What is the secret to the success of Cluj.com? A project for 800,000 people

The story of the site that shows us “Cluj Seen Differently” »Challenges and strategies

One of the oldest projects in our portfolio, one we are still dealing with, Cluj.com started to take shape in early 2013, whenwe launched the site in its beta version. The project was already enthusiastically welcomed by the community of Cluj, but it presented a series of challenges for us, as a marketing agency. Which we undertook enthusiastically.

And 7 years later, we can talk about a project with a cumulative impact that reaches – through the website and Social Media – 800,000 people! Every month.

The challenge. Since the beginning of the project, therefore, we have predicted this challenge. We started to think about the promotion strategies for a project at the beginning of the road, through media that was quite different from what had existed until then in Romania. Therefore, we didn’t necessarily have experience in marketing for this type of project, for such a field.

The approach. We knew it then, and over the years we have confirmed and reconfirmed it: the most important thing is that we have always known to focus on both short-term and long-term strategies. And the strategies we developed have been carefully monitored, constantly adapted in real time, in accordance with the needs of the community and the objectives of the project.

The socialization. From the very beginning, we built the presence of the Cluj.com project on Social Media in a lively rhythm. Currently, Cluj.com is approaching 130,000 likes on Facebook, and its monthly impact amounts to 3-400,000 people!

“We focused a lot on social networks, when others still didn’t. The community developed around the project, on Social Media, is an extremely involved and active one, with a very well defined personality.” – Attila Kiraly, Founder of SEO 365

What is the secret to the success of Cluj.com?

How do you reach so many people – as a simple project aiming to promote a city, a county? How do you grow such a community organically? Not randomly.

We are going to analyze below the four aspects that, we think, have been the most important ones in the development of this project over the 7 years:

  • Social Media;
  • Search EngineOptimization;
  • Investments made;
  • Constant monitoring of the strategies implemented.

1. Social Media

The SEO 365 specialists grew professionally together with Facebook, and the knowledge gained was immediately implemented within the Cluj.com project. At that time, Cluj.com represented for us a test project – strictly from this point of view. What did we do?

  • We tried to learn about and strategically apply the innovations brought by Facebook at that time for businesses;
  • We tested the opportunities of remarketing or audience configuration strategies;
  • Weestablished a direction and a plan for the distributed content – which, on other pages (then even more than now), was taking place chaotically, randomly, “spontaneously”;
  • We insisted on pursuing a strategy, even if it was “just” a social network, for spending your free time.
  • We allowed time to build the community, to understand its needs – not just demographically, but in terms of passions, dissatisfactions, social media usage habits, etc.
  • Twitter? Sure. We tested it for a while, but in Romania it never caught on – although in the case of customers in the States, for example, we don’t even consider taking it out of the equation.
  • Instagram? Yes Yes Yes. The community there is also growing, it is different from the Facebook one and we do not forget this aspect. At the moment, the impact also rises to approx. 30,000 unique accounts / week.

Details about our Social Media Marketing services »HERE.

2. SEO

Another advantage enjoyed by this project was certainly the fact that we were ready to deal with SEO. As I said at the beginning of this case study, at the time of launching Cluj.com, the new media segment was not well defined in our country. Just as the idea of “city branding” had no significance either for the cultural sector or for the tourist one.

  • In the absence of a pre-existing context, search engine optimization strategies were not only the ones that made the difference, but those that provided the stability needed for the Cluj.com project to grow later. We have ensured that the community’s questions, needs, interests and passions were answered on Cluj.com. And for this, we were careful to bring Cluj.com in the top 1-3 positions on Google.
  • In the last 7 years we managed to increase the website traffic constantly, and,now, we are smiling at the monthly statistics: on average 300,000 people visit the website monthly, and they access approx. 500,000 pages, articles, events and so on.
  • Please note: search engine optimization means organic website traffic! In general, organic traffic occupies a large “portion” of the statistical pies, and Cluj.com is no exception – with approx. 43% organic traffic, and in the rest we talk about direct traffic, from Social Media or other sources.


3. Investment

How did we manage to make Cluj.com a project that would support itself?

A lot has been invested in SEO, and the results are clearly visible today. Initially, however, they became visible after about a year and a half after the project was taken over. It required sustained efforts, well thought out strategies and constant investment.

Perhaps the most important thing to mention is the fact that the Cluj.com project is a private one and does not benefit from any kind of funding – neither political nor from other entities. We managed to bring this project, after 2 years of work, to the level of “breakeven”. For this type of project, new media & cultural-touristical promotion, without external funding, on its own, it was a real success to bring it to a level of stability and self-sustenance.

