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Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with John Doherty, founder and CEO of Credo, a marketplace for those who need an SEO or marketing provider.
Tune in to hear John share the struggles he experienced and lessons learned when he took the big leap from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, how he went from being laid off to building a successful company, how he grew Credo to 14K monthly visitors, and the biggest mistake this naïve first-time entrepreneur made.
Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How John Doherty Went from Getting Laid Off to Founding a Successful Subscription-Based Marketplace TRANSCRIPT
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When I first started learning how to do internet marketing, keywords were all that mattered. Google Keyword Planner and a host of other keyword research tools, like SEMrush, helped marketers see which keywords were driving volume. Then we’d take what we learned and layer it on with a tool like Übersuggest, or come up with more permutations or more keyword phrases.
But the thing about looking at historical keyword data is that it’s the same as looking at past revenue. It’s a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator.
That means it explains how something happened only in retrospect. But it doesn’t necessarily help you predict what will work in the future.
As a marketer, you want to be ahead of the trend. For example, let’s talk about virtual reality marketing, which might really blow up in five years or so. I think we all know that that’s a trend that’s coming up, but there isn’t a lot of interest in it right now because the technology hasn’t fully penetrated yet. The timing is not correct. But in order to ride that wave when it crests, you have to be prepared.
And that’s why I spend a bunch of time on Google Trends.
Google Trends’ most obvious feature is their top charts, where you can see what’s going on in real time. This is what people are talking about right now. This is what people are interested in.
For example, if you look up the book Newsjacking, you can come up with ideas just by looking at these trends. Or maybe people have been talking about Conor McGregor recently. How can we spin that in a way that fits in with a client’s marketing?
By doing that, you can be at the top of SERPs when people search for Conor McGregor or newsjacking or whatever the topic is. Whoever gets to it first is going to win when it comes to trends.
Another example: Pinterest recently released their Pinterest Search Ads. Let’s search for “Pinterest Search Ads” in Google Trends. We can see that it is currently a trend right now and it’s spiking.
How do you take advantage of this? I like to scroll to the bottom of the results page in Google Trends to see related searches. If there aren’t many related searches, then this is a really fresh topic.
One of the easiest wins when you jump on a trend is to write a long-form piece of content about it. Most of the early coverage will be short-form news posts. For example, maybe you newsjack Pinterest’s announcement with a “Complete Guide to Pinterest Search E-book.”
Maybe we’ll jump on Snapchat Ads instead. They’ve been out for a while, and you can see they spiked for a little bit when the announcement first came out.
But it’s about to get even bigger because they’re about to IPO and open up their platform to third parties for bidding. As a marketer, maybe that’s a topic you want to jump on.
Learn More: The Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat
There’s also YouTube, which is adding the ability to target people based on their search history. So it’s like search retargeting, but through YouTube. They’re obviously trying to compete with Facebook.
There are a lot of different ways to think about this, but whatever you end up doing, start by looking at trends.
What should you not do? Write on topics without any regard to trends. For example, if you search for “SEO,” you can see that this topic has been played out. It’s the same thing over and over. If you want to own the top results, you need to be on top of trends that people are just discovering.
If it’s actually good content, readers will start linking to it and it eventually becomes a flywheel of high-quality links because it’s the top result. That’s the benefit of riding the wave before it breaks. You’re going to get more traffic over time than anyone else and you’ll be known as an authority in your space. That’s the power of using Google Trends.
And Google Trends is totally free! You’re using a free tool like this to spot things before they become really big and jump on them because people care about these new and exciting topics.
When it comes to content marketing, so much content out there is redundant over time. Many topics are basically just echo chambers of writers copying each other.
You have to figure out how to stand out. Whether it’s doing live videos every day (like my Facebook Lives) or daily podcasts (like Marketing School), think about what you can do to stand out.
This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:
Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Chase Granberry, co-founder of Authority Labs, which allows you to track rankings on Google and Bing.
Listen as Chase discusses how he built the company by hustling and being the best in the SEO software space, the value of zeroing in on one thing when it comes to growing a company, why it’s so important to track rankings, how he struggled to scale the technical side of the business when he knew nothing, and how positive thinking and reading voraciously are two key factors that have contributed to his own success.
Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How Chase Granberry Grew Authority Labs to $3M ARR by Being the Best in the SEO Software Space TRANSCRIPT
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This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. Content marketing is by far one of the best ways to grow your brand and generate profitable leads. So why do many brands only receive modest ROIs from that content? There are two main reasons:
There’s no excuse not to track the performance of your content marketing campaigns when there are so many powerful analytics tools on the market. Google Analytics is one of the oldest and most useful analytics tools available, making it the core of any good content marketing strategy.
Google Analytics is by far the world’s leading online analytics solution, given that an estimated 30 to 50 million websites around the world depend on it. However, many marketers don’t understand its full potential. Google Analytics offers many features that let you create custom reports and get very detailed information about your visitors. In particular, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the following features in order to better optimize your campaigns:
Audience reports provide a massive amount of information on your users. Some of the data that you can uncover with Audience reports includes:
Check the active users’ data under the Audience reports dashboard. Doing so will show you how many times visitors returned to your site over different time intervals, ranging from one to 30 days.
The Audience reports section allows you to track the lifetime value of each user. You can also use this feature to figure out the value of users acquired from different marketing channels, enabling you to determine the ROI of your AdWords, media buying, email marketing, and other campaigns. Read More: 44 Ad Networks that Will Help Open Up New Channels of Growth For You
Knowing the demographics of your users is an often-overlooked aspect of many content marketing campaigns. The Audience reports section provides this detailed demographic information, including the age, gender, and interests of your visitors. Take the example of Scott Perry, Director of E-commerce at Jerome’s Furniture, who found that his Google Analytics reports suggested that women convert 30% better than men and spend nearly twice as much. Based on this data, his company invested more heavily in reaching women through display advertising. He also found that visitors browsing real estate sites converted 50% better, prompting him to increase spending on that demographic as well. Too many brands ignore the demographic data available in Google Analytics because they think they already know which visitors are most interested in their products. Don’t make this mistake. You may be surprised that the demographics of your best-converting customers are different than you expected. Of course, there is one caveat to be aware of: Google Analytics doesn’t appear to be as accurate at identifying visitor ages as gender and affinity information. Don’t ignore it entirely, but for now, take that data with a grain of salt until Google’s methods become more precise.
Identifying the language and location of your visitors is also obviously very important, especially for local businesses. You should already have a rough idea of where your visitors are coming from if you’re running campaigns on AdWords (unless, of course, you didn’t set your targeting properly). However, you might be surprised by the locations of visitors from organic search, direct media buying, and other marketing campaigns that don’t have the same targeting capabilities. This is where Google’s geo data comes in handy, as you can use it to find out which referrers are providing customers in your target region. Unfortunately, this data isn’t that helpful for optimizing your organic search campaigns as it used to be, as Google stopped sharing the data on keyword referrers for organic traffic (though it still provides this data for AdWords campaigns). This means that you won’t be able to identify keywords that are providing a lot of traffic from customers outside your target market. However, you can at least pay attention to the conversion rates of organic search visitors within your target demographic, which will help you to better optimize your landing pages. Read More: How to Do a Content Cleanup (And Grow Your Organic Traffic)
The Audience reports section provides detailed information about the people visiting your site. Acquisition reports tell you where these people came from. The data in these reports is key to optimizing your campaigns, as it will enable you to identify the referrers that are driving your conversions and thus better optimize those campaigns. Here are some tips to use these reports to drill down and optimize your campaigns at an even higher level:
Before you start analyzing your Acquisition reports, make sure your conversion goals are set up properly. If you haven’t done so, your Acquisition reports can still identify the referrers that are driving traffic to your site, but you won’t be able to tell which referrers are driving conversions. Identifying conversions is particularly important if you’re relying on paid traffic, such as AdWords. You’re investing a lot of money in your advertising campaigns, so make sure you’re getting the data you need to optimize them.
