It's hard to imagine any company today could be successful and experience substantial growth without advertising their product or service and brand on social media.
Advertising is how businesses promote themselves and whatever it is they sell to their audience members — and with billions of people on social media, it's clear why businesses choose to advertise and promote themselves through this medium.
Social media advertising is a powerful marketing tactic that has the power to drive leads, boost revenue, increase brand awareness, and more. In this guide, we'll talk about why it's so effective, how to create a strategy for your business, and provide inspiration to help get you started.
Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising is the process of targeting your buyer personas, audience, and customers and promoting your brand, product, or service via social media posts and ads to convert leads and increase revenue.
Now you might be wondering whether or not this type of advertising really works and if it's worth your time and monetary investment.
How effective is social media advertising?
Did you know there are over 2.38 billion monthly active users on Facebook? Or that there are over 500 million daily Instagram users?
And did you know 74% of global marketers already invest in social media marketing, which includes social advertising? Not to mention 70% of businesses say they generate leads on social media and 58% of marketers say social media has helped them boost their sales.
These are just some of the many stats related to social media advertising that prove its impact and importance among all types of businesses.
In addition to stats that support the effectiveness and impressive reach of social media advertising, this marketing tactic allows you to nurture your leads in real-time. You can communicate and engage with your followers and audience directly on the platform to nurture and build relationships with them.
The cherry on top?
Social media advertising is more cost-effective than traditional advertising. With social media ads, you can easily set a budget and add to or remove from that set amount within the social platform you're using.
Now that you have a better understanding of the power of social media ads, let's cover the steps involved in making an advertisement on social for your business.
How to Create a Social Media AdHere are the major steps involved in creating a social media ad that you'll want to follow.
Use CRM and web analytics data to inform your ad campaigns and discover what ads are covering the most visitors into customers.
1. Think about your budget.One of the most daunting things about social media advertising is determining your budget. That's because there are so many unique and flexible options on every social platforms for your ads and campaigns.
For example, if you're looking to run a social campaign on Facebook with the Facebook Ad Campaign tool, start by setting a budget. Then, Facebook will run your campaign for you and spend your budget as evenly as possible throughout your selected time period (or until your budget has been completely used). You can then leave your Facebook ad campaign as is or add more money to your budget to continue.
To help you plan your budget, be sure to align your marketing objectives with your social media advertising strategy. Consider the amount you're comfortable pulling out of the larger marketing strategy to put towards your social ads.
2. Choose which type of social media advertisement you'll run.The landscape of paid social advertising is constantly changing; new technologies, channels, formats, and trends emerge every day.
That means there's no one-size-fits-all answer to which social channels you should advertise on. Ultimately, testing different channels is the best way to determine what works best for your business and audience.
Here are some of the most common types of social media platforms you can advertise through and which demographic of people you'll want to target through each:
FacebookAbout 69% of adults use Facebook — although 25-34-year-olds make up the greatest number of users on the platform, Facebook still has the widest age range of active users of any other platform. This includes teens and seniors — in fact, 62% of online seniors, ages 65+, are on Facebook.
Due to the fact Facebook ads allow you to reach audience members who haven't Liked your Page, you can see why the platform is such a popular one to advertise through — you reach the greatest population of audience members compared to other platforms by a landslide.
Instagram is ideal if you're targeting younger generations. That's because 75% of 18-24-year-olds use the platform and 57% of 25-29-year-olds use it. Meanwhile, only 8% of people over 65-years-old are on the platform.
Twitter is a good option if you're looking to target young to middle-aged adults with your social media ads. That's because 22% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter. 38% of users on the platform are between 18-29-years-old while 26% of users are between the pages of 30-49-years-old.
It's no secret LinkedIn is a professional network — meaning, you'll likely want to stick with more formal, business, and career-related advertisements on the platform. This also means the demographic on LinkedIn you'll want to target includes current or soon-to-be members of the workforce.
There are over 660 million LinkedIn users and 37% of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 30-49 use the platform. And in terms of students and college grads, 51% of U.S. college graduates are said to be on the platform.
Snapchat is a platform you'll want to advertise through if you're looking to target a young crowd. The platform has around 210 million daily active users — about 90% of Snapchat users are between 13-24-years-old.
3. Make your ad relevant.
Your ads should be relevant to your target audience and customers. There are a few ways you can ensure this is the case.
4. Design a beautiful, eye-catching ad.
On social media, it seems as though there's a never-ending amount of new visual content. So, how do you make your social media ads stand out?
Your ads need to be engaging, beautifully-designed, and eye-catching — they should make someone who's scrolling through their feed stop in their tracks and want to take a closer look at your content.
You also want your ad to look on-brand so your audience members can easily associate the ad with your business. (This will help you continue to build brand recognition, too.)
Here are some of the elements you'll want to think about when designing an effective social media ad that grabs the attention of your target audience:
Every word and character you include in your advertisements count. This is especially true of social media ads which often have word-count and text limitations.
So, to ensure your copy converts all while being straightforward, direct, and short, you should:
And once you've created your social media ad, you'll want to make sure it's successful among your audience members — here's how to measure your ad's success.
6. Measure your ad's success.With social media advertising comes a multitude of metrics you should monitor to determine the success of your work. It's vital you focus on the social media metrics that matter most to your campaigns and business when doing this.
To help get you started, here are three of the most commonly-monitored metrics related to social media advertising you might consider keeping a close eye on:
Click-Through Rate (CTR) CTR is the number of clicks your ad has divided by the number of impressions it received (clicks/ impressions). The metric indicates the relevance of your content among your audience and the quality of that traffic.
Cost Per Conversion (CPC) Every campaign should have one core conversion goal (signups, app install, downloads, visits to blog posts). To calculate CPC, divide the amount of money you have spent by the number of conversions that resulted. This gives you insight into whether your ads are profitable and helps you project your future ad spending.
Conversion RateThe conversion rate of the number of visits to your landing page that result from your social media ads provides a good idea of the quality of the clicks you're receiving as well as the performance of your landing page. You can also benchmark your social ad traffic against the conversion rate of traffic from other sources.
Now let's review some examples of successful social media ads for a little inspiration.
Social Media Advertising Examples
1. Dollar Shave Club Facebook Ad
Dollar Shave Club is a company that’s all about minimalism, efficiency, and ease which is why this Facebook ad is straightforward and simplistic, making it on-brand. The images included provide a clear look into what customers can expect out of a membership and their products.
Facebook is an ideal platform for sharing a generic ad like this one because of the wide pool of people who are active on the platform. After all, most adults — both male and female — shave and are therefore part of their target audience.
2. Dick's Sporting Goods Instagram Ad Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Instagram ad is promoting a pair of Adidas sneakers. The ad includes a series of photos displaying the shoes and athletes wearing them before/ after and during the workouts.
The ad is well-planned because it doesn’t feel like an ad — the visually-pleasing post looks like one that a friend of yours would post on the platform. In other words, this ad doesn’t feel like a disruptive ad, yet it still grabs your attention.
3. Postmates Twitter Ad
Postmates’ Twitter ad includes a short blurb of text explaining the deal they’re offering — this was required of Postmates because the platform has a Tweet text limit. They also used emojis so the ad feels conversational and casual.
The ad also has an attention-grabbing photo sure to stop any hungry Twitter user in their tracks. They make it easy for leads to click on the CTA to download the Postmates app if they choose, or continue scrolling through their feed.
