Case Study: The New Madison at Adams Farm SEO & PPC Campaign

Case Study: The New Madison at Adams Farm SEO & PPC Campaign

The New Madison at Adams Farm is an apartment community just 15 minutes from our HQ in Greensboro, North Carolina. After our major creative overhaul of their brand (learn more about that here), our next step was to begin a concerted effort at driving more targeted traffic to their website. And, ultimately, we were looking to drive more leads for their sales team. Below we’ll break down the two key components of those efforts—SEO and PPC—and what kinds of results they’ve yielded. 


Search engine optimization is a critical part of any website redesign project we tackle. Without the right infrastructure behind it, a website’s beauty only goes skin-deep. Because of the crowded market of apartment complexes in Greensboro, we knew that SEO would play a part in The New Madison at Adams Farm’s long-term game when it comes to redirecting attention away from their local competitors.

By creating a targeted list of a dozen or so mid- to long-tail keywords the complex would like to rank for, we were able to begin the work of slowly but surely increasing the amount of organic traffic to the new website over time. Using the website’s internal CMS system, we deployed the target keywords in a tactical way throughout the site. Those keywords, coupled with a few key internal SEO tweaks (site speed, security, etc.), allowed us to set the new website up with the framework that would eventually start drawing more visitors over time.

Since the SEO project was completed in mid-September 2018, we have seen a marked increase in organic search traffic to the website. In that month, the site saw 505 visitors as a result of organic search results. Contrast that with May 2019, where the site had more than 3,700 organic search visits. That’s an increase of more than 600%. During that same period, we’ve also seen organic search visits account for 51% of all completed site conversions (phone calls & contact form responses), highlighting the importance of SEO to this project’s overall goals.

Organic Search Traffic, September 2018-May 2019


On the paid side, we knew that Google Ads would be a significant driver of traffic to the site while the organic SEO efforts began to take hold. Our Google Ads campaign implemented a three-part system to guide through the natural buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration to decision:

  • Search Network campaign using keyword targeting
  • Display Network campaign retargeting using website traffic
  • Call-Only campaign driving mobile users to call the sales office

With these three elements, we were able to reach our target audience at multiple touch-points. And the use of the Display Network campaign allowed us to take advantage of all the great photography and videography assets created during our first campaign. This Display campaign would primarily be an awareness-driver, helping increase our total ad impressions, while the Search Network and Call-Only campaigns did the conversion-focused heavy lifting.

Without getting too far into the weeds (or revealing our “special sauce”), we can see that the Google Ads campaign has been a very successful traffic and conversion driver for this property. Here are some of the key metrics from the campaign thus far:


2,622,423 total ad impressions


24,677 total ad clicks


Search Network CTR: 3.58%


390 total Conversions


Search Network Conversion Rate: 6.6%


846 total phone calls

3 Easy SEO Tactics You Can Implement Today

3 Easy SEO Tactics You Can Implement Today

There is a lot about SEO that will always remain a mystery. Even for the most advanced SEO experts, a portion of what makes search engines tick will always be an educated guess. That’s because search engines like Google will never reveal the exact minutiae of how their algorithms work. But have no fear: there is still a lot you can do to improve your site’s overall SEO game. In fact, there are three easy SEO tactics you could implement right now.

1. Always Use Alt Text

If you know one thing about SEO, it’s probably that keywords within your website help search engine “spiders” find and index your pages for others to discover. And while this is true, your site’s copy isn’t the only way to sprinkle those choice keywords throughout.

For every image on your website, there is a piece of code known as the “alt text.” This code helps a browser or email client describe what image is being shown should it fail to load. For example, the alt text for the image below might be “responsive mobile web design layout.”

responsive mobile web design layout

But the alt text is also quite useful if you’re working to attract hunters of specific keywords to your website. Say, for example, you’re a full-service marketing agency always on the lookout for its next great client. If your site features images with those keywords as alt text, it could help a potential client locate your site. It can be a lengthy process if you’ve got a particularly deep website. But if not, you could more than likely knock out all your alt text in an afternoon.

