Custom LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Increase CVR by +31%

Seasonality Got You Down?

To find a solution, you need to first identify the problem.

In this case, a client at Seer was entering their off-peak season, which began impacting conversion rates in their LinkedIn campaigns. While this can certainly be an expected trend in seasonality, it can also be a great time to test new strategies or hypotheses, rather than just sit back and watch your goals slowly but surely decline in your off-peak season. Therefore, we knew that now was the time to get a little creative.

Hello Problem. Meet Solution.

Initially, we were testing LinkedIn Sponsored Content versus Lead Generation Forms and found that Forms performed significantly better in terms of driving qualified leads for this particular client.

These two content types look similar in the engine, however, a Lead Gen Forms include a Call-to-Action Button which, when clicked, auto-populates your information based on your LinkedIn profile. Once the Lead Gen Form is submitted, you can directly receive a link or email to the content or offer, without ever having to leave LinkedIn.

But as conversion rates began to slow down, we wanted to take it one step further. 

While our campaigns had unique ad copy and landing pages tailored by audience, we were only using one generic Lead Gen Form for all of our active campaigns:

Sure, the messaging on the generic Lead Gen Form could work for any of our active ads, but we couldn’t help but pose the question: 

What would happen if we created unique Lead Gen Forms for all of our ads?

So we did exactly that. And let’s see what happened.

Using unique Lead Gen Forms on LinkedIn resulted in a +31% improvement in overall conversion rate, despite lowering budgets.

Here’s some additional background information to help paint the whole picture:

  • Timeframe: 12-week test, with a 6 week period before and after Lead Gen Forms were implemented.
  • Hypothesis: Unique Lead gen Forms that ladder up to the ad copy and landing pages of unique audiences will create a more frictionless user path to their conversion
  • KPI Measurement: Conversion Rate increases during this client’s off-peak season.

Problem

Conversion rates began to decrease on LinkedIn as peak season ended.

Solution

Along with a creative refresh, Seer recommended testing unique lead forms on LinkedIn for each specific Whitepaper download to create a tailored user experience. 

We hypothesized that if that content on the Lead Gen Form mirrored the content on the ad rather than use the same generic Lead Gen Form for each ad, that would create a better experience for the user, and CVR would increase.

Test Results:

  • +5.6% stronger CVR of whitepaper-specific forms vs. original generic forms.
  • +31.4% higher CVR Period Over Period, despite a decrease in budget.

Now it’s Your Turn

If you’re advertising on LinkedIn with the goal of driving higher qualified leads, start testing Lead Gen Forms. And if you’re already using Lead Gen Forms, try testing customized ad copy on your form that’s tailored to the copy on your LinkedIn ad.

New to LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and want to start testing? Check out our blog on getting started with LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms. Or are you brand new to LinkedIn advertising? Reach out – we’re here to help!


4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Got a Remote Job in SEO

Ever since I started college, I knew I wanted to work remotely. I hated the idea of having to work in an office; it felt restricting and, well, boring.

This became especially clear when I started my first job: a cubicle farm position at a failing software company. I was supposed to be a marketing coordinator, but there was never any work to do. I savored the two hours I was alone in the mornings. Sure, I never had to work hard, but being chained to a desk and surrounded by people was hell for an introvert.

Just a year later, I (along with my entire team) were laid off due to a merger. I swore I was never going back to an office job again.

By some stroke of luck, the kind folks at LSG took me in. I knew virtually nothing about SEO, but I had taken a college course on it once and I was pretty good at focusing when I was by myself. And God, I was willing to do anything to work remotely!

This year will mark two years working at Local SEO Guide. Although it’s not what I had originally intended to do, I can’t tell you how happy I feel that this is the way things turned out. My remote job in SEO is freeing and fulfilling. I don’t feel trapped anymore, and it lets me be part of a team without having to drive to work or sacrifice my introverted nature. The job definitely came with its share of surprises, and I wanted to share some things I wish I had known at the beginning.

Leave Your Degree at the Door

All of my coworkers come from vastly different backgrounds. We have an ex-political scientist, a phone sales guy, a bridal shop co-owner, a bicycle mechanic, a landscaper, and a retail employee in our ranks. Very few of my coworkers had a background in SEO before joining us, and even fewer of us originally aspired to become SEOs. But here we are, working with Fortune 500’s and helping huge companies get even huger. Our pasts don’t matter; only the results that we’re able to bring.

Even if you think you know SEO, every company does it differently. What one company says is right is going to be completely backwards to another. In a sense, this makes learning SEO easier for someone who originally knows nothing; they aren’t going to be stuck in their old ways.

Obviously, going to college for SOMETHING helps, but it’s not always necessary. Your attitude and ability to stick to your word is far more important. As a result, SEO can be a great job for people going through a major career change.

Of course, this is completely dependent on the company. There are, I’m sure, plenty of companies that require all of their employees to come from marketing backgrounds!

SEO Isn’t Cool (And That’s Okay)

No one is going to know what SEO is when you tell them what you do. Your friends are not going to think it’s cool. 

For the sake of not making us all look stupid, please don’t call yourself a ninja, or a guru, or whatever other stupid title you think is going to make your job sound more interesting than it is. You are not in a band. You are not the owner of a store that sells tiny hats for dogs. You are a person that helps people’s websites “go up on Google”. And that is nothing to be ashamed of! 

I feel like American culture bases our identities too much on what we do to make a living. When you meet someone at a party, one of the first things they’re going to ask to get to know you is, “What do you do?”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people to think of me as “an SEO”. I want them to think of me as someone fun to be around, that enjoys learning 3D modeling and watching true crime documentaries.

Of course I could’ve pursued a cool job in 3D modeling if I’d worked for it, but honestly? I don’t want to. If you work doing what you love, what you love becomes work. And I like my hobbies.

Forget the 9-5

This is completely dependent on the company, but at my job it doesn’t necessarily matter how long you work. What matters is that you got the job(s) done like you said you would. Accountability and the ability to be someone that the team can rely on is crucial in a work from home job, especially in a work from home agency job.

If you come from a cubicle farm job (like I did) or a retail environment (like one of my coworkers did), this can be a very bizarre change. In an ultra-corporate or hourly environment, you’re expected to “serve your time”. This is also known as the “if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean” mentality or the “time-based” work style. It doesn’t matter what you get done, because you’re just gonna have to keep going. My job in SEO isn’t like that–it’s “task based”. If I get my work done early, I can go do whatever I want. I’m still expected to be available, but I’m not expected to engage in “busywork”.

Personally, I absolutely adore this work style. I feel like it encourages hard work and finding shortcuts and ways to do things faster. Ever heard the quote “Always choose a lazy man to do a hard job, because a lazy man will find an easy way to do it”? It’s true. And the same lazy person will sit for eight hours at an eight hour job because they’re rewarded for serving their time, not working hard. 

Of course, a task-based work style can have its disadvantages. It can be hard to break the habit of striving for eight hours of work, and it’s surprisingly easy to miss deadlines when you work this way. Missing deadlines is a huge no-no at an agency job, so working in a time-based style can ironically result in having to work longer hours to make up for it. (Personally, I think more companies should switch to the task-based style!)

Time Management is #1

What you know about SEO doesn’t matter if you have poor time management skills. I firmly believe that time management is the number one skill for succeeding in a remote and/or task-based environment. 

