SEM for Beginners: Understanding Search Ads

SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is often confused with its counterpart SEO, Search Engine Optimization. However, the two couldn’t be more different. Besides the fact that they both use keywords and search queries as their basis of marketing, they each require unique strategies in order for them to be a true success. Okay, so what is SEM?

SEM is classified by any marketing on the SERPs (search engine result pages), mostly ads. The most common outline looks a little something like this:

  1. An advertiser bids on keywords with the amount they are willing to pay for a user to click an ad
  2. The engine ranks advertisers based on their bid and relevance to the search
  3. The best matching ad appears alongside the user’s search results

However, there is more to SEM than just bidding a budget and writing ad copy. In this article, we’ll be discussing the basics of SEM and strategies you can use within your own campaigns including:

  • Ad Rank
  • Audience
  • Campaigns
  • Optimization

Ad Rank

Ad rank is exactly what it sounds like – the way Google, or any other search engine, ranks ads in order to classify their position on a SERP. Think of it just like you would with SEO. Google sees your ads, takes certain factors into account, and then places (or doesn’t) your ad on the proper page. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, as with anything that has to do with search engines, it’s not.

Major ranking factors include:

  • Bid amount
  • Expected CTR
  • Landing page user experience: what does the page you are sending them look like?
  • Ad relevancy
  • Ad format
  • Quality Score: the 1-10 rating that is reported for each keyword in your account calculated by estimating the quality of your ads and their associated landing pages.

Rule of thumb, if you want your ad to rank well, follow the ad guidelines. This differs depending on search engine. However, most are opposed to certain wording, graphics, links, and more. Be sure to read through these and understand what is acceptable when formulating your ads.

Knowing Your Audience

I’ve mentioned before just how important knowing, understanding, and relating to your audience is. But, no where is it more important than with SEM. Why? Because of the money. You are placing a bid and setting a budget in order to place these ads, shouldn’t you be sure that they are hitting the right people?

The good news is there are a variety of tools to help you dive into what your audience looks like and what you can do to cater to them. And, even better, you can use these tools in other aspects of your marketing strategy as well!

Google Surveys

  • Test consumer insights
  • Uncover customer mindsets
  • Probe for audience thoughts on existing or past campaigns

Google Trends

  • Answer key brand questions
  • Gauge consumer search behaviors
  • Confirm hypotheses about audience interests
  • Share audience interest over time

Google Shopping Insights

  • Understand consumer awareness and mindshare for a product, from national down to city-level insights; Insights is currently available for the US market only

Google Correlate

  • Find queries that follow a similar search pattern, thereby uncovering insights that might not otherwise be visible.

Setting Up Your First Campaign

Here, I wanted to provide a step-by-step overview of how you can set up a campaign and any key elements you should be aware of. As always, these should be dependent on your specific business. Everyone is different and it’s important to test and adjust to find what works best!

Also, it should be noted that the below instructions and tips are specific to Google and AdWords. These may differ slightly depending on the platform you are using.

Getting Started

  • Select campaign settings: go to “campaigns”, hit the campaign ad type, choose to add goals, enter your website URL, give it a name, go to additional settings to make adjustments to devices and other customizations, go with the default t start things off to see how it performs, choose your location, set languages, go onto bidding and budgeting and opt out of ECPC, choose a standard delivery method, optimize ad rotation, default ad scheduling until you get a clearer picture, leave dynamic search ads alone, wait to set up campaign url settings until you have good data to start tracking
  • Create ad groups
  • Create ads
  • Review ad group

Finding Your Keywords

  • Go to the Google Ads Keyword Planner
  • Search for words or phrases related to your products or services
  • Narrow down your list by conducting research on how often words are searched, etc.
  • Look over suggested bid estimates for each keyword, so you can determine your advertising budget
  • Save these to your plan so they are ready when you go to launch your campaign

Picking Keyword Match Types

  • Broad match shows your ads based on keywords and close variations like synonyms and misspellings.
  • Broad match modifier shows your ads based on the broad match, but excludes synonyms. (+)
  • Phrase match shows your ads based on exact phrases and close variations.(“”)
  • Exact match shows your ads based on exact keywords and close variations. ([])
  • Negative match shows your ads based on searches and site visits that exclude keywords. (-)

