Over the years, I’ve discussed a lot of ideas to help your business flourish online and today I’m going to show you what it looks like when it all comes together.
The East Cobber is a free local magazine in Marietta, GA that was created back in 1993, and they’ve had an online presence for nearly a decade. However, with the ongoing shift from print to digital, they realized the the site could do so much more. Last year they enlisted the help of Green Mellen Media, and the results have been amazing. Here is a chart showing their growth since the new site launched last fall:
The beginning of that chart is October, 2010, when they had 1,509 visitors. By May they had a total of 16,498. For a year over year comparison, they had 1,691 visitors in May 2010, and then the 16,498 in May 2011 — an increase of 875% in a single year! Even better, this wasn’t from a brand new site; this was a very well-established site from a popular magazine. So what made the difference? There were quite a few things, but here are some of the big ones.
We moved the entire site over to WordPress, which helped with quite a few things. It not only made it easier for them to publish articles, but WordPress has excellent Search Engine Optimization by design. Using a StudioPress-powered theme helped even more, as they add some additional SEO tweaks to the mix.
This is the big key. Rather than posting a few articles each month when the new issue came out, they’re posting multiple stories every day to keep the community informed of local news and events. They’ve published over 2,900 entries since the new site went live, making them a true hub in the community.
I recently pointed out how you can’t fake your way to social media success, and they’re an example of social media done right. Their Facebook page auto-posts some new items from the site, but they’re quick to respond to comments and often run contests to give away prizes from area businesses. They’ve gone from just a few hundred likes on the page to well over 1,000 and it continues to grow quickly.
The key here is that they work hard at it. People are always looking for shortcuts, but the East Cobber folks simply got to work and are engaging with the community daily. We’ve given them some tools to help make it easier, but there is no substitute for actually diving in and connecting with people.
The Little Things
Little things can add up too:
- We didn’t put our name in their footer in order to help them rank as well as possible in Google. The results above speak for themselves.
- They post a new photo of the day on their home page every day to keep things fresh.
- They trusted us and we trusted them. When we assured them that a feature or idea wouldn’t work, they believed us. When they told us that their readers were interested in certain topics, we believed them.
- We used most of my favorite WordPress plug-ins, plus a few others to help add additional functionality to the site.
- We use Google Analytics (which generated the charts above) see what content people read the most, what needs to be improved, etc.
The magic solution
People are often looking for the magic solution to put their online business on autopilot, but things just don’t work that way. A properly configured site, using a solid platform, with lots of hard work put into building content and the community, can lead to a very successful site.
Traffic is continuing to grow for them, and I expect it will for some time. Congratulations to Cynthia and her team for such great success over the past year!