At a remote job, especially, no one is there watching over your shoulder to make sure you get your work done. Sure, this is a blessing–no one likes to be micromanaged–but it also means you have to kick your own ass if you procrastinate for too long. It’s a double-edged sword. This makes it a great job for people with self-motivated, goal-driven personalities, but a poor fit for people who tend to be easily distracted and disorganized.

Conclusion

If you’re considering a job in SEO (or working remotely in general) I hope you found this article helpful. I know a new job can cause a lot of anxiety, especially when you’re entering a new type of work or have never worked remotely before. 

SEO and working remotely aren’t for everyone; it takes a lot of self-discipline to be able to do successfully. But for the people that are built for it, it’s a pretty awesome job.


What is SEO Content? How to Write Content that Ranks

In the past 12 months, we’ve published 79 pieces of “SEO content” on the Ahrefs Blog. 96% of them rank in Google and get organic traffic month after month.

One post even ranks for 10,000 keywords and gets over 57,000 monthly organic visits:

How did we do this? By taking an SEO-driven approach to our content.

In this guide, we’ll run through the 8‑step process we use to write content that ranks.

But first, the basics…

What is SEO content?

SEO content is, quite simply, content that’s designed to rank in search engines like Google.

You might think that all content is SEO content, but that’s not the case. For example, we have a lot of studies on our blog, and most of them get little or no organic traffic.

Does this mean those posts failed?

Not at all. We published these posts to bring new insights to the SEO community—not to rank in Google.

It’s also important to note that any kind of content can be “SEO content”: product pages, landing pages, interactive tools, and even videos. But when most people talk about “SEO content,” they’re talking about blog posts.

For that reason, that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide.

But before we talk about how to write posts that rank, let’s make sure we understand why this type of SEO content matters.

Why is SEO content important?

No matter what your business does, you can only get so much organic traffic to your “money pages.”

For example, we have five landing pages—one for each of our main SEO tools:

2 ahrefs landing pages

2 ahrefs landing pages

In total, these pages get around 25,000 monthly visits from organic search, and we rank in the top five for all of our main keywords:

3 ahrefs rankings

3 ahrefs rankings

But, these pages account for less than 4% of search traffic to our site:

5 ahrefs traffic

How? Because we’ve also written hundreds of pieces of SEO content for our blog.

In total, these posts get over 300,000 monthly visits from organic search alone:

6 ahrefs blog traffic

6 ahrefs blog traffic

If we didn’t do this, we’d be leaving a lot of money on the table because potential customers aren’t always searching for our products directly.

Many are just looking for a solution to a problem that our tools happen to solve.

For example, we have a competitive research tool called Site Explorer. One of the things it does is show who’s linking to any website or web page.

But, potential customers might not know we offer this product and instead search for something like “who links to my website.”

So we decided to write a blog post about that:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.30.07

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.30.07

Writing “SEO content” like this is important because it brings more potential customers to our site.

Make sense?

Good. Now let’s talk about how to actually write this stuff.

How to write SEO content

Not all blog posts are SEO content, and pouring your heart and soul into your content doesn’t guarantee rankings and traffic.

Just look at the stats for one of my favorite blog posts:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.33.49

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.33.49

It’s 7,600 words long, has been shared over 50,000 times, has fantastic illustrations, and is super well-written. It’s a masterpiece.

But look again at how much traffic it gets from search engines:

34. Measly. Visits. A. Month.

So, if you want your post to get organic traffic, you need to write it around a proven SEO framework.

What is that framework? It looks something like this:

  1. Find a proven topic
  2. Analyze search intent
  3. Write an outline
  4. Write a draft
  5. Edit your draft
  6. Make your content visually appealing
  7. Write a compelling title and description
  8. Upload your post

Let’s go through each of those steps in more detail.

1. Find a proven topic

Before you even think about putting pen to paper, you need to find a relevant topic with “traffic potential.”

To do this, think about broad topics that your potential customers might be searching for.

If you sell baking supplies online, then this might be recipes for baked goods, cookware reviews, or other things related to baking.

From there, search for those broad topics in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and then check the “Phrase match” report to see keyword ideas:

7 phrase match ke

7 phrase match ke

Because this gives us a lot of keyword ideas (almost seven million in this case!), let’s filter out super-competitive competitive keywords and those with little or no search volume.

8 phrase match filters

8 phrase match filters

Right away, we see some good topic ideas like banana bread recipe, apple pie recipe, and pizza dough recipe, each with tons of monthly searches.

9 keyword ideas

9 keyword ideas

But here’s the thing with search volume: it can be misleading.

For example, take a look at the search volumes for these two keywords:
10 search volume

10 search volume

Because “butter cake recipe” has almost five times more searches than “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe,” you’d expect this topic to have the most traffic potential.

However, if we look at the top-ranking page, we see that it gets an estimated 2,383 US visits a month from organic search….

11 butter cake recipe traffic

11 butter cake recipe traffic

… whereas the top-ranking page for “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe” gets more:

12 chocolate chip cookie cape recipe traffic

12 chocolate chip cookie cape recipe traffic

This happens because the top-ranking page ranks for—and gets traffic from—more queries.

So, before you settle on a topic, always look at the estimated traffic to the top-ranking page to get a better sense of true traffic potential.

2. Analyze search intent

Search engines like Google have invested billions of dollars into understanding the true intent behind searches.

This is how they’re able to return relevant results—even for vague queries.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.38.24

If you’re writing SEO content, this is important, because if it doesn’t align with search intent, your chances of ranking are slim to none.

But, how can you figure out search intent?

The answer is to take clues from the top-ranking results by analyzing what we call the three C’s of search intent.

These are:

Content type

Are the top-ranking pages blog posts, product pages, category pages, landing pages, or something else?

If they’re not mostly blog posts, then go back to step one and choose a different topic.

Content format

What type of posts rank? Are they how-to’s, list-style posts, opinion pieces, news articles, something else?

For “best baking pans,” they’re all lists:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.44.24

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.44.24

Content angle

Look at the page titles to understand more about the type of person searching for this. Are they a beginner or an expert? What do they value? Are they looking for a quick solution or something more in-depth?

For example, many of the pages ranking for “french bread recipe” pitch how easy the recipe is:

14 french bread recipe results

14 french bread recipe results

For flat dough bread recipe, speed seems to be what appeals to searchers:

Recommended reading: Search Intent: The Overlooked ‘Ranking Factor’ You Should Be Optimizing for in 2019

3. Write a data-driven outline

The average top-ranking page ranks for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords in the top 10.

00 average number also rank for keywords2

00 average number also rank for keywords2

For that reason, it pays to know which other keywords the top-ranking pages also rank for when creating your outline—so you can rank for them too.

How can you find them?

Paste the URL of the top-ranking page into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, then go to the Organic keywords report. To weed out irrelevant keywords, filter for keywords where the page ranks in position ten or higher.

16 organic keywords position 10

16 organic keywords position 10

You’ll probably notice that many of these are synonyms or less popular ways to search for much the same thing, but some should give you insight into what searchers want to see from this page.  

For example, we see that the top-ranking page for “flatbread dough recipe” also ranks for things like “no yeast flatbread,” “quick flatbread pizza recipe,” “homemade flatbread”:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.02.27

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.02.27

Note that you shouldn’t stuff these words and phrases into your post, but instead use them to iron out the angle of your content and create a rough outline.

