Traditionally there have been 3 ways to get visitors to your website;

  1. Searches via Google (paid and SEO)
  2. Direct to your website (people know your brand)
  3. Referrals from 3rd parties (backlinks)

A few years ago a company I had just joined a month earlier was subject to a site wide penalty by Google for having significant number of historical unnatural backlinks to their website. 

In simple terms the companies website was no longer visible for organic search........anywhere!

From a dominant position (#1) in search, the company lost all organic visibility and subsequently a lot of traffic and revenue too.

Not the best news for any company to get, as you can imagine. 

Fortunately it occurred just after the first peak trading the period of the year.

The board were obviously perplexed and looked to me for all the answers. They saw it as something that's a common occurrence and somewhere in my marketing box of magic tricks (next to the marketing coloring in stuff) lay a 'get this fixed' blueprint!!

For those operating and investing in the vagaries of SEO you will know there is no silver bullet, no quick fix, and unless your really shit at what you do this is most definitely NOT a common occurrence.

The content-led fightback

At the centre of this strategy was our new brand positioning and content led belief system which was centred around our 'Surprisingly Easy' campaign.

To deliver on this meant an internal brand alignment program along with the development of some key aspects of the company App. This needed to include the development and record time implementation of a new website, with a clean URL structure and architecture that made it easier for consumers to access content and complete transactions.

From this base, we set about driving growth through high value sharable content. As well as regularly updating our on-site blog for quick wins, we developed a broader strategy of ‘big’ content designed to earn links and press coverage.

Our first foray was a series of guides to life themed around our ‘surprisingly easy’ brand message. These guides focus on themes our various target audiences can relate to: for example, we produced a guide to surviving a stag do for young males, and a guide to surviving Fresher’s Week for students.

Of course, simply publishing a guide is no guarantee of success so we invited a group of carefully selected bloggers to contribute to each guide. As a result, we gained links and reached their audiences too

Our first major success, however, was a mobile phone addiction-themed quiz. We devised this content to target the mobile phone keywords we’d lost after the penalty, and it performed even better than we imagined.

Combining content with digital PR, this campaign secured 10 pieces of coverage (including posts by Yahoo and Female First), a couple of blog posts and posts on Attitude magazine’s social media profiles.

The quiz led to a 111% increase in social traffic to our blog, with over 10,000 people interacting with the content. Our average rank for mobile phone terms increased from #10 to #3, a 96% increase in natural search visibility. We’ve even cut our PPC costs, which is thrilling news for our accountants.

Needless to say, content marketing is the way forward for said company. 

A parallax scrolling piece for 'Record Store Day' secured quality coverage, while our guide to moving back in with your parents (an important time to declutter) received coverage on the Daily Mail. A recent study into the cost of football had inspired an article in the 'Sun on Sunday', as well as a lot of coverage from the local media.

After the disaster that was our Google penalty, content brought the brand back to where it was previously and in record time. More importantly, the company was succeeding in a sustainable manner. 

So if you’re struggling with organic search, don’t be tempted to invest in quick-fire results - spend on content, invest in building out an authentic (not paid) social media footprint and you’ll reap the rewards over time.

Oh, and those tweaks on the App and website to support the 'surprisingly easy' campaign saw our conversion levels go through the roof from a pedestrian 3% to a sky rocketing 19%.