The Channels section gives a broad overview of all of the places that are driving traffic to your site. It breaks traffic down by various sources, including organic search, direct, and referral. One of the great things about the Channels section is that it provides a graph to help you visualize which places are giving you the most traffic. You can click on each of these sections to find more details on the people visiting your site.
Take a look at the individual referrers that are driving traffic. These referrers are broken up by domain, so you can identify the specific sites and advertising platforms that are providing the most visitors. There are a couple ways that you can look at the referrers to your site:
Pay close attention to both the volume of visitors from each of your referrers and the ROI that you’re receiving from them. You may find that some traffic sources such as StumbleUpon provide a huge volume of traffic, but have low conversion rates.
The keywords section is probably the most important part of your Acquisition reports, and it’s crucial if you’re relying on paid search traffic from AdWords or Bing. Many new marketers are surprised by how much their keywords affect conversions. A visitor who clicked on your ad while searching for the phrase “Houston real estate company” may be much more likely to convert than a visitor who was searching for the phrase “Houston real estate agent.” You have no way of knowing that until you launch your campaign and check the data from your Acquisition reports.
Tracking conversions from every single ad, landing page, keyword, and referrer can be tedious. Sometimes it’s better to just get a general idea of which practices are working. To do this, break down your content marketing strategies into different campaigns. Make sure your campaigns are as granular as possible so you can get detailed data on which practices are working. You may want to have several different AdWords campaigns (each of which may have a different landing page or angle), a campaign for native ads with your blog posts, and another for organic search traffic. You can easily look at the data from your various campaigns to see which are converting best, and this will save you countless hours that you would otherwise spend drilling down through all of your referrers, web pages, and keywords to look for trends.
There are a couple other valuable reports, but they aren’t quite as comprehensive, so I’ll just give a brief overview here. Behavior reports are one of the first to take a look at. They provide some detailed information on the actions that users take on your site, including:
Your Behavior reports can help you optimize your content marketing strategy by monitoring how visitors engage with your content. The Conversions reports is another section worth looking at, as it provides a detailed overview of all your conversions. You can also monitor this information from other sections in Google Analytics, as listed above, but this section saves you a lot of work, as it allows you to see detailed information in one place. Use this data to determine which strategies to scale and which to abandon. Read More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)
There’s a reason that tens of millions of websites use Google Analytics – it’s hands down the best free marketing analytics tool on the web. If you don’t already have it set up, make it a priority today. Truly, you won’t be able to optimize your content marketing strategy without it. What other interesting insights have you noticed by using Google Analytics? Share your insights in the comments below: Images: Pixabay, Flickr, Flickr, Flickr
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
It’s enough to strike fear into even the most experienced of marketers and bloggers. It can seem like torture by tedium. It’s often the stuff of nightmares. What is this unholy monster?
The content audit.
A well-executed content audit done on an annual basis can deliver big insights into your website’s blog and content marketing strategy that far exceeds its ho-hum reputation.
Too often, we post something and then never go back to it again. Years later, it’s outdated, stale, and completely irrelevant. Good practice demands that we return to our content periodically to ensure that everything is as fresh and beautiful as the day it was released to the world.
A content audit involves taking a look at all the content on your website and assessing its relative strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize your future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you select beforehand.
This process should not be confused with a content inventory, which is simply an accounting of all these different assets. In other words, it’s a quantitative collection. Although a content inventory is part of the audit process, the audit itself goes much further in depth. The Content Analysis Tool (CAT) can make content inventories a snap. When you start off on the right foot, the rest of the journey is that much easier.
When performed correctly, a good audit will help you to answer questions about the content pieces on your site:
An audit will tell you where you need to focus your future efforts in terms of both an SEO and content marketing perspective. And it can even give you insight into potential changes that will improve your lead generation, sales, and marketing processes.
If you’re struggling to understand your visitors’ behavior on your website or why your current marketing initiatives aren’t working, a content audit is easily one of the best things you can do for your business.
But before we get into the step-by-step process of conducting one, you need to answer a few questions.
There could be any number of reasons. There’s no one correct approach for conducting a content audit – the exact steps you’ll take will depend on your reasons for undergoing the process in the first place.
Typically, content audits are conducted for two primary reasons:
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both. While you’re digging through your SEO metrics, it’s easy to jot down your content marketing data as well. Or you might be approaching your content audit from a slightly different perspective. Whatever the case may be, being clear about your intentions ahead of time will help to streamline the process and minimize extra effort. Know why you’re doing before you start doing it.
A good content audit is a time-consuming process. If you’re currently swamped with other priorities, undertaking such a massive project may not be the best use of your time or energy. If you can’t devote the proper resources to it, it’s better to wait until you can.
But if the project must be done, keep in mind that you do have options. Instead of undertaking the entire audit process by yourself, delegate some of the data-gathering steps to another employee in your organization or to an outsourced worker hired through sites like Guru or Upwork.
You also have the option of completing only small sections of the audit at any given time, or paying for tools that help to automate parts of your research process (gone are the days of having to manually sift through everything yourself!). More on this later.
Before you begin, be clear about the reason you’re conducting a content audit in the first place. If you aren’t going to take action based on the data that your audit produces, you might as well skip the process altogether. An audit for the sake of an audit is a waste of time and resources.
Any of the following are potential content audit goals. You may have others that are not on this list, and you’ll likely have more than one in mind as you go through it.
That’s the theory. Now let’s put it in practice.
To help illustrate how to do a content audit, we’ve created John, a business owner with a heart of gold. He runs a small software company that’s developed an SaaS budgeting tool.
He’s invested in content marketing for about a year, but he isn’t sure whether all the time he’s spent blogging, creating videos, and releasing infographics has paid off. As a result, he decides to conduct a content audit to see how his individual content pieces are performing and what – if anything – he should do differently in the future.
Because John only has five employees – all of whom are busy wearing multiple hats already – he decides to take on the audit process by himself. Because he’s a busy guy, he keeps the scope of his audit small, checking only the content he’s created in the past year and tracking only a few variables that indicate success to him.
Remember, the size and scope of your audit is completely up to you. This is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Do what you can when you can do it.
We’ll revisit John a little later on.
If you’ve finished your homework (you did answer the questions above, right?), it’s time to get started. Try the following three-step process to complete your website’s first content audit (and feel free to amend it for subsequent ones):
Unsurprisingly, the first step in completing a content audit is to find all your content. You have two different options for doing so:
Enter or import all the URLs you find into an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet, leaving plenty of columns for the data you’ll gather in Step #2. Or, if you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, you can add your links to any of the following freely-available content inventory and audit templates:
Most audits use a spreadsheet to organize the data, but it’s not the only way. If you despise Excel for some reason (no judgement), you could opt for the WordPress Content Audit plugin. This tool allows you to create a content inventory directly in the Edit screens in WordPress. Set a few conditions, and you’re good to go.
Just go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. Set yourself up for success by using the tools and methods that work for you.
Which brings us back to John, our savvy business owner from Seattle. Because his site is small and he’s pressed for time, he uses Screaming Frog to create the URL list pictured below:
To upload your CSV file into Google Sheets, go to File > Import > Upload and select the saved file from your computer. Easy-peasy.
John is well on his way with a handy list of all his URLs. Step 1? Check!
Remember those columns I mentioned earlier? Now’s the time to set them up and fill them out.
The exact data points you’ll want to gather will, again, depend on the goals of your audit, as well as the complexity you want to achieve. Although the lists below may look daunting, it isn’t necessary to collect data on every possible variable. In fact, you may be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself with only a handful of possible data points.
Potential SEO data points to gather (many of these are automatically generated by Screaming Frog):
Potential content marketing data points to gather:
Other items to track:
Once you’ve selected the data points you’ll measure as part of your content audit, label a column in your spreadsheet for each one.
