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.
Call Swift Digital Marketing Today! (216)339-6041
At first sight, website design to a viewer appears to be the visuals seen on a web page. But the fact is that a whole gamut of techniques and skills are involved in creating a web page design to give it the desired results.
So, web design is about deciding on a lot of elements such as the layout, graphics, colors, fonts, structure, content, text styles, interactive features, imagery, interface, standardized code, etc. It involves a wide range of skills and disciplines. Professional website design is the one that maintains an appropriate balance in the different elements and ensures consistency and integrity of the design.
Website design has become inevitable to do business and highlighting its online presence in the modern competitive markets. It contains all the information like details of a company, its products or services, contacts, blogs, and much more. Professional web design has the ability to create a desired corporate identity of a business and delivers its brand message to the target audience.
A creative web page design is a tool also for better conversion rate, by which a company can achieve steady growth in sales and revenue. Moreover, user-friendly online web designs build trust for products or services, which is essential to creating a stable, loyal customer base.
Who needs a professionally designed website?
Website design is an integral part of doing business in this digital age. But who really needs a professionally designed website? Well, all those enterprises who must ensure a dominating online presence and wish to stay ahead of competitors look for outstanding modern website designs.
So, practically every company be its logo design agency, website designing agency, brochure designing company, or any type of company in a hard-fought competitive market looks for a unique website to stand out.
Such a professional website design has brand colors and fonts, relevant images, icons, content, etc. elements that reflect the company's business values and message. A well-thought-out web page design is a requirement to engages visitors with user-friendly features and convert them into potential customers.
Contact Swift Digital Marketing Agency at (216) 339-6041.
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.
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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Digital marketing is the act of promoting and selling products and services by leveraging online marketing tactics such as social media marketing, search marketing, and email marketing.
When you get down to it, digital marketing is simply marketing.
It's how today's businesses are getting their message in front of their best prospects and customers.
Rule #1 in marketing is to make the right offer at the right time and in the right place. Today, your customers are online: hanging out in social media, staying updated on news sites and blogs, and searching online when they have a need.
Digital marketing puts you in those same channels, so your best prospects can see you, learn more about you, and even ask questions to learn more about you and your products or services.
If you're new to digital marketing, it may feel overwhelming to think about mastering all the online marketing tactics used in digital marketing.
We get that...
And yes, there are different tactics you'll need to learn. But they all work together to create a foundation for your business: attracting prospects, nurturing relationships, and making offers your audience will appreciate and respond to.
Let's take a closer look at how that happens.
How Does Digital Marketing Work?
In many ways, digital marketing is no different than traditional marketing. In both, smart organizations seek to develop mutually beneficial relationships with prospects, leads, and customers.
But digital marketing has replaced most traditional marketing tactics because it's designed to reach today's consumers.
As an example...
Think about the last important purchase you made. Perhaps you purchased a home, hired someone to fix your roof, or changed paper suppliers at your office.
Regardless of what it was, you probably began by searching the Internet to learn more about available solutions, who provided them, and what your best options were. Your ultimate buying decision was then based on the reviews you read, the friends and family you consulted, and the solutions, features, and pricing you researched.
Most purchasing decisions begin online.
That being the case, an online presence is absolutely necessary—regardless of what you sell.
The key is to develop a digital marketing strategy that puts you in all the places your followers are already hanging out, then using a variety of digital channels to connect with them in a multitude of ways...
...Content to keep them updated with industry news, the problems they're facing, and how you solve those problems...
...Social media to share that content and then engage with them as friends and followers...
...Search engine optimization (SEO) to optimize your content, so it will show up when someone is searching for the information you've written about...
...Advertising to drive paid traffic to your website, where people can see your offers...
...And email marketing to follow up with your audience to be sure they continue to get the solutions they're looking for.
When you put all these pieces together, you'll end up with an efficient, easy-to-operate digital marketing machine. And while it looks intimidating to build that machine from scratch, it's as simple as learning and integrating one digital marketing tactic at a time.
Which is why we've put together this guide: To help you build or refine your own digital marketing plan without the false starts and missteps that come with doing it alone.
What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?
Having a strong digital presence will help you in multiple ways:
Learn the Strategies That Get Real Results
Be aware, the digital marketing scene is ever changing. Gurus, podcasts, and bloggers declare a tool or tactic hot one week and dead the next.
The truth is, digital marketing is less about "digital" and more about "marketing," largely because digital marketing has come of age. Its fundamentals have already been established.
At Swift, our objective is to clear the confusion about the tactics that work and how to use them to grow your business. We stand firmly against the so-called "gurus" who promote the next "shiny object" or "quick fix" that will reportedly kill email marketing, digital advertising, or search engine optimization.
Here, we're all about the fundamentals.
As you'll see in this guide, these 8 core disciplines of digital marketing will be critical to your business growth today, tomorrow, and for years to come. Each of these disciplines will be covered in depth in a chapter of this Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing as shown below.
About The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing
Digital marketing isn't magic, and you don't need to be a computer whiz to be good at it. If you offer a product or service that the market desires, you can successfully market them in digital channels using the strategies taught in this guide.
The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing doesn't present hype about the latest flashy tactics in marketing—digital or otherwise. Instead, this resource covers foundational disciplines such as content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, always in the context of the goals that businesses care about.
These goals include acquiring new leads and customers, monetizing the leads and customers you already have, and creating communities of brand advocates and promoters.
Areas we serve
Contact us today to start!
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.
SEO allows customers to find your company easily in search engines, which means more website traffic, more conversions, and more revenue for your company.
Unlike traditional advertising campaigns that target large audiences over a set period of time, SEO empowers your business to reach potential customers while they're actively searching for you, year after year.
For example, when you decide to target a keyword with your content, that content is always available for users to read — essentially meaning they can convert at any time around the clock.
For this reason, SEO online marketing is also a great strategy if you have clients around the world. Time zone doesn't affect the results of SEO since it's strategies are virtually always in place, and always working to bring your business more customers.
That's the ultimate advantage of SEO — you can reach your customer base any time, any day. The customers and leads can keep coming in, even when you're not actively running an ad campaign. Even on holidays!
But that's a pretty big overview. How can you achieve this kind of online growth for yourself?
Swift Marketing Agency is here to help! Our team of experts knows what it takes to create successful SEO strategies. You can call 216-339-6041 or contact us online for help getting started today!
If you'd like to learn more about SEO strategies, you can keep reading below! On this page, we'll take a look at the three most impactful SEO strategies you can use to get more traffic, earn more customers, and close more sales than ever before.
No matter your industry, these SEO strategies can work for you.
How do SEO strategies help your business?If you're not sold on the idea of SEO, let's first talk about how the SEO strategies we talk about can help your business succeed.
One huge benefit from SEO is that you'll be able to improve the ranking of your website's pages in search engine results pages like Google. If you don't rank well in results pages, it's highly unlikely that your target customers will find your website, let alone buy your products and services.
SEO can help get you to the top of search results which means more potential customers will see your website pages, visit your website, and purchase your products.
However, these results don't happen overnight, and in order to see results, it's recommended that you implement more than just one of the strategies mentioned below. In fact, some strategies go hand-in-hand, which means it's difficult to have one without the other.
For example, if you implement multimedia on your website, you'll also need to implement alt tags so that Google is able to read your multimedia. Another example would be if you implement an extensive content plan, you should also be sure to implement multimedia so that your content is engaging and interesting.
When you pair more than one SEO strategy together, you're bound to see results for your business!
How many SEO strategies should I use?
There is no hard-and-fast number for how many SEO strategies you should use for success. And in fact, every industry is different and every specific business needs a different campaign.
That being said, if you're already ranking highly for some of your target keywords, but are looking to rank even higher, your campaign might require fewer strategies to succeed.
The number of SEO strategies your business requires depends completely on your business goals, where your campaign currently stands, and your budget.
1. Content production
Content marketing is one of the most popular marketing strategies today. That's because content is essential to SEO success.
Want to learn about our content marketing services? Watch the quick video below!
The term "content" refers to any text, image, video, or interactive that you publish on your website.
Infographics are collections of visualized data that tell a story.
The idea behind an infographic is that statistics can be broken down into visual, manageable chunks.
Then, you can reorganize those chunks into sections that tell a compelling story.
Most infographics follow a simple template that helps them succeed:
By answering these five questions, you can create an infographic for any industry.
Infographics are ideal for earning links back to your site from credible sources. This boosts your site's overall SEO power since links are a major ranking factor in search engine results.
This content also works well on social media, where users can easily share it with their friends and followers. And once they do, you stand to earn even more links, and you gain a huge amount of brand awareness.
The only downside to infographics is that many companies are already creating them, which makes it difficult to stand out.
But you can stand out by creating a high-quality graphic that uses data, design, and storytelling to form a cohesive product.
Many of the infographics online don't follow these rules, and that's why they don't get great results.
But if you can show your target audience that you're dedicated to quality, you'll earn some form of reward for your work.
But if you can show your target audience that you're dedicated to quality, you'll earn some form of reward for your work.
Downloadable content is one of the best forms of lead generation you can use to earn more from your website.
Like infographics, downloads follow a formula to provide the best value to your target audience.
This process requires a lot more work than an infographic because you have to write extensively about a topic.
Downloads also require visual aids and links to other sources to validate their legitimacy. This takes people away from your download, but it also provides them with supplemental information that helps them get a good grasp on the subject.
You can create downloadable content by exporting information from programs like Microsoft Word or Publisher into PDFs.
That places everything in one simple package so you can post the PDF to your website and gate it.
"Gating" your PDF means placing it behind a few form fields that users need to fill out before getting your download.
The most common form fields used for gating are: Name and Email Address.
Once you have this information, you can add it to your email marketing platform. Then, you can include these users in your campaigns and send them more information based on the download they got from you.
That keeps them in your sales funnel, which lets you help them move towards eventually becoming a customer.
With blog posts, infographics, and downloads, you have a high-quality content strategy that'll help your business grow year after year.
Still, they can't succeed on their own. Your content needs another ingredient to thrive in the SEO world.
2. Keyword optimization
Keyword optimization is essential for ranking well in search engines.
Without it, your content can't rank for search terms related for your business.
Fortunately, a lot of keyword optimization is common sense. When you write with the goal of helping a reader, you'll naturally use the keywords that describe the topic of the page.
Using keywords naturally is crucial, though. If you intentionally use keywords as many times as possible on a page, even where they don't make sense, you'll actually lose SEO power with that page.
At the same time, you don't want to get completely sidetracked by another idea and avoid using your keyword altogether. This can also provide a poor user experience if you go off on a tangent instead of sticking to the matter at hand.
You can prevent both of these scenarios by carefully editing your pages before you post them on your site.
We recommend editing once per piece of content. That's just enough time to find any serious flaws in a piece without overthinking the tiny details.
This way, you can keep the ball rolling, and keep producing more content.
Look for grammar mix-ups, spelling errors, complicated sentences, jargon-heavy paragraphs, and keyword usage.
If anything feels off, change the content so that it's up to your business's quality standards.
This helps your pages rank in search results for the terms that matter to your business.
Keywords aren't only meant for body text, though. By using them on key areas of your pages, you can really help your pages climb in search engine results.
Title tags are the names of your site's pages. They're also the first part of your page that Google reads, meaning they're the first bit of context Google can understand.
This means title tags need keywords. Otherwise, Google won't know when or how to rank your page when someone searches for the corresponding keyword.
This is also helpful for drawing clicks to your site.
After all, if you have a title tag saying "Women's Running Shoes for Sale" and someone just searched "buy women's running shoes," then they know they should click to your site.
Title tags provide opportunities for more ideas than just keywords, though.
Numbers, lists, dates, prices, brand names, power words, and other strategies all contribute to getting more clicks from search engines.
So instead of "Women's Running Shoes for Sale," you could try "33% Off Women's Running Shoes," "Women's Nike & Adidas from $20," and other ideas to get visitors to your site with as few words as possible.
But the title tag isn't the only opportunity you have to get clicks. Fortunately, you also have meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are one- or two-sentence accounts of what someone can find on your page.
They don't play a direct role in SEO, but they can improve your click-through rate (CTR) by encouraging search engine users to click.
As a result, meta descriptions work as quick sales pitches for each page.
They can cover ideas like:
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a great jumping-off point if you're learning about SEO for the first time.
After you have your meta description up and running, you can tweak it occasionally to test what gives you the best CTR.
Maybe it works best for you to start a meta description with a question.
Maybe it's better to lead with your keyword.
Maybe you can get more clicks by using fewer words.
You can supply definite answers to those ideas by creating, tracking, and changing the meta descriptions on your pages.
With your title tags and meta descriptions in place, you're effectively using keywords to promote your pages.
But there's still another SEO strategy you can use to improve your site.
Multimedia is one of the most important parts of SEO.
It makes pages easier to read, engages readers more effectively than text, and keeps people on your site longer.
But there's a catch to multimedia — Google's algorithm can't actually "see" it.
To fix that, you should include alt descriptions for all of your multimedia. These are brief text descriptions of an image, video, or audio clip that Google uses to better understand the page.
Those alt descriptions let you use multimedia effectively for both users and search engines.
With that in mind, most multimedia breaks down into a few different categories.
We'll talk about each of those categories in detail. Images are the most common form of multimedia.
You can use them to break up text to keep people engaged and provide captivating visualizations for readers.
As the header image for this section shows, your images don't always have to pertain 100% to your topic. You can use images for humor just as well as you can use them to make points or add emphasis.
Regardless of how you choose to use images, you're helping your readers with them.
The biggest advantage of images is that they break up walls of text so your site visitors can scan and read more easily.
In fact, this has become crucial since most Internet users don't read much anymore. Instead, they scan a page to find what they want.
If they can't find what they want, they leave.
This makes images all the more important.
By using them at key points on your pages — like the beginning or at major points in the middle — you make it easier for someone to find what they want at a glance.
At the very least, you can make a page more entertaining so visitors can enjoy themselves on your site.
But images are just the beginning. They do a great job keeping your readers engaged — but other formats take engagement a step further.
VideosToday, every Internet-savvy company wants to jump on video as a marketing medium.
Those are huge improvements over text-only content. They're even advancements past text-and-image content.
So why is video so effective?
