If 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. Call Swift for more:
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What is the first thing you do when you need new marketing ideas?
What about when you decide it’s time to change the way you keep the books finally? Or even notice a flat tire in the car?
My guess: you turn to Google. But did you know that 89% of B2B buyers and 81% of online shoppers do the same? Faced with a problem, challenge or even a choice, they google it. Simply.
And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence in Google, your business is unlikely to survive long.
In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy to build this presence — Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)
You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, and what you must do to position your site in search engine results.
But before we begin, I want to reassure you of something.
So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, focus on advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.
I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.
In the following pages, I’m going to break SEO into its most basic parts and show you how to use all its elements to construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends.
Keep on reading to understand SEO, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.
What is SEO?
At its core, SEO focuses on nothing else but expanding a company’s visibility in the organic search results. It helps businesses rank more pages higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages.) And in turn, drive more visitors to the site, increasing chances for more conversions.
When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to call it a strategy to ensure that when someone googles your product or service category, they find your website.
But this simplifies the discipline a bit. It doesn’t take elements like different customer information needs into consideration. However, it does reveal its essence.
In short, SEO drives two things — rankings and visibility.
This is a process that search engines use to determine where to place a particular web page in SERPs.
This term describes how prominent a particular domain is in search engine results. With high visibility, your domain is prominent in SERPs. Lower search visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries.
Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic and conversions.
There is one more reason why you should be using SEO. The discipline helps you position your brand throughout almost the entire buying journey.
In turn, it can ensure that your marketing strategies match the new buying behavior. Because, as Google admitted themselves — customer behavior has changed forever.
Today, more people use search engines to find products or services than any other marketing channel. 18% more shoppers choose Google over Amazon. 136% more prefer the search engine to other retail websites. And B2B buyers conduct up to 12 searches, on average, before engaging with a brand.
What's more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own. 77% people research a brand before engaging with it.
Forrester revealed that 60% of customers do not want any interaction with salespeople. Further, 68% prefer to research on their own. And 62% have developed their own criteria to select the right vendor.
What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.
Finally, Demand Gen’s 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 61% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search. In comparison, only 56% go directly to a vendor’s website.
But how do they use search engines during the process?
Early in the process, they use Google to find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.
Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on reviews or social media hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.
And so, the only chance for customers to notice and consider you is by showing up in their search results.
How does Google know how to rank a page?
Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.
Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.
To deliver the right information to users, search engines analyze two factors:
And to analyze all this information they use complex equations calledsearch algorithms.
Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.
As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.
Three Core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy
To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and links. So, let’s go through them in turn.
1. Technical Setup
For your website to rank, three things must happen:
First, a search engine needs find your pages on the Web.
Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.
And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.
Seem simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing to worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?
Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.
To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.
As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find its content inaccessible.
Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical search engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.
Notice some things about it:
That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems. The most important factors affecting it include:
Website navigation and links
Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page and use links to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and links as text-only.
Simple URL structureSearch engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Set them up to include as little beyond the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.
Page speedSearch engines, use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions how to improve your pages.
Dead links or broken redirectsA dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.
Sitemap and Robots.txt files
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what content not to index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want to appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.
Duplicate contentPages containing identical or quite similar content confuse search engines. They often find it near impossible to determine what content they should display in search results. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative factor. And upon finding it, can penalize a website by not displaying any of those pages at all.
Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content— information on a particular issue or problem, for example.
True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.
It’s all content.
And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.
Here are two reasons why:
While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements like page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.
The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.
SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want to attract people who need what you sell and can become leads, and later, customers.
However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.
That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.
The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. And finally, conducting extensive research to uncover related terms your audience would use.
We’ve published a thorough guide to keyword research for beginners. It lays out the keyword research process in detail. Use it to identify search terms you should be targeting.
With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.
On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that search engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it to relevant searches.
Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends to optimizing some elements in the code.
You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags like title or description are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a list of the most crucial on-page optimization actions to take.
Note: Since blog content prevails on mostwebsites,when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on blog SEO — optimizing blog posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.
a) Keyword Optimization
First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:
The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.
Also, add semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevancy better.
Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main keyword is “Apple.” But do you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?
Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice what queries to rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?
That’s what semantic keywords do. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.
b) Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization FactorsOn-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:
From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance and authority.
In their quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant to their queries but also, popular.
The first two areas — technical setup and content — focused on increasing relevancy (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)
Links, however, are responsible for popularity.
But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.
What is a backlink?
Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.
For example, this article in Entrepreneur.com mentions our marketing statistics page. It also links to it allowing their readers to see other stats than the one quoted.
Google uses quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.
But note that I mentioned links quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.
Links Quality FactorsLow quality or suspicious links — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately to make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.
That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on buildinganylinks. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.
Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:
Link BuildingIn SEO, we refer to the process of acquiring new backlinks as link building. And as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.
Link building, if you want to do it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. To generate quality links, you need to come up with a link building strategy. And that’s no small feat.
Remember, your links must pass various quality criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.
Here are some strategies to do it:
Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.
The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.
How to Monitor & Track SEO ResultsTechnical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.
Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:
Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.
And it’s well worth it.
97% of customers use search engines to find local information. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses. In fact, 12% of customers look for local business information every day.
What’s more, they act on this information: 75% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.
But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking all along?
Yes and no.
Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.
Local search results look different too:
For example, a localpack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to choose a business. For example, here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.”
Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of restaurants in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:
Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.
All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.
Local Search Ranking Factors
When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity to a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, “near me,” it’s only fair that Google will try to present the closest businesses first.
Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, and phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer to it as the NAP.
Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to assess the company’s location.
Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.
Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.
What is black hat SEO?
The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.
Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.
Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do,) and buying links.
So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.
Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing allows to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content assets.
But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.
And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.
SEO Resources & Training
This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.
Here are online training resources to try next:
You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their blogs. Here are some worth reading:
By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is incredibly important for marketers. When you optimize your web pages — including your blog posts — you're making your website more visible to people who are using search engines (like Google) to find your product or service.But does your blog content really help your business organically rank on search engines?
In this article, you’ll find the answer to this question and more. Get ready for an in-depth exploration into the world of blog SEO, the factors that affect it, and tips to start optimizing your blog site for the search engines.
Does blogging help with SEO?
Blogging helps boost SEO quality by positioning your website as a relevant answer to your customers' questions. Blog posts that use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and make your site more appealing to visitors.
Although it's clear blog content does contribute to your SEO, Google's many algorithm updates can make publishing the right kind of blog content tricky if you don’t know where to start. Some blog ranking factors have stood the test of time while others are considered "old-school." Here are a few of the top-ranking factors that can, directly and indirectly, affect blog SEO.
Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, take time to understand what each of these factors does, but don’t try to implement them all at once. They each serve a specific purpose and should be used to meet a specific SEO goal for your blog.
Factors That Affect Blog SEO1.
Although dwell time is an indirect ranking factor for Google, it's a critical factor in the user experience — and we know that user experience is king when it comes to SEO. Dwell time is the length of a time a reader spends on a page on your blog site.
From the moment a visitor clicks on your site in the SERP, to the moment they exit the page is considered dwell time. This metric indirectly tells search engines like Google how valuable your content is to the reader. It makes sense that the longer they spend on the page, the more relevant it is to them.
However, there’s a reason this metric is an indirect indicator for SEO — it’s completely subjective. The search engine algorithms don’t know your content strategy. Your blog could be focused on short-form content that takes just a minute or two to read.
You might also include pertinent information at the beginning of your blog posts to give the best reader experience, which means less time spent on the page. So yes, dwell time can affect SEO, but don’t manipulate your content to change this metric if it doesn’t make sense for your content strategy.
2. Page Speed
We mentioned earlier that visual elements on your blog can affect page speed, but that isn’t the only thing that can move this needle. Unnecessary code and overuse of plugins can also contribute to a sluggish blog site. Removing junk code can help your pages load faster, thus improving page speed.
If you’re not sure how to find and remove junk code, check out HTML-Cleaner. It’s an easy-to-use tool that doesn't require coding knowledge. It simply shows you the unnecessary code and lets you remove it with the click of a button.
I also recommend taking an inventory of your blog site plugins. Decide which ones you need to keep your blog running day-to-day and which ones were installed as a fix for a temporary issue.
Plugins that affect the front-end of your site are a threat to page speed, and odds are, you can uninstall more of these plugins than you think to increase your overall site speed.
3. Mobile Responsiveness
More than half of Google’s search traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. On an individual level, your blog site might follow that same trend. There’s no way around it — optimizing your blog site for mobile is a factor that will affect your SEO metrics. But what exactly does it mean to optimize a website for mobile?
The industry rule-of-thumb is to keep things simple. Most pre-made site themes these days are already mobile-friendly, so all you’ll need to do is tweak a CTA button here and enlarge a font size there.
Then, keep an eye on how your site is performing on mobile by taking a look at your Google Analytics dashboard and running a mobile site speed test regularly.
4. Index Date
Search engines aim to provide the most relevant and accurate information available. A factor search engines use when determining what’s relevant and accurate is the date a search engine indexes the content.
Indexing means a search engine finds content and adds it to its index. Later, the page can be retrieved and displayed in the SERP when a user searches for keywords related to the indexed page.
You might be wondering: Is the date the content was indexed the same as the date it was published?
The answer: yes and no. If a blog post is published for the first time, it’s likely that say, a Google crawler, will index that post the same day you publish it. But content can be backdated for several legitimate reasons, too, like archiving information or updating a sentence or two.
One way to positively affect this SEO factor is to implement a historical optimization strategy. This strategy works well on blogs that have been established for a few years and have a fair amount of content already.
By updating these older posts with new perspectives and data, you’ll be able to significantly impact your blog SEO without creating a lot of net new content. Site crawlers will reindex the page — taking into account the updated content — and give it another opportunity to compete in the SERP. It’s truly a win-win.
5. Recent Data
Recent data, another indirect ranking factor of SEO, should be included in blog posts. Recent data gives visitors relevant and accurate information which makes for a positive reader experience.
When you include a link to a credible site that has original, up-to-date data, you’re telling the search engine that this site is helpful and relevant to your readers (which is a plus for that other site). You’re also telling the search engine that this type of data is in some way related to the content you publish.
Over time, your readers will come to appreciate the content which can be confirmed using other metrics like increased time on page or lower bounce rate.
How to Optimize Blog Content for Search Engines
1. Identify the target audience for your blog.
No matter what industry your blog targets, you’ll want to identify and speak to the primary audience that will be reading your content. Understanding who your audience is and what you want them to do when they click on your article will help guide your blog strategy.
Buyer personas are an effective way to target readers using their buying behaviors, demographics, and psychographics. Without this insight, you could be producing grammatically correct and accurate content that few people will click on because it doesn’t speak to them on a personal level.
2. Conduct keyword research.
Now that you’ve selected your target audience and prepared a buyer persona, it’s time to find out what content your readers want to consume. Keyword research can be a heavy task to take on if you don’t begin with a strategy.
Therefore, I recommend starting with the topics your blog will cover, then expand or contract your scope from there. For an in-depth tutorial, check out our how-to guide on keyword research.
3. Add visuals.
Search engines like Google value visuals for certain keywords. Images and videos are among the most common visual elements that appear on the search engine results page. In order to achieve a coveted spot in an image pack or a video snippet, you’ll want to design creative graphics, use original photos and videos, and add descriptive alt text to every visual element within your blog post.
Alt text is a major factor that determines whether or not your image or video appears in the SERP and how highly it appears. Alt text is also important for screen readers so that visually impaired individuals have a positive experience consuming content on your blog site.
4. Write a catchy title.
The title of your blog post is the first element a reader will see when they come across your article, and it heavily influences whether they’ll click or keep scrolling. A catchy title uses data, asks a question, or leads with curiosity to pique the reader’s interest.
According to Coscheduler’s Headline Analyzer, the elements of a catchy title include power, emotional, uncommon, and common words. In the right proportions, these types of words in a blog title will grab your readers’ attention and keep them on the page.
Here’s an example of a catchy title with a Coschedule Headline Analyzer Score of 87:
The Perfect Dress Has 3 Elements According to This Popular Fashion Expert
5. Include an enticing CTA.
What’s a blog post without a call to action? The purpose of a CTA is to lead your reader to the next step in their journey through your blog. The key to a great CTA is that it’s relevant to the topic of your existing blog post and flows naturally with the rest of the content. Whether you’re selling a product, offering a newsletter subscription, or wanting the reader to consume more of your content, you’ll need an enticing CTA on every blog post you publish.
CTAs come in all types of formats, so get creative and experiment with them. Buttons, hyperlinks, and widgets are some of the most common CTAs, and they all have different purposes. For instance, you should add a bold, visible CTA like a button if you want the reader to make a purchase. On the other hand, you can easily get a reader to check out another blog post by providing a hyperlink to it in the conclusion of the current article.
6. Focus on the reader's experience.
Any great writer or SEO will tell you that the reader experience is the most important part of a blog post. The reader experience includes several factors like readability, formatting, and page speed. That means you’ll want to write content that’s clear, comprehensive of your topic, and accurate according to the latest data and trends.
Organizing the content using headings and subheadings is important as well because it helps the reader scan the content quickly to find the information they need. Finally, on-page elements like images and videos have an impact on page speed.
Keep image file sizes low (250 KB is a good starting point) and limit the number of videos you embed on a single page. By focusing on what the reader wants to know and organizing the post to achieve that goal, you’ll be on your way to publishing an article optimized for the search engine.
Now, let's take a look at these blog SEO tips that you can take advantage of to enhance your content's searchability.
Blog SEO Tips
Note: This list doesn't cover every SEO rule under the sun. Rather, the following tips are the on-page factors to get you started with an SEO strategy for your blog.
1. Use 1–2 long-tail keywords.
Optimizing your blog posts for keywords is not about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible. Nowadays, this actually hurts your SEO because search engines consider this keyword stuffing (i.e., including keywords as much as possible with the sole purpose of ranking highly in organic search).
It also doesn't make for a good reader experience — a ranking factor that search engines now prioritize to ensure you're answering the intent of your visitors. Therefore, you should use keywords in your content in a way that doesn't feel unnatural or forced.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on one or two long-tail keywords per blog post. While you can use more than one keyword in a single post, keep the focus of the post narrow enough to allow you to spend time optimizing for just one or two keywords.
You may be wondering: Why long-tail keywords?
These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post focused on the specific goals of your audience. For example, the long-tail keyword "how to write a blog post" is much more impactful in terms of SEO than the short keyword "blog post".
Website visitors searching long-tail keywords are more likely to read the whole post and then seek more information from you. In other words, they'll help you generate the right type of traffic — visitors who convert.
2. Use keywords strategically throughout the blog post.Now that you've got one or two keywords, it's time to incorporate them in your blog post. But where is the best place to include these terms so you rank high in search results?
There are four essential places where you should try to include your keywords: title tag, headers & body, URL, and meta description.
Title TagThe title (i.e., headline) of your blog post will be a search engine's and reader's first step in determining the relevancy of your content. So, including a keyword here is vital. Google calls this the "title tag" in a search result.
Be sure to include your keyword within the first 60 characters of your title, which is just about where Google cuts titles off on the SERP.
Technically, Google measures by pixel width, not character count, and it recently increased the pixel width for organic search results from approximately 500 pixels to 600 pixels, which translates to around 60 characters.
Long title tag? When you have a lengthy headline, it's a good idea to get your keyword in the beginning since it might get cut off in SERPs toward the end, which can take a toll on your post's perceived relevance.
In the example below, we had a long title that went over 65 characters, so we placed the keyword near the front.