4. Workhuman LinkedIn Ad
Workhuman, a human resources company, advertises their business on LinkedIn. Due to the professional nature of LinkedIn, and the networking capabilities the platform has, it’s ideal for an HR firm to advertise their services, job openings, and more.
The company created a sponsored ad on LinkedIn to promote their marketing job openings. The easy-to-understand ad caption, image, and CTA don’t feel disruptive or out of place on the professional network. And considering the frequency in which people log onto LinkedIn to identify job opportunities, it’s an ideal location for this type of advertisement.
5. Hopper Snapchat Ad
Hopper has a Snapc
hat ad that appears when users are looking through their newsfeeds. The ad works in the form of a multi-part Snapchat video — the video includes a woman describing how the airline flight price checking and booking site works.
She’s talking directly to the camera on her phone in a conversational tone that makes it feel as though you’re simply watching one of your friend’s Snapchat videos. At the end of her casual Snap video is a CTA that provides users the opportunity to head to the Hopper website or just continue working their way through their newsfeed, disruption-free.
Get Started With Social Media AdvertisingThe paid social advertising landscape is always evolving, to be a superstar paid marketer you need to be reactive to new channels, tactics and formats on an ongoing basis. Get started by planning your strategy so you can create your next social media ad.
Social Media Advertising
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What is the first thing you do when you need new marketing ideas?
What about when you decide it’s time to change the way you keep the books finally? Or even notice a flat tire in the car?
My guess: you turn to Google. But did you know that 89% of B2B buyers and 81% of online shoppers do the same? Faced with a problem, challenge or even a choice, they google it. Simply.
And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence in Google, your business is unlikely to survive long.
In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy to build this presence — Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)
You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, and what you must do to position your site in search engine results.
But before we begin, I want to reassure you of something.
So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, focus on advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.
I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.
In the following pages, I’m going to break SEO into its most basic parts and show you how to use all its elements to construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends.
Keep on reading to understand SEO, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.
What is SEO?
At its core, SEO focuses on nothing else but expanding a company’s visibility in the organic search results. It helps businesses rank more pages higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages.) And in turn, drive more visitors to the site, increasing chances for more conversions.
When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to call it a strategy to ensure that when someone googles your product or service category, they find your website.
But this simplifies the discipline a bit. It doesn’t take elements like different customer information needs into consideration. However, it does reveal its essence.
In short, SEO drives two things — rankings and visibility.
This is a process that search engines use to determine where to place a particular web page in SERPs.
This term describes how prominent a particular domain is in search engine results. With high visibility, your domain is prominent in SERPs. Lower search visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries.
Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic and conversions.
There is one more reason why you should be using SEO. The discipline helps you position your brand throughout almost the entire buying journey.
In turn, it can ensure that your marketing strategies match the new buying behavior. Because, as Google admitted themselves — customer behavior has changed forever.
Today, more people use search engines to find products or services than any other marketing channel. 18% more shoppers choose Google over Amazon. 136% more prefer the search engine to other retail websites. And B2B buyers conduct up to 12 searches, on average, before engaging with a brand.
What's more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own. 77% people research a brand before engaging with it.
Forrester revealed that 60% of customers do not want any interaction with salespeople. Further, 68% prefer to research on their own. And 62% have developed their own criteria to select the right vendor.
What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.
Finally, Demand Gen’s 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 61% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search. In comparison, only 56% go directly to a vendor’s website.
But how do they use search engines during the process?
Early in the process, they use Google to find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.
Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on reviews or social media hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.
And so, the only chance for customers to notice and consider you is by showing up in their search results.
How does Google know how to rank a page?
Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.
Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.
To deliver the right information to users, search engines analyze two factors:
And to analyze all this information they use complex equations calledsearch algorithms.
Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.
As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.
Three Core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy
To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and links. So, let’s go through them in turn.
1. Technical Setup
For your website to rank, three things must happen:
First, a search engine needs find your pages on the Web.
Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.
And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.
Seem simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing to worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?
Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.
To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.
As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find its content inaccessible.
Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical search engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.
Notice some things about it:
That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems. The most important factors affecting it include:
Website navigation and links
Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page and use links to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and links as text-only.
Simple URL structureSearch engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Set them up to include as little beyond the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.
Page speedSearch engines, use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions how to improve your pages.
Dead links or broken redirectsA dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.
Sitemap and Robots.txt files
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what content not to index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want to appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.
Duplicate contentPages containing identical or quite similar content confuse search engines. They often find it near impossible to determine what content they should display in search results. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative factor. And upon finding it, can penalize a website by not displaying any of those pages at all.
Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content— information on a particular issue or problem, for example.
True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.
It’s all content.
And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.
Here are two reasons why:
While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements like page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.
The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.
SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want to attract people who need what you sell and can become leads, and later, customers.
However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.
That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.
The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. And finally, conducting extensive research to uncover related terms your audience would use.
We’ve published a thorough guide to keyword research for beginners. It lays out the keyword research process in detail. Use it to identify search terms you should be targeting.
With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.
On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that search engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it to relevant searches.
Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends to optimizing some elements in the code.
You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags like title or description are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a list of the most crucial on-page optimization actions to take.
Note: Since blog content prevails on mostwebsites,when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on blog SEO — optimizing blog posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.
a) Keyword Optimization
First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:
The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.
Also, add semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevancy better.
Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main keyword is “Apple.” But do you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?
Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice what queries to rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?
That’s what semantic keywords do. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.
b) Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization FactorsOn-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:
From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance and authority.
In their quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant to their queries but also, popular.
The first two areas — technical setup and content — focused on increasing relevancy (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)
Links, however, are responsible for popularity.
But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.
What is a backlink?
Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.
For example, this article in Entrepreneur.com mentions our marketing statistics page. It also links to it allowing their readers to see other stats than the one quoted.
Google uses quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.
But note that I mentioned links quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.
Links Quality FactorsLow quality or suspicious links — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately to make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.
That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on buildinganylinks. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.
Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:
Link BuildingIn SEO, we refer to the process of acquiring new backlinks as link building. And as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.
Link building, if you want to do it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. To generate quality links, you need to come up with a link building strategy. And that’s no small feat.
Remember, your links must pass various quality criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.
Here are some strategies to do it:
Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.
The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.
How to Monitor & Track SEO ResultsTechnical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.
Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:
Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.
And it’s well worth it.
97% of customers use search engines to find local information. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses. In fact, 12% of customers look for local business information every day.
What’s more, they act on this information: 75% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.
But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking all along?
Yes and no.
Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.
Local search results look different too:
For example, a localpack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to choose a business. For example, here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.”
Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of restaurants in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:
Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.
All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.
Local Search Ranking Factors
When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity to a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, “near me,” it’s only fair that Google will try to present the closest businesses first.
Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, and phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer to it as the NAP.
Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to assess the company’s location.
Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.
Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.
What is black hat SEO?
The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.
Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.
Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do,) and buying links.
So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.
Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing allows to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content assets.
But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.
And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.
SEO Resources & Training
This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.
Here are online training resources to try next:
You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their blogs. Here are some worth reading:
By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is incredibly important for marketers. When you optimize your web pages — including your blog posts — you're making your website more visible to people who are using search engines (like Google) to find your product or service.But does your blog content really help your business organically rank on search engines?
In this article, you’ll find the answer to this question and more. Get ready for an in-depth exploration into the world of blog SEO, the factors that affect it, and tips to start optimizing your blog site for the search engines.
Does blogging help with SEO?
Blogging helps boost SEO quality by positioning your website as a relevant answer to your customers' questions. Blog posts that use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and make your site more appealing to visitors.
