I have been working on LocalSantaCruz.com pretty much non-stop for the last 3-4 months. Those of you who know me, know that when I get obsessive, cool things happen.

The first client to take me up on sponsoring articles was the Santa Cruz Arts Council. I am very grateful to them for taking a chance on our new (although passionate) project, and am very excited that we were able to show some fun and immediate results.

These articles are cool because they are legitimate articles, written by real journalists, and they are readable. These articles aren’t advertorial content, and they won’t turn readers away or leave them feeling betrayed. These sponsored articles do work like ads, with business names in the titles, logos in the content thumbnails and footer ads at the end of the article. These articles do not disappear like ads though, they continue to work week after week, reinforcing a solid and positive brand message. Once this sponsored content is up, it stays up, even after the full advertising budget has been spent. With these articles though, I was really hoping for some solid secondary gain. The secondary gain I was hoping for was exposure (or dominance) across a wide range of longtail and highly targeted search keywords, keywords that the sponsor could receive benefit from.

Because we are hiring professional, experienced writers and journalists to create unique and readable content, the search engines are immediately rewarding us. In fact, the search engines are rewarding us spectacularly, much sooner than I had hoped!

Here is an example:

(Out of the 8 articles we ran for the Arts Council on LocalSantaCruz.com, this “Mezza9” is probably the best result.)

We wrote an article titled “Open Studios Featured Artist: Mezza9 Beecomb” about the work of artist Mezza9 Beecomb. After 8 weeks, we see that the article has not only shown up in Google, but it is ranking as #2 on a non-cookied search for the artist’s name “Mezza9 Beecomb“.

Mezza9 Beecomb LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google search results

Mezza9 Beecomb LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google search results

We are seeing very similar results at #3 for Sonia Calderon.

Sonia Calderon LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google search results

Sonia Calderon LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google search results

And another great result, for F.J. Anderson, shows up at #5 AND #6 in Google, but as an added bonus, both of our results beat out Instagram.

F.J. Anderson LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google search results

F.J. Anderson LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google search results

This should be exciting for this site’s article sponsors for a number of reasons:

  • The article is showing in search for new terms, and new terms mean new traffic.
  • We are creating great, positive, helpful content for these artists. Which adds value to the whole community.
  • The article names are advertising for the sponsor, (i.e.:”Open Studios Featured Artist…” includes the name of the sponsor’s program) and image results are showing the sponsors logo watermarked onto a photo.
  • These search results can get better over time, steadily or suddenly increasing in ranking.
  • These aren’t ads, they won’t disappear when an ad budget runs out, this is legitimate long-term content that could continue sending traffic and increasing brand awareness for YEARS!

The results were mixed over the full set of eight articles. Articles for Mott Jordan and Taylor Reinhold are showing on the second page of search results, but will hopefully move up over time. Serene Silva is showing as an image result with an Arts council logo (which is also cool)! And some of the articles, namely Emerson Murray and Mark Yanowsky are being drowned out by results for celebrities with the same or similar names. So, even though the articles aren’t guaranteed to show up in search, I am VERY happy with these results.

Serene Silva LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google image search results with the sponsor logo

Serene Silva LocalSantaCruz.com article showing in Google image search results with the sponsor logo

These results are great across the board. This is great for the artists, this is GREAT for the Sponsors, this is great for the writers, this is great for the whole art community in Santa Cruz!

This is organic, healthy and powerful SEO, that we will continue to cultivate and maximize for our clients!

***UPDATE 11/3/15***

These are the results, in a non-cookied (incognito) google search as of today.

  • Mezza9 Beecomb – Position 2
  • Mott Jordan – Position 3 (previously on page 2!)
  • Mark Yanowsky – Position 4 (previously not even in top 100 results)
  • F.J. Anderson – Positions 4, 6 and 7
  • Serene Silva – Position 5 and watermarked photo in position 7
  • Sonia Calderon – Position 5
  • Taylor Reinhold – Now on the FIRST Page of results at Position 8!
  • Emerson Murray – First page, Position 9 (previously not even in top 100 results)

These results will never be fixed in stone, but I am very happy to see them moving up and continuing to capture attention and drive additional traffic.