Headers & BodyMention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, but only in a natural, reader-friendly way. Don't go overboard at the risk of being penalized for keyword stuffing.
Before you start writing a new blog post, you'll probably think about how to incorporate your keywords into your post. That's a smart idea, but it shouldn't be your only focus, nor even your primary focus.
Whenever you create content, your primary focus should be on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content.
Focus on being helpful and answering whatever question your customer might've asked to arrive on your post. Do that, and you'll naturally optimize for important keywords, anyway.
URLSearch engines also look at your URL to figure out what your post is about, and it's one of the first things it'll crawl on a page.
You have a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its unique URL — so make sure you include your one to two keywords in it.
In the example below, we created the URL using the long-tail keyword for which we were trying to rank: "email marketing examples."
Meta DescriptionYour meta description is meant to give search engines and readers information about your blog post's content. Meaning, you must use your long-tail term so Google and your audience are clear on your post's content.
At the same time, keep in mind the copy matters a great deal for click-through rates because it satisfies certain readers' intent — the more engaging, the better.
3. Optimize for mobile devices.
We learned earlier that more people use search engines from their mobile phones than from a computer.
And for all those valuable queries being searched on mobile devices, Google displays the mobile-friendly results first. This is yet another example of Google heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites — which has been true ever since the company updated its Penguin algorithm in April 2015.
So, how do you make your blog mobile-friendly? By using responsive design. Websites that are responsive to mobile allow blog pages to have just one URL instead of two — one for desktop and one for mobile, respectively. This helps your post's SEO because any inbound links that come back to your site won't be divided between the separate URLs.
As a result, you'll centralize the SEO power you gain from these links, helping Google more easily recognize your post's value and rank it accordingly.
Pro tip: What search engines value is constantly changing. Be sure you're keeping on top of these changes by subscribing to Google's official blog.
4. Optimize the meta description.To review, a meta description is additional text that appears in SERPs that lets readers know what the link is about. The meta description gives searchers the information they need to determine whether or not your content is what they're looking for and ultimately helps them decide if they'll click or not.
The maximum length of this meta description is greater than it once was — now around 300 characters — suggesting it wants to give readers more insight into what each result will give them.
So, in addition to being reader-friendly (compelling and relevant), your meta description should include the long-tail keyword for which you are trying to rank.
In the following example, I searched for "email newsletter examples."
The term is bolded in the meta description, helping readers make the connection between the intent of their search term and this result. You'll also see the term "E-Newsletter" bolded, indicating that Google knows there's a semantic connection between "email newsletter" and "E-Newsletter."
Note: Nowadays, it's not guaranteed that your meta description is always pulled into SERPs as it once was. As you can see in the above image, Google pulls in other parts of your blog post that includes the keywords searched, presumably to give searchers optimal context around how the result matches their specific query.
Let me show you another example. Below are two different search queries delivering two different snippets of text on Google SERPs. The first is a result of the query "no index no follow," and pulls in the original meta description:
The second is a result of the query "noindex nofollow," and pulls in the first instance of these specific keywords coming up in the body of the blog post:
While there's not much you can do to influence what text gets pulled in, you should continue to optimize this metadata, as well as your post, so search engines display the best content from the article. By creating reader-friendly content with natural keyword inclusion, you'll make it easier for Google to prove your post's relevancy in SERPs for you.
5. Include image alt text.Blog posts shouldn't only contain text — they should also include images that help explain and support your content. However, search engines don't simply look for images. Rather, they look for images with image alt text.
You may be wondering why this is. Since search engines can't "see" images the same way humans can, an image's alt text tells the search engine what an image is about. This ultimately helps those images rank in the search engine's images results page.
Image alt text also makes for a better user experience (UX). It displays inside the image container when an image can't be found or displayed. Technically, alt text is an attribute that can be added to an image tag in HTML.
Here's what a complete image tag might look like:
<img class="wt-blog__normal-image" src="image.jpg" alt="image-description" title="image tooltip">
When you incorporate image alt text, an image's name in your blog may go from something like, "IMG23940" to something accurate and descriptive such as "puppies playing in a basket."
Image alt text should be descriptive in a helpful way — meaning, it should provide the search engine with context to index the image if it's in a blog article related to a similar topic.
To provide more context, here's a list of things to be sure you keep in mind when creating alt text for your blog's images:
6. Limit topic tags.
Topic tags can help organize your blog content, but if you overuse them, they can actually be harmful. If you have too many similar tags, you may get penalized by search engines for having duplicate content.
Think of it this way, when you create a topic tag you also create a new site page where the content from those topic tags will appear. If you use too many similar tags for the same content, it appears to search engines as if you're showing the content multiple times throughout your website.
For example, topic tags like "blogging," "blog," and "blog posts" are too similar to one another to be used on the same post.
If you're worried that your current blog posts have too many similar tags, take some time to clean them up. Choose about 15–25 topic tags that you think are important to your blog and that aren't too similar to one another. Then only tag your posts with those keywords. That way, you won't have to worry about duplicate content.
Here at Swift, we use a Search Insights Report to map specific MSV-driven keyword ideas to a content topic each quarter. The process helps us target a handful of posts in a set number of topics throughout the year for a systematic approach to SEO and content creation.
7. Include user-friendly URL structures.
Before you publish your blog post, take a careful look at its URL structure. Is it long, filled with stop-words, or unrelated to the post’s topic? If so, you might want to rewrite it before it goes live.
The URL structure of your web pages (which are different from the specific URLs of your posts) should make it easy for your visitors to understand the structure of your website and the content they're about to see. Search engines favor web page URLs that make it easier for them and website visitors to understand the content on the page.
In this way, URL structure acts as a categorization system for readers, letting them know where they are on the website and how to access new site pages. Search engines appreciate this, as it makes it easier for them to identify exactly what information searchers will access on different parts of your blog or website.
Pro tip: Don’t change your blog post URL after it's been published — that’s the easiest way to press the metaphorical “reset” button on your SEO efforts for that post. If your URL is less descriptive than you’d like or it no longer follows your brand or style guidelines, your best bet is to leave it as is. Instead, change the title of the post using the guidelines we covered earlier.
8. Link to related blog posts.You may have heard that backlinks influence how high your blog site can rank in the SERP, and that’s true — backlinks show how trustworthy your site is based on how many other relevant sites link back to yours. But backlinks aren’t the end-all-be-all to link building. Linking to and from your own blog posts can have a positive impact on how well your blog site ranks, too.
Inbound links to your content help show search engines the validity or relevancy of your content. The same goes for linking internally to other pages on your website. If you've written about a topic that's mentioned in your blog post on another blog post, ebook, or web page, it's a best practice to link to that page.
(You might've noticed that I've been doing that from time to time throughout this blog post when I think it's helpful for our readers.) Not only will internal linking help keep visitors on your website, but it also surfaces your other relevant and authoritative pages to search engines.
For example, if your blog is about fashion, you might cover fabrics as a topic. Adding a hyperlink from a blog post about cotton to a post about the proper way to mix fabrics can help both of those posts become more visible to readers who search these keywords.
The search engines will also have one more entry point to the post about cotton when you hyperlink it in the post about mixing fabrics. This means the post about cotton fabric, and any updates you make to it will be recognized by site crawlers faster. It could even see a boost in the SERP as a result.
You can think of this as solving for your SEO while also helping your visitors get more information from your content.
9. Review metrics regularly.Google's free Search Console contains a section called the Search Analytics Report. This report helps you analyze clicks from Google Search — it's useful to determine which keywords people are using to find your blog content. You can also learn how to use Google Search Console by reading it
If you're interested in optimizing your best-performing older blog posts for traffic and leads like we've been doing since 2015, this tool can help identify low-hanging fruit.
Remember, many content marketers struggle with optimizing their blog posts for search. The truth is, your blog posts won't start ranking immediately. It takes time to build up search authority.
But, when you publish blog posts frequently and consistently optimize them for search while maintaining an intent-based reader experience, you'll reap the rewards in the form of traffic and leads long-term.
10. Organize by topic cluster.
The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords.
This makes things unorganized and difficult for blog visitors to find the exact information they need. It also results in your URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.
Here's what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:
Now, in order to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is the topic cluster model.
For this model to work, choose the broad topics for which you want to rank. Then, create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other to establish broader search engine authority.
This is what our blog infrastructure looks like now, with the topic cluster model. Specific topics are surrounded by blog posts related to the greater topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster via hyperlinks:
This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:
We know this is a fairly new concept, so for more details, check out our research on the topic, take our SEO training or watch the video below.
11. Publish evergreen content.
When planning and writing your blog articles, ensure it's evergreen content. Meaning, the content is about topics that will remain relevant and valuable over a long period of time (with only minor changes or updates). Let's look at a few reasons why evergreen content is so important:
All blog content — whether it's a long-form article, how-to guide, FAQ, tutorial, and so on — should be evergreen. Even the images you use in these posts should be evergreen. Check out this blog post for some examples of and ideas for evergreen content on your blog.
12. Update existing content.
To improve your SEO, you may assume you need to create new blog content. Although that's partially true, you should also focus a great deal of your time and energy on your existing blog content. Specifically, repurposing and updating your current content, as well as removing your outdated content.
This is because it takes a lot longer for a completely new piece of content to settle on the search engine results page (SERP) and gain authority, whereas you could update a piece of content and reap the benefits fairly immediately in comparison.
Not only will your updated content rank on the SERP faster, improving your number of visitors and leads, it also takes a lot less time and fewer resources to update an existing piece of content rather than create a brand new article.
Additionally, updating and repurposing some of your most successful pieces of content extends its lifespan so you can achieve the best results over a longer period of time (especially if it's evergreen content).
The final step entails removing your outdated content that's no longer relevant to your audience. Although your goal is to ensure your content is evergreen, some of it is bound to become outdated over time. This includes statistics, product information (if you have any listed in your blogs — as your products and business evolve), or information that changes across your industry over time.
Create Blog Content Your Readers (and Search Engines) Will Love
We don't expect you to incorporate each of these SEO best practices into your content strategy right away. But, as your website grows, so should your goals on search engines. Once you identify the goals and intent of your ideal readers, you'll be on track to deliver relevant content that will climb the ranks of the SERP.
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.
How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Strategy
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.
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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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If you’re anything like me, you may have grown a bit tired of hearing the word “pivot” this past year. As much as I’ve grown weary of the term itself, I still get excited about the pivot toward integrating SEO with PR trends. Here are a few of the trends I’ve noticed, along with my thoughts on where I think we’re going.
All of a sudden, publications have fallen in love with SEO
About 10 years ago, when I started writing for major media outlets, I’d get some quizzical looks. “Are you link building?” was one of the more frequent questions I was asked. Comments such as “We want to stay focused on creating great content” or “We can’t be too concerned about SEO tactics” were also common.
Nowadays, I’ll get at least one inquiry a month from a major publication seeking help optimizing search traffic. These outlets not only seek to better understand SEO, but they highly prize contributors and journalists willing to adjust their writing style to accommodate traffic optimization. In addition to scoring initial viewer hits, publishers are increasingly looking for their content to serve long-term readership needs, months and years after publication.
One of the main reasons I invested in Relevance was because the company combined the strategies of thought leadership with SEO and PR. To hit the sweet spot where all three overlap, you have to publish consistent source content that offers helpful thought leadership. And that content will need to be written in a way that it is optimized for SEO.
Journalists increasingly rely on search to get their job doneIn the past, journalists were typically given more time to conduct research and hit deadlines than is the norm today. Writers often used that time to research an industry in-depth, deciding along the way which pieces of information to keep and which to discard.
Showing up on third-party lists and having your own content chart high are obvious wins for anyone hoping to achieve industry leadership. In addition to potential clients, though, you’ll also come to the attention of journalists writing about your industry. While they will be expected to cover the major players in any space, they won’t have time to evaluate all of the options. That means being featured on these “top x players” lists is key.
When we implemented a search strategy for my company Calendar, we focused on charting in the top 3 for searches that included the phrase “top calendar apps.” Not only did this article chart in the top 5, but results at that time also included list pages from other companies.
In 2020, our company received more than 100 free mentions simply because someone sourced an article where we also received a mention. This boils down to free PR. Your company can benefit as well by incorporating the idea of “influence by search term” into your thinking and strategies.
New SEO strategies require patient and thorough testingAs any new PR strategy takes off, you’ll want to make sure the technical aspects of your SEO are all in a good place. Any reliable SEO expert will tell you straight up that you can’t know everything about how Google manages its algorithm, but do the best you can to test effectively to see what changes drive better search results.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to test out different approaches to make sure you are doing all you can to optimize for SEO. You’ll want to conduct split testing to figure things out, just as you would with any other paid strategy.
Many marketing strategies will conduct split testing but without including search, typically because an SEO expert has been blinded by the one way they engage in best practices. Intent-based strategizing, along with split testing, can help confirm that the steps you’re taking are yielding the results you were hoping for.
In addition to making sure you have conducted a full technical audit to make sure your house is in order, remember to review your site thoroughly. You’ll want to make sure it, too, has been optimized for targeted search terms.
Limitations on in-person events will increase digital strategy budgets
Much as we all might wish otherwise, the Covid-19 pandemic still presents a huge challenge to holding in-person events. The money is moving toward anything digital that looks like a reasonably viable alternative.
Prior to the pandemic, event companies were more or less obligated to split their budget between a lot of different marketing and sales strategies. With attention swinging more and more to the digital realm, there has been a commensurate interest in aligning PR with SEO strategy. No one wants to host an online event that doesn’t show up in search.
As they do so, these brands are simultaneously seeding their industry with quality content that points to these sources. When everything aligns as it should, the results can surpass all expectations.
As I’ve implemented these strategies, I’ve routinely been amazed at how fast a company can show up in search results for competitive terms and begin to own them.
A combination of natural link-building and surgical methods will be best
Recently, the head of communications at one of my favorite payroll companies told me he’d spent a certain number of dollars creating some whitepapers. All the publications contained solid data, and others had begun linking to them.
I love seeing brands implement inbound techniques, but my friend’s company needed more than just this start. It had to apply a layer of SEO surgery on top. Google needed not only to index the credible links pointed in his company’s direction, but it also needed to see an area of placements that provided a consistent pattern of offering expertise in that field.
Combining organic links with what you say about yourself yields the best results. When what you say about yourself matches up with what others say about you, the content on your site will seem that much more credible.
PR tools will soon be used the same way we use search
Many companies have already implemented something similar, but not nearly as many have a PR strategy that plays nicely with these tools.
In 2021, brands that are adept at both PR and SEO are going to see their rankings increase significantly.
In the wake of all that happened last year, I’m hesitant to make many predictions. One I will hazard is that, even after in-person events resume, audiences will hold fast to their digital lives. Companies that intentionally integrate SEO with their PR will reap huge rewards.
Credibility will be critical in a landscape marked by a heightened lack of trust. When your online footprint mirrors the messages being put out by your PR team, you’ll score points for integrity. Your existing clients will be reassured, and prospective clients will get an extra nudge to sign on.
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For your reference, we compiled a list of the 100 top trending Google searches and most Googled questions from our database of 20 billion keywords.
This list of top trending searches is being regularly updated every quarter for the most up-to-date information.
If you want to try your own Google searches, our Keyword Magic Tool or Google's Keyword Planner will help you to find keywords for your strategy and campaigns.
Top 100 Google Most Searched Terms Globally Keyword
Average Apr – Jun 2021
Search volume is the average number of times a specific search query is entered on a search engine per month. In this study by search volume we mean an average number of monthly searches for the last 12 months.