The biggest advantage is that you can condense entire pages of text into a few minutes of engaging, visualized explanations. All you need is a decent camera, a willing speaker, and editing software.
A lot of companies who experiment with video marketing start by using the cameras on their phones.
This is a great way to get basic product demonstration videos, office walkthroughs, employee interviews, and other videos to use on your site.
It's always a plus to have at least one person at your company who's comfortable speaking to a camera, too. That adds a face to your business that makes it more relatable, and viewers can come to "know" who's speaking.
If you want to add production value to your final video, you can also use editing software.
Editing software can be pricey, but free options exist.
iMovie is probably the most robust free software, and Adobe Premiere is the gold standard of paid products. It's hard to justify spending on video marketing if you've never used it before. But like other marketing strategies, video is an investment.
The more time and money you invest into it, the better your results will be.
Better results mean lots of advantages for your company's website, including more traffic, more conversions, and better brand association. At the end of the day, you can recoup the investment of video marketing by converting viewers into customers.
You'll likely earn your cost of investment back within a year, although your timeframe may vary depending on your company, industry, and other marketing initiatives.
With our team, you'll earn the results you need to grow.
Search trafficRanking is a valuable SEO metric, but measuring your site’s organic performance can’t stop there. The goal of showing up in search is to be chosen by searchers as the answer to their query. If you’re ranking but not getting any traffic, you have a problem.
But how do you even determine how much traffic your site is getting from search? One of the most precise ways to do this is with Google Analytics.
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While Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates they keep rollin' out, one thing has stayed pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.
Well, the need to do keyword research has stayed the same. How you actually do it hasn't.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing. Keyword research can uncover queries to target, the popularity of theses queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching on Google. The insight that you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy as well as your larger marketing strategy. However, keywords themselves may not be as important to SEO as you may think.
More and more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over just the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.
And to some extent, this is true; using keywords that exactly match a person's search is no longer the most important ranking factor in the eyes of an SEO professional. Rather, it's the intent behind that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for that intent (we'll talk more about intent in just a minute).
But that doesn't mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:
Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics -- by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.
For an inside look into how Ahrefs can aid you in your SEO keyword research, check out our case study and exclusive interview here.
By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions that the most people in your audience want answers to.
I'm going to lay out a keyword research process you can follow to help you come up with a list of terms you should be targeting. That way, you'll be able to establish and execute a strong keyword strategy that helps you get found for the search terms you actually care about.
Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You'll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you'll use those topic buckets to help come up with some specific keywords later in the process.
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like for example -- selling marketing software you might have general topic buckets like:
See those numbers in parentheses to the right of each keyword? That's their monthly search volume. This data allows you to gauge how important these topics are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics you might need to create content on to be successful with that keyword. To learn more about these sub-topics, we move onto step 2 ...
Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.Now that you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it's time to identify some keywords that fall into those buckets. These are keyword phrases you think are important to rank for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is probably conducting searches for those specific terms.
For instance, if I took that last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company -- "marketing automation" -- I'd brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would type in related to that topic. Those might include:
And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics. Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your customer-facing colleagues -- those who are in Sales or Service -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.
Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly
Like I said in the previous section, user intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. Today, it's more important that your web page addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve than simply carries the keyword the searcher used. So, how does this affect the keyword research you do?
It's easy to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search is so important to your ranking potential, you need to be extra-careful how you interpret the keywords you target.
Let's say, for example, you're researching the keyword "how to start a blog" for an article you want to create. "Blog" can mean a blog post or the blog website itself, and what a searcher's intent is behind that keyword will influence the direction of your article. Does the searcher want to learn how to start an individual blog post? Or do they want to know how to actually launch a website domain for the purposes of blogging? If your content strategy is only targeting people interested in the latter, you'll need to make sure of the keyword's intent before committing to it.
To verify what a user's intent is in a keyword, it's a good idea to simply enter this keyword into a search engine yourself, and see what types of results come up. Make sure the type of content Google is closely related to what you'd intend to create for the keyword.
Step 4: Research related search terms.
This is a creative step you may have already thought of when doing keyword research. If not, it's a great way to fill out those lists.
If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword into Google. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.
Want a bonus? Type in some of those related search terms and look at their related search terms.
Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage. Keyword research and SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest can help you come up with more keyword ideas based on exact match keywords and phrase match keywords based on the ideas you've generated up to this point. This exercise might give you alternatives that you might not have considered.
How to Find and Choose Keywords for Your Website
Once you have an idea of the keywords that you want to rank for, now it's time to refine your list based on the best ones for your strategy. Here's how:
Step 1. Understand the three main factors for choosing good keywords.Before choosing keywords and expecting your content to rank for them, you must curate keywords for three things:
Google ranks content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent comes in. Your content will only rank for a keyword if it meets the searchers' needs. In addition, your content must be the best resource out there for the query. After all, why would Google rank your content higher if it provides less value than other content that exists on the web?
Google will provide more weight to sources it deems authoritative. That means you must do all you can to become an authoritative source by enriching your site with helpful, information content and promoting that content to earn social signals and backlinks. If you're not seen as authoritative in the space, or if a keyword's SERPs are loaded with heavy sources you can't compete with (like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), you have a lower chance of ranking unless your content is exceptional.
You may end up ranking on the first page for a specific keyword, but if no one ever searches for it, it will not result in traffic to your site.
Volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume), which means the number of times the keyword is searched per month across all audiences.
Step 2: Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.
If you don't know the difference between head terms and long-tail keywords, let me explain. Head terms are keywords phrases that are generally shorter and more generic -- they're typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words.
It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?
If you answered #2, you're absolutely right. But don't get discouraged. While head terms generally boast the most search volume (meaning greater potential to send you traffic), frankly, the traffic you'll get from the term "how to write a great blog post" is usually more desirable.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.
So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of head terms and long-tail keywords. You definitely want some quick wins that long-tail keywords will afford you, but you should also try to chip away at more difficult head terms over the long haul.
Step 3: See how competitors are ranking for these keywords.
Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you need to. The same goes for keywords. Just because a keyword is important to your competitor, doesn’t mean it's important to you. However, understanding what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a great way to help you give your list of keywords another evaluation.
If your competitor is ranking for certain keywords that are on your list, too, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those. However, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to care about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on important terms, too.
Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.
How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, Ahrefs allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.
Step 4: Use Google's Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list.
Now that you've got the right mix of keywords, it's time to narrow down your lists with some more quantitative data. You have a lot of tools at your disposal to do this, but let me share my favorite methodology.
I like to use a mix of the Google's Keyword Planner (you'll need to set up an Ads account for this, but you can turn your example ad off before you pay any money), and Google Trends.
In Keyword Planner, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Then, take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.
Or perhaps you're just looking at a list of terms that is way too unwieldy, and you have to narrow it down somehow ... Google Trends can help you determine which terms are trending upward, and are thus worth more of your focus.
Best Keywords for SEOUnderstand that there's no "best" keywords, just those that are highly searched by your audience. With this in mind, it's up to you to craft a strategy that will help you rank pages and drive traffic.
The best keywords for your SEO strategy will take into account relevance, authority, and volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you can reasonably compete for based on:
And ... You're done! Congratulations! You've now got a list of keywords that'll help you focus on the right topics for your business, and get you some short-term and long-term gains.
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months -- once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.
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Let's get right down to it: The key to successful SEO is concentrating on long-tail keywords.
Although these keywords get less traffic than more generic terms, they're associated with more qualified traffic and users that are typically further down their path of intent.
The good news is that choosing the right long-tail keywords for your website pages is actually a fairly simple process -- one that's made all the more simple and quick when you use the right tools to perform your keyword research.
In this post, we'll cover the nine best tools out there for performing keyword research for your website content. Before we get started though, let's briefly go over two important things to consider as you do your research: relevance and (if applicable) location.
Relevance is the most important factor to consider when choosing the right keywords for SEO. Why? Because the more specific you are, the better.
For instance, if you own a company that installs swimming pools, it's likely that you'd attract more qualified prospects by targeting a keyword such as "fiberglass in-ground pool installation," rather than "swimming pools." That's because there's a good chance that someone searching for "fiberglass in-ground pool installation" is looking for information on installation or someone to perform the installation ... and that could be you!
Sure, optimizing for "swimming pools" has its place. But there's no doubt that this keyword will attract a much more generic audience that may not be looking for what you have to offer. Go for the relevant, long-tail keywords instead.
Another major factor to consider when optimizing for the right keywords is location-based searches. When looking for contractors and services in their specific area, search engine users will usually include their location in the search. So, "fiberglass in-ground pool installation" becomes "fiberglass in-ground pool installation in Cleveland, OH."
If you operate in one geo-location, you may want to consider adding location-based keywords to all of your pages, since traffic from other locations isn't going to be very much help to you. If your business operates in several geo-locations, it is also a wise choice to create a separate web page dedicated to each location so you can make sure your brand is present when people are searching for individual locations.
Now, how do you choose the right keywords for your business? We certainly don't recommend guessing, for obvious reasons. Instead, there are many ways to research and find long-tail keywords that are right for your business.
Here are nine awesome free and paid keyword research tools you can use to quickly and easily identify strong long-tail keywords for your SEO campaign.
Free Keyword Research Tools
Free Keyword Research Tools
1. Google Keyword Planner
Google has a few tools that make it easy to conduct keyword research, and their free AdWords tool called Keyword Planner is a great place to start -- especially if you use AdWords for some of your campaigns. (Note: You'll need to set up an AdWords account to use Keyword Planner, but that doesn't mean you have to create an ad.)
When you input one keyword, multiple keywords, or even your website address into Keyword Planner, Google will spit out a list of related keywords along with simple metrics to gauge how fierce the competition is around each one and how many searches it gets on both a global and local search level.
It'll also show you historical statistics and information on how a list of keywords might perform -- and it'll create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together. Since it's a free AdWords tool, it can also help you choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your AdWords campaigns.
Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality -- but you can make up for it somewhat if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
Which brings me to the next tool ...
2. Google Trends
Google Trends is another free tool from Google. It lets you enter multiple keywords and filter by location, search history, and category. Once you enter that information in, it'll give you results that show how much web interest there is around a particular keyword, what caused the interest (e.g., press coverage), and where the traffic is coming from -- along with similar keywords.
The best part about Google Trends is that it doesn't just give you static keyword volume numbers like most keyword research tools. Instead, it generates colorful, interactive graphs that you can play with, download, and even embed on your website. It'll also give you more dynamic insight into a keyword with information like relative popularity of a search term over time.
Interestingly, its data doesn't include in repeated queries from a single user over a short period of time, which makes results cleaner. It also groups together searches that it infers to mean the same thing, like misspellings.
One way to use Google Trends? If you're trying to decide between two keyword variations for your latest blog post title. Simply perform a quick comparison search in Google Trends to see which one is getting searched more often.
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When you have a business online, it’s safe to say that a lot is riding on your ecommerce store.
Here is a list of ecommerce SEO best practices to help you best optimize your online website to rank highly in search engines. Follow our guidelines to ensure that your ecommerce website has a shot at doing its best in organic search.
If you want to speak to a strategist about implementing these SEO best practices for your ecommerce site, feel free to give our ecommerce company a call at 216-339-6041.
See how we can help you grow your business.
What is ecommerce SEO?
If you’re not familiar with search engine optimization, or SEO, you should be! Ecommerce SEO refers to the process of optimizing a website according to the guidelines of major search engines (like Google, Bing, and Yahoo) so that it appears more frequently, and ranks higher, in search results.
Although that sounds difficult, SEO really isn’t all that challenging as long as you know what you’re doing. In fact, many webmasters and store owners have been utilizing SEO best practices for ecommerce for years without even realizing it. But competition online is fierce, and the number of ecommerce stores online grows every day. So it’s now more important than ever to get your site up to par.
SEO involves a number of tactics to improve your search engine performance, including creating keyword-rich content, designing a user-friendly website, and optimizing site elements like page titles and URLs. You may already be doing some of these things naturally, but others may be things you never even thought of.
About our list of ecommerce SEO best practices
We recommend the following best practices for ecommerce SEO so that business owners can increase their rankings and conversions, and to also help them avoid being penalized in search. By following this guide, you’ll learn about our best SEO practices for ecommerce sites, and how to implement them on your website.
8 Best Practices For Ecommerce SEO1
Use important keywords. To make your product information friendly to both shoppers and search engines, make sure your sizes, measurements, colors, prices, and other details are easy to find, read, and understand. If you have website visitors from multiple regions, think about whether or not you should include measurements in standard, metric, or both. Check product images or photography against physical items to ensure they’re accurate to color and size.
Some retailers keep their product prices from displaying until a user adds it to their cart. This can be due to a special sale, or because the retail is attempting to get around a manufacturer’s minimum advertised pricing policy. Although hiding prices may not have a direct impact on SEO, if a shopper does not see the pricing information on a product page, they are likely to leave right away. This can result in a higher bounce rate, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
Finally, try to keep your product information as up to date as possible. If a manufacturer makes new information available to you, you should do your best to include it! It’s not only valuable for shoppers, but it can help get more keywords on your page and improve your rankings.
2. Design with shoppers in mind
Your website and product page design should add, not detract, from the shopping experience. Even if you sell the coolest, most desirable products in your industry at the best prices available, a shopper will probably get frustrated and leave your website if they find it hard to navigate or impossible to search.
Design is an important part of SEO, too. If a search engine detects that your website has a very high bounce rate – that is, visitors leaving very quickly after they first access a page – you may see your rankings start to slip. A well-designed website can help cut back on bounce rates, and can at least encourage visitors to browse a few more pages, even if they don’t find what they want right away.
Your ecommerce website should be easy to navigate, with sensible menus or navigation options that clearly tell visitors what they will see when they click a link. You should also use images sparingly, since a long load time could lead to more impatient shoppers hitting the back button. And load time is – you guessed it – a ranking factor as well. So it’s in your best interest to keep your pages loading as fast as possible.
If you’re designing a new website and you’re not sure where to start, browse a few of your favorite (or least favorite!) websites and take notes. What do you like about their design and navigation? What don’t you like? From this, you can probably get a good idea of what your shoppers might prefer to see on your store.
