One of the scariest things a content marketer can experience is a sudden and dramatic drop in organic traffic. When Britt Schwartz saw this happen with one of her clients, she immediately set about identifying what the root cause was and determining how to address it.
What Britt found when she analyzed Ambs Call Center’s traffic was that they had fallen far down the search engine results pages for certain keywords, and traffic has dropped as a result. To bring the company’s rankings back up, she turned to technical SEO strategies.
This campaign is still in progress, but in just two months, Britt has been able to increase the company’s rank from 57th to 7th in Google for its top keyword.
Listen to the podcast to hear how Britt got such great results in just two months, or read the show notes below for a quick summary.
Britt Schwartz (guest): Hi guys.
Kathleen: I’m so glad to have you with me today. Britt is a coworker of mine, and somebody that I’ve known for about six months, and I’ve been really impressed with some of the marketing work she’s done and excited to for her to share some of her lessons learned today.
She is also one of the co-hosts of another IMPACT podcast called MarketHer, which, if you haven’t checked it out, is great. It’s actually three of our principle strategists who all happen to be female, talking about issues relating to just being a woman in marketing. It’s part professional issues, part personal issues, but really, really great stuff, so definitely check that out.
Britt, can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Britt: Yeah, absolutely. First, Kathleen, I’m really excited to actually be able to be on here. As Kathleen shared, I am a principal strategist here at IMPACT. My role is twofold, I oversee a quarter of the clients that we have here with IMPACT, and my job is to, from a really high level, make sure that the strategies we’re recommending are doing the things that we’re trying to achieve. And on the other hand it’s in growing and teaching our team, and coaching them along the way to become stronger strategists day over day.
Kathleen: I love it. One of the reasons I was excited to have you on is that I’ve had kind of an interesting mix of guests since we started. This is going to be my 21st episode, and in the last several months of doing this I’ve had agency owners, I’ve had in house marketers, I’ve had solopreneurs, and I’ve had one or two other agency marketers.
One of the things I think is interesting about that, is you get to see how so many different companies and brands handle their own marketing throughout a really wide range of industries. You have quite a variety of types of clients that you work with, and I’m excited to hear a little bit more about how you pulled some of the lessons in from different experiences you’ve had, and different things you’ve seen to really help the particular client that we’re going to be talking about today.
Britt: Yeah, Kathleen, you make an excellent point. My entire career to this point has been in agencies, so I’ve been exposed to almost countless industries and different types of businesses, and what I’ve found after a good six, seven years of doing this, is that you start drawing connections, and you start building this bank of knowledge that’s transferrable across industries and across clients. If I’ve seen this before I have a point of reference, so that’s something I think really helped in this situation as well and I really, really enjoy doing the agency side of it.
Kathleen: Yeah, I think to be an agency marketer you have to be a naturally very curious person, because I know for myself, one of my favorite things about my job and my career within agencies has been that I do get to learn about so many different industries. People will come to us and say, “Oh, I’m in this really boring business. I do X,” and I’m like, “Oh no, that’s so interesting!” You know? You have to be the kind of person that doesn’t just want to eat the sausage, you have to want to know how it’s made.
Britt: Absolutely, and then, like I said, the longer you do that … You might work in a secondary industry that effects a first one, so you start building, at least I saw, like little guide posts around what’s happening in different industries, and I know that I have clients that we’re able to have such rich conversations with because I might have experience in another space that directly relates to theirs.
Kathleen: So just for kicks, give me a sense of the range of industries that you’ve done marketing for?
Britt: Absolutely. So, in my earlier days it was attorneys and service based businesses, such as electricians and plumbers, but I’ve gone through manufacturers, SaaS companies, and pharmaceutical or medical.
I lately find myself really dug into technology companies, from large to small, and my favorite to be honest with you, I think my favorite tends to be more of those high level enterprise brands, because there’s, at least I found, this sense that “inbound doesn’t work for us.” And I’ve really enjoyed being able to draw the connection between how what works for a local attorney could also work for a larger brand, you just have to approach it a little different.
Kathleen: Yeah, it’s funny. When I first started out in inbound marketing, two of my earliest clients were both in the landscaping industry. One was a landscape architect, pretty high-end residential and commercial, and the other was a commercial landscape contractor, and so I have this bizarrely deep level of knowledge about commercial landscaping for someone who’s never worked in the industry, and I’m sure you probably have some of the same stories of things you could talk about at dinner parties that lots of people may or may not want to hear.
