Advancing During a Downturn Using Solid Content-Based Marketing and SEO

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Client Case Study: Advancing During a Downturn Using Solid Content-Based Marketing and SEO

Summary

There are noteworthy case studies of brands that continued to advertise during a market downturn, leading to increased market share and brand positioning when the market rebounded. But because this requires spending money they may not have (after all, they are in the midst of a downturn), it can be difficult to convince a client of the efficacy of that strategy, let alone a new client.

But what if you could lower their ad spending during a downturn AND improve their site traffic, SERP positions, engagement and more?

This situation occurred with our new client, a precious metal refiners, and by applying solid, white-hat, content-driven marketing and SEO techniques, we decreased costs and moved them into a desirable position for when the market rebounds.

Problem

Our client was driving traffic to their existing websites by spending heavily on paid search advertising. This was acceptable when their market, the recycling and secondary refining of precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium), was booming. But when the market began sliding into a global downturn towards the end of 2013, it became apparent that buying traffic had a declining ROI and was not a sustainable strategy.

We had just begun working with our client by replacing their old, outdated and non-responsive website with a mobile responsive, SEO-savvy site when the downturn hit.

Solution

In our experience, sound fundamentals pay steady dividends.

We created a continual flow of new, interesting and original branded content, housed on our blog, and disseminated across our most important and relevant social media networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

The content was:

  • information rich, with high value to the reader,
  • keyword rich, with high SEO value,
  • focused on telling a good story, with a clear but restrained called to action baked into the conclusion.

This content allowed us to continually refine the keywords our site was showing up for in natural search.

While Google+ had the lowest engagement of any of our channels, we have found it to be invaluable in impact on SEO rankings in terms of both keyword positions and discovery.

Our publishing schedule started at 3x/week, but statistics led us to hypothesize that we could achieve the same results with 2x posts/week. This allowed us to lower costs even further while still optimizing and improving overall performance.

We maximized the application of white hat SEO tools across our website:

  • Creating a library of images (using low cost stock providers or photographs of customer submitted materials) with keyword rich, WC3 compliant, informative and appropriate alt tags, image file names, and description tags.
  • Restrained but appropriate Internal linking between relevant blog posts and webpages, which primarily served to help visitors find related information but which also kept older content vibrant so it never gets backwatered.

We tested and deployed contact submission forms on various page types to replace bounces with conversions. For instance, we noticed that our FAQ page was one of our more highly trafficked pages, so we added a conversion form to that page, increasing conversions and reducing page exits.

The Marketing Results

Over 1 year period (comparisons are based on Nov 13 to Oct 14), we reduced marketing spend 90% while

  • Increasing natural traffic by 422%
  • Improved overall site conversion by 27%
  • Increase highly ranked keyword breadth by 51%
  • Increase in referring traffic sites by 45%
  • 13.5% increase in pages/site visitor
  • Increasing page views 4%
  • 43% increase to time on site, the majority of which was spent by visitors reading informational and educational, trust-building articles on the blog

By the application of solid, white-hat content marketing based SEO techniques we succeeded in repositioning our client from a pay-for-play model to a natural magnet, with more, and more engaged, site visitors. They are now prepared to ride the wave of market resurgence with a strong foundation of free discovery, and the ability to increase spending slowly, in a tested manner, to maximize future growth at the best possible ROI.