Content Marketing: An Experiment

by Martin Malden

Best Family Vacations in AsiaLast week I mentioned that I’d been building a new travel site. It’s up now, and it’s an experiment with Content Marketing.

So here’s my thought process behind the site and the way I’ve set it up. Going forward, I’ll update you on the progress of the site as it grows and (hopefully!) starts to earn me some money.

I’ve been an affiliate for a travel company for some time. I’ve focused on tours to the US and I’ve made a bit of money from it.

But I’ve used PPC (mostly) to drive traffic and, of course, that’s eaten into my profits.

So I wanted to see if I could set up a travel site, attract visitors and make some money without spending anything (money, that is) – whether it be on PPC or any other form of paid advertising.

Because I was already an affiliate for this travel company, and because they offer tours in Asia, and since I live and travel in Asia, the logical move was to set up a site promoting tours in Asia.

Which is what I’ve done.

What I wanted

Knowing that the search engines like lots of regularly updated content (something I aimed to achieve by displaying a travel news feed on my original travel site), I figured I’d achieve it this time via a blog.

But I didn’t want the site to look like a blog.

I wanted the blog component there so it would attract visitors and readers, but I wanted the site to be very similar to my existing site and for there to be lots of cross-over.

An important consideration when setting up a blog is to be sure you have the ability to keep producing good content for it over the long haul.

Well, I have a stack of pictures and memories from various trips I’ve done around Asia in the past, so there’s lots of raw material to start with.

Plus I’m well kitted out with a camera and video cam, so (as long as I remember to take them with me!) producing new content, even from just around Hong Kong, will be easy enough. So no problems there.

What I did

So I’ve set up the new site on WordPress, setting the front page as a static page and having the blog as a menu item in the navigation bar.

That makes it look like a normal site with an integrated blog.

The look and feel is very similar to my existing site, so anyone moving from one site to the other will know they’re part of the same business.

I’ve cross linked it with my existing travel site on multiple pages. This includes linking to the tours search function that sits on my existing site but serves search requests for tours to all destinations.

I’ve created a Tours in Asia page. This introduces the Asian tours and links out to child pages that list summaries of (and links to) tours to different parts of Asia.

I’ve linked to the Tours in Asia page at least once on every other page in the site, including every blog article.

That creates lots of internal links to the Tours in Asia page, which lets the search engines know that it’s the most important page in the site.

I installed the Google XML-Sitemap generator plugin and gave the pages a higher importance ranking than the blog articles and the home page. Pages are ranked at 1.0, the posts are at 0.9 and the home page is at 0.7.

Again, that helps to direct the search engines towards the Tours in Asia page.

I’ve installed the ‘Subscribe to Comments’ and ‘Thank Me Later’ plugins to encourage readers of the blog articles to return, but I’ve not installed CommentLuv.

The reason for not installing CommentLuv is that the type of visitors I will be getting are much less likely to have blogs of their own (other than personal diary type blogs) than are readers to this site. So CommentLuv would be irrelevant to them.

I’ve taken great care to ensure that the site works well in Internet Explorer. 78% of the visitors to my existing travel site are using IE. (Only 24% of visitors to this site use IE). That ratio will hold true for the new site.

The plan going forward

So, going forward, my plan is to write articles on a regular basis (2, maximum 3 a week – the same schedule as for this site) and promote those articles using the same channels as I use on this site.

I’ll also look for other channels (travel related) and create a presence there.

I’ll use videos more often than I have on this site.

I’ll post the videos on YouTube and embed them on the site. That will get my content more widely disseminated than would be the case if I used a video application on the site itself.

My internal linking structure will point the search engines towards the Tours in Asia page once they’re on the site (as I described above), and that page will start to reflect in natural search results for people looking for Asian tours.

I will continue to review the site and look for ways of improving the link structure and the on-site SEO. That will include the installation of a couple of SEO related plugins that aren’t there yet because there’s so little content.

The result (hopefully!) will be to make the search engines increasingly notice the site. This will cause it to start climbing up the search results, ultimately earning me some money from affiliate sales.

Well – that’s the plan, anyway. 🙂

And I’ll post articles here at various intervals to let you know how it’s going and what changes I’ve made, based on experience.

Martin Malden

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