This is part two of my “If I Were A” series.  This week I’m taking on the swimming pool industry, one that has really been hurt by the economy downturn.  Who’s installing pools? Not a lot of people, but there are a few local companies who are toughing it out.  Here are some tips for them, and maybe you can apply these to your own industry.

Two Distinct Markets

In the pool industry, there are two main markets: those that want a cheap above ground pool, and those that want an expensive inground pool.  One is a ‘give the kids something to do’ mentality, the other a long term investment.  So we’re already targeting two markets.  In most cases, however, inground swimming pool installers also sell above ground ‘kits’ which you can set up yourself.  So for purposes of this post, I’m going to go with an inground swimming pool installer.

As you can surmise, the inground pool industry is hurting.  There are plenty of people out there dreaming about a pool, but not so many people acting on getting a pool.  But they are out there.  And they are searching.

Find the Stats

Searches for phrases such as ‘swimming pool installer st louis‘ and ‘inground pool installation saint louis‘ bring back two results over and over: Westport Pools and H2O-Plus.  According to, Westport Pools gets around 200-300 visits a month, but up to 2000 visitors during the July-August timeframe.  I’m going to assume that this is because of a few things:

  1. It’s hot and people are wishing they had a pool.  The kids (or the wife) are complaining and Dad hops online to see some costs.
  2. Advertising budgets for most pool companies are spent in this timeframe, which doesn’t make sense to me.  Why not advertise in March & April when people are eagerly awaiting the hot days?
  3. It’s hot and people are wishing they had a pool.

Interestingly, H2O-Plus doesn’t show enough visits to register in’s system.

The data on SEMRush for Westport shows that there is virtually no competition.  They aren’t doing that great with their online strategy, so the field is ripe for picking.

The Strategy

Obviously the first thing I’d do is get an audit of my website done.  This is the foundation of any SEO campaign.  Fixing the things in the audit, I’d move on to some more involved techniques.

Next, I’d make sure I had a gallery on my website.  But more than just a gallery of pretty pools, I’d have a gallery of before and after pictures.  On top of that, I’d have a gallery for each project, even the ongoing projects.  Potential purchasers will really like to see that there really will be tractors in their yard, their fences may come down, and it’s going to be a mess for a while.  Customers that are in the process of getting their pool installed should be able to upload their own pics to your gallery or at least your Facebook fan page/album.

Since an industry like this is a bit competitive, I’d consider joining a lead generation program.  While ServiceMagic is nice for some industries, I don’t think it’s great for this one.  Plus, there are more centralized lead generation sites like SwimSTL.  Sites like SwimSTL gather leads from various means around the internet, and then sell the leads to several contractors.  They also have a Featured Contractor section, which would get you even more warm leads in a certain area.

I’d stay away from pay per click, Yellow Pages and Reach Local.  These are just short term solutions.  What we’re really after is the coveted #1 spot on Google, which (from the looks of the competition) isn’t going to be too difficult.

4 Responses

  1. Oh man, Will – you had me up until “stay away from pay per click.” 😉 Though I agree with you on avoiding Yellow Pages and Reach Local.

    Do you have experience with a lot of these lead generation companies like ServiceMagic? I know results will vary by location and industry, but I’m curious how many leads these companies can generate and whether the leads are high quality ones or not.

  2. Adam, I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience with ServiceMagic, but I do know that they charge per lead that they generate, and unless you’re on top of your game you will miss most of them. You almost need a full time staff person to keep up with their leads so that you can be the first to call.

    Sites like SwimSTL only sell the lead to 5 companies, so there isn’t a lot of competition. It’s a good way to get new leads on another company’s great rankings.

    And yeah, ReachLocal? They’re just a PPC company that puts your site in a iframe, totally ruining any organic rankings you may have had before hiring them.

  3. I agree with most of what you have pointed out except for pay per click advertising. Pay per click such as adwords brings in good leads plus it helps your SEO efforts by bringing extra traffic and ensuring all your pages are indexed. Angies List seems to be a great way to attract business without having to pay any money but it takes time to get your company reviewed. But the best way is to always do your best job so people say nice things about your company.

  4. PPC is a good way to get traffic, but it definitely doesnt help with SEO efforts. It may “help” indirectly by showing you what keywords are worth going after, but I think PPC is a bad idea for small businesses with a limited marketing budget.

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