Britt: My brother-in-law is an electrical engineer, and he came down to spend the day with us after Christmas, and him and I ran to grab pizza together for dinner. I was asking him more about what he does, and one of my clients that I worked really closely with was an architecture firm, and so he’s saying things and I’m able to keep up with the conversation. He’s like, “I thought you were in marketing?” I said, “I am. I am in marketing,” but it was really cool to be able to connect with him with a sense of “I understand what’s going on.” I am certainly not an expert…
Kathleen: But you know what questions to ask, right?
Britt: I know what questions to ask, yes.
Kathleen: Yeah, that’s so cool. I love that. Well, today I know we’re going to talk about a particular client that you’ve been working with, and when I do this podcast I always like to dive into something that’s working really well. The genesis of that was just my own curiosity hearing over the years. You hear all these stories from other marketers about how they’re killing it, and so rarely do you get the details of exactly how they are killing it.
So that’s always my goal in this podcast – to try and, I like to say, “peel back the onion” and figure out what’s really going on here, and what made somebody successful, so that other marketers can take something away from that and apply it to their own circumstances.
So, tell us a little bit about the client that you’ve been working with. What they do, what industry they’re in, and what audience they serve.
Britt: AMBS Call Center is a local family-owned call center here in Michigan, and they’ve been around for a long time. I really enjoy getting to hear the history of the evolution of their business. What they do is they provide phone answering services, virtual receptionists for business offices, medical offices, things like that. So, like I said, they’ve been with us for a little while, we’ve been doing projects after project for them, and just this quarter we really started to delve down into creating some solid goals around their marketing.
What is really fun about working with Aaron, the Owner, is that he is all about inbound. When we first met there wasn’t a whole lot of having to convince him the tactics that we should be doing, but one challenge that he did bring to the table for me was, he’s like, “Brit, we’ve been doing this for awhile now. We’ve been creating content, and we’ve seen a little lift, but I’m not really seeing the hockey stick that I was expecting after investing in inbound for as long as I have been.”
So we created some goals this quarter. We work in quarterly cycles, and so he started with me in October. The beginning of November we would get on our calls, and we used Databox here at our agency as a data aggregation tool, so it’s what we look at to see what’s happening. And we started noticing in early November that organic traffic specifically was starting to decrease.
I’ll be honest, on the first couple calls I told Aaron, “We’re not really gonna worry over a couple days worth of data, it’s not something worth taking action on, but we’ll keep an eye on it.” And we did, we kept our eye on it, and come end of November we were not only seeing that the downward trend was continuing, but we were now getting into the double digits for decrease, we were down 25%, 30%.
Kathleen: Wow, I imagine he must have felt a sense of panic when that happened?
Britt: Oh, he did, and Aaron would agree with you. He was like, “Okay guys, not only are we not doing the hockey stick that I was looking for, we’re actually going in the other direction. What’s going on?” So being the principal strategist, it’s really my job to first tell Aaron “We’re gonna figure it out,” and I did. I said, “We’ll figure it out,” and then we got offline and it was time to actually figure out what was going on.
Kathleen: So, let’s take a step back for one second. He’s got a business that provides call center, virtual receptionist type of services, he’d been doing inbound and creating content. When he first came to you and you entered into this kind of longer term support arrangement, what were his goals?
Britt: Like any business his goals were to affect the bottom line revenue. But the part where Aaron’s belief and trust in inbound comes in, is that we were able to set goals around traffic, MQLs, and calls, so while the end goal has always been to drive revenue, we were really looking at increasing traffic and increasing the leads coming from the site.
Kathleen: So the leading indicators that would eventually produce the revenue impact?
Britt: Yep, absolutely.
Kathleen: And who is his buyer?
Britt: Absolutely, so this is the fun part about AMBS Call Center, they can be a single person working at home who runs their own little business, but simply can’t take the time to answer all the phones coming in. It could be a medical office that simply needs someone there for off call, right? If it’s in the middle of the night they have somebody answer the call. All the way up to large corporations who need to manage a massive call volume. So there’s a wide variety of personas, and really getting to understand those has been fun.
