We all know the importance of a high ranking when it comes to internet searches, but the components of those rankings can often be overlooked. Many web creators throw around a lot of SEO buzzwords and talk about boosting rankings, but how often do they get into specifics? Here at Swift Digital Marketing Agency, we dig deep. We know what it takes to achieve and maintain a great ranking, and we use this knowledge to give our clients rock star results!
Importance of Page Speed
Page speed is just one example of a ranking component that we've mastered. Google actually dings pages that load too slowly, causing them to drop in rank, even if they are excellent by every other metric. Additionally, your visitors will find interaction with a sluggish interface frustrating to deal with. This will, in turn, harm your engagement metrics causing your ranking to decrease even more... (see where we're going with this?).
Don't let something as straightforward as page speed cause your rankings to drop. No one wants to see a spike in abandonment rates for any reason, especially something that is so easy to fix! Let us help you measure and increase your loading times, and make your site more attractive to search engines and prospective customers.
You can count on Swift Team as your SEO partner. We use clean code and techniques that greatly increase page speed, giving your rankings and UX a boost. Work with us and see your page speeds, rankings, and engagement metrics outshine the competition month after month!
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How To Advertise on Facebook in 2022. The times may be changing, but knowing how to advertise on Facebook is still an essential skill for most marketers.
Advertising on Facebook isn’t dead. Despite new players on the social media scene — TikTok, we’re looking at you — knowing how to advertise on Facebook is still an essential skill for most marketers.
Right now, if you advertise on Facebook, your ads can reach 2.17 billion people — in other words, close to 30% of the world’s population. Plus, the platform’s active user base continues to grow.
Sure, these are impressive numbers. But Facebook is all about getting your message in front of the right segment of those people. The users who are most likely to be interested in buying your products or services.
Keep reading to find out everything from how much Facebook ads cost to how to plan your first campaign.
What are Facebook ads?
Facebook ads are paid posts that businesses use to promote their products or services to Facebook users.
Facebook ads are usually targeted to users based on their:
Businesses set an ad budget and bid for each click or thousand impressions the ad receives.
Like Instagram, Facebook ads appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, Messenger, Marketplace, and more. They look similar to normal posts but always include a “sponsored” label to show they’re an ad. Facebook ads include more features than regular posts, like CTA buttons, links, and product catalogs.
To get your brand in front of more users, ads should be a component of any Facebook marketing strategy.
How much does it cost to advertise on Facebook? There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to Facebook ad budgets. The cost of Facebook ads depends on several variable factors, including:
Setting campaign costs according to objectives. Setting the right campaign objective is the most important thing you can do to control Facebook ad costs. Getting this right also increases your chance of success.
Cost-per-click benchmarks vary according to each campaign objective. There are five core campaign objectives to choose from:
Average cost-per-click varies between different Facebook ad campaign objectives. For example, on average, an impressions campaign objective costs $1.85 per click, while a campaign with a conversions objective costs $0.87 per click.
Choosing the right objective for your campaign is key to reaching goals while lowering costs.
Types of Facebook ads
Marketers can choose between different Facebook ad types and formats to suit their campaign goals, including:
The wide range of Facebook ad formats means you can choose the best ad type that matches your business goal. Each ad has a different set of CTAs to guide users to the next steps.
Here are each of Facebook’s ad formats explained in more detail:
Image ads. Image ads are Facebook’s most basic ad format. They let businesses use single images to promote their products, services, or brand. Image ads can be used across different ad types, placements, and aspect ratios.
Image ads are a good fit for campaigns with strong visual content that can be shown in just one image. These images could be made from illustrations, design, or photography.
You can create one with just a few clicks by boosting an existing post with an image from your Facebook Page.
Image ads are simple to make and can successfully display your offering if you use high-quality imagery. They’re suitable for any stage of the sales funnel — whether you want to boost brand awareness or promote a new product launch to increase sales.
Image ads can be limiting — you only have a single image to get your message across. If you need to display multiple products or show how your product works, the single image ad format isn’t the best choice.
Just like image ads, video ads on Facebook let businesses use a single video to showcase their products, services, or brand.
They’re especially helpful for product demos, tutorials, and showcasing moving elements.
Video can be up to 240 minutes long, but that doesn’t mean you should use that time! Shorter videos are usually more engaging. Facebook recommends sticking to videos under 15 seconds.
Video ads can add some movement to any user’s feed, like this short and sweet video ad
The downside of video ads is that they’re time-consuming to make and can become expensive. A carousel or image ad may be a better fit for simple messages or products not requiring demos.
Carousel ads showcase up to ten images or videos that users can click through. Each has its own headline, description, or link.
Carousels are a great choice for displaying a series of different products. Each image in the carousel can even have its own landing page that’s specifically built for that product or service.
This Facebook ad format is also helpful for guiding users through a process or showcasing a series of related products by separating each part across different sections of your carousel.
Instant Experience ads
Instant Experience ads, previously known as Canvas Ads, are mobile-only interactive ads that let users engage with your promoted content on Facebook.
Using Instant Experience ads, users can tap through a carousel display of images, shift the screen in different directions, as well as zoom in or out of content.
Facebook suggests using five to seven images and videos in each Instant Experience ad for the best chances of engagement. Premade templates also help you save time and repeat your key theme throughout the ad.
Collection ads are kind of like immersive carousels — taking the user experience a step up. Collection ads are mobile window-shopping experiences where users can flick through your product lineup. More customizable than Carousels, they’re also full screen. Users can purchase products directly from the Collection ad.
Businesses can also choose to let Facebook algorithms select which products from your catalog are included for each user.
Collection ads are a great choice for large businesses that sell a variety of products and services. Smaller businesses with a more limited product line may be better suited to other ad types like Carousels.
Lead ads are only available for mobile devices. That’s because they’re specifically designed to make it easy for people to give you their contact information without a lot of typing.
They’re great for collecting newsletter subscriptions, signing someone up for a trial of your product, or allowing people to ask for more information from you. Several automakers have successfully used them to encourage test drives.
Slideshow ads are composed of 3-10 images or a single video that plays in a slideshow. These ads are a great alternative to video ads because they use up to five times less data than videos. That makes slideshow ads a top choice for markets where people have slower internet connections.
Slideshow ads are also a great way to get started for people without video-making experience.
Mobile phones are meant to be held vertically. Stories ads are a mobile-only full-screen vertical video format that allows you to maximize screen real estate without expecting viewers to turn their screens.
Right now, 62% of people in the US say they plan to use Stories even more in the future than they do today.
Stories can be made up of Images, videos, and even carousels.
Stories provide more creative freedom than regular image or video ads. Businesses can play around with emojis, stickers, filters, video effects, and even augmented reality.
The drawback of Facebook Stories is that they’re not placed in Facebook feeds, so users may not see them as much as other Facebook ad formats.
Facebook Stories also require different formatting than video or image ads, so you may need to create original content just for Stories.
How to post ads on Facebook. If you already have a Facebook business page (and you should), you can head straight to the Ads Manager or Business Manager to create your Facebook ad campaign. If you don’t yet have a business page, you’ll need to create one first.
Facebook offers 11 marketing objectives based on what you want your ad to accomplish.
Here’s how they align with business goals:
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Swift Digital Marketing Agency can help teach you how to advertise on social media. If you’re looking for an in-house team of social media advertising experts who are experienced with all types of social media advertising, we are is here for you.
But most of all, we’re known for the relationships that we forge with our clients. We’re not looking to take over your company’s social media endeavors, we’re looking to become an extension of your marketing team.
We’ll get to know your business and care for its success like it’s our own — because it is.
If you’re interested in learning how to advertise on social media from the experts, Swift is here to help.
Contact us online for a free quote or give us a call to learn more!
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Social media is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. People discover, learn about, follow, and shop from brands on social media, so if you’re not on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you’re missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, creating devoted brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that leverages the power of popular social media networks to achieve your marketing and branding goals. But it’s not just about creating business accounts and posting when you feel like it. Social media marketing requires an evolving strategy with measurable goals and includes:
Social media marketing also includes paid social media advertising, where you can pay to have your business appear in front of large volumes of highly targeted users.
Benefits of social media marketing.
With such widespread usage and versatility, social media is one of the most effective free channels for marketing your business today. Here are some of the specific benefits of social media marketing:
The bigger and more engaged your audience is on social media networks, the easier it will be for you to achieve your marketing goals.
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Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience to build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic. This involves publishing great content on your social media profiles, listening to and engaging your followers, analyzing your results, and running social media advertisements.
The major social media platforms (at the moment) are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat.
There are also a range of social media management tools that help businesses to get the most out of the social media platforms listed above. For example, Swift has a platform of social media management tools, which can help you achieve success with your social media marketing. Whether you want to build a brand or grow your business, we want to help you succeed.
A Quick Overview of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing first started with publishing. Businesses were sharing their content on social media to generate traffic to their websites and, hopefully, sales. But social media has matured far beyond being just a place to broadcast content.
Nowadays, businesses use social media in a myriad of different ways. For example, a business that is concerned about what people are saying about its brand would monitor social media conversations and response to relevant mentions (social media listening and engagement). A business that wants to understand how it’s performing on social media would analyze its reach, engagement, and sales on social media with an analytics tool (social media analytics). A business that wants to reach a specific set of audience at scale would run highly-targeted social media ads (social media advertising).
As a whole, these are often also known as social media management.