Parts of Your Text Ad

  • headline
  • URL
  • Path fields (optional): There are two optional “path” fields, which can hold up to 15 characters. Part of your display URL, they are placed after your website’s domain to give readers an idea of the content they’ll see upon clicking your ad.
  • Description
  • Highlight what makes you unique
  • Use a CTA
  • Include sale terms
  • Match your ad to your keywords
  • Match your ad to your landing page

Ad Extensions

  • These help with visibility, performance (10-15%) and offer more value
  • Extensions show with your ad when: 1. The extension (or combination of extensions) is predicted to improve your performance. 2. Your ad’s position and Ad Rank is high enough for extensions to show. To show extensions, Google Ads requires a minimum Ad Rank.
  • You can find an overview of the complete ad extensions you can choose from HERE

Optimization Strategies

Okay, so now you have the run down on how to set up your ads and what should all be included. But, how do you make them work their very best so you can get the most bang for you buck? Once again, it’s all about optimization. Even if this isn’t SEO, you still have to adjust your ads to fit not only the needs of your audience, but Google as well. After all, it still crawls, ranks, and indexes your ads – just on a different level.

So, here are some optimization tips and tools to get your ads seen:

  • Continue to edit and refine your ads, show your best ads most often, and organize your ads into better ad groups
  • Look at keywords, targeting and reach to reach more people who are interested in what you offer
  • Always be monitoring and adjusting bids and budget to get more impressions and clicks or improve your Ad Rank
  • Collect data for about 6 months before using the google assistant to ensure that the data it uses is accurate
  • Bid Simulators: you can simulate the impact of all kinds of modifications, things like changes to your Max. CPC bid and its impact on the costs or numbers of clicks, impressions, or conversion value.
  • Campaign drafts and experiments: test and measure the impact of changes to an existing Search campaign.
  • Ad customizers: allows you to customize your ads (with the insertion of a little piece of code), so that they adjust based on the type of search being performed, where it’s occurring, or even the date, time of day, or day of the week!
  • Pay attention to the Search Term Report and the Auction Insights Report, they can be key components to your ad success

SEM, just like SEO, takes time to perfect. Your first ad campaign may very well be a flop. It’s all about learning, testing, and adjusting to ensure that your ads are not only set up correctly in the eyes of the search engine, but also offer something of value to the customers you are targeting.

Need help with your SEM strategy? I may have some experience in that field (if you couldn’t tell). Fill out my contact form for a meeting and free consultation!

5 Ways to Improve Your Website Copy

Content is important in every aspect – social, email, you get the point. But, no where is it most important than where it should all be housed. Your website. And, I’m not talking about blogs and resources (although those are obviously important as well). Beyond that, it’s time to shed some light on the most important thing on your website, and that’s the actual page copy.


This is literally the bread and butter of your site and what ultimately draws people in. Without great copy, your conversions and business suffer. So, making sure to master this element is crucial.


We’ll be looking at:
⦁ Skimmability (if that’s even a word)
⦁ Focusing on the user
⦁ Communication
⦁ Generating a conversation
⦁ Test, test, test

Get To The Point
Anyone else have a mother who never listened? No, just me? Well, I’ve heard “get to the point!” multiple times, and when it comes to writing copy it’s no different. No one wants to read an essay when trying to learn about your products or services. They want the important stuff, a few key details, and that’s that. Get on with it already!

Tip: To make this process a bit easier, focus on outlining each page. What topics will be covered and what is vital information? Then, shoot for a few paragraphs (spaced out across the page) and keep it short.

Focus on The User, Not You
It’s not you, it’s me. Except, ya know, the opposite. Rule of thumb when it comes to writing site copy – say “you” (as in, referring to the visitor) more than you say “I” or “We”, etc. Sorry to say, but no one really wants to know about you, they want to know how you can help them. Focus on recognizing and solving their issues instead of discussing your history or story. That’s what other networks, such as social media, is for.

Tip: View your visitor as a hero within a story. They are so awesome and now have a huge problem to solve. How will your tech or service help them get back to normal?

Make it easy to understand
Listen, not everyone is as technically savvy as you, and all that industry jargon is going to get your no where. Instead of trying to impress people with acronyms and big words, just give it to them straight. Make what you do and how you do it easy to understand and comprehend in the minds of the average person. It’s the easiest way to get people on board to picking you as their solution.

Tip: Give steps, examples, and more to help other’s see how your product or service can be used by/for them. Make a connection in the sense of spreading easily absorbed knowledge.

