There has been a lot of talk the past few years about being in a “down economy” and using that to justify declines in sales and even failed businesses. Many businesses just haven’t been able to stay afloat and could not figure out how to “grow” while the market is “down”.
However, there is definitely an internet marketing strategy that can grow market share and sales during a down economy. Arguably, there are many strategies that could be used, but I’ll just focus on one foundational method that I have used with great success over the years.
Note – While the graphs below represent real data from one of my projects, I cannot reveal the actual numbers or keywords associated with them due to NDA’s…but the strategy used will be clear…I promise.
Ok, moving onto the good stuff.
All effective strategies begin with research and planning. Don’t skimp on this phase because everything else relies on it. Gather all available data you can about your business, industry, website analytics, etc.
Use sites like Google Trends and Yahoo! Clues to view trends, news volume, demographics, etc. Are certain products or services in your field getting more popular over time? Is there a seasonal spike for anything you offer?
Research your top-selling items over the previous number of years…is there noticeable growth in certain items? If so, note them. Other than actual sales data, do customers ask about certain items more than others? Do they ask for products/services you don’t carry? The goal is to determine what the market is hungry for. The fact is, there are most likely people wanting to buy what you are already offering or could very easily begin to offer.
Research competitors. If you sell similar products or services, check out their website and see if they have “top-selling items” featured somewhere. If nothing is listed or if they don’t have a website, try giving them an anonymous call and simply asking what products/services most people prefer.
Use competitive intelligence websites such as Compete, Alexa, or Spyfu to see what keywords/phrases people are searching to end up on competitors’ websites.
Here’s the point…you need to hone in on specific products or services that you already offer or can easily offer. MOST IMPORTANTLY, focus on products or services that are absolutely relevant to your business (website) and that you do not currently rank in the top 5 in search engines for them.
Result: You should now have at least one product or service that you know people are interested in…preferably you found multiple items you can offer so that you can diversify or choose among. You should also not rank in the top of search engines for that product or service, but your business should already sell it (and you just need better rankings) or at least be closely related to it so that you can start offering it. You don’t want search engines throwing flags if your website sells car parts and you suddenly start selling toaster ovens.
Alright, it’s time to throw off the gloves and start knocking off competitors…in search engine rankings that is. This is where you flex your best (and most legitimate) search engine optimization skills both on-site and off-site.
Start with “head terms” for your products/services and then branch off to long-tail versions of those terms to determine which keywords/phrases you could start ranking high for.
Some people like to start optimizing for the head term right off the bat. The theory is that, while it may take a bit longer to rank #1 for, it could help to start ranking the long-tail versions of a term as well.
For example, let’s say the head term is kitchen sinks. Done properly, a site could also rank for long-tail versions of that term such as:
- big kitchen sinks
- stainless steel kitchen sinks
- porcelain kitchen sinks
- cast iron kitchen sinks
- undermount kitchen sinks
- top mount kitchen sinks
You get the idea.
The other school of thought is to go after the niche, long-tails first as there is typically less competition. So using the examples above, let’s say the phrase started with is “top mount kitchen sinks”. While targeting that specific phrase, it also leaves the ability to eventually start ranking for the head term “kitchen sinks” later down the road since it is included in the long-tail phrase.
The decision to start with either the head term or long-tails simply depends on the competitive analysis. It’s crucial to determine which phrases offer the fastest path to the top of search engines as well as the biggest ROI.
I won’t get into actual on-page optimization such as page titles, descriptions, headings, bold, image alts, anchor text, etc. I also won’t go over link building, social marketing, etc. There are so many strategies regarding those, and this article is meant to be a foundational blueprint on a strong strategy for those techniques to be used on.
The following chart shows the Google Trends data over the past 4 years for a head term that I targeted. Keep in mind that Google Trends shows the trend in the number of total searches on Google for specific keywords…this has nothing to do with individual website traffic. The head term is for a very popular product a client provides, yet they were not ranked well in search engines for it. As you can see, the trend has slightly declined along with what is said to be the “down economy”. This was expected, yet we wanted to get ranked high for the term to a) increase sales during the “recession” and b) be in prime position once the economy rebounds.
However, the chart below shows the traffic to the client’s website from search engines for that single, targeted head term during the same four year period. As you can see, despite the “down economy” and the declining trend in Google, the website steadily grew traffic (market share) which then led to more sales simply by dialing in on a specific product/head term and increasing search engine ranking positions. It also puts the website in prime position for when the economy recovers and more people start purchasing the product once again.
When this strategy is used correctly, it works. I’ve used this exact strategy over the years in numerous industries to climb to the top of search engines, gobble up market share, and grow businesses. It simply comes down to knowing what your customers are looking for and filling that demand with your products, services, and customer service better than your competitors.
Make sure you utilize this strategy before your competitors do. This is how the best companies stay ahead of the competition year-after-year!