3. Avoid cluttered, complicated URLs
The address by which a website visitor accesses a page on your ecommerce store is called a URL. URLs can contain a fairly big amount of information in a small space. They can contain categories names, product names, file types, or even actions (like “_blank” to open a new link in a new window).
SEO standards suggest that URLs should be as clear as possible, and that they should contain keywords relevant to what appears on the resulting page.
Avoid URLs like this:
http://www.websiteurl.com/cat?=328/product?=237828/main.htmlA search engine isn’t going to be able to pick up any kind of information from that URL! Instead, lean toward URLs like this:
Not only can a search engine glean several pieces of information from that URL – you sell lawnmowers, you offer a green gas-powered variety, etc. – but a person can also tell at a glance what that URL leads to. If they send the link to someone else, the recipient is probably going to say “oh, a lawnmower!” and click to see the product. The first example URL, well… that could lead to just about anything, couldn’t it?
4. Use alt text in imagesI
f you’ve ever added an image to a website, whether through a CMS or by hand in HTML, you probably know about alt text. Alt text is a line of “alternate” text that is used in a variety of ways. It can be displayed in lieu of an image (if the link is broken, for example), or in some browsers, might be displayed when the user’s cursor hovers over the image.
Alt text is another way to get your important keywords on your site. When a search engine crawls a website, it has no way of knowing what your images are, or why they are on a specific page. However, the alt text can tell search engines that your image is of a lawnmower. This helps give further context to the page, as well – that is, a page with the image of a lawnmower on it probably contains some content about lawnmowers.
Avoid instances where alt text may not be displayed, such as displaying a product image in Flash. Even if you already have important keywords on your product or category page, alt text helps give search engines context to the images on the page, and can help get them included in image searches for those keywords.
Alt text is also very important for users who are legally blind or have a hard time seeing webpages. Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act requires websites to be equally accessible to those with disabilities. If you have a very image-heavy site and don’t use alt text, a visually impaired person’s browser won’t be able “read” anything for them. In the past, some websites have found themselves in hot water for not abiding by this best practice. So ensure that all images on your site – even the smallest buttons or thumbnails – have alt text assigned to them.
5. Allow customer reviews
Reviews can help boost conversions on your product pages. It’s actually proven: somewhere around 90% of consumers say they are more likely to buy products that have reviews, even if they’re not completely positive. So it’s in your best interest to let customers speak their mind after they buy something!
Surprisingly, allowing reviews may also help with SEO, which makes review management a common ecommerce SEO tip. Customers are very likely to naturally use important keywords in their reviews. Although duplicating the same keywords that already appear on your page isn’t likely to have any impact, they might use synonyms or long-tail keywords that can help with your ranking (or at least send the right kind of signal to search engines).
6. Avoid duplicate content
If you are a retailer instead of a manufacturer, and you sell products produced by other companies online, you probably received product descriptions directly from the manufacturer. While it’s a best practice to include as much information about your products as possible, you should do what you can to avoid duplicating any product descriptions or product copy that has been provided to you.
Duplicate content that is spread out between a few pages probably will not hurt anyone. However, due to changes in search engine algorithms, more and more websites are being penalized for duplicating their product copy. To avoid hurting your rankings, your goal should be to create new, unique descriptions for each item you carry. Although this can be difficult and time-consuming – especially if you carry a lot of items – it can help set you apart from the competition.
Readers like clear, interesting, and easy-to-understand product descriptions. But humor helps, too, and anything else that you can do to put a new “spin” on your subject will probably be appreciated. Aim for 3-5 concise sentences describing your product, being sure to use the appropriate keywords or phrases that you think the item in question should rank for.
7. Create unique content
If your ecommerce website doesn’t have a lot of original content, or doesn’t have many products to speak of, you may find it very difficult to rank for your selected keywords or phrases. One way to combat this – and to give your shoppers a reason to buy from you – is to create some unique, interesting content.
Many retailers have a company blog where they talk about news, trends, or new developments in their industry. This is a great way to add more content to your website and give search engines something new to look through for ranking criteria. If you repeatedly blog about one subject, a search engine is pretty likely to consider you a leader in knowledge about that subject. And your readers will love it, too, as long as the posts are detailed and accurate.
There are a ton of content marketing strategies out there that can be used to help boost your rankings and improve your SEO. From guides to whitepapers to long-form blog posts or articles, there are many ways that you can draw in readers and optimize your website with “meaty” content that search engines will love.
8. Write for humans – not for search engines
Although we’ve stressed optimizing your ecommerce store for search engines, everything you do to your online store should ultimately be for the benefit of your shoppers. Your customers are not robots, after all! A paragraph of keyword-stuffed, nonsensical content might help your ranking a little, but it certainly won’t help your conversion rate.
Need help using these ecommerce SEO tips?
Whether you’re building a new online store or need to improve your current one, we’re here to help you with all your ecommerce SEO needs and use these ecommerce SEO tips to grow your business.
Contact us today for a free proposal to call us at 216-339-6041 to learn more about our ecommerce SEO services.
1. Provide valuable information
This should go without saying, but you should only publish posts if they have real value for your readers. It can be tempting to sit down at your keyboard and write whatever comes to mind, but unless you have information or a viewpoint that hasn’t been shared before, the chances of it being beneficial to your company or your readers are slim.
This can be extremely challenging, depending on how many bloggers already cover your industry. But if you just reiterate everyone else has already said, readers have no reason to read your content or visit your site.
Make sure that each of your posts stands out from the “noise” by publishing original research, being the first to cover a new trend, or even just offering a unique opinion on a well-known topic within your industry.
Essentially, your goal should to be to provide value to your readers – and the best way to do that is to stand out from the rest.
2. Include visuals
Visualcontent is much more effective at holding readers’ interest than text alone. It captures their attention, breaks up large chunks of text, and can help better explain certain points.
There are many types of visuals you can use on your blog, including images, screenshots, graphics, and even videos. The best choices for your company depend on your industry and the topic you’re covering, but as long as your visuals are relevant and high in quality, they can improve your chances of keeping readers on the page until the end of your posts.
3. Promote them on social media
After you’ve published a post, you need to make sure that people actually read it. And unless you’re already a well-known blogger in your industry, chances are slim that people will check your site on their own for new content.
One of the easiest ways to attract readers is by sharing new posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social platforms your company uses. You can also re-share your posts on Twitter in the following weeks and months, as long as the content is still accurate and up-to-date.
4. Encourage your readers to subscribe
If you don’t already have a subscription option in place for your readers, you should create one as soon as possible.
When people subscribe to your blog, you can automatically send them an email every time you publish a new post. This means that those who are most interested in your content will know almost immediately when there is something new to read.
This not only helps keep your readers in the loop, but helps your blog build a steady flow of traffic.
5. Update your postsYour blog posts can continue to attract readers and customers for years to come, but only if they’re still accurate and useful. This means it’s worth your time to keep an eye on older posts and update them with new research, information, and trends over time.
You don’t need to update old posts every time there’s a news update related to the topic, but make time every few months to go through and make sure that all of the information is correct, the links still work, and you aren’t giving outdated advice to your readers.
Want to improve your content marketing strategy?
At Swift Marketing, our team of Internet marketers has years of experience creating and managing successful content marketing strategies for our clients.
If you’re interested in learning more about how blogging and other content strategies, we’d love to help! Contact us today to speak with a strategist about how online content that is SEO-friendly can attract more traffic and generate more revenue for your business.
How do you boil down the entirety of your brand’s goals and impact into a few short sentences?
This is where your brand mission comes in. Your brand mission will be a cornerstone in every other aspect of your branding process. And it will help your audience understand the purpose of your brand and what it aims to accomplish.
Let’s learn more about mission statements, why they’re important, and how to draft one.
A brand mission statement clearly communicates a brand’s purpose, objectives and how it plans to serve its audience. It is action-oriented and gives readers an idea of what your business does and what impact it wants to make. This statement may shift over time as the company grows and redefines its goals.
Asana’s mission statement is a great example of how a brand mission can be broad yet specific to the company’s goals.
Its mission is “to help humanity thrive by enabling the world’s teams to work together effortlessly.”
The message gets straight to the point and is descriptive enough that defines what Asana stands for. The brand missions incorporates the larger impact the brand wants to make as well as the more practical role it plays in its user’s lives.
Brand mission vs. other elements your brandIt can be easy to confuse the brand mission with other parts of your branding, like brand voice and brand identity. While they are related, each of these elements plays a different role in shaping your brand. Here’s how:
What is a brand mission statement?
Many brands create a style guide or brand guide that illustrates every aspect of their brand. Style guides includes their mission and vision statements, brand voice and brand identity.
Mission statements vs. vision statements
Whereas your mission statement defines your brand’s goals, objectives and approach, the vision statement describes the long-term impact you want to make with your mission.
More simply stated: the mission describes what your brand aims to achieve and how you will achieve it. The vision statement defines where you want those achievements to lead in the future.
Why are mission statements important?
Defining a clear mission for your brand will help you identify your target audience. Once you have a clearly defined mission statement, you can tie everything your brand does to that mission. It can act as a perfect elevator pitch when presenting your brand to a new audience. It can also be an excellent barometer for determining whether new projects align with your overall brand mission.
Your mission statement should be a defining factor for both your audience and your employees. A brand mission statement should also be a framework that your employees can follow when making decisions or speaking on behalf of the organization. Lastly, the mission statement can be an important factor to present to potential partners and investors and easily convey the value that your brand brings.
Creating your brand mission statement
Defining something as integral as a mission statement can seem like a daunting task if you’re just starting.
A great first step is to research some of the mission statements of other brands in your industry. Of course, your mission statement should be authentic and representative of your brand. But you can draw inspiration from how other brands have defined their missions.
Next, make a list of your brand’s goals and the impact you hope to make to your audience, and in the world. Your mission statement should also reflect your long-term goals. Even though you can adjust the statement as your goals shift, you should write your brand mission with longevity in mind. It should reflect the larger purpose of the brand and stay relevant for at least 2-3 years.
Here are a few questions to ask during the process of crafting a brand mission statement:
Keep it conciseYour mission statement doesn’t need to be long. A few concise sentences will suffice. You can have a longer and more robust internal business plan for employees. But the mission statement you share with the public should be succinct.
TED’s mission statement is exactly two words: Spread Ideas.
It’s a perfect representation of their brand that is known for sharing short yet highly valuable content for virtually anyone. Their mission statement gets straight to the point and is perfectly on-brand with what they stand for as a company.
Make it a team effort
When crafting a brand mission, it helps to have people from all areas of your organization involved in the process. Your social media team is likely well-positioned to help refine the brand mission and implement it into social media content. When you have the first draft of a mission statement ready, gather feedback from employees. Their feedback is valuable in understanding whether your mission carries itself internally. Employee feedback may be able to highlight gaps between the mission itself and the internal culture of your brand.
How to embody your brand mission in all aspects of your organizationHistorically, brands have avoided taking controversial stands in politics and other sensitive topics. Today, people are looking more closely at which brands align with their values. Consumers are becoming more critical of which brands they advocate for.
According to our research, 53% of consumers feel more connected to brands whose values align with their own.
Brand authenticity, especially on social media, is more important than ever. If your brand mission is not authentic and aligned with your actions, your audience will notice.
Recently, many brands have made public statements of support and adjusted their missions to include initiatives on racial injustices and representing diversity. On the surface, these statements seemed well-intentioned. But consumers realized that, in some cases, these statements didn’t reflect in the organization’s actions.
With the level of resources and information available to the public, performative support on social media is not enough. Consumers want to see how a brand’s actions back up the statements they make.
When creating a mission statement, brands need to make sure that they’re ready to embody that statement fully. That means observing how they can make changes in all aspects of their organization, both internally and in the public eye.
Your brand mission needs to be reflected in all aspects of your organization. This includes your hiring process, internal communication practices, marketing and everywhere in between.
Final thoughtsEven though you want to get your mission statement right, it’s important to remember that you can always adjust it. The statement should be broad enough to reflect the brand’s long term mission, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change. As a brand changes and sets new goals, the mission statement can shift to reflect that growth and change. It’s a good idea to revisit the mission statement every 2-3 years to make sure it still aligns with the brand’s goals and purpose.
As the social media landscape changes, consumers will continue to push brands to have more intentional missions. To learn more about how to adapt your brand to be more socially conscious, check out our blog highlighting how brands can create change in the era of the conscious consumer.
Statistics and rates can tell you considerable things about how visitors’ value, use, and interact with your site — and that’s where web analytics become useful.
Analytics about your web data offer plenty of intel that levels the playing field against your competition. If you want to press forward and dominate your industry, you need expert web analytics services to interpret and accelerate your site’s growth.
Keep reading to find out what you need to know about web analytics services.
Google Analytics Consulting
Google Analytics is a go-to tool for tracking and reporting site performance. If you need to harness its benefits, we have a qualified team ready to take the data and turn it into results.
Internet Analytics ConsultingYour site can have a massive impact across the Internet, but the World Wide Web is a big place that generates massive amounts of data. We tackle the analytics so your online presence can thrive.
What are web analytics?
Web analytics revolves around the practice of gathering, reporting, and evaluating website data. This data lends insight into user behavior through helpful metrics and reveals how well your Internet marketing campaigns work.
Your web analytics can reveal patterns and lead to actionable steps to improve user engagement and marketing goals.
Through tracked measurements, you can see what page visitors entered through, the length of their session, which pages they navigate to next on your site, and more.
Whether you want to keep tabs on your paid advertising or organic search results strategies, these analytics deliver clear indications of your efforts. Web data allows your business to make informed decisions about its performance.
Why are web analytics important?
With qualified marketers and applied methods, you might overlook tracking and web analytics. If you start out well, then why do you need to follow along with minor performance details?
Despite your campaign kickoff, you must continue paying attention to its development and effectiveness.
Just like a dedicated coach doesn’t sit on the bench during a game and tune out, you can’t ignore signs of progress in your marketing efforts. Web analytics services help you stay aware of your website’s reach when you don’t have the time.
Web analytics are crucial to running profitable campaigns because they keep you updated on your site activity. They allow you to stay in-the-know so you can reshape or tweak any areas of your strategies that aren’t excelling.
So, what web analytics metrics matter to your site?