Top 100 Google Most Searched Terms in the US Keyword
Average Apr – May 2021
Average Apr – Jun 2021
1. facebook 151.0M 151.0M
2. youtube 151.0M 151.0M
3. amazon 124.0M 124.0M
4. weather 101.0M 101.0M
5. nba 33.0M 68.0M
6. home depot 64.3M 55.6M
7. gmail 61.8M 55.6M
8. walmart 43.0M. 55.6M
9. google translate 45.5M 37.2M
10. yahoo mail 45.5M 37.2M
11. yahoo 37.2M 37.2M
12. target 40.3M 30.4M
13. restaurants 33.0M. 30.4M
14. ebay 30.4M 30.4M
15. fox news 30.4M 30.4M
16. food near me 30.4M 30.4M
17. restaurants near me 27.7M 30.4M
18. google maps 24.9M 30.4M
19. hotels 23.5M. 30.4M
20. nba scores 19.3M 30.4M
21. amc stock 9.3M 30.4M
22. instagram 30.4M 24.9M
23. translate 30.4M 24.9M
24. amazon prime 24.9M 24.9M
25. weather tomorrow 24.9 M24.9M
26. starbucks 34.6M 20.4M
27. mcdonalds 29.6M 20.4M
28. costco 26.9M 20.4M
29. best buy 25.4M 20.4M
30. lowes 24.9M 20.4M
31. usps tracking 22.7M 20.4M
32. craigslist 20.4M 20.4M
33. espn 20.4M 20.4M
34. zillow 20.4M 20.4M
35. you tube18.5M 20.4M
36. spanish to english 20.4M 16.6M
37. cnn 18.5M 16.6M
38. news 16.6M 16.6M
39. traductor 16.6M 16.6M
40. food 20.8M 13.6M
41. walgreens 20.8M 13.6M
42. calculator 20.4M 13.6M
43. bank of america 17.0M 13.6M
44. twitter 15.1M 13.6M
45. wells fargo 15.1M 13.6M
46. dominos 13.6M 13.6M
47. facebook log in 13.6M 13.6M
48. macys 13.6M 13.6M
49. netflix 13.6M 13.6M
50. maps 13.6M 13.6M
51. indeed 12.4M 13.6M
52. trump 11.4M 13.6M
53. covid vaccine near me 18.0M 11.1M
54. cvs 13.9M 11.1M
55. etsy 13.6M 11.1M
56. hotmail 13.6M 11.1M
57. autozone 12.9M 11.1M
58. fedex tracking 12.4M 11.1M
59. kohls 12.4M 11.1M
60. msn 12.4M 11.1M
61. aol mail 11.1M 11.1M
62. shein 11.1M 11.1M
63. speed test 11.1M 11.1M
64. ups tracking 11.1M 11.1M
65. dogecoin 10.1M 11.1M
66. gas 9.3M 11.1M
67. google flights 9.1M 11.1M
68. southwest airlines 9.1M 11.1M
69. dr. wu lien-teh 5.6 M11.1M
70. walmart near me 5.0M 11.1M
71. gas station 22.7M 9.1M
72. google docs 17.0M 9.1M
73. taco bell 12.0M 9.1M
74. dollar tree 11.4M 9.1M
75. pizza hut 11.1M 9.1M
76. roblox 11.1M 9.1M
77. sam's club 10.5M 9.1M
78. old navy 10.1M 9.1M
79. usps 10.1M 9.1M
80. grocery store 9.9M 9.1M
81. airbnb 9.1M 9.1M
82. capital one 9.1M 9.1M
83. linkedin 9.1M 9.1M
84. omegle 9.1M 9.1M
85. paypal 9.1M 9.1M
86. american airlines 8.3M 9.1M
87. donald trump 7.6M 9.1M
88. lakers 12.9M 7.5M
89. irs 11.4M 7.5M
90. burger king 9.3M 7.5M
91. fedex 9.3M 7.5M
92. ikea 9.3M 7.5M
93. hentai 9.1M 7.5M
94. pinterest 9.1M 7.5M
95. credit karma 8.3M 7.5M
96. chipotle 8.3M 7.5M
97. discord 8.3M 7.5M
98. dow jones 7.5M 7.5M
99. facebook marketplace 7.5M 7.5M
100. mlb 7.5M 7.5M
Find keywords for your business
1. what to watch 9.1M
2. when is mothers day 3.8M
3. when is fathers day 3.4M
4. what is my ip 3.4M
5. what dinosaur has 500 teeth 3.2M
6. how to delete instagram account 3.1M
7. where does vanilla flavoring come from 2.3M
8. what time is it 1.8M
9. how to screenshot on mac 1.7M
10. when is father's day 202 11.7M
11. where am i 1.5M
12. how many ounces in a cup1 .3M
13. when is mother's day 202 11.3M
14. how many weeks in a year 1.2M
15. what song is this 1.2M
16. what the font 1.0M
17. how many ounces in a gallon 1.0M
18. how to lose weight fast 882.0K
19. how are you 823.0K
20. when does senate vote on stimulus 757.4K
21. when is memorial day 2021 740.8K
22. what time is it in california 673.0K
23. how many liters in a gallon 673.0K
24. how many ounces in a pound 673.0K
25. what is love 673.0K
26. how to delete facebook account 673.0K
27. when is mothers day 2021 647.5K
28. what is the factorial of hundred 637.8K
29. where does vanilla flavouring come from 637.4K
30. what lies below 634.0K
31. what is the meaning of 632.0K
32. is ariana grande married 611.4K
33. what is critical race theory 601.7K
34. when is the next full moon 591.0K
35. is today a holiday 591.0K
36. how to tie a tie 591.0K
37. how many grams in an ounce 591.0K
38. how to download youtube videos 591.0K
39. what is 100 factorial 578.8K
40. when are taxes due 2021 566.7K
41. how long to boil eggs 557.7K
42. how old is queen elizabeth 555.7K
43. how many countries in the world 550.0K
44. what is the weather today 550.0K
45. how to solve a rubik's cube 550.0K
46. how to draw 550.0K
47. how old is bernie sanders 528.0K
48. who called me 516.7K
49. when calls the heart 489.7K
50. how old is donald trump 486.3K
51. how to pronounce 483.3K
52. what day is it today 483.3K
53. what is today 483.3K
54. how to earn money online 483.3K
55. who won yesterday ipl match 481.1K
56. what is mean in math 456.0K
57. how many people are in the world 450.0K
58. what is the 450.0K
59. how many 450.0K
60. how to deactivate facebook 450.0K
61. what does 450.0K
62. what is cryptocurrency 447.3K
63. who is kits mom bachelor 441.8K
64. is reddit down 441.3K
65. when is eid 2021 435.5K
66. when will senate vote on stimulus4 28.1K
67. what is the meaning 422.7K
68. how to screenshot on windows 422.7K
69. how many cups in a quart 422.7K
70. how to delete snapchat account 422.7K
71. why are flags at half mast today 411.3K
72. when is ramadan 2021 407.7K
73. when is mother's day in 2021 403.3K
74. where i can find happiness 400.3K
75. how many quarts in a gallon 395.3K
76. who is the richest person in the world 395.3K
77. what is a verb 395.3K
78. what is the time 395.3K
79. how many oz in a gallon 395.3K
80. what time is it in the uk 395.3K
81. how many seconds in a day 388.0K
82. when does summer start 382.0K
83. when is easter 380.0K
84. what if 373.0K
85. what time is it in hawaii 373.0K
86. what is computer 373.0K
87. how many days in a year 368.0K
88. what we do in the shadows 368.0K
89. what is an adjective 368.0K
90. how to make money online 368.0K
91. how to lose belly fat 368.0K
92. what is a noun 368.0K
93. how many centimeters in an inch 368.0K
94. how much 368.0K
95. how to lose weight 368.0K
96. when is eid 366.0K
97. how old is the queen 366.0K
98. how to register for covid vaccine 364.0K
99. what to mine 354.7K
100. how to take a screenshot on a mac 345.7K
The Top 100 Most Googled Questions in the US Keyword
Average Apr – May 2021Average Apr – Jun 2021
1. what time is it 5.0M 3.7M
2. what to watch 4.5M 4.4M
3. when is mothers day 3.7M 2.5M
4. when is mother's day 202 11.3M 891.7K
5. what dinosaur has 500 teeth 1.1 M 1.3M
6. how many ounces in a gallon 1.0M 1.0M
7. when is memorial day 2021 946.5K 647.5K
8. how to screenshot on mac 911.5K 882.0K
9. where am i 911.5K 882.0K
10. when is memorial day 900.5K 620.5K
11. when is fathers day 873.0K 2.2M
12. when are taxes due 2021 836.5K 566.7K
13. how many weeks in a year 823.0K 823.0K
14. how many ounces in a cup 823.0K 823.0K
15. where does vanilla flavoring come from 817.5K 565.2K
16. when does senate vote on stimulus 757.4K 509.9K
17. when is father's day 2021 710.5K 1.2M
18. how to delete instagram account 673.0K 673.0K
19. what is my ip 673.0K 673.0K
20. why are flags at half mast today 562.0K 404.8K
21. how many ounces in a pound 550.0K 550.0K
22. what time is it in california 550.0K 550.0K
23. what song is this 550.0K 591.0K
24. when is mothers day 2021 550.0K 372.7K
25. what lies below 545.3K 383.7K
26. how old is bernie sanders 500.0K 483.3K
27. what time is it in australia 500.0K 415.3K
28. what time is it in arizona 500.0K 415.3K
29. how old is queen elizabeth 479.0K 374.3K
30. how to lose weight fast 450.0K 450.0K
31. how many grams in an ounce 450.0K 450.0K
32. is today a holiday 450.0K 450.0K
33. when is the next full moon 450.0K 450.0K
34. who is kits mom bachelor 441.8K 441.8K
35. when will senate vote on stimulus 428.1K 296.4K
36. is ariana grande married 416.5K 332.6K
37. how long to boil eggs 409.0K 395.3K
38. how many cups in a quart 409.0K 395.3K
39. how old is donald trump 409.0K 422.7K
40. how many quarts in a gallon 409.0K 395.3K
41. how to tie a tie 409.0K 395.3K
42. how many oz in a gallon 368.0K 368.0K
43. how many liters in a gallon 368.0K 395.3K
44. what is the weather today 368.0K 368.0K
45. when is easter 366.8K 255.5K
46. how did dmx die 356.8K 246.9K
47. when does the senate vote on stimulus 343.9K 234.2K
48. what day is mother's day 334.5K 227.0K
49. what is mean in math 334.5K 259.7K
50. what time is it in hawaii 334.5K 345.7K
51. how many seconds in a day 307.0K 249.7K
52. how many cups in a gallon 301.0K 301.0K
53. how many tablespoons in a cup 301.0K 301.0K
54. how many teaspoons in a tablespoon 301.0K 282.7K
55. how many feet in a mile 301.0K 301.0K
56. when calls the heart 301.0K 225.3K
57. when are taxes due 301.0K 203.4K
58. why are flags at half mast 292.5K 208.5K
59. what is memorial day 288.6K 203.4K
60. is jennifer love hewitt on 911 really pregnant 281.1K 281.1K
61. what is critical race theory 280.0K 593.3K
62. where is sugar bowl 2021 280.0K 186.7K
63. did dmx die 277.7K 186.1K
64. what is april 24277.7K 185.8K
65. how many square feet in an acre 273.5K 249.3K
66. how much house can i afford 273.5K 264.3K
67. what time is the super bowl 2021 270.3K 180.2K
68. how old is joe biden 266.5K 300.3K
69. when does summer start 266.5K 300.3K
70. when is easter 2021 262.0K 188.2K
71. what time is the kentucky derby 2021249.8K 166.7K
72. how many steps in a mile 246.0K 246.0K
73. how many people are in the world 246.0K 231.0K
74. how many ounces in a quart 246.0K 246.0K
75. how many oz in a cup 246.0K 246.0K
76. how to screenshot on windows 246.0K 231.0K
77. how to write a check 246.0K 246.0K
78. what time does walmart close 246.0K 264.3K
79. what time is it in the uk 246.0K 246.0K
80. what is the weather 246.0K 231.0K
81. what is today 246.0K 246.0K
82. what is cinco de mayo 245.3K 166.8K
83. how to boil eggs 233.0K 210.3K
84. how to buy safemoon 233.0K 166.4K
85. what is cryptocurrency 233.0K192.0K
86. which wich 233.0K 222.3K
87. what happened to dmx 230.0K 156.0K
88. who is the most powerful doctor in the world 229.3K 158.9K
89. what did meyers leonard say 225.0K 225.0K
90. how to solve a rubik's cube 223.5K 231.0K
91. how to take a screenshot on a mac 223.5K 216.0K
92. how many grams in a pound 223.5K 216.0K
93. where am i right now 223.5K 231.0K
94. who is the richest person in the world 223.5K 204.0K
95. what is ramadann 221.0K 152.3K
96. where is my stimulus check 218.0K 170.0K
97. what is non binary 214.3K 197.8K
98. how to hard boil eggs 205.5K 173.7K
99. is reddit down 205.5K 237.3K
100. how many days in a year 201.0K 189.0K
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Think of your social media content strategy as your blueprint for your business's success across social platforms. If you don't take the time to put together a solid strategy, you will find that your social efforts lack direction and don't deliver the results you expect to see.
You need to dedicate the time and resources to plan your approach, map out exactly what you want to achieve, how you will get there, and how you will measure the impact that your efforts have on your goals.
But it isn't always easy to know where to start, especially if you have never put one together before.
In this guide, we will walk you through a proven 7-step process to developing a social content strategy from scratch, specifically looking at:
Continue reading, and you will learn a simple but effective process that you can use to plan your social content and take your growth from your chosen platforms to the next level.
Why You Need a Social Media Content Strategy? Strategy is underrated.
Sure, you might get away with posting something every day on your social channels without ever giving much thought to what you are posting, or more importantly, why.
But this isn't going to drive growth or real, impactful results.
You will not acquire new fans and followers or convince these individuals to visit your website or convert into a customer or client by blindly posting whatever you feel like pushing out that day. That is just not how it works.
You need to know what you want to achieve to figure out how you will get there. And this is what a strategy is.
When you can craft a strategy that maps out the route you need to take to meet your goals, your chance of achieving these massively increases. It also helps everyone involved to focus their efforts, something that, in itself, can help to improve performance and returns.
Social media should be a channel that drives sales and inquiries; it is not just a vanity channel. But for this to happen, you need to have a strategy that everyone on your marketing team works towards.
How to Develop a Social Content Strategy in 7 Simple Steps
The reality is that developing a social content strategy is easier than you probably think.
And following a proven process can help you define your goals, create and publish content to a schedule that is right for your audience, and measure your efforts' impact.
Keep reading to learn how you can do this in just 7 simple steps, including a look at the tools you should be using to make the whole process that little bit easier.
1. Setting Goals for Your ContentHave you ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?
It is important that you start creating every strategy by knowing what you want to achieve, as this will help shape the path you take to make this happen. Otherwise, you are working blindly. And that is not very strategic at all.
Without goals and KPIs, you will also not be able to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Setting goals is all about having an indicator of success that allows you to determine your social strategy's ROI.
If you are not familiar with S.M.A.R.T goals, these are goals that are:
Your social content strategy should start with goal-setting, as this is something that will help to shape the following steps in the process.
Having clearly defined goals means that you can align every piece of content, and every post that you publish, with these.
2. Know The Profile of Your Audience and When You Should Post
Knowing your audience's profile means that you can tailor your content to talk directly to these people.
