Rich: Can you start by telling listeners a little about Clickgiant; the services you provide and who your users and customers are?
Jerry: Sure, I started ClickGiant about 8 years ago to help companies get more clicks, conversions and customers online. We focus on content-driven Organic SEO, PPC Management, Web Design & Review building. We have a great review builder tool I’d like to give away for free to one lucky listener and we’ll talk more about that at the end of the podcast.
Our clients usually fall into a few categories like “Local Service based” Dentists, Lawyers, Insurance Agents, Restaurants, Roofers, Limo companies, who are looking for more leads online like phone calls and contact forms, E-commerce clients who are selling product online like engagement rings for Victor Barbone, Apparel for brands like Bits of Lace, Berle, Vintage 1946 and HUK Gear. And we do branding and awareness for clients like Scout Boats.
Rich: How did Clickgiant get its start and what were some of the key lessons you learned as you were bringing the service to market & how has the venture evolved since the early days?
Jerry: I did new business development for a traditional ad agency who like all of them back then specialized in print, radio and billboards and more and more prospects were telling me they wanted web design, PPC management and “Organic SEO” —So, the writing was on the wall and back then I was young enough to want to jump in and learn it all. It really was exciting learning about “search based marketing”! Until search came a long, all other mediums had the same thing in common; you paid a lot of money to talk to a lot of people who may or may not be interested in your product. Now you have the person actually typing in what they want to buy and the top 3 results are going to divvy up like 75% of those sales.
So, I cut my teeth by managing AdWords campaigns. I was blown away that I could drive quality leads to clients, sometimes for as low as .30 cents per click! Then, with organic SEO, I realized I could move websites to the top of the natural listings and get my clients leads at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. And so, ClickGiant was born.
One of the ways we’ve had to evolve is with reporting. Clients are much more informed now and want to see real results backed up by data. It used to be “Yes, you’re still #1 for “divorce lawyer Charleston” get off my back. Now it’s “What are my top 20 “Traffic driving” keywords and is my conversion rate of 5% on remarketing ads typical for the industry? What would my impression share go to if I increased my Adwords budget by 15%? So a lot’s changed and all for the better.
Rich: Over that same time span, content marketing, social media and especially SEO have evolved quite a bit; can you walk listeners through that evolution?
Jerry: ahhhh, “The good ‘ol days of changing title tags, buying some links and shooting to the top”. Back then, there was such demand and it took such little effort, I seriously thought I might be a millionaire by 2018. But of course everyone else caught up with on-page SEO techniques and Google tuned up their algorithm so that strategies like keyword stuffing, buying backlinks and exact match domains lost their value.
The Panda update was a real eye opener for a company that was 99% SEO. Overnight, a large percentage of optimized sites dropped in the rankings significantly. Luckily, only about a third of our clients were affected because we never overdid the backlinking thing but still, it was when I decided we had to diversify a little and offer some additional services to protect ourselves in the future. And we’ve done that with design, content, PPC management and conversion optimization.
We still have the kind of success we had back then but it comes with much more work and much smaller margins. Most of that work is in crafting 100% unique, high quality and conversion worthy content.
Rich: Can you share some of the success stories that Clickgiant has helped its customers write; what problems they were trying to solve, how Clickgiant went about solving that problem, and the results and outcomes your efforts drove for them?
Jerry: Yeah, I’d love to share a few stories.
As I said earlier, we’re a content driven SEO firm and I just want to dive a little deeper into that to help setup these case studies. So, why content? Because as we just discussed, changing title tags and buying spammy links no longer works! If it did, we’d still be doing it. Other than having a ton of high quality backlinks, traffic is the best thing a site can have when they want more traffic. I know, it sounds like a catch 22 but through the magic of SEO and longtail keywords, it can be done. I promise you.
The most important thing to remember is that Google’s objective is to remain the top search engine in the universe so that they can continue to sell their ads for Trillions of dollars. They want to provide a user with the best possible results so they’ll get the info they need, be happy and continue using Google. Google knows when they’re “happy” through usage metrics like a low bounce rate, multiple pages per session, longer dwell times and so on. When this happens, Google gets happy and raises your domain authority, allowing you to rank for even more keywords, get more traffic and the beautiful cycle continues like a snowball rolling downhill.
So, think less about what Google wants and more about what your users want from the content.
So how do you learn what your users want?
First we do some Keyword Research – where we’ll look for “lower-competition” “longtail” keywords to target. We’ll Evaluate the Content Tilt to make sure the idea fits the brand’s content strategy. We’ll Analyse Existing Content to see if we can we improve on what already exists? We’ll decide on Placement – Will it go on a top level page, category page, sub-category page, Blog? We’ll actively Track Keywords & Rankings to monitor progress and finally we’ll analyze the results in terms of traffic, leads, downloads or sales and report to the client.
So let’s get into some fun real world examples of this.
Nectar Sunglasses – If you’re from Charleston, you’ve probably heard of them. They sell sunglasses online.
Nectar is all about living the sweet life and doing epic things, so snowboarding was definitely a good fit. In our keyword research we discovered the competition was a little high for the top term “snowboarding sunglasses”, so, we went a little longer tail and decided on “best snowboarding sunglasses”. Remember, we’re looking for a foothold in the rankings so we can build more traffic. Getting stuck at #11 for the top term doesn’t do anyone any good. If we had to start with “the best pink sunglasses for snowboarding” we’d do it.
We decided on a blog post that would feature 10 styles of Nectar sunglasses that would pair well with the downhill, daredevil lifestyle. It was all about highlighting the features and benefits in a light, humorous way. Polarized/UV Protective Lenses = Clear vision on the slopes while reducing harmful rays. Thermoplastic memory frames = Flexible and durable which….can be important during a faceplant.
