Smoking the Competition with SEO - 1Digital® Agency
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Atlantic Cigar is one of the most reputable traders of ultra-premium cigars online. They offer one of the greatest collections of highly critically acclaimed cigars as well as fan favorites. Customers with all different tastes in tobacco will be delighted to see names like Romeo Y Julieta, Montecristo, Arturo Fuente, CAO, and Gurkha among many others. Summarizing their encyclopedic listing of ultra-premium cigars is just impossible; suffice it to say that any connoisseur of tobacco can find something to enjoy in their online store catalog, along with all of the accessories necessary to enjoy it.

To customers of Atlantic Cigar, it’s no secret that they offer the best cigars in the world at the best prices around, along with accessories and involved, knowledgeable customer service to sweeten the deal. Ironically, therein lies the rub.

There are many people around the world that enjoy fine tobacco; it’s not a niche thing. Therefore, although their customers are no stranger to their great prices, practices, and selection, they’re working in a market with a lot of competition and a huge number of high volume keywords. There are probably a lot of cigar lovers out there who wish they knew about a place where they could find their favorite cigars online at better prices. The problem is when they type one of those high volume keywords into Google and hit enter, they would be bombarded with too many other options before they even found Atlantic Cigar – despite Atlantic Cigar’s unbeatable value proposition.

When it comes to searching for identical products in a heavily saturated market, visibility is everything. An Arturo Fuente from Atlantic Cigar is arguably identical to one from any of their competitors. The thing is that Atlantic Cigar offers the best prices and can advise its customers on which ones to try – even how to enjoy the experience the most thoroughly. Potential customers still needed to connect the dots – they still needed to get in touch with Atlantic Cigar and to do that they needed to find them.

Enter SEO

Our contacts at Atlantic Cigar knew that when they got in front of their target audience their low prices, great selection, and excellent customer service would take care of the rest. The trick was getting there, and they needed a sustainable solution for building traffic to their website that would build over the long term. They needed a specialist who could help them optimize their website and come up with a content strategy to attract Google’s attention and generate higher organic traffic.

1Digital’s process is thorough and complete and requires detailed planning and research before even getting off the ground.

Keyword research is central to our eCommerce SEO services and projects, regardless of the client or the industry. Our project managers get familiar with a client, its products, and its customers before researching the practices of competitors and buyers. We take a look at some of the highest volume keywords and analyze not only the search volume but also the client’s ranking for those keywords. This includes a healthy balance of high volume short-tail keywords and lower volume long-tail keywords – the reason for this is that to be successful we need to target both for our clients.

Short-tail keywords tend to have a higher search volume but are more general – therefore it is harder to rank for them, but with steady increases in ranking comes commensurately higher traffic. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and have lower search volume, but customers looking for those end up converting more regularly because they know specifically what they look for, and when they find it they’re sold.

Onsite Optimization

From the colorful, comprehensive mix of keywords we compiled for Atlantic Cigar we got to work restructuring their website, with particular emphasis on the optimization of page title tags, meta descriptions and snippets. We audited their site to uncover and remove broken links and duplicate content while ensuring that backlinks were verified and content was visible both to search engines and visitors.

We also created keyword-rich content in several different formats and published it on Atlantic Cigar’s website in order to improve their SEO. We optimized the content that appeared on category pages in order to make those pages more attractive to Google and we also crafted blogs in accordance with our keyword strategy of varying length in order to boost their SEO value. Google takes into account not only keyword relevance and density but also content length when crawling a website and so our variety is designed to maximize return for the client.

The onsite content and blog posts we created for Atlantic Cigar weren’t just designed and optimized to attract Google’s attention, however. They were also intended to attract visitors to Atlantic Cigar’s blog and generate a readership. By adopting their style and voice we were able to craft posts for their blog and pages that attract not only search engines but also customers.

Onsite optimization was only a part of our process. We also took pains to ensure that we capitalized on every opportunity that we could tap, and part of this came in the form of offsite optimization.

Offsite Optimization

Before ranking a website, Google also takes into account how many other sites or sources direct traffic to that website as an expert or an authority in its sphere or industry. This phenomenon is what makes the value of backlinks so critical.