Now comes the fun part — time to do the heavy lifting of data collection (and yes, “fun” is subjective)!
Let’s get back to our pal John…
Since his primary goal is to determine what’s working with his current content marketing strategy, he decides to evaluate the following metrics:
While he could track other pieces of data as part of his audit – and probably glean additional insights from doing so – analyzing only this limited number of metrics makes it possible for John to complete his content audit while juggling his other responsibilities. The way he looks at it, he can always go back and add more to his analysis if he has the time down the road.
To find the data points he’s decided upon, John uses the following resources:
Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics
Once John is done gathering this data, he goes back through his list and assigns a score to each page on an “A – F” rating scale of his own creation.
Pages that receive “A” scores are his cream-of-the-crop, top-performing pages, while those that earn “F” scores are ones he’s embarrassed to find on his site. He also adds a note to his spreadsheet showing the date that his audit was created for the purpose of planning future audits.
And even though John didn’t do this, you could also head over to the Google Search Console to pull even more conveniently organized data. Click on Search Analytics, select Pages, and check Clicks, Impressions, and CTR to get a quick snapshot of how individual pages are performing.
There’s a “Download” button at the bottom of the page if you want to export the data as a CSV file and add it to your ever-expanding spreadsheet.
If your site is large, expect the data-gathering process to take a long time. It’s not uncommon for audits to take days, weeks or even months to complete, depending on the size of the website and the organizational resources that are available for the process.
But even if your content inventory is completed quickly, you’ve still got another important step to take – actually putting all your information to use.
To be sure you’re getting something substantive out of your content audit process, you need to establish a set of recommended actions you’ll take once the audit is complete. And in order to do that, you need to dive into the data you’ve collected in order to draw conclusions.
It could be as simple as adding one more column to your spreadsheet: “Action.”
Here, you make the call as to what should happen to each individual content asset, like:
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that say, “If your content data indicates [this], do [that].” Instead, you’ve got to look at the data you’ve gathered and see if you can identify any trends that could inform your eventual recommended actions.
Take a look at John’s spreadsheet below and see if anything jumps out at you:
Here are a few observations you might have made:
After further exploration, John decides to take the following actions after the completion of his content audit:
An audit might focus on content quality, the customer experience, content performance, or any combination of these.
Use the results of your content audit to come up with 5-10 actions you’ll take after completing it, based on any patterns that emerge from your data.
Then, set deadlines for yourself in order to put these actions into play and block out whatever time you’ll need to do so on your calendar. Add a deadline right into your spreadsheet (when it comes to columns, you can never have too many!).
One important thing to note here. When you’re staring at the mountains of data your content audit may generate, it’s easy to find yourself struck down by analysis paralysis. Basically, there are so many conclusions you could draw and so many things you could do, that you wind up doing none of them. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.
Content marketer Pawel Grabowski offers many helpful suggestions to combat analysis paralysis, such as focus on what’s most important, break decisions down into bite-sized steps, and don’t worry about being perfect!
As long as you’re tracking your metrics and regularly revisiting the content audit process, you’ll see these shifts occurring and be able to remedy them long before they become big problems plaguing your site’s performance.
If you’ve caught the auditing bug while going through the content analysis process, you can always take the skills you’ve learned to expand your audit beyond the borders of just your website.
So now you know everything there is to know about your own content. But unless you have a truly unique product or service, you’re not the only show in town. You have competition for customers.
The performance of your content will always be tied, in some ways, to the content that your competitors put out. Even if their pieces don’t directly prevent visitors from seeing yours, there is a limited number of consumers out there and they all have a finite amount of attention. If they’re using all their energy focusing on the competition’s content, they may not have enough mental focus left to pay attention to yours.
Conducting an audit of your competitor’s content is similar to assessing your own, but with a few limitations. There are a few metrics that you may not be able to pull without having direct access to your their website and accounts. Bounce rate, average time on page, and conversion rate are three in particular that are difficult to discover without accessing the site’s Google Analytics profile or marketing automation account.
But that said, there are still plenty of different things you can track. You can evaluate the number of links pointing at your competitor’s content pages using tools like Majestic Site Explorer or BuzzSumo’s Backlinks.
You can measure social shares by looking for a share counter on the post itself, or entering the post URL into a service like BuzzSumo to see a detailed breakdown with their Most Shared feature. It might not be a complete audit, but even conducting this limited level of assessment will give you plenty of actionable data on areas where your competitors are currently outperforming your site.
What works for them? Can you improve on it in some way (the Skyscraper Technique is a fabulous way to bring in oodles of traffic)? Which sites are linking to them that might potentially link to you if approached with a powerful piece of content or a fantastic guest post idea?
Another way to expand your content audit is to include your off-site content assets (if they’re relevant to your audit goals). For example, if you’re assessing the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to include as much data as possible on any infographics, slide decks, or other external content pieces you’ve released to promote brand recognition and viral sharing.
Again, your ability to track the metrics listed above on these content pieces will vary based on the sites hosting them. Gather what you can, but also look for other types of data that are unique to external content sources.
As an example, looking at your Google Analytics account should show you the number of visits that each external piece sent to your site. Comparing referred visits across external content pieces can be a great way to determine the direction of your next big content release.
Check out Reporting > Acquisition > Channels for a general breakdown of traffic by organic, direct, referral, and social (and select Referrals if you want to see the specific points of origin).
And if you utilize custom URLs with UTM parameters, for example, you can instantly see what content is sending the most traffic your way from offsite.
In addition to assessing your offsite content pieces, you can apply the audit process to your other marketing channels. If you run print ads in trade publications, try to determine how many inquiries you’ve received from each ad (hint – this is easiest to do if you record the source of your first touch with a new prospect in your CRM after your first conversation).
Or take a close look at your e-mail marketing campaigns. Is the content in your autoresponders still up-to-date? Do you have some messages that have a higher open rate than others? Services like MailChimp and AWeber have robust analytics at the ready.
Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks
When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a blue moon. It’s a mindset that you should apply to both your website content and the other marketing channels you use.
By carefully inventorying your existing content pieces and assessing the data you’ve gathered for each item, you can make informed marketing decisions that will help you to save time, cut costs, grow your brand, and improve your overall advertising ROI.
And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Content audits can take many shapes, routes, approaches, and scopes. It all depends on your needs and your goals.
What content audit tools do you use to make it go a bit smoother? What insights did your last audit reveal?
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
In today’s rapidly shifting world, SEO techniques can change on a dime—and the worst part is that you might not even know it. Hacks that could have won you a front-page result as recently as 2016 are not only obsolete now, but they may even hurt your website’s rankings.
That’s why you need to stay on top of the ball. We spoke with Jacob Warwick, Director of Communications at Skedulo, and Jesse Teske, SEO Manager at YLighting, to get their expert thoughts on the most current SEO tactics in 2017.
Read on for some 9 info-packed tips and techniques to help you get the most out of your SEO game in 2017—and improve your traffic and conversions.
Simply put, engagement is the ability to hold a user’s attention. In SEO terms, it is a measure of the amount of time spent on a page.
Although Google hasn’t officially declared it, there is evidence to suggest that this search engine giant does reward sites with strong user engagement with higher page ranking.
Research from SimilarWeb found a positive correlation between engagement metrics and search rankings and a study of 1 million search results by Backlinko found a similar correlation between bounce rate and rankings.
Google’s reasoning is that if a user spends more time on a page, it’s probably because she found the page useful. And since Google only wants to deliver the best possible results to its users, it will push sites with strong engagement up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
So how can you improve your site’s engagement? Here are five tactics you can use with your existing content:
Good formatting can instantly improve your page’s readability. This, in turn, can improve your engagement rate. According to an eye-tracking study by Nielsen, the following three formatting tactics can help increase your content readability:
Here’s an example of poor formatting:
Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).