After a few short weeks we were #1 for our main keyword phrase “best snowboarding sunglasses”—but wait, it gets better. Like a snowball rolling downhill, this piece gathered clicks, visits, shares, and before long it was an avalanche of rankings and visits and it now ranks for almost anything related to “snowboarding and sunglasses” including the top term “snowboarding sunglasses”.
The snowboarding blog is currently responsible for 4 of Nectar’s top 7 overall rankings by position. Instead of waiting and hoping that snowboarders would discover the benefits of Nectar Sunglasses and tell the world, we told the world (and Google) that Nectar offers the best sunglasses for snowboarders and they listened.
The next project I want to talk about is for
Victor Barbone, who sells vintage engagement rings online that can cost as much as $30k a pop. We felt that was reason enough to go a bit deeper with the content than a simple product description. So during our research we learned that Aristotle claimed that merely possessing an emerald endowed the owner with a commanding presence guaranteeing victory in all manner of trials? I’m not sure if Aristotle was aware that possessing a top ranking for “emerald engagement rings” guarantees a lot of traffic but it does…being searched 27,000 times a month!
Thanks to Aristotle and keyword research we discovered a way to write about all of the different stones when we found that “stone meanings” was searched a ton. We wanted to go a little longer tail of course, so, “ring stone meanings” had decent search traffic with much less competition than keywords related to diamonds. Still, with 645,000 results for that phrase, we understood that this content needed to be a “cut above” a typical blog, so, we gave it a home in the “shop by stone” section of the website.
It took a month or so but we got all the way to #1 for “ring stone meanings” but that’s not all. Victor Barbone is now ranking on page 1 for over 50 terms related to “ring stone meanings” and even more importantly the content on each specific stone and the additional traffic has pushed a lot of the higher tier keywords up the ladder. Terms like “vintage emerald engagement rings” 1600 searches/month, “vintage diamond engagement rings” 2400 searches/month and more.
This one piece of content delivered 2,624 visits in 2017. On top of that, Victor Barbone saw an organic traffic increase of 400% over the previous year. We won’t take all of the credit, but this growth is in part thanks to carefully targeted content pieces like this.
The last project I want to cover is
Scout Boats – We ‘ve been handling Scout’s content & SEO for about 8 years now. There was an article in the newspaper recently detailing their $11 million expansion project expected to create hundreds of new jobs and provide a space to manufacture their new 53’ LXF. Even though we’re just a small part of their success story, it’s extremely satisfying to see a client do so well.
Sales cycles vary from industry to industry. When you’re talking about a $100,000 recreational vehicle that isn’t exactly a necessity, it can consist of a few years and a lot of research online. The goal is to get in front of these dreamers as early as possible so that when they are ready to buy, Scout is high on their list.
Keyword Research – For this piece, we decided on “dual console vs center console boats” and 40 searches a month might sound low but what if you ended up ranking for dozens of related keywords such as: “dual console boats”, “best dual console boats”, “dual console fishing boats”, etc. Any SEO content marketing agency worth its saltwater knows that a great piece of content isn’t designed to rank well for only one keyword. It’s designed to rank well for dozens of valuable keywords!
This blog was designed for first time boat shoppers, helping them to break down the family vs. fishing paradigm. The idea was to connect with potential buyers earlier in the funnel by addressing questions that come up in the research phase of boat shopping. In an effort to keep these visitors on the site longer, we also pushed them toward a fun “Build Your Scout” page and many obliged.
Of course we got the #1 ranking for “dual console vs center console boats” but Scout is also now on Page 1 for: “best dual console boat”, “dual console boat”, “dual console boat reviews” and many more.
This blog was responsible for 2,099 visits in 2017. On top of that, the client saw an 18% increase in organic traffic to their site over the previous year. And we’ve been at that clip for about 7 or 8 years, so, no small feat to continually increase traffic by almost 20% each year.
So, there you have it; 3 fun real life examples of content driven SEO at work.
Rich: As we mentioned earlier, Clickgiant was launched in 2008, that time span roughly coincides with the early stages of the growth in the tech and entrepreneur communities here in Charleston, as an entrepreneur that’s built a venture right in the midst of this growth period, what’s your perspective on what it has meant to the city?
Jerry: It doesn’t surprise me at all that the tech community is growing rapidly right along with the city itself. I moved here 23 years ago, and loved Charleston from the beginning. Back then your friends would visit and all say the same thing “I’m moving here asap”. When you asked them what the hold-up was a few months later, you’d get the same exact response “have you seen the employment section in the paper?” There were no jobs!
That’s changed significantly and it’s great to have more companies we can help with marketing and a larger talent pool to hire from. But with all of that comes more cars! I hope one of these new tech companies’ figures out how to beam us to work because the traffic’s getting really bad.
Rich: Where do you think we go from here as a business community?
Jerry: Skies the limit, recruiting to Chas has never been a problem so with all of these companies choosing to be here, I think even more will come. It’s like that snowball effect I talked about right?
Rich: Where can listeners go to learn more about Clickgiant and especially about the case studies that you mentioned?
Jerry: They can visit Clickgiant.com to see all kinds of case studies and as I mentioned at the beginning, we have this great review builder tool which is helping our clients leave their competition in the dust! Reviews have become a significant factor in local rankings.
It goes for $99/month but I’d like to give one away for free for the 1st listener that leaves us a review on Google+ and cut the price in half for all others!! Just leave us a nice review about the podcast and email us that you are interested in the review tool and we’ll do it for $49/month.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember, just as Aristotle suggested that mere possession of an Emerald guarantees victory in all manner of trials, ClickGiant suggests working with them will guarantee victory in all manners of marketing!