Be Conversational
No one likes to be talked at. They want to be talked to, as if they were having a conversation with you face to face. The same can be said when it comes to your website copy. There’s no reason to be overly professional. This can give off a snuddiness or cocky attitude when it comes to your product or service. Be friendly and conversational. Act like your visitor is just another one of the guys (or girls, or somewhere in between)!

Tip: Having trouble really knowing how you can amp up the conversational tone in your writing? Write like you talk. Use “And”, “But”, or “Or” at the start of a sentence (I do). When it comes to great site copy, some grammar rules don’t apply. Blog content, though, is another story depending on your audience.

Never Stop Evolving
I may not have mentioned it much in past articles (don’t worry, it’s coming), but one thing that any marketing strategy needs is testing. Ads? Test. Social post? Test. Images? Test. What about site copy? Yes, test! Change up wording in certain areas and see how your page performs. This is a great opportunity to really dive into brand, tone, personas, and more. You may learn more about not only your business, but your audience as well.

Tip: Testing is when it’s time to become one with your analytics. Any pages not performing well? Try changing up the copy. Or, have a scrool depth goal that is suffering? See if you can add in a CTA or fun copy to keep people interested. Like anything in marketing, understanding what is working and what isn’t only better sets you up for success in the long run.

Website copy, strategy, analytics? Yikes! I know it can be overwhelming. But, that’s why you have me! Or, more accurately, that’s why I’m here to help if needed. Fill out my contact form to get started on your consultation.

What it Takes to Create A Content Funnel

I’ve talked about how to expand on your content and how to create the best content quite a few times. However, one key aspect that hasn’t been covered yet is probably the most important – creating the strategy.

Before any content is created, it’s important to understand the different personas of customers/clients you have and what each level of the funnel looks like for them. Then, you can decide what type of content (including title and even an inspire link) should be present at each of these stages.

In this article we’ll be discussing:

  • Each element of the content funnel and the strategies to incorporate
  • Different types of content to utilize
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Awareness and Attract

First thing’s first, in order to eventually get the lead, you need to make sure that your target audience is aware of you. In order to do this, you have to create content that will attract and engage with them as a way to get them interested in your product or service.

This type of content is referred to as TOFU (Top of the Funnel). Here are some types of content this might include:

  • Quizzes
  • Calculators
  • Infographics
  • Stats
  • Question-based blog articles
  • Videos

Tip: This is where you get to have fun! Showcase your brand, mission, and products/services in an engaging way that will get attention.

Evaluation and Research

Next comes the evaluation aspect. This is when a qualified lead (someone who meets your sales criteria) has discovered your brand and decides that they want to know more. They may also be researching other companies during this time so it’s important to ensure that the content you create stands out in this area.

Content that caters to those still researching and wanting to know about your brand is called MOFU, or Middle of the Funnel. This consists of:

  • Printables
  • Whitepapers
  • Checklists
  • Worksheets
  • Assessments
  • e-Book
  • Guides
  • Templates

Tip: This is where it is really time to show your stuff! Be as informative and authoritative as possible.

Convert

Now that you got them interested, it’s time to finally convert those leads into actually clients or customers. During this stage, it’s important to really push for that final step. Think of it this way, they love your product and what you have to offer so now it’s time to show it in use so they can really understand how all the moving parts work.

During this final stage, focus on what is called BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel) content. This consists of:

  • Buyer’s Guides
  • Case Studies
  • Testimonials

Tip: Note that this section may not be applicable to your product. Most B2C companies are able to only do TOFU content or unique variations of MOFU. Sometimes, simple awareness is all you need to make the sale!

Nurture

Lastly, I wanted to hit on nurturing. It’s true that, for the most part, this may only be applicable to B2B companies. However, it is such an important aspect that it garners some attention.

During the nurturing stage is when you start to implement what is known as the “flywheel” (no, not the company). This is when you treat customers as if they are new prospects. This would be starting them at the very top and labeling them as an “opportunity”. Why? Because, now that they are customers, you can focus your efforts on engaging, showing your work ethic, and hopefully upgrading them to more services.

Obviously, you won’t be able to do this with everyone, and it may not be something that your business needs. However, if you happen to be in the B2B scene, you may need to think about nurturing your leads.

Tip: Setting up newsletters and specific email work flows based off services and needs of your customers is a great way to start nurturing. Learn more in my article about email marketing automation!

Need help understanding how to best utilize your content? Heck, need someone to write content for you? Fill out my contact form today for a marketing consultation!

