After launching a new website redesign, GMR Transcription shifted its focus to attracting customers to the site by using search engine marketing. The team built up its domain reputation with an emphasis on SEO, pay-per-click marketing, reputation development and a manual link-building campaign.
Read below how the team was able to increase monthly website revenue by 1,686%.
GMR Transcription has over 10,000 customers. Typically, these customers are college students, professors, professionals, attorneys, podcasters and government workers.
“Whoever does a recording and wants to get it transcribed, they come to us,” said Ajay Prasad, President, GMR Transcription.
“We totally built this business around search marketing,” said Prasad, explaining that the company solely markets online.
The website sounds very simple, he said, because customers visit our page, register and upload their files.
“Then we assign it to transcribers who could be anywhere in the U.S., and they transcribe that file and put it back. We have to do it on time, and of course, make sure the quality is good,” he said.
On the backend of the website and process is where it gets complex, he said, because “we have to keep track of all the work. We have to make sure that whoever is doing the job finishes on time. The system has to make sure that it goes to the QA because every work literally goes through the quality check before it goes to the customer.”
The business was built on a simple premise. Gradually, things started to become more and more complex.
“We were doing all this patchwork. Every time something would come up, we'd do a patchwork. Then after a while, it became a mess, not from the customer perspective, but from our management perspective,” Prasad said.
This influenced the company’s Google ranking, he said, because “one of the metrics search engines look at is how efficient your code is, because of course, if it's not efficient, it impacts the load time.”
That was just one of the slew of problems that started to arise. Instead of doing more patches, Prasad said the team decided to redesign the entire site, a process that took six months.
“Business is always evolving, so you have to keep adding on,” he said.
GMR Transcription redesigned the website about a year and a half ago and is currently in the process of revising it again.
“I think that every two years is when we need to revise it,” he said. “Every time we revise it we look at all the analytics, and then we are also redesigning to make sure that it is current.”
Alongside revising the website, however, it was important to build up the search engine marketing to bolster it and bring potential customers in. The team focused on effective tactics for Google rank improvements and reputation development.
Step #1. Analyze ways to increase SEO standing
To begin the process of increasing the website’s reputation and SEM opportunities, the team did some analysis of the links that were already in existence.
“We had over 10,000 links over a period of time. What we found is we had a very large percentage of links that were, I would say, bad links,” Prasad said.
So to begin with, they had to clean those irrelevant links. This process was very tedious.
“We literally had to contact all these people to remove the link and then the ones we did not remove, we had to go to Google and disavow it. It took quite some time,” he said.
During the website redesign, it made sense to work on these pieces while they were already in the process of analyzing the website for these opportunities.
“When we launched the new site, obviously, it had the cleaned up links already, and it made the load time faster,” he said. “So, all the metrics were much better by the time we launched it.”
Prasad stated that what he likes most about SEO is that it forces you to be effective.
“If not for SEO, I don't think we would be focused on the load speed of the website. Now, like I said, it may not matter to the customer that it is 0.08 seconds versus 0.15 seconds, but eventually, it will start to erode,” he said.
Step #2. Leverage customers to build domain authority
With so many customers, the team decided to leverage them into quality link building.
“They are so thrilled with the quality,” Prasad said. “So we are trying, from our customers, to get ongoing links.”
For example, some of the company’s podcasting customers agreed to give transcription credit and linkback to GMR Transcription every time they publish.
“We are very focused on getting, I would say, really high-end links,” Prasad said.
The team looks at customer domain authorities and then reaches out with a request to those with good domain authorities. Generally, they don’t mind and are open to helping.
Another way the team leverages customers is by soliciting reviews on sites like Yelp, Google or Facebook.
Immediately after work is done for a client, a request for a review goes out. Positive reviews help to build the company’s reputation and domain authority, as well as projecting a positive view of the company.
The company needs to stay extremely conscious of quality, Prasad said, because the company’s prices are somewhat higher than most of the sites, with one of the reasons being that the transcribers are based in the U.S.
The company employs over 350 transcribers across the U.S. and even encourages them to post reviews on Glassdoor in hopes that this might add to that reputation growth as well.