Kathleen: Yeah, I imagine that there must be some challenges inherent in targeting such a diverse audience from the individual solopreneur to the … I don’t know who the buyer would be in a large corporation, if it’s the customer service person, I’m not sure, but those people have very different day-to-day jobs and priorities.
Britt: Yes, they do. The thing that we found that was the common denominator is that they need someone to pick up the phone. So we were able to understand that that’s the bottom-line need, is someone is needing to pick up the phone. We address it in different ways, in the context around what that might look like individually, by creating industry pages. So we’ll talk very specifically to the needs of a medical facility versus the individual entrepreneur on those pages, but the core of Ambs is that we’re here to answer for you.
Kathleen: Thank you for that background. So you were working with him and he was continuing on what he’d been doing for quite some time, creating content, and you mentioned that the organic traffic to the website started to really dip, and you had to find out why. When you’re presented with that circumstance, I mean you’re primarily working in a strategy position, you’re not necessarily the boots on the ground person within the agency who’s writing the emails or posting the social … As a strategist, walk me through, step by step, when you see traffic go down, what do you do? Where are you looking for the information? What red flags are you looking for?
Britt: Sure. So my immediate look was to the conversion rate, which might seem weird, but I went from, “My traffic’s down” to “What’s happening to the conversion rate on this site?” I’ve seen, in my career before, where traffic had decreased even by that percentage, but our conversion rate doubled, and what that meant is that while we were driving less traffic, we were driving more qualified traffic, so there’s a give and take there.
I did the same, I looked at Aaron’s conversion rate. We were staying about the same, but I hadn’t seen it jump to say this is really answering this. It was a little comforting for me, to be honest, that we weren’t just nosediving everywhere, but I still recognized something was going on.
Kathleen: And what platform did you use to determine what his conversion rates were? How did you track that?
Britt: HubSpot. We’re using HubSpot for him with a mix of Google Analytics. So, HubSpot’s where I went, I looked at the trend of the conversion rate and I wasn’t alarmed by what I was seeing, but again, seeing this different traffic, and the conversion rate staying the same, something is going on. I don’t know what that thing is yet, but something is going on.
Kathleen: Just to make sure I understand completely, the conversion rate was the same, so then I assume the overall sheer number of leads was going down proportionate to the decline in traffic?
Britt: Absolutely, yeah.
Kathleen: Okay, got it.
Britt: So this was very alarming for Aaron. I mean, like I said, he’s invested in inbound, he’s seen his numbers go down, and it was really my job at that point to be able to give him an answer why. And just looking at the set of data, I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what had caused that. I did some research, and there wasn’t necessarily an algorithm update that was very publicly known that could have affected this. We hadn’t made any drastic changes at his site, like taking down half the site, so I was trying to figure out what was going on.
Kathleen: And to clarify, the traffic had decreased. Was it traffic in a certain channel?
Britt: Just organic traffic.
Kathleen: Just organic? Okay, so his social, his email, if you did pay per click, all that was the same?
Kathleen: Got it.
Britt: Everything was trending about the same except for organic.
Britt: And so to dive in, and to really understand what was going on, what we did is we went into SEMRush, and we started pulling his real technical keyword data…where he was ranking in October versus November, what was happening. Now at this point we were in early December, so we were able to track December to November rates. We downloaded this spreadsheet, it was a massive amount of data, which can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned marketer, when you have that much data and you don’t quite know how to aggregate it or what to look for.
Kathleen: Yeah, and not every marketer is great at Excel.
Britt: Right. Stacey is our Excel queen here on my team. So what I did know, what I was trying to find, the answer I was looking for, is are there keywords that we used to rank for that we’re no longer ranking for? And we looked at that by the difference in rankings, so you can pull where he was in November versus December, and also the click through rates. If you’re not ranking, people are not going to be clicking through your listing.
So we pulled this together, we called Aaron randomly, it wasn’t a scheduled call for him, and we said, “Hey, can you jump online with us?” And we pulled up the spreadsheet and we said, “All right, we’re gonna start looking through this together,” and we started sorting the data. And as we looked for the trends of keywords that had lost a significant amount, you know, four to five, up to 13, 14 places over the last four weeks, what we noticed was that there was a trend with all of these keywords, they were all call center keywords.