For example, if we were writing a flatbread dough recipe, we’d probably want to mention speed in the intro, and we might want to have separate sections on making the flatbread with and without yeast.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.05.07

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.05.07

If you don’t use Ahrefs, then you can do the same thing by looking at the top-ranking pages and using some common sense.

4. Write a draft

Good news: It’s finally time to put pen to paper and draft your post.

Because this doesn’t have much to do with SEO, we won’t dwell on this process too much. Just remember that the aim here isn’t to write a perfect draft right off the bat, but rather to turn your thoughts into something tangible to work with.

Screen Recording 2020 01 31 at 07.19 pm

Screen Recording 2020 01 31 at 07.19 pm

Here are a couple of tips for doing this as quickly as possible:

Write as you speak

Most of the best blog posts are written in an informal, conversational tone, so there’s no need to agonize over every word. Just write as you speak.

Don’t worry if it sounds silly; you can correct this in the next step.

Use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is simple: you set a 25-minute timer, and a goal you want to achieve in that time.  

For drafting blog posts, a good goal is a certain number of words.

Most people type at around 40 words per minute, so that’s 1,000 words in 25 minutes. However, drafting a blog post is more mentally taxing than just typing, so let’s assume 30–40% efficiency, or 300–400 words every 25 minutes.

Take a short break after 25 minutes, then repeat.

Continue this process until you have a complete draft.

Sidenote.

Test your typing speed here. That way, you can set a more custom goal.

5. Edit your draft

Pulling readers into the flow of your content is important if you want them to stick around—which you do.

Not only is this good for conversions (which is ultimately the point of ranking), but it also has a positive impact on user engagement metrics like time on page, dwell time, and bounce rate, which some SEOs believe may indirectly influence rankings.

Here are three things to focus on:

Correct spelling and grammatical errors

Most word processors and writing apps have spell check built-in, so you don’t have to be a genius to get things right. Just right-click and choose the right spelling.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.21.58

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.21.58

For grammar, run your draft through a tool called Grammarly. This will tell you about misplaced commas and sentences that don’t make sense.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.22.49

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.22.49

Make sure it flows

If your content sounds unnatural or robotic, now is the time to rephrase.

Keep it simple

Most Americans read below an eighth-grade reading level. If you’re using complex sentences and words, that’s going to confuse readers, and they won’t hesitate to hit the back button.

Solve this by running your draft through Hemingway.

This is a free browser-based tool that helps you simplify your content using more straightforward sentences, paragraphs, and words.

17 hemingway

17 hemingway

Get feedback

Sure, it’s soul-crushing to hear that your content isn’t quite up to scratch. But the truth is that the opinion of others can help improve things exponentially.

Send your draft to a friend, tell them to be honest, iron out any creases.

ahrefs blog post comments

ahrefs blog post comments

6. Make your content visually appealing

Nobody likes reading a wall of text. If you’ve written more than a few sentences, then you should work to break up the copy.

The most obvious way to do this is with images.

They don’t have to be anything special. You’ll notice that a lot of our posts on the Ahrefs Blog include annotated screenshots like this one:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.42.56

Not only does this make things easier to skim, but it also helps to demonstrate what we’re trying to explain.

You can also use videos to do this:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.43.47

Many studies show that visuals help people understand and comprehend content, so including useful images and videos can improve user satisfaction—which we know is important to Google.

Including images and videos can also help your content rank in Google’s image and video tabs.

Don’t overlook this. We’ve had over 5,500 visits from Google Images in the past three months…

18 image clicks

18 image clicks

… and 32,000 from video results:

19 video clicks

19 video clicks

But images and videos don’t always make sense. So another thing you can do is break lengthy chunks of text into subsections using H2-H6 headers.

7. Write a compelling meta title and description

Search engines see more than just the text on the page. They look at metadata in the page’s code to learn more about your content.

The two more important pieces of metadata are your meta title and description. Both of these show up in Google’s search results, and they’re effectively your sales pitch to searchers. Use them to explain why they should click and read your post.

title and description

title and description

Sidenote.

 Google sometimes rewrites these two things, so what you set isn’t always what shows up in the SERP. But it’s still best to set them.

This is another place it’s useful to match search intent.

Whatever searchers value, pitch it in your title tag. Just make sure it’s still an accurate description of your content. Do the same with your meta description.

This will entice more clicks on your page in the search results, which leads to more traffic.

Some SEOs believe that clickthrough rate also impacts rankings, but Google says this isn’t the case because the metric is too noisy.

Either way. SEO is not just about rankings, but also getting clicks from searchers.

8. Upload your post

Nothing to do with SEO, but here’s a tip to save you some serious time if you use WordPress: Write your content in Google Docs and upload it with Wordable.

It takes just one click to send your content—complete with images—to WordPress. It’s ready for publishing in seconds.

wordable

wordable

This is what we use to upload every post to the Ahrefs Blog.

Is “content” enough to rank?

Google tells us that the two most important ranking factors are content and links.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8VnZCcl9J4&feature=youtu.be&t=1820

So, while creating perfectly optimized content is often enough to rank for less competitive topics, links are still important for those harder topics that a lot of brands want to rank for.

But here’s the thing: content and links are somewhat intertwined.

In other words, nobody wants to link to poor or mediocre content; they link to content that’s valuable for their visitors.

While link building is a separate—and complex—topic of its own, there are ways to use your content to improve your ability to win links.

1. Make it the go-to resource on a topic

Pull this off, and people are more likely to link to your guide over others.

We did this with our guide to Google search operators, which has attracted backlinks from over 560 websites:

20 referring domains google search operators

20 referring domains google search operators

2. Include unique data

Having unique data means people have to cite you as the source when quoting that data.

This is why our studies usually get tons of links:

21 referring domains studies

21 referring domains studies

3. Make it as accessible as possible

People aren’t going to link to something they find confusing or difficult to read. (This is another reason why step #6 is so important).

Final thoughts

Following a proven SEO framework to write content makes sense, and it certainly improves your chances of ranking. But it’s important to remember that things don’t always work out, even if you do everything “right.”

Just look at traffic to our post on influencer marketing:

22 influencer marketing no traffic

22 influencer marketing no traffic

It’s a proven topic, the post aligns with search intent, and it covers the topic comprehensively… yet it doesn’t even rank in the top 100.

If this happens, it’s not the end of the world. Just rewrite and republish the content and try again.

We did this with our guide to driving more traffic to your website, and traffic and rankings went through the roof:

23 more organic traffic rewrite

23 more organic traffic rewrite

You can also rewrite content when traffic starts to drop.

This is what we did with our list of top Google searches:

24 google searches rewrite

24 google searches rewrite

Did we miss anything important in this guide? Give me a shout on Twitter.


17 Actionable Content Marketing Tips

This is a list of actionable content marketing tips.

In fact, these same strategies helped grow my blog to 304,265 monthly visits:

Backlinko – Monthly visits

So if you want more traffic from every blog post that you publish, you’ll love this list of tips, techniques and strategies.

Let’s get started.

1. Publish “X vs. Y” Posts

“X vs. Y” posts are posts like:

  • “Convertkit vs. MailChimp”
  • “Paleo vs. Keto”
  • “UberEats vs. Postmates”

And “X vs. Y” posts are a GREAT way to get more traffic to your site.

