The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Digital Marketing Consultant

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Many businesses hire digital marketing consultants to see instantaneous results, and get deflated when they don’t. They hire these consultants thinking that their problems are solved, that these consultants are capable of doing a lot with very little, and that the needle will start to move in about a day’s time.

"If I hire you, I want to 10x my sales overnight!"

But once they see that growth actually still takes time, they get a little confused. If that is really how it works, if patience and time are key, then why do people even need digital marketing consultants?

Well, think of it like this: you could take that time to do what you think needs to be done, and then patiently wait to see if your experimentation worked, or you could hire someone who already knows what to do. The waiting game will lead to different results with a good growth marketing consultant.

But before we get any more in-depth, let’s take a look at what this specific guide can do for you.

 

How Will This Help Me?

Although there are plenty of resources available online that could tell you what a growth marketing consultant actually does, and what to expect when working with one, few of these guides actually put an emphasis on the fact that not every business truly needs to hire one.

This is in large part because we live in a world where reaching as many people as possible “overnight” has become the norm. We see startups grow fast, we see solo entrepreneurs thrive more than generations before. The idea that you would choose to pass up on a growth marketing consultant is strange, because who doesn’t want to reach more people in the next 24 hours?

But the reality is that it doesn’t happen that fast, for one thing. And secondly, although growth marketing consultants are invaluable in expanding your audience, you as an entrepreneur have the tools to make some changes for yourself. Some businesses get by with their own free will, dedication, and patience.

So the real question here is how do you know when you need a digital marketing consultant? And more than that, how is hiring one different than going after audience expansion for yourself?

With this one-stop guide, you’ll get all your questions answered. You’ll learn how to:

  • Pinpoint the signs that you need a digital marketing consultant.

  • What to look for in a consultant.

  • What to expect when working with a consultant.

 

Reading the Signs

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Imagine for a moment that you have been spending the last 3-4 months working on expanding your audience. You’ve changed the style of your content, your posting times, and even your approach when asking for feedback. You’ve launched some email campaigns, tried your hand at paid advertising, and all you have to show for it is many a handful or two of new customers, and more money out the door thanks to those ad payments.

In other words, you’ve been trying for a while to grow your audience, and all you really have to show for it is some wasted time and effort.

This is the name of the game, unfortunately. This is often the result of experimentation, something which is still highly encouraged for entrepreneurs, because there is no one-stop approach that works for everyone. Brands and industries are different, styles and content, branding, images, they’re all different. There are far too many variables there to even fathom a singular solution that works across the board.

But there does come a time when the experimentation starts to take a toll. Your resources start to run low, your patience starts wearing thin, and the results, well, they’re just not there. You’ve tried, but there isn’t anymore you feel like you can do.

This is when it’s time to look into hiring a growth marketing consultant, someone who does this for a living. A professional who knows exactly what to do to grow your audience.

In other words, don’t hire a consultant right out the gate, before trying anything for yourself. Experiment first, tinker around and see if anything sticks. If it does, great, keep going. If it doesn’t, call in an expert. They will tell you what is wrong with your approach, and then tailor it to finally meet your goals.

Here are twelve more signs you need to hire a digital marketing consultant:

  1. You need extra hands, because you’re so wrapped up doing a billion other things for the business.

  2. You need a marketing strategy that finally gets results, which means you’ve only been looking at the deliverables without properly planning anything beforehand. Clearly, you need to be stopped.

  3. Your team needs to be trained, but you lack the time or even the experience to do it yourself.

  4. You’re trying your luck with every approach under the sun, and nothing is working.

  5. Your business stalled, you’re in a rut, and you don’t know how to encourage further growth.

  6. You need to set stronger, more defined online marketing goals.

  7. You need help measuring key analytics.

  8. You want to expand your customer base.

  9. You want a marketing plan that focuses on more than just short-term goals.

  10. You want to expand into a new marketing and connect with a new type of customer.

  11. You want to get the full scoop on competition.

  12. You want to improve relationships with both your existing and prospective customers.

But it's not all about reading the signs. Don't make the mistake of deciding on hiring a consultant before you've been honest about things like your budget or your ability to provide feedback.

Let's look at some of the things to keep in mind before hiring a consultant.

 

#1 Your Budget Needs A Hard Look

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Hiring outside help, especially if it’s ongoing, requires some careful financial planning. You want to be able to have the funding for it, and that usually means both saved up capital, as well as ongoing, incoming funding.

This means you need to understand your business finances, how much you need to pay yourself (bills, savings, expendables), and pretty much any other financial commitments you have to handle.

 

#2 Hiring An Expert Can Be Intimidating

When you hire an expert, you’re paying for someone to come in and handle something that you find too complicated to figure out yourself. Or, to handle something that you legitimately do not have the time to do yourself at all.

As such, it’s important to remember that these people spend hours, days, weeks and years just mastering this type of work. This is what they do, and it’s likely that they can do it in their sleep. And when you’re that invested in something, you’re not only used to it, you also become very knowledgeable of things like how it’s done, why it’s done that way, the terminology, and which practices work best in specific situations.