Social Media: 5 Strategies to Get Your Brand Seen

As a small business, social media is a huge asset. It’s free (unless you do ads) and has the ability to get your business seen by thousands every day – if used correctly. However, what if you’re lacking engagement? What happens when your social posts just aren’t driving any traffic?

Below I’ll be highlighting some key areas that your business should focus on when it comes to social media. Long story short, just putting content out into the world without an actual plan won’t get your anywhere.

We’ll be covering:

  • Visuals
  • CTAs
  • Scheduling
  • Engagement
  • Audience
10x content banner

Focus on Imagery

I’ve said this before, the visuals you choose can make or break or content. Likewise, they can be the deciding factor in whether or not people stop and pay attention to your social media posts. Think of something that is eye catching and fun to look at. What will draw in the attention of the reader? Now, this doesn’t mean you need to go overboard. Stick with your branding and ensure that the images you choose aren’t over-the-top or inconsistent with the rest of your posts.

Be sure to also remember that each social platform has their own parameters. Are you following these guidelines?

Facebook

  • Profile Image: 180×180
  • Cover Photo: 820×312
  • Shared Images: 1200×630
  • Event Image: 1920×1080

Twitter

  • Header Photo: 1500×500
  • Profile Image: 400×400
  • In-line Photos: 440×220

LinkedIn (for companies)

  • Background Image: 1536×768
  • Standard Logo: 300×300
  • Hero Image: 1128×376
  • In-line Images: 646×220

Remember CTAs

You want people to see and interact with your social media posts? Make sure you make them actionable. It will always be true that people love to actually DO things. So, let them!

Create CTAs (call to action) that grab their attention and make them want to do what you say. This can be in button, link, or even video format. Either way, Ensuring that your social posts with actually result in something (download, poll response, chatting) is a sure-fire way to get the post visible and people involved. Two birds with one stone you might say!

Create A Schedule

If you’ve read my past posts you know one thing – I love processes. Color coding, calendars, timelines, strategy layouts… you name it, if it helps keep me organized, I love it. Not surprisingly, the same goes for social media.

Understanding what will be posted, including the when and why, is beneficial in making sure that you engage with your audience when they are most visible. This differs from company to company, and awesome tools like Sprout Social are great additions to understanding when the best time for you to interact with your audience is. Schedule posts around this time to ensure that your posts are seen!

Tip: Stray away from articles that talk about the best posting times. Those are very generic. And, anyways, why would you want to follow that schedule knowing that others are posting at the time as well? Instead, follow the schedule of your specific audience. When do they visit your site the most? When have you personally noticed the most engagement? This may take some research, but it’s worth knowing when you can grab the most visibility.

Be Involved

I saw a quote in an article recently (can not for the life of me remember what it was) that really hit the nail on the head.

“Engagement is a two-way street”

I mean, of course it is! I know that. You know that. But, have you really stopped to ensure this was being practiced? Hearing this definitely helped me take a second look at my own social practices. And, it helped me realize that there are some out there who DON’T know this.

But, now that you’re reading this article, you know now! So the next thing you can do is take a look at your own profiles. Are you responding to reviews? What about retweets? Even a simple “like” back can help that person know that you care and ensure that engagement increases. Meaning, more visibility for your posts.

Understand Your Audience

If you follow me on Twitter (and, you really should), you know that I talk about knowing your audience all. the. time. Because, guess what? It’s really freakin’ important!

I’ve hinted at it a few times throughout this article, but I really want to hone in on why it is so important. Knowing your audience gives you incredible insight. It takes out the guess work of what to post, when to post, why to post, how to interact, because if you’ve done your market research you’ll know the answers to all of these questions.

Depending on industry, location, and more, your audience can change drastically. In fact, even if you are in the same business, your “competitors” may not share your same audience (this would also mean they are not actual competitors, but that’s for another article).

Truly, I saved this one for last because it is the most important. However, focusing on just one aspect of many that can result in social media success won’t get you anywhere. A part from knowing your audience you have to know what to do with that information. This is where picking the right visuals, posting at the right times, etc. really comes into play. Everything has to work together. You know, the whole “team work makes the dream work” thing.

Looking for some insight on your own social media marketing? Contact me today to get a consultation and personalized strategy!

Why I Was Wrong About Voice Search

Let me give you some back story. I grew up with a single mom who worked 60+ hour weeks to get by. PB&Js were our survival meal and there were winters filled with cold showers. This isn’t to let you know about my past, but rather help you understand my point of view when it comes to voice search.