2. Don’t Forget Your Metadata

When building out new pages or posts on your website, it’s crucial that you provide search engines with the right information to display your content properly. Without that “metadata,” your site pages may end up looking incorrect or unprofessional in search results. Without getting too far into the weeds, you typically need coding ability to set those parameters, depending on your website’s CMS. If you’re using a site built on WordPress, for example, there are a number of plugins that help you set metadata quite easily.

We recommend looking into Yoast, which is one of the most highly-rated SEO plugins. It allows you to customize your post titles, meta descriptions and featured images. It also allows you to plug in the keyword(s) you’re basing your posts on and will actually “score” you on how well you’re optimizing for those terms.

QUICK TIP: Yoast’s “Premium” features help you customize how your posts look when they’re shared on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms provide a useful way of building site traffic (and, thus, credibility) for your website—so it’s important your content looks its best.

3. Secure Your Site

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a website starting with “https” versus “http”? That “s” stands for secure, which means the website has what’s referred to as an SSL Certificate. In addition to that little extra character on a web address, you can also tell whether a website is secure or not through a small lock icon in the top left of your browser bar.

ssl connection secure website

For a long time, websites tended to only purchase an SSL certificate when they offered e-commerce or other transactions involving sensitive material like passwords or payment information. But in recent years, Google has begun prioritizing websites that offer secure browsing experiences over those that do not. Consequently, if your site does not have an SSL certificate, you could be getting penalized on the search results page.

Many common web hosts (like GoDaddy, for example) offer a managed SSL Certificate service, meaning you don’t have to get into the nitty gritty of all that goes into implementing that change. If you want to manage that transition on your own, more power to you — but whatever options you’ve got through your hosting company might be worth any added costs.

Note that you might not need to prioritize this step if your other marketing efforts already have you placing favorably in organic search results. We know just how important it is to prioritize your time and tactics, so keep that in mind when thinking about undergoing this change.

So there you have it: 3 easy SEO tactics you could implement today. Once completed, these three mini projects will help strengthen your structural SEO and begin to improve your organic search results. But remember: SEO is a long game, so you won’t notice an immediate bump. But as you continue to refine your site and add more keyword-targeted content, you’ll no doubt notice a long-term overall trend towards higher results on search results pages.

Search Marketing & Social Media Glossary

Search Marketing & Social Media Glossary

The worlds of search engine marketing (SEM) and social media are full of jargon and abbreviations that can make even savvy marketers scratch their heads. Whether you’re a business owner trying to understand your latest campaign or a digital marketing newbie looking to dive into this fast-paced environment, you’ll need a baseline understanding of a few basic terms. To help get you started, we put together a quick glossary of some of the most common terms we come across in our own marketing efforts.  

Alt Text

Short for “alternative text,” this text describes an image in the event that a site or browser cannot load the image, or if a visitor is using accessibility software to browse your site.


An external link from another website that points back to a page on your website.

Buyer Persona

A fictional representation of customer or audience types for your product or service.


Stands for “cost per acquisition” (or conversion).


Stands for “cost per thousand.” A type of bidding strategy for PPC campaigns in which you’re charged for every one thousand impressions that your ad generates.


Stands for “call to action.” A direct solicitation for a visitor or customer to complete an action, such as “Download Now” or “Visit Our Website.”


An event in which a user takes a specific pre-determined action, such as downloading an eBook, purchasing an item or signing up for a mailing list.


A metric that measures any time a user interacts with an ad or social media post, often by commenting, sharing or “Liking” the content.


A piece of text that helps title a new section of copy in a blog post or website section.


Any time an ad, video or social media post is seen by a user.

Landing Page

The destination for a digital ad, designed to offer visitors some sort of benefit (a piece of educational content, a trial demo, etc.) or complete a sale.

