Velveeta Shortage Grips Nation

Using a “Shortage” to Drive Demand

Adding to the misery of the recent polar vortex that dropped temperatures into sub-zero misery, the country was struck this week by news of a possible shortage of Kraft Velveeta.  A common base ingredient in many popular chip and dip combinations, a Velveeta shortage could have significant repercussions that impact the enjoyment of the football playoff season. As the college football bowl season merged with the first round of the NFL playoffs, use of the popular chip dip ingredient apparently increased, causing the expected shortage for upcoming weekend gatherings.

Velveeta Cheese
Brick of Cheese


Clever Marketing Ploy?
Kraft Foods spokesperson Jody Moore said in an email release that the shortages were expected to be ‘temporary.’ Could this temporary shortage be driven – at least in part – by the belief that customers need to compete for a scarce product? As increased competition – either real or not – generates exposure and visibility, it does at least seem possible that the ‘shortage’ is being used for promotional purposes.

Capacity Planning
Most organizations plan to have sufficient product in place to meet periods of high demand. Failing to meet demand is one sure way to lose customers. As Velveeta is a product with a long shelf life, it would seem possible for Kraft to ramp up production to meet the additional demand driven by the multitude of football parties and events surrounding the end of the college season and the NFL playoffs.

Of course one of the consumer responses to a shortage is to conserve. High gas prices push drivers to be conservative with extra trips to avoid buying more fuel.  One social media commenter on Google+ stated that he was saving his last brick for the Super Bowl. Inspiring consumers to hang onto product instead of consuming more is probably not what Kraft marketers intended.

Social Media Activity
Creating attention through Twitter or other social media networks is a great way to keep the company brand in the forefront of consumer minds and to inspire short term consumption. Velveeta related hashtags show a great deal of Twitter activity and Facebook is taking place. One reader even suggested postponing the Super Bowl until the shortage could be alleviated.

Last year’s Oreo Cookie Super Bowl outreach was considered one of the more creative social media responses to the light failure at the big game.  News about the Velveeta shortage seems to be this year’s winner thus far in using major events to attract product visibility and to inspire sales.

So keep an eye on your grocery store shelves to see how this all works out. And if there really does turn out to be a shortage, I am hanging onto my last brick of Velveeta and will sell to the highest bidder.

Google + Improves Search Engine Rankings – Key Metrics and Milestones

To what degree does Google+ help with search engine rankings? MOZ released a recent study reporting that Google+ “pluses” or activity on an organization’s Google+ account were one of the top single “influencers” of better search engine placement. “Pluses” in the Google+ environment function as endorsements similar to likes on other social networks.

Of course the more ‘pluses’ one receives, the more popular the content. Google relies on these pluses to measure how others view the value of the content or information.

After working Google+ hard for over a year now, we have come to observe a couple statistics relative to Google+ engagement. Like the MOZ study, Google+ does positively influence search engine placement. Observing a few sites where the only real outreach was through Google+ determined that improved search engine rankings were likely due to the additional ‘pluses’ for G+ content. After looking at a couple other situations though, we can report some other interesting outcomes

Original Content vs. Reposting

Using Google+ to promote new website content appears to be hugely important in not only generating attention and attracting new readers, but in improving placement for key search terms. Sites that continually promote their original content tend to perform better in the search than sites that receive ‘plusses’ for recycling or reposting others’ content.

Creating and distributing unique blog content – even short pieces that others find valuable and contribute their ‘pluses’ to endorse the content. Interestingly, the most positive ranking improvements involved a website with an attached Google+ page that had a steady mix of re-posted as well as original content. On average, it appears that linking to four to five original pieces of content per week – along with several re-posted articles, seemed to produce the best improvement in search engine rankings.


How many pluses does it take to improve rankings?  There appear to be several answers to this question. Were the pluses largely earned for original content? Or were they exclusively received for content re-posted from elsewhere. These are questions unique to the algorithm, but it makes logical sense that pluses received for original content are more highly valued. In the end, there appear to be several milestones for which Google will reward the core website with better search placement.

These milestones seem to be at the 1,000 and 3,000 plus levels.  Websites with attached Google+ sites that achieve the 1,000 plus level can usually notice improvements in their rankings. However, particularly at the 3,000 level for sites with higher levels of original content, site placement can improve quite dramatically. One site we’ve worked with achieved the #1 ranking for several highly competitive local search terms after hitting the 3k level. Prior to hitting the 3,000 plus level, the site ranked #1 for between six and 10 key phrases depending on the day. Reaching that 3,000 plus plateau yielded a great number of additional #1 placements.

What it Takes to Win at Google+

Excelling at Google+ management so that you can improve your search engine rankings is a long term effort. Interacting with others to build the network takes time and a commitment to be engaged. Investment in continually producing and promoting good and valuable content is another ‘must’ to be successful.

While there are circle strategies that can help grow one’s community, the core success factor remains good quality content. Creating valuable content and promoting on Google+ as part of a long term strategy can produce solid results.


More Google+ Followers Leads to an Increase Website Traffic

HubSpot recently reported that 51% of business websites that had a Google+ page with a following of 51 to 100 received 106% more traffic than those with fewer than 25 followers. If the marketing objective is to get your organization’s message more widely distributed, then attracting traffic and visitors should be an important part of your marketing effort. This makes engagement on social platforms even more important.

Google+ engagement increases traffic in two primary ways:

  • Direct message distribution via social media
  • Improved SERP placement

Social Media Distribution:
Increases via direct distribution follows intuitive reasoning. The more people exposed to your message on Facebook, Pintrest and Google+, the greater the possibility of attracting them to your online content. This places a high level of importance on the quality of content to both provide readers the value they want as well as to inspire them to follow, endorse and consume future content.

Content production and marketing has then emerged as a major social media effort. Over-posting or putting out too much content with too little value dilutes the reader’s willingness to return to the site. Content with no value will get your reader to ‘un-follow’ you or lose interest in the online relationship. It takes an investment of time and effort to create this content and distribute it in a fashion that will attract and hold reader attention.

Another quick note about content:   good statistics – particularly data that you have developed or compiled yourself makes great content. This takes some nerve to post!  Some readers may disagree, but unique observations and opinions are what will make your content unique and valuable. A significant amount of recycling takes place with interesting statistics once a major research study is released. If you are the one to release these statistics, that discussion will revolve around you and cite you as the source!

SERP Placement:
Speaking of unique statistics, our internal research has also shown that increased social engagement can improve Search Engine Placement. Particularly on the Google+ platform, an increase in 100 followers typically yields an improvement in SERP placement.

For sites placing on page three or lower, these improvements can be significant. Google+ can be the methodology by which a company can get onto the top page. Of course this depends on the on-page optimization, keyword strength, competition and content value but we have seen results improve anywhere from 10 to 15 places for 100 followers on Google+.  Social engagement is a significant element in the SEO game and has emerged as an additional type of link building effort that can directly improve SERP placement.

Sites already on the top page are already in the thick of the competition battle, so improvements are a little less predictable. Still, for new sites that attract 100 followers to a business Google+ page, we have seen improvements land in the three to five places range. So a site ranking between five and 10 can improve to the top five by connecting its business website to a Google+ page and earning 100 followers.

Content development and social media engagement each require a significant level of effort. In the end though, this is what establishes an organization as a solid business entity capable of serving its customers well.

Check back frequently for more notes on Internet Marketing, SEO and Social Media Management from Denver SEO Consultants. We usually post every other day during the week.

Next Scheduled Posts:  Content Creation, How to Attract Followers and Likes