I thought (and still do, If I’m honest) that it was drastically overrated.

I know that most households are middle class and under. In fact, the median household income as of 2015 was $56,516. I’ve lived this life and the thought that a majority of the population would openly buy home assistants (Google Home, Alexa) was baffling to me.

I thought, “There’s no way this is going to explode. These devices don’t cater to the majority of the population!”.

I was wrong.

According to NPR research, 1 in 6 Americans own a voice activated assistant. That doesn’t, currently, seem like a lot. But, that number is only going to continue to increase. Additionally, these individuals who do own these devices are making A LOT of voice commands. As of January 2018 there have been an estimated 1 Billion voice searches per month.

Here are some more eye-opening stats about voice search:

The whole point of this post was to accomplish two things: admit that I was wrong about something that will actually greatly influence the SEO and Marketing industry, and to showcase amazing stats to provide examples of that influence. Truth is, voice search is changing the game and is only going to continue to impact how users search and interact with the internet.

Are you prepared?

What to Look for in A CRM

How you organize you customer information can easily be one of the biggest keys to your business’ success. A recent survey revealed that companies that use a CRM (customer relationship management) have an average of $8.71 per dollar spent ROI. To do this effectively, you need a CRM system that meets your needs. But, what does that all entail?

Below, we’ll discuss what every great CRM should have to help you take advantage of the information while also being able to sale/market to the right customers in the right way. Because believe me, it matters. We’ll cover:

  • communication throughout your team and with the system itself
  • easy start up and accessibility
  • sales capabilities are HUGE (queue Donald Trump voice)
  • integration makes the sensation

Communication

In every relationship communication is the key to success, and cross-department communication is no different. When looking for a CRM, be sure that if doesn’t only allow for certain access and that it has capabilities that all parties can take advantage of. Your sales team isn’t the only department that can benefit from this information. Likewise, your marketing team shouldn’t be keeping your sales team in the dark either if they tend to use the CRM more.

At the end of the day, make sure everyone who needs it, knows it.

Accessibility

Remote workers, business trips, and more means your CRM data needs to be accessible via mobile and other devices. You never know when you might need to look up information to make that final sale or present vital information to a stakeholder.

At the same time, the ability to do this must also be easy. Take into account the idea that not everyone is tech savvy, and that your team needs to learn this quickly so they can actually start inputting data. In fact, 55% of sales reps look at ease and accessibility as being one of the most important featuring a CRM can have.

Sales

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – your marketing and sales teams need to be working together!

No, this doesn’t mean every once in awhile. This means all the time. These two department needs to understand qualifiers, lead categories and more to make the process work. In order to support this, your CRM needs to have sales process capabilities as well.

Being able to label contacts and understand where they are within the buyer journey helps your sales team know who/how to reach out while also allowing your marketing team the scope on where leads are struggling, what information they need to gather, and so much more. Ensuring that your CRM helps these two understand each other is vital.

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Integrations

This should be a no brainer. What good is a CRM if you can’t integrate key information into other platforms? Hint: It’s not good at all.

Sure you have great data on what customers like, where they were on your site, who they’ve been in contact with. But, now you need to be able to do something with that information. Make sure that your current marketing automation systems and even reporting systems are all connected.

Some other integration aspects you should consider include:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Social Media

The key to making any CRM work well is knowing what you need. Don’t just jump into it. Take a step back, meet with team leaders, and thinking about what is missing from your current systems. How can a CRM help you? Then, create a list of necessities and goals before finally researching which one works best for your team and business.

How to Fill Your Funnel with Quality Leads

You may hear competitors or other businesses in your area rant and rave about how much traffic they get. Well, let me tell you a not-so industry secret: traffic means nothing if they aren’t doing anything.

Think about it, you can get hundreds or even thousands of site visitors a day, but what good does it do if none of them engage or convert on at all? Exactly. It doesn’t matter.

So many of my clients have this disconnect where they are so focused on the traffic numbers they don’t see the whole picture. Then, a few months down the road, they wonder why sales are down.

As a small business, you can’t afford to have this happen to you. Instead, see how you can ensure that you get quality traffic right off the bat that transfers to great leads.

