Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Ok! Long story short:
- I wrote a cookbook on grownup cookies, found a NY agent, and received stellar “tasting” reviews from publishers.
- I could not get a publishing contract because I am not on the Food Network (not uncommon apparently).
- I decided to use WP to get to the top in organic Google, etc. search because publishers would, no doubt, want to see what potential my “profile” had.
- I quickly got to the top of Google thanks to a few simple approaches and a realistic budget. Yes, I did get a contract and Cookies for Grown-Ups came out in December!
Why share this? Here’s why and my purpose: I want to encourage you to do the same with your projects and how I literally accomplished such a neat feat in just 90 days for $100 in domain fees.
Seriously, no joke. Want to learn more and how I did it?
How I Got Started
First I had to prove this concept via my experience with cookies. Yes, cookies. At the time I started working on the cookie project there was serious organic search competition with Martha Stewart and a few other national brands. I purchased a series of domain names related to what I was doing and how I thought bakers might approach their search.
I also got a few more that offered specific ideas such as FruityCookies, SavouryCookies and others. I purchased the domains for one year with $100 which worked out to 12 domains. After the year I narrowed down to GrownUpCookies.com, SavoryCookies.com and SavoryCookie.com.
My advice is to spend $100 for one year, add WP landing pages, find which ones get the most traction and renew 3-4 only. This way you get the momentum of the bots for the first year as you build traffic to the product’s site. Later, you can reduce the number of the domains as traffic increases. I also added CookiesForGrown-Ups.com because it became the name of the book.
Within 90 days I was on page 1 on Google. I decided to experiment a bit. GrownUpCookies is a WP blog. SavoryCookies is .html. SavoryCookie was a blog and I now have it set as a forwarder.
Today, a search for GrownUp Cookies returns 15m results and I’m #1, 2, 3:
Google asks do I mean grown up cookies (with the space)? Okay, at 19m results I’m #1, 2, and the book is #5 at Amazon.
Savory Cookies (which Fancy Food called to say is the next baking trend) with 10m results and I’m #1 and 3 of the 5 photos.
Savory Cookie, which I took down to experiment as a forwarder and will put back up as WP this month is lost. I still return GrownUpCookies.com and SavoryCookies.com on page 1 with a Savory Cookie search.
This shows me, however, that the forwarder was a deal killer; SavoryCookie.com offered high results before the forwarder experiment. In the past I have purchased .net pairs to .com and set the .net as forwarder. In hindsight owning additional domains may keep the competition at bay but they do nothing for ranking/findability.
I Proved the Concept But Could It Be Repeated?
Okay, I guess the long story short turned out to be longer than I intended. Here’s my point-WP is fast to set up and can be used in a production landing page mode. After my “proven” example, I decided on two experiments.
A mildly competitive environment and a highly competitive environment. The first is a community project I’m working on called Shop Artisan to bring attention to local and regional food artisans. I purchased domains
I also got a few others that represent additional geographic areas. I started posting this week and last week. As of today, with a nominal number of posts:
LasVegasArtisanMarket.com with 1.9m results is #8
BayAreaArtisanMarket.com (I only started posting yesterday) with 2.69m results is #1
CaliforniaArtisanMarket.com with 5.79m results is #11 (last on page 1 in a huge market)
and ColoradoArtisanMarket.com which I haven’t gotten to with a single post yet, with 1.23m results is #2
I’m not thinking I found the WP grail; I do believe this approach motivates small business and individuals to compete with larger budget companies and projects.
Challenge Time! Let’s Do It Again!
This week Dora Crow and I launched Leap99. The product offers mentoring and online learning for creating and optimizing LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn organic search is a much tougher nut than cookies are.
We built nine “production” landing pages that feed into Leap99:
I decided to go for a photo-with-few-words-approach on the landing pages although I realize the bots will want a steady stream of narrative that I can add as support posts. Dora created the Leap99 pages. After the first few days the ranking is nowhere in sight and the pages have been live longer than the artisan market pages. The search results jumped to 651m for LinkedIn Profile. argh.
Well, I’m still not on the Food Network, still teach web development in a community college, and will still find a way to compete in the organic search big leagues. Will be interesting to see how the challenge unveils. In the meantime, for many projects and organizations the $100 in domains production approach creates great strides in findability.
Here’s my production checklist. Assumption is WP is loaded.
- Activate Akismet
- SEO settings and “Just another WordPress site” (forgot to do this first a couple times and ended up with great ranking and an amateur look to my search result)
- Decide if I want the Blog Name to be the same or different from the domain based on search considerations and edit accordingly
- Set Permalinks to Post name and lock up .htaccess
- Add widget to primary sidebar with descriptive words) because I found several times the bots picked this up immediately even though I set the site description)
- Set the favicon (only because small things done quickly don’t have to be remembered)
- Change up the footer
- Set preliminary categories
- Add social icons
- Complete profile and set up analytics
I’m assuming everyone reading this post has a similar “list”. If I load 12 blogs and follow my list the set up time is surprisingly short.
When I don’t follow the list I inevitably have one without the footer the way I want it, another with no favicon, and I spend more time backtracking and validating each than it takes to set up correctly.
When I’m setting up multiple blogs my mind wanders to the product, content, and strategy rather than each step in the process. At the end of the day when I have multiple blogs set up and ready for content, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and start writing my way to page 1.
Ok, your turn. Not that hard, right? Be encouraged!