Was it worth the effort? We did the calculation.

Those from Cluj.com should invest EUR 55,000 / month in Google Ads to get the SEO value of today and the results we get organically through month-to-month search engine optimization strategies. We say it again: 55,000 EUR / month in Google Ads. It is perhaps the best argument for the real, organic and long-term impact that search engine optimization has for websites.

Therefore, these results now reflect the real value of the project.

4. Strategy implementation and monitoring

Balance in everything.

On the online marketing side, the strategies we use combine and complement each other. It is also very important that everything is monitored correctly from several points of view:

  • The evolution of the project from the point of view of the website traffic, the value of the domain, the positions occupied on Google, the impact and interactions with visitors.
  • Competition analysis.
  • Analysis of the projects developed by Cluj.com to determine their success and relevance in the medium and long term.

At the same time, we are involved in the consulting level on several levels. The project has managed to attract important strategic partners over time, such as Romanian Commercial Bank, which since 2015 has been involved with the development of one of the Cluj.com projects»City Card.

We consider that all these elements, together, represent the secret of the success of Cluj.com and, subsequently, following the national extension, for Local Guide.

“It’s easy to work with a team that is open and wants not only to keep up with the future, but also to anticipate the needs of its community, to analyse what strategies work (or don’t) and make the decisions necessary for continued development.” – Attila Kiraly, Founder of SEO 365

Sometimes we (also) have problems…

One of the most common mistakes made by both website owners and (worse) optimization companies is that they refer to SEO as one-time-only settings.

“SEO is becoming an increasingly complex process, precisely because Google’s algorithm changes a lot, constantly. We see these algorithm changes, albeit challenging, as a positive aspect because they help us understand and provide a more complex and authentic user experience (UX).” – Attila Kiraly, Founder of SEO 365

However, SEO is not just about codes and backlinks. Sometimes, we also have problems – especially when we talk about a website of Cluj.com size. There may be issues with server capacity or plugins that influence SEO results. It is our job to identify them and intervene.

A compelling and recent example:

At the end of 2019, over 100,000 pages on Cluj.com were simply excluded from Google, from one day to another, following an error. Although the project is constantly monitored, it was the holidays and no one thinks that such problems can occur precisely then. If we had not monitored the site daily, however, the impact would have been lethal in the long run. But we quickly realized what was happening and took the necessary measures. It took about a month to fix the problems.

Why do some projects work and others do not?

How do those from Cluj.com manage to remain true to the stated purpose of the project and have financial success as well? By allocating resources and attention to aspects to which very few economic actors in the market, we repeat, very few, even pay attention to. When the activities of your target audience are carried out in the online environment, you cannot ignore the need for coherent online marketing strategies (SEO, Social Media, Ads, etc).

If we are to take the example of the printed press, it still faces a difficult struggle in order to maintain itself financially. It is a struggle for the monetization of the content and the journalistic activity, a struggle which, unfortunately, cannot be won without a trained audience and without an organic growth. And most now have problems, failing to adapt to the new (online)environment.

Unfortunately, we are talking here about projects and journalists who excel in their line of work, but who, due to the lack of online marketing strategies, fail to ensure, first, a form of economic stability, and then a direction of continuous growth. So, the problem with many journalistic projects seems to be precisely this lack of medium and long term strategies that integrate specific methods for Social Media, search engine optimization, Google Ads and remarketing, and including web design issues and user experience (UX).

“Cluj.com is the oldest project we are still dealing with. It brings with it the greatest challenges we face. By default, we also have the satisfaction of always coming up with efficient solutions. In the online environment, the rules and algorithms are always changing, and we have developed the skills of immediate adaptation. We look forward to the changes with enthusiasm and make sure that the projects we deal with take advantage fully from the benefits of these changes.” – Attila Kiraly, Founder of SEO 365

We offer free online consulting

At present, we generally deal with medium and large projects, at national level, but the involvement in the Cluj.com project has developed our appetite for challenges and we would be pleased to include other projects from the field of journalism, which could, thus, make the most of their content through online marketing strategies, no longer depending on it going viral or on external funding, so it develops in a more relaxed environment, and the journalists could really concentrate on their work.

Our partners are part of industries and fields of activity as diverse as possible. In this regard, we invite you to follow the topic “Case studies”, we will come back with other examples of success in our portfolio.

When over 90% of businesses in Romania do not have a Search engine optimized website, now is the ideal time to take this step! We offer FREE CONSULTANCY to entrepreneurs, regardless of their field of activity »seo365.ro/contact