We’ll be discussing:

  • Understanding Your Traffic
  • Creating BETTER Content
  • Advertising (Did someone say brand?)
  • Lead Nurturing

Understand Your Current Traffic

First, understand where your traffic comes from and how they are engaging with your site. I’ve discussed this within a previous article, but it’s something that I always feel is worth mentioning. Knowing what channels you are hitting (or missing out on) and knowing the visitor journey along with demographics, helps you better grasp if you are hitting your target market or not.

Here are some key questions and metrics you should be looking for:

  • What channels are thriving?
  • What channels are struggling?
  • What is my target demographic? – am I hitting that audience?
  • What are people doing once they get to my site?
  • Where are people going once they land on my site?
  • What pages are struggling, which are thriving?
lead generation

Create Content

Creating content isn’t just about throwing out ideas and concepts to your audience. Just like the leads you are trying to gather, content is all quality over quantity. Don’t just make content – make content BETTER.

Here are some tips to take your content up a notch:

  • Make it actionable
  • Include research and stats where applicable
  • Expand on current blog content (what can you repurpose?)
  • Optimize around SEO and search query topics
  • Focus on what your audience is most interested in (what questions do you get a lot? What topics do they discuss the most?)
Pillar Pages for Content Strategy

Advertise

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it 1,000 times – Get. You. Brand. Out. There.

Having a website isn’t enough to drive traffic or gain quality leads. In addition, you have to target and go after your audience of choice. Even with a small budget, you can boost social posts to reach a wider demographic and get your business out there. Not only does this help increase your reputation, but it also ensures that the attention you do gather is from those individuals who may be interested in converting (or buying) in the future.

See how you can take advantage of ads:

  • Target your audience, but don’t make it too specific (you want to reach a large variety of people at first, you can funnel them down later)
  • Spend small and test to see what works best
  • Give your audience what they want (you know them best, so what are they interested in? Entertainment, information, or help?)
  • Remarket to those who may already know who you are

Nurture

Okay, this whole article we’ve talked about traffic. Getting better quality and really focusing on your target demographics. But here, the nurture stage, is where it all turns into actual leads.

Once you have interested traffic coming to your site it’s only a matter of gathering information (via a form of some sort) and then using nurturing methods to get them to that final stage.

Think of it this way: your customers are on a journey to a sale with you. They visit your site, become interested, check out what you have to offer, and then (hopefully) convert. However, it doesn’t always go so smooth.

Sometimes, someone checks out your services (maybe for research purposes) and then never comes back. Or, they write down your phone number (they will for sure call tomorrow morning!) but, it never goes past that point. To get them to those final stages to actually become a conversion or sale you need to lead them there.

See what methods you can use to lead your leads (haha, get it?):

  • Email automation
  • Calls
  • Direct mailers
  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Remarketing ads

Content Marketing: Creating Engagement

Continuing on with tips of content marketing, it’s time I covered how to actually get your audience to engage with your content. And, let’s start things out honestly – engagement isn’t easy. However, these tips are sure to help your content stand out from the crowd and get people interested.

We’ll be discussing:

  • Imagery. Making the content easy to digest.
  • Information. Stats, stats, stats…EVERYBODY!
  • Connections. Becoming one with your target market.

Imagery

You may already know that visual based content performs well, but did you know that 51% of B2B marketers prioritize creating visual assets as part of their content marketing strategy? And, that number is 11% higher (resulting in 62%) for B2C marketers. That means marketers across industries are taking advantage, and you can too!

Here’s what you can do to make great imagery to go along with your awesome content:

  • Brand it. As a company, you have a certain voice and brand that you want to show the world. Today, that brand awareness is huge! It’s how your audience connects and recognizes your work. Think of the McDonald’s or Starbucks of the world. You know exactly who they are just by the design, slogan, and even colors they associate with their brand. That’s what you have to keep it mind. Make your images follow branding guidelines!
  • Video. The time for moving pictures has never been more relevant! With live streams and vlogging taking over, your company needs to jump on the wagon. This doesn’t mean you need to make a daily Instagram Story, but it does mean that putting out a video about your products, stats, or even customer testimonials could be huge in generating traffic and conversions. It gets people interested while also providing useful information that is key to engagement.
man looking at his phone

Information

No matter what industry you’re in, people on the internet only want one thing – information. In today’s society, we are constantly reaching to learn more and asking questions that no one has thought to ask. As a business, it is your responsibility to ensure that the content you put out there caters to this need.