The Five Core Pillars of Social Media Marketing
Before you dive right in and publish something on social media, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The first step is to think about your social media strategy.
What are your goals? How can social media help you achieve your business goals? Some businesses use social media for increasing their brand awareness, others use it for driving website traffic and sales. Social media can also help you generate engagement around your brand, create a community, and serve as a customer support channel for your customers.
Which social media platforms do you want to focus on? The major social media platforms, mentioned above, are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat. There are also smaller and up-and-coming platforms, such as Tumblr, Tik Tok, and Anchor, and social messaging platforms, such as Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. When starting out, it’s better to pick a few platforms that you think your target audience is on than to be on all platforms.
What type of content do you want to share? What type of content will attract your target audience best? Is it images, videos, or links? Is it educational or entertaining content? A good place to start is to create a marketing persona, which will help you answer these questions. And this doesn’t have to be fixed forever; you can always change your strategy according to how your social media posts perform.
To help you create a great social media strategy, here are our long-form, step-by-step guides on creating a social media strategy and social media marketing plan.
2. Planning and Publishing
Publishing to social media is as simple as sharing a blog post, an image, or a video on a social media platform. It’s just like how you would share on your personal Facebook profile. But you will want to plan your content ahead of time instead of creating and publishing content spontaneously. Also, to ensure that you are maximizing your reach on social media, you need to publish great content that your audience likes, at the right timing and frequency.
There are now a variety of social media scheduling tools that can help you publish your content automatically at your preferred time. This saves you time and allows you to reach your audience when they are most likely to engage with your content.
3. Listening and Engagement. As your business and social media following grow, conversations about your brand will also increase. People will comment on your social media posts, tag you in their social media posts, or message you directly.
People might even talk about your brand on social media without letting you know. So you will want to monitor social media conversations about your brand. If it’s a positive comment, you get a chance to surprise and delight them. Otherwise, you can offer support and correct a situation before it gets worse.
You can manually check all your notifications across all the social media platforms but this isn’t efficient and you won’t see posts that didn’t tag your business’s social media profile. You can instead use a social media listening and engagement tool that aggregates all your social media mentions and messages, including posts that didn’t tag your business’s social media profile.
4. Analytics and Reporting.
Along the way, whether you are publishing content or engaging on social media, you will want to know how your social media marketing is performing. Are you reaching more people on social media than last month? How many positive mentions do you get a month? How many people used your brand’s hashtag on their social media posts?
The social media platforms themselves provide a basic level of such information. To get more in-depth analytics information or to easily compare across social media platforms, you can use the wide range of social media analytics tools available.
When you have more funds to grow your social media marketing, an area that you can consider is social media advertising. Social media ads allow you to reach a wider audience than those who are following you.
Social media advertising platforms are so powerful nowadays that you can specify exactly who to display your ads to. You can create target audiences based on their demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.
When you are running many social media advertising campaigns at once, you can consider using a social media advertising tool to make bulk changes, automate processes, and optimize your ads.
Social Media Marketing Resources
Social media platforms are always evolving. When Facebook first started, people can only share text updates. Now, there are so many content formats such as images, videos, live videos, and Stories.
Hence, social media marketing is always changing, too. We want to help you stay up-to-date with all the latest changes and strategies to succeed on social media. Here are a few resources to get you started:
Social Media Marketing for businesses usually starts with having a consistent presence on social media. By being present on social media platforms, you give your brand an opportunity to be discovered by your future customers.
In this post, you’re going to learn exactly how to create and implement an effective digital marketing strategy, step-by-step.
So, if you want to learn how to use digital marketing to grow your traffic, this strategy guide is for you.
What is a digital marketing strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a plan of action that describes how to use one or more online marketing channels to reach your target audience. It has a list of steps and specific digital marketing goals.
Having a digital strategy is important because it will help you orchestrate the different online marketing strategies so that they all work towards achieving your business goals.
Together with his team, they will make sure that every marketing activity is part of your digital marketing plan.
How to create a Digital Marketing Strategy
These are the steps to follow to create an effective marketing strategy.
1. Specify measurable business goals
The first step in creating a digital marketing strategy is to specify your business goals. In other words, to determine what you want to accomplish with digital marketing.
Any goals you set have to be measurable and well-defined. Everything in a digital marketing campaign is measurable (from start to finish) and you need to take advantage of this and form a digital marketing plan that has specific milestones and targets.
Some typical goals are:
While the above is a good starting point, they are still vague. A better version would be:
Raise brand awareness by:
Increase organic traffic by:
A good way to come up with measurable goals is to use the top-down approach. Start by specifying your goals in business terms and then translate that to digital marketing goals.
Here is an example to understand this better.
A typical step could be, “Publish 3 new blog posts per week”, which needs to be broken down further to specify which/topics keywords the blog posts will target and what would be the expected outcome in terms of traffic increase.
Experienced digital marketing specialists know that this is not always easy to calculate because digital marketing is a dynamic industry and changes all the time. But, having a detailed plan will help you adjust your strategies so as to get closer to your goals as possible.
The bottom line is that you need to have a digital marketing plan to follow and not start running campaigns on different channels without knowing what you want to achieve. It goes without saying that your plan has to be realistic, taking into account the competition and complexities of your industry.
Also, to be able to analyze data and make informed decisions, you first need to track it correctly and accurately so, having a good analytics system in place is more than essential.
2. Identify your target audience
The second step is to identify your target audience. In other words to specify in detail who you want to target with your campaigns.
Some marketers, place this as the first step in the process and this is not wrong. What is certain is that this is an exercise you need to perform in the early stages and before finalizing the next steps of your marketing strategy.
What does identifying your audience means? Specifying in detail the characteristics of people that might be potentially interested in your offerings.
In your audience identification, you should include things like:
Learn as much as you can about your audience
The exact details depend on the industry you’re in and the products/services you are trying to promote.
A good way to start crafting your buyer personas is to analyze the data you already have available.
Digg into your Google Analytics reports, Facebook audience insights, Google Ads reports, and start creating your customer profiles.
3. Understand users needs and search intent
Once you know the profile of your target customer, the next step is to use different techniques and try to understand their needs and how they express this when searching for information using a search engine or a social network.
There are two ways to approach this process. The first method is to take the typical digital sales funnel and identify what your customers might need at each stage.
Digital Sales Funnel
The second method is to take the different customer profiles created above, and come up with a separate sales funnel for each.
This is my recommended method because it makes it easier to set up and run dedicated digital marketing campaigns for each customer profile.
Let me give you an example to understand this better.
So, by analyzing each buyer persona separately, you can come up with a more accurate plan of how your content, products, or services can help them solve their problems and needs.
In the digital marketing world, the needs of users are expressed through search queries. When a user types a search query in Google, it has a specific intent and if your content/products or services do not satisfy it, your digital marketing strategy will fail.
That’s why it is important to perform keyword research from the very beginning and capture all topics, keywords, and phrases throughout the buyer journey, from awareness to conversion.
Social media networks don’t reveal the ‘searchers’ intent’, what happens then?
It’s true that users browsing Facebook may not have a specific intent in mind but they have a particular profile.
To increase your chances of targeting the right type of audience, you can analyze the profile of your search visitors (using Google Analytics) and using custom audiences to find matching audiences (Lookalike Audiences) on Facebook.
Always use any available data that you have as your starting point for research. The results will be more accurate than using data that is external to your website.
Resources to Learn More About Digital Marketing
The next strategic step you need to make is to create a library of content assets. You know your audience and their needs, now it’s time to create various types of assets to use in your campaigns.
A digital asset can be a blog post, infographic, image, video, podcast, cover image, logo, and anything else you can publish on your website or social networks.
In the digital marketing world, this is what content marketing is all about. Content marketing is important because it’s the process used to decide what kind of content to create, when, and where to publish it.
I prefer to execute this step in the beginning and before running any campaigns because it’s more efficient to have a pool of content assets ready in advance rather than having to do this every time you’re about to start a campaign.
When you follow the steps in the order described in this guide (set goals, create customer personas, identify needs, and search intent), then you have all the information you need to work on your content assets.
It’s also easier to assign the content creation part to the different members of your team to work in parallel.
Content Marketing Strategy Plan
5. Start with SEO as early as possible
A strategic decision to make that can positively impact your digital marketing efforts is to start with SEO as early as possible.
SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies but it has a caveat. It takes time to work.
Unlike other digital marketing strategies, when you start an SEO campaign, it may take 4 to 6 months to generate any results. This is a long time to wait so most marketers tend to focus on other digital channels first (like Facebook Ads, Google Ads).
That’s a good approach but the common mistake is that they forget about SEO and only re-visit SEO after they realize that they cannot build a successful digital marketing campaign based solely on paid advertising.
So, a better strategy is to allocate a portion of your marketing budget from the very beginning on SEO related tasks. In parallel, you can start working on your paid campaigns and other channels.
This way, you’ll reach a point sooner where most of your traffic and sales will come from SEO and rely less on paid ads. In business terms, this means an increase in revenue and profit and this is exactly the goal of a successful digital marketing strategy.
How to get started with SEO
SEO is a huge topic. Search engines take hundreds of parameters into account before they decide which webpages to show in the results for a particular query.
To make it easier to handle, SEO can be broken down into three main sub-processes: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO.
Each process is responsible to optimize your website for a number of parameters that will eventually lead to higher rankings and traffic.
SEO is important because the majority of search traffic is distributed to websites that appear in the first 5 positions of the search results. So, if you want to get traffic from search engines, you need to appear in the top positions for search terms related to your business.
