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SEO site audit: Learn how a small distributorship can compete for national market share in Google

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“Free SEO Friday” audit for Going Green Promos

Hopefully in Magda’s marketing seminar SEO site audit in Part 1 you can see what goes on in the mind of an SEO and how they dev1elop a keyword strategy. It’s not easy and takes a lot of thought, not to mention trial and error over time. Let’s move on to Going Green Promos now and see what an up-and-coming distributorship of promotional products needs to do compete nationally. Some of what Ted needs was already covered in Part 1, so be sure to read that first if you haven’t already.

Here’s the site in question

going green promotions

I didn’t have the benefit of talking to Todd about his business model but it appears he is a distributor for Logo Mall because all his product links in the footer send the site visitor there. He sells none directly on this site, so he is using this site to attract and drive traffic to the place of purchase. Not a bad idea and I’ve encouraged others to do this as well.

But he is up against a challenge because his biggest competitors, other promotional product sellers, all have complete ecommerce stores with hundreds if not thousands of products, each one attracting a variety of different customers and keyword queries. With such a small site in comparison to those sites that have hundreds or thousands of product pages, it’s hard to compete. But let’s take a look at what we can do.

First off, let’s take a look at Ted’s competition.

To do this, I’m going to make a guess that a good keyword phrase would be green or eco-friendly promotional products. But just for fun, let’s look at “promotional products.” After all, isn’t it better to go after as many potential customer queries as possible? Let’s see. Here’s a screenshot of what I found searching on those keywords.

promotional products keyword query

First note that there were 16,400,000 results.

That’s how many pages are competing for that keyword phrase. Tough competition here. Can Ted compete there? We’ll know better if we research the top competitors.

Let’s look at promopeddler.com first.

To do this I went to  KeywordSpy.com where I can actually see how much money they spend on ads, what keywords they are advertising on, and who their competitors are. Here’s what I found.


Interesting. They ran an ad in September, but before and after that, nothing. We shouldn’t be too surprised they are not advertising for those keywords because they sit in the number one organic position and don’t really need the ads on those words, but I doubt they are #1 for all their keywords and advertising could definitely help.

Why they are not using PPC is a question, but if you look back at the original screenshot showing the results in Google, we have a clue.

I’m using a browser plugin called Open Site Explorer that gives me information about each site. Notice under theirs, you see they have “23,770 Lks.” That’s a count of the inbound links coming into their site. I did some research into those and most are purchased links, the kind that Google says it will not reward. In fact, many look like the kind that got J.C. Penney in trouble. According to what I read on that story, J.C. Penney flew under the radar and would have continued to do so if someone hadn’t turned them in. In other words, it’s possible there are thousands or millions of other sites still out there flying under the radar, as well, using the same kind of Black Hat SEO, and this may just be one of them. For Ted, this means we have a competitor site here that is doing SEO very aggressively and spending a lot of money on it. At least for now it’s working.

Now let’s look at Promo Peddler’s chief competitor, Branders.com.


Here we see that Branders is spending $3,440 a day on PPC on 28,851 keywords. Again, another site that is aggressively going over Google positioning and succeeding.

What do we learn from this? Can Ted compete in this arena? Should he?

I think it’s pretty safe to say, this is not where Ted wants to be. Trying to capture market share would be pretty darn hard. LogoMall might be able to compete here, but it’s difficult to do for a single distributor like Ted.

So how can Ted improve his odds? The same way Magda could by narrowing her reach with long tail keywords (phrases with 2 or more words). In her case she needed to focus on those looking for marketing help in her city, so we added a city identifier to her keywords. Ted definitely doesn’t want to limit himself to just his town, but he can still find a smaller niche to compete in – and he did!

When the ocean is too big, find yourself a little pond.

Sure, it would be nice to have the resources that the likes of Amazon.com and J.C. Penney have, but if you don’t, or until you do, settle on a smaller market, a certain segment or niche of a larger one. In this case, Ted was smart to choose green or eco-friendly promotional products as his target keywords.

Take a look at what comes up for a query on those keywords.


This is better. Only 929,000 competing for those keywords instead of 16,400,000. Much better, but that’s still a huge number, so Ted has his work cut out for him.  Is it possible to compete? Maybe. But it will take time, effort and money. My biggest concern is that he doesn’t sell these products on his site. Besides making this site less weighty in Google’s eyes, without the content it will also be harder to capture inbound links and traffic. And when I drilled down 3 or 4 pages, I could see that all the results were self-contained stores; this indicated to me there may be a barrier for Tim here.

But maybe there is another way of entry for Tim. I noticed that several of the top results are interior pages, not home pages, as indicated by the results in that screenshot with the red arrows. If you were to click through those links, you’d see Google is pulling up specific category pages for that query. In other words, those sites do not focus entirely on green products. It’s just one segment of their business, one small piece of their bigger pie. This is how Ted might be able to slide in here. If he stays focused on that particular topic and makes his whole site revolve around those keywords, thus telling Google he may be more relevant for those keywords than epromos.com, for example, he might have a chance. How does he do that?

The same search engine optimization rules apply

There are plenty of articles on site optimization on the web, so I’m not going to go too deep here, but here are some specific suggestions for Ted.

First step always is to come up with a keyword list. Given the competition, Ted might be better off with “longer-tail keywords.”

Go for the long tail.

Ted has a lot of competition from well-established sites that have been in the industry for a long time. It’s difficult to overtake them when you play their same game. So, in cases like this, it’s best to play a different game and look for keyword phrases that those competitors might not be using. And while those phrases might only be queried a small fraction of the time, if you can capture enough of them, it might equal the same return as the big guns. So for Ted, if he can find keyword phrases that don’t have the words “promotional products” in them at all (words his competitors aren’t using) but still capture his audience, he might be able to sneak in. I don’t have a recommendation on what those phrases might be at this time without a lot of keyword research.

