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Getting A Headstart With SEO Landing Pages

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There are shenanigans going on in TV land. A couple weeks ago DirecTV was feuding with Viacom, content distributors with 26 channels. Viacom owns staples like comedy Channel, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon. A couple weeks ago Viacom ordered DirecTV to shut off their content (channels).  That followed with a schoolyard “he said, she said” public fight between the whiny C-suite.  

Luckily everything has been worked out, and I can once again watch Teen Mom.

I don’t know how long this dispute was gearing up behind the scenes, but from what I gathered, this wasn’t a surprise to DirecTV.  When I found out I’d be losing these channels I googled for information to see if this was temporary, what channels I lost, and any reason to keep DirecTV at that point.  I found this site’s webpage: http://www.directvpromise.com/other-ways-to-watch - granted, this 404′s now that the shitstorm is over (a 301 might have been wiser here peeps), but it was a pretty candid explanation of what was going on from DirecTV’s perspective.  It was there right away, and helped satisfy my questions.  I also noticed journalists and radio personalities repeating a lot of the same information on this page.  I’m sure it was a resource for others, like it was for me.

Being a nosy SEO, I also noticed the organic rankings for this site were improving daily (which seems in sync with a recent backlink spike beginning June 9th).  I’m guessing this is a slightly aged microsite (not old enough to be in the Wayback Machine) that is being repurposed to speak to the issues.   I don’t know if the links were from intentional link building, organic growth based on the news, or both.

Well done DirecTV.  A great use of an SEO landing page (assuming for a moment you actually meant to do it in part for search).

I’m not sure it’s a common practice to think of SEO as a channel to use for getting in front of breaking issue or demand.  In ecommerce we think about it all the time for holidays, but I rarely see it in place for new product launches.  SEO landing pages are a big part of my work for the last decade, so here are a few real-life examples from past clients where SEO could have been a bigger part of the integrated marketing strategies.  I can’t tell you the client names (and I’m sure you won’t be able to figure it out because I’m really good at keeping secrets), but it’s always good to learn from mistakes.

Example 1 –  In 2008 I worked with a company that had a Superbowl commercial (back when they were still funny).  It was a silly commercial – I’m completely blanking on the plot, but it was the goofy kind with some kind of cute animal, and probably some slapstick violence to a human thrown in for good measure. The company ran the spot, but failed to pre-launch an SEO landing page that could be optimized for people searching out this commercial.  Assuming there would be an influx of new brand traffic, we neglected the searchers who forgot the brand’s name (too many beers?), but searched for “monkey punching human superbowl commercial” instead.  All the Superbowl ads got some heat that year from SEO news sites; admittedly our client was very deserving of this as well.  Putting up a defensive play in the form of long-tail SEO landing pages is now engrained in my DNA. It’s so easy to do, yet we wasted that little window of opportunity because we didn’t think broader.   

Example 2: I worked with a very large denim company based in San Francisco.  They were launching a “feature” on their website using the still-secret Facebook open graph.  The world didn’t know what 2010′s F8 conference was going to bring, so there were plenty of bloggers and news sites looking for crumbs.  This brand had a secret project to basically use the Like button to promote products and bring in purchasing influence from Facebook.  It’s normal to see the open graph integrated into ecommerce now, but back then this was a new opportunity to make some money and build the brand, as well as earn some great editorial links.  

The only problem was the brand didn’t even include their own SEO team in the secret project.    

When the “feature” launched, not only did we quickly realize it weighed down load time dramatically, but there wasn’t any descriptive content for all the different websites who wanted to report on this implementation.  The buzz didn’t last very long because there were so many questions and no easily linkable resource to explain what a cool feature this actually was.  Eventually bloggers figured it out on their own, or lost interest because they didn’t know what they were exactly looking at.  Link growth was very low (and rankings were brutal), but with a pre-launch page seeding something special, and pushing that out to writers and the public, this could have been big.  The brand would have been seen as trendsetters, instead of a beneficiary of some confusing technology.  With an SEO’d pre-launch page, the authority could have been built up before the switch was hit that made this Like-ridden collection page live.

Example 3: Here’s a time where it did work (or, I was able to get ahead of the issue for once).  I had a racecar driving client who was starting his own racing team and releasing diecast models of his car.  We were secretly chosen to wholesale and retail it.  Since he was a big star (with an even bigger famous father), I knew that these products would get out into the wild fast, and sell through every small NASCAR web store.  I created a vague but hinting landing page, and worked with some big NASCAR blogs to start the buzz.  Bloggers love to feel like they’ve been selected to be in the loop, even if it’s just to a minor degree.  Egos can be toyed with!  When the news broke and the product was released, and we uploaded the new announcement onto our now aged landing page, the second level buzz spread, and our links became big traffic funnels and bigger SEO drivers.  While we sold hundreds through our retail channel, showing that demand was high, we sold fewer than expected through the wholesale channel (suggesting demand was lower there because people were buying them direct on our site).  Score.

I’m sure you can think of some new ways to integrate SEO (be it landing pages or microsites) with some of your issues or new features/products.  Most natural search clicks are from information searchers, and you know it’ll take a few weeks and some outreach to fuel up your page.  Might as well try to get the information out there in advance before someone else beats you to it.  Webpages are like bait, and looking at landing pages this way may give you some super worms to dangle in the lake.