Here’s an example of the same paragraph, but with good formatting (which improved usability by 124%):
In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:
A “bucket brigade” is a copywriting technique designed to keep capture a reader’s interest and keep them on your page. It essentially involves breaking an idea into multiple sentences, using a trigger word or phrase (as simple as Look: or as lengthy as The secret to great copywriting is this:) and then ending the sentence with a colon.
Look at this example from Backlinko:
Including professional, high-quality images (photos, graphs) throughout your content is an easy yet powerful way to increase engagement. For one, images help you show an idea, not just tell it (a picture tells a thousand words, right?). Secondly, images help you break content into different sections. And finally, people just like pretty pictures.
For example, take a look at how Growth Everywhere uses images to clearly illustrate the step-by-step content in How To Do A Content Cleanup (And Grow Your Organic Traffic):
On Single Grain, charts and screenshots are frequently used to divide up content into separate sections, like this example from The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Advertising:
If you went to journalism school, you know all about the inverted pyramid style of writing:
This method means giving away the most valuable information at the top of the article, and following it up with less important information. If readers tend to scan and rarely make it to the bottom of an article, it makes sense to give them what they want as soon as they land on the page.
Writing well, delivering value, and proper formatting only go so far. Another key part of engagement is lowering your bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who land on your website and leave without interacting further. Bounce rates can be raised by a number of factors, from incorrect implementation to poorly designed landing pages.
More often than not, however, high bounce rates result from poor usability and an awkward user experience (UX). While these problems vary from site to site, they are very easily remedied with several popular online tools, such as:
For instance, heat maps are colorful representations of where users have clicked on your site, while scrollmaps show you just how far down the page your users scroll before leaving. With this data, it’s possible to figure out what your best design features (or flaws) are, and correct them accordingly. Here’s an example of a heatmap that shows you where visitors clicked:
In A/B testing, multiple versions of a web page are randomly shown to users, compared against a control page (generally the existing website), and then analyzed for effect. The biggest advantage of a proper A/B testing process is that marketers can understand how even the tiniest changes can positively affect their website, such as moving the buy button to the left or changing its color from red to blue.
Take a look at the sample A/B test below from 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should be A/B Testing:
In this test, hygiene company L’Axelle is trying out different headlines, pitting a comfort-oriented headline against an action-oriented one. The change is subtle, but it’s there.
It’s clear that A/B testing is an integral part of both the copywriting and the UX design process. The genius of Optimizely is that it massively simplifies something that would otherwise require a team of dedicated, experienced UX designers and researchers to carry out.
Image Source: Optimizely
But perhaps the biggest draw of Optimize is that it seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics, allowing marketers to further leverage their existing resources. With Optimize, marketers can use existing Analytics metrics as a starting point, which allows them to rely on a familiar interface as they move on to deeper and more complicated experiments.
Here’s a shot of the Google Optimize user screen. Notice that it gives recommendations and suggestions for the optimal interface.
Pro Plan subscribers, however, have the option of receiving the help of UX professionals who will conduct research, analyze user behavior, and measure and benchmark. In this form, User Testing.com offers customers the benefits of an in-house UX team at a fraction of the cost.
With its conversational tone and engaging manner, Krug’s work gets readers into the habit of critically examining and rethinking everything about their websites, including even the tiniest details, like misplaced buttons or unwieldy site maps.
There’s also strong evidence that click-through rates will influence your website’s Google search ranking, though this is difficult to confirm given the company’s secrecy surrounding their algorithms. Either way, improving CTR is absolutely a good investment for the long-term health of your business.
Luckily, there are programs like Google Search Console and Tableau, which allow marketers to identify critical keywords which are performing (or underperforming) for their position, understand why and, most importantly, quickly visualize the terms and pages to target. With these programs, marketers can turn around underperforming terms by rewriting titles and descriptions, thereby increasing CTR and drumming up traffic.
Learn More: 10 Google Search Console Hacks to Boost SEO
A recent study by Backlinko concluded that the longer the content, the higher the likelihood of it ranking at the top of the SERPs.
However, writing 2,000+ words for every blog post is not for everyone; it’s an intensive, time-consuming process. Instead, it’s much easier to take a page from 1,200 words to 2,000 words than to go from 0 words to 2,000 words.
Existing content already has authority and an established readership. So rather than writing something entirely from scratch, it’s much simpler to find a post of yours that is already doing well on Google, refresh it with updated information and extra content, and rely on existing signals to make it rank for terms.
Here’s how you do it. First, under “Search Traffic” in Google Search Console, click on “Search Analytics.”
On this page, check “Position” and select “Pages”:
Try to find pages that are ranking between positions 11-30 on Google. These are ideal candidates for additional content that can increase their rankings.
55% of all keyword searches on Google return at least one video and 82% of those videos are from YouTube. YouTube is also the second most popular search engine with more than 3 billion searches per month, surpassing Bing and Yahoo combined.
Focusing on YouTube SEO will push your website onto the first page on Google and get you traffic from YouTube as well.
The result? Twice the traffic with the same content.
Learn More: The Complete Guide to Youtube SEO
Here is how you can improve your YouTube SEO (after creating your videos, of course):
The filename, the title, the description—all these elements affect your rankings.
Here’s a great example:
Another tactic is to use your keywords at the start of the title, then add a sub-header after a colon to drive clicks. Here’s an example:
At the very least, your title should have 5+ words and include a broad target keyword. This will not only help you rank in SERPs but also get you more clicks on YouTube.
Learn More: 20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings
It can be as short as this example from Growth Everywhere:
Or as long as this example from James Stafford:
This tells Google—as well as your readers—exactly what your video is about. Since most of your competitors aren’t doing it, it will also help you rank way faster.
Like content, longer videos tend to do better in YouTube search.
Try it yourself: type in a popular keyword or topic and see what shows up at the top of the page. For example, here’s what you’ll see when you type in “wordpress”:
Or when you search for “photography tips”:
Try to make your videos at least 5 minutes long. As with written content, longer videos tend to get the most traction.
Learn More: A Youtube Video Marketing Guide to Increase Prospects in Your Funnel
A better video thumbnail won’t necessarily help with your SEO, but like a great headline, it will help you get more clicks. This means that you can often earn more views than higher ranked results, all thanks to your choice of thumbnail.
A strong thumbnail should tell viewers exactly what the video is about. Try to use a compelling image along with a title card. Here’s an example:
Back in 2010, Google announced that it would be using site speed as a ranking factor and since then, Google has consistently emphasized the importance of site speed.
First, it launched the PageSpeed tool to help developers improve site performance, followed by the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to boost speed on mobile sites.
Recently, it launched another tool called Think with Google to help gauge how responsive (or mobile-friendly) a site is, which includes speed as a parameter.
Clearly, Google wants your website to load faster than it is right now. But how fast?
Unfortunately, the exact definition of “site speed” is open to speculation. According to the surveys done by Akamai and Gomez, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. If the site fails to launch in 3 seconds, there is a good chance they’ll abandon it.
You should work on your site’s speed not only to work your way up Google’s rankings, but also to increase conversions. For instance, one survey found that nearly 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance won’t return to the site to buy again.
While improving site speed is a pretty big topic, check out this HubSpot article to improve page load times.
Learn More: Using Google AMP to Boost Site Speed and Mobile Optimization
Images are usually the largest components on any site (in terms of file size). By compressing them, you can often cut down page size by 30-40%.
A quick way to do this is to use Kraken.io. This tool automatically compresses all images uploaded to your WordPress blog. It also has an API to make image compression for non-WordPress sites easier.
Caching is the mechanism for temporarily storing web data such as HTML pages and images in order to reduce bandwidth usage.
If you’re on WordPress, enabling browser caching is as simple as installing a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
For non-WordPress sites, browser caching is a little trickier. One quick way to do it is to change your .htaccess file. Follow the instructions here to learn how to do this.
A CDN is a network of servers based throughout the globe. When visitors access your website, they are delivered the site from a server that is as close to their physical location as possible, thereby improving site speed.