You can:

  • Provide details about your product
  • Give a demo on a software
  • Give styling tips
  • Provide industry stats
  • Create a tutorial

Anything that offers up an answer to a question you feel your audience might be asking is fair game. In fact, if you’re struggling to understand exactly what your audience is interested in, using tools like AskThePublic can be great to find long-form question based keywords to base your content on.

typing on a computer

Connections

If there’s one thing you take away from this article I hope it is this – create a connection with your audience. New generations (mostly likely your audience) are focused on how companies treat the rest of the world. More than that though, they want the relationship you have with them to be more personal. To get engagement, you have to create engagement. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Ask for feedback
  • Create polls
  • Showcase your employees and company as a whole
  • Get involved in the community
  • Get involved in the industry through trade-shows or conferences
  • Host contests

Creating the content isn’t the hard part, it’s getting your audience to engage and recognize the information you’re putting out there. This isn’t easy and it takes time. You have to learn your audience, understand what they want, find out how it makes sense to cater to those needs, and then connect and show them that you are fulfilling what they want.

By putting these basic practices to work, I’m sure your business will be on the way to generating an engaging audience in no time.

The Basics of On-Page SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization covers a lot. And, let’s face it, for those who are new to this world and new to business in general, it can be difficult to take in. One of the biggest obstacles in understanding SEO is the fact that, like most processes and technology these days, things are constantly changing. And, that’s not just a saying.

In some cases, Google has updated its algorithm roughly 500-600 times a year. That comes out to about twice a day. However, it’s also important to note that these changes are usually small and insignificant. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some that can hit your site.

Just this year, 2019, Google has changed the order in which they crawl with canonical pages, updated site speed test, and adjusted reporting. Not to mention, SEMRush noted the possibility of a big Valentine’s Day algorithm shift. Again, some of these matters, and some of them don’t. However, no matter what, it’s important to monitor and understand these changes so you can be aware of how your site may be affected.

So, if all of these changes are happening, what can you do? Well, that’s where knowing and implementing the basics is going to come in handy. For example, despite all the little technical changes, SEO is always going to be about grasping searcher intent and ensuring that, when crawled, the content you provide is up to date, trustworthy, and authoritative.

Here are some key SEO basics to help you along the way:

Tweet This: Worrying about algorithm updates is a waste of time. Here are the real #SEO basics you should be focusing on!

Searcher Intent

In service industries, the customer is always right. In SEO, the searcher is. Google can adjust how it crawls or how it categorizes content all it wants. But, at the end of the day, what searchers are looking for, clicking on, and absorbing is what really matters. You need to write for them.

When you first think about optimizing your site, think about your product/service from an outside perspective. What would someone search in Google to find this? What type of content would they want to see? The key is to put yourself in their shoes and adjust your way of thinking. It’s not about making your page flashy and attention-grabbing. It’s about making quality content that resonates with an audience, finding keywords that reflect that content well and displaying it in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

Bot Intent

It’s already been stated that searchers should really be your focus, but that doesn’t mean that you can just ignore the bots. After all, they are the ones who crawl and index your site so that people can find it in the first place. In order to help your site, you first have to understand how Google, and other bots, crawls and ranks sites.

Unfortunately, most of these bots are pretty secretive and they don’t share actual “ranking factors”. A good rule of thumb – focus on the searcher. Create good content, build trust, build authority and reputation, and provide a great user experience.

Despite this unknown, there is something you can learn about how Google crawls and indexes sites. Think of your site as a web. There is one starting point – the home page. Then, Google follows links page to page and crawls in a certain hierarchy. This is one reason why organization and site navigation is so important. Not only are you helping visitors understand where to find information on your site, but you are also helping the bots relate pages and topics together to gather a better understanding of your site and how it should be indexed.

the site hierarchy

Now, Google doesn’t always crawl a site in order. In fact, it mostly grabs chucks and pieces at different times. However, that makes creating the right layout more of a must so that the Google bot can understand how this piece relates to the rest of your site. Is it an H1 or an image and are these things in the right place or do they contain the right information?