Although it's clear blog content does contribute to your SEO, Google's many algorithm updates can make publishing the right kind of blog content tricky if you don’t know where to start. Some blog ranking factors have stood the test of time while others are considered "old-school." Here are a few of the top-ranking factors that can, directly and indirectly, affect blog SEO.
Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, take time to understand what each of these factors does, but don’t try to implement them all at once. They each serve a specific purpose and should be used to meet a specific SEO goal for your blog.
Factors That Affect Blog SEO1.
Although dwell time is an indirect ranking factor for Google, it's a critical factor in the user experience — and we know that user experience is king when it comes to SEO. Dwell time is the length of a time a reader spends on a page on your blog site.
From the moment a visitor clicks on your site in the SERP, to the moment they exit the page is considered dwell time. This metric indirectly tells search engines like Google how valuable your content is to the reader. It makes sense that the longer they spend on the page, the more relevant it is to them.
However, there’s a reason this metric is an indirect indicator for SEO — it’s completely subjective. The search engine algorithms don’t know your content strategy. Your blog could be focused on short-form content that takes just a minute or two to read.
You might also include pertinent information at the beginning of your blog posts to give the best reader experience, which means less time spent on the page. So yes, dwell time can affect SEO, but don’t manipulate your content to change this metric if it doesn’t make sense for your content strategy.
2. Page Speed
We mentioned earlier that visual elements on your blog can affect page speed, but that isn’t the only thing that can move this needle. Unnecessary code and overuse of plugins can also contribute to a sluggish blog site. Removing junk code can help your pages load faster, thus improving page speed.
If you’re not sure how to find and remove junk code, check out HTML-Cleaner. It’s an easy-to-use tool that doesn't require coding knowledge. It simply shows you the unnecessary code and lets you remove it with the click of a button.
I also recommend taking an inventory of your blog site plugins. Decide which ones you need to keep your blog running day-to-day and which ones were installed as a fix for a temporary issue.
Plugins that affect the front-end of your site are a threat to page speed, and odds are, you can uninstall more of these plugins than you think to increase your overall site speed.
3. Mobile Responsiveness
More than half of Google’s search traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. On an individual level, your blog site might follow that same trend. There’s no way around it — optimizing your blog site for mobile is a factor that will affect your SEO metrics. But what exactly does it mean to optimize a website for mobile?
The industry rule-of-thumb is to keep things simple. Most pre-made site themes these days are already mobile-friendly, so all you’ll need to do is tweak a CTA button here and enlarge a font size there.
Then, keep an eye on how your site is performing on mobile by taking a look at your Google Analytics dashboard and running a mobile site speed test regularly.
4. Index Date
Search engines aim to provide the most relevant and accurate information available. A factor search engines use when determining what’s relevant and accurate is the date a search engine indexes the content.
Indexing means a search engine finds content and adds it to its index. Later, the page can be retrieved and displayed in the SERP when a user searches for keywords related to the indexed page.
You might be wondering: Is the date the content was indexed the same as the date it was published?
The answer: yes and no. If a blog post is published for the first time, it’s likely that say, a Google crawler, will index that post the same day you publish it. But content can be backdated for several legitimate reasons, too, like archiving information or updating a sentence or two.
One way to positively affect this SEO factor is to implement a historical optimization strategy. This strategy works well on blogs that have been established for a few years and have a fair amount of content already.
By updating these older posts with new perspectives and data, you’ll be able to significantly impact your blog SEO without creating a lot of net new content. Site crawlers will reindex the page — taking into account the updated content — and give it another opportunity to compete in the SERP. It’s truly a win-win.
5. Recent Data
Recent data, another indirect ranking factor of SEO, should be included in blog posts. Recent data gives visitors relevant and accurate information which makes for a positive reader experience.
When you include a link to a credible site that has original, up-to-date data, you’re telling the search engine that this site is helpful and relevant to your readers (which is a plus for that other site). You’re also telling the search engine that this type of data is in some way related to the content you publish.
Over time, your readers will come to appreciate the content which can be confirmed using other metrics like increased time on page or lower bounce rate.
How to Optimize Blog Content for Search Engines
1. Identify the target audience for your blog.
No matter what industry your blog targets, you’ll want to identify and speak to the primary audience that will be reading your content. Understanding who your audience is and what you want them to do when they click on your article will help guide your blog strategy.
Buyer personas are an effective way to target readers using their buying behaviors, demographics, and psychographics. Without this insight, you could be producing grammatically correct and accurate content that few people will click on because it doesn’t speak to them on a personal level.
2. Conduct keyword research.
Now that you’ve selected your target audience and prepared a buyer persona, it’s time to find out what content your readers want to consume. Keyword research can be a heavy task to take on if you don’t begin with a strategy.
Therefore, I recommend starting with the topics your blog will cover, then expand or contract your scope from there. For an in-depth tutorial, check out our how-to guide on keyword research.
3. Add visuals.
Search engines like Google value visuals for certain keywords. Images and videos are among the most common visual elements that appear on the search engine results page. In order to achieve a coveted spot in an image pack or a video snippet, you’ll want to design creative graphics, use original photos and videos, and add descriptive alt text to every visual element within your blog post.
Alt text is a major factor that determines whether or not your image or video appears in the SERP and how highly it appears. Alt text is also important for screen readers so that visually impaired individuals have a positive experience consuming content on your blog site.
4. Write a catchy title.
The title of your blog post is the first element a reader will see when they come across your article, and it heavily influences whether they’ll click or keep scrolling. A catchy title uses data, asks a question, or leads with curiosity to pique the reader’s interest.
According to Coscheduler’s Headline Analyzer, the elements of a catchy title include power, emotional, uncommon, and common words. In the right proportions, these types of words in a blog title will grab your readers’ attention and keep them on the page.
Here’s an example of a catchy title with a Coschedule Headline Analyzer Score of 87:
The Perfect Dress Has 3 Elements According to This Popular Fashion Expert
5. Include an enticing CTA.
What’s a blog post without a call to action? The purpose of a CTA is to lead your reader to the next step in their journey through your blog. The key to a great CTA is that it’s relevant to the topic of your existing blog post and flows naturally with the rest of the content. Whether you’re selling a product, offering a newsletter subscription, or wanting the reader to consume more of your content, you’ll need an enticing CTA on every blog post you publish.
CTAs come in all types of formats, so get creative and experiment with them. Buttons, hyperlinks, and widgets are some of the most common CTAs, and they all have different purposes. For instance, you should add a bold, visible CTA like a button if you want the reader to make a purchase. On the other hand, you can easily get a reader to check out another blog post by providing a hyperlink to it in the conclusion of the current article.
6. Focus on the reader's experience.
Any great writer or SEO will tell you that the reader experience is the most important part of a blog post. The reader experience includes several factors like readability, formatting, and page speed. That means you’ll want to write content that’s clear, comprehensive of your topic, and accurate according to the latest data and trends.
Organizing the content using headings and subheadings is important as well because it helps the reader scan the content quickly to find the information they need. Finally, on-page elements like images and videos have an impact on page speed.
Keep image file sizes low (250 KB is a good starting point) and limit the number of videos you embed on a single page. By focusing on what the reader wants to know and organizing the post to achieve that goal, you’ll be on your way to publishing an article optimized for the search engine.
Now, let's take a look at these blog SEO tips that you can take advantage of to enhance your content's searchability.
Blog SEO Tips
Note: This list doesn't cover every SEO rule under the sun. Rather, the following tips are the on-page factors to get you started with an SEO strategy for your blog.