After all, taking a targeted approach is almost always more effective than trying to engage too wide of an audience with a single strategy.
Knowing the times when your audience is the most active on each channel can also help you to generate an increased level of engagement by sharing your content at the right time. And the great news is that you can gain these insights from your main social channels.
Facebook Insights provides an absolutely phenomenal amount of data on your audience, and if you are not already using this to inform your social efforts, then you need to dive deep into the tool.
Head to your Facebook Business Page, and you will see an 'Insights' tab on the left-hand menu:
From here, you can gain a wealth of data around the performance of your page. But, for the purpose of putting together a solid strategy, you need to head to the 'people' tab where you can see information around who your key audience is:
Next, head then to the 'posts' tab to gain an understanding of the times and days when your audience is most likely to be online:
Unfortunately, Twitter deprecated its powerful audience insights dashboard earlier this year. However, you can still use the Analytics tool to gain some insights into your own Tweets' performance.
Head to Twitter Analytics and hit the 'Tweets' button at the top of the page:
On this page, you can see the days when your recent Tweets have performed the best:
While this isn't as useful as Facebook Insights, it can help you to spot patterns of the days when your Tweets are the most likely to perform to the best of their potential. We will have some upcoming tips on how to get more insights on each of the social platforms.
If you are a B2B marketer, LinkedIn can give you a phenomenal amount of insights about your audience and those who follow your company page.
Head to the 'analytics' tab on your company page dashboard and navigate to 'Followers.'
From here, you can access insights on:
However, when it comes to understanding your audience, the 'follower demographics' section is insanely valuable, helping you to understand the exact profile of those who follow your page.
You can also gain insights into your audience on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. However, the most powerful insights are those that we have walked through above.
3. Choose the Right Social Platform(s)You don't have to use every available social platform.
Let's repeat that — you don't have to use every available social platform.
In most instances, it makes sense to focus your efforts on the platforms where your audience is active and likely to engage with your business, rather than spreading your time and content too thinly across every available platform.
You will no doubt already have a good idea, by this stage, as to the platforms where your audience is the most active, but we recommend choosing a couple of these and executing a really solid strategy.
Trust us when we say that you will see far better results doing this than trying to be present everywhere.
As a general rule of thumb:
Facebook is effective for both B2B and B2C businesses, with support for a whole load of different content formats, ad targeting options, and users. There are very few businesses that should not include Facebook as one of their core channels.
Twitter isn't for every business, due to the platform's fast-moving nature and the fact that it is still very much based around a simple Tweet format. However, it is the perfect customer service platform for businesses that deal with high volumes of support and service queries.
LinkedIn is perfect for B2B service businesses and is the perfect place to position individuals and companies as experts through a content strategy based on thought leadership and a strong focus on editorial content.
Pinterest is a favorite amongst eCommerce retailers and owners of businesses that are easily promoted visually.
YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine, and pretty much all sectors can benefit from the platform. However, you need to be prepared to consistently publish engaging video content, something that not all businesses are set up to do.
Instagram is often the first or second-choice platform for B2C businesses that have access to (or can take) engaging photos and images and engage their audience. It is usually of lesser-importance to B2B businesses.
TikTok is the newcomer to the social scene, and there are plenty of examples of brands winning big on the platform, but the format and nature of the content isn't for everyone. It is perfect for lifestyle-focused B2C brands.
4. Plan Social Content and Choose Formats
Once you have chosen the main social platforms that you are going to focus your efforts upon, you need to plan out your content and the formats that you are going to create.
And our guide on 15 Social Media Content Types (with examples for ideas and inspiration) is a great starting point to inspire you to create awesome content that resonates with your audience.
A great starting point is to map out the key messages that you want to share with your audience (ideally mixing sales-focused product or service posts with educational, information, or inspirational content), alongside the formats that you can create content around.
You need to balance different formats to ensure you are getting your key message across effectively, and some of the more popular ones that we recommend include:
Don't rely on a single content format if you truly want to drive engagement from your audience, but be sure to balance the time needed to produce each different piece with the importance of maintaining a consistent publishing schedule.
5. Create a Content Calendar
Once you have started planning out your content, you need to set up a content calendar that your team can use for organizational purposes.
And this is important for a simple reason; it keeps you accountable.
Once you have set a publishing schedule and mapped it out on a content calendar, you have made a commitment. And this is often what is needed to keep your efforts focused and on track. It also helps you work with other teams to complete goals.
For example, if you know in 2 weeks, you are launching a new campaign and need graphics, your content team and graphics teams can both view the calendar and ensure tasks are done on time.
And creating a content calendar couldn't be easier to assign your social content with your wider digital marketing campaign:
Just make sure to keep your calendar updated so your whole team can use it as a reference point.
Get into the habit of adding in your planned social content and sticking to it; this is often the motivation that most marketers need to keep on track.
And let's not forget that committing to regular social publishing is one of the main drivers of success. It is hard to stick to, and very few do. But this means that those who keep on track are typically the ones who gain a competitive advantage.
In terms of how frequently you should be posting on each platform, we recommend a baseline schedule that looks like this (depending on the platforms you are using):
6. Publishing Your Content
Publishing your content on social media can be a time-consuming task.
And that's why many marketers choose to schedule their content in advance, making it easier to block out time each week to create your content and have it automatically post across your platforms at the time that you deem to be the most impactful.
Start by connecting your chosen social networks:
Once you have connected your channels, you will be able to schedule posts across each of these to have shares go out at your chosen time.
We recommend setting aside a regular time in your calendar each week to schedule your social content for the coming days. Again, this keeps you focused and on track to consistent publishing.
7. Analyze and Measure Your Content's PerformanceRemember the goals you set when mapping out your strategy?
You need to track your content's performance against those goals; otherwise, you won't know how successful your efforts are. But how you track this very much depends upon the goals that you set.
We talked about ensuring that each goal is measurable, and this is where you should have identified what you will measure success as and how you will do it.
If you have set a benchmark for your performance, you can easily identify which posts are exceeding this.
We recommend analyzing the performance of your social efforts on a weekly basis and measuring these against the goals and KPIs that you set.
If you are on your way to achieving your goals, great. If not, a weekly check-in on progress means you are able to make adjustments and improvements to your strategy to get things back on track.
Don't underestimate the power of putting together a solid social content strategy.
It is your roadmap to success, and having a clear plan of action that can be communicated across your team and key stakeholders and time invested in putting this together is time well spent.
Just be sure to follow a clear process, know your goals and checkpoints, and maintain a consistent approach to publishing great content!
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Brands need a video marketing strategy — this idea isn't new. What has changed is how important video has become on every platform and channel.
Video is no longer just one piece of your overall marketing plan. It's central to your outreach and campaign efforts … especially your social strategy.
Video has absolutely dominated social. Swift Digital Marketing Research shows that four of the top six channels on which global consumers watch video are social channels.
Why is this important? If you aren't creating video, you're likely falling behind. But don't fret. For most videos, the more simple and raw it is, the more authentic the content seems … and that's what really matters to your audience.
Better yet, video production is more cost-effective than ever — you can shoot in high-quality, 4K video with your smartphone.
Regardless, between camera equipment to lighting to editing software, the topic of video marketing can still seem pretty complicated. That's why we compiled this guide.
Continue reading learn everything you need to know about video marketing strategy, or use the links below to jump to a specific section.
Video marketing is using videos to promote and market your product or service, increase engagement on your digital and social channels, educate your consumers and customers, and reach your audience with a new medium.
Why should you focus on video marketing today?
The last handful of years saw a surge in the popularity of video as a content marketing format.
Specifically, in 2017, video rise to the top of your marketing tactic list. Video as a tactic was likely streamlined by your creative team as a one-to-many awareness play, with lots of focus on expensive production and little analysis to show for it.
2018 and 2019 transformed video from a singular marketing tactic to an entire business strategy.
Today, video is a holistic business approach, meaning video content should be produced by all teams in a conversational, actionable, and measurable way.
More than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands … more than any other type of content.
Video on landing pages is capable of increasing conversion rates by over 80%, and the mere mention of the word “video” in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%. 90% of customers also say videos help them make buying decisions.
But video hasn't only transformed how businesses market and consumers shop; it's also revolutionized how salespeople connect with and convert prospects and how service teams support and delight customers. In short, video is incredibly useful throughout the entire flywheel — not just to heighten brand awareness.
Video can be a versatile tool for salespeople throughout the entire customer buying journey, and it can do much more than increase engagement. Backend analytics also help salespeople qualify and prioritize cold or unresponsive leads.
According to Gary Stevens, head of research at HostingCanada.org, "retargeting our website visitors on social media has led to a 47% increase in visitor value site-wide." The granularity of video analytics on platforms like Facebook is one reason why, in 2018, 93% of businesses reported getting a new customer on social media thanks to video.
The options are also endless for service teams — onboarding videos, knowledge-based videos, meet the team videos, support video calls, and customer stories are just a few ways that video can create a more thorough, personalized customer support experience.
Lastly, according to Swift Research, consumers and customers actually prefer lower quality, “authentic” video over high-quality video that seems artificial and inauthentic.
Video is within reach for businesses of virtually any size — team and budget alike. 45% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year. Will you join them?
The 12 Types of Marketing Videos
Before you begin filming, you first need to determine the type of video(s) you want to create. Check out this list to better understand your options.
1. Demo Videos
Demo videos showcase how your product works — whether that's taking viewers on a tour of your software and how it can be used or unboxing and putting a physical product to the test.
2. Brand Videos
Brand videos are typically created as a part of a larger advertising campaign, showcasing the company's high-level vision, mission, or products and services.
The goal of brand videos is to build awareness around your company and to intrigue and attract your target audience.
3. Event Videos
Is your business hosting a conference, round table discussion, fundraiser, or another type of event? Produce a highlight reel or release interesting interviews and presentations from the gathering.
4. Expert Interviews
Capturing interviews with internal experts or thought leaders in your industry is a great way to build trust and authority with your target audience. Find the influencers in your industry — whether they share your point-of-view or not — get these discussions in front of your audience.
The video above is more than just a surface-level interview, it's a deep-dive with an industry expert offering concrete takeaways for viewers interested in creating viral content. Don't be afraid to get tactical with your interviews — your audience will grow from your hard work.
5. Educational or How-To Videos
Instructional videos can be used to teach your audience something new or build the foundational knowledge they'll need to better understand your business and solutions. These videos can also be used by your sales and service teams as they work with customers.
6. Explainer Videos
This type of video is used to help your audience better understand why they need your product or service. Many explainer videos focus on a fictional journey of the company's core buyer persona who is struggling with a problem. This person overcomes the issue by adopting or buying the business's solution.
7. Animated Videos
Animated videos can be a great format for hard-to-grasp concepts that need strong visuals or to explain an abstract service or product.
8. Case Study and Customer Testimonial
Your prospects want to know that your product can (and will) solve their specific problem. One of the best ways to prove this is by creating case study videos that feature your satisfied, loyal customers. These folks are your best advocates. Get them on-camera describing their challenges and how your company helped solve them.
9. Live Videos
Live video gives your viewers a special, behind-the-scenes look at your company. It also draws longer streams and higher engagement rates — viewers spend up to 8.1x longer with live video than with video-on-demand. Live-stream interviews, presentations, and events, and encourage viewers to comment with questions.
10. 360° & Virtual Reality Videos
With 360° videos, viewers “scroll” around to see content from every angle — as if they were physically standing within the content. This spherical video style allows viewers to experience a location or event, such as exploring Antarctica or meeting a hammerhead shark. Virtual reality (VR) allows viewers to navigate and control their experience. These videos are usually viewed through devices such as Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard.
11. Augmented Reality (AR) VideosIn this style video, a digital layer is added to what you are currently viewing in the world. For example, you can point your phone's camera at your living room and AR would allow you to see how a couch would look in the space. The IKEA Place app is a great example of this.
12. Personalized Messages
Video can be a creative way to continue a conversation or respond to someone via email or text. Use videos to record yourself recapping an important meeting or giving personalized recommendations. These videos create a delightful, unique moment for your prospects and can drive them further down the purchase journey.
How to Make a Video for Your Business
There's a lot that goes into making a video. This section will walk you through the detailed process of creating and publishing a video for your business. Grab your camera and follow along.
1. Plan your video.
Before you set up, record, or edit anything, start with a conversation about the purpose of your video. Why? Every decision made during the video creation process will point back to your video's purpose and what action you'd like your audience to complete after watching it.
And, of course, without a clear purpose agreed upon by your team, you'll find yourself in a whirlwind of re-shooting, re-framing, editing … and wasting a lot of precious time.
There are typically a lot of players when making a video. How can you ensure they're all aligned?
Create a questionnaire using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and pass it along to the stakeholders of the project. This way, you can ask the same questions of everyone and aggregate your answers in one place.
Who's your target audience?
What buyer persona are you targeting? This may be a segment of your company's typical buyer persona.
What's the goal?
Is it to increase brand awareness? Sell more event tickets? Launch a new product? Ultimately, what do you want your audience to do after watching the video?
Where's the video going to live?
On Facebook? Behind a landing page form? You should begin with one target location — where you know your audience will discover the video — before repurposing it for other channels.
What are the creative requirements?
With your budget, skills, and resources in mind, think about the creative roadblocks that might arise. Do you need a designer to create lower third graphics? Are you going to create an animated video or a live-action video?
What will constitute success for the video?
Choose several key performance indicators that correspond with your video goals — or hop down to the chapter in this guide on measuring and analyzing video.
2. Script your video.
There's a time and place for videos to be off-the-cuff and completely unscripted. You have tear-jerking documentaries, vlogging rants, and, of course, the holy grail: cat videos.
That being said, most business videos need a script.
If you skip this step, you'll find yourself editing more than you need to, releasing a video longer than it should be, and probably losing your audience along the way.
Start writing your script the way you would begin a blog post — with an outline. List out your key points and order them logically.
Do all of your drafting in Google Docs to promote collaboration and real-time commenting. Use the “Insert > Table” function to adopt one of television's traditional script-writing practices: the two-column script. Write your audio (script) in the left column and insert matching visual ideas in the right column.
Don't make the viewer wait until the final seconds to understand the purpose of your video … we promise they won't stick around. Similar to a piece of journalistic writing, include a hook near the beginning that states the purpose of the video, especially for educational and explainer videos.
Notice, in our example below, that we don't let the audience get past the second sentence without understanding what the video will be about.
As you begin creating videos, you'll notice a key difference between video scripts and your typical business blog post — the language. Video language should be relaxed, clear, and conversational. Avoid using complex sentence structures and eloquent clauses. Instead, connect with your audience by writing in first person and using visual language. Keep the language concise, but avoid jargon and buzzwords.
Following the “Little-Known Instagram Hacks” example, note how a section from the original blog post could be transformed for video by using fewer words and relying on visuals.
Most video scripts are short … probably shorter than you think. Keep a script timer handy to check your script length as you write and edit. For example, a 350-word script equates to a video that is nearly 2 minutes long.
Words on paper sound a lot different than they do when read out loud. That's why we encourage organizing a table read of your script before you start filming. The point of a table read is to smooth out the kinks of the script and nail down inflection points.
Have a few people (writer and talent included) gather around a table with their laptops and read the script multiple times through. If you accidentally say a line different than what the script prescribes, think about why and consider changing the language to make it sound more natural.
3. Understand your camera(s).Too often the fear and uncertainty of equipment keep businesses from trying out video marketing. But learning to shoot video doesn't have to be overwhelming.
It's likely you have a great, easy-to-use camera right in your pocket: your iPhone.