Using a CDN is a easy fix to instantly improve site speed and will have an immediate impact on site performance.
Image Source: Moz
Google is evolving and so is its algorithm. Its objective now is to understand the intention of the users: what users expect, what they are looking for, and more specifically, what search results would best help answer their query.
Plus, for an increasingly large number of queries (19.45% to be exact), Google shows “rich results” that include the best answer at the top of the results:
In 2017, don’t expect your website to end up on the first page of Google simply by creating keyword-focused content. Tom Anthony from Moz concludes, “We need to stop looking at keywords and starting looking at queries.”
In short, you must consider what your users are looking for rather than coming up with different ways that users can phrase a search query. Here are two things in particular you should consider:
What kind of content you’ll create will depend on your audience. The better you know them—their location, age, and likes—the better the content you’ll create (and the better your SEO).
For example, suppose your keyword tool shows that “android” has a lot of search volume. People searching for it could fall into several categories:
Without knowing your target audience, you might end up creating content for all these topics, which would win you neither readers nor good rankings. By building a detailed buyer persona, you’ll be better able to zero in on topics that matter to your readers.
Instead of focusing on standalone keywords, organize all your content into different “themes.”
For example, if you run a website about WordPress, you might have three types of readers:
To target each of these types of readers, you can organize your content into different themes that cover multiple topics, such as:
This is far more reader-friendly than simply creating content for specific keywords.
At the same time—keywords still matter. Organizing content thematically is very important, but it’s a mistake to ignore keywords entirely, given that they serve as signposts to Google’s spiders, signaling topics and giving hints as to the nature of the content on the website.
Still, the keyword aspect of SEO is becoming increasingly difficult with Google Adwords hiding volume data.
Luckily, there are a number of tricks and tools that can help marketers find topics and volume data. Google itself is a good way to get related search ideas. Just type “sushi restaurants in San Francisco” into the search bar of Google Chrome and you’ll be presented with carousels of related images at the bottom of the page, such as the names of specific restaurants or dishes to order.
This is a strong hint for developers to include these topics in their content, or to create pages to leverage these related images.
Read on for some extremely useful tools that can help you find and optimize keywords:
Image Source: SEMRush
Interestingly, SEMRush also allows users to use a competitive positioning map, where they can see overall website traffic and keywords: Title Boxing boasts 120.9k in search traffic and 15.3k in keywords, far outpacing their closest competitors.
Image Source: SEMRush
When considering which keyword tools to use, look for something that allows you to monitor a high volume of keywords broken down by relevant themes. Additionally, the best tools must ensure that you can track all your competitors, from large corporations to small, up-and-coming firms.
As always, go for quality and not quantity. It’s better to get 10 conversions from 100 visitors than it is to get 10 conversions from 1,000 visitors. Rather than casting a too-wide net, focus on keywords and topics that are within your niche, ones that you can optimize for and be the authority on. Fill in these gaps and establish yourself as an expert in this smaller field before tackling larger and broader keywords where the competition is much fiercer.
Despite what you might have heard, building backlinks is still crucial for good rankings.
As per Moz, a site’s backlink profile is still the most reliable indicator of its eventual rankings. Another Moz study shows that without backlinks, it is nearly impossible to rank well, even if you have great content.
Image Source: Moz
What has changed is the way you must build backlinks if you want good results. Low-quality links that are easily spammed—blog comments, paid links, etc.—don’t seem to work anymore and can actively harm your site.
Links that are earned—through high-quality content, outreach and influencer marketing—on the other hand, are safe and extremely effective.
Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks
A critical part of SEO is reporting and analytics, which are indispensable to improving marketing strategies. By setting up an analytics platform to track both micro and macro events, you can understand your customer’s journey from your sales and marketing funnel.
For instance, what content really appealed to your customer? What part of the website had the most UX issues? Which page was the least (or most) visited, and why?
Having the ability to tie online data back to offline data to get a full 360 view of how your content and marketing is performing.
One great tool to help you do this is Google Datastudio, which helps you aggregate data from multiple sources (rankings, traffic, conversion data) into a single interface. You can even share your data internally or with clients. Most importantly, these metrics can help you determine the effectiveness of your SEO strategy, and whether you need to pivot or change tactics.
Along those lines, always be on the lookout to see what your competitors are doing, and how well it’s working. What techniques are they using? How have they changed their approach? What mistakes have they learned from?
One great tool to see how your competition has changed is Wayback Machine, which allows marketers to access petabytes of archived web pages. By sifting through Wayback Machine’s extensive database, you can track the evolution of your competitor’s brand and web presence, taking note of factors such as changes in UX design or differences in copy from one web version to the next.
Still, you shouldn’t implement something just because your competitor is doing it, whether that’s designing a website a certain way or using specific copy or images. This is especially true for larger websites like Amazon, which have much more leeway with search engines. Thanks to their numerous, highly skilled staff, they can test small changes and measure results with a high degree of accuracy.
If used correctly, Wayback Machine has some interesting lessons to offer any company. Take a look at these two screencaps of Title Boxing. The top picture is a screencap of Title’s homepage from Wayback Machine, circa 2007, while the bottom one is a screencap from 2016.
Image Source: Wayback Machine
Image Source: Title Boxing
The differences are pretty clear. In 2007, the web layout was much more cluttered and crowded, with small, hard-to-navigate sidebars squeezing some small, insignificant-looking pictures in the middle advertising daily specials.
In 2016, however, the user experience is much more streamlined. Visitors are greeted with a clear, easy-to-use sidebar at the top, labeled with categories like “Gloves,” “Punching Bags,” and many more. A large, sliding image in the center replaces the tiny, hard-to-notice ads from 2007, allowing buyers to see exactly what is on sale. The new website is almost minimalist, doing away with the previous confused, slightly chaotic format.
Clearly, Title has come a long way when it comes to UX, testing their changes and eventually settling on this new, simpler design. Still, it’s very likely that plenty of testing, design and redesign was put into this process, which is clear when you track their changes through Wayback Machine.
Be strategic about your changes, test them thoroughly, and examine how your competitors’ websites have evolved with Wayback Machine.
SEO and content tips aside, it’s absolutely essential to have a solid website, without worrying about any technical issues that may arise. With that being said, here are some tips and techniques to help you ensure that your website is up to par.
First off, do yourself a favor and switch to HTTPS, the most commonly used, securest version of the old http web protocol. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP.
It’s a best practice that will help your website boost its SEO presence, stay secure, and make it harder for malicious parties to break in and take advantage of your website.
Granted, transitioning to HTTPS is easier said than done, and requires a multi-step process. When the Atlantic, a highly-regarded, well-established media organization, decided to move to HTTPS in early 2016, the transition was complex. First, content had to be scanned individually, then ported over and checked for compatibility. The process was repeated with ads, and once compatibility and security were ensured, the website slowly went live in order to guard against traffic loss and unforeseen errors.
If you’re a smaller organization, your process will likely be less painstaking or time consuming. All the same, moving to HTTPS is a necessity in a world of cybersecurity threats and heightened SEO and SEM requirements.
AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, began as a Google-backed open initiative to allow publishers to easily create responsive, mobile-optimized content.
Image Source: Toobler
Envisioned as a way to quickly render content on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, AMP combines three components:
Since AMP was only incorporated into the search giant’s results in February 2016, the format itself is still fairly new. For those of you who use WordPress, AMP should be much easier to implement than a home-grown CMS from scratch.
Learn More: Using Google AMP Pages to Boost Site Speed and Mobile Optimization
To ensure that Google is crawling your preferred pages and not pages that don’t appear in its index, turn to crawl programs like Deep Crawl or Botify. These SEO crawler programs are similar to Google’s own crawlers and will give you an overview of how your page will perform in SEO rankings.
Image Source: Botify
To help Google understand your data or to show your website smartcards and voice searches, you need to ensure that your semantic markups are correct. Semantic markups are essentially HTML tags which can help emphasize key information on your website.