Why?

First, X vs. Y keywords don’t have a lot of SEO competition.

For example, I recently published a post optimized around the keyword “Ahrefs vs. SEMRush”.

Backlinko – Ahrefs vs. SEMrush post

Sure enough, that page rocked to the top of Google within a few weeks.

SERP for Ahrefs vs. SEMrush

Second, people that search for “X vs. Y” keywords tend to be pretty advanced.

Think about it this way:

Somebody searching for “Ahrefs vs. SEMRush” already knows about SEO. They’re just looking for the best tool.

Which is why CPCs on “X vs. Y” keywords tend to be super high.

Aweber vs. Mailchimp – CPC

This is an EASY way to get more replies to your outreach emails.

All you need to do is add links to your social profiles in your signature.

Add links to your social profiles in your signature

Seriously. That’s it.

And there’s data to back this up.

When we teamed up with Pitchbox to analyze over 10 million outreach emails, we discovered that social profile links increased response rates by up to 23.4%.

Linking to Social Profiles May Slightly Improve Outreach Response Rates

Our data also showed that adding a link to your Instagram profile seems to make the biggest difference.

Links To Instagram, LinkedIn And Twitter May Lead To More Outreach Replies

Which leads us to…

3. Use The Animalz Revive Tool

I boosted my organic traffic by 260% simply by updating and relaunching an old post.

Organic traffic boost for White Hat SEO

Question is:

How do you know which posts to work on first?

Enter: The (free) Animalz Revive tool.

Animalz revive tool

This tool uses your Google Analytics to find pages with the biggest traffic drop.

Animalz revive – Advice

When you find a page that’s dropping, you have two options:

You can revamp and relaunch the post like it’s brand new.

For example, we update and relaunch our “Guide to SEO This Year” every November.

Backlinko – SEO This Year post

Or, you can quietly update your content. In fact, last year we gave our guest posting guide a much-needed update.

Backlinko – The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging

And that single update boosted search engine traffic to that page by 17.68%.

Search traffic boost for guest blogging guide

4. Try The PBC Formula

Your blog post introductions are HUGE.

After all, they’re the first thing people see when they land on your post.

Unfortunately, most blog post intros are way too long.

Long post intro

Well, I recently developed a short blog post intro formula that works GREAT.

I call it: “The PBC Formula”.

The PBC Formula

Here’s the full breakdown.

First, you quickly Preview what your post is all about.

Blog post intro – Preview

Then, you list out a bunch of Benefits that someone will get from reading your post.

Blog post intro – Benefits

Finally, cap things off with a Call-To-Action.

Blog post intro – CTA

That’s all there is to it.

5. Publish “Power Posts”

When we joined forces with BuzzSumo to analyze nearly 1 billion articles, one finding stood out:

A very small number of “Power Posts” drive the majority of social sharing online.

Power Posts

Our data showed that 1.3% of the articles published are responsible for 50% of social media shares.

I call these high-performing articles “Power Posts”.

To be clear:

There’s no formula for creating content that will get shared like crazy.

(If there was, everyone would do it 😀 )

But when you publish epic Power Posts you increase the odds that people will share your stuff.

For example, we recently published a Power Post called: “How to Write a Blog Post: The Definitive Guide”.

Backlinko – Write a Blog Post Guide

This single post took 50 hours of work.

  • 20 hours to write the post
  • 15 hours to design illustrations and visuals
  • 10 hours to take and edit screenshots
  • 5 hours to code and assemble the page

But in the end, that hard work paid off.

Our Power Post brought in 10,555 visitors in the first week alone.

Write a Blog Post – First week visitors

And a good chunk of those visitors were from all the shares we got on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Write a Blog Post Guide – Shares

In fact, that single page has 5369 total social shares.

Write a Blog Post Guide – Social shares

Let’s face it:

Most topics are SUPER competitive.

For example, take a super niche keyword like “seo site check up”.

According to Ahrefs, this keyword only gets 90 searches per month.

Ahrefs – "seo site check up" search volume

And it has a keyword difficulty score of 86.

Ahrefs – "seo site check up" – Keyword Difficulty

It’s the same story with most topics nowadays.

By the time you write an article about something, there are already hundreds (or even thousands) of posts out there on that topic.

What’s the solution?

Write about trending topics.

Trending topics are popular topics that aren’t super competitive (yet).

And if you want to find trending topics, I recommend checking out a free tool called ExplodingTopics.com.

Exploding Topics – Homepage

This tool lists out topics that are growing fast in 29 different categories.

Exploding Topics – Keyword overview

That way, you can pounce on these topics before they really take off.

7. Include Native Content With Social Shares

“Share your content on social media” used to be a useful content marketing tip.

Not anymore.

Today, most social media algorithms (like Facebook) bury posts that send users off of their platform.

Social Media Algorithms Prefer Native Content

While there’s no way to totally get around this, I recently found a little loophole that does help:

Post native content with your link.

For example, my social media posts used to just be my blog post title and a link.

Social share with link only

And these posts would get BURIED.

Today, I write a little bit of native content to go along with the post.

This native content gives social media algorithms what it wants (original content and engagement).

And once the post starts to spread around the platform, you get what you want (more traffic to your post).

For example, this LinkedIn post got over 41k views.

LinkedIn post views

And that’s mostly due to the fact that the post wasn’t just a link to my site.

My post had a little bit of valuable content to go along with my link.

Valuable content in LinkedIn post

8. Use Padlock Posts

You may have noticed these greyed-out posts in the Backlinko blog feed.

Padlock post on Backlinko

Internally, we call these “Padlock Posts”.

They’re basically normal blog posts that only Backlinko email subscribers can get access to.

And when someone clicks on a Padlock Post, a little popup appears that asks for their email.

And while it’s still early, these seem to be working REALLY well.

In fact, this Padlock Post has brought in 1,614 email subscribers so far.

Padlock post – Email subscribers

Not bad.

9. Include a Keyword in Your URL

Keyword-rich URLs aren’t just for on-page SEO.

(Although they definitely help with that too).

As it turns out, including a keyword in your URL can increase your organic click-through-rate by up to 45%.

Keyword-Rich URLs Correlate With A Higher Organic Click Through Rate

I should point something out:

Your URL doesn’t have to be a 1:1 match for the keyword someone’s searching for.

As long as the text in your URL is similar to the keyword, you’ll usually get a nice CTR boost.

Our method for seeing if keyword-rich URLs positively impacted CTR

For example, a few months ago I published a post called: “17 Ways to Improve SEO Rankings”.

Backlinko – Improve Your SEO post

My target keyword for that post is: “Improve SEO Rankings”.

Improve SEO Rankings – Keyword in title

Even though my URL doesn’t contain that exact term, it’s close enough.

Improve Your SEO – Keyword in URL

10. Add More Cuts to Your Video Content

People want videos that move FAST.

This is something that I struggled with when I first started shooting videos.

I wanted my videos to look “natural”. So I filmed entire YouTube videos with only one or two cuts.

And this made my videos move SUPER slow. My videos were full of “umms”, “aaahs” and “you knows” that slowed things down.

Today, my videos have 80-100 cuts each.

That way, each video moves along at a super rapid pace.

Which helps my Audience Retention stay nice and high.

