How 3 Dutchies crush it at Surf Shop SEO

An extended look at who does Surf shop SEO best in a local market, and how they do it.

In this article, we’ll look in detail at the 3 top ranking stores in the Netherlands, and their current application of surf shop SEO – so you can emulate + expand upon their strategy and success, no matter the region you’re in.

Why is SEO important for Surf shops?

To keep it short; more online visibility at the top of search engine results pages equal more potential customers either online – or through the front door.

Moreover, good surf shop SEO can be the vital factor in establishing your brand or business ahead of your competitors, where slack strategies can leave you in deep water.

So, this might mean more potential students for your surf school, more orders for that custom wooden surfboard, or more participants in your surf therapy organization.

Pretty straight-forward. Let’s continue.

Surf shops general info & Definition

What do we mean exactly when we say surf-shop or surf store?

To avoid confusion: the oxford dictionary defines a surf shop as “A shop which sells clothing and equipment for the beach; (in later use) specifically a shop which sells surfing equipment, clothing, etc.” Urban Dictionary adds that they’re : “Often staffed by local surfers with experience in surfing the local surf breaks“.

In this article we will mainly consider the ‘local surf store’ in reference to our SEO strategy, as these are presumably run by surfers, for surfers, and generally may not have an in-house team assigned to SEO.

In other words, it is more likely that the business owner spends a limited amount of time on website performance and search visibility in lieu of upkeep of the retail demands or online stocks associated with business as usual.

to demonstrate some of the best practices for Search engine optimization, we will focus on one competitive market in particular: The Netherlands.

Why Focus on Dutch Surf Stores?

Dutch PM Mark Rutte can’t see why not.

Given that Surfstraat is based in the Netherlands – albeit from an Australian expat – and took inspiration from their language in deciding on a domain name, one feels that it is fitting to look at this small, yet passionate surfing landscape.

In theory, we can then use the (highly competitive) Dutch landscape for surf stores as a blueprint for other markets such as Portugal, France, Australia and so on.

Above all, good surf shop SEO practices can be adopted no matter which country you are in, and will help promote your international online visibility too.

Regional info on Dutch Surfing market + players

Contrary to popular belief, the Netherlands actually does receive – if rarely – good waves.

Below is some photographic proof from a recent run of good waves in the north sea.

North sea surf shop seo
Source: Michal Pelka @michalpelka – Instagram

Overall, the north sea provides variable conditions for much of the year, with the best swell window occurring around the winter months. Places like Scheveningen, near Den Haag often see crowded lineups year round, with proximity to built up areas creating a ‘vibe’ similar to Bondi Beach in New South Wales.

scheveningen surf shop seo
Duurzaam Den Haag

So, Is surfing popularity on the rise in Holland?

Another indication of the intent to satisfy the growing participation in surfing (‘golfsurfen’ or wavesurfing i particular) can be seen in numerous planned wavepool projects. One, in Rotterdam – rumoured to be on hold/cancelled – and others in Den Haag & elsewhere in the country.

Whilst nowhere close to the surfing population of 1 in 10 like Australia, Holland.com’s approximation of around 10,000 Dutch surfers in total (and rising yearly), represents a sober assessment of the overall participation in surfing within the country.

Note – it is unconfirmed if their numbers include provinces such as Friesland and Zeeland, nor the provinces which do not touch the North Sea.

Thus, Dutch surfers are therefore provided a suitable baptism into the sport, with generally friendly, non-judgemental crowds and easy-going waves. Couple this with the ease of travel within neighbouring surf destinations that are renowned for quality, you get ample demand for surf stores and schools within the country.

Now, we’ll take a look at 3 competitors in the upper echelon of surf shop SEO success in the Netherlands:

  • Hartbeach.nl
  • Noordzeeboardstore.nl
  • Surferswebshop.nl

Keep the above websites in mind – we’ll come back to them later.

Next, let’s assemble available data for the online traffic surrounding our area of interest.