The best way to get started with SEO is to follow a step-by-step approach:
Step 1: Review your technical SEO and make sure that search engines can access and index your content without any problems. This is important since any issues at this stage will be catastrophic for your efforts.
Step 2: Optimize your content for search engines. In Step 4 above, you will create content that satisfies the needs of the user. Before publishing, you need to make sure that it’s SEO optimized.
This means, giving the right signals to search engines (through your titles, descriptions, headings, etc) to help them understand your content better.
Step 3: Promote your website and content. One of the most important SEO ranking factors is how other websites on the Internet ‘think’ of your website. If other relevant websites trust your website and they express this through a backlink, this is a strong signal to Google that your website deserves to be on the top positions.
If SEO is something that you haven’t done before for your website, the best way to approach this is to add it to your digital strategy and assign this task to SEO experts.
You can also use the resources below to learn more.
6. Explore paid advertising channels
When you start an online business, you know in advance that a large portion of your marketing budget will be allocated on PPC marketing (paid ads).
But, not all PPC platforms are the same. Based on your previous analysis (steps 2 and 3 above), you need to choose which platforms are more suited for your audience.
You can use the table below to get an idea of how the user profile looks for the most popular social networks.
Social Media Platforms Demographics.
For example, if you have an eCommerce website selling directly to consumers (B2C) then Facebook is probably a good choice. If on the other hand, you are targeting Business executives, then LinkedIn is more appropriate.
Run Pilot Campaigns First
The best way to find out which platforms to incorporate in your digital marketing strategy plan is to run pilot campaigns.
A pilot campaign will not waste your budget and at the same time, it will give you enough data to make an informed decision. A common mistake made by digital marketers is to blindly allocate all their budget on one channel because it’s the trend without testing or considering all of the available channels they can use.
Here is a list of the most popular advertising platforms you can use to reach your target audience:
Facebook Ads – ideal for all kinds of businesses. Works better for B2C. The best platform to raise brand awareness.
Instagram Ads – suitable if you want to reach a younger audience.
Twitter Ads – Business oriented. Great for informing your community of updates.
Linked Ads – Strictly for business-related advertising. Use it to reach decision-makers.
Google Ads – The most reliable platform to get targeted traffic to your website through paid search ads.
Google Display Ads – Use it for retargeting purposes and to reach your audience in the various Google products (YouTube, Gmail) and thousands of websites that participate in Google AdSense.
Bing Ads – Not as powerful as Google but a good alternative to get more search traffic to your website.
7. Use email marketing segmentation and automation
The end goal of a digital marketing campaign is to generate more revenue for a business. But in order to get to your ultimate goal, you first need to consider micro-conversions.
Micro-conversions are actions taken by users that are part of the funnel that leads to sales.
For example, while one of my goals is to sell my digital marketing course, an intermediate goal is to get people to subscribe to my email list (micro conversion).
I consider this an important step because I know from my statistics that a large percentage of people that subscribe to my list, will eventually convert.
The same concept can be applied to any business or product. You need to give incentives to users to sign up for your email list and then send them personalized emails that will help them make the final decision, which is to convert by buying your products or services.
An important element to make this work is segmentation and automation.
With email segmentation, you segment your list into groups of people that share the same interests and send them customized content.
For example, people registering to my list to download the SEO Checklist will get different email content than people who register to receive my posts updates.
If email marketing is a new concept for you, then you can realize that it involves a lot of work and that’s where email automation comes into play.
Here is a visual example of how email automation works.
Email Marketing automation example.
With email automation, you can orchestrate the whole process to run without intervention and manual work. Your job is to set up the automation campaigns, monitor their performance, and take corrective actions.
In addition to micro-conversions, email marketing is a great way to raise brand awareness and build a community around your brand. This is something that can positively influence the performance of all your digital marketing campaigns.
Resources to Learn More About Email Marketing
A complete digital marketing strategy should not only take into account the traditional online marketing channels but should also cater to new digital marketing strategies that rise to the surface.
To be more precise, at the time of writing this post, there are a number of new channels that you can explore like:
These channels are new and most probably less competitive than established channels. This means you can get better results at a lower cost.
Will these help your strategy? The only way to find out is to test them by running pilot campaigns (as explained above).
9. Use retargeting and personalization
So far, all of the above strategies are related to how you can reach more people but it’s equally important to follow up on users that already know your brand, but are not yet customers.
This is known as ‘retargeting’ or ‘remarketing’. With retargeting, you can show specific ads to users that visited your website (or social network page) but did not convert.
How Remarketing Works
It’s a very powerful technique that has higher conversion rates and less CPA (cost per action) than other marketing techniques.
The ‘marketing rule of 7’ (established in the 1930s by marketers), states that prospects are more likely to convert if they see or hear an ad, at least 7 times.
Unsurprisingly, it is a rule that is applicable today, and remarketing is the way to implement this.
The most popular platforms to run remarketing campaigns are Facebook and Google Display Network.
The concept is simple. You connect your website with Facebook and Google by adding a piece of code provided by the platforms.
You then create custom audience lists that include the people who visited your website but did not convert.
You then create campaigns and ads that are shown to these users as they browse Facebook or visit other websites on the Internet.
To make remarketing more effective, you can also add the element of personalization. Instead of treating all visitors as one group, you can add rules to show different ads to people based on the actions they took on your website.
For example, you can create a retargeting campaign for people that added an item to their shopping cart but did not checkout. To give them an incentive to come back and finish the process, you can offer them a discount via coupon code.
As a matter of fact, retargeting should be a strategy to include in your digital marketing plan from the early stages. This way you’ll maximize the return for any money spend on paid ads or SEO.
10. Work on conversion optimization
Another area that needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy is conversion optimization.
I can tell you from experience, that 90% of digital marketing campaigns focus on how to get traffic and forget about conversion optimization.
What is conversion optimization? In simple terms, conversion optimization is the process to follow to optimize your website so that a higher percentage of your visitors will perform the desired actions.
This starts with your website design, content, landing page optimization, email signup forms, shopping cart, checkout process, and other elements that contribute (directly or indirectly) to conversions.
One of the techniques to use is A/B testing. By applying a/b testing principles you can measure the effect on conversions by carefully changing parts of your website or sales funnel.
I’ll not go into the details on how to perform A/B testing or conversion optimization (you can follow the links in the resources below to learn more), but from a strategic point of view, it’s important to add conversion optimization activities in your digital marketing plan.
Here is an example of how a conversion optimization plan looks like:
Conversion Optimization Plan
You can add it as a step to be executed as part of a single campaign or as part of your general strategy review process.
What I advise my team to do is to review conversion optimization after a campaign is considered to be optimized in terms of traffic.
In other words, it’s better to try and optimize your campaign to get as many visits as possible with the lower cost and then start testing different landing pages, messages to see which one performs better in terms of conversions.
As a rule of thumb, when doing A/B testing, you should focus on specific changes so that you can accurately measure their effect on conversions.
Resources to Learn More About Conversion Optimization
11. Evaluate and revise your strategy
Digital marketing is a highly dynamic industry. ‘Rules’ change all the time and it’s extremely important that you evaluate and revise your digital marketing strategy to stay current and relevant.
The best way to evaluate your campaign is to do it based on KPIs and other metrics. The most important metrics for any kind of digital marketing campaign are:
If you have a good analytics system in place and can track these for every campaign that is part of your strategy, then it will be easier to make informed decisions.
Don’t forget that part of your evaluation should be to look for new channels you can add to your strategy.
It’s always a good idea to take a look at your competitor’s strategies and identify which of their strategies you can include in your marketing mix.
A digital marketing strategy is a plan that describes in detail how to use various digital marketing channels to grow your business.
To create an effective digital marketing strategy, you start by defining your goals. Then through research, you identify the characteristics and needs of people to target with your campaigns.
Once you have this information, you translate that into content marketing assets, having always in mind the ‘intent’ of the user. Creating the right type of content that can satisfy the user’s needs, it’s a critical success factor.
Then you start with SEO. SEO is the most effective digital marketing channel but it’s not the fastest one. While waiting for your SEO to generate results, you can start testing paid advertising channels by running pilot campaigns.
Once you figure out which channels are more likely to work for the satisfaction of your business goals, you concentrate on those.
Besides generating traffic to your website, you also need to incorporate other strategies for converting traffic to customers such as email marketing, retargeting, and conversion optimization.
At regular intervals, you should evaluate and revise your strategy to include new traffic sources and trends.
Call Swift Digital Marketing Agency at (216) 339-604. We can create a successful digital marketing strategy for your company.
Any marketing that uses electronic devices and can be used by marketing specialists to convey promotional messaging and measure its impact through your customer journey. In practice, digital marketing typically refers to marketing campaigns that appear on a computer, phone, tablet, or other device.
It can take many forms, including online video, display ads, search engine marketing, paid social ads and social media posts. Digital marketing is often compared to “traditional marketing” such as magazine ads, billboards, and direct mail. Oddly, television is usually lumped in with traditional marketing.
Maximize your digital marketing. Use Swift to promote your brand, reach your target audience, and grow your business.
Did you know that more than 3 quarters of Americans go online on a daily basis? Not only that, but 43% go on more than once a day and 26% are online “almost constantly.”
These figures are even higher among mobile internet users. 89% of Americans go online at least daily, and 31% are online almost constantly. As a marketer, it’s important to take advantage of the digital world with an online advertising presence, by building a brand, providing a great customer experience that also brings more potential customers and more, with a digital strategy.