YouTube video audience retention

11. Write Longer Headlines

Want to get more social shares from your content?

Try writing longer headlines.

The BuzzSumo study I mentioned earlier found that longer headlines are strongly correlated with high levels of social sharing.

This was true when we measured headline length in terms of word count:

Long Headlines Are Correlated With Increased Social Sharing

And character count:

Long Headlines (80+ Characters) Are Correlated With More Social Shares

We actually found that long headlines generate an average of 76% more shares vs. short headlines.

For example, this headline from one of our posts is 15 words.

Page Speed Stats post – Headline

Which may have helped that post rack up 2036 shares.

Page Speed Stats post – Social shares

12. Optimize Around Untapped Keywords

Most keyword research tools have the same problem:

They show everyone the exact same set of keywords!

What if there was a way to find untapped keywords that your competitors haven’t found yet?

Well, there is.

Here’s how to do it:

First, log in to the Google Keyword Planner.

Then, click on the “Start With a Website” tab.

Keyword Planner – Start with a website

And enter a competitor’s homepage…

Keyword Planner – Enter website

…or a blog post.

Keyword Planner – Enter blog post

And the tool will scan the page for keyword ideas

Ideas that most people don’t see.

Keyword Planner – Keyword ideas

Very cool.

13. Use Blog Post Templates

Templates can REALLY help you scale up your content marketing.

For example, whenever I start on a new post, I don’t open up a blank Google Doc.

Instead, I work from one of our proven blog post templates.

For example, when I sit down to write a case study, I use this PDF workbook to help me get the important parts on paper.

Case study PDF worksheet

Then, I transfer that to a Google Doc and start writing.

In fact, working from a set of templates has helped us scale up our publishing schedule. We used to publish a new post once a month. Now, we publish a new post every 2 weeks.

14. Use Emotional Titles

According to our analysis of 5 million Google search results, titles that pack an emotional punch get more clicks.

Emotional Titles Have A Higher Organic Click Through Rate

That said:

It’s possible for your titles to be TOO emotional.

That same study found that headlines with “Power Words” had a lower CTR.

Power Words In Title Tags Were Correlated With Lower Click Through Rate

So I recommend using titles that have some emotional sentiment. But if you go overboard, your CTR can start to suffer.

For example, this title is emotional. But it’s not “clickbaity”.

NerdFitness – Emotional headline

15. Optimize Around Brand Keywords

“Brand Keywords” are just like they sound:

They’re keywords optimized around brands and products.

Here’s an example of one of our posts that’s optimized around a Brand Keyword.

Backlinko – BuzzSumo Guide

So: why optimize your blog content around Brand Keywords?

Because they’re usually NOT competitive.

For example, take a keyword like “BuzzSumo”.

According to Ahrefs, that keyword gets 49K searches per month. And it has a decent CPC too.

Ahrefs – BuzzSumo – Search Volume and CPC

Despite those impressive numbers, the keyword difficulty on this term is only 13.

Ahrefs – BuzzSumo – Keyword Difficulty

The downside of Brand Keywords is that you’ll never rank #1 in Google for that term.

And depending on the SERPs for that brand keyword, you may not be able to crack the top 3.

For example, we published this guide to the Google Search Console last year.

Backlinko – Google Search Console Guide

And considering that the top 5 results are all Google.com pages, #6 is about as high as this page will ever rank.

Even so, that post still brings in 1,126 visitors per month from Google.

Google Search Console Guide – Monthly visitors

16. Tell Relatable Stories in YouTube Videos

One of the powerful things about YouTube is that it’s a very personal medium.

Unlike a blog post, someone is actually watching YOU deliver your message.

Which makes it the perfect place to take your guard down. And reveal some personal tidbits about yourself.

For example, I try to include a 30-60 second little story in every single one of my YouTube videos.

Most of these stories share how I initially struggled with the topic that I’m covering in that video.

That way, I don’t come in like some know it all.

It shows that, like anyone, I had to learn things through trial and error.

As long as these stories are short and relate to your topic, you’ll find that your audience will appreciate them.

YouTube comment relating to a story

17. Write Compelling Meta Descriptions

No, Google doesn’t use the meta description tag to understand the content on your page.

But users use your description to figure out which result to click on.

Pages With A Meta Description Have A Higher Average CTR vs. Pages Without A Description

Now:

The copy in your meta tag will depend a lot on the page.

But here’s one template that tends to work well:

Meta Description Template Formula

And here’s an example of that template in action.

Meta description formula in action

Bonus #1: Reverse Engineer Your Competition

There’s a place for originality.

And creative thinking.

But there’s also a place for straight up copying what your competitors are doing.

And you don’t need their Google Analytics password to do it either.

In fact, there are a bunch of awesome content marketing tools that will show you what’s already working for someone else.

If your main focus is on link building, Detailed.com shows you where the top blogs in almost every niche get their links from.

Hubspot links from Detailed

And if you want to see a specific site’s most-shared content, BuzzSumo is the tool for you.

BuzzSumo – Backlinko, most shared content

Or maybe you want to see the pages on a site that bring in the most organic traffic. Well Ahrefs can hook you up with that info.

Ahrefs – Top pages by organic traffic

Bonus #2: Create Stats Pages

Stats Pages are a great way to build backlinks without needing to do a bunch of outreach.

Here’s why:

Stats Pages are optimized around “[Topic] + Stats” keywords.

And who tends to search for “[Topic] + Stats” keywords?

That’s right: bloggers and journalists!

And when they use one of your stats in their article, they’ll usually link back to your stats page.

For example, we published this list of email marketing stats a few months ago.

Backlinko – Email Marketing Stats post

And it quickly hit the first page for keywords that bloggers and journalists search for (like “email marketing statistics”).

SERP – Email Marketing Statistics

Which helped it pick up some solid links, like this one:

Email Marketing Stats – Backlink

Nice.

What Do You Think?

Now I’d like to turn things over to you:

Which content marketing tip from this list was your favorite?

Or maybe you have a tip that I didn’t cover here.

Either way, let me know and leave a comment below.


Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses

The start of international expansion is an incredible milestone for any business, and gearing up to take your venture around the world will be one of the most exciting moments of your career. But just because your business is thriving at home doesn’t mean that it will be a success abroad. To achieve that, you’ll need to give attention to your international SEO strategy.

Achieving online visibility on an international scale can be tricky, particularly when you factor in differences in language, culture, and search habits. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one size fits all across all regions. However, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the challenges of international SEO once you’ve followed these six must-know tips, and should soon see your business soaring in search rankings across the globe.

1. Pick an effective domain strategy

A .com TLD is usually considered the cream of the crop when it comes to domains and the authority afforded to them by search engines. But this can be far too generic to attract international customers. Instead, your domain should clearly target your country of choice and show users around the world that your website is catered specifically to them.

A ccTLD, for example, cocacola.fr, is often popular because the country code immediately shows users and search engines what the target country is. However, if you have multiple localized versions of the website across a number of ccTLDs, search engines will treat these as separate entities, meaning each domain will need to build up backlinks and authority from scratch.

A subdirectory, like, nike.com/fr maintains all your pre-existing SEO efforts as you’re simply adding a localized folder to your current domain. However, this risks causing internal cannibalization if different international landing pages are optimized for the same keywords, such as a US subfolder and an Australian subfolder where the language is largely the same.

