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Putting the O in SEO

By: Lisa Doyle
Posted: February 2, 2010, from the February 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In 2007, Bath & Body Works was at the forefront of SEO when it hired San Mateo, California-based Coremetrics to gauge traffic on its relaunched Web site. Through the Coremetrics Benchmark program, the company compared the performance of www.bathandbodyworks.com against that of its direct competitors, and thus analyze how and why Bath & Body Works could improve its product page, navigation and landing pages. The results within a year? A 13% increase in visitors who reached a product page, and onsite search conversion (visitors who both used the site’s search function and made a purchase) rising by 31%.

With effective SEO, even the smaller companies can compete with the major players. SkinB5, a small, home-based Australian skin care business, contracted with Web Marketing Experts in an effort to achieve online success. Not only did Web Marketing Experts outline a complete online marketing strategy integrating SEO, they also redesigned SkinB5’s Web site. “Attracting traffic is only half the battle,” notes Bell. “The site must be able to convert traffic into sales.” The combination of services proved to be powerful for SkinB5—within a year, its annual sales went from $30,000 to $1.2 million. Moreover, the organic rankings of search terms, including “acne cure” and “Vitamin B5” keep it in the first and second pages of a Google search.

The Social Media Link

Companies in every industry should note that their brands and products are turning up in more and more searches due to people posting links on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and more. A way to stay ahead of the curve is capitalizing on social media first. Steve Goddard, president and founder of Pravana Naturceuticals, credits social media as a key factor in his company’s success. “We’re using Facebook to bring people to our Web site, and we’re really trying to triangulate every message we put out,” he says. “We use it to push the consumer to our Web site, but we’ll also put together incentives—they can visit the site to get a free DVD on color, for example.”

According to Strain-Seymour, it’s in your company’s best interest to actively monitor what is being said in social networks. “You search for a company’s name, and part of what you will find is information on Twitter or someone’s blog—these are found separate from the manufacturer or reseller site. A blog may say, ‘I love this product, I’m very loyal to it,’ or it could be the flip side,” he says. “These comments can really influence a buyer.”

Consider This

Even with a professional in your corner, a company shouldn’t expect to see overnight results. However, you should see significant improvement of your key search terms within a reasonable time period. “If it’s a keyword that’s not very competitive, it could take only three to six weeks,” notes Strain-Seymour. “But, if you want to rank on ‘iPhone’ or ‘lipstick,’ that could be a nine- to 18-month-project to be among the highest-ranking terms.” Bell agrees, also citing the age of a site as a factor in its SEO success. “A client can see results in one to three months for sites that are six months and older, but new sites can take three to eight months,” he says. “Google prefers aged Web sites.”