A digital marketing strategy allows you to leverage different digital channels–such as social media, pay-per-click, search engine optimization, and email marketing–to connect with existing customers and individuals interested in your products or services. As a result, you can build a brand, provide a great customer experience, bring in potential customers, and more.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing, also called online marketing, is the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using the internet and other forms of digital communication. This includes not only email, social media, and web-based advertising, but also text and multimedia messages as a marketing channel.
Essentially, if a marketing campaign involves digital communication, it's digital marketing.
Inbound marketing versus digital marketingDigital marketing and inbound marketing are easily confused, and for good reason. Digital marketing uses many of the same tools as inbound marketing—email and online content, to name a few. Both exist to capture the attention of prospects through the buyer’s journey and turn them into customers. But the 2 approaches take different views of the relationship between the tool and the goal.
Digital marketing considers how individual tools or digital channels can convert prospects. A brand's digital marketing strategy may use multiple platforms or focus all of its efforts on 1 platform. For example, a company may primarily create content for social media platforms and email marketing campaigns while ignoring other digital marketing avenues.
On the other hand, inbound marketing is a holistic concept. It considers the goal first, then looks at the available tools to determine which will effectively reach target customers, and then at which stage of the sales funnel that should happen.
As an example, say you want to boost website traffic to generate more prospects and leads. You can focus on search engine optimization when developing your content marketing strategy, resulting in more optimized content, including blogs, landing pages, and more.
The most important thing to remember about digital marketing and inbound marketing is that as a marketing professional, you don’t have to choose between the 2. In fact, they work best together. Inbound marketing provides structure and purpose for effective digital marketing to digital marketing efforts, making sure that each digital marketing channel works toward a goal.
Why is digital marketing important?
Any type of marketing can help your business thrive. However, digital marketing has become increasingly important because of how accessible digital channels are. In fact, there were 5 billion internet users globally in April 2022 alone.
From social media to text messages, there are many ways to use digital marketing tactics in order to communicate with your target audience. Additionally, digital marketing has minimal upfront costs, making it a cost-effective marketing technique for small businesses.
B2B versus B2C digital marketing
Digital marketing strategies work for B2B (business to business) as well as B2C (business to consumer) companies, but best practices differ significantly between the 2. Here's a closer look at how digital marketing is used in B2B and B2C marketing strategies.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. A B2C company with a high-ticket product, such as a car or computer, might offer more informative and serious content. As a result, your digital marketing strategy always needs to be geared toward your own customer base, whether you're B2B or B2C.
Take a look at your current audience to create well-informed and targeted online marketing campaigns. Doing so ensures your marketing efforts are effective and you can capture the attention of potential customers.
Types of digital marketingThere are as many specializations within digital marketing as there are ways of interacting using digital media. Here are a few key examples of types of digital marketing tactics.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is technically a marketing tool rather than a form of marketing in itself. The Balance defines it as “the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines.”
The "art and science" part of SEO is what’s most important. SEO is a science because it requires you to research and weigh different contributing factors to achieve the highest possible ranking on a serch engine results page (SERP).
Today, the most important elements to consider when optimizing a web page for search engines include:
In addition to the elements above, you need to optimize technical SEO, which is all the back-end components of your site. This includes URL structure, loading times, and broken links. Improving your technical SEO can help search engines better navigate and crawl your site.
The strategic use of these factors makes search engine optimization a science, but the unpredictability involved makes it an art.
Ultimately, the goal is to rank on the first page of a search engine’s result page. This ensures that those searching for a specific query related to your brand can easily find your products or services. While there are many search engines, digital marketers often focus on Google since it's a global leader in the search engine market.
In SEO, there's no quantifiable rubric or consistent rule for ranking highly on search engines. Google and other search engines change their algorithm almost constantly, so it's impossible to make exact predictions. What you can do is closely monitor your page's performance and make adjustments to your strategy accordingly.
As mentioned, the quality of your content is a key component of an optimized page. As a result, SEO is a major factor in content marketing, a strategy based on the distribution of relevant and valuable content to a target audience.
As in any marketing strategy, the goal of content marketing is to attract leads that ultimately convert into customers. But it does so differently than traditional advertising. Instead of enticing prospects with potential value from a product or service, it offers value for free in the form of written material, such as:
Content marketing matters, and there are plenty of stats to prove it:
As effective as content marketing is, it can be tricky. Content marketing writers need to be able to rank highly in search engine results while also engaging people who will read the material, share it, and interact further with the brand. When the content is relevant, it can establish strong relationships throughout the pipeline.
To create effective content that’s highly relevant and engaging, it’s important to identify your audience. Who are you ultimately trying to reach with your content marketing efforts? Once you have a better grasp of your audience, you can determine the type of content you'll create. You can use many formats of content in your content marketing, including videos, blog posts, printable worksheets, and more.
Regardless of which content you create, it’s a good idea to follow content marketing best practices. This means making content that’s grammatically correct, free of errors, easy to understand, relevant, and interesting. Your content should also funnel readers to the next stage in the pipeline, whether that’s a free consultation with a sales representative or a signup page.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing means driving traffic and brand awareness by engaging people in discussion online. You can use social media marketing to highlight your brand, products, services, culture, and more. With billions of people spending their time engaging on social media platforms, focusing on social media marketing can be worthwhile.
The most popular digital platforms for social media marketing are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with LinkedIn and YouTube not far behind. Ultimately, which social media platforms you use for your business depends on your goals and audience.
For example, if you want to find new leads for your FinTech startup, targeting your audience on LinkedIn is a good idea since industry professionals are active on the platform. On the other hand, running social media ads on Instagram may be better for your brand if you run a B2C focused on younger consumers.
Because social media marketing involves active audience participation, it has become a popular way of getting attention. It's the most popular content medium for B2C digital marketers at 96%, and it's gaining ground in the B2B sphere as well. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of B2B content marketers increased their use of social media this year.
Social media marketing offers built-in engagement metrics, which are extremely useful in helping you to understand how well you're reaching your audience. You get to decide which types of interactions mean the most to you, whether that means the number of shares, comments, or total clicks to your website.
Direct purchase may not even be a goal of your social media marketing strategy. Many brands use social media marketing to start dialogues with audiences rather than encourage them to spend money right away.
This is especially common in brands that target older audiences or offer products and services not appropriate for impulse buys. It all depends on your company's social media marketing goals.
To create an effective social media marketing strategy, it’s crucial to follow best practices. Here are a few of the most important social media marketing best practices:
To learn more about how Swift can help with your social media strategy, check out the comparison of our social media management tools versus others.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of digital marketing in which you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your digital ads. So, instead of paying a set amount to constantly run targeted ads on online channels, you only pay for the ads individuals interact with. How and when people see your ad is a bit more complicated.
One of the most common types of PPC is search engine advertising, and because Google is the most popular search engine, many businesses use Google Ads for this purpose. When a spot is available on a search engine results page, also known as a SERP, the engine fills the spot with what is essentially an instant auction. An algorithm prioritizes each available ad based on a number of factors, including:
PPC ads are then placed at the top of search engine result pages based on the factors above whenever a person searches for a specific query.
Each PPC campaign has 1 or more target actions that viewers are meant to complete after clicking an ad. These actions are known as conversions, and they can be transactional or non-transactional. Making a purchase is a conversion, but so is a newsletter signup or a call made to your home office.
Whatever you choose as your target conversions, you can track them via your chosen digital marketing channels to see how your campaign is doing.
Affiliate marketing is a digital marketing tactic that lets someone make money by promoting another person's business. You could be either the promoter or the business who works with the promoter, but the process is the same in either case.
It works using a revenue sharing model. If you're the affiliate, you get a commission every time someone purchases the item that you promote. If you're the merchant, you pay the affiliate for every sale they help you make.
Some affiliate marketers choose to review the products of just 1 company, perhaps on a blog or other third-party site. Others have relationships with multiple merchants.
Whether you want to be an affiliate or find one, the first step is to make a connection with the other party. You can use digital channels designed to connect affiliates with retailers, or you can start or join a single-retailer program.
If you're a retailer and you choose to work directly with affiliates, there are many things you can do to make your program appealing to potential promoters. You'll need to provide those affiliates with the tools that they need to succeed. That includes incentives for great results as well as marketing tools and pre-made materials.
Native advertising is digital marketing in disguise. Its goal is to blend in with its surrounding content so that it’s less blatantly obvious as advertising.
Native advertising was created in reaction to the cynicism of today's consumers toward ads. Knowing that the creator of an ad pays to run it, many consumers will conclude that the ad is biased and consequently ignore it.
A native ad gets around this bias by offering information or entertainment before it gets to anything promotional, downplaying the "ad" aspect.
It’s important to always label your native ads clearly. Use words like “promoted” or “sponsored.” If those indicators are concealed, readers might end up spending significant time engaging with the content before they realize that it's advertising.
When your consumers know exactly what they're getting, they'll feel better about your content and your brand. Native ads are meant to be less obtrusive than traditional ads, but they’re not meant to be deceptive.
Like affiliate marketing, influencer marketing relies on working with an influencer–an individual with a large following, such as a celebrity, industry expert, or content creator–in exchange for exposure. In many cases, these influencers will endorse your products or services to their followers on several social media channels.
Influencer marketing works well for B2B and B2C companies who want to reach new audiences. However, it’s important to partner with reputable influencers since they’re essentially representing your brand. The wrong influencer can tarnish the trust consumers have with your business.
