I’d like to share a little story about how my “day job” went from page 13 to page 1 on Google for our market three years ago, and how we continue to outrank competitors with no advertising budget. I’m not an SEO expert, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.
In late 2011 I stumbled upon HubSpot, because I needed to know how to create a Facebook business page. I went to Google with my problem, and HubSpot had a great blog post on how to get it done. I didn’t even need to talk to a sales person … it was fast and perfect.
I started devouring HubSpot’s ebooks, and they emailed me helpful information (as if they could read my mind about what was going on with my job at the time) about business blogging and making sense of B2B social media.
In February 2012 they called and asked if I wanted to know what our “marketing grade” was. My heart started pounding because I wasn’t sure I wanted to know — I hate being graded!
It was 23 out of 100.
Clearly this wasn’t acceptable, but I explained that I had no marketing budget — our trading software division had been sold to Thomson Reuters two years earlier, and I was left with nothing. I’m not even allowed to expense my Adobe Creative Suite.
But I was determined to fix that grade, so I scheduled a meeting with our CEO, downloaded HubSpot’s “how to convince your boss” PowerPoint template, and spent the weekend customizing it (making it a LOT shorter). He was indeed convinced that we needed to transform our marketing, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
The HubSpot CMS & Keyword Tool
Our old website was a piece of crap built in Dreamweaver. It was ugly, and I’m sure the source code was giving Google a headache. Not that Google ever had a reason to come back and index our site, since nothing was happening and there were so few pages to crawl.
Once our contract was signed, HubSpot’s migration team moved us to their content management system (CMS). The look didn’t change much, but it was a lot easier to change page layouts and add a variety of “modules” to sidebars and footers.
When we went live on the HubSpot CMS, I went straight to the Keywords tool and entered the phrases we wanted to be found for in search engines. With this done, the software was able to point out “low hanging fruit” SEO fixes to help improve our rankings: page titles, URLs, meta descriptions, heading tags, image ALT text, and body content.
Evergreen Blog Posts
Anyone who uses HubSpot knows their training is outstanding. For me the most valuable section was on blogging, because I learned that when done right, business blogs are the most cost-effective and best sales person you’ll ever have. They educate website visitors 24/7, never take a sick day, and they’ll never ask you for a raise (I hope it goes without saying, please pay your content creators well!).
Blogging also has a huge effect on search rankings, because the more often you post, the more content you give Google to index. The more pages Google can index, the more they think you’ve got going on. The more they think you have going on, the more often they’re going to come back to your site.
As a one-person marketing department, I knew we needed as much “evergreen” blog content as possible — content that would keep working for us during the weeks and months that I was pulled away for other projects.
So we started an “Ask the Super Recruiter” campaign. It was a simple call to action (CTA) with a masked/caped recruiter that when clicked, job candidates were directed to a form where they could ask for advice on anything.
We made up our own questions for the most part (always related to our target keyword phrases), but we did get a few good ones from real job seekers. The point is that every blog post was posed in the form of a question, which is how people search online.
My boss didn’t think we would generate revenue from HubSpot or blogging. After all, candidates don’t pay the bills, so how could blogging about them help generate client traffic to our site?
We did reach the clients. When we started out with that embarrassing 23/100 grade from HubSpot, we were on page 13 of Google for IT staffing firms in NYC. Within six months we moved to page 1, and we’re still there today. Oh, and in the same amount of time our marketing grade went from 23 to 85.
I haven’t had time to blog lately, but our posts are so evergreen — "how to choose between multiple job offers" is a topic that’s viewed every day around the world — that I can be pulled away for a project and know that our search ranking is safe.
We regularly get cold calls from hiring managers who say they found us on Google, and we’re outranking some of the biggest staffing firms in New York City, all of whom have marketing budgets that I can only dream of. But that’s not all …
Within 7 months of using HubSpot, we generated enough new business from organic search traffic to pay my full time salary for the year.
HubSpot is the gift that keeps on giving. If this is all new to you, email me for help -- I could talk about this stuff all day!