A subdomain (such as fr.airbnb.com) is often the default for CMS tools, but users are less likely to associate your site with their country as the country code comes first rather than last, meaning click-through-rates could take a hit.

All domain strategies have pros and cons, so it’s important to ascertain how each option would work for your business specifically. Matthew Finn, one of the SEO specialists at Go Up, highlights several points that could determine your international domain strategy decision. Budget obviously comes into play – ccTLDs can be particularly expensive – and your branding could be a factor too.

As they explain: “If your company has a logo which features your domain, or brand guidelines which stipulate talking about your business as YourBrand.com, then a ccTLD wouldn’t work.” You also need to consider possible limitations of your CMS and current domain. For instance, subdirectories and subdomains only work with an existing generic top-level domain like .com.

Look at the domain structures of competitors in your new target countries to see what Google favors. You might decide to use a combination of all three strategies to target different markets.

2. Conduct localized keyword research

You may feel like you have a good understanding of your current audience’s search habits, but these keywords may not be popular across the board. Conducting localized keyword research will help you judge the online queries likely to serve you best in each country.

This isn’t so difficult when you’re targeting other English speakers, though you still have to take slang and regional variations into account. For example, if you’re a shoe business going after an Australian audience, you would probably be better off targeting “thong” rather than “flip flop” keywords. This is especially relevant to voice search.

Of course, things become more complicated when dealing with entirely different languages. You may not understand the words themselves and also need to consider how cultural context can impact intent. Findings from Webcertain showed significant differences between the search habits of US and Chinese users. Roughly 60% of US searches about chairs related to style and shape, yet only 20% of Chinese searches had the same intent. In fact, 5% more Chinese searches were action-based – what to do with the chair. Culture can hugely influence how people formulate their online queries and you can’t ignore this factor when choosing location-specific keywords.

3. Don’t assume one language means one culture

One size does not fit all when it comes to international expansion, especially considering the diversity of languages. There are many differences in Standard Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, while there are plenty of Spanish variations spoken across North America, South America, and the Caribbean, let alone the many regional dialects in Spain itself. You may think that translating your website into a “standard” language will enable you to connect with all relevant markets, but you risk alienating millions of potential customers if you don’t tailor your content to each target location.

First of all, remember that idioms or colloquialisms may make sense in one place but not in another, even if the same language is spoken. If an Ireland-based furniture business used the word “press”, it’s highly unlikely any English-speakers outside the country would realize this referred to a kitchen cupboard. Similarly, some words, images, and practices are accepted in one place but offensive in another. Though Arabic is the official language of both Morocco and Saudi Arabia, references to alcohol would only be permissible when targeting the former as drinking is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. You also need to use the correct measurements, currencies, and other details, which may vary from country to country regardless of language. French-speaking Canadians would be puzzled to see prices in euros rather than Canadian Dollars.

Errors like this could deter users and damage a business’s trust, authority, and click-through-rate. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to focus on accurate translations without considering the unique historical and cultural factors making every place unique. Consulting people familiar with the nuances of each target location will ensure your content is suitable for all the potential customers living there.

4. Think beyond Google

Google is normally the holy grail when it comes to all SEO efforts, but there may be other search engines to prioritize during international expansion. The majority of users in China and Russia, two of the largest markets in the world, direct the majority of their online queries to entirely different platforms, so focusing on Google alone could be detrimental to your visibility and profits.

In Russia, the leading search engine is Yandex which holds 56% of the market share. This success has been put down to the search engine’s deeper understanding of Slavic languages. Meanwhile, Google has been blocked in China under the country’s Internet censorship policy. Most Chinese users conduct their online searches through Baidu, which held between 60 to 77% of the search engine market share in China during 2019.

You can’t afford to ignore alternative search engines when targeting markets like these, and it’s also important to recognize each has its own unique algorithms. There will be some similarities—for example, Google, Yandex and Baidu all reward quality content – but you’ll need to be aware of the differences. Indexing can be very slow for both Yandex and Baidu which means it will take longer to see the benefits of your efforts, so long-term results should be the priority. Paid search is crucial to Baidu, as paid results are given much greater precedence than organic results. Meanwhile, Yandex still values meta keywords – a metric that Google removed from its ranking algorithm some time ago.

5. Implement hreflang tags

Hreflang tags signpost which languages and locations your pages are aimed at, helping Google to understand which version of a page is most appropriate for its users. For example, if someone in Paris typed in a search term relevant to your product page, the hreflang tag signals to Google that the French version of the page should appear in search results.

To target users as accurately as possible, you should include hreflang tags for both language and region. For instance, an ‘en’ tag shows Google that your page is for all English speakers, but you could also add tags to emphasize the specific geographic locations you’re targeting, en-ca for English speakers in Canada and en-us for English speakers in the US. It’s crucial you use the correct codes—for instance, the UK is ‘gb’ rather than ‘uk’—and a hreflang tag generator like Aleda Solis’ SEO tools recommended by Moz that could help minimize mistakes.

6. Start localized link building

Just as with any domestic SEO strategy, links are essential in building the authority of your website within a target locale. To elevate your brand in local search, it’s vital to source links from local platforms within your industry. The more hyperlocal, the better. For example, if you’re opening a new hotel in Berlin, links from travel platforms in the German capital will be more valuable than those in Munich or Hamburg.

Seek out journalistic opportunities and serve as a source of expertise, guest post on influential sites within a region, and use social channels to build connections with local influencers and businesses. It’s also recommended that you use a translator or someone accustomed to the language and customs of a target region to handle the outreach. The more you extend your brand in a target market, the more you will be rewarded with high authority backlinks.

Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.

The post Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Yoast SEO 13.1: Schema.org structured data enhancements

Yoast SEO 13.1 and WooCommerce SEO 12.6 are out today! In these two updated SEO plugins, you’ll find several fixes and enhancements, mostly focused at improving our Schema.org structured data implementation. In this post, you can learn more about the latest versions of Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO.

Yoast SEO 13.1

Back in Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched an innovative and expansive Schema.org implementation for Yoast SEO. For the first time ever, we can build a complete graph for a site and present it to a search engine on a silver platter. In subsequent releases, we fine-tuned the structured data implementation and we are continuously making improvements. You can find more technical detail on our implementation on Schema.org markup documentation.

In Yoast SEO 13.1, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and added a couple of enhancements in our Schema.org implementation. For one, we now set the Schema HowTo name and Article headline to the post title with a fallback to “No title”. In addition, we’ve added the inLanguage property to the Schema CreativeWork pieces. We try to determine the language of a specific piece of content in various ways, including the WordPress site language settings. This paves the way to handle a form of internationalization using Schema.org structured data.

WooCommerce SEO 12.6

Today, we’re also releasing WooCommerce SEO 12.6. This time, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced the Schema.org implementation. In WooCommerce SEO 12.5, we added the possibility to add a product identifier to your product, which makes it possible to output that number in the product Schema.org. In the 12.6 release, we’ve added some explanatory copy above the input fields for GTIN, ISBN et cetera to make this feature a little clearer.

At the end of this week, we’ll be raising the price of the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin. Are you serious about selling online? Get it today for only $49! That’ll save you some serious $$$. Don’t miss this chance…

Another enhancement to the structured data powers is the possibility to choose if you want to display the price in Schema.org structured data and OpenGraph with tax included. Simply check the box for the setting and you’re good to go.

