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Job-Hunt.org: An Old-Fashioned Success Story

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Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan Joyce about her site, Job Hunt, and the things that she has done to get it the great links that it has. Just for a sampling, try out Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, and the New York Times, just to name a few.

It's a great story because the approach she uses is basic old-fashioned marketing. In fact, Susan spends no time at all thinking about SEO. All she is trying to do is market her site ...

Eric Enge: Can you tell us how Job-Hunt came together, and talk about what decisions you made when you were thinking about how to market it?

Susan Joyce: I've always been a believer in that old phrase "content is king." I thought that the more content I had on Job-Hunt, the more visitors I would get. This may sound a little goofy, but my goal was really just to provide information to help people. I wasn't really doing it for any other reason, because when I started it was just a hobby.

Eric Enge: You bought the site didn't you?

Susan Joyce: Yes. It was an old site, an old domain name. It had been around forever, which is how I found out about it. I bought it in 1998. At the time when I bought it, AltaVista, which was the Google of the day, said that it had over 1,400 inbound links. So I figured, "Well, there's the traffic." I bought it for the inbound links and the good reputation it had.

Eric Enge:So, you had 1,400 inbound links, but according to my data, Job-Hunt has a lot more than that today. What did you do to expand upon that?

Susan Joyce: I looked at where I was getting traffic from, and where the traffic was going to. I looked at the sites that were sending me traffic, and analyzed what they were looking for, why they were linking to Job-Hunt -- particularly the ones that were sending the most traffic. I actually went back to several of them and sent them e-mail saying "thank you," and asked them if there was anything that they would like to see on Job-Hunt that wasn't there. I got a couple of suggestions, but most of the time I just got, "you're welcome, keep up the good work." And some of the time these people told other people about Job-Hunt, and these people ended up linking to us too.

Eric Enge: You've got some great links from a lot of very prominent magazines. Can you talk about how you got your first big magazine link?

Susan Joyce: The first one was Forbes. In 2002 it picked Job-Hunt as the "Best of the Web," and that was just a fabulous piece of luck. I didn't apply for it. It was just a gift from God. In addition, the Forbes award coincided with Google becoming more important.

When I first put in the Google toolbar, the first Page Rank I ever noticed from my homepage was an 8, and it's pretty much stayed that way. Since the Forbes award, I've been interviewed and quoted, as has Job-Hunt, in The Wall Street Journal, in Time Magazine, in the New York Times, and in Fortune magazine.

This past year Job-Hunt was picked by US News and World Report as a top site for finding work. This one actually came through networking, from a person who runs a competitor: Margaret Dikel, who runs a site called The Riley Guide, which is actually better known than Job-Hunt. The reporter from US News, Marty Nemko, got in touch with Margaret and asked her what she would recommend, and she recommended Job-Hunt, and he liked it.

Eric Enge: So, did any of these links occur from an outbound effort, where you went and found them, or have they all been situations where they have come back to you because of the content and the reputation?

Susan Joyce: Until the past nine months; it's really all been a result of the content and the reputation. It's also important that the content is not static. I update Job-Hunt with the latest information and resources all the time.

Eric Enge: Very interesting. So talk about the outbound efforts you have been engaged in during the past 9 months.

Susan Joyce: I've begun to do some outbound-type stuff; When the Time Magazine quote appeared, it was really a big boost to traffic, and that boost has seemed permanent. The New York Times article was actually published the day we invaded Iraq, so it pretty much got ignored that first day. But articles in the New York Times are syndicated everywhere. The New York Times guy wrote a wonderful article, and, so that was syndicated everywhere.

I know of one college kid with a Web site database of job sites which got mentioned by Newsweek Magazine in their Tip Sheet section. His traffic skyrocketed. He was in the top twenty thousand for a few days as a result of the mention in Newsweek. So, the light went on in my head. I hadn't paid attention before to things in Newsweek and their Tip Sheet section.

So, I started paying attention to what was going on and it was really obvious, you get mentioned in Newsweek and traffic goes through the roof again. So, I started paying attention to that, and I hired a PR firm and I did press releases. I started in the summer of 2005, and that resulted in mentions in Business Week Online, and in Fortune magazine.

Eric Enge: What type of PR firm was it?

Susan Joyce: It was more of a classic PR firm; they did more traditional stuff. We were working on getting into Women's Day, and some of the women's magazines, and in some of the business magazines. So it was a very traditional approach. I have been approached by some of the online PR companies, but they are not really a good cultural fit with me, at least the ones that have approached me so far. I am kind of a traditional person, or old-fashioned maybe. I am from the Midwest, what can I say?

Eric Enge: How much did you spend on this PR firm?

Susan Joyce: It was a couple thousand dollars a month.

Eric Enge: Sounds like a great investment. Are you still doing working with them?

Susan Joyce: No, I did it for a short period of time during which it was paying off, and then I stopped when the results started to slow down. But, initially it was very helpful. Almost immediately we got into Business Week Online and then Fortune magazine.

Those were thrills, I was really pleased with that. Then there was Boston Business Woman, I wrote an article for them.

Eric Enge: So what you did with the firm was brainstorm the types of magazines to approach, and they used their contacts?

Susan Joyce: Exactly.

Eric Enge: This helped you sustain the original momentum of Job-Hunt?

Susan Joyce: Right. They helped the momentum keep going.

Eric Enge: I think this is a very interesting example of an approach to promotion and Web marketing and promotion. Any other comments you'd like to make?

Susan Joyce: I found that the concept of thanking people for the traffic they send over was a very effective way to make connections with people, and these connections resulted in more links from other people, and introductions.

Eric Enge: So, that is an effective networking technique where the way you handle the existing relationship leads to new relationships?

Susan Joyce: That's right. It's also how I ended up with the CareerJournal (The Wall Street Journal's Executive Career Site) as an advertiser. Actually, they were not sending me traffic, but they had some wonderful articles, and I asked for permission to link to them. I ended up with a relationship with the publisher. He is a really, really nice guy.

When they were looking for ways to expand their marketing, they thought of Job-Hunt, because I was already sending them so much free traffic.

Eric Enge: Right. And, they knew the quality of what they were getting.

Susan Joyce: Yeah, we were very comfortable with each other at that point. So, it's been fabulous networking. I know people literally across the country, and I still have relationships with them. We send each other goofy e-mails occasionally, or I might let them know that I just added a section to Job-Hunt. Or somebody's written a book and, if it's a good book, I write a nice review about it on Amazon. We just help each other out.

Eric Enge: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

Susan Joyce: I enjoyed it. Thank you.

Summary

Despite the constant river of new marketing techniques, especially in search marketing, it seems likely that the success stories of the future will likely look more like this one. While many marketers will take advantage of new opportunities, such as those that exist in the blogosphere, or on social media sites, the relationship-building techniques undertaken by Susan Joyce will persevere, and will help companies succeed far into the future.

Eric Enge is the president of Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO consultancy outside of Boston. Eric is also co-founder of Moving Traffic Inc., the publisher of City Town Info and Custom Search Guide.

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