How a small ad agency reached page one on Google Search (And how you can too!)

I view the internet in the same way as I view electricity – I’m very good at using electricity, but I certainly can’t rewire the house.  But when I launched this website in September 2012 (which is still a work in progress) I decided I needed to know more about making it really work for Octarine.  So I embarked on a crash-course in internet marketing.

There’s a lot of online literature on the topic, but a lot of it is rubbish!  And the rules of the game change constantly.  Things that worked well two years ago can harm you today, and things that worked in 2012 might not be as effective in 2013.  Last year it was still all about SEO.  This year it’s PCO (People Content Optimisation).  I’m still a novice, but I’ve learnt a vast amount and I’m definitely headed in the right direction.

And I know this because Octarine is on page one for several different Google searches.

page one.jpgEverything I read told me that “engagement” is critical to the success of your website.  Sharing your own content on social media sites is highly recommended, but the great proof that you are engaging people is when they comment on your articles.

So I set out to test the impact of comments on the Google ranking of specific pages, and try to discover if the pages with the most comments were the most highly ranked.  The short answer is no.

The long answer is that getting to page one is the result of an aggregation of effort.  Comments are vital, but they are only part of it.

One of the other critical factors is that you get credit for the length of time that your website has been around.  Well, there’s not much I could do about that; it was a brand new website.  So what else matters?

  • Using the right key words
  • Using them often
  • Not duplicating them on too many pages (if Google sees “ad agency” as a key word for every single Octarine page, how will it know which page to rank first?)
  • Not over-using the key words in anchor text.  (It seems “click here” is back in fashion.)
  • Optimising the language for Google’s “spiders”
  • Making the language friendly to human readers, to attract actual people to read it

Instead of freaking out about these seemingly conflicting requirements, you might like to look at some of the other factors that you can use to build your online visibility:

  • The more pages your web site has, the better Google likes it.
  • But more isn’t enough.  You need to add new content regularly.
  • Don’t make big changes to content on your “static pages”.
  • You need to market your website; Google tracks visits and comments, and if you’re not getting any, you’re winking in the dark.
  • It’s important to capitalise on your page titles and page information.  This is a lot simpler than it sounds.  I won’t bore you with details on this one, but give me a shout if you’d like to find out more.

So I kept going, doing the “right” things, moving up the rankings and today, five months after the Octarine website was launched, we are on page one for the following searches:

  • Marketing strategy Durban
  • Media Strategy Durban
  • Content Marketing Durban
  • Ad Agency Durban

Of course I’d like to add a few more search topics here, and I’d certainly like to remove the filter “Durban”.  But there are over 500 million mentions for Ad Agency, so that’s a big ask.  Still, with almost six million search results for “ad agency Durban” alone, just being on page one is a huge achievement.  (And since many of the big ad agencies have specialist online divisions it’s a David vs Goliath endeavour!)

But the single biggest opportunity for increasing your visibility on Google searches might well be Google+.   This is still in the “early adoption” phase, particularly here in South Africa, and I suspect it’s like most investments; the sooner you get on board, the more you stand to gain.

I plan to write more on this shortly, but in the meantime, if you’d like help with increasing your visibility by adding value to your website through content marketing, give me a call.  I’d love to help.

And please, leave a comment here.  Having reached page one; I’d really like to stay there!

Related articles:
Content Marketing Strategy
Warning, your expertise could wreck your content marketing campaign


  1. Garth James on February 22, 2013 at 10:25

    Ann, as you know this is really pushing my cyber space boundaries but it makes a lot of sense. We feature quite well on the Geotextiles search cracking top spot via Yellow Pages, 4th spot as Kaytech and 10th spot via Eezeedex but our competitors are 3rd because of their name including Geotextiles! Google + is a new one for me and I am experimenting. Hopefully the girls can get more active in this arena.

  2. Paul Alexander on February 21, 2013 at 23:43

    Hi there
    actually, this is inspiring – simply coz it makes it seem possible to achieve… in fact, it may push me over the hurdle of starting – and get my act together site-wise
    Paul A

    • Ann Druce on February 22, 2013 at 10:15

      I think getting started is the biggest hurdle. I suggest you identify the most crucial social media for your market (for B2B I recommend Google+ and LinkedIn, but if your target is women, you have to have Pinterest), and as soon as you start adding content to your website (whether you want to call it a blog, articles or news), promote it on your social media. Even if you only have 3 contacts when you first start.

  3. Chantal Edouard-Betsy on February 21, 2013 at 11:53

    Hi Ann, thank you for reminding me how much I still have to do on our website, refreshing my SEO has been on my list for a while, but somehow keeps falling off! 🙂

    • Ann Druce on February 21, 2013 at 12:42

      Excellent; glad to help.

  4. Harold Shoemaker on February 20, 2013 at 21:06

    As a non-marketing type, your tale makes compelling reading, but the online environment still appears intimidating. You have a shopping list of ‘to do’s’, but I still can’t understand all of them – ‘anchor text’, ‘static pages’ etc; I’m sure I could figure it out, but I’d prefer to have someone do it for me. Other ‘Davids’ need help! I will be reaching out for assistance…

    • Ann Druce on February 21, 2013 at 07:58

      Hi Harold, give me a call; I’d be delighted to help.

  5. Fran Piggott on February 20, 2013 at 09:08

    Ann, you are a breath of fresh air! Starting from a complete ‘newbie’ you have gained enormous traction in such a short space of time.

    You are certainly giving those ‘internet masters’ who charge a fortune and get no results, a run for their money.

    Keep going and don’t hesitate to share the knowledge you gain – we’re following you closely because there’s at last someone out there ‘walking the talk’ and testing as they go.

    Well done!

    • Ann Druce on February 20, 2013 at 09:43

      Thanks Fran, for this, and for your suggestions too.

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