Let’s review six metrics that you want your web analytics services to focus on:
1. Observe traffic and sourcesA significant motivation for Internet marketing comes from boosted visibility. You want a vast number of eyes on your site and brand, and you want those eyes to belong to high-quality leads.
To learn about the traffic that comes to your site, you can use web analytics to measure how many new and returning visitors you have.
The traffic data you can access includes referrals — or other websites that sent users to your site. You can see the payoff from the network you built when other businesses, customers, and industry leaders refer people to your pages on the Internet.
You can also look at sources and channels that generate visitors like social media platforms, affiliate links, and display ads. If you know the most worthwhile places that funnel traffic to you, you can capitalize on those sources and bolster weaker areas.
Web analytics services can help you discover the most valuable sources of traffic for your company, as well as develop a plan for maximizing the impact of traffic coming to your website.
2. Examine bounce rate and exit pagesThe features on your site that cause people to leave are hard to pin down, but web analytics makes them clearer and accessible with metrics like bounce rate and exit pages.
Bounce rate — the percentage of single-page sessions that occur — is a significant number to look at, because it points out which pages don’t retain visitors. This is a strong indication of how you satisfy users, and it lets you concentrate on pages that need to meet user needs better.
Exit pages show the places where visitors lose interest — or hopefully, complete their journey down the sales funnel. If your order completion page or a related end-of-the-line location is where people leave, then it appears you’re making sales and doing well.
However, if people leave from a product page or blog page, you can hone your content to call them to action and to convert.
3. Inspect conversion rateYou can have many conversion goals that help you check-in on a visitor’s journey on your site.
Conversions — desired actions on your website — are necessities for your business. The conversion rate for different goals gives you a good idea of your ability to engage customers, which takes constant review and work.
You might set up your conversions as registering for site accounts, signing up for email updates, heading to check out, or leaving a customer review. The main objective with each of these is to establish a relationship with your audience and complete transactions.
If you’re attempting to optimize your conversion rate, you can witness the evolution of your strategy as more visitors transform into customers.
4. Gauge successful keywordsThe keywords you want to rank for in search engine optimization (SEO) are the building blocks of getting exposure and revenue for your business.
Web analytics in Google Search Console, for example, can reveal which queries people use to find your site, which lets you know if your keyword research and usage is productive.
You can also see the average positions of your pages for chosen keywords and their click-through rate (CTR) by using web analytics services, which can pass on more information about your site’s strength.
5. Understand demographics
The data collected about your site visitors takes away some of the mystery about who wants your products and services because it outlines the demographic details of your audience.
With an analysis of your audience’s locations, interests, technology, ages, and genders, you can craft better content that fits your prospective customers.
You can alter your site’s design and messaging to appeal to the demographic brackets that purchase products and interact with your pages.
You can even assess the kinds of Internet browsers users have and the service provider they use on their mobile phones when using web analytics services. You can get the full picture of your users’ preferences and traits through tracking this series of metrics.
6. View revenue and ROIIt’s convenient to know how much money you spend and how much you make throughout your Internet marketing campaign. Web analytics also stays on top of the transactions and revenue your campaign musters.
This web analytics metric also showcases the sources that turn into purchases.
Do you know if your organic searches or paid search ads bring in dollars? Web analytic services can shed light on your most profitable strategies.
This educates you on your return on investment (ROI), and you can have confidence that your Internet marketing services or in-house strategies are paying off and advancing your business.
How web analytics services workNow that you’re familiar with trusted metrics, you’re probably wondering, “How can marketers track all those elements?” Analytics services don’t function alone — they use web analytics tools to evaluate the data.
The snippet goes into the HTML code and records user behavior as people click on a URL and interact with a site.
As time goes on, data comes in, and you can secure information about your visitors for additional analysis.
Split testing is another type of web analytics service that tests out different versions of a page to judge which one gets a better reception. A/B split testing uses a control and a variant of the page and examines and analyzes data to improve site functionality and design.
How to choose the best web analytics servicesThe level of expertise that a web analytics consultant offers can transform data into real results for your company. However, the process of picking a web analytics expert can be overwhelming.
What qualities do you need to look for to get the best web analytics services?
Web analytics services should prioritize your goals and apply in-depth industry knowledge to your campaigns.
Partner with us
Here are the four steps to select your ideal web analytics agency:
1. Get experts that tailor their approach to your businessYou don’t want a cookie-cutter consultation for your unique company — each business has its own values and objectives. The web analytics services that can propel your business forward should understand the basics of your operations and long-term expectations.
Customized analytics can bring richer byproducts.
For example, an ecommerce site is going to be laser-focused on transaction metrics, while a brick-and-mortar business can thrive off publishing helpful content.
2. Consider the data timeframe
For a well-rounded overview of site data, an expert shouldn’t pull their advice from a brief period, unless your website brings in a significant amount of daily traffic. Analysis requires a decent timeframe to identify problem spots and offer actionable solutions.
If your business has seasonal connections, you don’t want to evaluate a slow part of the year and reorient core cornerstones of your site based on the slow season. That’s why it’s wise to cover a large period that spans dips and rises in your site traffic.
Investing in your website’s analytics now and continuing to monitor your data can help build a snapshot of your site’s online performance, which can serve as an excellent reference point as your company continues to improve its website and expand its online marketing efforts.
3. Find helpful reportingAnalytics consultants can send out detailed reports at a variety of intervals. Whether you’re comfortable with weekly, monthly, or quarterly reports, it’s handy to gain a partner that delivers regular reporting.
Explanations, along with the data can make the analysis more practical and efficient too.
Highlights, summaries, and separate growth from campaigns can make reports insightful instead of tedious. Reporting is supposed to save you time and effort, so explore the options that website analytics service providers offer.
4. Look for transparent pricingIf the prices are hazy for web analytics services, you can’t be sure of your initial investment and your ultimate ROI.
Transparent pricing prepares you for whatever additional fees you might encounter later, making it a budget-friendly characteristic.
Many companies have a starting cost that includes the set up of various tracking and integration features, but you can also look for recurring rates by year or month that focuses on reporting and troubleshooting.
5. Receive detailed recommendations
Web analytics services usually involve sessions with dedicated experts who pass on advice and enhancement suggestions for your site.
When you have an ongoing analysis of your site, you can put recommendations into action and see a powerful change in your brand — but you need enough information to implement changes.
Detailed instructions on how your site should work can elevate your Internet marketing efforts.
3 must-have web analytics toolsLike we said before, you can’t carry out web analytics without tools and resources. For web analytics, you need high-functioning software that aggregates data and condenses it into a more manageable format.
Let’s go over three must-have web analytics tools that can speed along your web analytics set up and get you closer to high volumes of traffic and a steady flow of conversions.
1. Google Analytics
As the most robust free web analytics tool,
Google Analytics is the backbone of site analysis. Google’s experience in evaluating website quality makes it highly qualified to guide site owners through their web performance.
Google Analytics has charts and graphs that pass on trends about your site.
It’s broken into four categories — audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions.
There’s also a real-time analytics section that allows you to watch as current user actions shift the data around. Second-by-second and minute-by-minute, you can see what’s taking place on your site with the real-time analytics feature.
Google Analytics has custom goals you can create to monitor your site too.
You can precisely track important steps through these tailored goals.
Here are the four types of goals you can set up:
Making sense of this data and related metrics in your Google Analytics reports is the trick to having a website that not only earns traffic but also generates conversions.
Web analytics services help make that happen by translating these tough-to-read charts for you and your staff and providing actionable advice.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console — working in conjunction with Google Analytics — is a useful tool for web analytics. It sticks with search-specific analytics, but it can support multi-strategy campaigns or SEO-devoted ones.
You can integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics, and it will show up under Acquisition in the “Search Console” section.
Search Console has unique dimensions that stand apart from Google Analytics, which can let you delve deeper into configuring your site and attracting traffic.
Here are the dimensions you can access:
Google Search Console is also free, and it’s an essential tool to manage long-term growth from a web analytics standpoint.
Branching off from Google’s toolkit for analytics, MarketingCloudFX is another resource that tracks and generates data about your Internet marketing campaigns.
Are you ready for the good news?
It's included in all plans.
Invest in web analytics services with Swift Digital Marketing. Discerning your next steps in Internet marketing doesn’t have to happen blindly. Web analytics gives you command of robust data and actionable feedback to guide your campaigns.
In your search for a worthy web analytics service, you won’t come across an agency quite like Swift Digital Marketing.
We offer both Internet analytics consulting and Google Analytics consulting to cover the area you need.
Contact us online or call us at 216-339-6041 today!
Let's say you're tracking the performance of your pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns. After all that hard work and PPC strategizing you put toward improving your performance grade, how's the traffic looking? Is it a steep climb, or are you unimpressed with the result?
Some of us come off as natural all-star rock climbers, while others are left frigid, timid, and stuck to the crevices of the wall.
What's the secret? As with most things: proper training. And if you don't have any, don't worry -- there's still hope.
Below, you'll learn how to run a PPC campaign on a few of the most common platforms, followed by five tips for how to maximize your campaign's performance.
How to Run a PPC Campaign
1. Choose a platform for your PPC campaign.Your first step in running a new PPC campaign is to decide on which platform to run it. Google Ads are perhaps the most popular PPC campaign among today's marketers, but did you know social networks like Facebook and Twitter also offer pay-per-click advertisements?
Here's how each of these common ad platforms work.
Facebook Ads allow you to place "sponsored" posts on the newsfeeds of users who identify with specific audience characteristics set by you, the advertiser. Using this platform, you can choose your ad's objective -- including brand awareness, website traffic, and store visits -- your target audience, budget, and ad format. Facebook will then place your ad on the newsfeeds of users who match your choices, and charge you every time this ad is clicked.
Twitter Ads work similarly to Facebook Ads. Using Twitter's PPC ad platform, advertisers can choose between eight different advertising objectives -- including app installs, new followers, tweet engagements, and website traffic -- as well as their target audience for the ads they run. Twitter will then "promote" your post on the newsfeeds of users who match your choices, and charge you every time this ad is clicked.
Google Ads allow you to pay for high-ranking real estate on Google's various web properties -- including search engine results pages (SERPs). Your campaign can take the form of a Display Ad, a Search Ad, an App Ad, or a Video Ad -- the latter of which places your video on YouTube.
These PPC campaigns allow you to set your ad budget, customize your audience, and/or commit to groups of search terms on which you want your search result to appear. Google then charges you each time this search result is clicked.
For the purposes of explaining how to run a PPC campaign, we'll focus on Google Ads in the steps below.
2. Choose a type of ad to invest in.Each platform described above will give you options for the type of ad you want to pay for clicks on. On Facebook, for example, you can choose between a single image, a single video, or a slideshow to be your ad's main asset. On Google, your ad options are:
Banner ads can appear anywhere in the Google ecosystem, such as Gmail, YouTube, and similar domains within Google's "Display Network."
This ad type is what you most likely associate with PPC. A method of search engine marketing, Google's Search Ads show your chosen landing page in the form of a hyperlinked search result when users enter specific search terms. You can choose these search terms when setting up your Google Ads campaign.
Ads help to promote an app you've developed for sale on Google Play, the company's app marketplace. Using this ad type, Google automatically synthesizes each ad's artwork using the contents of your app's download page. Google then runs these ads in your chosen languages and locations. App Ads can appear across the Google ecosystem, including Google Search, Google Play, and YouTube.
Google's Video Ads appear across YouTube and certain Google partner platforms. Advertisers can run their video ads before, during, or at the end of various videos that share a similar audience with the advertiser.
3. Determine your ad budget and bidding strategy.
Your PPC campaign budget will dictate how much you're willing to pay for the clicks you get on your ad placements. On Google Ads, you'll set a daily budget, whereas platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have you select the increments you want your payments to be in.
So, for example, if your marketing team is allotted $1,000 for PPC, you'll first want to find out how many campaigns you're running. Let's say that number is eight, which would theoretically make each campaign worth $125. Having determined how much of that budget is available to each campaign, you'll then divide this number by the number of days you want this campaign to run. If you want it to run for 14 days, your daily budget would be roughly $8.93/day.
However, there is another element of budget-setting in the world of PPC: Not all topics and audiences are equal in value. This means certain interests, audience segments, and especially search terms will cost different amounts per click.
Most PPC platforms have "auction" systems that help you decide how much your audience criteria will cost you. In turn, you have several bidding strategies available to you to help you make the most cost-effective purchases for your campaign. On Google Ads, these bidding strategies include:
4. Customize your target audience, interests, location, and search terms.In any PPC platform you choose, you have ability to choose who you want your ads to reach. The "who," in the context of Google Ads, includes your audience's location, interests, apps they use, and of course the searches they perform. You can also create custom audiences each with their own "custom affinities" and "custom intents" to help you further tailor your PPC campaign to the right people.
Once you've established your target audience, you'll top it all off with specific search terms, whose SERPs you want your ads to appear on (this is assuming you're creating Google Search Ads). Be careful how many keywords you choose for each ad. Contrary to what Google Ads might suggest, the more keywords you choose to place an ad on, the higher the chance you'll wind up in front of the wrong audience.
Start with just one or two keywords that are high in search volume and match the intent of your target visitor (we'll talk more about intent in step 6, below).
5. Organize your campaign into "ad groups."Assuming you're creating Google Search Ads, you'll take the keywords you selected in step 4, above, and put them into "ad groups." If you're creating PPC ads on Twitter, you'll use a similar campaign framework.
In each ad group, you can further customize the search terms associated with that ad to be sure your ads are appearing in front of the people who are most interested in your content. For example, instead of simply selecting two keywords that both sound alike and have high monthly search volume, you can parse the specific words within your search terms and set your ad to appear in any search engine query that contains those words. Here's an example of both scenarios:
A Bad Ad Group
If your PPC ad is promoting the sale of ice skates, you might start with the search term "ice skates." Then you discover the search term, "ice skating," and decide to add it to your PPC ad. The second search term, "ice skating," weakens the ad group. Why?
While "ice skates" appeals to those who are looking for ice skates to buy, "ice skating" stretches your audience to include those who might be looking for ice skates, ice rinks in their area, or even instructions on how to start ice skating -- searches that don't apply to your target audience and therefore limit the chances you'll find interested customers among the people who click on your ad.
