When I was hired to take care of the SEO and social media for JP Enterprises, the company was planning a site redesign. Nothing on the current site was optimized and we didn’t want to start it now, just to do it again with the new design.
I decided to focus all of my efforts on the blog. JP had a blog already, but the articles were so short and were posted so sporadically that it was almost non-existent. There was an opportunity here. We could rebuild the blog from the ground up and turn it into something great.
With some hard work and dedication, we increased our site traffic by 46.5% in one year with only a content and social media strategy. No technical SEO, no guest blogging (okay, one guest post in January), no PR, and most importantly, no ads. We wanted a long-term strategy that would keep people coming back for years, not just for a few days or a week. We wanted to build relationships and teach people why our industry is so important.
So, how did we do it?
Any blog that is going to rank in search results needs good content, but valuable content only comes from knowledgeable writers. Thankfully, we have quite a few superstar employees here that offered their time and expertise. To be specific, we chose 10 of our internal staff to write for our blog.
Here’s the interesting part—only two of the 10 employees had ever written for a blog before.
Develop Topic Ideas
This is always the hardest part, coming up with topics to write about.
We identified 13 categories that fit our business:
- Catalog Print Production
- Featured Articles
- Inside JP Enterprises
- Marketing and Advertising
- Press Releases
- Printing and Mailing
- Social Media
Then we took those categories and researched topics for each section. Those topics were compiled into a shared document that all of the bloggers could access. Each blogger was assigned to one or two specific categories that matched their expertise.
Create a Content Calendar
Writing blog posts can take a lot of time if you’re not used to writing. With that in mind, we created a content calendar.
Each blogger would write one article per month. It was always due on the same day of the same week each month. This way, there were never any surprises; the writer had the entire month to put something good together.
The super-busy employees, like the art directors, got to alternate. With three creative directors, one of them wrote a blog post every three months. This way, no one was overwhelmed.
There had been a lot of talk in the industry that you had to post at least three times per week for your articles to rank. Yet, if you tried to get that many articles written, it would compromise the quality. This content calendar was our way of avoiding that problem.
We Edit Our Work
Starting a new blog can be very exciting, and I know you really want to get your articles posted, but you absolutely cannot forget to edit your work. When I’m reading a blog post and I find spelling or grammatical errors, I leave the page. People don’t have a lot of time in their day to read, so when they do, they’re not going to waste time trying to decipher what it was you were trying to say. Make sure your language is clear and that someone has looked over it.
Being a marketing and advertising firm, we have high standards for our work. This includes our blogs. We made sure there were at least three sets of eyes on every article before it got posted. I checked for optimization, an editor checked for spelling and grammar, and finally the post was reviewed and approved by the interactive director. The likelihood of mistakes is slim to none in this case.
We Use Relevant Imagery
It is a fact that blog and social media posts with images get more responses. Now, I know that your blog isn’t necessarily considered social media, but you have to remember that your blog posts will likely be shared to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. Without an image, you might not get as good of a response. It is worth it to take the time to find or create good images for your blog posts.
We Use Social Media
Believe it or not, your presence on social media affects your ranking. Since JP didn’t have much of a social following before we started actively posting to our blog, we had a lot of work to do.
We used Facebook (less emphasis here), Google+, Twitter, and Linked as our main platforms to gather followers and to share content. We also favored social bookmarking sites like Pinterest and StumbleUpon to find interesting content and to help others find ours.
Posting to those accounts without followers is useless. So, in order to develop a social following, we created audience personas and started building relationships with people who fit the bill. We looked for print enthusiasts, graphic and web designers/developers, marketing professionals, etc. Within a few months, we had a decent following.
General Traffic Increase
In one year, we increased our site traffic by 46% with only a content and social media strategy.
Referral Traffic Increase
In that year, we increased our referral traffic by 232% by building relationships with our audience through social media.
Social Traffic Increase
Traffic from social networks increased.
With all of the concern about the My Guest Blog penalties, people don’t want to risk writing guest posts anymore. But, it was such a good way to get links. This could be an alternative strategy to get your site to rank. All you have to do is create articles that people want to read. I’m not suggesting that you turn your site into SteamFeed. Try to become a resource in your industry.
Content is King
How many people try a strategy like this without Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, guest posting, or technical SEO? I’ve never seen that before. Most of the time it is all or nothing. Everyone said that content is king, and I believed it then but, after working on this particular blog and observing the results, I am positive that content is the one to rule them all.
SEO is Still Important
SEO isn’t everything but it is still important. Without it, Google has to work harder to understand what your website is about. Do you want to work harder to understand something that I could just tell you? Probably not. Search engines appreciate the help you give them as well.
46.5% is good, we almost doubled our traffic, but if we had used SEO on our site, that percentage would’ve been much higher, I’m certain. In fact, when our new site launches, I plan to do another study on how much the traffic increases with SEO implementations. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Relationship Building is Key
You can’t walk up to someone you don’t know and start telling them about your product or service. You have to earn their trust first in order to tell them about it, otherwise they will probably walk away from you. What’s the point of talking when there’s no one to listen?
If you find common ground with people and you work at your relationship with them, they become friends. Those people will be the ones who share your most valuable information with their followers, and they’ll be the ones who give you feedback. Those friends will start talking to each other and, eventually, blend into a community. This, my friends, is why you set up social media accounts.