Longtail Keyword

A keyword that consists of more descriptive language than a normal keyword, used to refine an SEO or PPC campaign (e.g. men’s flame resistant workwear instead of men’s workwear)

Off-Page SEO

SEO efforts aimed at creating more backlinks to your website through partnerships, guest posts and sponsored content.

On-Page SEO

Modifications done to your site both internally and externally to improve your position on SERPs.


Any marketing efforts or strategies that do not involve spending ad money.


Stands for “pay-per-click.” A type of digital ad campaign that allows you to advertise around a specific set of keywords in which you pay every time a user clicks your ad.


The number of individual (or “unique”) users that see your ads or posts.


Stands for “search engine optimization.” The process of improving the position your content appears in SERPs.


Stands for “search engine results page,” such as on Google or Bing.


The internal framework or outline of your website that allows search engine spiders to navigate your site and determine what kind of content exists within. 


The section of a URL that comes after your primary domain (e.g.


An automated bot that “crawls” through your website to determine what kind of content you’re offering to determine how, when and where to surface your site on SERPs.

Unique Impression

An impression generated by an individual user, as often a user will see the same ad multiple times
in a campaign.

An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization: How to Conquer Search Engines with SEO

An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization: How to Conquer Search Engines with SEO

Take a quick look at most marketing blogs and you’ll find yourself floating in a sea of acronyms. From CPC to SEO to KPI, it would appear that the marketing world’s favorite lunch is alphabet soup. We’ve picked out two of those acronyms — SEO and PPC — from our soup bowl for a closer look at the two key elements of what is called Search Marketing. In part one, we explore Search Engine Optimization. Click here for part two to learn more about PPC (pay per click) advertising.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

SEO is likely the acronym you’re most familiar with but have the hardest time explaining. Trust us—we get it. SEO is one of those dark arts that involves a little of this, a little of that and then POOF: you’re the first organic search result on Google.

In reality, search engine optimization is a tangible series of checks and balances designed to make sure your content is surfacing during the right searches. The ultimate goal of SEO is to get you to the top of a search results page “organically”—that is, without paying for ads (more on that here). It can be a slow, methodical process, but it is a necessary one. It requires patience and diligence, especially as the parameters that define and dictate search engine results are always changing.

For starters, let’s break SEO into its two main components: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. In the most basic terms, on-page tactics are measures that you can take on your own site to improve search results. Conversely, off-page SEO involves relationship building with other websites to position you as a source of information and educational content, thus building the amount of links back to your website (aka “backlinks”). Both types of SEO play off of one another, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus more heavily on the improvements you can make on your own site.


Any good SEO project begins by identifying your target audience and the keywords they would use to search for your service or product. Constructing “buyer personas” can be very helpful during this process if you’re unfamiliar with how your audience behaves online. It’s a good idea to map out all of the keywords that would be relevant to your audience and business first, and then narrow the focus by figuring out how to tailor specific pieces of content (either existing content or future content) to those keywords.

Make sure to identify both basic keywords (such as “SEO”) and what are known as “longtail” keywords (like “search engine optimization dog daycare”). You will typically have a harder time ranking for basic keywords unless you’re a major brand, but the basics will help give you a starting point to funnel into your more specific longtail keywords.

search engine optimization search bar

Do you know how customers are searching for the answers you provide?

Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to rank for, you can begin inserting them into your existing content and building out new content around those keywords. A key point to remember is that adding your keywords to content has to be done tastefully and naturally. Simply peppering your text with as many keywords as possible will not achieve any lasting effect, and might even hurt you in the long run.

Formatting & URL Construction

Once you’ve got your keywords identified and plugged into your site copy in an organic way, you’ll want to work on formatting your headers and images. Search engine “spiders” (the bots that crawl through web pages and index them for search engines to find) don’t just scan your body text—post headings and image “alt text” is fair game, too!

