How to Use Search Engine Marketing
to Promote Your Retreat Center

Anyone who has a business understands the importance of having a compelling website.  However, even the most beautiful and functional site website is virtually worthless unless it can be found by potential customers.  Despite the growing influence of social media, the vast majority of people still turn to the Big 3 search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) when searching for products and services, so it is essential to make sure you’re well positioned in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Depending on your goals, available time, budget and technical expertise, search engine marketing may be something that you can manage in-house.  However, because of the ever-evolving learning curve, many retreat centers contract with outside firms to manage their search engine marketing campaigns. 

Check out Volume 2 in the Marketing Machete Series: How to Create a Marketing Strategy

Search engine marketing (SEM) encompasses three distinct, but interrelated areas.  They include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
  • Local Search

In this article, we want to provide you with some basic information to better understand how to use PPC and SEO to more effectively market your retreat center.  Local search will be covered in a future article devoted to online directories.

Paid ads, local and organic results occupy specific areas of the search results as shown in this image of a Google results page for the query “foundation repair Tampa.” 

Tip:  Search results are influenced by geographic location, and by your search history if you are logged in to your Google, Bing or Yahoo account.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is a multi-faceted, on-going process that requires a degree of technical knowledge. Achieving high rankings for your targeted keywords can take months, and is dependent on a number of on-site and off-site factors. The best place to start is making sure your website provides a good user experience for visitors.  Here are some of the things you should focus on:

  • Your site should have a logical architecture that makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for in just a few clicks.
  • Make your most valuable content easily accessible to visitors.
  • Each page should have a unique page title and an enticing Meta description. Here’s an example of how page titles and Meta descriptions appear in search engine results for the query “retreats in New York“:

                         search engine result for retreat in Texas

  • Each page should include ample copy to answer visitor’s questions about your retreat center.  The copy should also include the specific keyword, and related terms you want to be found for.
  • Visitors are more likely to complete your contact forms and call you for more information if your pages include compelling calls to action, like “Call for more information”, “Click here to request a quote”, etc. 
  • You need to provide visitors with a variety of ways to contact you.  Phone numbers, contact forms and links to social media profiles should be prominently displayed throughout your site. 

Tip: When selecting your targeted keywords, don’t assume that you know exactly which ones your prospects will use to find your business.  Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner can provide you with information about average monthly search volumes and competition for specific keywords, as well as keyword recommendations. Bing offers its own keyword research tool.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay per click advertising allows the display of text ads for your retreat center within the search results.  AdWords is the name of Google’s PPC platform, and BingAds allows you to bid for placement in both Yahoo and Bing’s search results. 

Deciding which platform to employ depends largely on your budget and PPC marketing goals.  According to an August 2014 ComScore study, Google controlled nearly 68% of the U.S. search market, followed by Bing with just over 19%.  Yahoo was in third place, with about a 10% market share.  

PPC is basically an auction in which advertisers vie for top placement in the paid search results.  Ultimate placement is based on a number of factors, including specified maximum cost per click bid (the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for clicks) and Quality Score.  Quality Score is basically a rating of the relevance of the landing page to the ad text, the relevance of each keyword to its ad group, and the overall click-through rate of each ad.

When setting up a PPC campaign, create multiple ads and ad groups based on keyword your research.  For example, if your retreat center caters to corporate retreats, youth retreats and yoga retreats, create separate ad groups for each type of retreat, with multiple ads in each ad group. 

Tip: Having separate, keyword optimized pages for each type of retreat on your website will increase the relevance, thereby improving the Quality Score of the ads that link to them, and lowering your cost per click.

In addition to the maximum cost per click (CPC), you can also set daily budgets for each campaign to help control costs.

Unlike search engine optimization which can take months to yield results, PPC delivers almost immediate results. Ads can begin appearing in the search results as soon as they are approved, and insights gained from your PPC campaigns can also be applied to your SEO efforts. 

We hope this article provided some helpful information that you can use to market your retreat center.  Do you have questions or advice on this topic?  We’d love to hear your thoughts and new ideas.  Please visit our forum to join the conversation.


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