Mobile Optimization and Traditional SEO on a Shoestring Budget – A Case Study

How a small business selling fresh pasta in Barrie, Ontario put their face on the digital map.

No matter what the many “tips and tricks” online articles may imply, when you’re a small business with virtually no marketing budget, trying to implement an effective SEO strategy while opening up to mobile optimization for a multichannel presence is not an easy feat. This struggle is only magnified when you’ve never had to try to reach customers online, yourself.

SEO website contentToday’s effective marketing strategy is no longer adequate as a basic landing page or even a simple website. Generating results is much more involved than that. It may not be obvious to the beginner, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible or that it will be prohibitively expensive.

Take the example of Jilly’s Pasta & Fine Foods in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. This is a small business that has a single location. It is owned by a chef named Del Faithfull, who also creates each of the handmade noodles and hand-filled pastas that they sell. Mr. Faithfull has exceptional experience as a chef and is a master of fresh pasta in Barrie. However, just because his business provides the city with the best of these gourmet and fine foods, it doesn’t mean that he has any specific knowledge in online marketing. Equally, it doesn’t mean that there is enough of a budget to hire a an online and mobile marketing firm that will be able to do the job on his behalf.

This is the case for all too many small businesses who don’t know what their next steps should be.  Often, this means that their online and mobile marketing will fall short and they will miss out on an exceptionally large opportunity to connect with their current and perspective customers.

The trick to learn from Jilly’s is that effective SEO and mobile optimization can be accomplished with a minimal amount of funds. The secret was to team up with a skilled and experienced freelance SEO content writer who also has knowledge in working for the mobile channel. The result may not have been a website with all of the bells and whistles, but it is appealing to see, informative, relevant, ranks very well on Google, and enhances the customer experience. It does the job and it does it well.

By partnering with me at JBC Online, Jilly’s took a three pronged approach and went from being nearly non-existent online to enjoying a serious multi-channel presence that started engaging customers and driving them through the door nearly immediately.

This strategy involved the following components:

A Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Website

SEO website creationA basic four-page website that provided the visitor with a homepage, an introduction to the business, a brief explanation of the fresh pasta products that are being made and sold, and the location and hours. Each of these pages was carefully and skillfully keyword optimized in terms of company name, products, and location.

From that point, the site was steadily maintained with an associated blog that helped to not only boost the site’s content and SEO, but also provided visitors with valuable and relevant information that they can use in order to get the most out of the fresh pasta that Jilly’s sells.  The blog has generated more social media shares that have drawn more attention to the website and has led other sites to add links to the various pages on the Jilly’s site, improving the search engine ranking.

The site was linked to Google Maps to ensure that users would be able to find the store once their mouths were watering from having read about the gourmet meals that are available. Social media buttons were added to every page so that visitors could share with the people they know.

Engagement Over Social Media

social media marketingBefore getting started with JBC Online, Jilly’s did already have a Facebook page. Unfortunately, a new post had not been made in nearly two years and the page was still providing a link to the URL of a previous attempt at a website that was no longer in existence. For all intents and purposes, it was suggesting to anyone who stumbled upon it that the business was no longer in existence.

Since then, social media has sprung to life for Jilly’s. The website has now been linked to the Facebook page (and vice versa) and fresh posting is now occurring there. In the first week, the number of page likes increased by 13.5 percent and visitors were engaged. They commented, “liked” posts, and left reviews for the products that they enjoyed.

Twitter and Google+ accounts were also created and were linked to the website so that posts could be made there on a regular basis. This not only helped current and potential customers to remain engaged by the Jilly’s brand, but it also helped to support the overall SEO efforts.

Mobile Optimization

Jilly's fresh pasta QR codeThe design of the site for the standard web resolves automatically on smaller screen devices to ensure that smartphone and tablet users will be able to comfortably view and navigate the entire site and everything that it has to offer. However, as I am a regular contributor to technology news publications such as QR Code Press and Mobile Commerce Press, among others, I have become very familiar with additional methods of mobile marketing that can be achieved on an exceptionally limited budget. Primary among them in terms of affordable and cost-effective use by small businesses is QR codes.

The first fresh pasta QR code for Jilly’s was created with the Visualead barcode generator. It will likely be the first of many, but it provided a jumping off point for the use of this technology. This allows customers to be able to scan the barcode with their smartphones or tablets in order to call up the webpage that contains detailed cooking instructions that allow them to prepare their meals perfectly, every time. Bringing the smaller screen into the kitchen is much more practical than doing the same with a laptop, making the page much more useful for Jilly’s customers.

The Complete Package

These efforts have represented only a foundation point that can now be maintained with minimal but regular effort. While they are not entirely complex, they do require the skill and knowledge of an experienced SEO writer in order to build a foundation. From that point, blogging and social media posts can be maintained either by the business or, as is the case with Jilly’s through my continuing participation.  In under a month, the Jilly’s Pasta site is now scoring in the top ranking at Google, with several search terms resulting within the top three spots, and others continue to climb the first page.

Small businesses may not be able to afford a full team of marketers, but sometimes all it takes is a professional online writer who has stayed on top of the latest in terms of SEO and mobile tools and techniques, and who has spent over a decade building the necessary skills to produce fast and effective results.


Giving Can Bring Unexpected Gifts in Marketing

The JBC Online writing services team has always been proud to be able to support a number of different charitable causes.  Over the years, the company as a whole, as well as its individual members, have taken part in several efforts to make the world a better place.

JBC Online mobile site QR codeRecently, this effort in caring brought the entire JBC Online team of writers to an event in support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), called Conservation Chic.  As the team is already taking part in the David Suzuki Foundation Nature Challenge, this fundraiser aligned very well with our concern for the state of the environment, and our hope that it is not too late to make a difference.

Sometimes, supporting an event such as this one isn’t exclusively a matter of showing up and making donations.  As an online writing services company, we also had the benefit of being able to offer free editing services and writing/online marketing advice in the name of a great cause.  To the team, this was its own reward.

However, the world has a fascinating habit of rewarding kindness with kindness.  This was, once again, the case for us.  In gratitude for the assistance that we provided, Heather Church, the highly talented organizer of Conservation Chic, provided JBC Online with the opportunity to add our brochure to the promo table at the event.

From there, the opportunity blossomed even further.  The QR codes that were included on the brochure – and the data analysis regarding the scans of the smartphone-friendly quick response barcodes – spawned an article that was published on a top Google News website.  That QR Code Press article provided online marketing for the fundraiser, JBC Online, as well as for itself (through fresh and interesting content), all because of a circumstance generated by a genuine act of caring.

The lesson to be learned is that mobile and online marketing does have a great deal to do with content generation, search engine optimization (SEO), and linking efforts, but it does not stop there.  A marketing strategy must reach out and be nurtured in positive places to build strong associations, good reputation, and relevance that can be achieved on a broad scale.  Social responsibility should be factored into any marketing mix for a strong ROI and should be considered to be as important as each of the other techniques – from SEO to social media – that are added to the mix.

To learn more about the causes supported by JBC Online and its team members, please visit the official writing services website.

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