The way you title your post and construct its URL will also play into your SEO efforts. For example, you’ll want to make sure the keywords you’re trying to rank for appear in the URL “slug” (e.g. the part of the URL that comes after your primary domain — The H1 headings in your post (in this post our H1 heading is “SEO: Search Engine Optimization”) should also use keywords whenever possible, still making sure that you’re not simply stuffing your post full of those keywords haphazardly.

Site Speed & Hierarchy

Two internal mechanisms of your website play a crucial role in where you surface on Google: how fast your site loads on various devices and how easily Google can “read” the overall structure of your website. As mobile web browsing becomes the standard across the internet, even differences of milliseconds in load-time can affect how Google favors your website. This is, of course, assuming that you have a mobile-responsive version of your site: In 2015, Google announced that it would no longer index websites that did not include a mobile version.

search engine optimization spiders

Without a proper sitemap, search engine spiders can’t find or index your site.

The hierarchy and organization of your website — referred to as the “sitemap” — is a guidepost for Google’s spiders to see just how easy it is to navigate through a website. Does the organization of your pages make sense? Is it easy to get “stuck” on a particular page without being able to easily navigate away? Without a coherent sitemap, Google could be penalizing your page for a feature your visitors can’t even see.

Creating Reputable Backlinks

The most crucial aspect of off-site SEO is the practice of generating quality backlinks. That is, external links from other websites and blogs that point back to your page. Not only do these backlinks create more external traffic for your site, but backlinks from a reputable website can also significantly boost your search engine rankings.

This can be done by establishing relationships with other websites and blogs (often through social media and public relations efforts), but it’s not always a free tactic. Sponsored content and partner programs can help establish these quality backlinks, but you must account for these strategies in your overall marketing budget.

Search engine optimization backlinks

The more websites you have pointing back towards yours, the stronger your search ranking will become.

Do-It-Yourself SEO Tools

Feeling adventurous? There is a slew of great DIY tools out there today (primarily for WordPress-based websites) that allow you to tackle some of the nitty gritty SEO parameters yourself. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Yoast SEO: Allows you to set keywords for any post or page and gives you an SEO score, letting you know where you can improve and what you’re doing right. Yoast also allows you to edit the Meta Descriptions of your pages (e.g. what appears when the post is Googled or shared on social media).
  • Google XML Sitemaps: Gives you the ability to create a proper XML sitemap without any major coding or back-end knowledge.
  • BJ Lazy Load: Hides images and other elements of your page that can slow down site speed while they’re not being displayed on-screen.
  • Website Grader: Plug in your website’s URL and let Hubspot’s tool tell you just how good (or bad) your SEO is, and where you can make improvements.
  • SEM Rush: This site allows you to explore what backlinks your site and others have, what site traffic is like, what organic searches are creating traffic — a whole host of valuable SEO data. The free version offers great data, and the paid upgrades make this tool even more robust.

So now that you’ve got a handle on at least one of these particularly complicated acronyms, let’s start exploring how you can bolster your organic SEO efforts with a paid PPC strategy. From driving more web traffic to generating targeted conversions, PPC campaigns can be a powerful part of any marketing campaign.  

An Intro to Pay-Per-Click Campaigns: How to Conquer Search Engines with PPC

An Intro to Pay-Per-Click Campaigns: How to Conquer Search Engines with PPC

Take a quick look at most marketing blogs and you’ll find yourself floating in a sea of acronyms. From CPC to SEO to KPI, it would appear that the marketing world’s favorite lunch is alphabet soup. We’ll be picking two of those acronyms—SEO and PPC—out from our soup bowl for a closer look at the two key elements of what is called Search Marketing. In part two, we explore Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Click here for part one to learn more about SEO (search engine optimization).

PPC: Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Whereas SEO focuses on increasing organic traffic to your website, pay-per-click campaigns use paid campaigns to drive traffic. In a nutshell, PPC campaigns allow you to “bid” on specific keywords that you’d like to rank for, allowing you to place yourself at the top of a particular search results page. The “pay-per-click” designation refers to the most common bidding strategy, in which you are charged when a user clicks on your ads. While some campaigns operate with a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or a CPA (cost per acquisition) bidding strategy, these tactics are still generally referred to as PPC.

