Some interesting search results

We thought it would be nice for those of us who are interested in Drifters and their contribution to the boat hire industry to see how well they are doing their job.

It is obvious to anyone concerned with marketing tourism and holidays that the first port of call these days for prospective customers are the internet search engines and, in particular, Google. So we ran a ‘rank check’ on certain keywords with the website to see exactly how well they are doing their job.

Here are the results for some popular search terms.

boat holiday 23
boating holiday 30
hotel boat holiday 56
canal holiday 58
narrowboat availability 71
narrowboat holiday booking 72
boat hire brochures 80
canal holidays 99
boat hire Not in top 100
boat hire booking Not in top 100
boating holiday brochure Not in top 100
narrow boat booking Not in top 100
narrowboat hire Not in top 100
sally ash Not in top 100

For example, for the search term ‘canal holidays’ in we see that Drifter’s are number 99, that is they don’t appear until page 10.   And for ‘narrowboat hire’ they don’t even appear in the first 10 pages.  Their best showing, ‘boat holiday’ is down on page 3, by which time most internet users will have visited a site catering to their search. Any search engine optimisation company will tell you that if you don’t appear on page 1 you are unlikely to gain any traffic at all.

Now, considering the ‘members’ of Drifters contain some of the best known names in the UK boat hire industry who pay a substantial subscription each year for membership it seems a little odd that they are prepared to accept these results which are, frankly, pitiful. Even though the website looks like it was designed by someone’s nephew for their school project we would expect a better showing in search ranking than this.

So what, we ask, do these companies get for their money? And why do they accept such incompetence year on year?

Perhaps our newest member would like to comment?

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2 Responses to “Some interesting search results”

  1. Editor MonsterID Icon Editor says:

    In revealing such a detailed knowledge of how Drifters operates, Ms Ash demonstrates such a close involvement between CRT/BW and the hire boat industry that it amounts to a conflict of interest.

    In case people don’t know, SallyCRT is Sally Ash, Head of Boating at Canal & River Trust, formerly BW. We were doubtful whether it was the right thing for our audience to accept her registration with our web site, because publishing comments from CRT staff may contribute to spreading misinformation about the legal entitlements of boaters without home moorings, and make our audience feel harassed and under (more) surveillance. However, we have decided to publish them. If people have a strong objection to the publication of comments from CRT staff, please let us know.

  2. SallyCRT MonsterID Icon SallyCRT says:

    It is the Drifters’ member companies who themselves decide on how to spend the relatively small sums that they each contribute to the company’s budget. They also manage all contracts for delivery of their marketing plan. If they did not feel it represented value for money, they would not keep it going. The Canal & River Trust has no financial and no management involvement in the company’s modest marketing activity.
    Drifters was formed during the recession of the early 1990s. There was concern at that time that the number of hire boats would decrease dramatically and that there was not enough publicity about canals and boating in the press. Drifters’ activities form a very small component of individual hire companies’ marketing plans. Over the years Drifters has conducted successful PR on behalf of the industry and created a mechanism for companies to group together to provide attractive sales promotions. It was responsible some years ago for the first UK boating holidays being promoted through the Tesco Clubcard for example. Their activities have helped to bring new people to the canals which has contributed indirectly to the funding of the waterways through channels such as lease income from marinas and boatyards and to the viability of these business on whom all boaters depend to some degree . The hire industry is important to the Trust because it is one of the main points of entry for boat buyers, who become important long-term customers. Drifters’ role in this is not large, but it is worthwhile. Yes, their website is not the most glitzy, but it’s adequate for their purposes and – as you’ve implied – costs little to run. Member companies sensibly concentrate their online marketing on their own individual websites.