Saturday, May 30, 2009

Online marketing from start to finish in 3 hours

Posted by Danny Tarlow
As a favor, I agreed to help some people I know market a rental home in my home town of Lake Oswego, Oregon. It's a very nice, new house, but they don't feel like they're standing out amongst the crowd. Try doing a little search for "lake oswego rental house" on Google:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&esrch=BetaShortcuts&q=lake+oswego+rental+house&btnG=Search

When I first did this, I was pretty overwhelmed by the number of all-purpose rental sites that showed up. There was no way some puny little listing like our target one would ever see the light of day as is:
http://www.postlets.com/rtm/2244406

There are just so many problems with the listing. No relevant terms appear in the URL, and I don't even see the term "rental" on the listing page. Talk about not caring about search engine traffic!

So instead, I decided to build a new site, making use of the good parts of the listing (great photos and video). In addition, I bought a relevant domain name, installed Google Analytics, put care into the page titles, and chose URLs to match the most important keywords. It took about 2 hours to adapt an old website and css to fit this purpose, then I scrounged up at least a bit of content to fill in the blanks. You can see the result:
the Lake Oswego Rental Home.

Total time so far: 2.5 hours.

Now we already saw how crowded the organic search engine results were, even for this small market, so I decided to throw a little money at the problem. I set up an Adwords campaign targeting keywords related to "rental homes in lake oswego". I came up with four different pitches:
1. Brand new construction
2. Beautiful views of Mt Hood
3. Excellent schools and pet friendly
4. Adjacent to a 40 acre park


Then I wrote ad copy that combined pairs of pitches.

Total time so far: 3 hours

So about 3 hours after I bought the domain name, we were in business. I set some bids, and let the ads loose. It's been running for about twenty minutes now (the time it took to write this post), and we've already even gotten a couple clicks -- how is that for instant gratification?

Of course, it would be great if we could even get a little organic (non-paid) traffic to the site. I'm not sure how long it will take to kick in or how competitive this market is, but I'm working on building a few links and doing some other organic-conscious marketing. As for right now, I can tell you that we are not listed in any search engine results =P. It will be interesting to see how it progresses.

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