Marketing Spotlight: Camping Comfortably

Camping-ComfortablyGoogle can be your website’s best friend, sending you lots and lots of free gifts (visitors), but what happens when Google turns on you?  That’s exactly what happened to CampingComfortably.com.

Cathy Sorensen is a wonderful Christian woman who started Camping Comfortably because of her love for families and for God’s beautiful creation.  I asked Cathy what Camping Comfortably was all about and here’s what she said,

“Our mission is to provide quality camping and outdoor products at a reasonable price.  We feel that camping is the ideal way for families to spend good quality time and get away from the constant bombardment of TV, cell phones, computers, and get back to what God intended for us — the beauty and tranquility of His earth and the love that can flow through a family that spends time together.”

When I first met Cathy, CampingComfortably.com was doing pretty well in Google.  She had done a good bit of search engine optimization to her site and it was paying off, bringing a good amount of traffic.  But the website had gone as far as on-page optimization could take it.  Now she wanted to do some link building to increase the authority of her site so it could rank well for even more competitive keywords.

“Being on a tight budget for a small mom and pop company, we were looking for someone we could trust that would actually help us with the SEO and not put us in a bad position for the future.  Unfortunately, many of the SEO companies are out there just to temporarily raise your rankings and then pull back when you leave them.  After interviewing MANY Seo Companies, I decided that I needed to specifically look for a Christian company who had morals and ethics that I agreed with — that’s how I found OurChurch.Com.”

Google Hits Like a Penguin:
Cornwall (8 of 9)We analyzed the links pointing to the site and found that the site needed to get more links and that its link profile was a bit off-balance.  The vast majority of the links pointing the site had their target keywords, which appears unnatural to Google.  So, we started working to correct that.  Unfortunately, less than one month after we started working on the site, Google released their Penguin update…and it was devastating.

“Being hit by the Google Penguin update we lost over 50% of our Google traffic and had to lay off an employee who was with us over 3 years.”

Recovery:
It was a difficult trek, but we worked to clean up the suspicious links and continued to build natural links over the several months that followed by providing quality content.  Thankfully, it has been working.  We have recovered the rankings of most of their targeted keywords and CampingComfortably.com is now actually ranking in the top ten in Google for several more keywords than before the Penguin update.  This has been accompanied by real world results as sales have picked back up.

“Based on year over year sales prior to being hit with Penguin, we have finally recovered to nearly the level we were at before getting hit,” Cathy said.  ”We don’t have time to market the website properly ourselves, because we are too busy running the business.”

Kicking Them When They’re Down:
Google-ShoppingA few months after the Penguin update, changes at Google hit Camping Comfortably again.  This time it was changes to Google Shopping (formerly Google Product Search).

“The second thing that really hit the mom and pop businesses like ours was the Google Shopping that became a paid shopping site in September.  (Before this Google Product Search had been free.)  We were forced to go with Google Shopping PCP, because we could not afford to stay in business without it.  Watching your daily budget and putting proper PCP pricing in for each product is the key to Google Shopping.”

Thankfully, Cathy was able to navigate the changes in Google and keep Camping Comfortably in business.  By managing the link profile of their website, they have been able to fully recover from the Penguin update and gain some.  Using some savvy campaign management, they have also dealt with Google Shopping starting to charge.

It’s been a real blessing to be able to work with Cathy over this past year.  If you are a camping enthusiast, a hiker, or just need some tailgating equipment, I hope you’ll visit CampingComfortably.com.  And if you find your website suddenly losing traffic, consider the story of Camping Comfortably and know there is hope.  With some good SEO strategies, you can recover and grow even stronger than you ever were.

Share Your Thoughts:

  • Has your website ever been hit by a Google update?  If so, how did you handle it?
  • Do you think that Google has too powerful an affect on businesses?
photo by: Thomas Tolkien

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

2 Responses to “Marketing Spotlight: Camping Comfortably”

  1. Awesome story Kurt (and Cathy)! It's great to see Camping Comfortably has made a full recovery and overcome this challenge.