So we started reading the data in a different way, we isolated those keywords, and what we found is that this topic, this theme of keywords that used to rank for him and were driving some traffic, we no longer ranked for. So Aaron goes, “Well, that makes sense, I really don’t want to be focusing on those. I would really rather be focusing on the answering service than the more contextual keywords that really describe what we do.”
What we noticed, and what Aaron had shared with us, is that he found that the call center theme wording never really lent itself to what they did, and therefore when we pulled up those keywords, when we stopped ranking for them, our conversion rate didn’t really change, because that traffic that was being driven wasn’t exactly relevant to what we were doing.
Britt: So, I was relieved, I’ll be honest. Understanding what was happening makes me feel better, even if it’s not good news. I knew what was happening, and I was able to confidently say to Aaron, “This is what caused our different traffic. This is what happened.” As any good business owner did, Aaron goes, “That’s nice, what are we going to do to fix it?”
Britt: Well, the good news is that we had already thought about that, and so our answer to Aaron was, “Now we need to apply some technical SEO tactics to the site, really focused on the keywords that we want to rank for.”
Kathleen: Great, and so it’s interesting because a lot of inbound marketers would look at this situation and say, “Well, we just need to create more content around the keywords we want to rank for,” so why start with technical SEO?
Britt: That’s a really great question. From my perspective, having watched inbound grow from when HubSpot used to be a tiny little software company that very few people knew, to what we have now, just applying more content to a funnel that’s broken isn’t going to solve your problem. Now you’re just going to almost make it worse, because you’re investing in content, at least, for Aaron if I said, “We need to do 10 more blogs,” well, I’m increasing his spend, but it’s not really increasing traffic, then it’s just wasted resources.
And so, at the time you need to really understand what’s going on to even know what to write for…
Kathleen: So, it’s kind of like pouring more water into a leaky bucket?
Britt: Absolutely. Pouring more water into leaky bucket. If you’re just slowly trending down, if you’re seeing like a small slope, I might be inclined to say, “Let’s ramp up some content, let’s make sure that our content is ranking.” So not just create content but create content that’s good and solid and is going to rank for us. But when you see a nosedive, or you see what feels like a nosedive, that is an indicator that something else is going on, it’s not something like a “create more content” situation.
Kathleen: Now, just out of curiosity, when you first encountered the dip in traffic, did you also look in Google Search Console? Because one of my first instincts would be to say, “Gosh, did we get penalized?”
Britt: Yeah, absolutely. That was one of the first places we looked. Was there anything from the algorithms that was going on? And we weren’t able to see anything the first week or two that this happened, and it was interesting because we were going down by 7%, and then maybe 6%, and then one week we went down to like 30, so it was definitely a nosedive at that point.
Kathleen: Yeah. All right, so you chose to focus on technical SEO. It makes sense, I love the reasoning there, and I think it would be very easy to make the mistake of just going to more content creation. “Let’s really dive in on that keyword, and write more blogs,” so when you decided to focus on the SEO, walk me through some of the things that you specifically did in order to plug those holes, if you will?
Britt: Absolutely. Here at IMPACT, we’ve been working with Franco Valentino, who to me is an SEO god. He is the person I go to when I see something going on. And I had list of notes from hearing him speak and consuming his content about things to look for, so honestly that’s where I went first, and I started at the top. We looked at Page Speed Index. Did our site all of sudden slow down and is that what caused this? I didn’t think that would be it alone, but we still addressed it.
Kathleen: And what tool did you use to determine PageSpeed Index?
Britt: We used Webpagetest.org, so you put in your URL and it will spit back to you your areas that you need to reduce. We did see that some of his images were too large, and so here at IMPACT we have an image optimizer script that we’ll run, and it reduces the file size of the images while still keeping their integrity.
Kathleen: Wasn’t it one of our developers who built that?
Britt: Yeah, it was Kyle Sheldon. He’s on my team. We use it here internally almost on all of our sites, and we’ve now started to offer it up to our clients. Franco’s been using it for a few of his clients as well.
Kathleen: That’s neat, I always love hearing about that. That particular tool.