The most common (and for the purposes of this post, our primary focus) PPC tool is Google’s AdWords. Chances are you’ve seen AdWords ads before—just Google a generic enough word and you’ll likely see the top two to three results listed with a small green “Ad” designation. Those ads were placed by businesses trying to capture your attention before you reach the organic results.

AdWords pay per click campaigns

Examples of Google AdWords ads

Compared with SEO tactics, PPC campaigns are generally quicker to generate results. But if you’re going after more “expensive” keywords (e.g. commons words with a lot of competing brands vying for attention), be prepared to back up your campaign with a substantial budget.

To set up a PPC campaign, you’ll need to answer a few key questions first:

  • What keywords do you want to compete for? Are you going after a generic set of keywords (like baseball bats or men’s shirts), or are you going after more long-tail keywords with less competition (like moisture wicking work shirt for men)? It’s crucial to research existing keyword traffic and competition levels in order to narrow your list down to around 10-20 potential options.
  • What will your ads be linking to? Like any good digital ad campaign, you’ll need a well-built landing page that mirrors the content of your ad. The success of your PPC campaigns is heavily dependent on what the user experience of clicking your ad and visiting the landing page is like. Divert customers to a bad website or try to bait-and-switch them and Google will not show your ads at all.
  • What is your budget? As we mentioned previously, high competition/high traffic keywords may simply be out of your reach. Conversely, you might be able to “buy” certain long-tail keywords at a relatively low cost. Geography can also play a part in this part of your process, as you’ll find some smaller cities and towns will be naturally less expensive to “own” keywords than in larger markets.
  • Where do you want your ads appearing? We’ve mostly discussed what Google calls its Search Network ad campaign type, where your ads appear as if they were organic search results. However, you could also create more visual Display Network ads, too, which add a branding element to the process. These ads allow your aesthetic and messaging to shine through with ads on websites of relevance to your audience.
  • How good is your SEO? The success of AdWords campaigns depends on a combination of several factors directly related to your PPC campaign, but your website’s SEO also plays a role. If the underlying structure of your website is unintuitive or slow to load, this can affect your overall ad quality score —meaning your ad will be shown to fewer people.
  • What’s your Call To Action (CTA)? If your goal is to drive phone calls to your business, you can tailor your ads to only be shown to mobile users who can make a phone call right then and there. If your CTA is to download a white paper that isn’t necessarily optimized for mobile viewing, you might consider emphasizing desktop impressions.

One of the key points we always emphasize when launching a new campaign is that while PPC ads are certainly quicker to produce results than SEO tactics, you must still allow the PPC campaign to build some steam. You cannot begin to optimize around meaningful results with only a week’s worth of data. We often recommend running one set of keywords for at least 2-4 weeks before making changes. That way, you can get a better feel for what is working and what’s not.

Helpful PPC Tools

Much like the tools available to take on SEO yourself, there are some similarly helpful resources for PPC campaigns. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Keywords Everywhere: This handy Chrome and Firefox browser extension allows you to see real-time keyword costs and competition when searching on Google.
  • AdWords Keyword Planner: A free tool within Google AdWords, Keyword Planner allows you to see a detailed breakdown of keyword costs and competition, as well as help you build keyword lists from ones you already have. You can also plug in your website (or a competitor’s) and it will scan the site for potential keywords.
  • Google Suggest: This one you’ve probably seen before—simply start typing your target keywords or product/service into a Google search window and you’ll see Google’s auto-suggestions, which are often generated from real searches. These results can give you insights into how your audience might be searching for your products or services.

So now that you’ve got a handle on at least one of these particularly complicated acronyms, let’s start exploring all the ways a targeted SEO strategy can help you conquer search engines organically (without paid ads).

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