Shooting with Your iPhoneBefore filming with your iPhone, ensure your device has enough storage. Also, don't forget to enable your iPhone's Do Not Disturb feature to avoid distracting notifications while filming.
Once you open the iPhone's camera, flip your phone horizontally to create the best possible viewing experience. Then, move close enough to your subject so you don't have to use the zoom feature — it often makes the final video look pixelated and blurry.
Shooting with Prosumer and Professional Cameras
While iPhones are great for filming on the fly or becoming acclimated with video, at some point you may feel ready to graduate up to the next model. With all the digital cameras on the market, there are a ton of choices to pick from. Below we've identified a few options to simplify your search.
The first choice you make will be between purchasing a “prosumer” camera and a professional camera.
Prosumer cameras are considered the bridge between basic compact cameras and more advanced cameras. They're perfect for someone interested in creating more video but want the option to just press record. Most have a fixed lens to keep things simple.
Professional cameras, like DSLRs, give you fine control over the manual settings of shooting video and allow you to achieve the shallow depth of field (background out of focus) that people rave about. While they're primarily used for photography, DSLRs are incredibly small, work great in low light situations, and pair with a wide range of lenses — making them perfect for video. However, DSLRs do require some training (and additional purchases) of lenses.
ApertureAperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens. Like a human eye, a lens opens and closes to control the amount of light reaching the sensor. Aperture is measured in what's called an f-stop. The smaller the f-stop number, the more open the lens is, while a larger number means the lens is more closed.
This is where you can begin to see how the three factors of the Exposure Triangle work together. When you have a low-lit situation, for example, you may choose a lens that can shoot with a low f-stop to let more light into the camera and avoid making the shot too noisy with a high ISO.
If you're just starting out with manual video settings, don't be overwhelmed. Understanding the ins and outs of the Exposure Triangle takes time and a lot of practice. Here are two tips to beat the learning curve:
While aperture, shutter speed, and ISO may be the three main pillars of manual photography and videography, there is a fourth piece of the puzzle that's just as important: white balance.
White balance tells your camera the color temperature of the environment you're shooting in. Different types of light have different colors. For example, incandescent bulbs (like what many people put in a lamp) have a very warm color. The fluorescent lights (if you're reading this in an office, look up) are a little bit cooler. Daylight is cooler yet. Before you begin shooting, you have to adjust your camera's white balance according to your setup.
To help you understand the importance of setting your white balance, consider the difference between these two photos. The environment is lit with yellow fluorescent lights. You can see how the appropriate setting looks natural, while the daylight setting adds a blue tint to the scene.
Focus isn't one of the key settings of shooting, but it's definitely important to keep in mind. With a DSLR, you have the option to shoot with autofocus or manual focus. It depends on the camera and lens you have, but typically autofocus is not the most accurate.
4. Set up your studio.
When you begin building your in-office studio, the purchases can add up quickly. Not only do you need a camera, but the more you read, the more you realize you need tripods, lights, microphones, and more.
Take a breath. With a little bit of know-how, building your studio doesn't have to be overwhelming. There are plenty of cost-effective choices and DIY hacks to make sure your videos look top-of-the-line.
Always shoot with a tripod. It should go without saying, but the handheld method you use for your Snapchat story isn't going to cut it. Tripods will ensure you maintain a steady shot and not break any expensive equipment in the process.
Along with the tripod, stock up on camera batteries and SD cards. Recording video will cause you to run through both much quicker than taking photos.
If you've begun testing out your camera's video capabilities, you've probably noticed that it has an internal microphone to record audio … don't use it.
If you set up your camera at a reasonable distance from your subject, you'll quickly learn that the internal microphone isn't powerful enough to adequately record audio. Instead, you should begin investing in a few pieces of quality sound equipment.
When you're shooting with your iPhone, there are a ton of microphone options that are all easy to use and decently cheap. For example, the Movo MA200 Omni-Directional iPhone microphone will give you a plug-and-play solution for capturing audio on the fly.
Opinions vary greatly among sound engineers on the best method and equipment for recording audio with a DSLR. You've likely seen many videos that use a lavalier microphone — the small piece that clips below the collar of the talent's shirt.
Lavaliers come in both wired and wireless options. However, lavaliers can be a bit obtrusive both for the talent (who has to have a wire threaded down his or her shirt) and for the viewer (who has to see a microphone for the whole video).
Instead, if you know you're recording in a controlled environment (like a conference room in your office) we suggest recording with a shotgun mic. They're reliable, remain out of the shot, and record background noise in a natural-sounding way.
The Zoom recorder will allow you to record audio separately on an SD card and adjust the gain for the environment you're shooting in.
5. Prepare your talent.
If you have experienced, confident actors in your company, you're lucky. Video talent is a rare resource. But with a little bit of coaching (and a fair share of nervous laughter), you can help your teammates thrive in front of the camera.
No matter if it's your first video or your fiftieth, remember that getting in front of the camera is scary. Schedule plenty of time and give your talent the script early — but make it clear they don't need to memorize it.
Instead, place a laptop below the eye-line of the camera. Break the script into short paragraphs and record it section by section until you capture a great take of each. If you plan in advance when the final video will show b-roll (supplementary footage or screenshots), you can have your talent read those lines directly off the laptop like a voice over.
During the shoot, your job goes beyond pressing record. First and foremost, you need to be a coach. Balance critical feedback with support and be quick to give encouragement after each take. This is why conducting a table read during the scripting process is so important: It's easier to give feedback when there's not a camera in the room. Remember, be a little silly during the shoot or your talent will be on edge and uncomfortable — and it will show in the footage.
But while you're maintaining the fun level on set, remain vigilant. It's your job to pay attention to the little things, like making sure all of the mics are on or noticing if the lighting changes. Record each section many times and have your talent play with inflections. When you think they've nailed the shot … get just one more. At this point, your talent is already on a roll, and options will help tremendously during editing.
Finally, circle back to the beginning of the script at the end of your recording. Chances are your subject got more comfortable throughout the shoot. Since the beginning is often the most crucial part of the video, record that section again when they're feeling the most confident.
There are some films that are simply beautiful. It's not the story or even the picturesque setting. In fact, the scene might take place in the dingiest of sets, but somehow each shot just feels right.
That's the power of composition. When objects appear where they should in the frame, the quality of your video increases exponentially.
For video, the rules of composition are similar to what you may have learned in a photography or art class. First, consider the rule of thirds — the idea that you can create a sense of balance by imagining the canvas with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Key elements should occur at the intersection of these lines.
For example, if you are shooting an interview or a how-to video, the subject's eyes should align with the top horizontal line around one of the two intersections. For this “talking head” shot, you can also improve your composition by leaving enough (but not too much) headroom. This is the empty space above the person's head.
One of the best ways to improve the look of your video is to include b-roll. B-roll is the supplementary footage included as a cutaway. This might include shots of a customer service rep talking on a phone, a designer editing your website, visuals of your office, or even screenshots of your product. The key with b-roll is to make sure each and every piece enhances the story.
When you're collecting b-roll, include a mix of shots from varying angles and distances. In fact, film professionals use different names to describe these variations.
As practice, try telling a story with your b-roll and planning out a shot sequence. For example, your subject might open a door from the hallway, walk into their office space, sit down at their desk, open their laptop, and begin typing. Seems simple, right? But a shot sequence showing this 10-second scenario might consist of six or more different b-roll clips.
Here's where the final lesson of composition comes in: continuity.
Continuity is the process of combining shots into a sequence so that they appear to have happened at the same time and place. A key part of continuity is making sure any ancillary objects in the scene — for example, a cup of water on a desk — stay in the same place (and have the same amount of water) throughout all of the shots.
The other part of learning continuity is match on action. For the scene described above, you'd want to record the subject opening the door and walking in from both inside and outside the room. In post-production, you could then flip between the clips at the exact right time to make the cut seamless.
6. Shoot for the edit.
When it comes to video, some are better at shooting while others are better at editing. Whatever side you claim, you should understand the process and pain points of each.
For instance, as the person behind the camera, you may believe you collect ample footage and ask all the right interview questions. But to the editor, you may actually be shooting too much of one type of shot and missing out on some that would make their job easier.
Filmmakers teach a valuable lesson here: shoot for the edit. By remembering that the footage you record will be edited later, you can make smarter decisions and save countless hours in the editing room.
The first step in adopting a shoot-for-the-edit mindset is remembering to leave a buffer at the beginning and the end of each clip. There are called handles and can save editors from the headache of cutting too close to an important shot.
In the section on preparing talent, we discussed how to record your script in short sections. If the editor were to stitch these sections together side-by-side, the subject's face and hands might abruptly switch between clips. This is called a jump cut, and for editors, it poses an interesting challenge. Thankfully, this is where b-roll comes in handy, to mask these jump cuts.
Example of a jump cut
As a producer, your job is to capture plenty of b-roll to make sure your editor never runs out. Create a shot list of more b-roll ideas than you think you'll need and mark them off as you record them.
To mask jump cuts, you can also shoot with two cameras, especially if you're recording an interview without a script. Camera A would be the traditional, straight-on shot. Camera B should be angled 30 to 45-degrees to the side and capture a distinctly different shot. The editor could then flip between these two views to make the cut appear natural.
A note about shooting with two cameras: Your editor will need to sync the footage between the different views. To help them do this, clap your hands loudly in the view of both cameras right before you ask the first interview question … yes, just like an old fashion clapboard. Modern editing software has auto-sync features, but this loud clap will help you initially line up the clips.
Finally, mark your good clips. Even if you're recording a scripted video, you might have to record each section 10 or more times. Once your subject nails the take, wave your hand in front of the lens. That way, the editor can scrub directly to this visual cue and save time on footage review.
7. Organize your footage.
Yes, file organization is boring. But when video editing, it just might save your project.
On your external hard drive, you should create a separate top-level folder for each project. Within this folder, there should be a prescribed set of “buckets” to store your video footage, audio, design assets, and more. Create a template project folder that you can copy and paste for each project using the image below as a guide.
When you import your footage from your camera, place it in the “footage” folder on your hard drive.
Even with a perfectly organized external hard drive, you're not yet out of the weeds. You need to back up your files (and maybe even back up your backup files). It's not uncommon to have an external hard drive for everyday work, another external for backups, and a third set of backups in the cloud via Dropbox or Google Drive.
8. Edit your video.
Okay, you've filmed your video footage. Congrats — you're halfway there!
Now it's time to talk about editing. We get it, video editing can be confusing. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first, especially when you see software price tags! Luckily, there are many options for video editing based on your skill level, operating system, and budget. There are even free programs and mobile apps! Let's go over a few options.
Intermediate: Apple iMovie
iMovie is Apple's video editing software. Compatible with Macs and other iOS devices, iMovie is simple, user-friendly, and free on all Apple products. iMovie allows you to create and edit your videos by cutting together clips, adding titles, music, sound effects, basic color correction, filters, and special effects.
The program even provides helpful templates that simplify the editing process. The platform supports high-quality clips like 4K video footage and makes it easy to share your work directly to a video hosting platform. Limited access to advanced color correction and editing features mean it isn't commonly used by professionals, but iMovie is still a great option if you're just starting out.
Advanced: Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is a leading video editing software program used by amateurs and professionals alike. With a customizable interface and numerous advanced editing tools, the platform is often called the industry standard for video editing and has been used to edit major Hollywood movies like Gone Girl and Deadpool.
Premiere makes it easy to collaborate with other editors, organize your material, and sync with other programs in the Adobe suite like After Effects and Photoshop. The platform supports high-quality footage (4K and higher) and includes advanced, built-in color correction and grading tools that set it apart from cheaper or free options like iMovie.
The only downside to Premiere is the cost. A year-long subscription to the latest Premiere Pro CC comes in around $240. If you're new to video editing, you may want to experiment with a cheaper option like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements before investing in the Premiere Pro. On the fence? Check out some Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials here.
9. Choose your music.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about video? I'm guessing the actual video footage. While it's important to concentrate on your video footage, don't forget to factor music into your overall plan and budget.
Music is a powerful tool that can alter your video's mood and tone — just watch the videos above! Choosing the right music often makes the difference between an amateur project and a professional piece of content. When used properly, it can help keep your viewer's attention, evoke emotions, and define your overall editing style.
Next, consider your audience and the overall mood for your production. Are you targeting a small audience that will appreciate the newest, underground hip-hop track, or do you need something that will appeal to many demographics? Are you creating a practical product tutorial or an upbeat event recap? Be sure to choose music that enhances the overall tone of your video.
In addition to considering your audience, be sure to contemplate the purpose of the music. Do you need background music or something with real impact? Will you be narrating or speaking in the video? If so, don't let the music get in the way of your content. Sometimes the best music is the music you don't remember at all.
After you've determined the type of music you need, it's time to start analyzing potential songs. Consider the song's pacing. Songs with a steady rhythm are easy to change to suit your video style. Hoping to include your favorite, Top 40 hit?
Try to choose simple songs that are easy to loop. If you're looking for an instrumental song, be sure to find something that was recorded with real instruments. Songs made with digital samples can make your video feel unprofessional and out of date.
Finally, consider adding intro and outro music. Intro and outro music, or bookends, can serve as a theme for your content. These are a great choice if you don't need music throughout your entire video. Bookend music can help set the tone for your video, naturally split your content into chapters, and leave your viewers feeling they had a complete experience.
While some videos feel unfinished without background music, others just need a few tunes to tie the project together. Pay attention to videos that have a similar style to see how others utilize music.
10. Record your voice over.
You have your video footage and music — now it's time to chat about voice overs. A voice over is the separate video narration that's not spoken by the speaker on-camera. Voice overs are an effective tool that can help make your content more relatable, emotional, and fluid.
It's important to remember that video audio is just as important as video visuals. The good news is that you don't have to be the next Don LaFontaine or hire a professional to record a great voice over. Below are a few tips to capture audio on a budget.
You're ready to publish your video. You shot the footage, edited it together, added music and a voice over, and exported it for the web. Now it's time to get your video online so your audience can start viewing, sharing, and engaging with it.
You have several options for hosting videos online, and in this section, we'll talk about some of the best ones.
YouTubeWhen you ask your friends which online video platform they use, the answer you probably hear the most is YouTube.
YouTube is the largest video hosting platform and the second largest search platform and second most visited website — both after Google.
Every single day, people watch over five billion videos on YouTube. It's also free to upload your videos to YouTube and optimize them for search.
In addition to its massive audience, YouTube offers several other features that make the platform a good option for hosting your video. Because YouTube videos are hosted on individual channels, the platform allows you to build a dedicated audience of subscribers. Users who follow your channel are more likely to see additional videos you upload.
Within your channel itself, you can also organize videos into playlists, making it easy for your audience to search within your content.
As a social platform, viewers can engage with your videos by liking and commenting on them, providing you another chance to interact with your audience. YouTube also offers a variety of advertising options for more sophisticated targeting.
Although YouTube offers the benefit of reaching a large audience with no cost to upload and host videos, there are several downsides to the platform. While video ads can be a great tool for promoting your own content, the number of ads on the platform from other advertisers can detract from your viewer's experience.
YouTube is also (surprise, surprise!) highly addicting. 83% of viewers prefer YouTube over any other video platform. Once viewers are on the platform, they usually stick around to watch another video … or 20. This can make it difficult to drive traffic back to your site from the platform. Despite these barriers, YouTube is a great platform for hosting videos and growing your audience.
VimeoIf your friends didn't answer your earlier question with “YouTube” then they most likely responded with Vimeo, the second largest video hosting platform.