Mobile marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to engage with your target audience on their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This can be via SMS and MMS messages, social media notifications, mobile app alerts, and more.
It’s crucial to ensure that all content is optimized for mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans own a smartphone, so your marketing efforts can go a long way when you create content for computer and mobile screens.
The benefits of digital marketing.
Digital marketing has become prominent largely because it reaches such a wide audience of people. However, it also offers a number of other advantages that can boost your marketing efforts. These are a few of the benefits of digital marketing.
A broad geographic reach
When you post an ad online, people can see it no matter where they are (provided you haven’t limited your ad geographically). This makes it easy to grow your business's market reach and connect with a larger audience across different digital channels.
Digital marketing not only reaches a broader audience than traditional marketing but also carries a lower cost. Overhead costs for newspaper ads, television spots, and other traditional marketing opportunities can be high. They also give you less control over whether your target audiences will see those messages in the first place.
With digital marketing, you can create just 1 content piece that draws visitors to your blog as long as it's active. You can create an email marketing campaign that delivers messages to targeted customer lists on a schedule, and it's easy to change that schedule or the content if you need to do so.
When you add it all up, digital marketing gives you much more flexibility and customer contact for your ad spend.
To know whether your marketing strategy works, you have to find out how many customers it attracts and how much revenue it ultimately drives. But how do you do that with a non-digital marketing strategy?
There's always the traditional option of asking each customer, “How did you find us?"
Unfortunately, that doesn't work in all industries. Many companies don't get to have one-on-one conversations with their customers, and surveys don't always get complete results.
With digital marketing, results monitoring is simple. Digital marketing software and platforms automatically track the number of desired conversions that you get, whether that means email open rates, visits to your home page, or direct purchases.
Easier personalizationDigital marketing allows you to gather customer data in a way that offline marketing can't. Data collected digitally tends to be much more precise and specific.
Imagine you offer financial services and want to send out special offers to internet users people who have looked at your products. You know you'll get better results if you target the offer to the person's interest, so you decide to prepare 2 campaigns. One is for young families who have looked at your life insurance products, and the other is for millennial entrepreneurs who have considered your retirement plans.
How do you gather all of that data without automated tracking? How many phone records would you have to go through? How many customer profiles? And how do you know who has or hasn't read the brochure you sent out?
With digital marketing, all of this information is already at your fingertips.
More connection with customersDigital marketing lets you communicate with your customers in real-time. More importantly, it lets them communicate with you.
Think about your social media strategy. It's great when your target audience sees your latest post, but it's even better when they comment on it or share it. It means more buzz surrounding your product or service, as well as increased visibility every time someone joins the conversation.
Interactivity benefits your customers as well. Their level of engagement increases as they become active participants in your brand's story. That sense of ownership can create a strong sense of brand loyalty.
Easy and convenient conversionsDigital marketing lets your customers take action immediately after viewing your ad or content. With traditional advertisements, the most immediate result you can hope for is a phone call shortly after someone views your ad. But how often does someone have the time to reach out to a company while they're doing the dishes, driving down the highway, or updating records at work?
With digital marketing, they can click a link or save a blog post and move along the sales funnel right away. They might not make a purchase immediately, but they’ll stay connected with you and give you a chance to interact with them further.
How to create a digital marketing strategyFor many small businesses and beginner digital marketers, getting started with digital marketing can be difficult. However, you can create an effective digital marketing strategy to increase brand awareness, engagement, and sales by using the following steps as your starting point.
Set SMART goals. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals is crucial for any marketing strategy. While there are many goals you may want to achieve, try to focus on the ones that will propel your strategy forward instead of causing it to remain stagnant.
Identify your audience. Before starting any marketing campaign, it’s best to identify your target audience. Your target audience is the group of people you want your campaign to reach based on similar attributes, such as age, gender, demographic, or purchasing behavior. Having a good understanding of your target audience can help you determine which digital marketing channels to use and the information to include in your campaigns.
Create a budget. A budget ensures you’re spending your money effectively towards your goals instead of overspending on digital marketing channels that may not provide the desired results. Consider your SMART goals and the digital channel you’re planning to use to create a budget.
Select your digital marketing channels
From content marketing to PPC campaigns and more, there are many digital marketing channels you can use to your advantage. Which digital marketing channels you use often depends on your goals, audience, and budget.
Refine your marketing effortsMake sure to analyze your campaign's data to identify what was done well and areas for improvement once the campaign is over. This allows you to create even better campaigns in the future. With the help of digital technologies and software, you can obtain this data in an easy-to-view dashboard. Swift's digital marketing analytics reports will help you keep track of all your marketing campaigns in one centralized location.
Digital marketing creates growth
Digital marketing should be one of the primary focuses of almost any business’s overall marketing strategy. Never before has there been a way to stay in such consistent contact with your customers, and nothing else offers the level of personalization that digital data can provide. The more you embrace the possibilities of digital marketing, the more you'll be able to realize your company's growth potential.
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Just like your personal identity makes you uniquely you, your brand identity is the special sauce of your business that sets you apart from every other Tom, Dick and Harry, Inc. on the block. And your brand identity design? It’s what shapes your company.
But what exactly is brand identity? What does it have to do with design? And how do you shape a strong brand identity that takes your business to the next level? Here’s the breakdown:
Table of Contents
What is brand identity?
What does the term brand identity mean?
Brand identity is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. Brand identity is different from “brand image” and “branding,” even though these terms are sometimes treated as interchangeable.
The term branding refers to the marketing practice of actively shaping a distinctive brand. Brand is the perception of the company in the eyes of the world.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Let’s say you are a middle school student. As an awkward pre-adolescent, you want to be perceived as cool and get invited to sit at the best table in the cafeteria. But you can’t just force other people to have that image of you. In order to develop this brand, you need to do some work.
So you make sure you watch the right YouTube channels so you always know the latest meme. Maybe you start working on your free throw. And cultivating on an impression of Mr. Archibald, your science teacher. These actions are the work you’re putting towards develop your desired image; they’re your branding.
Finally, you need to make sure you look the part. You save up your money to buy the new Adidas shoes everyone covets. You get a new haircut. You try out for (and join) the basketball team.
Those tangible elements—the shoes, the haircut, the team membership—that’s brand identity.
Your brand identity is what makes you instantly recognizable to your customers. Your audience will associate your brand identity with your product or service, and that identity is what forges the connection between you and your customers, builds customer loyalty, and determines how your customers will perceive your brand.
How to develop a strong brand identity
Know who you are. Before you know what tangible elements you want to make up your brand identity, you need to know who you are as a brand.
A colorful, playful & fun brand identity design by pecas
Who you are as a brand is made up of a few key elements:
These elements are what define your brand, and before you start building your brand identity, it’s important you have a clear understanding of each.
If you’re having trouble figuring out who exactly you are, don’t sweat it. Sometimes, all you need is a simple brainstorm to help you get clarity on who you are as a brand.
You can also check out this awesome branding workbook from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. While this workbook is geared towards personal branding, the strategies will work for any type of business model.
Once you’ve locked in who you are as a brand, it’s time to build the identity that will bring your brand to life and show who you are to the people who matter most: your customers.
Design: the foundation of your brand identity
Just like your Adidas built the brand identity of your middle-school-star-athlete persona, your design is what will build the brand identity of your company.
Your corporate design assets are the tangible elements that will determine how your brand is perceived. Things like your logo, your packaging, your web design, your social media graphics, your business cards and the uniforms your employees wear.
In other words, nailing your design = nailing your brand identity = building a successful business that’s an accurate representation of who you are as a brand.
So, how exactly do you nail your design and build a brand identity that will take your business to the next level?
Developing your brand designBefore you start creating your design assets, you need to start from the ground up and lock in the basics of your design structure: the building blocks of your brand identity.
The building blocks you’ll want to determine before you create your design assets include:
TypographyTypography refers to—you guessed it—the font (or type) you choose for your branding materials. It’s particularly important to choose logo fonts and brand fonts wisely. There are four major types of typography:
The typography you choose will say a lot about your brand, so choose your fonts wisely.
A brand guide with brand colors by ludibes
Next up is color. People—your potential customers included—have psychological ties to different colors, and using branding colors and logo colors strategically can have a serious impact on how your brand is perceived by your audience.
Here are what the colors of the rainbow (plus a few extras) can do to help your brand identity:
Form/ShapeWhen it comes to your designs, you also want to think about form and shape. This subtle but effective element that can be used to reinforce the desired reaction from your customers: so, for example, a logo that is all circles and soft edges will inspire a very different reaction from a logo that’s sharp and square.
Here’s how different forms can shape your brand identity (pun intended):
Designing your brand identity
Your brand identity is made of many elements. Once the building blocks of your design are created, it’s time to work with a designer to bring your brand identity to life and translate who you are as a brand into tangible design assets you can use in your marketing.
Your brand identity can be expressed in any number of elements. Depending on the nature of your business, one asset or another may be more or less important.
For example, a restaurant should put a lot of thought into their menu and physical space. A digital marketing agency, however, needs to focus more on their website and social media pages.
Common elements of brand identity include:
Logo design is the cornerstone in your brand identity. When working with your designer, you want to aim for your logo to tick off the following boxes:
You also want to make sure that your design partner delivers your logo in multiple formats (like a black and white version or multiple sizes) to ensure you always have the logo you need—and that each is in line with your brand identity.