For instance, a heading tag (H1) can help a crawler understand precisely what your content is about. If you tag “Five Holiday Destinations in Eastern Europe” with a H1, then a crawler will know to sort your blog post under relevant categories, such as holidays or Eastern European travel. In short, edit your semantic markups so that they reflect your data and information as accurately as possible.
Nothing will sink your website faster in search rankings than a 404 error, when a search engine can’t find the desired web page and leads to a dead end. It’s in your interest to fix these broken or missing pages and re-engage your users as soon as you can.
Whatever platform you use, be it Google Analytics or Oracle, take a look at the number of pageviews for your 404 page. Then add URL as a secondary dimension and fix the biggest offenders first. This way, you can boost UX and regain any inbound links from those pages.
Image Source: EyeEm
Learn More: Data-Backed Best Practices for Building a Killer 404 Page
To make your job easier, there are a number of web browser and WordPress plugins that you can use. We’ve listed a few of them below, along with a brief description of their capabilities and common uses.
Image Source: Ultimate Nofollow
In the digital era, it’s easy to forget that people still visit physical shops and establishments. True, they may use online resources to research, but plenty of commerce is still conducted in real life. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can’t neglect local SEO and listings if you want to stay profitable.
As powerful as search engines like Google or Bing are, they still can’t be everywhere at once, and have to rely on additional information from local, on-the-ground sources, which gather, aggregate, and submit relevant data for area businesses. These aggregators will do much of the legwork, pulling information from physical directories (like Yellow Pages) or scanning business registrations.
In a nutshell, bigger search engines will rely on these data aggregators to fill in the gaps of the existing information already in their databases, and will also cross-check to make sure that the facts are up-to-date. Problems arise, however, when aggregators collect out-of-date data, leading a search engine like Google or Bing to list the wrong information, like an old address for your business or a disconnected phone number.
Learn More: How to Do a Comprehensive Local SEO Audit
Image Source: Moz
That’s why it’s critical to ensure that your physical contact information is as current as possible.
The first step is to identify any obsolete information that may be out there. Because Google is the largest search engine, start with Google My Business, its free-to-use listing service, and update your data accordingly. Be sure to list important details like extra locations, the latest opening hours, and what forms of payment are acceptable.
Then, use a local directory management service, which carries out the painstaking, tedious work of scanning countless local directories, interacting with data aggregators, and correcting any old information. The best of these are Moz Local and Yext, which can help you avoid any glaring inconsistencies that can hurt your revenue stream, or even worse, trick Google’s algorithms into thinking that you’re a different business entirely.
Learn More: 10 Free Local SEO Tools for Small Businesses
Next, use your directory management service to hit at least four of the major data aggregator services. While these companies do vary by location, some of the bigger names are Infogroup, Acxiom, and Localeze, all of which provide information on millions of business listings to larger search engines.
From that point on, local search listings should be accurately and automatically updated by your management service.
Carrying out technical SEO for local search engines is a similar process.
You may be questioning the point of optimizing for local search engines, especially given Google’s unquestioned dominance of the search landscape. Even so, local search engines are still extremely useful. After all, if you’re a physical, brick-and-mortar establishment, you will benefit greatly from having in-store visits.
Learn More: How to Get More Reviews for Your Local Business
If you’re a digital business, local searches are still important. One study shows that consumers are 36% more likely to begin with local search engines, rather than general search sources like Google. Even if they’re looking for a digital marketing agency rather than a hardware store, if you don’t optimize for local search results, your business could lose potential customers.
Image Source: IDC
Here are some useful terms and techniques to ensure that you optimize your business for local searches:
First, understand that schema markup is one of the most powerful, least used parts of SEO today. Schema are basically brief snippets of data that can give extra information to search users and search engines. Best of all, schema markups don’t require extra coding, and can be inserted through Schema.org, a rare collaboration between Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
In the case of the example below, the schema gives extra information about showtimes at the following venue:
Image Source: Google
As you can see, schema is a game-changer: you can make your site more visible in Google and quickly add brief, useful data for the benefit of users.
Image Source: Moz
Ultimately, SEO is rapidly changing from one year to the next—even from one month to the next. Business owners and marketers have to adapt quickly, but it’s still possible to give your business website the edge on your competition.
Just remember to focus on solid content creation and copywriting fundamentals, engage your viewers deeply, and stay abreast of technical trends like backlinks, SEO health, site speed, and schema.
If all this seems overwhelming—take a deep breath. Taking the effort to understand even the basics of SEO will help your site gain higher click-through rates, engagement, and of course, rankings. In 2017, a little bit of reading and tinkering on your own can still go a very long way.
Feel free to reach out to us for a friendly chat to see how our team at Single Grain can help you with your SEO!
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
Visitors. Traffic. Sessions.
It’s all the same, isn’t it? As long as potential customers visit your site, it hardly matters how you refer to them, right?
But here’s the catch: no two web visitors are alike.
Your traffic consists of people with different needs and knowledge levels of your brand or products. Heck, some of them might not even realize they have a problem that your product solves. Yet.
Therefore, to get the biggest bang for your advertising dollar, you need to launch campaigns that target all key traffic types: cold, warm, and hot traffic.
Instead of aiming just to sell, you should build relationships with people that are relevant to their stage of the buying cycle:
Luckily, it’s not that hard to achieve.
And in this post, I’ll show you how to split your paid traffic between cold, warm, and hot visitors to achieve the greatest success.
But first …
You know, I think heading straight for the sale is the most common advertising mistake.
In my career in marketing so far, I have seen all kinds of businesses—from hotel chains to e-commerce stores and countless others in between—making this mistake.
They consider every visitor a potential sale, without any regard for the visitor’s current situation and need for information. Many of these companies don’t even optimize campaigns for any objective other than the sale.
But in reality, to build a solid strategy you need to target campaigns to different customers and their needs. You should use ads to slowly build relationships with them until they’re finally ready to buy. And to achieve this, you first need to learn about what types of audiences you need to target and how.
Learn More: The Turkish Rug Funnel (How A Rug Store Got Me To Shell Out A Few Thousand Dollars with ZERO Initial Interest)
In marketing, we recognize three web traffic types:
Each of them has its distinct characteristics and offers different opportunities for converting into customers.
Note: if you work in sales, you might find these three traffic types similar to lead types that salespeople recognize: cold, warm, and hot leads. That is no coincidence. Both traffic and leads share similar characteristics and offer similar opportunities for conversion.
So let’s go through them in turn.
Fact: not everyone clicking on your ads has heard of your brand before.
Many users click on your ads purely on the promise that you’ve made in the copy. Most likely they’ve searched for generic head or body keywords and are interested in learning more about the problem rather than available solutions.
Their decision to visit your site, therefore, wasn’t rooted in any prior knowledge or experience with your brand.
That’s cold traffic.
Cold traffic consists of people who have never heard of your business.
Think of them as casual browsers who are researching potential solutions or looking for information online. These people might have the problem your product or service aims to overcome, but since they know nothing about you, it’s highly unlikely that they would buy from you. As a result, they are the least likely to be susceptible to any sales message.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have no opportunities to convert them at a later date.
Marketing to these users gives you the ability to connect with them and start building a business relationship that might result in a sale at some point in the future.
You should target cold traffic to:
Since your goal is to establish a connection and introduce the brand, driving these visitors to a sales or landing page might only scare them away.
No worries, though, because there are plenty of other content types to which you could attract cold traffic, such as:
Fact: it’s darn hard to sell to cold traffic.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t “warm them up” (i.e. convert) to become customers later.
The most effective way to warm up cold traffic is to attract those visitors to a page offering a lead magnet or any other free resource they perceive as valuable enough to submit their personal details in return for it.
Learn More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)
Once you’ve got their e-mail address, send them relevant information, either as a drip campaign or traditional newsletter to offer value, build trust, and confirm your authority. This will allow you to nurture the person until they’re ready to become a client.
