SEO

Big Company Tactics for Your Small Operation

Cannondale is a globally recognized bike company with huge distribution and approximately 300 different bike models at any one time.

The company’s designs are sleek, contemporary machines which provide speed and serious durability with intense frames covered in bold color palettes and graphics. The company has very specific messaging and a very specific audience.

This summer I was in conversation with a member of Canondale’s North American marketing team. I wanted to know how exactly does a globally established bike company promote itself in so many different markets? What’s the system?

Generally speaking, the process begins with new product releases, ongoing customer education and some strong industry entertainment (because a loyal Cannondale customer has been taught to expect that).

For example, each time Cannondale launches a new bike, the marketing cycle ‘begins again.’ Cannondale sales reps are sent into the field with new bikes + education for mechanics, distributors (stores) and consumers; media is alerted, influencers might receive an advance private release or test product and other Cannondale specialty teams are dedicated to participating in and hosting consumer events. Previous product campaigns may overlap or merge into the latest one, but a new bike = new promotion cycle. Meanwhile, the digital managers are overseeing traffic and pushing online sales.

The overarching strategies listed below (with the exception of the Party Bus - but even that can be morphed into your own mini-event) are opportunities any small, creative business can easily initiate with that little accessible thing we all love - sweat equity.

1) Data analytics and digital marketing

Cannondale wants to track from where (geographically) all traffic on their site is coming and hypothetically perform more promotion at those locations. The buyer’s actions on the Cannondale site can reveal patterns about consumer behavior, like what influences a purchase, how long a visitor is on the site before buying, or which pages are ineffective based on drop-off rates (bounce rate). This info in turn tells Cannondale more about their customer and the customer’s experience (also known as the UX or User Experience), plus inform Cannondale which other sites are driving traffic to the Cannondale site. This corner of the marketing will include PPC ads (Facebook pay per click ads, for example or Google Ad Words) or any other online paid advertising, the results of which can be tracked, profits recorded, and turned into data . Think weekly traffic reports, “content keyword integration” , trends analysis and an internal management database.

2) The bike bus

Cannondale shows up at industry events with demo bikes, tools and gear. They arrive at bike shows to promote new products and teach maintenance at bike shops where they know they’ll find a concentration of their consumers. The company is actively engaging outwardly via their determined distribution channels (the stores that sell the bikes, for example) and the bike company’s loyal consumers in order to create face to face engagement (very powerful for a business to consumer model). With mobile edu, Cannondale controls the dissemination of bike edu for maximum engagement and customer happiness.

3) Giving away merch

They give away a lot of bikes. The director for media communications has a give-away-bikes-budget. This budget is used to get bikes into the hands of media professionals who may test the bikes and then write about it. Hopefully the reviews are positive. Cannondale wouldn’t necessarily have a say over positive or negative feedback but editorial coverage from experts in the field builds a ton of credibility, especially when those experts are trusted by the consumer. The wholesale cost of a bike “gift” may cost less than a two page ad-spread in an industry publication.

4) Influencer RELATIONSHIPS

The Cannondale employees who drive the aforementioned Cannondale buses, are also aware of who’s who within inner-industry circles. Which cyclists have the best connections, the strongest knowledges bases and carry the most trust. Are these people talented athletes, brilliant mechanics, phenomenal sales reps? These people are noted by Cannondale as individuals who can participate in a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship. Maybe these friends will be alerted of early releases or new products before the general public and though this wasn’t said, they likely (should) receive a ton of free product like t-shirts, hats, socks, stickers, etc containing the Cannondale logo. Said products are hypothetically worn publically for brand recognition and influencers will (likely) pass along relevant information to their followers and friends.

5) Mobile PR

I mentioned the buses. Those buses carry bikes, tools, new products. Cannondale also has ‘party buses,’ vehicles outfitted to morph into a mobile bar equipped with music and maybe even a dance floor?

6) Hosting and Attending events

The person in charge of this often complex task is a logistics and partnership expert. Leveraging Cannondale’s assets for exposure and inclusion within the important events of industry partners, plus tactfully engaging the company’s target audience to show up and enjoy a Cannondale-event is a responsibility that falls on the person in this role.

7) Content Creation + Media placements

Ads. Commercials. Youtube vidoes, industry magazine ad-inserts. For a big company like Cannondale, multiple team members collaborate on the messaging and content of the video and ads. Then more people are responsible for placing the content into the correct channels (magazines, ad networks, youtube ads) for the right exposure to the right audience. The results of this are hard to calculate (easier now if the ads are online) but this process follows the rule of remaining omnipresent - anywhere your audience can see you, they should see you.

