Two days ago I posted the first part of this two-part series on how to sell physical products online. The first post dealt with finding an in-demand product, pricing it correctly and getting traffic using second-tier pay-per-click sites.
This second post deals with getting traffic from search engines (primarily Google) instead of pay-per-click sites. As I mentioned in the first part, Ted now gets almost all of his traffic from Google instead of pay-per-click (PPC) sites. That's because it's far cheaper to generate traffic from search engines than it is to pay for traffic using PPC. Getting started using PPC is great if you have the budget for it and your conversion rate is good enough to turn a profit, but the more traffic you can get from search engines the higher your profit margins will be.
Here's what I did to start generating razor-targeted traffic from the search engines for Ted's porch swing business:
Do The Keyword Research
Before doing anything else, you should always research your target keywords. You need to find out what the best terms would be to rank for. To accomplish this I use Google's AdWords Keyword Tool to find out what people are looking for and how much traffic I can generate.
I also check out the competition to see how hard I'm going to have to work to get the site ranked for the keywords I think will be best. This basically involves seeing how well linked the competition is, which tells me about how many links I'm going to need to rank well.
Setup A Feeder Blog
Rather than try to rank Ted's porch swings site directly, I chose to setup a WordPress blog on a new domain, rank that site and use it to pass traffic over to Ted's site. There are a few reasons for this:
- Ted's not a search engine guy, so his site wasn't really built for getting ranked well in the search engines.
As I said in the first part of this series, Ted was doing great without getting any traffic from the search engines. He's not a search engine guy, and he was doing fine without the search engines, so his site isn't well optimized for search engines. It is, however, very well optimized to get people to buy!
- Having a site that recommends another site is a great way to increase conversion rates.
Good affiliate marketers have been using recommendations to increase conversion rates for years. If you write an article that praises a site and product you don't personally own, that recommendation provides a level of legitimacy that product owners can't generate themselves. It's like a testimonial, and increases conversion rates significantly.
I chose WordPress for my feeder site because blogs are fantastically easy to rank due to the fact that each time a post is made it "pings" a variety of sites that automatically index your blog's content. That means you immediately get a bunch of free links back to your blog, which gets each new page indexed fast and improves your overall link popularity (and thus your ability to rank well in the search engines).
Use The Right WordPress Plugins
I like to use the All-In-One SEO Pack for WordPress, because it lets me give the blog a more search-engine-friendly title and meta description, as well as allows me to disable the indexing of categories and archives. I don't like the categories or archives getting indexed because I don't want Google to rank anything but the permalinked blog post pages. I don't want folks landing on the category pages and having to click again to get to the full article -- I want them sent straight to the articles.
I also use the WP-Sticky plugin for WordPress, which allows you to select a post that will always be on the home page of the blog. That way I can optimize the home page content for my chosen keywords.
Fill The Blog With On-Theme Content
Once the blog was up I seeded it with a bunch of EzineArticles.com articles related to porch swings. That way the site is chock-full of content that is very specifically related to my target keywords. I wrote a post targeting my chosen keywords and then made it the "sticky" post that is always shown on the home page. That post strongly recommends my brother's porch swings and links to the site in the end.
In addition to the recommendation and the link, I also put up an attention-grabbing banner ad for my brother's site. As of today this combination is generating a better than 50% click-through rate. So one out of two people who visit the feeder site are continuing on to Ted's site. That's like getting a 50% click-through rate for AdSense ads. How cool is that?
The result is a lot more sales for Ted. Ted's conversion rate is about 5% (yes, 5% on physical products ranging in price from $60 - $260 dollars), so his site is obviously setup to get visitors to buy. Combine that great site setup with the razor-targeted traffic from the search engines and you get a super-successful real-world business selling physical products.
Get Links to the Blog
The final step was to start getting links to the blog. I always get links from a variety of sources (3 sources in particular). All the link sources are absolutely necessary to the successful ranking of the blog. I can't emphasize that enough. The search engines want to see a variety of links from a variety of sources.
The result is that the blog ranks #2 for its primary keywords in Google, #5 in Yahoo and #2 in Bing (formerly MSN Live).
Since achieving those rankings I've also begun to work on ranking the site for an even tougher set of keywords that gets about fourteen times as much traffic (according to Google's keyword tool). As of today, the site ranks #10 in Google and Bing for those keywords (I've got a bit more work to do before it makes it into Yahoo for those terms). I expect it to be in the top 5 in a few weeks.
Exact Instructions Coming Monday
What I've given you here is an overview of how I set things up. But there are some very detailed things I do to assess keyword competition (and the value of a set of keywords for conversion purposes), as well as the linking methods that I use which are not stated here.
However, this Monday (June 29th) you'll have an opportunity to get all of the details of how I go about researching keywords and ranking sites in the search engines (including my sources for getting the all-important links), as well as the exact methods my brother uses to find in-demand products, price them right and get cheap traffic from second-tier pay-per-click engines to start generating profits immediately. Look for an email from me about that on Monday.
Until then, please post your thoughts and questions in a comment below.