The beautiful thing about SEO is that it can span a vast array of professions and business models, so we have a very diverse customer base here at serpIQ. What we’re hoping to do in this kickoff interview series is shine some light on the different ways professionals approach SEO. Today we’re kicking it off with Mitchell Wright, a serpIQ customer and professional SEO at an e-commerce company.
He’s had a lot of experience dealing directly with post-Penguin penalties and climbing out of them in a safe and ethical way. Mitch has used branding techniques to keep traffic and sales up despite a loss of first page positions for a lot of non-branded keywords.
Give us a little bit of a background on where you’re coming from as a SEO and an internet marketer.
I started doing Internet marketing in 2010. Mainly SEO. I did my own sites for a while and then started taking on clients. The entire time I was working on my master’s degree I did client SEO work to pay for tuition and living expenses.
After I finished my master’s degree in April 2012, I worked for a few months on my own stuff. I just recently started working as the director of Internet marketing for Triu Naturals LLC, where I head up all the marketing efforts including SEO, PPC, email, affiliates, social media, and media buys.
How has Penguin affected the company you currently work for?
The previous head of Internet marketing here had implemented quite a few link-building tactics that are expressly against Google’s term of service. As a result, there was a huge drop in organic traffic and a proportionately large drop in revenue.
The drop in the organic rankings was a big hit to the company as that was the main traffic driver. There was not a large amount of diversification in traffic sources.
How important has branding been for keeping your company alive if it has been negatively affected by Penguin?
Even though we lost rankings for all of our main keywords, the company has still been able to keep running. The reason for this is because of branded search traffic. Once we dropped off of the first page all of our target search terms, we noticed that we still got quite a bit of traffic for our brand name and our website’s URL.
This branded traffic has allowed us to keep the business running while we work on building out alternate traffic sources and attempt to get the penalty removed. If we have any success on getting the penalty removed we’ll be sure to do a case-study on how we were able to accomplish that.
If someone is just starting a company, or working for a company with little to no branding, how would you suggest they start out?
One of the hard parts about building a brand is getting the initial recognition. We were able to do it using SEO for generic keywords. However, once the user hit our website from those generic phrases, it was all about the brand.
From the beginning, you need to have a vision of what you want your brand to be. We have made a concerted effort to really help people that use our products to be successful. We spent extra time on making our labeling and packaging look very nice. We send out an email newsletter at least monthly.
Another big win for us in building our brand has been our Facebook page. We have an active Facebook page that allows us to provide support, run contests, and help answer questions about the product. That page also drives a good amount of traffic and sales for us.
What are some advanced branding techniques you’ve used to revive your company’s positions in the SERPs (if you have) or just keep a solid level of traffic and sales flowing?
One nice thing about brand recognition is the ability to position yourself as a premium product. People have heard of our brand before and know the quality associated with it, so we can charge a higher price than a generic company selling the same product.
One important aspect to building a brand is to stay ahead of the curve on social media. In addition to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, we have an active Pinterest and Instagram account. Both of these platforms help drive additional traffic and sales (and help build some high-quality links too). Don’t be afraid to jump on the next big thing. It can really pay off. We’ve even seen people use our brand name as a hash tag on Instagram.
Overall, the best thing about building a successful brand is that your company starts becoming a relevant search query. At that point, you don’t really need to worry about outranking others because you are the brand name and it is rare that Google will let a different company rank for your brand name.
We’ve experienced the benefits from this first hand. While we’d love to have all that organic search traffic back, we’ve been able to survive and buy time to find alternate traffic sources after getting penalized. There were a lot of companies in the same space that didn’t have that luxury, and it’s because those companies failed to build a brand.
Connect With Mitch
We want to thank Mitch for doing this interview with us and hope that it shined some light on branding tactics that you can use if you’re just starting out, or are an established company that has lost some organic traffic post Panda and Penguin. If you’d like to connect with Mitchell, get at him on Google+ or Twitter.
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