Page Optimization

I’ve hinted at this throughout the article, but actually understand what it takes to make a page optimized (outside of the code of course) is crucial in understanding the basics of SEO. Every page on your site needs these key aspects:

  • Focus Keywords. These are keywords that really describe the topic at hand. What is this page about and what will someone search in order to find this? There are plenty of free keyword tools out there to help you find the right ones. Ubersuggest is one of my favorites.
  • Related keywords. These, like focus keywords, explain what the page content about but may be secondary to what the main topic is. For example, if you have a page all about Neuroscience you may also include related keywords within the site copy such as brain surgery, neurotransmitters, or any of the many chemicals within the brain and so on.
  • Title Tag. If you have ever searched for anything on Google you’ve seen title tags. They are the big, blue highlighted section on any search results page and they tell you the name of the page itself and maybe a little about what the page has to offer. These are usually around 60-70 characters. I like to use Moz’s Title Tag Tool in order to be sure that all titles meet the max.
  • Meta Description. A meta description is what you see right under the title within the search result. These are around 160-170 characters, although Google has been known to show up to 200+. These descriptions should focus on what the page has to offer, the topic at hand, and conclude with a CTA (call to action) to get people interested in clicking your result.
  • H1 Headings. An H1 (or, Heading 1) is the very first piece of content that appears on your page after the navigation bar and maybe an image. This is the “About” on an about page, or a blog title at the top of an article. This should usually include your focus keyword.

If you’re new on the scene, this may seem like a lot for a “basic” on-page SEO article. But, the hard truth is, SEO is a lot and this only scratches the surface. The good news? Focusing on these key areas and really honing your skills in understanding what makes a good title or how to find the best keywords and providing excellent user experience, are all great starts and necessary for being an SEO success.

How to Use Zapier to Get Sh*t Done

Where would we be now without the wonderful inventions of technology and automation? For sure, our work and lives might be a little harder. Sure, there are some things that just need a human touch – customer service, data analysis to name a few. But, for those little tedious tasks that exist in everyday life, automation is Godsent… if you use it right.

When it comes to marketing automation specifically, how you use the tools at hand can help or hinder you. Surprisingly, many are using automation wrong. It’s not meant to add to the confusion or increase the number of steps it takes to get everything done. In fact, if your automation practices haven’t almost completely cut you and your team out of the equation, something isn’t right.

So, what is the right way to use automation? Within this article, I’m diving into one of my favorite marketing tools, Zapier, and showing you what zaps you can create to make your life just a little easier.

Social Media

You just wrote an amazing article and now you need to send it out. You could post individually to your different social networks, or you could set up an RSS feed zap through Zapier.

These types of zaps make it easier to share stories with your audience without the hassle of writing everything out, post by post. Instead, by going through a one-time setup, Zapier will automatically set up social sharing zaps that include a fun, generic message about the article.

Need even more social sharing capabilities? Use Zapier to share across platforms. Create a zap that triggers as soon as you post on one platform and shares it with the rest. This helps to keep your audience up to date and involved with the minimal effort.

Bonus: Learn more about Zapier RSS Integrations!

Automated Reporting

This is probably a personal favorite – using Zapier to make reporting super easy. As a marketer and SEO, I do a lot of data analysis and create reports for numerous clients. So, the easier I can make this process, the better. Of course, there are always things that need careful attention. However, automating the data collection process is a great time saver.

If you do reports you most likely use (or, have at least heard of) Google Data Studio. And, if you’re in SEO you may have used Deep Crawl to check site health. Well, this Zap brings both of these tools together to create data sharing. Here’s the process:

  • Run a site crawl through Deep Crawl
  • Create a Google Sheet with all the metrics you want (you most likely will also be able to export this information from Deep Crawl into a Google Sheet)
  • Create a zap that triggers whenever a crawl is run and automatically creates the Google Sheet you have set up
  • Go into Google Data Studio and add this special sheet as a new data source

Pretty simple right? And, it doesn’t stop there. Zaperier is capable of data sharing across a variety of platforms including most Google Suite tools, CRM, and more.

Bonus: Check out more Google Sheet Integrations to help with reporting!

Email Marketing

Need to set personalized email when someone completes a form, or need your email contacts to be submitted into your CRM? Zapier has you covered! By searching their various apps for Gmail, Outlook, or even Yahoo, you can see hundreds of possibilities to keep your contacts engaged, updated, and nurtured. Here are just a few options that they offer:

  • Trello
  • Dropbox
  • Asana
  • Gravity Form
  • HubSpot
  • Cloud

Bonus: See what integrations you can create with Gmail Zaps!

Some might laugh at the idea of new technology and automation. And, truth be told, not all of it is good. However, when it comes to creating better, more efficient processes so that you and your team can focus on what is really important everyone wins. Used correctly marketing automation can help open so many doors! What integration will you create?