The New Surfer’s Search Patterns

How do beginner surfers find their first board?

Searching for the right beginner board size might not always be dictated by the advice from the local surf-shop owner.

In fact, research suggests that beginner surfers turn to Google first, and equip themselves with the most easy to digest information before heading into a store.e

While this is likely not surprising; Shapers and surf shop owners can use this data to their advantage, not only to educate those new to surfing with their expertise, and to better target these potential customers.

Note: all data in this article relates to searches within the United States and was retrieved on 17 June 2020.

Our initial assumption is that the beginner makes a google search for ‘surf lessons’, showing the following results:

RankUrl# total site PagesPage backlinks
1learntosurfhb.com/surf-lessons/beginner-surf-lessons/30kNot Found
2learntosurfhb.com/surf-lessons/advanced-surf-lessons/30kNot Found
3club-ed.com/surf-lessons/107k3
4santamonicasurfschool.com/34k59
5learntosurfla.com/132k54
6malibumakos.com/private-surf-lessons/44k3
7alohabrotherssurflessons.com/7k59
8surfschoolsantacruz.com/68k157
9tommytsunamisurfschool.com/14k6
10surfschool.net/private-surf-lessons/125k9
11carolinasaltsurflessons.com/55k61
12surfcitysurfschool.com/71k131
13sbadventureco.com/adventures/surf-lessons/425k65
14sandiegosurfingschool.com/650k319
15mauisurflessons.com/16k395
16learntoripsurflessons.com/9k1
17adventureout.com/surf/how-to-surf/280k41
18socalsurflessons.com/23k16
19lovewatersurf.com/16k16
20sandiegosurflesson.com/67k897

Generally speaking, the first page of the search results (1-8) receive the lions share of traffic, with position 1-3 being the most competitive. In the above table, Learntosurfhb.com is likely to receive nearly 50% of the organic traffic by holding both position 0 and 1, with page 1 of the entire results seeing over 90% of all internet traffic.

Remarkable also, that ‘learntosurfhb’ is able to be indexed in this position by google – without any visible ‘backlinks’ redirecting users from other websites. This in itself is evidence of the power of targeted SEO, but also proof that smaller players in the industry can compete with the bigger fish, and win.

Now, let’s imagine that our potential user has since completed lessons or learnt from a friend, and is considering buying their first board.

As a quick note – the transactional search query for ‘best beginner’ boards having a higher monthly search volume than the purely informational ‘beginner surfboard’ already indicates where shapers, store owners or websites to where they should direct their SEO efforts.

For reference: Transactional queries point to purchasing intent, informational towards seeking further understanding of the topic, and navigational searches are towards a specific page or site.

Now, Let’s put on our surf shop owners hat.

We want to target keywords around the transactional query – “best beginner surfboard”, as it gets more searches per month, and we’re more likely to convert a visitor into a customer and get them on the right board for their level.

Creating a page to answer ‘best beginner surfboard’ directly makes sense, but we’d also be competing with a massive pool (over 1.7million) of other entries.

Targeting the long-tail keyword phrases found in the “people also ask” section makes way more sense to the savvy surfboard seller, and should get us more bang for our buck.

Let’s see what is returned:

These suggested queries looks to be mostly informational, save for the bottom suggestion, showing an oppurtunity to expand on, rather than simply answering the Yes or No to whether a 6 or 7 ft board is right to learn on.

The query of sizing a beginner’s surfboard would be our pick for an attention-grabbing piece of content, where one could author a few statements regarding surfer’s ability, age, weight etc and then direct the reader to the listing of boards available for purchase. Having an effective ‘call to action’ (CTA) statement – like a button is critical to keeping the reader in your site to encourage further browsing.

Answering the ‘beginner surfboard size’ query as a broad keyword target can be a double-edged sword. Having only approximately 30 searches per month and 1.2 million results listed, a better strategy would be to look deeper into the long tail keywords pool and target more specific phrases:

As the queries become more specific, so can our targeted content to respond to it. Let’s take it one step further down the rabbit hole:

From here, we can assemble a list of content ideas with the aim of getting the most value out of our marketing efforts.

And, once published – we can examine and analyse strategy to push our page up the search engine rankings through ad spend (Google ads shown):

if you had to choose one keyword to focus on; which would it be?

Unsurprisingly, newcomers to surfing are an incredibly targeted market when it comes to selling boards, wetsuits and surf gear. For the already established surfers or smaller surf businesses – themselves looking to enter the market – it can seem incredibly daunting by the competition that is out there.

Luckily, there is always an avenue to gain entry to this world for even the small player, we just have to look a little further to find the doggie door.