1. Use 1–2 long-tail keywords.
Optimizing your blog posts for keywords is not about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible. Nowadays, this actually hurts your SEO because search engines consider this keyword stuffing (i.e., including keywords as much as possible with the sole purpose of ranking highly in organic search).
It also doesn't make for a good reader experience — a ranking factor that search engines now prioritize to ensure you're answering the intent of your visitors. Therefore, you should use keywords in your content in a way that doesn't feel unnatural or forced.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on one or two long-tail keywords per blog post. While you can use more than one keyword in a single post, keep the focus of the post narrow enough to allow you to spend time optimizing for just one or two keywords.
You may be wondering: Why long-tail keywords?
These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post focused on the specific goals of your audience. For example, the long-tail keyword "how to write a blog post" is much more impactful in terms of SEO than the short keyword "blog post".
Website visitors searching long-tail keywords are more likely to read the whole post and then seek more information from you. In other words, they'll help you generate the right type of traffic — visitors who convert.
2. Use keywords strategically throughout the blog post.Now that you've got one or two keywords, it's time to incorporate them in your blog post. But where is the best place to include these terms so you rank high in search results?
There are four essential places where you should try to include your keywords: title tag, headers & body, URL, and meta description.
Title TagThe title (i.e., headline) of your blog post will be a search engine's and reader's first step in determining the relevancy of your content. So, including a keyword here is vital. Google calls this the "title tag" in a search result.
Be sure to include your keyword within the first 60 characters of your title, which is just about where Google cuts titles off on the SERP.
Technically, Google measures by pixel width, not character count, and it recently increased the pixel width for organic search results from approximately 500 pixels to 600 pixels, which translates to around 60 characters.
Long title tag? When you have a lengthy headline, it's a good idea to get your keyword in the beginning since it might get cut off in SERPs toward the end, which can take a toll on your post's perceived relevance.
In the example below, we had a long title that went over 65 characters, so we placed the keyword near the front.
Headers & BodyMention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, but only in a natural, reader-friendly way. Don't go overboard at the risk of being penalized for keyword stuffing.
Before you start writing a new blog post, you'll probably think about how to incorporate your keywords into your post. That's a smart idea, but it shouldn't be your only focus, nor even your primary focus.
Whenever you create content, your primary focus should be on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content.
Focus on being helpful and answering whatever question your customer might've asked to arrive on your post. Do that, and you'll naturally optimize for important keywords, anyway.
URLSearch engines also look at your URL to figure out what your post is about, and it's one of the first things it'll crawl on a page.
You have a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its unique URL — so make sure you include your one to two keywords in it.
In the example below, we created the URL using the long-tail keyword for which we were trying to rank: "email marketing examples."
Meta DescriptionYour meta description is meant to give search engines and readers information about your blog post's content. Meaning, you must use your long-tail term so Google and your audience are clear on your post's content.
At the same time, keep in mind the copy matters a great deal for click-through rates because it satisfies certain readers' intent — the more engaging, the better.
3. Optimize for mobile devices.
We learned earlier that more people use search engines from their mobile phones than from a computer.
And for all those valuable queries being searched on mobile devices, Google displays the mobile-friendly results first. This is yet another example of Google heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites — which has been true ever since the company updated its Penguin algorithm in April 2015.
So, how do you make your blog mobile-friendly? By using responsive design. Websites that are responsive to mobile allow blog pages to have just one URL instead of two — one for desktop and one for mobile, respectively. This helps your post's SEO because any inbound links that come back to your site won't be divided between the separate URLs.
As a result, you'll centralize the SEO power you gain from these links, helping Google more easily recognize your post's value and rank it accordingly.
Pro tip: What search engines value is constantly changing. Be sure you're keeping on top of these changes by subscribing to Google's official blog.
4. Optimize the meta description.To review, a meta description is additional text that appears in SERPs that lets readers know what the link is about. The meta description gives searchers the information they need to determine whether or not your content is what they're looking for and ultimately helps them decide if they'll click or not.
The maximum length of this meta description is greater than it once was — now around 300 characters — suggesting it wants to give readers more insight into what each result will give them.
So, in addition to being reader-friendly (compelling and relevant), your meta description should include the long-tail keyword for which you are trying to rank.
In the following example, I searched for "email newsletter examples."
The term is bolded in the meta description, helping readers make the connection between the intent of their search term and this result. You'll also see the term "E-Newsletter" bolded, indicating that Google knows there's a semantic connection between "email newsletter" and "E-Newsletter."
Note: Nowadays, it's not guaranteed that your meta description is always pulled into SERPs as it once was. As you can see in the above image, Google pulls in other parts of your blog post that includes the keywords searched, presumably to give searchers optimal context around how the result matches their specific query.
Let me show you another example. Below are two different search queries delivering two different snippets of text on Google SERPs. The first is a result of the query "no index no follow," and pulls in the original meta description:
The second is a result of the query "noindex nofollow," and pulls in the first instance of these specific keywords coming up in the body of the blog post:
While there's not much you can do to influence what text gets pulled in, you should continue to optimize this metadata, as well as your post, so search engines display the best content from the article. By creating reader-friendly content with natural keyword inclusion, you'll make it easier for Google to prove your post's relevancy in SERPs for you.
5. Include image alt text.Blog posts shouldn't only contain text — they should also include images that help explain and support your content. However, search engines don't simply look for images. Rather, they look for images with image alt text.
You may be wondering why this is. Since search engines can't "see" images the same way humans can, an image's alt text tells the search engine what an image is about. This ultimately helps those images rank in the search engine's images results page.
Image alt text also makes for a better user experience (UX). It displays inside the image container when an image can't be found or displayed. Technically, alt text is an attribute that can be added to an image tag in HTML.
Here's what a complete image tag might look like:
<img class="wt-blog__normal-image" src="image.jpg" alt="image-description" title="image tooltip">
When you incorporate image alt text, an image's name in your blog may go from something like, "IMG23940" to something accurate and descriptive such as "puppies playing in a basket."
Image alt text should be descriptive in a helpful way — meaning, it should provide the search engine with context to index the image if it's in a blog article related to a similar topic.
To provide more context, here's a list of things to be sure you keep in mind when creating alt text for your blog's images:
6. Limit topic tags.
Topic tags can help organize your blog content, but if you overuse them, they can actually be harmful. If you have too many similar tags, you may get penalized by search engines for having duplicate content.
Think of it this way, when you create a topic tag you also create a new site page where the content from those topic tags will appear. If you use too many similar tags for the same content, it appears to search engines as if you're showing the content multiple times throughout your website.
For example, topic tags like "blogging," "blog," and "blog posts" are too similar to one another to be used on the same post.
If you're worried that your current blog posts have too many similar tags, take some time to clean them up. Choose about 15–25 topic tags that you think are important to your blog and that aren't too similar to one another. Then only tag your posts with those keywords. That way, you won't have to worry about duplicate content.
Here at Swift, we use a Search Insights Report to map specific MSV-driven keyword ideas to a content topic each quarter. The process helps us target a handful of posts in a set number of topics throughout the year for a systematic approach to SEO and content creation.
7. Include user-friendly URL structures.
Before you publish your blog post, take a careful look at its URL structure. Is it long, filled with stop-words, or unrelated to the post’s topic? If so, you might want to rewrite it before it goes live.