Warm traffic consists of people who already know about you, your brand, products or services.
They may have visited your site before. They’ve read your content. They’ve followed you on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform.
Perhaps they’ve even signed up for your mailing list, downloaded a lead magnet or engaged with you in some other way.
But so far, they have indicated no interest in buying from you.
In spite of the fact that they like your content, site or offer, so far they haven’t purchased whatever it is that you’ve offered them.
Your goal, therefore, is to run ads that will encourage warm traffic to make a purchase.
As your goal is to convert someone who already knows who you are, you need to drive them to pages or assets that deliver value but also remind them of their interest in your product or services.
For example, someone signing up for a product demo or a free trial immediately indicates their interest in your product. Similarly, when someone downloads a highly technical white paper that deals with an advanced aspect of a problem that your product targets, this signals their desire to overcome it.
So you should drive warm traffic to such content types as:
For example, Infusionsoft runs AdWords ads to promote product demo videos that users can watch in order to learn how to generate leads with the company’s product:
Veeam Software promotes a highly technical webinar:
Jason O’Neil offers a free class for anyone wishing to learn how to sell products on Amazon:
Finally, hot traffic is made up of people who have already bought something from you or trusted you with their business (and didn’t ask for their money back).
In other words, they know you, your products or services quite well. And there’s a good chance that they’ll buy more—they could purchase additional products, upgrade their service or send more projects your way.
And you can use PPC ads to follow up with them to see if they’re interested in doing more business with you.
Therefore, your goals for targeting hot traffic should be:
Remember, these people know you and most likely have bought from you already. Your goal, therefore, isn’t to convince them of your worth but rather remind them about your brand or products so they keep buying from you again.
Hot traffic is all about sales.
So when setting up PPC ads for this traffic, send them to:
When planning advertising campaigns to reactivate hot traffic, consider using retargeting to remind them of their previous interest in your brand.
For example, you could send retargeting traffic to pages that are relevant to the person’s prior interest in your products. If they viewed a specific product, send them to that page. If they added products to the cart, send them to the cart with their order, and so on.
Not all digital marketers understand the difference between cold, warm, and hot traffic and how to best target each group. If you’re unclear on this and sending traffic to the wrong landing page, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to build successful customer relationships!
So remember, your traffic consists of people with different needs and knowledge levels of your brand or products, and to really make use of your advertising dollar, you must warm up your potential customers for better conversions.
What tips have you learned when it comes to marketing to cold, warm, and hot traffic? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below!
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. Most Internet marketers focus on things like blogging, SEO, AdWords or Facebook ads to drive traffic to their site. But many of them completely forget about the second biggest search engine: YouTube. If you approach it the right way, you can reap the benefits of both video marketing and higher search engine rankings, which ultimately results in more awareness at the top of the funnel.
Video is quickly emerging as one of the top mediums of choice for marketers, and with good reason—it’s easily digestible. Consider these facts:
Learn More: The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing In this post, we’ll talk about how to optimize your YouTube videos to attract more prospects at the top of the funnel by improving your SEO rankings. There are two ways you can grow your YouTube SEO. The first is by improving your search rankings within YouTube itself, and the other is by getting your YouTube video to rank high in Google.
Before you can start ranking your videos, you need to figure out which search terms you want to rank for. When searching for YouTube SEO keywords, make sure that you choose a search term that already has YouTube video results on the first page of Google. Some keywords, such as “Content Strategy” for example, don’t have YouTube videos that show up in the SERPs. Google provides video results for the following search terms:
By making sure that you choose a search term that actually results in YouTube videos showing up in the SERPs, you can work your way towards getting your video ranked in Google search and not just YouTube search. KeywordTool.io is a tool you can use to quickly generate YouTube-specific keyword ideas. You can search for any of the types of keywords that result in YouTube videos being displayed on the front page of Google to see what people are looking for. If you don’t want to pay for a monthly subscription, you can copy and paste the keywords into Google’s Keyword Planner to check your search volume. Your target keyword should get at least 300 searches per month to ensure that it gets a decent amount of searches within YouTube in addition to Google.
Once you find the right keywords to rank for, the next step is actually creating your video. Because YouTube users come to this platform with the purpose of watching videos, production quality becomes a lot more important. You’ll need a few key elements when it comes to producing great YouTube videos:
Learn More: How to Craft a High Converting Explainer Video Storytelling Good storytelling is what’s missing from many online videos. Some businesses believe that their services or products are too “boring” for them to be able to tell interesting stories about them on video, but with a little creativity, you’ll always be able to create interesting content for a dry product or business. Check out this 1-minute video:
Remember when you were in school? You probably had a teacher who made even the most dull subject seem captivating. It just depends on how you tell the story. Editing Editing is one the the most frustrating, time-consuming parts of video production, but it’s also the most important because this is what really separates the quality videos from the terrible videos. The process of editing can (and should) happen before you even start filming. Once you’ve written your script, you should pare down all the superfluous content that isn’t directly related to the story you want to tell. And then after the video is shot, you’ll take an even more heartless approach (because that’s what it will feel like) to cutting everything out that isn’t necessary. Besides cutting footage out, this is also where you’ll really start to put the story together through pacing, points of view, etc. You can also hire a videographer to do most of the hard work for you. Ultimately, good production quality is about making your video interesting so that more users engage with it. You can’t get a bad video to rank in Google. Composition If you really want to showcase your awesome video creation skills, learn to storyboard your idea. Obviously, the more complex your idea, the more attention you will need to pay to composition (as opposed to just filming a guy standing there talking about his product—but of course, you wouldn’t make a boring video like that, would you?). Storyboarding is a way of visualizing your video before you shoot so as not to waste time and helps you communicate your story in the most compelling way you can. To storyboard like a pro, you need to understand composition, and to understand composition, you should be familiar with the rule of thirds: This “guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.” When you follow these guidelines, it helps to create “more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject.” Just ask Spielberg.
YouTube uses a few specific criteria to measure the quality of your video. This is the same criteria that’s used to rank your video. The main ones are:
You can track this data on your YouTube analytics page.
There are a few things to keep in mind when optimizing your YouTube video for the best possible SEO ranking.
Whenever you upload an image on your site, it’s usually good practice to include your focus keyword in the image tag. Similarly, when you upload your video on YouTube, you should use your keyword in the filename of the video.
According to Backlinko, the title of your video should be at least 5 words so that you can include your target keyword within a longer phrase. For example, this video called “Advanced SEO Strategy That Gets Results” targets the keywords “advanced SEO.”
Writing good descriptions are the most important part of increasing your YouTube SEO. Read More: How To Write Blog Posts that Actually Convert Readers into Customers When you write blog posts for your site, Google can crawl through the post to gauge the content quality. But search engines can’t watch videos. That means they lean heavily on the description text to get a feel for what the video’s topic is, what it covers, and how in-depth it is. And the more that YouTube knows about your video and the keywords it covers, the better it can rank you for those keywords. Your video descriptions should be at least 200 words. Here’s an example of a 291-word description of an SEO video by Backlinko: This helped the video rank to number one for keywords like “infographic seo strategy.” Also, notice how the description above includes the link to the site at the very top. Placing your link at the top of your description helps maximize the number of clicks back to your site, which helps you get more visitors as well as grow your website SEO.
Including the right tags can also help your video rise in the rankings, although tags for YouTube videos tend to be less important than other factors like the description. When it comes to your tags, you should include a few keywords on what your video is about. These tags can help your video get discovered in YouTube’s side bar in the “related videos” section.
Link building is still important when it comes to improving your Google rankings. Encouraging your YouTube video viewers to share your video with their friends shows Google that you’re producing something that people like. Check out this short video by marketing experts Neil Patel and Eric Siu, “Link Building for Better Google Ranking“:
YouTube also uses user experience signals to rank videos within the platform and weighs them heavily. So if people subscribe to your channel after viewing your video, then chances are that you produced some quality content. Having people “like” your videos is another metric that measures user experience, although that has less significance than number of “subscribes.”