It can be intimidating to work with people like this, but the best experts are the ones who make their work accessible to others, and are kind enough to explain everything in detail. Remember that.

 

#3 Just Because They’re Experts Doesn’t Make Them Ideal

There are many types of ecommerce. You could be running a clothing store, a makeup store, a bookstore or shoe store. Maybe a niche collectible store. Ideally, you want to hire someone with experience in your niche, but hiring someone with well-rounded experience is also a plus.

You don’t need to settle for anything that doesn’t feel quite right. And if it doesn’t, and the person really is an expert, chances are they will tell you when it’s not a good fit.

 

#4 Paid Scoping Vs. Unpaid Scoping

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Some teams like to work with their clients to come up with a list of specifications. Others prefer to do paid scoping projects where they put together a standard process they work through with every client and deliverables they work on for a few dedicated hours.

Either way works, but it’s really up to you what you’re comfortable with. Ideally, you want to make sure you’re on the same page, and that the expert understands your business and objectives.

 

#5 Prepare to Give Feedback

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Whether you’re going with an agency or a freelancer, feedback is always welcome. This allows them to better gauge problematic areas, things they could improve on moving forward, and issues that they might otherwise taken forever to notice.

If you ever decide to work with them again, chances are you’ll be able to see the effect your feedback has had on the process too. This is always a great thing, as it’s a sign that they’re professionals, adaptable, and capable.

 

What to Look For in A Consultant

The downside of so many technological advancements these days is the fact that everyone has access to tools that allow them to spring up in a matter of minutes. Being able to differentiate between a real and a fake has become vital at this point. Far too many people have been duped, thinking they’ve hired an expert in their field, only to find themselves hiring a consultant with no qualifications or background in growth marketing.

Don’t make the mistake of hiring the first consultant you find. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting research because their website is spectacular and informative enough to make you believe you’re making the right decision.

Instead, consider the following criteria.

 

Qualifications

You’re ideally looking for a consultant with a degree in marketing, or at least a related field. Keep in mind, however, that most people tend to work in fields that are entirely unrelated to what they went to college for. Turns out career changes are quite popular, both for lifestyle changes, and pay increases.

What counts more than the subject they studied in college is their proven experience and results, as well as work history with a larger company in the marketing department. If they’ve proven that they’ve done the work elsewhere, and that they can get the results, then they are worth a second look.

 

Digital Experience

Regardless of whether you’re focusing on a digital strategy or not, it’s a massive warning sign when a marketing consultant states that they are not familiar with digital marketing in this day and age. After that statement is made, run. Otherwise, you’d be expected to grow your business entirely analog, the old school way, which doesn’t typically work except in very specific circumstances anymore.

 

Areas of Expertise

Ideally, you want to hire a consultant who is familiar with all aspects of the marketing field, so that when you have questions about other approaches, they know enough to teach you the ropes, and tell you why those approaches haven’t quite worked out for you in the past.

However, very good consultants will have more than just general knowledge in all of these areas, they will be specialists in one specific area. Something that sets them apart from your average generalist. It could be social media, it could be content marketing, it could be SEO. Whoever you choose should have an area of expertise that aligns with your current goals.

Here are some of the other niche specializations that consultants often opt for:

  • PPC (pay-per-click) - these consultants will be Google AdWords certified and have a strong background in analytics.

  • Social Media Digital Marketing - they evaluate a brand’s audience and match it with the social media channels that represent the biggest opportunities and growth.

  • Custom projects - consultants who work with highly specific and challenging projects, such as international SEO, launching an app or website or email automation campaigns.

 

Experience With Your Industry

Just like no two companies are alike, no two industries are alike either. Unsurprisingly, this calls for totally different marketing strategies. Someone with little to no experience in your specific industry won’t really know what to do, which approach to take.

That being said, they could utilize previous experience in similar situations, use educated guesses, and use you for insight in the field. It could still work, you may still get results.

But nothing will ever beat hiring a consultant who has worked in your industry before and who has had proven success in that niche. There’s a level of knowledge and confidence there that just wouldn’t be the case otherwise.

 

Must-Haves

Here are ten of the absolute must-haves for a digital marketing consultant. All of the best in their field can do the following:

  • Analyzing your existing marketing tactics

  • Finding you new clients

  • Conducting competitive research analysis

  • Optimizing your content strategy

  • Personalizing content for your audience

  • SEO Copywriting

  • Performing detailed market research

  • Developing an analytics and data-driven strategy

  • Selecting KPIs for your marketing strategy

  • Conducting keyword research

 

What You Can Expect

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Depending on your industry, state of affairs, and consultant, you’ll have a different “average day” of working with an expert. There is no generalized statement to accurate summarize what you can expect when working with a consultant.

That being said, there is a general approach that consultants take when working with their clients. This systematic approach is highly detailed oriented, and begins with research, but ultimately is just a fancier, smarter way of experimenting.