Vimeo's audience is significantly smaller (715 million monthly views) than YouTube's, but there are still many benefits that make it a favorite for content creators and viewers alike.
Among these is a simpler, cleaner, user interface that makes it easier to navigate the platform. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo has very limited ads and commercials that would otherwise detract from your viewers' experience. Videos on Vimeo also tend to be higher quality than on YouTube, and the audience on the platform is likely to be more professional.
Vimeo offers several different premium account options to better suit businesses. The premium accounts provide additional storage, advanced analytics, customer support, player customization, access to lead generation tools, and much more. In addition to premium accounts, Vimeo also partners with businesses to produce quality marketing content.
If you're looking to showcase high quality, artistic content, Vimeo might be the platform for you. Its engaged audience and beautiful aesthetic make it a great place to host creative videos. However, if you're focused on quantity over quality and increasing your reach, you may want to explore other platform options.
Vidyard is a video hosting platform built specifically for businesses. It's not just another option to store and manage your videos; instead, it allows you to become a fully video-enabled business. Here's what we mean.
These days, we know posting your video to YouTube isn't enough. You need channel-specific video content for Facebook and Instagram, not to mention for your website. Enter: Vidyard. The platform allows you to publish and update to all of these places from a central location.
From this portal, you'll find all sorts of viewer insights. Discover what types of video content your audience likes and how they watch their videos. Then, channel those insights directly into your marketing automation software or CRM. For example, if that prospect you've been monitoring views your latest case study video, you'll be notified straight away.
One of the coolest features of Vidyard is the ability to personalize videos with the viewer's name or company directly in the video design. This is a creative addition as you begin working video into your marketing and sales strategies.
How to Create a Video Social Media StrategyWe've learned how to create high-quality videos for your business. Now, let's make sure those videos fit within each social network's best practices.
Creating and posting videos on social media should always help you drive toward your existing marketing goals.
For example, if your goal is to get more people to download an ebook, you could create a short teaser or how-to video and post the full link to the ebook's landing page in the copy of your social post.
Let's drill down into best practices for each social network.
Promote a new blog post, engage with your audience, or even drive viewers to a landing page with Twitter videos. When teasing a blog post or piece of content on Twitter, always keep your video short and sweet – brevity is a core factor on this channel.
Short clips that are easy to consume tend to perform the best. Try pinning your video to the top of your profile for some added exposure.
If you want to get a little more experimental with using video on Twitter, you can try making short, custom videos to engage with your audience. These highly personal, one-to-one response videos are an awesome way to make your brand more human while building personal connections with your engaged followers.
Facebook and Instagram
When you walk onto a bus or train for your morning commute, how many people are scrolling through their smartphones to see the news and content they've missed overnight? Pretty much everyone – but not everyone is wearing headphones.
For this reason, make sure your video works with or without sound. BuzzFeed is the master of silent auto-play — just take a look at their Facebook page. The reason their silent auto-play strategy works so well is because of this rise in mobile video views and the way people scroll through and consume content on social media. They often post quick recipes or quick how-to’s, often with easy-to-follow imagery or helpful text to describe what is happening.
Facebook also favors longer videos in their newsfeed algorithm. The goal with this shift is to better surface videos that are most relevant to the viewer.
So what does this mean for you? Don't panic; this just confirms what we already know is true. Creating the "right" content for your audience is more important than churning out it out for the sake of it.
Secondly, upload videos directly to Facebook. Facebook continues to make a compelling case for uploading your videos natively to the platform — the primary reason being that your content will be seen by more eyes.
Brand awareness videos that are light-hearted and entertaining tend to perform well on Facebook for this very reason – their algorithm takes into account a user's previous video-related actions when determining what videos to show them on subsequent visits. Make a video that's super relevant to your audience, share it on Facebook, and see what type of engagement you can drum up!
Lastly, grab attention instantly... and keep it. Did you know that Instagram was the first social channel to initiate silent, auto-playing videos? It's true! Shortly after, Facebook followed suit, so it's safe to say that catering to this type of video when creating content for social media is the way to go. It might seem daunting to try and grab someone's attention so fast and without sound, but here are a few best practices you can use to make things easier:
On YouTube, post with a specific strategy in mind. Think of YouTube as a giant library of video content where people go to either educate themselves or to be entertained. YouTube reports over 1 billion unique users per month – sounds like a social media gold-mine, right? Well, sometimes, yes.
There are, however, a few questions you should ask yourself before going forth with posting every video you've ever made to your YouTube account:
Establish and grow a dedicated channel of subscribers by creating informative, educational content that is in high demand, and you'll start to see some real success!
Live Video: Facebook & Instagram
While Instagram's traditional features let users record short video clips and post them online afterward, new live features on Facebook and Instagram take a different approach, allowing users to post live video streams of what they're doing at that very moment.
When you’re setting up videos for Facebook Live or Instagram Live, make sure you’re following the steps in the first section of this guide. If you do this, you’ll have much higher quality live videos, which will set you apart from other live videos being shown. In addition to these steps, we have a few more things to keep in mind.
Keep in mind that your live video will be broadcast from the platform (Facebook or Instagram) itself, so that's where you'll be promoting your broadcasts primarily. Do some research on your Facebook/Instagram audiences to find out when they're most engaged with your posts.
Even if some of your followers miss out, the app will save your videos to the app by default (although you can delete them manually if you want to), and they'll be available for viewing by your followers after the fact.
As for the length of your video broadcasts, remember that most people's attention spans are fairly short — especially on mobile. If your broadcasts aren't captivating from the get-go, users will likely stop viewing your stream.
Spend time coming up with a compelling title.It's vital that your title describes what your video is and why people should either tune in now or replay your stream later (up to 24 hours). Here are a few styles that make effective titles:
Respond to comments live.
One of the coolest features on Facebook is that people who are watching your stream in real time can comment and "like" the broadcast (which show up as hearts, like on Instagram). Other viewers are able to see these comments and the number of hearts your video has. Acknowledge or even respond to these comments out loud on the live broadcast to encourage engagement and make the experience feel like more of a two-way conversation.
Experiment with use cases.
Since Facebook and Instagram Live features are still relatively new, there aren't solidly defined ways to use it, especially for brands. This is a unique opportunity for you to experiment with different ways of using it and what type of content your audience likes most.
Facebook Live lets you analyze a few key stats you'll want to keep track of while you're figuring out what works. Once your video ends, the app lets you see how many live viewers you had, how many viewers replayed your video, and how many hearts your video received (this number updates automatically as users continue "liking" your video from the time it ends until it expires).
Considering the time, money, and resources involved, video marketing can't be an impulsive guessing game. Instead, you need to create a comprehensive video marketing strategy that applies to every facet of your flywheel. This means thinking in the context of the inbound methodology.
The inbound methodology is the marketing and sales approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. Each video you create should acknowledge your audience's challenges and provide a solution. Looking at the big picture, this content guides consumers through the journey of becoming aware of, evaluating, and purchasing your product or service.
In the following sections, we'll cover the types of videos you should create for each stage in the image above. To start, plan to create at least two videos for each. Don't forget to include call-to-actions to help lead your audience through their purchase journey and into the role of "promoter." Over time, you can improve based on conversion rates and the content gaps you discover.
Attract The first step of the inbound methodology is to attract — or turn strangers into visitors. Consumers at this stage are identifying their challenges and deciding whether or not they should seek out a solution. Therefore, the videos you create should empathize with their problems and introduce a possible solution in your product or service.
Ultimately, the goal of this kind of video is to expand reach and build trust. Because you are looking to garner shares for your video, it'll likely be more entertaining and emotion-evoking than educational. But, you should still provide enough information to associate yourself as an authority on the topic.
Examples of videos in the “attract” stage include snackable social videos that show off your brand's personality, thought leadership videos that establish you as a source of industry news and insight, brand films the share your values and mission, or explainers and how-to videos that provide relevant tips for solving your audience's pain point.
Let your brand values and personality be your north star(s). Finally, because these videos can live on a variety of channels, keep in mind the strategies of each platform. For example, a Facebook video might have a square aspect ratio and text animations for soundless viewers.
Now that you've attracted video viewers and website visitors, the next step is to convert these visitors into leads. With most inbound marketing content, this means collecting some sort of contact information via a form. Video can aid this process by visualizing a solution to the buyer's problem, whether that's before the form on a landing page or as the offer itself. Overall, the goal of this kind of video is to educate and excite.
"Convert" videos may include a webinar filled with tactical advice, product demos sent via email, landing page promotional videos, case studies, or more in-depth explainer and how-to videos. For example, while an "attract" video might provide a quick tip for nailing a sales pitch, a "convert" video could be an animated explainer video that breaks down the inbound sales methodology.
You've attracted a new audience with your videos and converted the right visitors into leads. Now's the time to close these leads into customers. Yet, as important as this stage is, "close" videos are often the most overlooked by marketers and salespeople.
At this point, the consumer is weighing their options and deciding on the purchase. Therefore, the goal of this kind of video is to make your audience visualize themselves using your product or service — and thriving. There's a reason 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Videos are able to display functionality and leverage emotions in ways a product description never could.
Great "close" videos include testimonials of customers with relatable stories, in-depth product demos, culture videos that sell viewers on your quality of service, or even personalized videos that explain exactly how your product could help their business
A purchase may have been made, but there's still a lot of video can do to leverage the post-conversion stage of your flywheel. During the "delight stage" of the inbound methodology, your goal is to continue providing remarkable content to users that makes their interaction with your product or service as incredible as possible.
It's also in hopes that they'll tell their connections about their experience or up-sell themselves. Therefore, the goal of this type of video is to encourage your customers to embrace your brand and become brand evangelists.
Your first opportunity to delight comes directly after the purchase. Consider sending a thank you video to welcome them into the community or an onboarding video to get them rolling with their new purchase. Then, build out a library of educational courses or product training videos to cater to consumers who prefer self-service or simply want to expand their expertise.
Defining Your Goals and Analyzing Results
At this point, you know how to create a video and where to host it. You're ready to get started, right? Not quite. Before you dive in, you need to define your video goals and identify the best metrics for determining whether you've accomplished those goals.
Before launching any marketing campaign, it's important to determine your primary video goal. This could be to increase brand awareness, engagement, or even conversions for a free trial. It's crucial to pick out just one or two goals for each video. When you define more than that, your video will seem unfocused, making it difficult for viewers to determine what they should do next.
When thinking of your goals, be sure to keep your buyer persona and target audience in mind. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? How do they typically consume media? What stage of the buyer's journey are they in?
All of these questions can help determine what type of video you should make and where you should post it. For example, if your target audience is not familiar with your company, you probably want to make a video that focuses on brand awareness before producing an in-depth, product video. You'll also want to host your video on a site that already has a large reach, like YouTube.
Next, let's talk about metrics. Understanding these will equip you to define and measure your success and set your goals. When you post a video, it's easy to get obsessed with one metric — view count. While view count can be an important metric, there are many others that may be more relevant to your campaign.
Finally, what about your video social media marketing strategy? How do you measure that?
Measuring performance on each social media platform provides valuable information, especially to determine whether video really is the right content type for your audience on each platform.
Across all platforms, in addition to the metrics above, be sure to measure views over time to determine the life of your videos. You may find that videos need to be refreshed every few weeks, or months, in order to stay relevant with your audience. You also want to always be tracking and comparing engagement of your videos. This will help you determine which topics encourage the most sharing, and therefore will have a higher and longer lifetime value.
Ready, Set, Action!I'm guessing you're feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Don't worry, you're not alone. Video editing and marketing can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice and patience, you can easily produce high-quality content that is unique to your brand.
With 71% of consumers watching more video online than they were a year ago, brands can no longer ignore their growing popularity. Thankfully, creating great content has never been easier!
Try turning a written blog into a video or create a product tutorial. Using video to showcase information in a new, interesting way is sure to interest and delight your audience. Pick up a camera, start filming, and watch your engagement levels increase. It's time to make video a key part of your marketing strategy!
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You know you're a marketer when you're sitting in traffic on the highway, it's completely bumper to bumper, and all you can think about is "Why can't I drive traffic to my website like this?"
If you've struggled with driving traffic to your website, you're not alone. According to 2020 research done by Content Marketing Institute, 63% of content professionals are challenged with finding enough staff skilled in content strategy which is one of the top drivers of website traffic.
Between writing a new blog post, posting on social media, and strategizing for a new email campaign, it's hard to look back and see what's driving traffic to your site and what isn't.
The list below will help you increase the traffic to your website, generate more leads, and improve ROI.
Free Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Website
1. Content Creation
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting the right people to your company. One of the best ways to do this is by creating content through blogging.
To come up with content that will attract the right visitors to your website, you must first understand the buyer persona you’re targeting. Once you know your audience, you can create content that will naturally attract them to your website.
But how do you write a good blog post that will draw in the right audience? Follow these five steps:
2. Topic Expertise
Ranking higher in Google will increase the organic traffic to your site. Google favors sites that are known to be topic experts on the subject matter they're writing about.
To be seen as an expert, you can create a pillar page, which is essentially a longer blog post that broadly covers all aspects of a topic. Then, you write "cluster content," or supporting blog posts, targeting long tail keywords that show you've covered a topic exhaustively. Focusing on long-term traffic will help you rank higher on search engines
The pillar cluster model organizes content on your site around a single topic and search term through internal linking. This organization helps search engines easily crawl and categorize all of the content that you have on a particular topic, thereby making it easier for you to rank for that search term. When the model is done right, it also helps visitors navigate your site and move through related pages, boosting traffic for all of the pages in your topic cluster.
3. Organic Social Media
Organic social media is not a new strategy, but it's still something marketers should pay attention to. Besides posting on social media platforms, you can also use Instagram Stories (hello, swipe up feature!), live video, IGTV, or Facebook Messenger. The key with organic social media is to be an early adopter of new features.
For instance, Facebook released an automated lead generation feature on Messenger, allowing businesses to create an automated chatbot experience within Messenger to link to content offers on your site. This is a great feature for sending traffic to your website.
It's also important to have a diverse social media strategy and use the right social media platforms — not just Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Platforms like YouTube or Pinterest can generate a lot of traffic to your site.
Here are two things regarding organic social media. "First, don't spam your audience — it costs a user nothing to scroll past your post, and if you don't offer them any value, that's exactly what they'll do. Know your audience, and craft content that speaks directly to them," Franco says.
"Second, stay active with community management. People love when brands like and reply to them — it'll humanize your business, and keep people coming back for more content."
4. Website Analysis
Let's do a little reverse engineering of our thought process. Before you drive traffic to your website, it's important to learn about your audience. To do this, analyze your website using platforms, such as Crazy Egg, to see where you're losing and gaining visitors. With this information at your disposal, you can create the right content to drive the right traffic to your website.
5. InfluencersWe know that customers are more likely to buy from organizations with excellent word of mouth, but how do you create great word of mouth? First, delight your customers. Second, work with influencers.
Influencer marketing isn't a passing fad. In fact, it's a budget-friendly option to drive traffic to your website. When influencers post discount codes, links, reviews, or giveaways, you are tapping into their audience to drive traffic to your website.
6. Email List BuildingUsing your current readers and customers is a great way to drive traffic to your website. When you post a new blog or content offer, you can promote it to your followers/subscribers for a quick traffic boost. With content-heavy websites, having repeat readership is helpful for traffic goals, conversions, and lead generation.
To get started with this, build an email list or grow your current list. Below are a few strategies you can use:
7. Community Engagement
The more brand recognition you have, the more traffic you will drive to your website. One way to achieve brand recognition is to be active and engaged within the market. You can implement an engagement strategy today by participating in Facebook group discussions in your industry, answering questions on public forum websites, and interacting with your followers on social media.
