It is 100
percent, absolutely, totally vital. There is a delicately balanced mixture of
art and science involved in pleasing the Google algorithm deities and one of
the major offerings you must present at its unholy altar (no offense,
Google…just trying to make a point) is a consistent, intelligent, and
keyword-clever volume of content.
If perhaps you’re wondering where to start, my
advice is simple: study the blogs and books coming from the most notable SEO
gurus and, meanwhile, start building a volume of work in the form of blogs and
Just a few tips:
likeable; show you’re human. People buy from those they know, like and trust.
a sense of belonging. Resorts are often very good at making their guests feel
they are part of an exclusive group. Wine and dine them, woo them like a lover.
storytelling whenever possible. Your blogs, your collateral and your social
media will be most effective when you tell a story featuring people.
Storytelling is the most compelling promotional tool you have.
events whenever possible. Ask a car salesman or a realtor. They will tell you
that the words “Grand Opening” or “Super Sales Event” draws a crowd, even
though the prices and offerings are the same on a non-event day.
different is better than being better (unless you get weird). Here’s where
having a sizable volume of good, solid content can set you apart.
on leads, not sales.
Blog Away, Oh Pilgrim!
How do you build content? Blog! Here are some
careful attention to writing attention-grabbing headlines in your blog and
social media posts. The best headlines create surprise, ask a question or
your keywords in headlines and the text whenever possible. Use pictures
everywhere. Pictures and videos with people telling their own stories, your
story…any story…are hot these days.
you’re studying this post, you are probably a perfectionist seeking to produce
highly researched and well-written materials. While it is important to create
as grammatically correct and accurate posts, try to not procrastinate. Experts
say, get it out there..
didn’t have a chance to discuss cross linking in this post; I guess that’s
worth a post all by itself. All of your online efforts are intended to drive
traffic to your website.
It has been suggested you should add a landing
page to every URL.I confess to be behind the times when it comes to adding
these to my own sites. (Do as I say; not as I do!) Offer some special
information in exchange for contact information. People are accustomed to being
asked to give something to get something. But provide a landing page as an
option for viewers to fill out, whether it’s gated or open.
All in all, remember that SEO is a lifestyle
change, not a diet. Make it your marketing priority and don’t assume you will
ever catch up totally with All Knowledge. Things are happening too quickly out
there; just do your best. And good luck!
Sharon Scott Wilson is Publisher and Managing
Partner at The Trades Publishing Company, a media and digital content marketing
company located in Crossville, Tennessee. The Trades produces multi-media
channels supporting resort and rental marketing professionals, golf course
owners and superintendents, and a niche community of luxury homes with
attached, fully-enclosed RV garages. GardensRV.com; ResortTrades.com;