Britt: Yeah, it’s pretty fantastic, what it can do. And so we ran that, we reduced the page speed, so we were able to check that off the list. I also took a critical look at his website. I looked at his homepage, and I was comparing him against the competitors that were outranking us for our keywords. And being a marketer I always go back to that story, right? I was looking at what was happening on the site, and we were able to identify from a user perspective that we weren’t necessarily being as clear and overt about what we did as some of our competitors.
So, we combined the idea of being real clear in our content with keywords, and we went back to the homepage and we optimized it. And what we did is any of the headlines, the meta descriptions, the page titles, really made sure that we were clear, not just to the search engines but to the reader. We updated all of those, and the third thing we did on our homepage … Well, we reduced images, we updated the SEO content, we also dove into LSI keywords.
Kathleen: All right, you just used a technical term. Can you please give us a definition for what an LSI keyword is?
Britt: Yes, I will. So LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and I’ll be honest, it took me probably 20 minutes of searching when I first heard this term a few years back to understand what it is and how I’m supposed to use it as a marketer. And so essentially what it is, is even though it might sound complicated when I’m saying it out loud, it’s really pretty simple.
LSI keywords are words or phrases that are semantically related to each other. They’re not limited to synonyms or keywords with similar meanings, they’re just the most keywords that are used together often. And so the really good example I found on thecontentwrangler.com is he talks about if you were to write an article about cars, there’s many things, but here’s five examples that you could be talking about: You could be talking about a car as a vehicle, Cars the Disney movie, CARS the Canadian Association for Rally Sports, the Canadian Aviation Regulations. How does Google know which cars you’re talking about?
So it’s by providing that context in the keywords. We took a look at all of our content and we said, “Are we really being clear to the user, and to search engines, what we’re talking about here?” An answering service, if you put them together, or you separate them, how do we create a theme around our content?
Kathleen: You raised something I think is really important. You have to be clear not just to search engines but to people, and the reason I wanted to take a minute and just kind of underline that statement, is that one of the trends I’ve seen that I think has had a major influence on how people can market successfully, is the shift within Google from an algorithm-based search result to artificial intelligence-based search results, so RankBrain.
When it was an algorithm, you could really kind of game the keywords more. I mean, it was a mathematical equation. You dropped enough of certain words in and you would get found, and Google recognized that that was solving for search engines but not solving for people, and now they’re using RankBrain, which is artificial intelligence for the vast majority of search results. And they’re basically trying to mimic with artificial intelligence the way that people search. So you’ve made such an important point because in some senses, by optimizing for people you are now optimizing for search engines.
Britt: Absolutely, that’s been the biggest shift that I’ve seen in SEO, and it’s such fine balance to walk as a marketer because you do have to be cogniscent of the fact that there is a machine on the other side of this. But the fun part for us is I go back to that page story. There has to be a human element to what you’re doing, you have to look at it as a human. You have to understand my personas, my visitors coming to the website. What questions are they asking? What are they doing?
Something that we’ve started doing here is if we recommend a new page or we recommend updating a page, the very first thing you see on our creative brief is the page story. Before we talk about the colors, before we talk about layout, or before we talk about the technical SEO, what are we trying to convey on this page? What is the purpose that this page exists for, and what are we answering? So when we solve for that first, the technical SEO comes in and supports you from a technical standpoint, our graphic designer lays it out for us from a graphics standpoint, and then content sort of fills in the rest.
Kathleen: I love that, because I think if there’s one way as a marketer that you can future proof what you’re doing, it is by solving for the people, as opposed to the machines. And I say that only because when you think about Google, they’re in a competitive business, there are other search engines that people can use, and so Google has to solve for people.
So, Google is always going to be, however they decide to rank their results, it’s always going to be in an effort to solve for the people that are searching. So if you as a marketer are also solving for people, you’re going to be really well aligned longterm with what Google’s doing, regardless of how they change their algorithm, or regardless of how they tweak their artificial intelligence. Whereas, if you are solving for the algorithm, then you’re screwed, pardon my french, because the algorithm can change.
Britt: Kathleen, that statement you just made is why I so love working with you. My view on SEO for years, and I’ve said this for years, is that Google is a business, and we as a business, as marketers, have to appreciate that Google is a business, and that they’re going to stay in business by staying the top search engine that we use. And they’ve done that by evolving, well, they’ve evolved how we behave, and now we are effecting how it behaves. And so, if you approach it from that perspective, and to your point, you really solve for the user, you solve for why does this page exist? If they come here am I answering their questions? If I’m not, then I might as well take it down because it’s just going to hurt us.