A Good Ad Group
If your PPC ad is promoting the sale of ice skates, you might start with this search term and decide to branch out into other search terms that include this term, but carry different or additional wording.
For example, using Google Ads features like Modified Broad Match, you can also pick up searches like "skates for ice rinks." Using Phrase Match, you can pick up searches like "ice skates for hockey." This way, you can diversify your ad with more search terms without sacrificing the interests of your audience.
6. Identify and design landing pages that match the intent of each search term.It's not a good idea to make the destination of your PPC ad your website's homepage. This only serves to confuse your visitors and, ultimately, scare them off. Whether you choose from an existing webpage on your domain, or design a new one, make sure you're sending your visitors to a destination that helps them find what they're looking for. This is known as "intent match," and search engines like Google take it very seriously.
Let's go back to our "ice skates" example from step 5, above. If someone searches for "ice skates," clicks on your ad, and they're taken to a page on your website offering ice skating lessons, you haven't matched the intent of their search -- even if this page is set up to convert visitors using a signup form for paid skating lessons. These people are looking to purchase ice skates, not lessons. Therefore, a better destination page for this ad would be a product browsing page with all of your available ice skates listed and optimized for purchasing.
7. Track your PPC campaign's performance in context of your larger marketing initiatives.The platform on which you're running your PPC campaign will have an analytics dashboard where you can track how your ads are performing. Take full advantage of it -- here, you get to see the fruits of your labor. This includes the traffic you're receiving to your ad's landing page, how much you're spending, and even how well this traffic is converting into leads or revenue.
With this data, you can find out if you're getting the bang for your buck. But don't be afraid to consider a more holistic view of your PPC ads' performance, as well. By integrating your Google, Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn ad campaigns into your company's marketing software, you can associate these PPC campaigns with the rest of your marketing initiatives -- helping you determine how the business is performing as a result of your paid efforts.
1. Include "negative keywords" in your PPC campaign.Just as there are keywords and search terms that dictate where each PPC ad you run will appear, there are keywords that you can specifically omit from your campaign. These are called "negative keywords," and they prompt your ad platform to avoid placing ads on results pages that are produced when a user enters these search terms.
In the example group of search terms, above, an advertiser on Google Ads has elected to place their ad on the SERPs of the search terms, "blue tennis shoes" and "running gear" -- but not "blue running shoes," "shoes running," and "running shoes." This allows the advertiser to avoid audiences who are searching for these products, since they're looking for something similar but that the advertiser doesn't actually sell.
Learn more about how to select negative keywords here.
2. Use the "Iceberg Effect" to gain more control over your PPC campaign.The search terms that you end up paying for and the keywords that you're actually targeting don't always line up the way you want.
Too often we see the "Iceberg Effect" in action, where miscellaneous search terms below the surface are tacked onto keywords that we think are working properly in our ad campaigns. It gives us an unhealthy search-to-keyword ratio that might look something like this:
Not being in control of all those search terms? Not ideal. With a search term to keyword discrepancy ratio of 132:1, it can be challenging to continually improve your clickthrough rates and lower your cost-per-click averages.
How do you gain control of this icy situation? We use something called Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) to shoot for a 1:1 ratio of search terms to keywords, allowing for more control over the entire ad group.
Here's what a non-SKAGs search term report might look like:
It's not that any of these search terms are bad, it's that each search term has a different conversion and sales rate. And by keeping them as search terms and not turning them into keywords, you will never be able to control them to take your PPC campaigns to the next level.
So what does a search term report look like if we use this granular PPC tactic and use SKAGs?
Everything in the search term column matches the keyword column. With the SKAGs tactic, you can get super granular and isolate one variable at a time, which means you have more control over your entire PPC account.
And with the ability to lower your search term to keyword ratio to 1:1, you can take it one step further and do the same from keyword to ad. When this happens, you're able to increase your clickthrough rate, which in turn:
3. Keep tabs on conversions vs. sales.
With your PPC tactics now upgraded, your PPC campaigns should be driving up conversion volumes and making you more money. But do you know which keywords, audiences, or placements are actually making you money?
If you don't track the components of your campaign and attribute them to your sales, you might be missing out on where to focus your efforts. By implementing Google's ValueTrack parameters you can automatically track data within URLs when your visitors convert.
When you tie your hidden field sales tracking back to your CRM, you can find out specific details about which leads are making you the revenue (doesn't apply to ecommerce). Hidden form fields can reveal to you things that happen during a conversion, like which landing page URL your conversion came from, where the visitor is located, or what keyword they typed in.
You can also do this with manual UTM parameters. Here's an example of how on the surface, you would think Keyword #1 is converting better:
Keyword #1 has a lower cost-per-conversion.
Here's an example of what hidden field sales tracking can reveal to you on a deeper level:
Now Keyword #2 looks better, right?
Although Keyword #1 has a lower cost-per-conversion, Keyword #2 has a much higher sales rate, which is making you more money. See the benefits of tracking the sale vs. the conversion?
Knowing these types of details can help you understand where you should be crediting your sales success, so you can be more aggressive in bidding on those keywords, audiences, or placements. With this PPC tactic, you can ease up your budget on the areas that aren't contributing to sales, and allocate to the areas that are.
4. Gauge your visitors' intent on the CTA temperature scale.Not all PPC visitors come through to your landing pages with the same conversion intent.
Typically, those that come through from display tend to be colder, while visitors that come in from search tend to be warmer. Here's a visual we've learned works well across the multitude of client verticals we service:
There's a temperature scale that varies depending on visitor origin. Knowing where your visitors come from can help you immensely when it comes to matching your call-to-action with their temperature in the conversion funnel. We recommend testing out various CTAs to match the intent temperature of your visitors -- after all, a small CTA tweak could've made all the difference.
Here are some ideas to make your offer more relevant to your visitors:
In short: the warmer your visitor's intent the warmer the CTA can be. Traffic that comes in from the display network will likely respond to colder CTAs, since those visitors are in the awareness stage.
5. Use micro PPC conversions to break down the larger conversion into smaller pieces.As you know, the more granular and detail-oriented you can get with you PPC campaigns, the more control you can have over the success of them.
When it comes to conversions, you can break down your larger macro conversion into micro conversions to figure out where your issues are.
An effective way to figure out which part of your PPC campaign is causing the conversion bottleneck is to analyze the micro conversions. Let's say that you're running some new Facebook campaigns but for some reason, no one is converting. If you knew, however, that visitors spend an average of four seconds on your site/landing page, then you know that your Facebook ad targeting may be off. Instead of thinking it's the ad or landing page that needs some tweaking, it could be your targeting instead.
Here are some common types of micro conversions we use to analyze the path towards a conversion:
What can each of these common micro conversions tell you about your landing page? Let's break it down:
By isolating micro conversions you can zero in on where exactly the conversion friction is located, which can help you alleviate the issues quickly and reach your larger conversion goal.
Whether it's addressing the Iceberg Effect, tracking your sales vs. conversions, testing CTA temperatures, or analyzing your micro PPC conversions, each of these PPC tactics can have a significantly positive impact on the performance of your campaigns.
And the best part, there's a good chance your competitors don't even know about them.
Now it's your turn to up your PPC performance game. With these useful PPC tactics, you'll be climbing your performance incline to the top with utmost ease.
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Social media management is a core part of digital marketing. Leveraging social media allows brands to engage with audiences, create and publish relevant content, and access a whole world of potential new customers.
With the right tools and knowledge, you can unlock the audiences—and huge marketing potential—of each social media platform.
What is social media management?
Social media management is the process of creating, publishing, and analyzing organic (unpaid) and paid content on social media profiles to support business objectives.
Business objectives can include earning sales, growing an audience, or increasing customer engagement.
Managing social media includes engaging with audiences and influencers on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It can also include tracking your social media performance against competitors.
While some companies were initially slow to include social media in their marketing strategies, the ability to reach enormous audiences on networks like Facebook (which has over 2.32 billion active monthly users) makes it impossible to ignore the platforms’ commercial potential.
Businesses now use social media to manage and nurture relationships with customers by responding to reviews, and informing and entertaining their audience with tailor-made content.
Why is social media management important? In the United States alone, as many as 295 million people use social media; that’s around three-quarters of the total population.
Companies that effectively leverage social networks in their marketing plans can be rewarded with a growing audience and strong customer engagement. One of the most effective ways to manage social media is to run a mixture of paid and organic marketing campaigns.
Paid social media (think ads) is a great way to get your brand message in front of new audiences. The algorithms deployed by social networks can make it difficult to reach new profiles with unpaid content. Paid ads can also be used to amplify your organic content such as videos or blog posts, or promote an offer that is converting well for you on other marketing channels.
Organic social media campaigns may not be as potent as paid social for reaching new customers, but it’s an excellent method for maintaining strong customer relationships and nurturing your audience. Organic social can be especially effective when content is published regularly.
Studies suggest that, in many cases, posting once or twice per day is optimal for an organic social posting cadence, depending on the platform.
If your content is high quality and published regularly, your audience is likely to stay engaged and rely on your content as a source of updates, information, and entertainment.
Content can also help build trust and position your brand as an authority.
A busy social media schedule with multiple profiles on multiple platforms invites complexity. It’s important to work efficiently across a variety of social tasks, and accurately measure the ROI of your social media campaigns to ensure your budget is not going to waste.
As managing social media for business can be a time-intensive process, many companies choose to automate their tasks with social media tools.
Social media tools can be an affordable and effective way to manage your profiles. Tools facilitate more efficient workflows by automating or reducing time-consuming tasks, like scheduling your content. They can also provide valuable insights that help you execute better campaigns, analyze ROI, track audience engagement, or check on your competitors’ social media performance.
What social media management tools are available?
There are a wealth of social media management tools available for social media scheduling, tracking, and more. However, you’ll benefit by working with a toolkit that tackles each part of your workflow.
There are many social media tools that can help you manage your social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Google My Business, and LinkedIn.
You can plan, deploy, and measure the performance of your entire social media strategy, all in one place. The toolkit is designed to manage multiple profiles for multiple businesses with an easy-to-read dashboard.
Tool 1: Social Media Ads
If you’re looking to market to new audiences and break through the barriers presented by social media algorithms, then a great way to start is with some ads. The Social Media Ads tool helps you build and launch ad campaigns for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook Audience Network.
The intuitive interface makes creating a new campaign easy. Select your objective (reach, traffic, or conversions), set your budget, schedule, bidding strategy, then choose your placements, and you’re ready to launch your campaign.
The Quick UTM option makes accurately tracking your campaigns a breeze. Simply generate UTM codes with the name, source, medium, content, and term parameters of your ads with the click of a button.
With Performance Report, you can check 46 different metrics for your published ad campaigns. Review each of your ad’s strengths and weaknesses to quickly discover optimization opportunities. Scale your good ads or fix those that need a bit of extra tweaking.
Create & Manage Ad Campaigns with the Social Media Ad Manager
Tool 2: Social Media Poster
Social Media Poster benefits content creators and others managing a busy content schedule. Draft and schedule content or post directly to Facebook (business pages), LinkedIn, Instagram, Google My Business, Pinterest, and Twitter from the tool:
The friendly calendar interface provides a clear view of your content schedule and easily creates an automated queue.
You can find out the most effective times to post, or set up RSS feeds to get a stream of inspiration and ideas for your own content.
Scheduling large batches of content is also easy. You can bulk upload your existing content calendar from a CSV. To save time, edit images, or add UTM codes to any hyperlinks in your posts directly in the editor without having to switch in and out of the interface.
Tool 3: Social Media Tracker
The Social Media Tracker lets you dive into your competitors’ performance metrics so you can quickly see where you’re winning, and where opportunities for improvement lie in your social strategy.
Compare your engagement and growth rates to those of your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Business, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, then quickly generate PDF reports to share with clients or managers.
Social Media Tracker also lets you see which hashtags your competitors are using in their campaigns. Use the Twitter Mentioners report to monitor customer interactions and see how often your brand is being mentioned versus your competitors.
With this report, not only can you see which brands and topics are hot, but you can also be ready to react quickly when you need to manage potentially difficult situations, such as concerns or complaints.
Track Your Competitors’ Social Media with the Social Media Tracker
Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring is the process of listening to what your existing and potential customers are saying about your brand and your competitors online.
When you understand your audience, it allows you to create and publish content that’s strongly aligned to their needs and desires—and this content is likely to perform well.
With our social media toolkit, taking a comprehensive approach to social media becomes easier.
Manage profiles across multiple platforms, keep your audience engaged with a regular schedule of relevant content, and compare your competitors’ performance to ensure that you’re not falling behind—or missing an opportunity to outdo them.
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If your Ecommerce Business isn't offering your customers multiple ways to make payments online, you're leaving money on the table.
While there's no way to escape some transaction fees and currency fees, there are ways to reduce payment processing costs and receive payments online for free.
In this post, we'll talk about the software options available today for accepting free online payments as well as details about how to actually go about accepting those payments.
But first, let's review some additional reasons you'd want to use a payment processing software.
Why should you use payment processing software? Here's a look at some of the advantages payment processing software will bring to your business.
Convenience is one of the main factors that influence conversion rate. The more steps a customer has to take to make a payment, the more likely they are to abandon their purchase and go elsewhere.
Payment processors can transfer most payments between shoppers and sellers instantly. On the other hand, transfers to and from bank accounts can sometimes take 24 hours or more.
Many payment processors are brands that are globally recognized. If a customer already uses payment software, they're more likely to trust your payment system.
Payment processing companies add an extra layer of protection to online transactions. You can set limits, flags for activity on your account, and sometimes even a time frame to recall payments.
With payment processors, you'll have access to your account online and can manage your contacts, recurring payments, and other account activity via desktop or mobile.
Top Online Payment Processing Providers
Once you've developed a strategy for accepting payments online, you'll need to decide which payment processing provider to use. Here are seven of the most popular options:
Price: 3.49% plus $0.49 per transaction (as of August, 2021).
PayPal is one of the most trusted and widely recognized payment processing companies. It's free to join and they provide all the tools you'll need to integrate PayPal payments into your website and set up a secure payment gateway for visitors. Additionally, comprehensive coverage makes the platform a good choice for international companies.