In addition to optimizing the site structure of Atlantic Cigar and infusing their site with keyword-rich, insightful content, we took great efforts to ensure that our clients received backlinks from other sources online in order to increase their value to search engines. This takes the form of other additional blog posts that we create and post off our client’s sites that contain backlinks to them in order to increase their reputability and authority in the eyes of search engines.

This double-edged approach of onsite and offsite optimization comes together to drastically increase the performance of our clients. In the face of stiff online competition from other companies selling the exact same products, Atlantic Cigar is a textbook case.

The Results

One of the key indicators to look for as it relates to gauging the success of an SEO campaign is an increase in organic traffic. From an increase in organic traffic, a company can generate many other successes, but higher traffic is typically the start of this.

Seeing results from SEO projects typically takes some time and begins to build steadily, but only shortly after beginning their project with 1Digital at the end of 2019, Atlantic Cigar began to see a steady increase in traffic.

The image above shows page views to their homepage over the period from October 2019 through January 2020 juxtaposed by the period from February 2020 to June 1st, 2020. As you can see, traffic was relatively steady until about February 1st, 2020, at which point it began to steadily increase. By April, page views had steadily increased above the precedent period.

The pageviews themselves only tell a small portion of the story, however. Taking a deeper dive into the numbers will reveal some additional information.


Taking a closer look at the charts above yields more telling information. Pageviews had increased, and by almost 40% at that, and that number also corresponded to a 17% increase in sessions. Over the entire period, the percentage of new users had grown by almost 5%, but the greatest piece of the puzzle lies in the pie chart to the right of the image above. While there was a 5% increase in pageviews among new users from October 2019 to June 2020, during the period from February 1st to June, 75% percent of visitors to their homepage were new – a remarkable portion of traffic, and a significant increase.

Perhaps most telling in a situation like this is the proportion of traffic that found their site via organic search as opposed to other channels such as direct search or referral traffic. After all, the point of an initiative in a highly competitive market like the market for cigars in which Atlantic Cigar operates is to build sustainable, organic results. On this, the numbers are clear. The chart below shows the percentage of organic traffic to their website over the period from March to the beginning of June 2020.

As you can see, a respectable percentage of their traffic came from direct search and for the most part is an indicator of their current clientele. What is most significant is that a huge portion – a majority, in fact – of traffic to their website over this period came in the form of organic search. Over half of their traffic came from organic results, much of which stems from the high volume, highly competitive keywords that we targeted in our campaign. It cannot be stressed enough that generating significant organic traffic from such high volume keywords is a difficult venture, but it is a goal that we achieved for Atlantic Cigar, as we have done for countless clients in the past.

In addition to the fact that their organic traffic saw significant improvements over the past six months of their campaign as compared to previous periods, as you can see from the following results, they saw jumps in traffic among new users and sessions on several key landing pages.

The landing pages listed above correspond to some of their most important pages, including their listing of cigar brands along with specific pages for popular lines. Across the board, sessions increased significantly, and of those sessions, the total number of new users increased as well, along with new users as a respectable proportion of the increase in sessions.

In each of these instances, the figures speak for themselves. Atlantic Cigar has seen a pronounced increase in traffic and sessions, along with a marked increase in traffic from new users. Most tellingly, more than half of this increase in traffic has been constituted of traffic that found their business organically, and by searching for highly competitive keywords.

The takeaway from this is that even in highly competitive markets, your business can compete with a little help from our SEO experts. It doesn’t matter how specialized or generic the industry is, because our projects are thorough and comprehensive. Whether we’re targeting competitive or highly targeted long-tail keywords, restructuring your website to remove broken links and optimize title tags, or generating backlinks to your website to increase your authority, you can expect results. Additionally, the results you see from SEO, though they may take some time to build, are sustainable. Most importantly, for some industries that are restricted or regulated, such as tobacco, SEO strategies can be some of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a website.

If you’re looking for a sustainable and practical way to generate more traffic to your website and increase conversion rates and sales for your eCommerce business, then SEO may very well be the way to go. We’ve seen great results for our clients in a myriad of industries, some specialized, some esoteric, and others generic. Give us a call today to speak with our team at our eCommerce SEO agency about our process and some of the ways that an SEO project can positively impact your business.

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Michael Esposito

Mike Esposito is a professional SEO copywriter spurned by a love of language and creativity. When he's not at the keyboard, you may be able to catch a rare glimpse of him enjoying the outdoors or sipping fine literature.

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