PYB is a new kind of insurance brand. They provide a variety of lifestyle consumer insurance, from gadget and smartphone to travel, rental car, renters insurance and more. They pride themselves on providing a fast, friendly buying experience. PYB is part of a Fortune 500 company but with a cool, start-up culture and business model.
I was approached by the Marketing Director because they wanted a better online presence but didn’t want a full-time employee. They came to me needing SEO expertise, strategy, and execution as well as the following deliverables:
- Develop a process for weekly and monthly reporting
- Finalize the list of core keywords
- Determine why some pages weren’t ranking and develop a plan to start ranking for them
- Correct critical technical issues hurting SEO
- Develop a plan for ongoing content and linkbuilding
- Work with and educate the marketing team and other departments on SEO best practices
I was hired as their in-house consultant, and my job was to manage tactical SEO initiatives including on-site optimization, keyword analysis, web content development, link-building, site auditing and competitive analysis.
My directive was to strategically build inbound organic search traffic and improve SERPs—the right way. The company had been burned by other SEO companies in the past and they wanted someone who would do things ethically. Over the past year my primary SEO consulting work included:
Remove Duplicate Content
One of my first priorities as I started work on the website was to remove the duplicate content I found on almost every sales page. All pages had identical copy, with the name of the product switched out. Finding duplicate copy is a common occurrence with e-commerce websites, and one of the most important to start tackling as Google doesn’t like to rank sites and pages with the same copy. It’s viewed as a low quality user experience. In addition, I found content was being repurposed and copied and pasted directly across press releases, blog posts, and sales pages. With that discovery, educating team members on the importance of unique writing came next. Once unique copy was written for the primary landing pages, rankings started improving almost immediately.
Focus on Niche, Longtail Keywords
Because the core keywords targeted were in a very competitive niche, I knew we’d have to target niche keywords as part of our strategy. I identified several long-tail keywords in industry, category, and product specific verticals, and through a content audit set to map existing content to these keywords. At that point, I began to create new content designed to rank for these keywords. Another important responsibility of an SEO consultant is to identify content gaps and manage the content creation process from idea to live copy. Having a background in SEO copywriting was essential for both users and search engines as we were able to rank very well out of the gates for many of our long-tail keywords. Our niche/Tier 2 product pages resulted in significant sales from first-time visitors, and also ranked very well.
Manage a Keyword-Focused Blog Strategy
Because we were in a competitive niche, I knew that having an optimized, ongoing blog strategy was going to be critical. I took over managing the blog in order to create and set an editorial calendar and ensure we had optimized, valuable, and relevant content published every week. This included:
- Establishing a multi-author blog with complete authorship for all writers to enhance visibility and CTR
- Creating quality content around niche keywords and improving internal linking to our interior pages
- Integrating content around important seasons, dates, and holidays
- Showing the fun side of the brand by hosting contests, discussing cool industry news, sharing pictures of company activities and telling the company’s story
The blog contributes significantly to PYB’s SEO as it directly brings traffic, rankings, long-tail keywords, links, and social media signals to the overall site.
Run a High-Quality Linkbuilding Program
With off-page SEO, or linkbuilding, it’s important to focus just as much on attracting links as it is to build links. My strategy was to maintain a very diverse, balanced link portfolio and follow industry best practices that won’t result in penalties with every algorithm change. To encourage links, I started a guest blogging program focused on quality, not quantity, link acquisition in order to spread brand awareness and boost SERPS. We also created great content, such as infographics, and did outreach and seeding initiatves in order to encourage sharing in relevant markets. My role was to brainstorm link building ideas and act as project manager for the internal team and freelancers who worked with me in this capacity.
Develop Special Campaigns for On-Page and Off-Page
Creativity is critical for SEO success. Not to mention it is essential for gaining attention in a very noisy online world. It is important to develop a creative strategy in order to rank for competitive and long-tail keywords, and to stand out against well-known competitors in a niche. In order to build brand awareness, attract links and create solid content we did the following:
- Created processes around infographic promotion, distribution, and seeding
- Developed monthly contests in order to engage customers, fans and prospects
- Developed an outreach campaign for several initiatives to boost marketing efforts
- Worked with the PR and social media internal team and agency to maximize activities
Lead a Team-Focused SEO Program
Finally, SEO is a team effort. It no longer is a position where someone can sit in a desk in the corner and do their work in a silo. My work involved regular collaboration with different departments across the company: social, PR, product, web, marketing, digital, sales, and compliance.
I worked closely with the management team to keep them abreast of activities planned, SERPS (search engine results pages) positioning for core keywords, positioning relative to top competitors, and links achieved every month. I created and deployed SEO strategies for new product launches as needed throughout the year.
What started out as a limited, tactical hourly engagement when initially hired quickly expanded as the company started seeing rankings, SEO traffic and sales all increase as a direct result of getting found online for a variety of keywords.
Almost immediately upon remedying critical on-page issues and integrating important SEO copywriting tweaks, we started seeing significant ranking improvements. After identifying Tier 2 sales pages and creating content for them, we started seeing high rankings for these keywords, which also boosted our primary keywords. Because we were are in a competitive niche the off-page continued to be important to get to Page 1 of Google, and then fight to keep us in the top spots.
When I came onboard with PYB, they only had 2 core keywords on Page 1. Within 6 months, they had 9 keywords ranking on page 1, and hundreds of long-tail keywords on Page 1 that directly resulted in sales.1 year later they had 15 keywords on page 1, and still hundreds more long-tail keywords on Page 1.
While our core keywords brought in sales, what surprised the leadership team was that the niche (also referred to as long-tail keywords) brought in significant sales, something they did not count on as happening. At the most significant increase, within 6 months we tripled the amount of sales that SEO brought in. In addition, sales that resulted from organic keyword search grew 220% from January to August 2013. While keyword positioning would fluctuate as competitors came in and out, and sales fluctuated based on industry and seasonal events, the overall importance of SEO began to take hold in the company and it got the attention it deserved. SEO, while not considered an important marketing channel when I came onboard, rose in status to become as important to management as PPC and Public Relations as a tactic to generate brand awareness, leads and traffic.
Seamless Marketing and Product Integration
Search engine optimization is a team effort. We had a great PR and social media team that significantly contributed to rankings boost due to social signals and acquiring extremely high-quality links for the site. SEO does not exist in its own silo, and rather is a set of best practices placed on top of other activities. With this being the case my work is critical; I worked closely with the web team, marketing team, and product team in order to ensure SEO best practices were being considered and implemented alongside standard company initiatives and activities.
“Jenny is a results-oriented SEO and web marketing professional. Her work has directly driven sales for the organization, and over the past year has become an important revenue generating activity here at PYB. Not only is she knowledgeable in her field, she is a team player and displays enthusiasm and passion for her field. Her work over the past year has made a significant improvement in SEO sales, and she excels at bringing creative, practical ideas and strategies to the company. She’s a dedicated consultant and we recommend her to anyone who wants not only quality SEO work and high rankings, but conversions and sales.”