Step #3. Refine Pay-per-click strategy
“We started this business with pay-per-click,” Prasad said.
In the beginning, he said, they were focused on “just driving everyone to the homepage” without much thought to specific customer personas.
“Now, of course, we have a very different program. For example, legal transcription versus academic … So, obviously we have created landing pages,” he said.
The landing pages are not only specific to customer type, but by geographic region as well. For example, for a PPC ad that is shown to people located in Dallas, the testimonials featured on their landing page would be from others in Dallas.
“We are constantly working to improve it. It's an unending process, candidly,” he said.
There is one staff member who is dedicated to PPC ads, and while the budget isn’t substantial, it reflects the significant return they see from it.
“Now, we have reached a point where we probably have maybe 100 landing pages, and everything is tracked. Google Analytics has become pretty sophisticated. So, in a way, we are analyzing it, tweaking, doing A/B testing — everything that is needed to keep improving on the results,” he said.
The team tests everything with the ads they put out: the call-to-action, headline and overall message.
“One ad has one message, another ad has a different message — just to see which has the higher clickthrough. Once it comes to the landing page, we are always testing on the landing page to identify a way to, again, increase the conversion. It's an ongoing process,” he said.
Typically, he said, the local ads have tested very successfully and almost always see a higher clickthrough rate. He also highlighted — either in the ad itself, or on the landing page it leads to — these transcriptions are done in the United States.
“Quality is a huge issue,” he said. “Then of course, there's security. Every transcriber in the U.S. that we use has signed an NDA agreement.”
Prasad said that they highlight the company’s quality aspects — like the U.S. base — privacy and security and higher conversion results.
“So we don't even talk about pricing, even in our paid advertising. Whether it is Google or Facebook or whatever, we don't talk about that. We talk about our strengths,” he said.
There are other transcription companies who offer it for $0.79, $0.69, $0.99 per minute, he added, so those companies focus on pricing advertising.
“You have to play with your strengths. Low price is not us. We are not in the low-cost transcription business. So, we talk about why we are better,” he said.
Paid advertising is more predictable overall, but they have seen a diminished return on investment.
“There are many keywords [sic] we stopped advertising because the return was not there. It was costing us much more to get a customer, compared to the ‘cost versus the revenue’ that we were receiving. So, that's the challenge with the PPC, and as a result, you have to be very vigilant, and you have to be tracking all the time,” he said.
However, if you’re diligent with it, the positive trade-off is that “you have more control over the outcome of PPC versus SEO. And of course, every business owner likes to have more control over the outcome,” he said.
“I can tell you without any hesitation that SEO probably brings the highest return on marketing investment over a long period of time,” Prasad said.
While it brings a high return, he said, it’s a test of patience, and it is for marketers who take a broader view of returns that spans over time.
“What I hate about SEO is unpredictability, that you cannot rely on it to bring a very consistent amount of money. So, it could be feast or famine,” he said. “But over a period of time, when I look at my cost of SEO versus the last 13 years in business, I will tell you that the return on it dwarfs anything that we have done.”
While these efforts with search engine marketing can be frustrating, in the long run, he sees how it helps his business overall.
“Even though I hate Google when they drop me [to a lower page], I cannot complain, because over a period of time … Google is doing whatever they see is the trend and what the people surfing the web need,” he said.
Those efforts have paid off because “we have over 10,000 customers. 80% have come through SEO,” Prasad said.
The company has seen a 1,898% increase in monthly website traffic as well as a 1,686% increase in monthly website revenue.
They also are on Page 1 for many key terms, including “transcription services,” “academic transcription services,” “business transcription services” and “Spanish transcription services,” among others.
“Obviously, the big 800-pound gorilla is transcription services, but then we also want all these long tail keywords, because people are trying to be more exact at typing keywords now,” he said.
This search engine marketing is the base for a lot of business, he said, but it’s important to strike a balance because of the unpredictability of SEO.
“When we drop to, for example, Page 2, it's not like my business drops by 90%. My business drops by 20%, the reason being that we already have a base of customers who are still recommending us,” he said.
The team’s success is due to their diligence, although he cautioned, “Google could change the algorithm tomorrow, and we can drop. Who knows?”
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