The URL structure of your web pages (which are different from the specific URLs of your posts) should make it easy for your visitors to understand the structure of your website and the content they're about to see. Search engines favor web page URLs that make it easier for them and website visitors to understand the content on the page.
In this way, URL structure acts as a categorization system for readers, letting them know where they are on the website and how to access new site pages. Search engines appreciate this, as it makes it easier for them to identify exactly what information searchers will access on different parts of your blog or website.
Pro tip: Don’t change your blog post URL after it's been published — that’s the easiest way to press the metaphorical “reset” button on your SEO efforts for that post. If your URL is less descriptive than you’d like or it no longer follows your brand or style guidelines, your best bet is to leave it as is. Instead, change the title of the post using the guidelines we covered earlier.
8. Link to related blog posts.You may have heard that backlinks influence how high your blog site can rank in the SERP, and that’s true — backlinks show how trustworthy your site is based on how many other relevant sites link back to yours. But backlinks aren’t the end-all-be-all to link building. Linking to and from your own blog posts can have a positive impact on how well your blog site ranks, too.
Inbound links to your content help show search engines the validity or relevancy of your content. The same goes for linking internally to other pages on your website. If you've written about a topic that's mentioned in your blog post on another blog post, ebook, or web page, it's a best practice to link to that page.
(You might've noticed that I've been doing that from time to time throughout this blog post when I think it's helpful for our readers.) Not only will internal linking help keep visitors on your website, but it also surfaces your other relevant and authoritative pages to search engines.
For example, if your blog is about fashion, you might cover fabrics as a topic. Adding a hyperlink from a blog post about cotton to a post about the proper way to mix fabrics can help both of those posts become more visible to readers who search these keywords.
The search engines will also have one more entry point to the post about cotton when you hyperlink it in the post about mixing fabrics. This means the post about cotton fabric, and any updates you make to it will be recognized by site crawlers faster. It could even see a boost in the SERP as a result.
You can think of this as solving for your SEO while also helping your visitors get more information from your content.
9. Review metrics regularly.Google's free Search Console contains a section called the Search Analytics Report. This report helps you analyze clicks from Google Search — it's useful to determine which keywords people are using to find your blog content. You can also learn how to use Google Search Console by reading it
If you're interested in optimizing your best-performing older blog posts for traffic and leads like we've been doing since 2015, this tool can help identify low-hanging fruit.
Remember, many content marketers struggle with optimizing their blog posts for search. The truth is, your blog posts won't start ranking immediately. It takes time to build up search authority.
But, when you publish blog posts frequently and consistently optimize them for search while maintaining an intent-based reader experience, you'll reap the rewards in the form of traffic and leads long-term.
10. Organize by topic cluster.
The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords.
This makes things unorganized and difficult for blog visitors to find the exact information they need. It also results in your URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.
Here's what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:
Now, in order to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is the topic cluster model.
For this model to work, choose the broad topics for which you want to rank. Then, create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other to establish broader search engine authority.
This is what our blog infrastructure looks like now, with the topic cluster model. Specific topics are surrounded by blog posts related to the greater topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster via hyperlinks:
This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:
We know this is a fairly new concept, so for more details, check out our research on the topic, take our SEO training or watch the video below.
11. Publish evergreen content.
When planning and writing your blog articles, ensure it's evergreen content. Meaning, the content is about topics that will remain relevant and valuable over a long period of time (with only minor changes or updates). Let's look at a few reasons why evergreen content is so important:
All blog content — whether it's a long-form article, how-to guide, FAQ, tutorial, and so on — should be evergreen. Even the images you use in these posts should be evergreen. Check out this blog post for some examples of and ideas for evergreen content on your blog.
12. Update existing content.
To improve your SEO, you may assume you need to create new blog content. Although that's partially true, you should also focus a great deal of your time and energy on your existing blog content. Specifically, repurposing and updating your current content, as well as removing your outdated content.
This is because it takes a lot longer for a completely new piece of content to settle on the search engine results page (SERP) and gain authority, whereas you could update a piece of content and reap the benefits fairly immediately in comparison.
Not only will your updated content rank on the SERP faster, improving your number of visitors and leads, it also takes a lot less time and fewer resources to update an existing piece of content rather than create a brand new article.
Additionally, updating and repurposing some of your most successful pieces of content extends its lifespan so you can achieve the best results over a longer period of time (especially if it's evergreen content).
The final step entails removing your outdated content that's no longer relevant to your audience. Although your goal is to ensure your content is evergreen, some of it is bound to become outdated over time. This includes statistics, product information (if you have any listed in your blogs — as your products and business evolve), or information that changes across your industry over time.
Create Blog Content Your Readers (and Search Engines) Will Love
We don't expect you to incorporate each of these SEO best practices into your content strategy right away. But, as your website grows, so should your goals on search engines. Once you identify the goals and intent of your ideal readers, you'll be on track to deliver relevant content that will climb the ranks of the SERP.
Have you ever heard people refer to themselves as “Apple people,” “Nike people,” or “Trader Joe’s” people?
This is what brand awareness can do for a brand: embed itself into consumer lifestyles and purchase habits so that they don’t have to think twice before becoming a customer — time and time again.
This guide will help you better understand brand awareness, establish it among your audience, and build campaigns that allow it to continually grow and change with your business. Let’s dive in.
Brand awareness represents how familiar your target audience is with your brand and how well they recognize it. Brands with high brand awareness are generally referred to as ‘trending,’ ‘buzzworthy,’ or simply ‘popular.’ Establishing brand awareness is valuable when marketing and promoting your company and products, especially in the early stages of a business.
Brand awareness might seem like a vague concept, and in truth, it is. For those marketers and business owners out there who like to gauge success with neat and tidy numbers, brand awareness will likely ruffle your feathers.
But just because it isn’t a metric that can be perfectly determined doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry value. Brand awareness is incredibly important for business success and overall marketing goals. Here’s why.
Why is brand awareness important?
Brand awareness fosters trust.
In a world where consumers rely on extensive research and others’ opinions before making a purchase, brand trust is everything. Once a consumer bonds to your brand, they’re more likely to make repeat purchases with little to no forethought — which then bridges the gap between trust and loyalty.
Brand awareness establishes that brand trust. When you put a proverbial face to your brand name, consumers can trust easier.
Brand awareness efforts give your brand a personality and outlet to be sincere, receive feedback, and tell a story. These are all ways that we, as humans, build trust with one another. The human/brand relationship isn’t any different.
Brand awareness creates association.
When you’ve had a paper cut, I bet you’ve put on a Band-Aid. When you had a pressing question, I’m sure you’ve Googled it.
When you needed to make a few copies, I’m guessing that you Xeroxed them. And when you’ve packed for a nice picnic, I’m willing to bet you grabbed a Coke to drink.
Am I correct? Most likely. But ... notice how the some of the words above are capitalized. These are brands, not nouns or verbs.
That’s what brand awareness does. It associates actions and products with particular brands, subconsciously encouraging us to replace common words with branded terms. And before you know it, simple paper cuts or picnics are doing the marketing for us.
Brand awareness builds brand equity.
Brand equity describes a brand’s value, which is determined by consumer experiences with and overall perception of the brand. Positive experiences and perception equal positive brand equity, and the same goes for negative notions.
Here are a few valuable things that come from positive brand equity:
How does a brand establish (and increase) brand equity? By building brand awareness and consistently promoting positive experiences with the brand. Brand awareness is the foundation of brand equity.
Once a consumer is aware of a brand, they start to recognize it without assistance, seek it out to make a purchase, begin to prefer it over other similar brands, and establish a loyalty that not only spurs on other purchases but also inspires recommendations to family and friends.