Price: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Stripe offers a wide range of options for online businesses such as customizable checkouts as well as subscription management and recurring payment features. Stripe supports all major credit cards, mobile paying apps, wallets, and more.
Price: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Square entered the payment processing space by introducing a dongle that sellers could insert into a mobile phone to accept credit card transactions.
They've since expanded their software to cover all the major payment processing options and have included some useful tools for online businesses as well as high-street stores.
You can even create a basic website for free and integrate all of their point-of-sale (POS) solutions at the same time. They also have paid options for a custom website.
4. Google Pay
Price: Google Pay doesn't charge any fees — merchants only pay transaction fees as usual with credit/ debit sales.
Google Pay has a payment tool for businesses, websites, and apps. Google Pay's APIs work to create a delightful checkout and payment experience for your customers.
If you use Google Pay on your website, you'll gain secure and easy access to hundreds of millions of cards saved to Google Accounts worldwide so customers can pay for your products safely and at the touch of a button.
5. Apple Pay
Price: Apple Pay doesn't charge any fees — merchants only pay transaction fees as usual with credit/ debit sales.
Apple Pay can be used on websites, in stores, by app, and via Business Chat or iMessage. It allows Apple users to quickly and safely input contact, payment, and shipping information during checkout.
Rather than having your ecommerce customers look around for their credit cards, Apple Pay allows them to checkout at the click of a button within apps and websites. On a website, an Apple users will simply click "Apple Pay" as their payment option, confirm the payment with one tap (via their iPhone, Apple Watch, etc.), and they're good to go.
6. Venmo For Business
Price: 1.9% plus $0.10 of the payment.
Venmo For Business is a mobile payment software and app owned by PayPal. You can choose to allow users to pay via your mobile app or your website.
You can set up a business profile on Venmo so users can quickly find your profile on the app. And if you add Venmo to your website, it'll appear as a payment option right next to where it'll give customers the option to pay with PayPal.
Once a customer selects the Venmo option at checkout, they'll be directed to their Venmo app to complete the transaction. The Venmo payment option can be added to any of the pages of your ecommerce site that would also show the option to pay with PayPal, including your product pages, shopping cart page, and checkout page.
Price: 2.38% plus $0.25.
Helcim is an online payment solution for ecommerce businesses — you can choose to start an online store from scratch or add a payment solution to your current website.
The easy-to-use and secure online payment system integrates on your website, shopping cart, billing system, and/or app, thanks to Helcim's API. In addition to in-app and via website, Helcim works over the phone, in person, and by invoice, and it integrates with your accounting tools to save you time when it comes to bookkeeping.
Next, let's cover the steps involved in receiving payments online for free.
How to Accept Payments Online for Free
1. Create a secure online payment gateway.
There are a couple of ways you can approach creating a secure online payment gateway. You can hire an outside developer or use your website development team to create a bespoke gateway. Or, you can use third-party software.
Setting up a secure gateway is essential. You're also putting automated processes in place, which will save time on manual processing, especially as you scale your business and handle more transactions.
The more payment methods you make available within your payment portal, the wider the audience, and the easier it'll be for your customers to send you money.
2. Facilitate credit and debit card payments.
Although it may change as mobile payments become more prevalent, using debit/ credit cards is still the most popular way people pay for products and services online. You can easily facilitate accepting card payments through established payment providers such as PayPal or Stripe. These will accept the most-used credit cards worldwide -- Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
3. Set up recurring billing.
If you offer subscription plans or ongoing monthly services, the most efficient and reliable way to invoice and receive payments is via recurring billing. Most of the major payment processing software also includes recurring billing features. For example, Growth Marketing Pro built an SEO tool that charges subscribers on a monthly basis and they used Stripe to set this up.
Sites like Paysimple also offer a suite of tools to set up custom, automated recurring billing if you already have a payment processing system in place.
Using automation is essential. It removes most human error and the stress of keeping track of invoicing and payments.
Your customers can commit to recurring payments with just a few clicks, and you won't have to worry about manually managing your customer base.
4. Accept mobile payments.
These days, people are often more likely to have their phones on hand than debit cards — plus, mobile payment apps are more convenient than ever.
For instance, Apple Pay has quickly become one of the most popular mobile payment systems in the United States. With an estimated 43.9 million users, you'd miss out if you didn't accept Apple Pay.
Google Pay, Venmo, and PayPal also have mobile apps with a decent market share.
5. Accept cryptocurrency payments.
If you're okay with handling cryptocurrencies, it's a way you can extend your reach to a broader online audience. Sites like Bitpay provide all the tools you need to accept crypto payments online, send invoices, request payments, and receive money on the go-through apps.
Because they're a decentralized exchange, cryptocurrencies offer some unique benefits for businesses. You can accept payments from anywhere in the world without incurring currency exchange fees or bank handling fees. There's also a reduced risk of fraud.
6. Use email invoicing.
Email invoicing is a proactive way to request payments. You can share a payment form through email or add a link redirecting the recipient to a payment portal. However, there are a couple of issues with this method: Email isn't the most reliable form of communication, and customers can have trust issues making payments via email.
Expect a failure rate, but it's a vital part of payment processing for a lot of businesses.
7. Accept electronic checks (eChecks).
To accept eChecks for payment, you need a form where the user can input their information, which you can see using payment processing software. It's basically a way to pay by check online. It's a quicker and more reliable way than sending a paper check through the post, so offering this to your customers will make the process run smoother.
Start Accepting Payments Online For Free
No matter which payment processing software you choose, the most important part is making it easy for the customer to pay. And the more ways they can pay, the more likely your customers will follow through on a purchase.
Marketers, can we be honest with each other for a second? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you really understand the world of paid advertising?
Although 45% of small businesses do some form of online advertising, pay-per-click is still a concept that eludes many of us.
As a marketer, PPC is a skill that you should have in your tool belt — or at least have a basic understanding of.
This guide will help you grasp pay-per-click marketing in its entirety. To start, we’ll begin with the benefits of paid advertising and then get into some key definitions that you’ll need to know.
What is PPC?
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of advertising that allows you to pay a fee to have your website on the search engine result page (SERP) when someone types in specific keywords or phrases to the search engine. The SERP will display the ads you create to direct visitors to your site, and the fee you pay is based on whether people click your ad.
When done right, PPC can earn you quality leads. If you can create a seamless user journey (which you’ll learn how to do later in this piece), it could mean a massive ROI for your PPC efforts.
Pay-per-click advertising is most common in search engine results pages, like Google or Bing, but is also used on social channels (although CPM is more common).
If you’re wondering where you can find pay-per-click ads, they’re the results you see before and to the right of the organic search results. For instance, check out the ad that came up in my search for "cards.”
PPC Terms and Definitions
What’s a marketing channel without a few acronyms and a little jargon? If you’re going to enter the paid advertising space, there are a few terms you should know. Below, we review the main elements of a PPC campaign, ranging from broad to the more specific.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The objective of all forms of digital advertising is to rank for a target keyword, which you can do in several ways. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to any digital marketing (paid or unpaid) done on a search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses both paid advertising and search engine optimization, that is, ranking organically for keywords. It’s important to note that not all PPC occurs on search engines — social media has PPC ads, too (think: Facebook Ads).
CPCCost-per-click (CPC) is the amount that an advertiser pays for each click on your ad. CPC acts as your bid in an auction that determines where your ad will be placed. As you can imagine, a higher bid equates to better ad placement.
You set your CPC at the maximum price you are willing to pay per click on your ad. What you actually pay is determined by the following formula:
This value determines the position of an ad on a search engine results page. It’s equal to Maximum Bid and Quality Score. Quality ScoreThis is the score that search engines give to your ad based on your clickthrough rate (CTR) — measured against the average CTR of ads in that position — the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP.
Maximum Bid. This is the maximum you're willing to pay per click on your ad. You can set your CPC to manual, where you determine the maximum bid for your ads, or enhanced, which allows the search engines to adjust your bid based on your goals. One of these enhanced options involves bid strategies that automatically adjust your bids based on either clicks or conversions.
CPM (Cost per Mille)CPM, also known as cost per thousand, is the cost per one thousand impressions. It’s most commonly used for paid social and display ads. There are other types of cost-pers… like cost-per-engagement, cost-per-acquisition (CPA), but for the sake of preserving your mental space, we’re going to stick with clicks, a.k.a. CPC.
CampaignThe first step in setting up your PPC ads is determining your ad campaign. You can think of your campaign as the key message or theme you want to get across with your advertisements.
Ad GroupOne size doesn’t fit all. That’s why you’ll create a series of ads within your campaign based on a set of highly related keywords. You can set a CPC for each ad group that you create.
KeywordsEach ad within your ad group will target a set of relevant keywords or key terms. These keywords tell search engines which terms or search queries you want your ad to be displayed alongside in SERPs. Once you determine which keywords perform best, you can set a micro CPC specifically for keywords within your ads.
Ad TextYour keywords should inform your ad text. Remember, your Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is; therefore, the text in your ad (and landing page, for that matter) should match the keyword terms you’re targeting.
landing page is a critical piece of your paid advertising strategy. The landing page is where users will end up once they click your PPC ad. Whether it’s a dedicated webpage, your homepage, or somewhere else, make sure to follow landing page best practices to maximize conversions.
Best PPC PlatformsNow that you understand the PPC basics, I’m guessing your next question is: Where should I advertise? There are dozens of online spaces where you can spend your coveted ad money, and the best way to vet them is by taking a close look at your potential ROI on each platform.
The most popular advertising platforms are effective because they’re easy to use and, most importantly, highly trafficked. But for a smaller budget, you might consider a lesser-known alternative to these key players.
When choosing a platform, some other things to consider are the availability of keyword terms, where your target audience spends their time, and your advertising budget.
Here a non-exhaustive list of some of the top PPC platforms. Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords)
How many times a day do you hear the phrase “Let me Google that?” Probably more than you can count … hence why Google Ads is the king of paid advertising.
On average, Google processes over 90,000 search queries every second, giving you plenty of opportunities to target keywords that will get your intended audience to click. The downside is that keywords are highly competitive on this platform, meaning a larger ad spend.
The perks of using Bing Ads over Google Ads is a slightly lower CPC at the expense of a larger audience, of course.
Facebook AdsFacebook Ads blend in with other posts on the platform.
Facebook Ads is a popular and effective platform for paid ads (more commonly used as CPM than CPC), mainly due to its specific targeting options. Facebook allows you to target users based on interests, demographics, location, and behaviors.
Also, Facebook allows for native ads, which means ads are introduced and blend into the social feed. Not to mention, you can use Facebook Ads to advertise on Instagram as well.
AdRoll is a retargeting platform that advertises to people who have already visited your website. For instance, say someone read your article on cheese making. You can retarget them on other sites they visit with display ads that advertise your online cooking classes.
While retargeting is possible with Google Ads, the benefit of using AdRoll is that it can display ads on Google and social media sites, which gives you more opportunities to capture clicks or impressions, depending on your goal.
RevContent focuses specifically on promoting content through PPC. It has the same impact as a guest post, where your content is displayed on an external site, except it’s in the form of an ad. You still bid on keywords, and your advertisement is displayed next to content relevant to those keywords. With this platform, you’ll reap the benefits of a low CPC and highly engaged traffic.
How does PPC work?
Pay-per-click, PPC, is a paid advertising model that falls under search engine marketing (SEM). With PPC, the advertiser only pays when people interact with their ad through impressions or clicks. With that explanation out of the way, now let's look at some benefits of PPC ads.
Benefits of PPC
1. PPC ads are cost-effective.With PPC ad campaigns, you have complete control over how much you’re willing to spend. Since you only pay when visitors click the link leading to your website or landing page — with a high chance of conversion — you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
2. PPC ads produce fast results.Although organic ranking is great, it sometimes takes months or even years to get on the first page on SERPs. If you’re a startup or small business, you likely don’t have the time to wait for the effect of organic, social, or direct traffic to kick in. That’s where PPC ads come in. With optimized PPC ads, you can shoot yourself to the top of the SERP within hours of launching your campaign.
3. You can easily control and test PPC ads.It’s easy to control the keywords you’re targeting, ad placement, or budget with PPC ads. You can also run A/B split tests with different ads to identify the one that produces the highest return on investment. You can then scale the ads that do well until it no longer produces desirable results.
4. PPC ads allow you to target your ideal customers.With PPC ads, you can skip right past cold audiences to target a warm audience that’s ready to buy your products and services. You can bid on keywords that solution-aware personas would search for online. Aside from keywords, PPC ads also offer targeting options like past online activity or demographics.
Another excellent use of PPC ads is to create retargeting campaigns targeting visitors who didn’t purchase after landing on your site.
5. Algorithm changes have little effect on PPC ads.Between the numerous Google algorithm changes and the 200 ranking factors, trying to get free traffic from search engines is a bit unstable compared to PPC advertising.
With PPC ads, you don’t have to worry about algorithm changes but instead focus on how well your campaigns perform.
6. PPC ads help you rank even with low domain ratings.Keywords have become increasingly competitive. This makes it more difficult for a business with a low domain authority to get into the top rankings on a search engine or in front of its target audience on a social platform.
With PPC advertising, you can quickly rank for keywords your audience is searching, irrespective of your domain ratings.
7. Data from PPC ads can improve your SEO strategy.You shouldn’t ditch all your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts altogether — your paid advertising should complement your SEO strategy instead of replacing it.
When people search for your keywords, you know their search intent and can display the most relevant ad to your audience. This means more clicks and a greater chance of conversion.
SEO vs. PPC
SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website to rank high and gain free traffic from search engines. On the other hand, you’ll have to pay for clicks with PPC. Although different, businesses see the best results when they align SEO and PPC in their marketing.
PPC vs. CPC
PPC and CPC are not technically the same thing. PPC refers to a style of marketing that includes paying for advertisements. CPC, or cost-per-click, refers to the amount of money you spend on a single click on your ad.
How to Build a PPC Campaign
Now that you understand the benefits of PPC and have your key terms, let’s dive into crafting a quality PPC campaign using Google AdWords or some other platform.
You don’t need to tackle these items step-by-step, but you will need to work through each of them to ensure that you create an effective marketing campaign.
I know I said that you don’t need to do these things in order, but you should do this step first. Without parameters, you risk your ad being untargeted and ineffective.