First, Wetties. Then, Surf.

If you surf in the Netherlands, you almost always need a wetsuit to brave the cold North Sea. It therefore makes sense to visualise the trend of buyer intent or interest graphically, across established common keywords that Surf shops use.

The search term ‘Wetsuit’ is an important indicator of purchasing intent, and the results displayed on search engine results pages direct you – more often than not – to their product pages.

Add an ‘s‘ onto the end of the word (wetsuits), and you’re more likely to find informational posts from bloggers and businesses alike. Usually, these are describing the ‘ideal wetsuit for summer’, or pages outlining the differences in neoprene technology and so on.

So, It pays to be pedantic with your semantics.

Secondly, below is a view of the search trend for ‘wetsuit’ over the last 12 months for the NL region:

wetsuit popularity over 12 months graph surf shop seo
Search Popularity Trend (12 Month) – Wetsuit

Much alike almost all other countries with regular surfing populations, the Netherlands follows the trend of increased interest over the summer months, where a 4/3 wetsuit is still recommended to be comfortable in the water.

Next, we’ll compare this with the last 5 years for the same query:

What about Wetsuits?

wetsuit popularity graph 5 years SEO
Search Popularity Trend (5 Year) – Wetsuit

Again, the troughs and peaks of searches for ‘wetsuit’ follows a yearly pattern, with a steady upward trajectory during the past 3 years.

In addition, it is worth noting that the peaks around the summer months sustain more consistently throughout the warmer period of the year, and that the data shows less volatility within these peaks.

What about purely topical searches?

Similarly, the above trends can be seen also for other product related keywords such as ‘Surfboard’, ‘Surfplank’ (Dutch literal translation) or even ‘Surfboard Kopen’ (buy surfboard).

To put the above data more into perspective, we’ll take a look at the trend for ‘Surfing’ as a search topic – over the same time periods of 12 months and 5 years.

‘Surfen’= Surfing in Dutch.

popularity of dutch surfing SEO topic
Search Popularity Trend (12 Months) – ‘Surfen’
popularity of surfing in netherlands graph 5 years
Search Popularity Trend (5 years) – ‘Surfen’

Again, it’s necessary to note the peaks in search trends, sustaining more consistently throughout the higher interest periods each year.

Next, we’ll take a quick look at who are making the majority of these searches, and in what age group:

Search Demographic for: ‘Surfboard’, ‘Wetsuit’

wetsuit search demographic surf shop SEO
Search Demographic: ‘Wetsuit’

It should come as no surprise to see that the majority of searches for both keywords or phrases are made by women, and in the age group spanning 25-45.

For instance, there are numerous articles published online that describe the female growth market surge in surfing, within a historically male-dominated sport, including our own look into the effect Bethany Hamilton’s netflix documentary has on similar Google Searches.

surfboard search demographic SEO
Search Demographic: ‘Surfboard’

Yet, this article is not intended to delve further into the why these trends or demographics are the way they are.

Instead, we are assembling our data to form a clearer picture of Who is making these searches, and what they are searching for in the Netherlands.

Next, we’ll take a look at the average monthly search volume for some of the more competitive kewords that surf stores list.

Monthly Volume for related keyword searches

How much traffic could stores receive through good surf shop SEO?

The below table is provided to give an idea of the overall search volume (monthly) for a few keywords that are transactional in nature (implied purchase intent), and also to demonstrate the gap between mobile and desktop use when doing so.

Since we are examining surf stores in particular, we’ve decided to solely focus on keywords related to common products sold online or in-store.

KeywordAvg Traffic (Desktop – NL)Avg Traffic (Mobile – NL)
Surfboard44002900
Wetsuit66005400
Longboard33100210
Bodyboard29001900
All above results pertain to Netherlands SERP only.

Consider the last time you made an online purchase for an item over 150 Dollars or Euros. Would you have been more likely to ‘abandon the cart’ whilst on your mobile as opposed to desktop?