Learn more on how to design the perfect logo.
Your website is one of the most representative aspects of your brand identity. Especially if you’re running an online business or a digital product, your customers will definitely check your website out before deciding to do business with you. Your website is where your brand identity should come through in full force.
Learn the building blocks of effective web layouts.
Rose Finch gin bottles designed by sikarame. lIf your product is a physical one, then product packaging is key to attracting the right customers. Whether you’re thinking about the bottle of a cold-brew beverage, or the mail you’ll send to your customers who purchased clothes from your ecommerce business, don’t underestimate the value of good design in improving the experience – and driving both loyalty and repeat purchases. Packaging is an awesome opportunity for your design to shine.
Business cards. If you’re doing any sort of business development (and who isn’t), you’ll want to stock up on business cards. A well-designed card offers the chance to reinforce a positive opinion of yourself in the eyes of potential clients or customers. When it comes to business card design, keep it simple: your company logo on one side of the card and your key personal details on the other side should suffice.
Learn how to design the perfect business card.
Email is a great way to engage your customers and drive business. But most people are at inbox overload, so if you want to grow your business via email, you need the right design strategy to set yourself apart from the clutter. Think about the purpose of the email.
Are you trying to make a personal connection? Then keep it short, sweet, and simple. Are you trying to educate? Then format it well so it’s easily readable and scannable and add a few images to make it pop. Are you trying to tell your customers about a new clothing line you launched? Make a few stunning product images the focus.
Create a brand style guide
A brand style guide is a must to preserve your brand identity.Once you’ve got your design assets, you want to make sure they’re used in the right way, which is why you’ll definitely want to create a brand style guide. This document—which outlines your design assets, when and how to use them, as well as any design do’s and dont’s for your brand—will ensure that any future design is in line with your brand identity and generates the right perception with your audience.
Consistency is key to create a strong brand identity. You wouldn’t want your brand to look totally different on social media than it does on your website. That would confuse customers and make your brand feel less trustworthy and professional. So, make sure to always stick to a brand guide that covers all the different elements of your brand identity. That’s what is going to enable you to build brand recognition and brand loyalty in the long term.
Brand identity in a nutshell…
Your brand identity is what sets you apart from the endless sea of competitors and shows your customers who you are and what they can expect from working with you. And if you want your brand to be perceived in a positive light, it’s crucial that you nail your brand identity and create designs that accurately portray who you are to your customers. And now that you know how to nail that identity, it’s time to start designing.
Web design is unique because it takes both a designer and a user to make it work. After all, the whole purpose of putting a design on an interactive medium like a computer is so that users can, well, use it. Interaction is also a good measure for how engaged a site visitor is because if they’re interacting, they’re paying attention. Good interactive web design will compel the user to engage with a website, scroll down and consume more content, to navigate to other pages, to share with a friend and, of course, to click that call-to-action button.
One of the challenges interactive web designs face is that there are so many ways a user can interact with a page, and even more ways that the page can respond. Some interactive designs will create a seamless user experience, giving the user feedback and directing them on what to do next. Some will be less obvious, the responses mismatched to the user’s action, or worse, nonexistent.
In order to learn how to tell a good interactive website experience from a bad one, we’re going to take our lessons from the pros. Here, we’ve compiled useful tips for interactive web design by rounding up some of our favorite examples and discussing what makes them work.
1. Take advantage of loading screen time
Loading can be one of the biggest obstacles to the web browsing experience. A business can put so much money and effort into building an outstanding, beautiful website, but if it takes more than two seconds to load, research has shown that the visitor becomes exponentially more likely to leave before seeing any of it. It’s fair to assume that users experience loading as a negative experience.
But loading screens can also be an opportunity. If you have the user’s attention, why not make the most of it? These moments provide an unexpected and, therefore, extra special opportunity to impress users through animations. They’re a novelty chance to show off brand personality and engage and excite users. Often, these animations actually give the user a sense of progress with a loading bar (or something similar) to demonstrate how much time remains before the user accesses the next page.
Ideally, these loading screens offer users something to do, such as a game to play while they wait, which creates a fun, interactive experience.
The point is that loading doesn’t necessarily mean a negative experience for the user. They don’t even have to only be quick and painless—sometimes, they’re the most exciting part of a website.
2. Organize information through animated scrolling
Scrolling is one of the simplest and most intuitive interactions that a user can make. But just because the user might not think about scrolling, doesn’t mean the web designer shouldn’t be! There are plenty of ways that designers have capitalized on scrolling animations to give the user a sense of dynamic movement throughout a website. Let’s go over some common ones.
A popular technique has been to trigger specific animations to activate as the user scrolls through the website. It’s pretty magical in bringing visuals to life and it creates the illusion that the page the user is accessing is actually being built up, in real time, in response to their interaction.
Parallax scrolling (aka asymmetrical scrolling)
A similar technique that has been gaining traction is parallax scrolling. This type of movement involves say two objects on a screen moving at two different speeds, as the user scrolls down the page. The result is a simulation of 3D depth of movement, as foreground objects usually move faster than background objects.
Scrolling page transitions
And finally, designers can use full page transitions, in which the traditional smooth scroll is replaced with either a jump to the next screen or a wholesale page change. This can create a dramatic effect, introducing not only new page elements but sometimes an entirely different color scheme, making the website feel brand new with every scroll.
Overall, these scrolling animations give users important feedback on their interaction—letting them know that they’ve just entered a new section of the website and should expect a change in the type of information being delivered. In short, they provide clear hierarchy and organization in an impressive, interactive package.
3. Breakup vertical movement with sliders and carousels
Carousels are so-called because they condense website content into rotating sections that the user can cycle through, much like the turnstile motion of a real-life carnival counterpart.
They are becoming more common on websites due to the increasing popularity of swiping interactions in mobile apps. Because they are essentially a form of horizontal scrolling, they provide the user a much needed break from the endless monotony of vertical scrolling.
But this is not the only reason why you might want to break up vertical movement. As we mentioned earlier, users tend to associate downward scrolling with progressing to a new part of the website. Carousels and sliders, on the other hand, allow web designers to incorporate more context to each section, since the user isn’t technically leaving them.
This means rather than cluttering the page with all the necessary information at once, carousels collapse site elements into more bitesize segments, allowing the user to cycle through them bit by bit.
This works best when the content is similar in format, so group together either product images, profiles or customer testimonials etc. They’re also useful for showcasing variations, such as products that come in different colors. In terms of animating these carousels, styles range from straightforward left-to-right transitions, to card shuffling, to a rotating wheel animation that’s reminiscent of retro viewmaster slides.
4. Blow up the navigation menu
Like swiping, hamburger menus are another common trend of mobile/app design that has made its way onto desktop websites. Even if the hamburger icon itself is not present, users are generally familiar with the idea that the navigation does not need to be displayed at all times. Users know that it’s there and that they can interact with it when needed. Hiding the menu can give the rest of the web page space to breathe and at the same time, the menu’s reveal is yet another interactive web design opportunity.
Since users are now choosing to pull up the menu, many designers are answering that call with navigation that takes over the entire screen. This allows for big typography, descriptive images and snazzy hover animations.
Going big with menu interaction makes sense: navigation is all about control. The user is effectively steering the ship and emphasizing the menu helps the user visualize the weight of their power over the page. All in all, menu designs are staying hidden until needed, at which point they become larger than life. If you ask me, it’s a nice change from the grey top-of-the-screen, nested lists of yore.
5. Replace forms with user questionnaires
One of the most onerous parts of interacting with a website is entering information. Users are generally wary of giving out their information on a website. The best way to mitigate this is by making the process less like filling out a form at the doctor’s office and more like a get-to-know-you question-and-answer session.
In fact, a prime example of this technique in action has come from tax services like some tax preparation companies who break down tax forms into simple, easy-to-understand questions. This is especially helpful for services that have multiple potential products to sell to a site visitor and need to help narrow down their choices by understanding their needs, tastes, budget, and more.
When it comes to animation in interactive web design, the small movements are what really sell it. And when you consider that the purpose of a website’s animation is often feedback (like letting the user know what they can and can’t interact with or whether they’ve done the right thing), it makes sense that this feedback works best on a subconscious level.
Animations that draw too much attention to themselves can be distracting to the user, overshadowing whatever feedback they were meant to impart in order to show off the animator’s skill. This is where micro-interactions come in.
Micro-interactions are a broad category that describe all of the little ways that a user might interact with a page. Some examples of micro-interactions include hovering over something, closing out of a window, pulling to refresh, and clicking icons such as star ratings, bookmarks, notification bells or add to cart.
In terms of animating micro-interactions, some popular styles include turning a button green, transforming an icon into a checkmark, or an outgoing circle that accompanies a click like an adorable, baby shockwave. The goal is to let the user know that they’ve made a successful change to the page and the design of micro-interactions should be simple and satisfying to this end.
Interactive web design is good web design
At the end of the day, interactive web design is what the internet was made for. Out of the many reasons a visitor might have to check out a website, they are ultimately there to interact, not just to find the information they need but to experience it. This is why a website that fails to capitalize on these interactions can easily get lost in competition. The tips we’ve provided here are a great place to start to make sure this doesn’t happen.
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f you own a business, you need a website. But I’m going to guess as you’re reading an article on how to create one, you probably already know that.
by 2ché for sparkingmatt. What you’re realizing is that while using the internet is a pretty straightforward task, designing, building and creating a website is pretty flippin’ complicated. You want it to look nice. You want it to be easy to use. You want people to be able to find it on Google. You want it to actually help you convert visitors into clients… But how do you do all that? And more importantly, how do you do it right?