One of my favorite brands on social media is Taco Bell. Taco Bell delights its customers on social media just about every day. See a couple of examples from the company’s Twitter below.
Just remember to be helpful and human. No one likes spammy links or self-serving rhetoric when they're asking a quick question online.
8. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO can help your website rank higher in search engines and bring in more traffic. Some on-page SEO elements include the bpage title, header, meta description, image alt-text, and the URL (plus more). Showing up in search engines will generate more traffic for your site.
9. Quality Backlinks
In order to drive traffic to your site, you need to rank high in search engines. In order to rank higher in search engines, you need to be an authority in your industry. One way to do that, besides the topic/cluster model described above, is by acquiring quality backlinks. If websites with high authority link to your site, that gives you more credibility.
There are two main ways in which high-quality backlinks can help drive more traffic to a website: boosting ranking and driving referral traffic. On the one hand, backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for every major search engine out there. By constantly earning high-quality backlinks from relevant websites, you'll improve your rankings in SERP and, as a result, see a lift in your organic traffic.
Nica adds, "On the other hand, backlinks can also drive a substantial amount of referral traffic. That's something to be expected if you get mentioned on a popular news website. You can also see referral traffic coming through if you're mentioned (and linked to) in an article that's already ranking well for high search volume keywords and is getting a constant flow of traffic.
10. Video Marketing
It's time to add video marketing to your content strategy because the audience is looking for video content. Statista reports that 77% of internet users ages 15 - 35 are using YouTube to consume video content.
You can create videos for Instagram or Facebook Stories, live videos, IGTV, Facebook Watch, news feed videos, YouTube, etc.
11. Content Repurposing
Need content to drive traffic to your site but struggling to come up with ideas? I get it. A great way to overcome this hurdle is to repurpose old content. Take a well-performing blog post and repurpose that into a video. Or if you have a podcast that did really well, write up a blog post on that topic. Using content that has already performed well will continue to drive traffic to your site.
12. SEO Tools
To drive traffic to your website, it's important to be a student of SEO. Learning SEO tools such as Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and SEMrush will help you develop a strategy to generate traffic to your website.
These tools will help you learn and analyze what's working on your site and what isn't. Plus, these help you come up with ideas for content that has the potential to generate high traffic. Check out our roundup of the best SEO tools to monitor your website.
13. Historical Optimization
Historical optimization is the process we use at Swift Digital Marketing to update old blog content and generate more traffic and leads. If you're anything like us, a majority of your monthly blog views and leads come from older posts.
Historical optimization is a tactic best-suited for a blog that's been around for several years because you need to 1) be generating a significant amount of organic search traffic, 2) have built up a critical mass of blog subscribers and social media followers, and 3) have a sizable repository of old posts at your disposal.
Historical optimization should be a piece of your overall blogging strategy — not the whole strategy.
14. Voice Search Optimization
Remember in "The Little Mermaid" when Ariel wanted to go where the people were? That same principle applies to digital marketing. In order to drive traffic to your website, it's important to show up where people are searching.
Voice search is an increasingly important area in which to rank. In fact, according to eMarketer, voice searches will have increased 9.7% by the end of 2021. That's why optimizing your content for voice search is essential.
Here are a few tips to get started:
If your company is a brick-and-mortar store, local SEO is an important factor to consider. She says, "To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user."
For example, when someone types in "best soul food restaurant" on Google, the results are generated by the user's location. Tools such as Google My Business and Moz Local help businesses manage their directory listings and citations so they show up in local searches.
To rank for local search:
If there’s one thing that brings technology and the real world together better than any other tool, I’d bet my bottom dollar it’s the QR code. This interesting image of pixels can drive traffic to your website from just about anywhere with a flat surface. And they’re not just for restaurants trying to operate safely during the Covid-19 pandemic — marketers love them because they drive traffic.
The main catch with QR codes is that you have to give the user a reason to scan them, so you can’t place them haphazardly. That shouldn’t be too difficult though, think of it as creating a real-life CTA button. If you make it enticing and accessible enough, people will scan it, and you’ll get to assess the success of that QR code’s placement in real-time. That’s something you’d spend weeks figuring out in a digital-only traffic campaign.
17. A/B TestingBesides driving traffic to your website, you know you're a marketer when your motto is, "Test, test, and test again."
A/B testing is a split test that helps you determine what version of a campaign performs best. These tests can give you key information about your audience so you can create tailored content and offers that drive traffic to your site. There are a lot of tools you can use to get started.
18. Internal Linking
When a visitor comes to your blog, your goal is to get them to continue reading on other pages of your website. That's why internal links — links to other pages on your site — are very important. When visitors continue to other pages of your website they're more likely to convert and become a brand enthusiasts.
For example, you can create an internal linking structure using the pillar/cluster model described above. Pillar and cluster pages link back and forth, which boosts your site's credibility on search engines, while also increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
19. Technical SEO
Technical SEO focuses on the backend of your website to see how the pages are technically set up and organized. Factors include elements like page speed, crawling, indexing, and more.
To get started with your technical SEO, use some of the tips, including:
Building a community of brand enthusiasts is a great way to continuously drive traffic to your website. You can build a Facebook group, Twitter chat, LinkedIn Group, or Quora Space specifically for your followers and others in your industry where you create value, while also linking back to your site.
A great example of community building comes from career coaching business CultiVitae. They have a closed Facebook group where Emily, the founder, answers questions and provides networking opportunities.
These types of communities keep you top of mind in your customer's eyes. Plus, it's a great way to engage with your followers and learn more about your audience as they evolve over time.
21. Content Offers
Content offers, sometimes referred to as lead magnets, are a way to use content to drive traffic to your site and generate leads. Content offers vary depending on what stage of the buyer's journey your customer is in, but can include webinars, guides, reports, trials, demos, checklists, and more.
22. Media Coverage and Public Relations
Earned media coverage is a great way to drive brand awareness for your company and traffic to your website. If your marketing and public relations teams work together, you can generate traffic to your site and create excellent word of mouth.
Although most outlets these days try to stay away from including backlinks in their stories (it's usually against their editorial guidelines), that doesn't mean that a good story won't drive folks back to your site.
Media coverage provides great third-party validation for your company. Stories about new products or services, your company culture, or even industry thought leadership can all be great drivers for a reader who maybe hadn't heard of your company before and wants to learn more."
23. Social Share ButtonsSocial share buttons are links that make it easy for your readers to share your content on social media. When your readers become promoters of your content, your traffic will increase. Here's a quick cheat sheet on creating social share buttons.
Once you've created your social share buttons, how do you get people to share your content? Here are a few tips to get started:
Once your content is posted and you begin ranking on search engines, make sure people are clicking through to read your posts. Your click-through rate (CTR) measures who clicked on your post and read it against the number of people who viewed the link to your post (e.g., the landing page, email, or advertisement) in total.
A great tool to measure your organic CTR is Google Search Console. To get more people to click through and drive traffic to your site, it's important to write compelling and apt meta descriptions and titles. To write quality meta tags that are click-worthy, make sure your titles are short and snappy, and your description leaves visitors wanting more. This ties into on-page SEO, described above.
25. Academy and Knowledge Base Posts
One form of content that can drive traffic to your website is educational content. If you create courses, certifications, or educational posts that are helpful to your audience, you'll likely see an increase in traffic.
26. Social News Sites
Have you heard of Reddit and Quora?
These are social news sites and they’re great for driving traffic to blog articles. By nature, these platforms are similar to social media because they foster asynchronous connections between users. The difference is that these types of sites engage people around a question or topic, and external content can be shared to help explain the users’ points of view.
Another way external sites benefit from increased traffic via social news sites is when they’re shared in popular channels. You can share your website’s content on these sites yourself if you’re just starting out, but do so carefully. Just like on traditional social sites, too much self-promotion is frowned upon in the Reddit and Quora communities. You’ll fare best when you share your content in context of the topic and when it’s the best information to answer the user’s question.
Paid Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Website
1. Paid Advertising
You can drive traffic to your website quickly with paid advertising. With search engines, you can run pay-per-click or retargeting ads. With social media you can run display ads or sponsored posts. Your strategy will most likely include a combination of different types of advertising like social media, display, and search ads. In fact, according to the 2020 CMO Survey, firms expect social spending to rise by 62% over five years.
2. Contests and Giveaways
A simple way to drive traffic to your website is through contests and giveaways. This can give you a quick boost, while also rewarding your followers. You can host giveaways on social media, through your email list, or both.
Implementing a strategy like this can be simple. Just follow these six steps:
To implement a guest posting strategy, you need to find a site that would be a good fit for your company, draft a blog post, and then write a pitch.
4. Thought Leadership
According to Edelman’s and LinkedIn’s 2020 research, more than half of decision makers spend an hour or more reading thought leadership content each week. It’s clear that people have an interest in this topic, so why not dedicate more of your calendar to it?
Just about every industry has several well-respected people with words of wisdom to share. Even if they come from a completely different background than what your company specializes in, influential thought leaders have transferable knowledge that can be helpful for your readers.
When choosing a thought leader, the most well-known person isn’t your only option. Instead, look for great storytellers. The Swift Team recommends keeping your eyes peeled for up-and-coming experts as well as individuals who thrive in less hyper-digital industries like agriculture, food and beverage, and humanitarian work like Sippie Siphiwe Mungaraza does at Mealtime Limited.
Website Traffic Is Waiting For You
Driving traffic is a never-ending task, but it’s also a task that yields results long after you get started. There are so many paths your future customers can take to reach your website, all you have to do is find the one that works best for your business. Try one of these methods in your next quarter’s demand generation strategy to see a significant traffic boost.
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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates
In an era where more than 50% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success. The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.
Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan? In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.
What is a business plan? A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.
What is a business plan used for? The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.
Working on your business plan? Try using Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.
Purposes of a Business Plan. Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Securing financing from investors.
Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break-even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.
All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.
Therefore, these investors need to know if – and when – they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.
2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals. A business plan should leave no stone unturned.
Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them. To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies – from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.
To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies – from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.
These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.
3. Legitimizing a business idea. Everyone's got a great idea for a company – until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible. A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.
As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics – and that's exactly what the business plan is for.
It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.
4. What does a business plan need to include?
1. Business Plan Subtitle
Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.
2. Executive Summary
Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.
3. Company Description
This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.
4. The Business Opportunity
The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high level information about your target market.
5. Competitive Analysis
Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.
6. Target Market
Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.
7. Marketing Plan
Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice. Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.
8. Financial Summary
Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all fair game here.
So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The “team” section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.
10. Funding RequirementsRemember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.
Types of Business Plans
There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs.
1. Startup Business Plan
As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is used for brand new business ideas. This plan is used to lay the foundation for the eventual success of a business.
The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans typically reference existing industry data and explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.
2. Business Acquisition Plan
Believe it or not, investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.
A business plan for an existing company will explain how an acquisition will change its operating model, what will stay the same under new ownership, and why things will change or stay the same. Additionally, the business plan should speak to what the current state of the business is and why it's up for sale.
For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased and what the new owner will do to turn the business around, referencing previous business metrics, sales projections after the acquisition, and a justification for those projections.
3. Business Repositioning Plan
When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.
This plan will:
Companies planning for a business reposition do so – proactively or retroactively – due to a shift in market trends and customer needs. For example, Pizza Hut announced a plan to drastically overhaul its brand, as it sees the need to shift from dine-in to delivery – a decision resulting from observing years of industry and company trends and acknowledging the need to reposition itself for the future of its sector.
4. Expansion Business Plan
Expanding a successful business venture into another location typically requires a business plan, as the project may focus on a new target market and demand more capital.
Fortunately, an expansion business plan isn’t like a startup business plan in that it starts from scratch. Instead, this type of plan references sales, revenue, and successes from existing locations. However, as great as a reference as these points can be, it's important to not be too reliant on them since it's still a new business that could succeed or fail for a myriad of reasons.
Getting Started With Your Business Plan
At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan – and the business it outlines – will be.
When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts.
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Who are you and why should I care? This is a very pointed question, but I don’t mean to be harsh. The truth is, when it comes to building a personal brand, it’s the question on everyone’s lips. What’s your brand about and what value will it add to my life?
Building a brand is about giving yourself more opportunities to help and connect with people in your industry. And one of the best ways to build a brand is through blogging.
A blog is a hub for your advice. It also has the added benefit of helping you rank on search engines. But building a personal brand through blogging is about more than just setting up a website and calling it a day. There’s a lot more that goes into the process than writing.
Let’s break down how you can go beyond the content itself to use blogging to build your brand and extend your social reach.
1. Build your brand (and keywords) around a niche How do you want to be known on the Internet? I wanted to be known as an online marketer. I live and breathe marketing. Every email, webinar, ad, and post I create revolves around it because that’s my niche.
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Take a look at my blog, for instance. It’s all marketing, all the time. Sometimes I add personal stuff, but even then it’s related to marketing. So what’s your thing? What do you want to be known for? Are you the friendly, neighborhood guru? Or are you more of a tough-as-nails mentor?
Look at people like Tim Ferriss (the friendly guru) or Garrett White (the tough mentor).
They’ve both done a great job of positioning themselves in a niche. Whatever your niche is, it has to be something you know and understand. And you have to be able to write about it. Because you will be writing about it a lot.
When choosing your niche, focus on the keywords. Is your niche searching for expertise like yours? Look at the search volume. Look at the queries.
Keywords will tell you whether or not people are seeking out advice in your niche already.
To do some basic keyword research, start simple. Come up with a couple of keywords and use Google to see what pops up.
If I type in “online marketing,” for example, which are my niche keywords, I’m the first two results that appear after the paid ads.
See who pops up and jot down their names or bookmark their sites. These are your competitors. You can then use other keyword tools to find relevant keywords to your niche.
I like to use Ubersuggest. Type in your main keyword, such as online marketing, and click search.
Now, click on “Keyword Ideas.” Along with a keyword list, I get average monthly searches, cost per click, paid difficulty, and search difficulty.
Taking this one step further, I like to click the “questions” tab above the results. This helps me see what my audience is searching for. Keep in mind that I’ve been doing this for a long time, and my whole brand revolves around “online marketing,” so that’s why I rank for it.
You might not rank for highly-competitive keywords right out of the gate, and that’s OK. Find your niche, identify your niche’s keywords, and use them everywhere. Once you’ve built up your brand, you’ll start ranking for the things you want.
2. Use personality to create a brand voice
When Tim Ferriss was asked about building his brand, he said, “I try hard to be myself, despite the public flak, and to be the best version of myself possible.” This mindset shows through in a lot of what he does with his brand.
Take a look at this example from his personal blog: His brand revolves around the idea that you’re getting him.
His advice. His wisdom. His personality. But he actually outsources almost all of his work to virtual assistants.
All except for his writing. Why? So he can stay true to his brand voice.
Not everyone will follow the same path, but Tim has built his brand on the idea of authenticity. His audience knows that he’s the guy who’s been there and done that, and that he has a lot to say about it. His personality is also his brand voice.
When you’re starting in the blogging world, you have to have your own brand voice. This means infusing bits and pieces of your personality into your writing. You have to understand that people are coming to your brand because of you. If they wanted any old guru, they’d go to any old guru.
What you have is unique, and you need to interject your personality into your branding.
Take a look at this example from another popular blogger, James Clear.
James’s brand is built on storytelling. He tells you this up front when you come to his blog.
As he explains it:
“In the end, my work ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment. It’s a colorful blend of inspirational stories, academic science, hard-earned wisdom.”
Stories are his brand voice.