A great way to get more search traffic in YouTube is to group your videos into playlists. By building a keyword-rich playlist, you give YouTube a deeper level of understanding of your video. Once you have at least 10 videos on your channel, you should group them into playlists. As an example, check out how “FitnessBlender” grouped their videos: Learn More: Greg Smith Reveals How Thinkific Uses YouTube to Organically Drive $3-4K a Month in Additional Revenue (podcast)
The tactics for getting your video to rank high in search are pretty similar to the tactics you’d use for a blog post. Link building, connecting with the right people, and asking them to share your content, are all important. You can write blog posts on sites like Medium or answer questions on Quora, linking back to your video where appropriate. If you link to your video in response to a Quora question related to what you cover in your video, for example, you’ll be presenting your video in front of an audience that is already searching for an answer. Because you’re sharing your video with a targeted audience, it will help you get a higher retention rate on your videos and a higher subscription rate, which will help grow your rankings. You can also guest post on high-traffic sites in your niche and link back to your YouTube video within that post where appropriate. Links from high-authority sites in your field will let Google know that your video has quality content.
The biggest thing that’s different about how YouTube ranks their content compared to Google lies in the fact that search engines today can’t crawl and analyze the quality of video content. Instead, they rely on video descriptions and user engagement factors to see how well people respond to it. As the Internet gets more and more saturated with content, our ability to process everything decreases. Because of that, we respond to content that’s easily digestible, and video content is easier to digest than a long-form blog post. In fact, according to Cisco, 80% of Internet traffic will come from video by 2019. So getting your videos to rank high in both YouTube and Google is the best way to adapt to these changes. What will you add to your YouTube strategy to increase the ranking of your content? Check out the next post in this YouTube SEO series: 7 SEO Tools for Better YouTube Marketing
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
Google is constantly progressing in the way it evaluates websites and where they rank. This is often related to how much authority the sites have, which is derived from a number of factors. Google does not reveal its algorithms, and even though it updates these often, it doesn’t always reveal what exactly the updates are or when they’re coming out.
A big part of the SEO industry involves figuring out what these updates are and revising best practices to take advantage of them in order to optimize a brand’s web presence and make sure they don’t incur penalties from Google. At worst, a site can be removed from the Google index and not show up in search results at all.
All this is tied to an understanding of the science behind Google (and other search engines). Google does not go out and search the web live when you type in search string, but rather searches its huge index of websites. The search engine sends out virtual “spiders” that crawl websites looking for keywords and other indicators of what the site is about.
This information helps Google rank how relevant the site is to a search string, or what a user types into the search bar and the resulting page is called a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The goal of most SEO departments and website owners is to be on the first page of the SERPs for common inquiries in their area of specialty.
When the Google algorithms were simpler, tricks like keyword stuffing and other “black hat” techniques worked to get a website high in the rankings. Then came its first major update, Penguin, which turned the SEO world upside down. Suddenly techniques that had worked for years were obsolete and websites dropped in ranking or were penalized out of the SERPS altogether.
Since then, each update, coupled with machine learning and artificial intelligence advances, has changed the way Google evaluates content. A copy of their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines was leaked and Google responded by releasing the whole document in November of 2015.
This part of the Phantom update, so named because at first Google would not admit it happened, shows us that besides evaluating user experience and penalizing sites for excessive pagination and annoying pop-up ads, Google is also looking at who wrote the web content. In other words, does the writer actually know what she’s writing about? Do she have real-life experience?
In order to determine the quality of any given web page, each page must follow the E.A.T. principle. This means that it must have a high level of three things: , Authority, and Trustworthiness.
(Image source: author, created using Pablo)
But what exactly constitutes an expert writer? With Google’s former AuthorRank essentially defunct, how do you signal to Google that you know what you are talking about?
According to Google’s Phantom update, these 5 points make you an expert content creator:
The first step to becoming an expert is to write in your area of expertise, both on your site and other sites that have high authority. But what makes you an expert? Well, Google actually explains (we’ll take the medical writing as an example):
“High quality medical advice should come from people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation…[and] should be written or produced in a professional style.”
And keep in mind that hobby sites, “such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.”
Read More: Forced Hiring: An Amazingly Effective Way To Find The Best Hires in 2016
An article that provides investing advice, for instance, should be written by an accredited financial advisor or experienced professional just as medical advice should be written by a doctor or another health care professional. Legal advice should likewise be written by someone with verifiable legal expertise.
Experts are critical for pages like these—called Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages—because they “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or financial stability of users.”
Examples of YMYL pages include:
On the other hand, movie, book, or restaurant reviews can be written by almost anyone, as long as the review is informative and well written.
If you want to be known as an expert by Google, you need to put your expertise out there on the web. The first place it should be posted is on your own site, and it should be linkable content, or the kind of content that other sites are likely to link to. Typically, longer-form evergreen content is better, although short pieces that point to that content work well also.
(Image source: screenshot of MOZ Statistics on Single Grain)
Determining another website’s authority is tricky, but quality reviews or testimonials, journalistic or other recognizable awards, and professionally-written and updated content are good indications. In addition, look for how many social shares a page or post has gotten, do a Google search to see if this author or site comes up and what is being said about them, and if your company has such tools as MOZ or SEMRush, you can evaluate domain authority, citation flow, and trust flow. While none of these are perfect metrics by themselves, combined they can help you evaluate both a site’s ranking and authority.
Your job is then to outreach, write guest content for those other sites, and hopefully get them to link back to your site and the other content that you’ve created.
As an expert, the content you create needs to be professional and as high-quality as it can be. What does Google consider to be excellent?
Obviously, there are some things you cannot control when you write for other websites or blogs. You can, however, evaluate other sites based on these above qualities and avoid those with poor content, editorial oversight, or a negative user experience.
Read More: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About 10X Content
In order for Google to find all your expert writing, you must curate your content somewhere, and preferably in a number of places. To start with, you need to have a website and/or blog (preferably with a “recent article” section) so that Google can find your work and validate your authority as an expert.
You should have a Facebook Page (not to be confused with a Personal Profile) where you can easily add your own content as well as share other people’s relevant content to add more value to your page.
There are also sites such as SlideShare (a slide-hosting service where you can publish and promote your presentations), Medium (a place to publish and distribute your own articles, as well as curate others’ articles), and Contently, which is an “industry leader in creating, distributing, and optimizing content,” that curates your content for you (creating a profile is free, and as long as you are careful using the automated scraping tool, it is a very effective way to assemble your writing portfolio).
If you’re a published author, you should have an Amazon or Goodreads page which lists your publications as well as reviews by readers.
One place where Google is sure to look for your content and proof of your expertise is on its own social media platform, Google+. Although there is some debate about how useful the platform is, depending on your business niche, it can be a handy platform on which to have a strong bio, get some Google presence, and use as a share point for articles and content that reveals your expertise.
Be sure that your Google+ and other social media sites also link to your curated content, either on your website or at another location. Making your work easily discoverable by a user also makes it easily discoverable by Google, which validates your claim to expertise.
LinkedIn has long been a place for business networking and job seeking or recruiting. Google claims that it does not look at social shares to evaluate pages or rankings, and for the most part we believe them (right?).
However, endorsements on LinkedIn in certain areas of expertise coupled with experience shown on a resume certainly make it easier for Google to evaluate your experience, authority, and trustworthiness.
Becoming an expert according to Google’s Phantom update will take time and planning, but if you’ve been building your area of expertise for a while, you have likely already laid the foundation for this. If you haven’t, start right now.
One thing is for sure: Google will continue to look at expert credentials, so establishing them is critical to the success of your web content.
What has been your experience with Phantom? Let us know (good or bad!) in the comments below!