Our Ultimate Guide to Web Design will walk you through the process of getting a website step-by-step:
What you need to know to get started
Learn who’s who in the world of web design and development
When you design a logo for your brand it’s pretty easy to hire one person to do the job and have it turn out great. That’s not necessarily the case when creating your website. While there are individuals or agencies out there that offer an end-to-end solution, it’s not unlikely that you’ll end up working with more than one person on your adventure to build a website. Here are a few of the characters you may encounter on your journey:
Web designers are, well, designers. They take your ideas and turn them into a pretty (or badass) mockup that shows what your future website will look like. This is typically done in Adobe Photoshop or a similar type graphics program.
UX (user experience) or UI (user interface) designers focus on how your layout design impacts your users. For example, they’ll help you decide where to put buttons to get more people to click them, or how to structure your navigation to make your site flow as seamlessly as possible. (There is a difference between UX and UI.
This article explains it well.) Oftentimes, there is overlap between UX/UI designers and web designers; if you’re looking to save money, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hire a freelancer that has both skill sets.
Web developers—also sometimes called engineers or coders—are magical folks who have learned to speak computer. They take the pretty (or badass) mockup your designer made and translate it into a coding language so it can be displayed on the web. To further complicate things, there are many different coding languages out there, and most developers specialize in one or a few.
Front end developers specialize in the things we see when we look at a website (e.g. rendering images, text, animations, drop down menus, page layout, etc).
Back end developers on the other hand specialize in what’s going on behind the scenes and are necessary if your website needs to communicate with a database. (If you’re going to have a shopping cart, user profiles, or want to be able to upload any content on your own, you’re going to need a database.)
SEO specialists, content strategists, and copy or content writers may also be experts you want to consult as you build your website. They can help you figure out what needs to go on your site to help the right people find it (via search engines) and decide to buy once there.
Acquire a domain name and hostingJust like if you were opening a brick-and-mortar business, the first thing you need to do when you’re building a website is to rent a location.
When you get web hosting you’re renting server space at a data center, much like this large one in Nevada.
Web hosting is the physical space where the assets for your website will live. All those images and text and databases actually require a physical server to host them.
While you can buy your own and put it in your office/house/garage, the vast majority of people and businesses rent hosting space through a company. Hosting (like rent) is typically paid monthly.
For most businesses it will be in the $5-$20/month range, but could be much higher if you have large data needs. Here’s a list of recommended web hosting companies, but you may want to check with your web developer before purchasing (as they may have a preferred vendor).
Your domain name is what people type into their browser to get to your site (e.g. 99designs.com). Typically it is your business name. To get a domain name, you register it with a domain registrar. You will have to pay a small fee (generally less than $10/year) to purchase and retain the name. Most hosting services also serve as domain registrars; that’s generally your best bet as it’ll be the easiest to setup.
Finally, you will need to point your domain name to your servers which basically tells the internet that when someone types your domain into their browser, it should look on this server warehouse to find the right pictures and text to display. While this process isn’t complicated, it can be confusing.
This is a step you can try to DIY (the support team at your web host or domain registrar can help you) but is also something your web developer can easily help you do.
Think about structure and gather the content for your websiteYour web designer or developer is not going to write the about page on your website or take photos of your products for your store. You’re going to have to provide all of the content as well as provide the general structure of the site.
For structure you’ll want to think about what pages you need, common ones include:
Each of these types of pages will need to be laid out and designed, and each one will need to have content on it.
You don’t necessarily need to have content finalized at this stage in the process, but you do need to have an idea of what content you’ll want on your site and a plan for how you’ll get it. Do you need to set aside time to write copy (or hire someone to do it for you)? Should you hire a photographer to take product photos? You will need to provide all custom imagery (like your logo or photos of your team) for the site, but a web designer can probably help you source stock imagery if you want.
What is stock imagery? (And how to use it right.)
Pro tip: your designer (especially if they have UX/UI experience) may have some great ideas for content and structure you haven’t thought of. It is likely worth having a discussion with them early in the process.
Determine what functionality you need
When someone visits your website, what do you want to happen? Are they just getting information about your product or service, like a phone number or opening hours? Do they need to be able to purchase goods? Is their main goal to read blog articles or learn a skill? Are they filling out a form for a quote? Should they be able to create user profiles and upload their own information?
Your functionality needs are going to determine how you can get your site developed and who you need to work with. They will also have a huge impact on your budget, so you’ll need to have it sorted out in order to get accurate quotes.
Understand what a CMS is and decide if you need one
A CMS (Content Management System) is a database and web application. Essentially, it allows users (like you and your colleagues/employees) to upload content to go on different parts of your site. If you want to be able to regularly edit text or change photos on your website and you don’t know how to code you will need a CMS!
There are a lot of CMS options out there. There are fantastic out-of-the-box options for common use cases (e.g. WordPress for blogging, Shopify for hosting an ecommerce site, Six for building out a profile). But if you need advanced functionality (like you’re hoping to build the next Facebook or Uber or 99designs) you’re going to have to have it custom developed.
How to get your website created
Template sites and builders
Hire freelancers for a custom solution
If you want to have more control over the look and functionality of your site, your best bet is to hire one or more freelancers to help you build it. This is great for getting exactly what you need at a fair cost, but will likely require you to be more hands-on.
We recommend searching through designer profiles to find someone whose style matches what you had in mind. Alternatively, if you want to get lots of design ideas. We’ll help you write a brief. Designers from around the world will read it and send you their ideas for your site. You give feedback to refine the designs, and ultimately choose your favorite(s) as the winner.
Keep in mind you may need to hire both a designer and a developer for your project, though there are some freelancers who do both. Make sure you clarify up front so you can budget (both time and money) accordingly.
Hire freelance designers for a hybrid solutionIf you want a custom look, but don’t want to invest in completely custom development, you’re in luck! It’s possible to start with an out-of-the-box template solution, and customize it with your own unique template.
Note, this is also possible with several other template sites (for example, you can create custom templates or modify existing ones for Shopify or Squarespace) so if you would rather use one of those platforms, that’s also an option. Note that in any of these cases, the design still does need to be translated into code, so make sure you ask if your designer can do that, or know that you will have to hire a developer.
Hire an agency for a custom end-to-end solution
Web design and development agencies are experts at what they do. They will not only be able to guide you to help you make the right decisions, but they’ll be able to take you from wireframe to fully developed site. Of course, all of that comes at a premium cost. This is a great option for companies with complex needs, or those for whom cost is less of an issue.
How to design a custom website in 7 steps
1. Determine what you need and hire a designerHave you got your domain name figured out? Do you know what functionality you need? A list of the pages you want designed? Do you have a plan for gathering all of the custom content you need to fill out your website?
Awesome! Time to hire a designer. To find the right one, you’ll want to look through portfolios. Think about your brand’s personality and determine if the designer is a stylistic match. (For example, do you want something edgy and modern or fun and playful?) It’s generally a good idea to look for designers who have experience in your industry, or with the specific type of site you’re looking for. If you’re a photographer, look for designers who have galleries in their portfolio, if you sell goods, look for one who has experience with other ecommerce companies.
Time to hire a designer
LIf search engine optimization is the process of optimizing a website for search, SEOs need at least a basic understanding of the thing they're optimizing!
Below, we outline the website’s journey from domain name purchase all the way to its fully rendered state in a browser. An important component of the website’s journey is the critical rendering path, which is the process of a browser turning a website’s code into a viewable page.
Knowing this about websites is important for SEOs to understand for a few reasons:
Imagine that the website loading process is your commute to work. You get ready at home, gather your things to bring to the office, and then take the fastest route from your home to your work. It would be silly to put on just one of your shoes, take a longer route to work, drop your things off at the office, then immediately return home to get your other shoe, right?
That’s sort of what inefficient websites do. This chapter will teach you how to diagnose where your website might be inefficient, what you can do to streamline, and the positive ramifications on your rankings and user experience that can result from that streamlining.
Before a website can be accessed, it needs to be set up!
How a website gets from server to browser
Talk to your developers about async!
Something you can bring up with your developers is shortening the critical rendering path by setting scripts to "async" when they’re not needed to render content above the fold, which can make your web pages load faster.
Async tells the DOM that it can continue to be assembled while the browser is fetching the scripts needed to display your web page. If the DOM has to pause assembly every time the browser fetches a script (called “render-blocking scripts”), it can substantially slow down your page load. It would be like going out to eat with your friends and having to pause the conversation every time one of you went up to the counter to order, only resuming once they got back.
With async, you and your friends can continue to chat even when one of you is ordering. You might also want to bring up other optimizations that devs can implement to shorten the critical rendering path, such as removing unnecessary scripts entirely, like old tracking scripts.
Now that you know how a website appears in a browser, we’re going to focus on what a website is made of — in other words, the code (programming languages) used to construct those web pages.
The three most common are:
HTML: What a website says HTML stands for hypertext markup language, and it serves as the backbone of a website. Elements like headings, paragraphs, lists, and content are all defined in the HTML.
HTML is important for SEOs to know because it’s what lives “under the hood” of any page they create or work on. While your CMS likely doesn’t require you to write your pages in HTML (ex: selecting “hyperlink” will allow you to create a link without you having to type in “a href=”), it is what you’re modifying every time you do something to a web page such as adding content, changing the anchor text of internal links, and so on.
