Casting a line, online

Over 3 000 unique users from 103 countries.

As clichéd as it is, it seems like just the other day that Crawford Publications decided to take its first plunge into vast sea of the world wide web that is the internet. It was something that we had been toying with for a few years, but at the beginning of 2014, we finally leapt off the diving board, and haven’t looked back since.

For us, professionalism, relevance and the age-old concept of ‘content is king’ remains of the upmost importance to our business, and on the internet, this is no different – it’s about making our site and our content valuable to our readers. If the content is relevant to the user, they will consume it. After all, it is what you have come to expect from our publications. You need to know what your readers want to know. You need to know what they will “Google”, thereby placing yourself, and your content, at the top of the search results when they hit the ‘enter’ button on their keyboard or mobile browsing device like a smartphone.

But it’s not just about search results and being at the top of the rankings. The internet has levelled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys, and our industry is a large playing field. You have one shot at making a good first impression, and getting that person to return to our sites – we need them to become regular users. This is one of the key strategies that have remained top of mind for us right from the beginning. Sleek, professional layout with an uncluttered user experience is what makes browsing our sites such a pleasure for our users and one of the many reasons why we have a high rate of returning visitors.

Castings online

We currently employ an array of software to monitor and evaluate what our users are doing on our sites and the insight gained thus far has been nothing short of fantastic. We often find that the Castings SA Online website is amongst the top search results across a number of different search engines including Yahoo! and Bing, as well as the most widely used Google, thereby ensuring the person that searched for a particular term or company, will likely click through to the Castings SA Online website. Of course this expands across a number of different search phrases too. That’s probably why, in just seven months, the number of visitors making contact with the Castings SA Online website has increased significantly. We have reached users that have likely never before read our magazines, but we know that they now want to read our publications. This is incredibly fulfilling for us, because our brands – and your brands – are now reaching markets that were previously unattainable. We now even have users from various parts of the world specifically searching for the online versions of our publications.

Exploring those numbers, Castings SA Online has had visits from 103 countries, with nearly 9 500 pageviews coming from 3 000 unique users. The average visitor is viewing 2.5 pages per visit, and spending nearly 3 minutes on the site with each visit. This can mean only one thing – active engagement. Users are actively consuming content while they are visiting. Thus far, we can tell that the top visiting nations are South Africa, the United States, India, Germany, United Kingdom, Brazil and China, respectively – and what this means is that the Castings SA magazine content has opened itself up dramatically to new markets with visitors specifically searching search engines for the current issue. In fact, nearly 20% of current searches coming into the Castings SA Online website are for the latest issue of the publication. If we drill down a little closer, 14% of Castings SA Online’s September 2014 (measured from the beginning of September 2014 – 10 September 2014) pageviews have come directly from searches on the internet.

Castings SA’s sister publication, Metalworking News, boasts equally exciting figures: visits from 120 countries, nearly 18 000 pageviews from 7 000 unique users averaging 2.5 pageviews per visit, with nearly 3 minutes spent on each visit. Again, this equates to engagement with the content.

It goes without saying that this is highly beneficial for us because we can tell exactly what people are searching for, and how they are ending up reading our content. And at the end of the day, this doesn’t just mean a brilliant brand extension for us, but also to our readers, and of course our clients – some of whom are already experiencing the benefits of joining us on this online journey. We have also created a space for ourselves for opportunity and further growth down the line such as our job listing portfolio – somewhere that you can tailor a listing, and find the right person, saving time and unnecessary job advertising costs. Also look out for improvements and growth within the ‘Showroom’ section of the website.

We all know that the internet never sleeps, and essentially, ignoring the power of the internet and this important potential marketing platform is similar to saying: “I don’t need any new business.” Traditional methods of advertising have not changed a great deal, but to use an analogy – a skeuomorph – where we look at the old through the new – a website that speaks in a sophisticated manner crosses time zones and cultures. For us, it’s simple: The internet is crowded, and people don’t like to look very hard to find meaningful content. Research indicates that 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of search results. So, even if we manage to make it into the first page of the search results, 70 percent of those users don’t trust a website with poor design.

Search isn’t everything, and online privacy is all but a thing of the past – for example, do you read all those terms and conditions when you download that latest ‘free’ app for your smartphone? Chances are you’ve allowed the company that manufactures that app access to your phonebook, email addresses, photographs – and even your camera and microphone.

So, a holistic approach is a necessary one. Nowadays, search engine algorithms are based on the quality of content, and matched to a large degree to a user’s internet profile. These ‘bots’ that decide whether our content is qualified to be of use to you also look at website design and layout – that’s why your user experience flows in the way it does when you visit our sites. It’s easy on the eye, and this all benefits us immensely because we know that our content is going to be related to what our users want to know, thereby increasing our chances that our content will appear on those first pages of search results.

Castings SA is part of the Crawford Publications ( stable, which includes Metalworking News (, a business-to-business publication dedicated to the metalworking industry. Crawford Publications brands are distributed to decision makers – owners, management and senior employees that are involved in decision making, buying and manufacturing – working in metal working and metalcasting facilities of all sizes – from small job shops to OEMs and component manufacturers. They provide suppliers, foundries, job shops, service centres and industry related companies a variety of opportunities to advertise.

Full details on the Castings SA publication and to see how you can reach a wider market via the Castings SA website can be found on or contact the publishers directly on TEL: 011 463 0489 or email

Onward and upward (in the search rankings), as they say.

Damon Crawford is the online editor at Crawford Publications and has an Honours degree in Journalism from the University of Cape Town.