WooCommerce SEO now lets you choose between tax or no tax for output in structured data

For bug fixes, we fixed a bug where the internal linking and additional keyphrase functionality went missing from the product edit page. Also, we fixed a bug where the meta description and Twitter and Facebook description could still contain HTML tags and redundant spaces.

Update your plugins

That’s it for today’s releases! We’ve enhanced both Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO, while also fixing a number of bugs. Please review the changes and update the plugins at your convenience. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

The post Yoast SEO 13.1: Schema.org structured data enhancements appeared first on Yoast.


We Improved Client CVR by 110% in 2019 by Doing More Smart Display

Introduction

Not to brag or anything, but I have always been a fairly early-adopter of automation tools over the course of my decade-long career. That’s why I’ve always been somewhat disappointed when they turn out to be lackluster and harm my campaign performance! I still vividly remember using early bidding algorithms (around late-2013) introduced by a previous third party management tool, only to have them tank volume and triple CPA.

Fortunately, “fool me once…” mentality has never been part of my personality. Especially in this industry, anything that was once terrible will, inevitably, eventually become good. The algorithms that Google has developed over the years are one of those things, so I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by how good Smart Display has performed for my clients where I’ve deployed it.

So, as you’re thinking about your 2020 project plans, read on to learn about what Smart Display is, how it works, and what kind of performance we’ve seen across Seer’s portfolio in 2019.

Smart Display History

Smart Display campaigns were first introduced as a beta in 2016, then later officially released to the general public in mid-2017.

I launched Smart Display for one of my biggest clients shortly after the official release, in August 2017. Even in this early phase, it worked well, bringing in significant conversion volume at a CPA comparable to our best-performing search campaigns – not bad for a Display campaign. It performed so well, that what started as a 1-2 month test, was extended to the end of that year, and then made a permanent part of our marketing strategy ever since.

What We Know About How It Works

The concept is simple: you don’t set any targeting options yourself at all, just let Google’s algorithms do their thing, give it a few creative elements to work with, then sit back, and let the conversions roll in.

At its core, it’s powered by three Google technologies: automated targeting, automated ad iteration, and automated bidding. Each of these is a venerable vantablack box on their own, but the main behavior here is that these robots will work together to identify users who are highly likely to convert on your website, what messaging will get them to convert, and how high to bid to make the conversion happen.

pasted image 0 115

Source: Google

You can check out this Google post if you want to learn way more about how Smart Display works and how to use it. But let’s take a look at Smart Display in the hands of Seer, across all the client accounts in our MCC.

Results Speak for Themselves

pasted image 0 116

Overall, Smart Display represents only 17% of Display spending across Seer’s entire MCC, which directly translates to only 17% of display Impressions as well. The bigger takeaway here is that this 17% of spend represents a whopping 41% of total Display conversions across our client accounts! It’s impressive that a campaign type comprising less than 20% of our total spend commands nearly half of all conversions. But how do the important metrics look?

On average, the Smart campaigns have generated a 0.49% CTR compared to Traditional Display’s 0.31% — a 61% improvement in favor of Smart display. And it’s done this at a 39% lower average CPC. The truly amazing stat here is in Conversion Rate, where Smart Display campaigns have averaged a 110% improvement over Traditional Display.

Such improvements in performance are thanks entirely to the three machine learning algorithms mentioned at the top of the post. Google is using its knowledge of the client website and each user to find the right user, at the right time, to serve the right combination of creative elements, to bring them to the site at the right time that will be more likely to lead to a conversion.

Caveat Emptor

As well as Smart Display has performed for Seer clients on the whole, it’s by no means perfect. As my colleague has indicated in his past blog post, some of the inventory on the Google Display Network can be attributed to low-quality placements that APPEAR to perform well. From our analysis, the quality of sites between Smart Display and Traditional Display are fairly equal; but it’s important to stay on top of your Smart Display campaigns, just like any other display campaign, and audit your placements consistently.

Go. Test. Be Smart.

Overall, Smart Display has been a great addition to our PPC marketing toolbox. Even with the issue of GDN placement quality, it’s become an easy-to-implement and effective method for conversion-focused advertising on the Display Network. And given the strides Google has made in machine learning, smart algorithms, I would expect performance to continue improving in 2020 and beyond.

But what do you think? What’s been your experience with Smart Display? Let us know!

Looking for more PPC advice around automation? Sign up for our newsletter below or get in touch!


How to Implement An Accurate PPC Quality Assurance Process

We Are All Human

The list of settings, adjustments, and targeting levers in any given digital marketing platform (search, social, display, etc.) is seemingly endless. Because of this, it is too easy for human digital marketing practitioners to make mistakes – our brains are just not optimized to keep track of it all. Thus, it is crucial that you have a standardized quality assurance (QA) process in place in order to avoid a costly mistake. This article will walk you through some high level steps to implement an effective QA process for your digital marketing initiatives.

Why use a quality assurance process?

Humans make mistakes. If not identified and corrected, they can have costly ramifications to your business and career.  Consequences may include:

  • Refunding clients
  • Overspending budget
  • Targeting the wrong audience
  • Difficult conversations with your client and boss

Ultimately, a solid QA process helps ensure that you provide quality work as well as build trust with clients and peers.

Campaign / Initiative Briefs

When starting a new digital marketing campaign, it is important to ensure that all parties are on the same page. A brief should contain all pertinent information about a new campaign launch or change order. We recommend including the following:

  • Goals
  • KPIs
  • Landing Pages
  • Audience Targeting
  • Flight Dates
  • Budget
  • Platforms it will run on

Automation

Even the best QA processes can let mistakes fall through, so it helps to incorporate machines and automation. Here at Seer, we have developed custom tools for most digital marketing channels that check intended campaign settings against the actual campaign settings. Not only are these tools 100% accurate (granted that the intended campaign settings cells were filled out correctly), but they can also QA dozens of campaigns in just minutes.

pasted image 0 47

(Seer Automated QA tool screenshot)

💡 Pro tip: if using Google Ads, try using various scripts to automate the QA process. Some of our favorites include:

Manual QA

Despite the accuracy and efficiency of automated tools, we found that there were many settings and outside processes that could not be checked with our QA tools. For this, we recommend creating a standardized checklist that corresponds to these missing items. At Seer, we require two manual reviewers to sign off before a campaign can be launched. One of these reviewers must be the relevant account manager because he or she has the deepest knowledge of the client and the intention of the new campaign.

If the overall process is starting to seem complicated, that’s because digital marketing campaigns are complicated. To help with this, we created checklists that break down the process into different stages so that employees could easily follow along.

💡 Pro tip: After you launch your campaign, don’t just set it and forget it! We recommend using a post launch checklist to ensure that your ads are serving correctly.

pasted image 0 48

Compliance

Instituting a comprehensive QA process throughout an organization can be difficult, especially if your team is entrenched in their ways. To overcome this, we recommend soliciting feedback from your entire digital marketing division when creating a new standardized QA process. This helps your team feel as though they have some ownership and input into the process.

Additionally, hold multiple training sessions to help educate everyone on your team on the new process. At Seer, we made it a requirement for all team members to follow the new process and even involved team leads/supervisors in order to hold them accountable.