8) Merch (for sale)

Brand identity on the right hats, shirts, shoes, socks, accessories, tools, travel gear, etc is about communication (and style). What will the merch say, how is the brand represented and which items are sold sold/do the best? Like mentioned above, merchandise is about brand recognition and sales revenue. Bikes are Cannondale’s core product but like any company with a central line of revenue, they can generate additional sales by means of branded merchandise while simultaneously placing their brand in the hands of more people.

Squarespace SEO Checklist

As a result of my work, I’m an administrator on a number of Squarespace accounts so I receive ‘special access’ to certain Squarespace forums (pretty cool). The Squarespace SEO Checklist-link below is in fact public but came across my plate as a result of this feature.

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

Also, note if you’re familiar with editing your Squarespace site, you’ll see a new update when clicking on the little gear icon in the pages editing section. There’s now a ‘SEO’ section within each page allowing for the manual entry of SEO-specific content for better results. Each entry only takes a couple minutes. I recommend copy + pasting only a few lines of text here. Copy + paste the most descriptive content from the page you’re editing. The SEO section for your About page, for example, should cover what your business is, who it serves and how. Again, just repurpose the content you already have on your site by copy + pasting it into this new SEO section.

karina-napier-creative-squarespace-seo-help-screenshot-how-to

Click below for the Squarespace SEO Checklist. Note, the first section suggests ‘Before Launch’, but much of these suggested tasks can be performed even after your site is live. Good luck! It’s easy but yes, it takes time :)

https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002090267


“The Art of Making Your Website Compatible for Google Search Engines”

The first memory I have of hearing a dial-up modem reaches back to the age of about 5 or 6 years old.

I used America Online and probably chatted with too many people, was too young for exposure of that sort, and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Precursor: I'm not a techie, not a coder, but I've always found consumer behavior & marketing fascinating.

When SEO became a thing many years ago, I understood it in concept - I got that it matters and still does, but I didn't understand what was happening behind the scenes.

Therefore I found the topic too ambiguous to dive deeper.

Since, and through reading, research, various info osmosis, I get SEO. But still, it can remain daunting.

In my line of work, I listen to a lot of podcasts about the topics that relate to marketing. And I'm picky. I don't love everything I hear.

So what I'm about to share, I share because I've filtered out much of the repetitive, irrelevant, maybe even uninventive information. 

And focus instead on information that works.

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan seo nick hiller photographer

 

Well, that's why when I listened to a podcast today (link at end of article) with Amy Porterfield and Neil Patel, I was taking notes through the whole thing and even listened twice.

Amy is the sweetest and Neil is not only sincere but incredibly credible.

While Amy is a marketing maven, she relies on paid advertising for her online business.

Neil suggests, why not both?

 

“It’s not [paid advertising OR SEO]. You need to optimize your business for total profitability."

 

“Warning,” he says, "with SEO you won’t see results right away. It's long and hard and why most people don’t do it. And SEO simply does not ‘convert’ as well as paid advertising.”

He goes on to add, “...the majority of people don’t click on paid ads, Google is worth around $7hundred billion+.
And $80 million or $80 billion of that is from PAID AD REVENUE."
This is important:
"Hence why organic results are worth so much <because  they are competing with paid advertising>. Google is not going to make it easy to have organic results otherwise companies wouldn’t spend money on advertising.”

 

You see? SEO matters because the engines controlling the results are designed to push you into two options:

1.) Pay

or

2) learn SEO for your website.

If you're still with me it's because I'm not the first person to tell you SEO matters, and you're waiting for the plan that Amy and Nate shared in their v. long podcast. (Sure, you can listen, but you can also use my notes, below. The sharing of these notes is in fact for you.)

Again, Amy doesn't really rely much on SEO.

So this plan is from Neil.

He offers a 3 month plan. Yes, yes. SEO results take a long time! And then the plan takes management.

But don't spend more than 10 hrs/wk on this stuff. If you are, Neil says something's up.

 

MONTH 1 - Check out your online competition. Do your homework.

Gather, say 5 URLs of your competition and then try these tools:

  • UberSuggest - Free. Type in keywords of your ‘industry space.’ In return, the engine will give suggestions to keywords in your ‘space’ and provide the cost per click to use those words in paid advertising.

If a keyword has a high cost per click...it’s worth more! If you’re getting clicks for pennies on the dollar, you're probably not going to get many results because the use of those words don’t generate results.

