Day ten was finally the day that I got to put some of my own experience to work on the site. After more than a week of trudging through things like graphics, style sheets and actually running a business, I finally had access to a keyword research tool. That meant that I could focus day ten on finding out what people were actually searching for and doing some fine tuning to the site to make sure that I was there in the search results for them to find.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
Blogging Keeps Traffic Flowing
From the very beginning I'd intended to use blogging as a major part of my plan for viral marketing. One of the beautiful things about blogging is that it's now become common enough that many people actually use blog search engines and sites like Technorati to run regular searches on their favorite topics. That means that if you are writing about a topic that people are interested in, you'll likely be able to pick up some incremental traffic even before people start to find and subscribe to your blog.
Writing a topical blog that attracts readers and holds their interest means that you need to be generating content on a regular basis. That means that I've made Google news searches and Technorati searches for phrases like "breastfeeding" and "nursing" a regular part of my day. The idea is to find a news story, another blogger's comments, or an interesting factoid that you can turn into a blog post. If there's a way to spin it to point readers to my product line, all the better.
To that end, I made two blog posts on day ten that were designed to draw in my target audience and get them thinking. The first post discussed the current breastfeeding rates in the United States which are improving, but are still far below the national goals. The second was about the closing of Dr. Jack Newman's breastfeeding clinic in the North York area of Toronto. Both of these topics appeal to my target audience: nursing mothers that are active in supporting breastfeeding. The beauty of blog posts in a project like this is that it not only provides content for any existing readers but it also draws in new readers from my target audience. This is why blogs can work so well for niche product lines or interesting service offerings.
While we're on the topic of blogging, I was still finding new links from blogs pointing in to the article series and to the sites on day ten. Ken Dyck of Startup Fever pointed to the series on his blog and included links to the first nine days of the project. I also found another international post and a great write-up over at Geeks on Steroids.
Search Engine Marketing Does Its Thing
Back on day eight I lamented my lack of access to Wordtracker, the addictive keyword research tool that's a search marketer's best friend. On day nine, I reported that the great guys over at Trellian had graciously offered up a full year's worth of free access to their Keyword Discovery Tool. That meant that I could finally do some digging beyond the free tools offered by Overture and the like.
I'd mentioned before that I'd been racking up some great rankings at MSN and day ten was no different. My first few referrers came in from MSN searches for "cute breastfeeding shirts" which I discovered I was ranking #1 and #2 for. That meant that MSN was still doing a great job of helping me land some rankings and some traffic while I waited for the more lucrative traffic possibilities that could follow once Yahoo! and Google decided to let me into their rankings.
I started off my research by checking to see what traffic levels were on some of the phrases that I was already ranking for. Phrases like "breastfeeding in public" and "breastfeeding t-shirts" draw in a decent number of searches, which explained why I'd started to see a nice steam of traffic from them. (Still didn't explain the hits for "breastfeeding men" however...) Once I'd checked on a searches for my existing rankings, I expanded my search to see what else I could come up with.
Phrases like "pro breastfeeding clothing," "breastfeeding support shirts" and "extended breastfeeding" all logged a pretty strong amount of traffic. In fact, "extended breastfeeding" was drawing about 100 times the number of searches per day that "child led weaning" was. This is the perfect example of why keyword research is essential. Based on my experiences online in message boards and chat rooms, I would have thought that child led weaning was the way to go. In fact, I'd rarely heard the term "extended breastfeeding" used. Granted, the two phrases don't mean the exact same thing, but they the intent behind the terms is similar enough that both encompass my target audience.
So, I went through the CafePress site and started making some changes. I edited my tag line to read "Supporting Breastfeeding in Public, Extended Breastfeeding and Milk Bank Donations" rather than the original "Supporting Breastfeeding in Public, Child Led Weaning and Milk Bank Donations." I also edited the child led weaning product lines so that their default name was "extended breastfeeding" instead. Finally, I went in and edited the "tags" on my child led weaning images so that they included the text extended breastfeeding. (This last part was to help draw more traffic from CafePress's internal search engine, which determines results by reading the tags assigned to the images on the shirts.)
I followed up on that change by updating the default product name for the Milk Jugs line to read "pro breastfeeding clothing" and to change the default name of the Milk Maid line to read "breastfeeding support shirts."
Affiliate Sales Can Boost Your Bottom Line
Earlier in the project several of our readers had posted in the forums or emailed me to suggest that I sign up for CafePress's affiliate program. Affiliate programs are an area that I don't have much experience in, but I knew that they could be a great way to not only drive new sales to my own products, but to make a profit off of the great products being sold by other CafePress vendors as well. At this point, I wasn't quite ready to start attracting my own affiliates, so I settled for signing up to promote other vendor's shops.
CafePress's affiliate program pays out 20% commission for product purchases and a 5% commission on the sale of any products from a new shopkeeper that signs up through an affiliate link. They've set things up to make it as easy as possible for affiliate to get links added to their own sites. Affiliates can pull code for banners, skyscrapers or block ads, can add search boxes to their sites and can even pull data from an XML feed to show products based on customized keywords. I opted to pull the code snippet to get one of CafePress's category ads up and running on my sites.
Here's an example:
I honestly didn't expect to see much come of the affiliate link when I posted the out of the box solution from CafePress. I was planning to work on a more customized option down the road that included a search box and played off of the whole "if we don't have it, we'll help you find it" theme. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to login to my account the next day to find that I'd already earned $32.60. (That's right, in one day I earned more from affiliate sales than I did from more than a week's worth of selling my own products!)
That left me wondering if I should actually devote the time and effort to building a more customized affiliate linking solution or if I should put that time toward another project. After all, why mess with a good thing? On the other hand, if I could make $32.60 in a day with a mass-produced linking option, maybe a customized solution would bring in even more.
Coming up on day eleven, I finally get my hosting and DNS issues worked out, I share some more interesting emails with Search Engine Guide readers and I find the first major annoyance of CafePress's shop management system.
Jump to Day eleven.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
November 24, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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