Google crawls these HTML elements to determine how relevant your document is to a particular query. In other words, what’s in your HTML plays a huge role in how your web page ranks in Google organic search!
CSS: How a website looks
CSS stands for "cascading style sheets," and this is what causes your web pages to take on certain fonts, colors, and layouts. HTML was created to describe content, rather than to style it, so when CSS entered the scene, it was a game-changer. With CSS, web pages could be “beautified” without requiring manual coding of styles into the HTML of every page — a cumbersome process, especially for large sites.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Google’s indexing system began to render web pages more like an actual browser, as opposed to a text-only browser. A black-hat SEO practice that tried to capitalize on Google’s older indexing system was hiding text and links via CSS for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. This “hidden text and links” practice is a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Components of CSS that SEOs, in particular, should care about:
Thankfully, there's a way to check whether Google sees the same thing as your visitors. To see a page how Googlebot views your page, use Google Search Console's "URL Inspection" tool. Simply paste your page's URL into the GSC search bar:
From here, click "Test Live URL".
After Googlebot has recrawled your URL, click "View Tested Page" to see how your page is being crawled and rendered.
Clicking the "Screenshot" tab adjacent to "HTML" shows how Googlebot smartphone renders your page.
In return, you’ll see how Googlebot sees your page versus how a visitor (or you) may see the page. In the "More Info" tab, Google will also show you a list of any resources they may not have been able to get for the URL you entered.
Understanding the way websites work lays a great foundation for what we’ll talk about next: technical optimizations to help Google understand the pages on your website better.
How search engines understand websites. Imagine being a search engine crawler scanning down a 10,000-word article about how to bake a cake. How do you identify the author, recipe, ingredients, or steps required to bake a cake? This is where schema markup comes in. It allows you to spoon-feed search engines more specific classifications for what type of information is on your page.
Schema is a way to label or organize your content so that search engines have a better understanding of what certain elements on your web pages are. This code provides structure to your data, which is why schema is often referred to as “structured data.” The process of structuring your data is often referred to as “markup” because you are marking up your content with organizational code.
JSON-LD is Google’s preferred schema markup (announced in May ‘16), which Bing also supports. To view a full list of the thousands of available schema markups, visit Schema.org or view the Google Developers Introduction to Structured Data for additional information on how to implement structured data. After you implement the structured data that best suits your web pages, you can test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
In addition to helping bots like Google understand what a particular piece of content is about, schema markup can also enable special features to accompany your pages in the SERPs. These special features are referred to as "rich snippets," and you’ve probably seen them in action. They’re things like:
Remember, using structured data can help enable a rich snippet to be present, but does not guarantee it. Other types of rich snippets will likely be added in the future as the use of schema markup increases.
Some last words of advice for schema success:
Tell search engines about your preferred pages with canonicalization.
When Google crawls the same content on different web pages, it sometimes doesn’t know which page to index in search results. This is why the rel="canonical" tag was invented: to help search engines better index the preferred version of content and not all its duplicates.
The rel="canonical" tag allows you to tell search engines where the original, master version of a piece of content is located. You’re essentially saying, "Hey search engine! Don’t index this; index this source page instead." So, if you want to republish a piece of content, whether exactly or slightly modified, but don’t want to risk creating duplicate content, the canonical tag is here to save the day.
Proper canonicalization ensures that every unique piece of content on your website has only one URL. To prevent search engines from indexing multiple versions of a single page, Google recommends having a self-referencing canonical tag on every page on your site. Without a canonical tag telling Google which version of your web page is the preferred one, https://www.example.com could get indexed separately from https://example.com, creating duplicates.
"Avoid duplicate content" is an Internet truism, and for good reason! Google wants to reward sites with unique, valuable content — not content that’s taken from other sources and repeated across multiple pages. Because engines want to provide the best searcher experience, they will rarely show multiple versions of the same content, opting instead to show only the canonicalized version, or if a canonical tag does not exist, whichever version they deem most likely to be the original.
Distinguishing between content filtering & content penalties
There is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. However, you should try to keep duplicate content from causing indexing issues by using the rel="canonical" tag when possible. When duplicates of a page exist, Google will choose a canonical and filter the others out of search results. That doesn’t mean you’ve been penalized. It just means that Google only wants to show one version of your content.
Learn more about canonicalization
It’s also very common for websites to have multiple duplicate pages due to sort and filter options. For example, on an e-commerce site, you might have what’s called a faceted navigation that allows visitors to narrow down products to find exactly what they’re looking for, such as a “sort by” feature that reorders results on the product category page from lowest to highest price. This could create a URL that looks something like this: example.com/mens-shirts?sort=price_ascending. Add in more sort/filter options like color, size, material, brand, etc. and just think about all the variations of your main product category page this would create!
When we understand what makes their web browsing experience optimal, we can create those experiences for maximum search performance.
Ensuring a positive experience for your mobile visitors.
Being that well over half of all web traffic today comes from mobile, it’s safe to say that your website should be accessible and easy to navigate for mobile visitors. In April 2015, Google rolled out an update to its algorithm that would promote mobile-friendly pages over non-mobile-friendly pages. So how can you ensure that your website is mobile-friendly? Although there are three main ways to configure your website for mobile, Google recommends responsive web design.
Responsive websites are designed to fit the screen of whatever type of device your visitors are using. You can use CSS to make the web page "respond" to the device size. This is ideal because it prevents visitors from having to double-tap or pinch-and-zoom in order to view the content on your pages. Not sure if your web pages are mobile friendly? You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to check!
As of 2018, Google started switching websites over to mobile-first indexing. That change sparked some confusion between mobile-friendliness and mobile-first, so it’s helpful to disambiguate. With mobile-first indexing, Google crawls and indexes the mobile version of your web pages. Making your website compatible to mobile screens is good for users and your performance in search, but mobile-first indexing happens independently of mobile-friendliness.
This has raised some concerns for websites that lack parity between mobile and desktop versions, such as showing different content, navigation, links, etc. on their mobile view. A mobile site with different links, for example, will alter the way in which Googlebot (mobile) crawls your site and sends link equity to your other pages.
Improving page speed to mitigate visitor frustration
Google wants to serve content that loads lightning-fast for searchers. We’ve come to expect fast-loading results, and when we don’t get them, we’ll quickly bounce back to the SERP in search of a better, faster page. This is why page speed is a crucial aspect of on-site SEO. We can improve the speed of our web pages by taking advantage of tools like the ones we’ve mentioned below. Click on the links to learn more about each.
Images are one of the number one reasons for slow-loading web pages! In addition to image compression, optimizing image alt text, choosing the right image format, and submitting image sitemaps, there are other technical ways to optimize the speed and way in which images are shown to your users. Some primary ways to improve image delivery are as follows:
There are more than just three image size versions!
It’s a common misconception that you just need a desktop, tablet, and mobile-sized version of your image. There are a huge variety of screen sizes and resolutions.
Learn more about SRCSET
1. SRCSET: How to deliver the best image size for each deviceThe SRCSET attribute allows you to have multiple versions of your image and then specify which version should be used in different situations. This piece of code is added to the <img> tag (where your image is located in the HTML) to provide unique images for specific-sized devices.
This is like the concept of responsive design that we discussed earlier, except for images!
This doesn’t just speed up your image load time, it’s also a unique way to enhance your on-page user experience by providing different and optimal images to different device types.
2. Show visitors image loading is in progress with lazy loadingLazy loading occurs when you go to a webpage and, instead of seeing a blank white space for where an image will be, a blurry lightweight version of the image or a colored box in its place appears while the surrounding text loads. After a few seconds, the image clearly loads in full resolution. The popular blogging platform Medium does this really well.
The low resolution version is initially loaded, and then the full high resolution version. This also helps to optimize your critical rendering path! So while all of your other page resources are being downloaded, you’re showing a low-resolution teaser image that helps tell users that things are happening/being loaded. For more information on how you should lazy load your images, check out Google’s Lazy Loading Guidance.
Improve speed by condensing and bundling your files
Page speed audits will often make recommendations such as “minify resource,” but what does that actually mean? Minification condenses a code file by removing things like line breaks and spaces, as well as abbreviating code variable names wherever possible.
By both minifying and bundling the files needed to construct your web page, you’ll speed up your website and reduce the number of your HTTP (file) requests.
Improving the experience for international audiencesWebsites that target audiences from multiple countries should familiarize themselves with international SEO best practices in order to serve up the most relevant experiences. Without these optimizations, international visitors might have difficulty finding the version of your site that caters to them.
There are two main ways a website can be internationalized:
Sites that target speakers of multiple languages are considered multilingual websites. These sites should add something called an hreflang tag to show Google that your page has copy for another language. Learn more about hreflang.
Sites that target audiences in multiple countries are called multi-regional websites and they should choose a URL structure that makes it easy to target their domain or pages to specific countries. This can include the use of a country code top level domain (ccTLD) such as “.ca” for Canada, or a generic top-level domain (gTLD) with a country-specific subfolder such as “example.com/ca” for Canada. Learn more about locale-specific URLs.
Establishing authority so that your pages will rank highly in search results.
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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 redirects.
A 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.
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.
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 Factors
On-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 buildingany links. 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.
Call Swift Digital Marketing Agency Today at (216)339-6041.
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 & Body
Mention 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."
Your 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.
Research shows that you can tell a lot about someone's personality, politics, status, just from looking at their cloth
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.