On the other hand, consider the thoughts of a person who recently completed a surf lesson or surfcamp. They may be in the car, or public transport and keenly interested in buying their own board, wetsuit etc. Which device would they use?

Would they see your page listed in – at least – the top search results page? And, is your page still visible across both devices?

Next, we’ll take a look at three high performing sites for the NL region, and discuss how they succeed, or could be improved for our list of keywords.

Key Players:

  • Hartbeach.nl
  • Noordzeeboardstore.nl
  • Surferswebshop.nl

Surf Shop SEO Strategies

Now that we’ve taken a look at the Dutch surf scene, the phrases receiving search traffic, and who are making the searches, it’s time to start asking questions.

So what are some of the key SEO principles or strategies affecting ranking in search results?

Site Performance

Many factors go into determining the overall performance of a website. Having a fast, smooth experience for the end user greatly contributes to higher ranking in search results, especially ones that are optimised for mobile. Plus, other factors include elements such as security, itnernal linking structure and so on.

Here’s some of the most important ones listed below with examples.

Site speed

hartbeach NL homepage SEO
Delve into their page speed insights by clicking on the photo
Site Speed (Desktop)Site Speed (Mobile)Website
2.07.9hartbeach.nl
2.217.2surferswebshop.nl
2.5618.2noordzeeboardstore.nl
1.05.4surfstraat.com

Google includes page speed as one of it’s ranking factors, now especially so for Mobile devices. And, has been rumoured to penalise slow-performing sites ahead of faster ones.

Why is page speed important for surf shop SEO?

The reasons for doing so are self-evident; why serve a page to a user if it takes an excessive amount of time to load? The searcher will be more likely to leave the site (‘bounce rate’), therefore Google’s own service in providing the informative content would have failed.

Hence, treat search engines like you would a child..

So, good user experience equals better SERP rankings. A few methods to cut down load time include: Reducing file size (code, images), Enabling compression (Gzip code size), Reducing redirects and much more. In addition, Moz provides a great article on this should you want to delve deeper into how page speed affects rankings.

But, this certainly does not mean to say that you should throw away user experience entirely with the intent to boost your rankings.

Security

The idea that all security certificates should be up to date will be of no surprise to the webmaster of any domain. Nor, will we dwell on the subject for too long.

However, a simple ‘crawl’ of the sites we are examining brought up a handful of issues stemming from HTTP redirects. SEMrush’s knowledge base describes the issue further:

“If any link on website points to the old HTTP version of website, search engines can become confused as to which version of the page they should rank.”

Plus, it’s not only confusing for the search engine. Lengthy redirects will take up alot of time and patience for the user too. In some cases, this takes up to 14 seconds. Can you remember waiting that long for a webpage to load?

We can’t.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that most of all web traffic is on HTTPS these days, with user security being the main benefit to adopting the protocol. Plus, adding a SSL 2048-bit key certificate will provide a minor ranking boost according to Google.

Overall, HTTPS is a less impactful way to improve your rankings than having good quality content throughout your site.

Yet, having a secure site is something that should be in the forefront of your mind as it will ensure trust from your users and have you receive repeat customers over time.

Content is key for Surf Shop SEO

As previously, high quality content is one of – if not the most – important ranking factor for google search results. And, there is a way to boost your already gold-star level content displayed though.

Luckily, for keywords like ‘leash’ ‘longboard vin’ (fin), ‘surf accessoires’ and others surferswebshop.nl has plenty to cheer about, beating huge department stores like Decathlon to the punch.

Surf leash SERP page 1
SERP – NL Region – ‘Surf Leash’

As above, surferswebshop.nl is served as first result for a number of reasons, not just because ‘leash’ is within the URL, Title tag, and Meta Description.

Here’s a solid example of keyword inclusion for surf shop SEO

aloha leash page results SEO outline

A quick inspect of the HTML for the page clearly shows target keywords the in <h1> tag + <body> tag + <title> tags.