That is why brand awareness is so important. It establishes trust with your customers, creates positive associations, and builds invaluable brand equity that allows your brand to become a household name and consumer staple.
How to Build Brand Awareness
Brand awareness among your audience and the general public doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t happen from a simple advertisement or marketing campaign.
Strong brand awareness is a result of multiple simultaneous efforts that extend beyond trying to get paying customers.
If you expect to raise awareness of your brand by running a few product advertisements on Facebook, you won’t get very far. Not only will the consumer be focused on the product (not the brand), but the ad will also lack impact beyond a simple sale.
Here are some ways to establish a solid brand awareness foundation and make a lasting impact with your audience:
1. Be a person, not a company.
When you get to know a new friend, what do you like to discover about them? I like to learn about hobbies, passions, likes and dislikes, and more. I also pay attention to how they speak, what they like to talk about, and what stuff gets them excited.
These are the traits your brand should determine and promote about itself. To leave an impact with your audience, you’ve got to define yourself as more than a company that sells stuff. How else would you define yourself?
What words would you use if you had to introduce your brand to a new friend?
Introvert or extrovert, outgoing or quiet, all humans benefit from social contact and spending time with one another. It’s how we stay connected, learn new things, and become known by others.
The same goes for your brand. If you only attempt to connect with others when trying to make a sale or get support, you won’t be known as anything beyond a business with a singular intention (and the same goes for a person).
To raise awareness of your brand, you’ve got to be social. Post on social media about things unrelated to your product or services. Interact with your audience by asking questions, commenting on posts, or retweeting or sharing content you like. Treat your social accounts as if you were a person trying to make friends, not a business trying to make money.
Research shows that over 50% of brand reputation comes from online sociability. Being social leads to greater awareness and simply being known.
3. Tell a narrative.
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful marketing tactic, whether you’re marketing products or promoting your brand. Why? Because it gives something real for your audience to latch onto.
Crafting a narrative around your brand humanizes it and gives it depth. And weaving this said narrative into your marketing inherently markets your brand alongside your products or services.
What should your narrative be about? Anything, as long as it’s true. It can be the narrative of your founder, the tale of how your business had its first product idea, or the little-engine-that-could story of how your small business made it in this big world.
People like hearing stories about each other. Authenticity is impactful, and it can lead to a big boost in brand awareness.
4. Make sharing easy.
Whatever your industry, product offering, or marketing strategies, make it easy for your audience to share your content. This could be blog posts, sponsored content, videos, social media posts, or product pages. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s shareable.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective way to establish trust and familiarity among customers. If someone sees that a friend or family member is recommending a product or service, they’ll take notice of that product … and brand.
Is this a brand worth exploring? Do they have other great products I can rely on? What are their social accounts like, and what do they talk about?
If you make it easy to post about your stuff, consumers will raise brand awareness for you by simply clicking “Share”.
Brand awareness is about impact.
It’s about interacting with your audience in ways that don’t only ask for money, participation, or loyalty.
Imagine if you met a new person who wanted to be your friend. If they asked for any of the above, you’d probably laugh and walk away, right? Not only is that a shallow approach to friendship, but it also leaves no lasting impact on you.
The same goes for establishing and building brand awareness among your audience.
Brand Awareness Strategy
You already know how to start building your brand awareness from the ground up. Now, it’s time to put together a simple yet powerful brand awareness strategy that will keep the flywheel turning.
1. Guest blog on other niche websites.
Guest blogging is one of the best ways to increase brand awareness with minimal effort. You can take advantage of the traffic that’s already arriving at another website to get more eyes on your brand while offering helpful and relevant content.
In other words, you’re not just pushing out your product on people who aren’t ready to buy, but rather writing in your brand voice and presenting yourself as human first, company second. Another great alternative to guest blogging would be publishing sponsored content on niche websites.
Co-marketing is an excellent way to build brand awareness — not only because you’d be taking advantage of another brand’s audience but because it can highlight who you are and what you offer in the marketplace.
For instance, if your company sells dog leashes and toys, you could potentially partner with a dog walking app. The campaign itself could appear in any number of ways: You could create a shared offer (“download the app and get one free leash”) or host an Instagram live together. No matter what, partnering up with another brand could help you double and even triple your reach.
3. Advertise everywhere.
I know, I know: Advertising many not build brand awareness so much as it builds product awareness, but still — it’s one of the best tools you can use to get people to find out about your brand in a low-touch, unobtrusive way.
Consider Grammarly. It feels like just a few years ago, no one knew about Grammarly. Now it’s one of those brands that you automatically think of when you consider online proofreading software. That’s because they’ve launched robust social, video, and display advertising campaigns that appear nearly everywhere.
You might consider starting with online advertising, which includes paid social media and PPC. If you’re interested in truly appearing everywhere and launching more sophisticated campaigns at a mass scale, you can launch programmatic advertising campaigns.
4. Hire a face or create a mascot for the company.
This may not be doable for smaller companies, but if you do have the budget, consider hiring an actor or spokesperson to represent the company. What do you first think of when you think of Progressive? Flo, who’s even been termed “Progressive girl” for her fun and friendly personality.
This allows you to not only humanize your brand, as mentioned in the previous section, but give a sense of the friendly and knowledgeable service customers can expect to receive.
You don’t have to use a person, either. GEICO is a great example of this. The moment you see that friendly lizard, you know it’s GEICO. Creating an animated mascot may be a cost-efficient but equally effective way to give a face to your brand.
5. Choose an image or symbol that represents you.Nike is not even Nike anymore. It’s a check mark. The moment you see that check mark, you know it’s Nike. Or how about McDonald’s yello “M”? Or Apple’s bitten apple?
I’m not just talking about a logo, either, though it can certainly be part of your logo. But work with your branding team or a freelance graphic designer to create a symbol that you ubiquitously use in your marketing, advertising, and organic campaigns. You might also consider taking a note from Apple, McDonald’s, and Nike, and incorporating the symbol into your product packaging and design.
6. Create a short, catchy slogan.Extending the Nike example, you think of the brand immediately when you hear “Just do it.” Creating a short motto or slogan is a cornerstone of a strong brand awareness strategy and is an easy and simple way to increase brand awareness.
It’s definitely tough — imagine condensing everything you’re about in one short sentence. It must explain how you’re different, what you offer, and why customers should choose you.
How to Increase Brand Awareness
Your brand awareness is now effectively off the ground, and people talk about you without needing to see an ad.
What about expanding your established brand awareness and building on that strong foundation? What can you do as a brand to campaign for awareness and constantly increase it?
Here are a few campaign ideas to boost your brand awareness beyond your initial strategy.
1. Offer freemium.
Freemium is a business model that offers a basic product or product line for free, only charging for any products deemed premium or enterprise-level. It’s a popular pricing strategy for software companies.
Offering a freemium option allows customers to get a taste of your brand and product before making a purchase. It’s a try-before-you-buy opportunity that can, technically, last forever (as opposed to a free trial period that some companies choose).
It’s common to offer a freemium option with the condition that the brand’s watermark will be shown on any public-facing parts of the product or service. This makes freemium a win-win situation: The consumer gets the product for free, and the brand gets free advertising when consumers use it.
Typeform is another great example of this. Typeform offers a freemium option of its survey software, but customers must include a thank-you page that features the Typeform logo and message.
Depending on your type of business and product offer, Freemium may be the best way to raise awareness of your brand among your audience.