Kathleen: Yeah, so true.
Britt: I think that’s an excellent point.
Kathleen: All right, so technical SEO. So you got the page speed down, you compressed the images, what other little tricks did you have up your sleeve?
Britt: Well, there was one other that we did, and again, this is a huge shout out, and this win I want to be super clear is as much Aaron and Ambs as it is IMPACT, this was a group effort from both of us, if we recommended something Aaron was all in. And one of the things that we recommended was attacking local SEO. So while Ambs can support national, and they do, they also have concrete locations, like I said, here in Jackson, down in Tampa.
And here up in the Midwest, being a family owned local business really means something. That’s an important thing that we’re looking to convey. So it’s imperative that if someone’s searching “answering service by me,” or “near me,” that’s the new “answering service near me,” he’s found. And so we were taking a look at, recently they acquired, did they merge with another company? Their local citations across the web were just sort of all out of whack.
So what we did is recommended a tool that we use called Moz Local. It’s about $99 dollars a location a year, and what it does is it crawls all the really important citations, things like Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Google, Google My Business, Facebook, and it alerts you, and in certain cases will actually fix your business information.
So, something that was really interesting to me, Kathleen, was how important those citations are to local SEO. For example, if your address in one place says Avenue, spells the word out, versus another citation uses the abbreviation AVE, Google actually says those are two different things. Everything else can be the same, but all the way down to the indexing and making sure that everything’s correct was really important.
Kathleen: Boy, sometimes Google’s so smart, and then other times you’re like, “How are you so dumb?”
Britt: Yes, exactly. Yes, but this was one area where it was a pretty obvious win, so we signed up for Moz Local and we got it all set up. We got his citations taken care of, and the crux of the story, the fun part, is that towards the end of December, beginning of this year, again, at this point I’m checking his traffic literally every day. I have Databox on my phone, I have reports for all of my clients come in, and Aaron’s the one I look at first, and it’s probably because he starts with A, but I tell him it’s because-
Kathleen: That’s the old phone book technique, right? We are the triple A call center, triple A air conditioning.
Britt: Yup, and so we started seeing traffic stop decreasing. Okay, wait, hold on, we’re at zero, which is good. We’re 10% over, wait a minute, we’re at 20% over. Okay, hold on, I’m starting to see things are moving, and we did the exact same exercise that we did that told us what keywords we had lost rank for, and what we found is that the keywords that we wanted to rank for, the answering service context keywords, had jumped almost as far as our others had fallen.
Kathleen: Wow, that’s great.
Britt: The one that we call Aaron’s golden keyword – this is the one that if he ranks one on Google then I mean, I don’t know what Aaron’s gonna do, we’re gonna have to pull him back down from the sky – is answering service. On November 3rd he was ranking 56, and so that’s south of the 60-
Kathleen: Right, you might as well not rank at all, because nobody goes that far.
Britt: Exactly. I am proud of our collective effort with Aaron, to say that today when I logged into SEMRush, we are currently ranking number seven.
Kathleen: So that’s from mid-November?
Britt: Yup, mid-November.
Kathleen: To mid-January. So two months you went from 56th to 7th?
Britt: So, it’s a celebration. I mean, every day we’re looking at this and we’re sending screenshots to each other of where this ranking is, and it’s exciting to see this keyword move up. This set of keywords. What it’s doing to his traffic is even more exciting. We’re seeing we’re up 30%, we’re up 23%. Now, if you remember at the beginning of the story, last month we were down about that same, so we’re starting to climb ourselves back up, and I project that into the middle of February we will start having net new gains, we’ll be able to say this dip will no longer have counted and we’re still going in the right direction.
Kathleen: That’s exciting. So the traffic has come back and it’s traffic that is for the more desired keywords. Tell me about what’s happened with leads.
Britt: His conversion rate currently is 2.4%, so it had increased I think 45% over last month’s just simply by doing this. Now granted, these are moving numbers. This is the numbers we have today. Tomorrow that could change, and from Aaron on an anecdotal standpoint, the phone is ringing again, the things are coming back that he started to see going away at the end of last year.