Further, a search for the keyword ‘Surfboard’ or ‘Surfboard Kopen’ across both Mobile AND desktop leads us in both cases to noordzeeboardstore.nl as the top ranking position – with a combined average search traffic of around 8900 times per month.

noordzee board store SEO results
Note – Both Dutch and English descriptions provided within <body> tag

Where Noordzeeboardstore stands out for the above landing page can be seen in the relevance of their ‘Meta Description‘.

In english, it reads: “Noordzee Boardstore is a specialist on surfboards. We offer a wide selection boards both new and used! We have Longboards, shortboards, eggs, hybrids and fishes. You can also order your custom surfboard, shaped as you wish.”

Which, goes to show that even with some grammatical errors, you can still get great results.

The ultimate goal of search engines is to provide users with the most relevant search results. As a result, if the meta description is not descriptive enough, search engines may switch it out with their own one.

Furthermore, by enriching page content with LSI (semantically related keywords) Search engines place additional emphasis on related words used in page content in order to provide users with the most relevant results for a particular search term.

Keyword analysis for Surf shop SEO

Taking ‘surfboard’ as the search term in focus, below is a table showing some of the related keywords also present in noordzeeboardstore’s landing page:

KeywordRelated%VolumeKD%CPC (USD)Total Results
surfplank0.15290088.660.22134k
surfboard kopen0.372074.790.13183k
torq0.0548065.1012m
longboard surf0.1532069.850.3522m
fish surfboard0.121063.530.0517m

Next, we’ll discuss the Surf Shop SEO techniques that occur outside of your own site, without the need to touch any code.

Off-Site SEO

Link building is an optimization strategy that has been around for many, many years. It is essentially acquiring ‘backlinks’ or hyperlinks on other webpages which point back to your post or site.

So, higher quality backlinks from other domains will encourage Google’s ranking algorithm to place your site higher in search results – as long as you do it correctly. If you get sneaky about it, don’t be surprised if you’re penalised for it.

GeneraIly, the following points are taken into account when getting assessing the positive benefits of getting backlinks:

  • The linking site’s popularity
  • Relevance of the site & topic pointing towards your content or page,
  • Anchor text used within the link itself

What are the types of backlinks for SEO?

Natural links refer to ones that are ‘editorially placed’ by the author – such as the ones in this article – and are not asked for with compensation in mind. Manual Links – according to moz – are when the author reaches out – usually via email – to the potential backlink opportunity and tries to earn PageRank as a result. Self-Created Links aren’t encouraged, and usually can be seen in comment sections, advertorials, embedded banners, directories and so on.

But What about link farming?

Link Farming is the spammiest, and least beneficial method of getting backlinks pointing to your site. Having a group of domains created solely to boost page ranking like a spider’s web, is a quick easy way to nosedive your sites potential and see you heavily penalised.

Now, which of the links below could be replicated, or even removed?

Normally, a complete backlink audit can include anywhere in the vicinity of 5-10 thousand backlinks in a spreadsheet (these 3 sites have just under 9k in total). We’ve kept it concise to ensure you’re still awake.

Other Marketing

Some other methods contributing to Off-Site SEO include, guest blogging, unlinked brand mentions, Influencer marketing and a suite of obvious non-SEO strategies outside the scope of this article.

Final Thoughts

There are many facets that contribute to a successful online presence of a surf shop, with SEO being either an unavoidable headache or unmissable opportunity.

Surferswebshop.nl, Hartbeach.nl and Noordzeeboardstore.nl are all – in our opinion – great websites, that have done much to deserve their lofty heights atop the rankings. Thus, it would be amiss to insinuate that SEO for them is the only factor accounting for this, yet is clearly one of the biggest contributors.

In conclusion, like a local line-up, there are ways to game the system. It’s about choosing your method to do so – better safe than sorry.

surf shop SEO success

Interested in a custom, personalised SEO audit for your own store’s website?

No matter which region, language or code of water-sport; Surfstraat would love to hear from you.

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