After you get your keyword list, then use it to optimize your copy.

Now we get back to what we covered in part 1. After establishing his keywords, Ted needs to go through his site and make sure it’s optimized for those. To start, his main keywords should be prominent on the home page. Are they?  Looking through the eyes of Google that can’t read images (which his logo image is, see Part 1), what do you think Google thinks this page about? Squint your eyes and look. What stands out? You might say “Welcome” except that this too is an image.

So, to start, Ted needs to get his keywords on the page and put them in prominent places, namely at the top of the page and once in an <h1> tag. He should also repeat them in <h2> tags as appropriate, but not overdo it. Then he needs to sprinkle them throughout the text and optimize the internal linking as well, linking on keyword anchor text like “eco-friendly promotional pens,” not “click here.”

Ted has a lot of keyword-rich links in the footer linking off site to product pages at Logo Mall. From a marketing perspective, these fall short for me. First of all, people and Google consider footer links as less important, so when I was looking for links to products I couldn’t find any because I generally ignore the footer.

I think it might be a good idea for Ted to create an optimized landing page for each of the categories he sells, list some featured products in that category along with keywords, and then link out to Logo Mall from there. Links to the category pages should be included in the main navigation and in the body of his copy whenever appropriate. I’m not saying don’t put them in the footer, but creating main navigation links to those category pages WITHIN his own site will serve him better and give more clues to Google on what this site is about.

Optimize your metatags.

One of the most important elements on any web page page is your title metatag. Ted’s reads, “Ted Pendlebury’s Going Green Promos.” Can that be improved? If in your research you find the term promotional is better than promos, then use that instead, or use it in addition to. You do have 70 characters to play with, so use them up with just keywords. My recommendation for Ted is he should remove his name. That’s using up valuable keyword “real estate.” Then while he’s at it, he should put his call to action in his meta description tag. Some think this is still used for ranking, others don’t, but just in case, sprinkle some keywords in there as well.

Get inbound links.

This is where most of Ted’s work lies. It takes time to get links, but it begins with great copy and great products.

Here’s some advice for you Ted. Go on a hunt for sites that support green. Ask them if they’ll link to you but make sure you have great content to link to first. Look for blogs on the topic. Be active and visible there by commenting whenever possible. Even if the comment links you get back to you are not followed by Google, they are by people and you’ll be building exposure that way. Be a guest blogger on green topics in green blogs. Get the idea? The list is endless. You’re looking for any opportunity you can to get links to your sites, but best to get them on sites that are related to your industry.

Here’s an idea: Put a photo gallery on your site and highlight your customers most clever designs. Have a contest and reward the best. Chances are if you feature businesses and link to them, they’ll link back to you to show off their reward.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat or get on the first page.

Scroll down the page that came up for a query on “eco-friendly promotional products” and you’ll see this:


Note the video and the shopping links. If you can’t get on the first page with your website, chances are you can in other ways.

Google loves to pull up videos, and nowadays it’s easy to make videos, particularly the kind Ted needs which might just be stillshots of his products. He can use animoto.com to do that if he doesn’t have video editing software.

He just needs to make sure he then optimizes the videos as so:

  1. Put your url first in the description
  2. Tag your video with your keywords
  3. Put your keywords in the title and in the description.

Note how the video in that screenshot is optimized with Ted’s keywords. It worked for them. Ted should copy what they do, then do it better.

As for the shopping links, I’m not sure if Ted’s company allows him to do that, but he could try. This is done with a Google feed, a discussion topic for another day.

Try getting your images on the first page as well.

Additionally, Ted could create a Flikr account and put his promotional product shots up there if Logo Mall allows that. It’s important to name and tag them with keywords and give them keyword optimized descriptions. For example, Ted, if you put up an image called eco-friendly-promotional-pens.jpg, Google just might pull it up on the first page. Someone might click it and land on that Flikr page which should also be optimized with keywords and links to your main site. If you name the photos on his website the same way, Google might pull that up as well. From those, you can get a direct link to your site.

Do what others do and then some.

As I did with promopeddlers.com and branders.com, do competitive research. Find out what they are doing and do it too (except for Black Hat SEO which, I believe, will eventually have no value). [Addendum April, 2012: My prediction has come true. Now more than every, it’s important to stay away from Black Hat SEO.]

Then get clever and do what they are not.

Perhaps you can build out your site with lots of pages on eco-friendly topics. Build your blog around that topic and invite guest bloggers to add to it so your content grows.

Build a community online in Facebook. Show your products there. Have a contest to see who can come up with the cleverest design for one of your products. Showcase what others have done. Provide information there and on your website for businesses on how to promote their businesses with the use of your products.

For your business clients, show them how using your green promotional products can influence their own brand in a positive way amongst the crowds loving green. Maybe with each product they give away, you can also include a little card that includes a quote about that business and how it supports green initiatives. If you include those cards for free, then put your own url on it in small print.

Be diligent. Be creative.

Building an online business, particularly building one that competes nationally is never easy, but with a lot of hard work and creativity, it can be done. Never forget that Apple Computer began in a garage.

Best of luck to you, Ted.

Let me know if any of this actually helps. My final gift to you is this outbound link to your website selling green and eco-friendly promotional products. (Note that I linked on keywords.)

And to the rest of the SEOs who might be reading this, please feel free to add your advice.

And please help other businesses learn from this by tweeting, sharing and liking!


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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