2. Create free content.
Nowadays, creating content is easier than ever … which is a good thing because today’s consumers turn to the internet for any and all questions, concerns, and DIY projects.
Content is a fun way to raise awareness of your brand because it’s the easiest way to show personality and share opinions and positioning on issues — two major components that personify and humanize your brand.
Content doesn’t have to be in written form, either. You can also create videos, infographics, podcasts (which we’ll cover below), and more. Sure, written content like blogs and downloadable guides are arguably the easiest, but they’re definitely not the only option.
Content doesn’t have to live on just your website, either. Guest posting and sponsored content provide opportunities to get in front of new audiences and diversify the type of content you create.
If your brand isn’t creating content, you might be missing out on some major brand awareness opportunities. Content provides an amazing way to authentically connect with your audience while getting your brand name in front of people.
3. Sponsor events.
How many festivals, concerts, fairs, and exhibitions have you attended? These types of events are typically not possible without the help of brand sponsorships. (Take a look at a t-shirt, koozie, or string backpack you likely grabbed from the event. See any brand names?)
Sponsoring events is a surefire way to get your brand in front of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people that likely fall into your target audience. From banners to flyers to water bottles, your brand name will be everywhere if you sponsor an event.
Sponsoring an event also allows you to pin your brand name on an event that matches your personality, interests, and passions, meaning consumers will then associate your brand with that event and its aesthetic and character. It can also gelp your company build brand awareness among highly specialized and qualified audiences. Professionals don’t attend events just for fun. They attend to learn the latest developments in the industry.
It’s more than just being a booth in a sea of booths. By being a consistent event sponsor, you’ll cement yourself in attendees’ minds as a leader in the field. They key is to be consistent in your sponsorship.
Consider Red Bull. Red Bull is an energy drink, and without any brand awareness efforts, we’d simply consider it an energy drink. But, thankfully, Red Bull took their marketing to the extreme — literally — by consistently sponsoring extreme sporting events like cliff diving and motocross. They also sponsor athletes. Now, we inherently associate Red Bull with daring and adventurous … and believe that, if we drink it, we can be the same.
4. Give your brand a personality.
When you market your products and services with personality, you can’t help but boost your brand awareness because your brand will shine right through. Sure, your consumers will take note of the pants or pasta you’re marketing, but they’ll also experience your personality through your advertising.
This is a great strategy when mixing your traditional marketing campaigns with brand awareness campaigns. They don’t always have to be one in the same, but they definitely can be.
Advertisements for their hygiene products are overflowing with personality and humor, and they still mention their products throughout. The advertisement not only makes an impact on its viewers, but a mere mention of the “Old Spice man” also sends consumers back to YouTube to watch the commercial … and to the store to buy some deodorant.
5. Produce a podcast.
More than one-third of Americans 12 and older listen to podcasts regularly. There’s no doubt podcasts play an important role in our lives … and marketing efforts.
Podcasts used to be a complicated process, only created by those with a studio and fancy microphone. Now, it’s easier than ever to create and release a podcast, and doing so can do wonders for your brand awareness efforts.
Why? Because podcasts, like written or visual content, provide a way to connect with your audience authentically. Instead of blatantly promoting your product or service (which we’ve agreed isn’t the best way to go about boosting brand awareness), podcasts give you the opportunity to educate, inform, entertain, or advise your audience and build trust by doing so.
See how these brands have chosen podcast topics that relate to their 1) overall brand message and 2) products or services? Doing this helps them relate the podcast back to their brand and continue to raise awareness, too.
Boosting your brand awareness through campaigns gives you a chance to dabble in marketing and advertising opportunities you’d otherwise not invest in — meaning new, powerful ways to connect with your audience.
How to Measure Brand AwarenessHow do you know if your brand awareness efforts are working? How do you know if you need to change direction, top the competition, or fix a crisis? Just like any other marketing metric, you measure it.
Wait … I thought you said brand awareness couldn’t be measured!
Aha! You’ve been listening. I appreciate that.
You’re right — brand awareness can’t be measured in the traditional sense. But, you can still review activities and metrics that’ll help you gauge where your brand stands in terms of popularity and consumer awareness.
Here are a few ways to gauge your brand awareness and learn where you can tweak your efforts:
Quantitative Brand Awareness Measures
These numbers can help you paint the overall picture of your brand awareness. To measure quantitatively, check out these metrics:
Qualitative Brand Awareness Measures
This step is where your brand awareness “score” gets a little murky. But these tactics can still help you gauge who and how many people are aware of your brand. To measure qualitatively, try:
These quantitative and qualitative metrics will help you understand your brand awareness among your audience and the general public. It’ll never be a perfect number, but keeping your pulse on this measure will help influence campaigns and stay connected to your audience. Regardless of how you gauge brand awareness for your company, avoid these common mistakes when measuring brand awareness.
This is a brilliant brand awareness move that capitalizes on customers’ love of personalization, and with it, Coca-Cola ensures it remains an unshakable American classic. This example shows how far personalization will get you in your brand awareness campaign, so try to personalize whenever possible. If your product isn’t disposable, consider giving customers the option to add their name.
Over to YouBrand awareness is a powerful (albeit vague) concept that can have a major impact on your marketing efforts, consumer perception, and revenue.
Follow these techniques for establishing and building awareness for your brand, and you’ll find yourself with a loyal audience that recognizes your brand among competitors, chooses your products time and time again, and recommends their friends and family do the same.
If you're working in digital marketing for a business with an online presence (which, let's be real, is most businesses these days), there's a good chance that you live in dread of the infamous "Google algorithm update."
Many marketers see this periodic switch-up in Google's algorithm as a lurking nemesis out to slash their metrics and banish traffic.
The typical response? Every time Google comes out with an algorithm update, SEO specialists and thought leaders try to decode and decipher the algorithm's secrets to find out what makes it tick. The idea is that, if you can figure it out, you can reorganize your SEO and content strategy to regain (or surpass) your pre-algorithm rankings.
This might seem like the best plan of attack. However, I believe this metrics-hungry, beat-the-algorithm mentality just ends up hurting companies in the long run. It's inefficient, it distracts from the true purpose of SEO, and it ultimately wastes your company's time and money.
My take? While algorithm updates shouldn't be minimized (because they can negatively effect businesses), they also shouldn't be feared. I believe we should work with the algorithms, not against them, ultimately creating a win-win: a better experience for users and a more successful web presence for deserving businesses.
Let's explore how to do that next.
Algorithm Updates Improve User ExperienceBecause the digital landscape is constantly changing, businesses have to accept that these algorithm updates aren't going anywhere. They are happening, and will continue to happen, indefinitely. And that is okay … and what we, as search engine customers, should want too!
The first step in working with Google algorithm updates is to understand why they happen in the first place. These updates are designed to create a better internet experience for both businesses and consumers.
The idea is to make browsers "smarter" so that internet users are able to find what they're looking for faster, and with less effort.
Sounds great in theory, right? Under this model, businesses find the right customers and vice versa. If it's an improvement for the user, it should be an improvement for you.
The problems start when we begin to analyze and crunch numbers after a post-algorithm-update …
Don't Get Caught Up In The Metrics GameFor many SEO managers, numbers are everything — total organic clicks, bounce rates, keyword rankings, impressions, the list goes on. And for good reason! This data helps us to understand what's going on on the other side of the screen.
However, when this data becomes the end goal, we get into trouble. A lot of times, from an SEO standpoint, there's a tunnel-vision focus on metrics and traffic, which leads to tilted strategies purely bent on maximizing the wrong numbers.