When building your own brand voice, take your own personality into consideration.
Maybe you like to speak more casually to your readers, like Karen Marston from Untamed Writing.
Or maybe you thrive on professionalism. Whatever makes you “you,” put that into everything you do on your blog.
3. Design your blog’s theme around your brand. Once you’ve identified your niche and your brand voice, next comes the hard part: building your actual blog.
Design is one of those things that can really work for you or against you. I also keep my site really clean and easy to navigate to make a good first impression.
Studies show that 94% of the time, someone’s first impression is based on design. It only takes 50 milliseconds for that decision to be made.
So your site’s design is just as important as your brand voice. One example of brand-related design done well is Seth Godin’s site. He knows that people are there to hear from him, so he’s made himself quite literally the focus of his page.
You have to click his head to read his blog.
Once you get to his blog, he keeps things pretty simple. Notice that you can click on his head again in the corner of the screen. You then get more links to helpful stuff.
His regular navigation will lead you to all the goodies on his site, of course. But it’s more than just clicking links. You’re having fun doing it. That’s what design should be all about – getting people to interact with you.
There are two million blog posts published every day. You’re going to need your blog to stand out in some way.
Design is a really simple way to do that. You want to start by having your own website with your own name.
Why your own name? So people make the connection.
You’ll notice that most of the examples I’ve listed so far (Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, myself) all use their names as the domains as well as social media handles.
So start by building a website with your name and use a design that reflects who you are.
4. Consistently write a lot of relevant contentIf you’re not engaging with regular content, you’re not going to build a big brand.
Here are the key elements:
You want to post a lot of content because:
I know that producing quality content on a regular basis is daunting. There’s plenty of content out there already, and that will only continue to grow.
You have to come up with new ideas and spend time writing, editing, and posting. Then, you can use social media to share and engage with your audience.
But it’s important that you do it consistently if you want to build your brand. You should aim to publish at least 2-3 times per week, if not more, depending on your goals.
I do a lot of stuff to stay active and engaged. I make videos. I blog. I host webinars. I speak at conferences.
But, I’m not saying you have to be “on” 24/7.
If you can engage on other social media platforms, that’s even better.
Look at Gary Vaynerchuk, who runs VaynerMedia, for example. He has a successful personal brand geared toward entrepreneurs. He’s active on social media almost daily in one way or another. If you go to Google Trends, you can see the popularity of his brand over time:
Even though his engagement levels are up and down, he still actively posts on social media all the time.
He has 812k+ subscribers on YouTube:
He also has over a million followers on Twitter (and he Tweets a lot):
And he posts unique Facebook videos every month:
The guy stays engaged with his audience on a regular basis. He engages on multiple platforms with multiple media types.
5. Extend your reach with guest blogging
The other thing that I do a lot – and that I recommend you do – is guest blogging.
Guest blogging is a great way to build your brand and grow your following. For him, guest blogging not only improves your writing skills, but it builds your core audience.
Another thing that guest blogging does is form relationships with other influencers.
When we asked Lewis Howes his advice for building an online presence, he said that making friends provides the biggest ROI for your time and money.
One of the best ways to do this is through either emailing influencers directly or building relationships through social media.
Lewis uses LinkedIn as a way to reach out to other influencers.
He leverages these groups to find influencers for his podcast, The School of Greatness. The one thing you should know about guest blogging is that you still have to have somewhat of a following for it to really work well.
When you post somewhere like Entrepreneur or Forbes, you want something to point those followers back to.
Take a look at my contributor account on Forbes: I list my other brands. I have links to my social media. I talk about my personal stories.
I’m giving people something of value when I guest blog, but I also make sure that I’m pointing them somewhere they can connect with me further. You can grow a brand with just guest blogging.
I’ve seen it happen.
But if you really want results, you should be using guest blogging as a way to extend the reach of your current blog.
Guest blogging is the perfect way to create backlinks to your site, which will help your ranking on Google.
It can do wonders for your SEO.
The more that you post on your own blog, the more you do for other blogs, and the more your name is out there on the Web, the bigger your brand will be.
When you Google my name, for example, you see my website along with my other accounts: You can find me on Crazy Egg, Quick Sprout, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and so on and so forth.
But the number one result (and the one that I want the most traffic to) is my site.
Everything points back to my personal brand. I use guest blogging as a way to create buzz and links back to my site.
And it works beautifully.
So once you have a somewhat-established brand and you’re hoping to extend your reach, start guest blogging.
It will really do great things for your marketing efforts. Getting started won’t take much of your time, but it will pay off in the long run. Build a list of strategies and start executing them.
How long will it take to build a brand with blogging? I know it may seem like you’ll never get there, but you will. It just takes time.
Blogging is the sort of thing that won’t make you famous immediately. Your blog should provide people real value.
Relationships with other influencers, networking, and growing a following all take time and intent to connect personally.
So you want to build your brand. It takes some work, but it can be done.
And one of the best ways to do it is through blogging.
First, pick a niche. Research keywords. Fill a void that needs to be filled. Write a lot. Strive for high-quality, valuable content. Make connections. Focus on quality.
Get your name out there. That’s how you build a brand that will not only open doors for you but will also provide value for the people following you. Don’t worry about the time it takes to grow your brand, either.
What niche do you see yourself going after for your personal brand?
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How to Make an Instagram Post Template for Your Business or Brand
Instagram is an undeniably powerful marketing tool, but with over 25 million businesses on the platform today, it's critical you take the time to create well-designed and thoughtful Instagram posts to stand out.
You'll need to apply a strategic design plan to your business's Instagram to attract a loyal following and find success on the app, long-term.
However, creating a clean and cohesive Instagram feed takes design skills you might feel you lack. Plus, Instagram's algorithm favors brands that post at least once a day — that time commitment could be adding to your stress.
If that's the case, you're in luck — there are ways you can create pre-made Instagram post templates, so you've got a stash ready-to-go. Plus, by ensuring you use the same templates for different posts, you'll have an easier time creating a cohesive and aesthetically-pleasing feed.
How to Create Posts for Instagram
1. Use Instagram Post Templates
Let's face it — you don't always have the time, resources, or personnel to design noteworthy Instagram posts. That's why we recommend using Instagram Post Templates for Business which you can build from and customize.
Here are some options to create and save Instagram post templates, so you can have stunning posts on-hand whenever you're ready to publish.
2. Choose Your Post Format
While traditional Instagram posts to your permanent timeline are more long-lasting and allow for comments and likes, you shouldn't underestimate the power of Instagram Stories, which can be used for more immediate needs and occasions.
In fact, 500 million accounts use the Instagram Stories feature daily. So, when you're creating your post, ask yourself if it warrants publication as a story or as a traditional post.
3. Choose an Image
Maybe you've decided your post doesn't need a photograph and that text overlay on a solid-color background will work for you. If that's the case, hop over to the next step.
If you've decided you do want to use a photograph – particularly if you want one as the background for text overlay – you've got a few options.
4. Add Design Elements
Instagram post templates come with design placeholders for text with special fonts and other elements. Your next step is to alter, add, or remove any elements that you see fit.
This includes updating the copy so it reflects the information you want followers to know and/or the action you want them to take.
5. Save the Photo
When you've done all you can in the template builder of your choosing, save your photo to be posted on Instagram. All you'll have to do here is click "File" > "Download" > "PNG Image" or "JPEG Image." Then, just name the photo file, email or message it to yourself, and save it on your phone so you can post it.
6. Upload to Instagram
Once you have your photo saved, it's time to upload it to share with your followers. For a traditional post, open Instagram, click the "+" button in the bottom center, choose your photo, add any filter, description, or hashtags, and click "Share."
For an Instagram Story post, click on the camera icon in the top left of your screen, access your camera roll in the bottom left of the screen, choose your image, minimize the date that shows up to the point where it can't be seen, and add any further design elements – like a GIF or additional copy – to the image. From there, click "Your Story" on the bottom left.
Other Ways to Design Instagram Posts
Here are some other options to create and save Instagram post templates, so you can have stunning posts on-hand whenever you're ready to publish.
Remember, your template is automatically saved to your Canva account. You can access it in the future, on both desktop and app versions of Canva, and edit it with new text to post the same design again.
Alternatively, you might consider creating a few posts now, and then saving them to your camera roll to post them in the future.
Besides Canva, there are a few other design editors that offer free pre-made Instagram templates. In particular, here are three tools you might consider:
If you're interested in creating a template for quote posts, it's easy to do — in fact, we've already curated a list of nine apps to help you make quotes for Instagram.
For our purposes, we'll try just one — ReciteThis.
To create a quote template for Instagram, go to ReciteThis, then follow these three easy steps:
1. Enter your quote in the text box.
2. Below, click the left or right arrows to peruse templates and choose one you like. Once you've chosen a template and written your text, click the "Create" button in the text box.
3. Click "Download Image" to post to Instagram's desktop version, or email it to yourself to post on your phone.
3. Creative MarketIf you're willing to shell out the cash, you might consider buying one of Creative Market's Instagram Template bundles.
And that's it! You're all set to create and save pre-made Instagram templates, so you can focus on attracting a loyal following without tediously designing a post from scratch every day.
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The best billboards demand your attention with bold fonts, in-your-face messages, and bright, eye-catching graphics. The best Facebook ads take the exact opposite approach.
If you want to reach and engage with potential customers on Facebook, you need to create ads that blend as seamlessly as possible into the rest of the content on their newsfeeds. This means focusing on simple, high-quality images, straightforward messages, and most importantly: minimal text.
Facebook has found that the best performing ads include images with little to no text. Formerly, they had a “20% rule,” which stated that in order to run an image-based ad on Facebook, your image must contain less than 20% text. It even created a text overlay tool to help advertisers determine whether their images had too many words.
The 20% rule is no longer a requirement, and the Facebook overlay tool is inactive. However, it’s still smart to follow the 20% rule and keep text to a minimum in your image-based ads.
Facebook 20% RuleThe Facebook 20% rule was a requirement that rejected Facebook ads with more than 20% of text in its images. While the rule is no longer enforced, Facebook still recommends including a 20% text-to-image ratio. The recommendation applies to both single image and carousel ads run on Facebook and Instagram.
It's important to note that you should use the 20% rule only for the text contained within images in your ad. It does not include text on your ad outside of images, like the description copy or call-to-action button.
There are a few exceptions to the 20% rule, including images of book covers, album covers, event posters, video games, and some product images that contain text (e.g., a cereal box).
Text-based logos are not an exception to the 20% rule. You should count your logo when deciding how much text to include in your image.
So, why exactly did the Facebook 20% rule exist, and why is it still relevant today? It all comes down to what users want to see and engage with in their newsfeeds. Ads with less overlay text perform significantly better than images crowded with text, so sticking to the rule creates a better experience for both users and advertisers.
Facebook Text Overlay ToolThe Facebook text overlay tool is no longer active, but it’s still wise to carefully choose the text you’ll include in your images.
While you're creating an ad, it can be tricky to evaluate the exact percentage of text covering your image. The following examples will show you some of the ways you can add text in a way that will naturally generate engagement.
Before designing your ad, be sure to review specs and sizes for your images and Facebook’s guidelines for image-based ads.
1. Ad With Acceptable Text Overlay
Your best approach when creating a Facebook ad is to use little to no text.
In this example of an ad image, there's only a small text-based logo and no other copy. This image contains 4% text.
An ad with a simple image like this will blend more easily into users' news feeds and is much more likely to gain exposure and engagement among your target audience.
The best part is that it might strike curiosity because it doesn’t share much; instead, viewers will have to read the description to find out what the ad is about.
2. Ad With Minimal Text Overlay
In this next example, there are two lines of text, bringing the text percentage to 12%. The logo has been removed from the corner.
It still works because the text doesn’t cover 20% of the image. The text also helps the viewer understand what the ad is about.
Nevertheless, consider adding the copy into the body of your ad instead of your image. Since the image and the description are visible at the same time, you can use the body only to describe your offering.
3. Ad With Excessive Text Overlay
This final example is exactly what Facebook does not want to see. It contains a whopping 44% text-to-image ratio.
While the copy is well-written and the offering is clear, this ad contains too much text over the image. The information displayed here could easily be incorporated into the body copy of your ad, creating a much cleaner look in users' news feeds.
It might be tempting to throw important information onto your images like this, but you risk alienating users who are turned off by busy copy.
Now that you have an idea of what a good ad looks like, how can you put it into practice in your own ad? Let’s take a look.
Facebook Text Overlay Best Practices
The best way to capture users' attention on Facebook is to use an eye-catching image with no text.
The 20% rule isn't just an arbitrary recommendation — it helps advertisers reach their target audiences more effectively, and prevents users' news feeds from becoming overwhelmed with disruptive advertisements.
If you do want to add text to your image, you should use the following best practices for overlaying text over your Facebook ads.
1. Choose the right font size.Believe it or not, font size is even more important than the amount of text you overlay over your image.
Smaller font sizes naturally won’t take up as much space, reducing your text-to-image ratio. Bigger font sizes will make you exceed the 20% rule straight away, even if you’re only including two or three words. That said, you don’t want to make the text too small; otherwise, viewers will have to squint to read what it says.
The font size you choose will depend on the size of your image and whether you’re adding a heading or a whole sentence. For headings, try to stay under 42 pixels; for sentences, try to stay around 24 pixels. Play around with font sizes to find what best works for the image.
2. Include only a heading or one line of text.There’s no reason to include more than one line of text in your Facebook ad. You have the body of the ad to include enough context and information for the viewer to click your link.
If you add text, consider only adding a heading — such as an offer, a call-to-action, or a discount. That’ll maximize the impact of the text and ensure viewers see something that will compel them to click.
For instance, “Buy 1 Get 1 Free,” “Apply Now,” and “30% Off” are all eye-catching phrases that will warrant a second look and don’t take up too much space. That brings us to the next point: Choose only the best and most eye-catching text to add to your image.
3. Choose eye-catching, impactful text.When adding overlay text to your Facebook ad, be sure to choose a line of text that will 1) Catch your target audience’s attention and 2) Hint at the value they’ll extract if they click through to your offer.
In the body of the ad, you can go into greater detail about your product or offer. But in your image, include only the text that will help someone decide whether they want to read more.
4. Use an alternative text overlay tool to see your text-to-image ratio.While Facebook’s text overlay tool is no longer available, you can use an alternative that mimics Facebook’s original tool. We recommend trying these:
They’re virtually identical in functionality, so simply choose the one that’s most convenient for you and your browser.
To use them, upload your image and select the squares that have text. On the right-hand column, the tool will tell you whether you’re above or under the 20% text-to-image ratio. That way, you know for sure whether you’ve added too much text to the image.
5. Take advantage of a grid to align the text.
In a free tool such as Canva, you can typically overlay a grid over your design as you’re creating it. Simply go to Elements > Grid and scroll until you find a grid that best works for your design. (Be sure to lower the transparency of the grid so you can see your ad beyond it.)
Use the grid as a guiding tool for aligning your text and ensuring it doesn’t take up too many boxes. If your grid has nine boxes and one line of text takes three boxes horizontally, then you know that the text is too big. If it only takes up one box, it might be too small.
Without a grid, you might lean on gut feeling only — and while your gut feeling can be of great help, it’s best to approach text overlays with as much exactitude as possible.
The 20% Rule Will Help You Create Better Facebook AdsWhile Facebook no longer requires advertisers to adhere to the 20% rule, it’s still a valuable guideline for adding text to your Facebook ads. Keep text to a minimum and you’ll ensure your Facebook ad packs as much impact as possible, significantly boosting your ROI and encouraging viewers to engage with your brand.
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Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.