Kathleen: Well, to provide some context, 2.4% for anybody who doesn’t watch closely benchmarks around conversion rates, that’s really good. It sounds like such a low number but what I usually see is that most companies are below 1%. Really kind of well performing companies that are doing inbound marketing are generally between 1% and 2%, I would say that’s pretty much a best practice. Over 2% is really, really, really good.
Britt: We’re ecstatic. We’re ecstatic to see that the three strategies we applied, which were really re-optimizing our content for both the user and for SEO, and making sure that we were providing enough context to what we were recommending or what we were talking about. And through LSI keywords, and then the local SEO has done what we intended.
Now the fun part, Kathleen, is that this isn’t the end of the story. We’re all celebrating, we’re all really excited that what we did is working. At any moment things could change, but we’re committed with Aaron to be looking at these numbers and continue to push forward to create our goals. Our goal is to get him to number one. That’s where he wants to be, right? And it’s gonna be a heavier lift from position seven to position one, or position zero, if we try hard enough, to say now we’re really coming up against these bigger competitors, and we’re not only going to be able to just apply technical SEO, we really have to start looking at messaging, and providing for that user in a really, really deep way, because that’s how we’re going to compete with his other competitors who are currently sitting in those early spots.
Kathleen: Yeah, so going back to the analogy we used earlier, you’ve plugged the holes in the bucket, now it’s time to start adding the water back in.
Britt: Now is the time to start adding the water back in, which is what we’re focusing on this quarter and coming quarters.
Kathleen: Well, that’s great. That’s all very kind of exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how those results continue to increase, and maybe we’ll have you back on when you guys get to number one, and we can all toast at that point.
Britt: Absolutely, I had a call with Aaron yesterday, or actually the day before, asking if it was okay if I came on. I invited him, unfortunately schedules didn’t allow. He was ecstatic to be featured here and he said as well that in the next coming months we’ll be back on with Kathleen, with Aaron with us, talking about not only how we plugged those holes, but what our other strategies have done for us.
Kathleen: Perfect. Any other key take-aways that you think are worth sharing as far as things that have worked really well for them? Either content types, or promotion strategies, or nurturing strategies?
Britt: Really for them it was just creating contextual content around … You mentioned a great point earlier that they answer the phone, but that could mean different things in different lives of our different personas, so we’ve really been creating content that’s contextual to what it would mean to a medical persona versus a solo-entrepreneur. And we’re really seeing that that content’s being consumed and that people are following a theme. So they are looking at one page and going to another, but they’re really staying within the context of how it relates to them. And so part of our strategy moving forward is to create even more segmentation, and to speak really deeply to the different segments of the business.
Kathleen: Now, if somebody listening wanted to dive more into Latent Semantic Indexing, those are the LSI keywords that you mentioned earlier, and they wanted to come up with, I don’t know, I’ll go back to my example, let’s say I’m a commercial landscaper and I want to rank for commercial landscaping, how would I begin to understand how to put together a list of semantic keywords that I would want to use in conjunction with that primary one?
Britt: That’s a great question Kathleen, and one I’m actually excited that I’m prepared to answer. There’s a website called lsigraph.com, and it’s just an LSI keyword generator. And I will say, as with any tool, use it with caution, first apply common sense.
For example, it worked really wells for Ambs, it gave us a list of other topics and keywords that would fit really well for him. We just recently tried doing this for another client of ours, now we were really specific for location, and the only thing it spit back to us were competitors. So, first I’d start here, and then really going back to the topic around if you’re talking about cars, are you talking about Disney versus a vehicle, versus something in Canada? Really understand what you’re talking about and how you create content that best supports what you need, is where I would go next.
Kathleen: So some of it’s really just kind of common sense, but then there are some good tools out there as well?
Britt: Yeah, absolutely.
Kathleen: I’ve also found that Google itself can be an interesting source of information. So if you plug your keyword in and then you look at some of the suggest terms that come up after it, as well as some of the things at the bottom of the page, related searches, those are often really good tells as well.
Britt: Yes, absolutely.