You want to put your ad campaigns into the context of your ultimate business goals. Consider how your paid campaigns will contribute to those goals. Then, think about what you want to accomplish with your ads — whether that be visits, sales, brand awareness, or something else — and how much you’re willing to spend to achieve that goal.
Your ads should encompass a few things:
Create Goals and Goal MetricsYour campaign goals will give you something to show for your ad spend as long as you determine how you will measure those goals. Your goal metrics should not be confused with your campaign metrics, which we’ll discuss below.
Let’s touch on some common PPC goals and how to measure them.
Brand awareness is how familiar your target audience is with your company. It might be a good idea to look into display ads for this goal so you can supplement your copy with engaging imagery. You can measure brand awareness through social engagement, surveys, and direct traffic.
Lead generation is the direct result of having a relevant and engaging landing page to follow your paid ad. Since you will create a separate landing page for each ad group, you should be able to easily track lead conversions either in the Google Ads interface via a tracking pixel, or through UTM parameters.
Offer promotion is great if you’re running a limited-time offer, product or service discount, or contest. You should create a dedicated sign-up page or a unique discount code so you know which users came from your ad.
Site traffic is a great goal if you have high-quality content throughout your website. If you’re going to spend money getting people to visit your site, you want to have some level of confidence that you can keep them there and eventually convert them into leads.
Choose Your Campaign Type
You don’t only need to know where you’ll advertise but also how. There are many different types of paid advertising campaigns, and the one you choose depends on where you can reach your audience. That isn’t to say that you can’t advertise through various means; you can also try a combination of campaign types as long as you’re consistently testing and revising.
Search Ads are the most common type of PPC and refer to the text ads that show up on search engine results pages.
Display Ads allow you to place ads (usually image-based) on external websites, including social. There are several ways to buy display ads, including Google Display Network (GDN) and other ad networks.
Social refers to any ads that you see on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can pay to show up in your target audience’s social feed or somewhere else within their profile, depending on the platform.
Remarketing can use either cookies or a list of contacts that you upload to target people who have previously engaged with your company through some action. That action could be filling out a form, reading a blog, or simply visiting a page on your website.
Google Shopping is most effective for ecommerce sites. Your ad — including image, price, and a short product description — will show on a carousel on a search page based on your target keywords.
Perform Keyword ResearchEach ad group you create needs to be assigned a set of keywords to target — that’s how search engines know when and where to display your ad. The general rule of thumb is to select between one to five keywords per ad group, and those keywords should be extremely relevant — your Quality Score depends on it.
Select keywords that are closely aligned with the specific theme of your ad group. If you find keywords you want to target that fall outside of one theme, you should create a separate ad group for them.
It’s important to note that you’re not stuck with the keywords you start with. In fact, you should closely monitor your keyword list throughout your campaign — eliminating those that don’t bring in the types of visitors that you’re looking for and increasing your bids on those that do. Do your best to select the most relevant keywords, but don’t feel pressured to get it 100% right the first time around.
Set Up Google Analytics and Tracking
Google Analytics is free to use, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t install it on your website. The tool provides insights into how your website is performing, how users interact with your pages, and what content is attractive to visitors. The information gathered from Google Analytics can be used for PPC and beyond.
Best Practices for a Quality PPC StrategyYou didn’t think we’d let you spend your hard-earned money on advertisements without providing some best practices to follow, did you? Of course not. We want to make sure you succeed with your next PPC campaign. So, let’s get into some PPC strategies that will help you maximize your efforts and your budget.
As a note, we’re going to dive specifically into paid search ads (those little guys you see in search engines) here.
PPC Ad Copy
Bidding on targeted keywords will get your ad in front of the right people; good ad copy will get those people to click on your ad. Like your keywords, your ad needs to solve for the intent of the searcher — you need to give the searcher exactly what they’re looking for and make sure that is clear through the words you use.
Search ads are comprised of a headline, a URL, and a short description, and each of these has limited character requirements to follow. To make the most of this space, make sure your ad copy does the following:
Landing Page Best Practices
Arguably the most important element of PPC (after your ad copy) is the page that you send leads to after they click on your ad. This page needs to be highly targeted, relevant to your ad, deliver what was promised, and present a seamless experience.
Why? Because the point of your landing page is to convert your new visitor into a lead or customer. Not only that, but a high-converting landing page will improve your Quality Score, leading to better ad placements. There’s nothing that will diminish PPC profits like a poorly crafted landing page.
What should a PPC landing page include to increase conversions? Glad you asked.
A/B Testing Your PPC Ads
As a marketer, you’ll rarely throw something out to your audience that works without testing it. PPC campaigns are no different. A/B testing is as critical to your paid ad campaign as is every other element. The goal of testing your ad is to increase both your clickthrough rate and your conversion rate.
The good news is that ads comprise just four parts that you’ll need to test: headline, description, landing page, and target keywords. Minor tweaks to just one of these elements can significantly alter your results, so you want to make changes one at a time so you can keep track of where improvements come from.
Since there are many variations that you could test one at a time, it’s a good idea to list out all the potential tests you can run and prioritize them by most significant impact. Finally, you should allow your ads to run long enough to gather the data you need and test them early enough, so you don’t waste budget on a poor-performing ad.
Maximizing Your ROI
At a high level, maximizing ROI on your ad campaigns means considering customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs, which will help you determine how much is worth spending on a new lead and how much of that spend can come from paid advertising.
To get more granular, we need to talk inputs and outputs, that is 1) lowering your input (cost per lead [CPL]) and 2) increasing your return (revenue).
There are a few factors to keep an eye on that will affect both, so let’s break it down.
Ways to Decrease Inputs
Ways to Increase Revenue
Google allows you to tailor your audience so you save marketing dollars and get in front of the right people. You can upload a customer list so that you don’t waste money on people who have already bought from you.
Google also has options for prospecting audiences. For instance, In-Market Audiences employs user behavior tracking to put you in front of prospects who are in the market for a product or service like yours.
You can also increase your bid for more relevant subgroups within your target audience — a practice called layering audiences.
Bid Adjustments. Bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease your bids based on performance. You can even make these adjustments based on different categories, like device, demographics, language, and more.
For example, if a keyword isn’t performing as well on mobile as on desktop, you can add a negative bid adjustment so that when someone searches your keyword on mobile, you’ll bid X% lower than your normal bid.
Custom Ad SchedulingYou can set up ad scheduling in Google Ads to display your ad only during specific days and times. This can cut down on ad spend and improve relevance for your target audience.
Sitelink Extensions. Sitelink extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information. For instance, if you’re running an ad for a seasonal promotion at a local store, you can add a sitelink extension to display your store hours and location. These extensions take up more real estate on SERPs and, therefore, stand out. Not only that, but they play a role in improving your Ad Rank.
Conversion tracking monitors how your landing page is performing via a tracking code that you place on the page where people land after completing your form (usually a “Thank You” page). By enabling this feature, you’ll be better equipped to make adjustments that can improve your conversions.
Keyword Monitoring. Don’t let too much time pass before you check how your keywords are performing. You can place higher bids on the keywords that are creating the best results for your campaign, and “defund” or eliminate others.
Match Types. Match Types in Google Ads allows you to choose how closely related you want your ad group to be associated with a search team. There are four match types: broad, modified broad, phrase, and exact match. Google will display your ad in results according to your selection.
For example, if your keyword phrase is “how to catch geese” and you select “broad match,” then Google will display your ad for queries that include any word in your key phrase in any order, including “geese catch” and “geese catch how.”
Negative KeywordsA negative keyword list tells search engines what you don’t want to rank for, which is equally as important as what you do. You might know some of these upfront, but likely you’ll determine these keywords by what isn’t performing so well within your campaign.
Social Media Ads
Although CPM is more common on social platforms, social media sites do offer PPC that works similarly to search engine ads in that you set a budget and bid on ad placements.
The difference is social media ads can show up directly in your news feed on most platforms, decreasing the effectiveness of ad blockers. Social platforms, like Facebook, let you set targeted demographics and target people based on interests. While paid search is more keyword-focused, paid social broadens into a demographic focus, leading to more ways to target your persona.
Social media has two paid ad functions that are critical to ad success — retargeting and Lookalike Audiences. Retargeting is remarketing to people based on site visits or manually uploaded contact lists. Lookalike Audiences reviews the people on your marketing list and creates an audience that parallels your list, expanding your potential target. Paid social also allows for a wider variety of ad types, like images, videos, text, and more.
PPC Management and TrackingPaid advertising is not “set it and forget it.” You need to manage and constantly monitor your ads to ensure that you’re reaching optimal results. Management, analysis, and tracking are crucial to a PPC campaign because they provide you with valuable insights and help you create a more effective campaign.
What is PPC management?
PPC management covers a wide range of techniques, including creating and adjusting goals, split testing, introducing new keywords, optimizing conversion paths, and shifting plans to reach goals.
Managing your PPC means looking at your strategy and ad spend. On the one hand, it means iterating on your plan to optimize keyword effectiveness. On the other hand, it means thinking about how to allocate resources to specific keywords and how to adjust those resources to maximize ROI.
A good management strategy also pays attention to providers — like search engines, social platforms, and ad networks — to monitor changes and updates that could affect paid campaigns.
Overall, PPC management is a hefty undertaking, which is why investing in solid PPC management tools could be a great idea.
PPC Tools and Software
With all of the variables that you need to track, PPC management tools should make things easier. You can opt to monitor your ads within the platform, but if you’re looking for additional assistance and organization, a robust, easy-to-read spreadsheet or sophisticated software that gives you insight into your ad performance is vital.
If you plan to go the software route, there are some features that you want to look for: multi-user support, cross-platform management, A/B testing, scheduling, reporting, and ad grading.
Here’s a list of some popular, highly-rated PPC software and resources. PPC Metrics to TrackMetrics are everything (but you already knew that). Here are some key metrics to track within your PPC campaign.
Clicks refer to the total number of clicks you receive on an ad. This metric is affected by your keyword selection and the relevance of your ad copy.
Cost per click (CPC) measures the price you pay for each click on your ad.
Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of ad views that result in clicks. This metric determines how much you pay (CPC). CTR benchmarks vary by industry.
Impressions are the number of times an ad is viewed. Cost per mille (CPM) is determined for every thousand impressions. Impressions are most relevant for brand awareness campaigns.
Ad spend is the amount you are spending on your ads. You can optimize this by improving your Quality Score.
Return on ad spend (ROAS) is the ROI of your ad campaign. This metric calculates the revenue received for every dollar spent on ads.
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of people that complete the call-to-action on your landing page and become a lead or customer.
Cost per conversion refers to the cost to generate a lead. This is calculated as the total cost of an ad divided by the number of conversions.
Quality Score (QS) determines ad positioning, so it’s an important metric to keep an eye on.
By paying close attention to each of these metrics, you can increase the ROI of your paid campaign and spend less for better results.
Go Paid! Whether you just started your business yesterday or have been around for decades, PPC just might be the boost you need to get an edge on your competition — or at least ahead of them in the SERPs.
Applying the lessons found in this guide about building a PPC campaign and the best practices for a quality PPC strategy would set you well on your way to improving your website’s traffic and conversions.
Have you ever double-tapped an image on Instagram, reacted to a video on Facebook, or clicked a search result in Google, only to realize afterward that it was actually an ad?
Maybe you never realized it was an ad at all — you just thought it was a cute picture of a dog.
More than ever, ads can be contextual, relevant, targeted, and helpful in ways they never could before. In short, ads today are content.
But the online advertising landscape is changing.
New platforms, ad types, and targeting capabilities are popping up all the time.
Let's dig into everything you need to know about online advertising across ad platforms for social media, paid search, display, and native advertising.
If you're only interested in learning about a certain type of online advertising, you can use the table of contents below to navigate to each section.
How to Advertise Online
93% of all online interactions start with a search engine, and with those odds, you can catch the attention of the audience you want through online advertising.
There’s plenty of ways to advertise your business strategically. Think about who you’re trying to reach when you start. Ask yourself “What target demographic am I advertising to?” and “How can I place my product or service offering in front of my target?”.
The answer is to see where your target demographic spends the most time online. Research their most frequented social media channels and most searched keywords. You can take this information and translate it to organic and paid marketing.
Not all online advertising has to cost money, people can find your business organically through social media marketing. Making a business page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even TikTok can capture people’s interest through engaging posts and content.
Now if you want to use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, most social media offers business pages the ability to pay a fee to promote posts/ads within the interface. Or if you are looking to advertise on a search engine for targeted keywords, Google Ads or sixads can guide you through the process of payment and execution.
There are three key ways that digital advertising can help you improve the performance of your organic marketing efforts.
With digital ads, organic performance can benefit from:
The goal of any ads strategy should be to get a positive return on your investment, which comes down to whether you're getting more revenue out of the ad campaign than the cost you're putting in.
How can you determine what your ad spend should be to get the most return on your investment? To start answering that question, we'll need to understand the bidding system used by the ad networks.
A bid is the maximum amount of money you're willing to pay for the desired action on your ad. If it sounds like an auction, that's because it is an auction. Ad networks have a limited amount of ad space, and to determine whether or not your ads are shown to your target audience, they run an auction to see how much each advertiser is willing to pay for ad space.
Just like in an auction, the highest bidder wins. Let's say you bid $10 for a click on your ad, and the next highest bidder only pays $5 for a click.
Each ad network will only make you pay the lowest amount possible to win the bid. In this example, you might be willing to pay $10, but in reality, you'll only have to pay $5.01 to win the bid. Winning this "auction," in addition to the overall quality of your ads, will determine how your ads are displayed on the different ad networks.
At this point, you might be thinking, "Okay, I get how the auction system works. But how do I figure out how much I should actually spend to see a return on my investment?"
My advice is to work backward from your revenue to determine what your maximum bid should be.
Use this equation:
Lifetime Value (LTV) x Average Lead-to-Customer Rate x Average Conversion Rate
Your LTV is how much a customer is worth to you throughout their relationship with your business. The average lead-to-customer rate is the rate at which your leads become paying customers. And your conversion rate is the rate at which new contacts convert on your content offers by filling out a form.
Combined, these metrics show you how much you should spend on your paid ads to break even.