Work toward a standardized QA process in your digital marketing division

Humans are going to make mistakes and this is ok. It’s how we learn. Strengthening and standardizing your QA process will build a safety net to catch these mistakes before they start impacting real marketing spend. And do not ‘set and forget’ your QA procedures. This should be a constantly evolving process, even once you have the final version in place. Settings come and go from digital marketing platforms so you need to adapt accordingly.

Have questions? Reach out! In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below.


Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services

Google hasn’t been merely a search engine for some time. These days it has grown into a massive space on the web where businesses and potential customers can meet. In this article, we’ll touch on the aspects of using Google for branding.

Here’s a list of Google’s underused services, and suggested ways you can use them to your advantage.

Analytical tools which help you understand your website and app audience

Google Marketing Platform is a kind of umbrella brand that Google has developed to make its products work together more effectively. It is essentially a merger of Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.

Google for branding - Google Marketing Platform

Source: Google support

Google Analytics is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which tracks website traffic and reports information about who is searching for what and where. There are many analytics services available, but Google’s is the most widely used in the world. It can track visitors to your website, and tell you quite a lot about them and how they interact with your site.

When someone visits your site, Google Analytics can keep track of the duration of the visit, the number of pages they viewed, how they got there, and even the bounce rate. It does all this anonymously, of course, you can distinguish between unique users, but you will not have any idea who any particular user is.

Analytics for Mobile Apps is like Google Analytics, the only difference is, it tracks and gathers data for users of any iOS or Android apps you may have. It was designed to give app developers better data on how people use their apps, what people want from them, and how the apps could be making you more money.

Analytics for Mobile apps allows you to keep records of

  • What actions your users take
  • Track their in-app spending (and your revenue for that customer)
  • Check the navigation path they take
  • Use that data in conjunction with Google Analytics data to really understand the way your customers (or potential customers) approach your brand

Services that you can use to improve brand visibility in searches

Google My Business is a service that lets business owners verify the data Google holds about them. Google generates its own internal business listings for areas literally all over the world, getting its data from a range of online and offline sources. As the process is mostly automated and done without the human verification, errors sometimes occur.

Google My Business allows business owners to ensure that Google has accurate information about them, after claiming the existing listing business can make all the necessary corrections. Besides, if the company is for some reason still off Google’s radar, by creating a Google listing they can let Google know about them.

Google for branding with Google My Business

Thanks to Google My Business, companies can be certain that their customers will find up-to-date information about their business, and their chances of getting featured in the local pack increase as well.

Google Maps is more than just a navigation tool, as well. Google suggests businesses and events in the areas where people are searching for directions and encourages people to search for services (“Show me restaurants near 35th and Maple”) relevant to the way people use Maps.

Using Google My Business to view ratings and info of a business

Some businesses now try to outsmart Google Maps by adding fake business listings to  Google Maps, and so, such fake results sometimes crowd out the real ones. Not let this happen Google is now putting effort into verifying the results it displays in Maps and elsewhere – more on that below.

Cloud-solutions for creating and customizing domains as well as store server

G Suite is a set of software products developed by Google Cloud. It was initially called Google Apps for Your Domain. The current lineup of tools and services includes collaboration tools like Sites, Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs, cloud storage solutions like Drive, and communication tools like Currents, Calendar, Hangouts, and Gmail. Premium versions of the service often include Jamboard (an interactive whiteboard app) as well as Vault and an Admin Panel to help you manage both users and features.

G Suite

Source: Rohutech.com

Google Cloud Platform is a suite of software services offering cloud-based access to the same global data infrastructure that it uses to deliver Google Search and YouTube. It essentially combines all of Google’s “infrastructure as a service”, “serverless computing”, and “platform as a service”. Google Cloud Platform offers cloud-based processing, data storage, analytics, and even some pretty advanced machine learning applications, all under a single set of management tools.

Advertisement platforms to pull in additional traffic from popular web channels

Google Ads, which was until very recently known as Google AdWords, is where Google really makes its money. It is still at its core a pay-per-click advertising service, but it operates across all the Google’s ever more sprawling service landscape. Businesses of all kinds can pay to get highly targeted users from showing them ads, relevant product listings, videos with sales or branding content, or offering users an opportunity to download the business’ app.

Some of the services under Google Ads include AdWords Express, Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Google Ads Manager Accounts, Google Ads Editor, Google Partners, and IP Address Exclusion tool.

Google for Retail is a service designed to make it easier for retailers to connect with existing customers as well as finding new ones. It gives you tools that you can use to better engage with existing customers and potential customers over Maps, Google Assistant, YouTube, and Search.

Google for Retail

Source: Google for Retail

Google for Retail includes individualized solutions for offering inventory to local customers, developing shopping campaigns with partner organizations, and combining Google Ads with Smart Shopping Campaigns.

YouTube Ads is, as you might have guessed, the primary way to get your ads served up on YouTube. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet, only Google processes more searches than YouTube. It is the infrastructure that connects nearly 2 billion active users to more than 50 million content creators, and 10% of US businesses already have a YouTube Business Account.

Ad types include TrueView Ads – demos, testimonials and adverts that users often search for directly, Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – ads which last up to 20 seconds that play either before or in the middle of a video, and Bumper Ads which last up to six seconds at the end of a video.

YouTube video ad formats

Source: TipsforSEM

Universal App Campaigns are a way to advertise your app throughout Google Ads, Google Play, YouTube and the rest of Google’s advertising empire. It is heavily automated and relies on Google’s machine learning expertise to determine which of your ads work best with particular types of audiences (the ones which cause more users to install your app) and then ensures that the right users see the right ads.

The big benefit here is that you are relieved of the burden of manually split testing and tracking ad performance.

The secret key: NAP

NAP in Google terms stands for Name, address, and phone number. Most experts believe that Google relies heavily on your business’ listed NAP to target search results to individual clients. That is why using NAP in SEO is incredibly important. If you aren’t using it consistently and accurately, you could be losing out on a huge number of highly targeted, site visitors every day – those who Google believes are in your area and actively looking for the goods or services you provide.

How do you use it correctly? It’s not difficult. List your business’ name, address and phone number accurately on your website, and on as many other sites as you can manage. Start with the obvious – your GMB listing, the Internet Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and any local or national business directories which cater to your industry or niche. Most importantly, though, list it consistently. Always use the exact same name, address and phone number, and make sure that all are real.

Examples of good and bad NAP

Why does Google care so much about NAP? It isn’t merely about geo-targeting search results. It is about eliminating false and spam sites from those search results. There are a great many businesses that depend on showing up in as many searches as possible, even those that are not particularly useful to the searcher. Great for them, but it makes Google’s results seem less reliable and relevant to the user, and Google can’t let it happen. It looks for widespread, consistent NAP data for a business or a website to gauge how legitimate your business is. Few false sites have real addresses or phone numbers, and even fewer use them consistently across multiple sites and platforms. Using Name, Address and Phone Number data accurately and consistently help your company look legitimate, as well as bring in geo-targeted searches.

Conclusion

Google has become a vast landscape of user-centric services that are almost completely funded by advertising. It has become incredibly canny about how to get advertising messages out to its users in a way that does not annoy users and brings them something they actually need. They make sure that your sales message reaches people who actually need your service, which truly is a game-changer.

Google now has so many individual services that it can be difficult for non-experts to really get the most from its features. However, failing to gain a certain level of expertise in Google advertising can be disastrous for even a small business these days.

Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging.

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