Kathleen: I love hearing these stories, I love the detail and how you use technical SEO. I’m curious, you’re somebody, again, who’s used lots of different companies and how they market and as someone who has to really manage a portfolio of clients for an agency, and be focused on the strategic aspects of those engagements, how do you stay educated yourself? Where do you go to get really good information that you feel keeps you on the cutting edge of marketing?
Britt: Absolutely. There’s a few places that I go. It’s gonna sound like a plug but it’s true, Impact Elite, so that’s our Facebook group for marketers. There’s so much information being shared and bubbled there that I’m able to at a glance go through and see what traffics are trending and dive into the content being shared.
I mentioned him as well, Franco Valentino, he’s fantastic when it comes to this technical SEO, I go right to him. I do follow HubSpot’s content, probably not as frequently as I used to, but really again, it’s that peer to peer content that has been my biggest source over the last six to eight months of understanding what’s happening in the marketing space.
Kathleen: Great, thank you for sharing that. And then, lastly, I always like to ask people who, either companies or individuals, do you think is doing inbound marketing really well? So if one of our listeners wanted to go out and look at somebody who maybe could be a role model for them, who would you suggest?
Britt: Oh man, I love this question. The brand that I think is doing it really, really well, is Joanna Gaines. So if you’re not familiar, she had a TV show on HGTV called Fixer Upper, she has a shop. Why I look at her to say someone who’s doing inbound really well, is the stories that she’s telling, there’s a theme along everything that she’s putting out across her website.
The videos she’s creating…she’s creating content that’s relatable. If you’re somebody who’s interested in her topics it’s very easy to draw into and you want more. I want to go to her store, wherever it is, I will drive there to go and buy from her. And to me that’s really the goal of inbound, is to communicate your story and your purpose and your life in such a way that it’s almost a no-brainer for somebody to say “I want more.” And when I consume her content, man, I want more!
Kathleen: So, true confession time, I am sort of obsessed with the show Fixer Upper.
Britt: Oh, I didn’t even know that, Kathleen!
Kathleen: Yeah, and I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I love that show. And it’s very interesting to me because there are several Fixer Uppers, much like there are several NCIS’, right? There’s versions all over the country, but her’s is the only one that I like to watch. And I think you hit on it, it’s because they’re very relatable and very natural, it’s her and her husband who host it.
But here’s what’s so interesting. My husband, who I think normally would not be caught dead watching shows like that, I’ve looped him into it now too. And we were just talking about maybe going to the store, so I totally get what you’re saying, and I completely agree with you, that I don’t know what magic dust they’re sprinkling on their content, but it works.
Britt: It’s their brand too, Kathleen. And I said brand on purpose, because though she’s a person, I don’t know her, I just know the brand, and the story and everything that comes out from them, I mean, I would imagine if I were to walk into Target, I could pick out her section without ever seeing the brand’s name on it, to say that is their brand.
And I think that’s something that we should all strive for as marketers is to create a brand, to create a story, to create a space that’s so strong, that with or without our logo or our name on it, that our prospects, that our audience would be able to say, “Hmm, that must have come from IMPACT, ’cause that feels like IMPACT.”
Kathleen: I love that. Such a great point, and such a great example. When you mentioned it I was like, “Wow, I never thought about that as inbound marketing,” but you’re absolutely correct, she’s got videos, she’s got blogs, she’s got her fingers in a lot of pies.
Britt: Yes, I don’t know how she does it, but man I want some of her stuff.
Kathleen: Yeah. I know, “I’ll have what she’s having,” right?
Britt: Yes, exactly.
Kathleen: Great, well thank you so much for joining me today. I’m sure there’s going to be people who have questions about some of the things you talked about, maybe they want to reach out to you and get some more information. What’s the best way for somebody listening here today to find you online?
Britt: Absolutely. So, as we say on MarketHer, you can find me on the Twitter @britt_schwartz, or you’re also welcome to email me, I love getting emails, and you can find me at bschwartz @ impactbnb.com.
Kathleen: Awesome, and I will put those links in the show notes. One last plug, you should definitely check out the MarketHer podcast, you can find that on the IMPACT website under podcasts and shows.
That’s all I have for today. Thank you for joining me, and if you like what you heard today please give us a quick review on iTunes or Stitcher. And if you know somebody else who’s doing really kick-ass marketing work, Tweet me @workmommywork, because I’d love to interview them.
Thanks, see you next week!
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