If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, then you probably remember the Search a Small Business Holiday Giveaway I launched this past December. The purpose of the contest was to give an ultra-small business in New Jersey a free online marketing audit, which would produce plan for enhancing the company’s digital strategies.
I launched the contest because it didn’t seem fair that many small businesses lack the resources or budgets to tackle online marketing the right way. Many SMB’s move at light speed to keep their businesses running and simply don’t have time to keep up on the latest strategies and tactics. I opened the contest to any small business in NJ with less than ten employees (what I categorized as an ultra-small business).
The winner of the contest was Kati Angelini and she owns Kati’s Kupcakes, a gourmet cupcake business in Moorestown, NJ. Kati’s Kupcakes creates specialty cupcakes, cupcake towers, wedding cupcakes, etc. When I first spoke to Kati after announcing the winner, I could tell right away that she was passionate about her business, and was eager to learn more about SEO, Local Search, SEM, Web Analytics, etc. It also became apparent to me that Kati represented the classic case of someone that had serious skills and was extremely talented, but lacked the exposure she needed to rapidly grow her business. So, after my initial conference call with her, I got started on analyzing her business, her site, her current marketing efforts, etc.
What I Found and How I Helped (And We’re Not Done Yet…)
During my audit, I began to analyze Kati’s website, her presence in Local Search, her rankings in Natural Search, her tracking capabilities, etc. It didn’t take long to understand the path we needed to go down. In a nutshell, the content management system (CMS) Kati was using to run her website was wreaking havoc on her efforts. The website had a rudimentary design, it was riddled with technical problems, her content wasn’t optimized (at all), she had no presence in local search, and lacked the ability to quickly add new content or blog posts. For a local small business, the combination I listed above was causing serious problems for gaining exposure, rankings, quality visitors, and customers. When you boil it down, Kati needed to show up when people were searching for her services. At the time, she simply wasn’t.
The Marketing Spot with Jay Ehret
When I launched the holiday giveaway, Jay Ehret from The Marketing Spot reached out to me to learn more about the contest. In case you don’t know Jay, he focuses heavily on small business marketing and branding and he also runs a podcast called Power to the Small Business. Jay learned about the contest via Twitter (since we have been following each other for some time now). Jay recently invited me to be on his podcast to speak about the contest, the changes we implemented for Kati, and the results from our initial efforts. Both Kati and I were on the call and we had a great conversation with Jay about the project. The podcast launched today and you can listen to it now by visiting the blog post (listed below) or by downloading the podcast via iTunes.
Listen to the Podcast About Kati’s Kupcakes:
Local SEO Clinic: Improving Traffic, Improving Business
Kati’s Kupcakes: Highlights From Our Initial Efforts
Although we are only a few months in, there have been some great improvements marketing-wise. Kati still has a long way to go, but our initial efforts are definitely paying off. Again, you can listen to the podcast to learn more (it’s 30 minutes long). Here are some highlights from the project and I’m eager to keep helping Kati grow her business. By the way, you can hear Kati’s view of the projects on the podcast (including how they have impacted her business.)
- I performed a thorough SEO technical audit, which revealed a number of technical issues impacting her performance in Natural Search. There were also a number of content optimization problems on the site (to say the least). The deck was 30 slides long…
- We moved Kati’s website from a problematic content management system (CMS) to WordPress, which helped fix a number of technical problems inhibiting her efforts (usability, SEO, blogging, domain strategy, etc.)
- Kati’s indexation (the number of pages indexed by the search engines) has increased from 12 unoptimized pages to 136 pages.
- I developed a local search strategy for Kati’s Kupcakes in order for the business to show up for local searches. This included making a number of changes and additions across several websites and databases.
- I started training Kati on best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Kati is the person that would be creating new pages, new blog posts, etc. and needed to understand how to properly optimize those pages on her site. This took the form of multiple one hour training sessions (and the training is on-going).
- I explained the power of the long tail of SEO, as well as how to target it. The long tail is incredibly powerful and businesses should avoid the long tail at their own peril. A bit dramatic? Sure, but definitely true. :)
- Kati’s original website ranked for almost no target keywords. Since March 1st, 622 keywords have led visitors to Kati’s website, 561 of those keywords were unbranded terms (not someone simply searching for Kati’s Kupcakes), and 128 of those keywords included a local qualifier. For example, using a town, zipcode, or state along with target keywords. Down the line, I believe that Kati’s website can rank for thousands of keywords, but 622 is a great start (and a huge improvement.)
- We added Google Analytics for tracking site performance, which enables Kati to view granular reporting across traffic sources, campaigns, keywords, etc. I am going to help Kati develop an analytics strategy, including identifying conversions and events to track, so she can quickly and efficiently identify which efforts are paying off for her business.
A Good Start, But There’s Still A Lot To Do:
Although we have made a lot of changes and Kati’s business is seeing a nice impact, we still have some things to do marketing-wise. For example, there are several content optimization projects we need to perform on the site. I also want to help Kati learn more about paid search and understand how it can supplement organic search. I think Kati can have a stronger integration with Facebook and Twitter, and possibly start to use location-based services like FourSquare or Gowalla. And I want to keep training Kati on SEO best practices so she feels comfortable with making changes that will help her organic search efforts. In addition, I mentioned that I’ll be helping Kati develop an analytics strategy. That’s probably our next major step.
So, if you are interested in hearing more about the contest and the projects we tackled, head over to the Marketing Spot and listen to the podcast. Again, it’s about 30 minutes long, but contains some good nuggets of information for small businesses. Heck, put in on your iPod and listen to it during your next workout. :)