Content Strategies Part 3: Make Connections and Solve Problems
By Greg Holden
What's the best way to help potential customers and clients find your website? For many online businesspeople, the answer is providing a site full of well-organized, frequently updated content that shows up in search results rather than (or in addition to) pay-per-click (PPC) ad programs such as Google AdWords.
In a previous article, I described some innovative types of content such as domain names, product reviews, and user-supplied content. But you don't have try something completely new when it comes to improving your website for organic search. Sometimes it's a matter of doing the obvious things better than you did before.
In this article I describe four companies that have reduced their PPC spending and boosted their organic traffic by improving their links, blogging, and the like - doing the basics they did before, only better.
Tip 1: Better Blogs, More Networking
John Kinskey owns AccessDirect, a small business provider of virtual PBX phone systems with multiple extensions, call routing, voicemail, fax, SMS text response and CRM integration. "Our sales flow depends almost exclusively on potential customers contacting us via keyword search," he says.
Earlier this year, Kinskey was spending about $2,500 per month on PPC advertising. But he was dissatisfied. "I did not have a good measure of its effectiveness, especially whether phone calls and online inquiries were coming from PPC ads or organic search," he explains.
"When I launched a second web site with a different URL, a new and improved version of our main web site, I put a new phone number and unique email contact methods on the new site so that I could track PPC generated customer leads and sales. Then, I switched all of my PPC to the new web site...SILENCE...My $2,500 per month in PPC was buying me nothing. The phone did not ring, few inquiries of any kind. Given that the new web site had no organic traction upon launch, it became painfully clear to me that I was flushing money down the PPC toilet."
Kinskey shifted his time and investment to organic search:
Blog less, say more. AccessDirect has been blogging for years. But it decided to "blog less and with more purpose," producing blog posts as well as articles and press releases that will be more useful to its client base.
Get the staff involved. The whole staff is involved in exploring ways to partner with other blogs and companies and collaborate with vendors and technology partners to produce useful content.
More social networking. Twitter chats, networking events, the Help a Reporter Out site (HARO), and LinkedIn groups help the company expand their network in various degrees of effectiveness.
Tip 2: Answer Questions, Solve Problems
John Turner, Founder/CEO of the website consulting provider UsersThink, says: "I've almost fully avoided PPC in favor of web content." He, too, is blogging with a purpose. In his case, he's sharing his knowledge and expertise to answer questions and solve problems.
"Some of my blogging effort comes from my limited budget, but also that I think in the long term, blogging will not only increase referral and SEO traffic, but also help increase the standing of the UsersThink brand and trust in the service," he comments. His site offers tips to visitors, and he invites emails with questions.
"I'm starting to use my blog posts as a way to solve problems that my users (startups) seem to be having, which helps to prove that my service (providing actionable landing page feedback) can also help them."
For instance, one recent blog post described how entrepreneurs can find the right name for their new ideas, a problem Turner had faced himself. "The early reaction to that post was phenomenal," he says.
Tip 3: Connect With Other Sites
For Barry Renz, CEO of portable solar power systems manufacturer Powerenz, building relationships that lead to website links was a key to improving organic search. The company focused on search terms like portable solar power, off grid solar system and solar power generator.
Renz worked with the marketing firm Capture Commerce to identify websites on the topic of solar power and that had the audience of potential buyers that Powerenz sought. "We established links from those sites to powerenz.com, then set up and implemented data feeds for their products," says Tom Shivers of Capture Commerce. (Of course, you should avoid bad practices that could result in punishment by Google.)
Data feeds, said Shivers, are useful for online retailers because it allows them to sell products directly from other shopping search engines, for example, Google Shopping, Shopzilla and Amazon Product Ads.
"We also upgraded the content and redesigned the home page and navigation to increase the site's conversion rate." After just three months, organic traffic had overtaken PPC traffic to the site.
Tip 4: Make Your Content Relevant
For CustomShow, a New York City-based presentation company, the key was to improve its existing blog posts and other content so that it matched the areas of focus that customers wanted. CEO Paul Shapiro also hired a consultant, Que Commerce, which analyzed the market for CustomShow's products.
"Given that two of our target markets are sales and presentation software professionals, we decided to focus our energies on creating content for those professionals with an occasional spin on presentations," says Justin Croxton of Que Commerce. "In addition, we always performed keyword research to ensure there was demand for topics and phrases we were targeting. For example, "sales presentation ideas" is one post we did. It was simple but effective: people not only found the post interesting it also picked up decent organic traffic."
When CustomShow started its content reboot, it was spending around $50/day. Now, costs stand around $20. CustomShow makes an effort to blog at least one or two times a week and keeps its content relevant. Traffic increased over six months from 40 to 700 visits. "More importantly, CustomShow has booked several new large accounts and continues to receive qualified leads," adds Croxton.
Using Content to Drive Traffic to Your Store (August 24, 2014)
Offbeat Content Strategies for Boosting Traffic (September 7, 2014)
About the author:
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
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