  • Semrush.com - Costs money. But here, you can type in your own URL and results will show your closest competitors who are selling the exact same service as you. Will also show the keywords your competitors are ranking for (read: show what keywords your competitors are using to get results) and how many visitors they‘re getting. If your competition is successful, their keywords could be valuable.

  • Ahrefs.com - Costs some money. Provides another version of the options, above.

Month 1 Takeaways:

  • Competition (should be low), cost per click (should be high) and search volume (this means a lot of traffic and search volume should be high).

  • Have at least 10-20 keywords, to start, then expand into hundreds if not thousands of keywords as you master SEO.

  • Spend a few hrs a week on SEO. Much more is not realistic.

  • How to keep organized: these tools, mentioned above, have their own dashboards. They update as the competitors update. You don’t have to keep doing the research over again, or refreshing.

 

 

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan SEO annie spratt photographer

MONTH 2 - How to make great content for SEO.

First, Analyze Your Current Content

For Wordpress users, “Yoast SEO” plugin is free and basically optimizes your content and images for keywords.

REMEMBER: Google reads source code (and your written words), not images.

So we have to make our websites compatible with Google. Google needs to crawl the site in order to gather your info and rank you in search results.

You won’t rank high in search results if Google can’t crawl your site. If you're a Squarespace user, a tool for implementing keywords is at the bottom of this post. This step is critical. So be patient.

Also, if you haven't already, you must, must sign up for Google Search Console. It's free. And it breaks down how your site is performing with keywords. Google Analytics won’t show which keywords are driving your traffic. Console showcases that data. (Neil suggests getting this installed during month 1.)

Creating new content.

Start off with just one blog post per week. Video does not rank as well on Google. Audio content is good for engagement but still does not rank as well as words.

FYI, Google knows if your content is user-generated (your audience is leaving a comment, for ex) or if that content i's a blog, or if you have ‘show notes’ - notes posted after audio or video on the audio or video page. And Google likes blog posts a lot.  “Show notes” will not help with SEO.

Google is looking at engagement which tends to arise via blog posts.

And remember, you can always review Semrush to see which of your articles are performing on the world wide web.

IN CREATING CONTENT, KEEP THESE TIPS IN MIND:

Content in conversational tones does better. “You and I.” Create a conversation with your text versus "a teacher talking at you." This is good for engagement. Which is good for Google's tools.

  • Articles which show up on pg 1 of Google tend to have 2500 words, versus only 500 words. Make sure your content is thorough.

  • Use subheadings. Think of it as your book. Title of book, plus subheadings as chapters.

  • Keep your paragraph short 5-6 lines as rule of thumb

  • Use images or video and audio clips for engagement

  • Always wrap up the post with a conclusion, so if people scroll down first before reading, they may like the end and scroll back up to actually read from the beginning.

 

MONTH 3 - Building your online network via links and sharing.

A site ranked at the top of a search result is based on keywords and which site has the most 'votes'. Voting for sites happens in 2 ways:

1) A vote is a link to your site. The origin of the link also counts. A more powerful origin site will help your vote, more. Think RELEVANT origin site. Radiohead.com vs the casual resume-site of your best friend.

2) Another vote is social share. Here, think AUTHORITY links. Shares from the most authoritative links in your field. (If Amy Porterfield shared one of my links, I’d be getting a GREAT vote, in Google’s eyes.

Try: Ahrefs.com - you can enter in your competitor URLs and receive information about every single person and site which linked to that URL.

Neil's tip: Take that list and export it and find a contact person for each of the sites. Then email each contact and ask if they'll link to your content. Of course, this takes some time and savvy, but it is, in fact, an option... And you can get a Virtual Assistant to help with a lot of this.

TOOL:

Buzzsumo - put in keywords and URLs of your competitor’s article, and results will show how many social shares the article has, plus each person who shared that article. Neil's Tip:  you can reach out to those “sharers” and ask that they share your content, as well (apparently, some people are willing to do this).

 

Also with Buzzsumo, you can type in keywords and the results will tell you all the popular articles based on a keyword subject matter. Plus, you can see what people love and spot patterns and trends to help guide your ideas. I happen to like this one option. V. helpful.

 

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan seo luca bravo photographer

Ok, that's it! if you're still with me, here are a few resources:

Amy's Podcast episode with Neil Patel:

https://www.amyporterfield.com/2018/07/221/

The Squarespace tool for keywords:

https://logicalseo.net/blog/squarespace-seo-plugin-the-alternatives

Semrush.com

Ahrefs.com

Ubersuggest.com

Buzzsumo.com