Let's say that you want to use digital ads to promote your new content offer. You're going to need to know what your maximum ad spend should be to see a positive return on your investment. Assume that you know the following about your business:
Types of Online AdvertisingNow that we know more about how to advertise online, let's dive into the various types of online advertising.
Social Media Advertising
Every month, there are nearly 2.5 billion active users on Facebook, 1 billion on Instagram, and 330 million on Twitter worldwide.
Whether it's to chat with friends, stay connected to people across the globe, or for business and networking purposes, consumers are on social media for a multitude of reasons — and marketers know it. Because of the sheer number of active users on these platforms, advertising spend invested in social media channels is at an all-time high. Social media advertising across the world is projected to exceed $8.5 billion this year.
Advertising on social media comes with many advantages. You can:
Let's take a look at eight popular social media networks, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok. We'll cover the audiences and ad types available on each one.
1. FacebookFacebook is the most widely used social media network. Almost 2.5 billion people around the world use Facebook. That's more than 30% of the world's population.
With so many people using Facebook, you're almost guaranteed to be able to reach an audience that's relevant to any type of business. That's where one of the most powerful features of advertising on Facebook comes in: audience targeting. The targeting capabilities on Facebook are unmatched by any other social media network.
There are three types of audiences that you can target on Facebook:
Facebook's advanced targeting can be used to target your ads to the most relevant audience — and even tap into new audiences you'd otherwise never reach with organic content alone.
Advertising on Facebook includes a range of ad types, including:
Photo ads are great for sharing collections of image content. Video ads are great for product explainer videos and branding. Story ads allow you to use a combination of photo and short-form video content.
Personally, my favorite way to advertise on Facebook is with lead ads because they give you the best of both worlds: sharing visual content and generating leads all at the same time. Facebook Lead Ads allow you to capture lead information without directing people out of the Facebook platform.
No matter your business' size or industry, you can use lead ads to find potential customers who are likely interested in your products or services. With lead ads, you provide a helpful piece of content that encourages viewers to sign up for a newsletter, receive a price estimate, or request additional business information. In return, when the viewer fills out the form, the business receives a new lead.
Another way to advertise on Facebook is through Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger is a separate messaging app that comes with its own advertising opportunities. Facebook Messenger is the go-to messaging app in countries including the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Other messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are the more popular choice in countries throughout South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Across the world, 20 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses every month on Facebook Messenger. Ads play a big part in initiating conversations on Facebook Messenger.
There are a few different ways you can use Facebook Messenger as part of your advertising strategy.
All of these ad types come together to encourage your audience to kick off conversations with your business. They can be used to get in contact with a sales team, request more information on a product, or even share other content like blog posts or ebooks.
My favorite way to advertise on Facebook Messenger is retargeting. Retargeting ads in Facebook Messenger are a great way to start targeted conversations and send personalized offers and content.
Sponsored messages allow you to advertise to people who have already interacted with your business in Messenger. This is a great way to re-engage your audience in a personalized way.
You can also advertise on Instagram through the Facebook Ads Manager. Instagram has over 1 billion monthly users globally. That's a little less than half of the number of users on Facebook. The majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.
There are three ways that you can advertise on Instagram:
I recommend taking the third option and creating custom campaigns for your audience on Instagram.
Instagram has similar ad types to Facebook, including:
By far, the most interesting ad types right now are ads in the Explore Tab and Shopping Post ads. People using Instagram Explore are exploring their interests and discovering new content creators. Ads in Instagram Explore are a great opportunity to put your brand in front of a new audience.
Shopping Post ads allow you to include a tag that shows the product's name and price within your image. Clicking on the tag takes your prospects directly to a product page where they can purchase the item — all without leaving the Instagram app.
3. LinkedInThe LinkedIn platform has over 660 million monthly active members worldwide. Users on the platform are largely made up of working professionals which makes LinkedIn a great place for B2B (business-to-business) advertising. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for working professionals, which provides B2B advertisers a large audience pool to reach.
Plus, the advantage of advertising on LinkedIn is its unique targeting capabilities. On LinkedIn, you'll have access to unique targeting criteria that isn't available on other platforms.
You can target users on LinkedIn by unique demographics, including job title, job function, and industry. Maybe you only want to advertise to potential customers at the director level who work in customer service within the recruiting industry. LinkedIn's targeting capabilities make that possible.
Plus, with the option to include lead gen forms in your LinkedIn ads, LinkedIn can be a lead generation machine. This will allow you to not only reach a very specific audience but drive leads without directing them outside of the LinkedIn platform.
The most interesting ad type of LinkedIn is Message Ads. Message Ads allow you to send direct messages to your prospects to spark immediate action.
How to use LinkedIn Message Ads:
But a word of warning: Don't send too many Message Ads to the same people or it will come off like spam. And, make sure the messages sound authentic – if you were writing a LinkedIn message to a friend, what would you write in it?
If your Message Ads are too stiff, they'll come off as spammy, too. Remember: This channel is a one-to-one conversation. Direct messages are sacred spaces – if you're going to advertise there, you need to be extra careful about taking the time to make your Message Ads feel personal and relevant to your end-users. Make sure you're delivering value to them in a way that feels authentic.
Digital advertising is less common on Twitter because organic reach is still a significant driver of a brand's performance on Twitter. This is very unique to Twitter – but even so, ads can still deliver strong results depending on what your goals are. Twitter has over 330 million monthly users globally. The majority of users are between 35–65 years old.
Advertisers have discovered a few niches that have high engagement on Twitter: B2B and e-commerce. Many B2B companies are using Twitter as a digital marketing tool, and Twitter users are known to spend a lot of money online. This makes advertising specifically to these audiences a great strategy.
Twitter breaks down its ads into five goals:
All of these can work together to help you grow your audience on the platform and convert users into customers.
Pinterest is a unique social media platform with 300 million users who are highly engaged and predominantly female. Some people say that Pinterest is the only platform where users actually want to see ads from brands they love because Pinterest is all about visuals.
How to advertise on Pinterest in four steps:
Pinterest is great for businesses relying on photography to sell their products and who have a female target buyer persona.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, second only to Google, with over 2 billion monthly active users. Ads on YouTube appear before and during other YouTube videos or as a stand-alone promoted video that's displayed after performing a search.
Since you can target demographic information and interests, you can serve your videos to specific relevant audiences already watching videos from similar brands or on related topics.
Snapchat's 218 million users are predominantly made up of people between the ages of 18–24.
Snapchat offers a few ad types, including story ads, sponsored tiles in Snapchat Discover, and augmented reality (AR) lenses.
Snapchat's ad types feel pretty similar to the advertising options on Instagram. What really makes Snapchat unique is the augmented reality lenses. AR lenses are sponsored by a business to create interactive moments that users can use and share with their friends. It might be hard to believe, but in this example from Dominos that pizza isn't really there — that's the AR lens at work.
One of the newer — and most popular — players in the social media advertising world is TikTok. TikTok is all about creating short, creative, and oftentimes funny videos. TikTok has exploded in the past few years and has reached 500 million monthly users.
Advertising options are still limited; they are mainly geared towards driving awareness. TikTok doesn't hyperlink posts to websites and only recently started allowing advertising, so businesses advertising on TikTok focus on boosting brand awareness rather than leads or traffic.
Promoting TikTok videos allow brands to build awareness with a young target audience. Most of the posts you'll see on TikTok are aimed at getting laughs. From a brand perspective, you'll want to create videos that are funny and align with other content on the platform. Think of things like dance challenges and memes. This type of content is the most effective.
Paid Search AdvertisingPeople searching online are looking for something specific and will click on the first result they believe is going to be the most helpful to them.
You might be thinking: "I already appear in organic results on search engines. Why should I pay to advertise too?"
Well, there are three key reasons:
Paid search advertising allows advertisers to capture the attention of their audience in a more targeted way than with organic search alone.
Search ads allow you to anticipate the wants, needs, and desires of your potential customers and serve ads to them that are highly contextual. Over time, the analytics of your search ads can help you analyze and improve those ads to reach even more people.
But how does Google know how to deliver the right ad to the right person? That's where keywords come into play. A keyword is one word or phrase that someone uses to describe what they need in search. Advertising on search platforms takes the targeting capabilities available on social media platforms, like demographics and location, and layers it with the addition of keywords.
When a Google user types a query into the search field, Google returns a range of results that match the searcher's intent. Keywords align with what a searcher wants and will satisfy their query. You select keywords based on which queries you want to display your ad alongside.
Keyword research is just as important for paid ads as it is for organic search. That's because Google matches your ad with search queries based on the keywords you selected. Each ad group you create within your campaign will target a small set of keywords and Google will display your ad based on those selections.
Let's say Mary is moving to a different house and is looking for a home mover. So she goes into Google and types "who are the best movers." By searching "best home movers," she's going to see results for advertisers that targeted keywords like "moving companies" and "top-rated movers."
Search engines also consider your intent when choosing the types of ads to display.
In the example above, search ads were the most helpful resource. But what if you're looking for a location-based business, like a coffee shop? In Google maps, you might see “Promoted Pins” like these, shown in purple on the map and in the search results on the left. Promoted Pins are a great way for businesses to attract customers to their business based on location.
What if you're looking to make a purchase? Well, Google might show you a different kind of post to match your intent, such as Shopping Post Ads.
In this example below, Google shows you shopping post ads for the keyword "buy snowboard." Since my query includes the word "buy," Google knows that I'm interested in making a purchase, so I am shown ads for products I might be interested in.
So how do you select your keywords?
Keywords typically fall under two categories: brand and non-brand.
Brand and non-brand keywords play a role in your digital advertising strategy. Brand keywords help you protect your brand from your competitor's ads.
If you don't run ad campaigns for brand keywords, you'll leave your business vulnerable to losing website traffic to the competition who is bidding on your brand keywords. Non-brand keywords still have a role to play, too. Non-brand keywords allow you to reach new audiences unfamiliar with your brand.
When it comes to when your ad is displayed, you don't just want to pick a certain group of keywords and have the ad shown only when those keywords are entered into the search engine.
This is where match type comes in. Since there’s an infinite number of ways that people can actually search for one term, Google gives you three match types to choose from: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. You can even use a broad match modifier and exclude negative keywords to optimize where your ads are delivered.
Let's take a look at each match type:
Google vs. Bing vs. Yahoo
There are a few advertising platforms out there for search, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But Google is by far the most used search engine out there. With 3.5 billion search queries a day, over 71% of the total searches made daily around the world are done on Google. Google brings in six times more searches every day than Bing and Yahoo, combined.
But this doesn't mean you should entirely rule out advertising on these other platforms. In some cases, you can achieve impressive results with a smaller ad spend on Bing and Yahoo than you could on Google since there is less competition from advertisers.
My recommendation is to dig into your organic traffic to identify if Bing or Yahoo make up a significant amount of traffic for any given keywords or topics. This might indicate that advertising for those keywords on Bing or Yahoo could be profitable.
Regardless of where you advertise, the good news is that advertising on all of these platforms more or less work and look the same. So knowing how to advertise on one will make advertising on the others easier.
Publishers like BuzzFeed and The Dodo produce content that snowballs in popularity on social media almost every day. And they make money by helping other brands do it, too. Brands will pay these publishers to craft posts and videos that follow the publishers' formula for virality. They also pay publishers to distribute this sponsored content to their massive audience through social media and their website.
When you pay for a publisher's native advertising services, you'll be able to leverage their editorial expertise and audience reach to help your brand tell captivating stories to a bigger and better viewership. And each publisher is going to support different ad formats and creative types.
During the creative process, you'll collaborate with publishers to craft sponsored content that covers one of their main topics and looks like a regular piece of content on the publisher's website.
This way, even though your post is technically promotional, it won't disrupt their audience's browsing experience. They'll enjoy reading your post and won't feel like you or the publisher are advertising to them. This exposes your work to a huge, engaged viewership and attracts new followers to your brand.
Native advertising creates a symbiotic relationship between publishers and brands. Publishers who do sponsored content right reap the benefits of another revenue stream and gain more audience trust if they promote a native ad from a trustworthy brand.
For brands, collaborating with prominent publishers can unleash unprecedented amounts of creativity to help them win over the publishers' audience and boost engagement — as the click-through rate on native ads far exceeds traditional. For example, T Brand Studio, the New York Times native ad business, crafted sponsored posts that captured as much engagement as some of nytimes.com's highest-performing articles.
To find the optimal native advertising opportunities for your brand, try using StackAdapt or Nativo.
Display ads are a controversial topic in the digital marketing community. For almost 25 years, advertisers have abused them by tricking internet users into clicking misleading ads — some malicious display ads have even infected people's computers with viruses. It's easy to see why people have developed banner blindness and can't stop downloading ad blockers: display ads have the reputation of being intrusive, distracting, and irrelevant.
On the other side of the spectrum, though, display advertising technology has advanced to the point where ad networks can leverage data and machine learning to offer advertisers more effective targeting strategies and consumers more relevant ads.
Ad networks like Google Display Network and Facebook's Audience Network are the leaders in the banner ad renaissance. They can display your ads to the right target audience at the right place and time. And if you want more control of your advertising, they'll let you decide where to place your ads. Below, we'll cover each ad networks' features and targeting capabilities:
1. Google Display Network
When you use Google's Display Network, you can design visually appealing ads and place them on over two million websites and apps, YouTube, and Gmail.
You can also build new audiences by targeting people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service and remarket website visitors just by importing a list of their contact information.
If you don't want to build out your ideal audience or deal with bidding, you can let Google Ads do it for you. Its automated targeting and bidding features can identify your highest-converting audience for the best return on investment.
Display ads can be most effective when retargeting an audience that's already familiar with your brand.
2. Facebook's Audience Network
With Facebook's Audience Network, brands can expand their Facebook ad campaigns and use the same targeting data they use on the platform to advertise on a huge collection of websites and apps.
Brands can place native ads, banner ads, full-screen ads, in-stream video ads, and rewarded video ads (for example, "Watch this video ad to get more tokens!") on the network's websites and apps that their Facebook audience frequently visits.
This type of advertising can be particularly effective for mobile games, like in the example below from 5agame who was able to attribute 80% of their revenue through their rewarded video.
Now that you know about all of the digital ad types that are available, the next step is to learn how to leverage the right ads for your business to achieve your goals.
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