But, here's the thing — higher rankings on Google aren't necessarily great for business. Yes, they look great on a quarterly report. Yes, they're easy to track. But do impressions necessarily convert to leads? No. These numbers turn into a sort of meaningless trophy rather than a useful tool.
Let's take a look at an example to highlight what I mean.
Lower Traffic Could Mean Higher Revenue
Over a period of time, I worked with a business that had two sides to their site: user-generated content, and professionally-generated content. The user-generated content was produced in higher volumes, but also tended to be lower quality.
Every time there was an algorithm update, the user-generated side of their business was impacted negatively. They lost significant chunks of their traffic, time and time again. However, the company's overall revenue simultaneously increased.
Why? Because the other side of their business was benefiting. The high-quality, professionally-generated content was favored by the algorithm because it was closer to what internet users were actually looking for. Therefore, it benefitted when its lower-quality competitors were demoted.
To me, this is the perfect argument for why businesses should spend time creating a great product rather than putting a laser-focus on SEO hacks or metrics. If you create an effective website with relevant content, the clicks will come organically.
Stay Focused on the UserUltimately, the solution sounds too good to be true — stay focused on who the user is and what the user wants to find on your site.
Rather than asking yourself, "Do we deserve to be #1 because we have the most keywords or the best backlinks?", ask yourself, "Are we the best solution for what the user would want? Do we deserve to be #3 from a user standpoint?"
The way Google algorithms are headed, I believe that focusing on the actual service or product over the minutiae of SEO is the secret to creating a successful business.
This is what I termed "Product-Led SEO" in my book with the same name. This approach upends the whole premise of marketing the product to promote adoption.
Instead, the shift focuses on getting a great product into the hands of users who get excited enough to become marketing agents on the product's behalf. In this paradigm, there may also be innate triggers within the product that encourage sharing, thereby forcing the hand of the user.
Algorithm Updates Aren't Your EnemyIn the end, Google Algorithm updates are a fact of life. The sooner everyone can accept this and learn to work with the updates, not against them, the sooner they will find successful strategies.
The key to "going with the flow" is to take a good, long look at which direction the water is going. And, from everything I've seen, the proverbial algorithmic river is flowing straight towards the direction of Product-Led SEO. In my opinion, every good SEO strategy will follow.
Start by talking to users. Get in touch with what your customers want. What are they looking for? What do they like? What makes them click on a CTA? What cues do they use to navigate a site? Once you have a good handle on the needs of the user, you can begin to create a site that naturally rises above the algorithmic chopping block.
When your site becomes more effective, and you are able to connect with the right customers, everyone wins. This is the whole point of algorithms, and finding the harmony between the two will help ease a lot of stress and boost business.
What's worse than working with no data?
Working with "bad" data.
As marketers, we love to test headlines, call-to-actions, and keywords (to name a few). One of the ways we do this is by running A/B tests.
As a refresher, A/B testing is the process of splitting an audience to test a number of variations of a campaign and determining which performs better.
But A/B testing isn't foolproof.
In fact, it's a complicated process. You often have to rely on testing software to pull the data, and there's a high probability of receiving a false positive. If you're not careful, you could make incorrect assumptions about what makes people click.
So how can you ensure your A/B test is operating correctly? This is where A/A testing comes in. Think of it as a test to the test.
An A/A test involves driving two or more groups of people to identical versions of a piece of content. Instead of discovering an uptick in conversions, the goal is to find no difference between the control and the variations.
The idea behind an A/A test is that the experience is the same for each group, therefore the expected KPI (Key Performance Indicator) will also be the same for each group.
For example, if 20% of group A fills out a form on a landing page, the expected result is that 20% of group B (who are interacting with an identical version of the landing page) will do the same.
Differences Between an A/A Test and an A/B Test
Performing an A/A test is similar to that of an A/B test; an audience is divided into two similarly sized groups, but instead of directing each group to different variations of content, each group interacts with identical versions of the same piece of content.
Here’s another way to think about it: have you ever heard the idiom, "Comparing apples to oranges"? An A/B test does exactly that — compares two different variants of a piece of content to see which performs better. An A/A test compares an apple to, well, an identical apple.
When running an A/B test, you program a testing tool to change or hide some part of the content. This is not necessary for an A/A test.
An A/A test also requires a larger sample size than an A/B test to prove a significant bias. And, due to such a large sample size, these tests take much longer to complete.
How to Do A/A Testing
Exactly how you do an A/A will vary depending on the testing tool you use. If you're a Swift Enterprise customer conducting an A/A or A/B test on an email, for example, Swift will automatically split traffic to your variations so that each variation receives a random sampling of visitors.
Let's cover the steps to run an A/A test.
1. Create two identical versions of a piece of content — the control and the variant.Once your content is created, identify two groups of the same sample size you would like to conduct the test with.
2. Identify your KPI.A KPI is a measure of performance over a period of time. For example, your KPI could be the number of visitors who click on a call-to-action.
3. Using your testing tool, split your audience equally and randomly, and send one group to the control and the other group to the variant.Run the test until the control and variation hit a determined number of visitors.
4. Track the KPI for both groups.Because both groups are sent to identical pieces of content, they should behave the same. Therefore, the expected result will be inconclusive.
A/A Test Uses
A/A testing is primarily used when an organization implements a new A/B testing software or reconfigures a current one.\
You can run an A/A test to accomplish the following:
1. To check the accuracy of an A/B testing software.
The intended result of an A/A test is that the audience reacts similarly to the same piece of content.
But what if they don't?
Here's an example: Company XYZ is running an A/A test on a new landing page. Two groups are sent to two identical versions of the landing page (the control and the variant). Group A has a conversion rate of 8%, while Group B has a rate of 2%.
In theory, the conversion rate should be identical. When there is no difference between the control and the variant, the expected result will be inconclusive. Yet, sometimes a "winner" is declared on two identical versions.
When this happens, it is essential to evaluate the testing platform. The tool may have been misconfigured, or it could be ineffective.
2. To set a baseline conversion rate for future A/B tests.
Let's imagine that Company XYZ runs another A/A test on the landing page. This time, the results of Group A and Group B are identical — both groups achieve an 8% conversion rate.
Therefore, 8% is the baseline conversion rate. With this in mind, the company can run future A/B tests with the goal of exceeding this rate.
If, for example, the company runs an A/B test on a new version of the landing page and receives a conversion rate of 8.02%, the result is not statistically significant.
A/A Testing: Do You Really Need to Use It?
To run an A/A test, or not — that is the question. And the answer will depend on who you ask. There is no denying that A/A testing is a hotly debated topic.
Perhaps the most prevalent argument against A/A testing boils down to one factor: time.
A/A testing takes a considerable amount of time to run. In fact, A/A tests typically require a much larger sample size than A/B tests. When testing two identical versions, you need a large sample size to prove a significant bias. Therefore, the test will take more time to complete, and this may eat into time spent running other valuable tests.
However, it makes sense to run an A/A test in some cases, especially if you are uncertain about a new A/B testing software and want additional proof that it's both functional and accurate. A/A tests are a low-risk method to ensure your tests are set up properly.
A/A testing can help you prepare for a successful AB testing program, provide data benchmarks, and identify any discrepancies in your data.
Although A/A tests have utility, running such a test should be a relatively rare occurrence. While A/A test can run a "health check" on a new A/B tool or software, it may not be worth optimizing every minor alteration to your website or marketing campaign due to the considerable amount of time it takes to run.
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