But wait, remember we discussed experimentation in the beginning of this guide. It’s encouraged for business owners to experiment themselves, before hiring a consultant. So what’s the difference between your experimenting and a consultants? Couldn’t you have saved money?

Not exactly.

A qualified consultant will use a deeper knowledge of your industry and digital resources to make an impact. They will use previous experience in similar situations, and know how to course correct if need be. They will also have much more time on their hands than you would to conduct in-depth analysis on the current state of your business before even attempting to do anything.

In other words, you get what you pay for with a growth marketing consultant. Hiring an expert who can truly make a difference is a lifted weight off your shoulders.

Let’s run through the systematic process these experts use to grow their clients’ businesses.

 

Build, Compile, And Get Familiarized

The best growth marketers stay on top of the latest tips, tricks, and strategies. That means they constantly read articles and posts from other marketers. When they put together a growth marketing list, they use tools that allow them to plug in their favorite growth influencers and receive a specialized feed of everything being published by those influencers.

Building a list helps to compile the invaluable tips being published, all without having to scour the internet hoping to gather the latest and greatest.

From there, consultants will audit the company. They evaluate existing growth and marketing assets, including excel docs of experiments, keyword analysis, and previous website versions you’ve tried in the past.

Finally, they will figure out the tools that they’ll be expected to use. Their tech stack typically gets used cross-company, so you’ll need to provide logins for all of those tools so they can get to work sooner than later.

 

In-Depth Metrics Analysis

Sometime around the second week in, consultants focus on finding their North Star Metric, better known as the metric that best shows the value they’re delivering to their client. For example, Dropbox may have a North Star Metric of “trial accounts with >3 users active in week 1.” This would capture all the new and free accounts that are getting value and providing a signal of future conversion. That equals subscription revenue.

For AirBnB, it’s actually the number of nights booked. It lets them know that they are providing thousands, if not millions of people, places to stay everywhere imaginable, and generating profits for both themselves, and those hosting the guests.

But finding the North Star Metric is just part of the process. Consultants still need to map the user journey so they know how these people go from total strangers to loyal customers. To make mapping easier, they use information on user personas.

And with that information, they create a funnel analysis. How is your funnel system working in comparison to the findings? What needs work?

 

Meet And Backlog

In the third week, the consultant will set up a growth meeting and ask a few different people at the company to toss out ideas. This builds trust among coworkers, higher ups, and the consultant, while simultaneously allowing the consultant to gain inside knowledge of the company that might have been overlooked, or outright missed.

The meeting needs to stay small in order to be organized, so the consultant will need to be selective. Typically, they invite some marketers at the company, some engineers with experience in growth experiments that require technical assistance, as well as some team leads from the design department.

 

Using An ICE Score

In the fourth week, the consultant will figure out what experiment to ship. At this point all the research has been done, the brainstorming has been done, it’s just time to be smart about which experiment to start with.

They choose the one that has the most potential for impact, for half the hassle. Something they can easily launch with limited resources, and still get results with. In fact, the experiment they select will be a surefire success in the consultant’s mind, they will be confident in their selection before even launching.

This is called the ICE Score, an experiment that they feel meets the trinity of growth criteria: Impact, Confidence, and Ease.

 

System Launch

At this point, the consultant will launch the experiment and follows that up with multiple experiments per week. This speeds up North Star Metric improvements. There will be several A/B tests, many split URL tests, and many of failed experiments, but also, there will be measurable improvement in the company’s growth.

Of course, nothing happens overnight. And it will definitely be one step forward, two steps back in many cases during the experimentation process. But once the growth marketer finds exactly what works and why, you’re in the clear.

 

Diving Into Specifics

To get a more specific sense of what working with a consultant may look like, take a look at these specific business models, and how consulting helps:

 

Ecommerce Digital Marketing

Ecommerce sites are the ones selling products online, instantly recognizable by the shopping cart and web catalog.

In this instance, a consultant will check the website’s usability and check-out process, then make sure there are many payment options available. They will also set up drip email campaigns to aid with abandoned shopping carts.

 

Branding Business

Branding business models create a name, symbol or graphic that differentiates a product from others, and it tells customers what they can expect in terms of goods and services.

For instance, Nike is iconic, and brings forth images of athletic individuals pushing their bodies through rigorous tasks, such as marathon running. Based on those images and the “just do it” slogan, customers continue to purchase their products.

In this case, a consultant will come in and develop a strong brand identity after doing extensive data gathering and analyzing. This will lead to changes in images, copy, colors, graphics, slogans, etc.

 

FAQ Consulting

This is common in industry blogs, where an expert produces posts that relate to a very specific niche. They usually make their revenue through ads or training videos.

When a consultant comes in, their objective is to establish the blog’s industry expert status by participating in social discussions, creating strong email campaigns, and optimizing every piece on the site.

 

News Consulting

This business model focuses on providing information, sometimes around a specific subject, but not always. Think of major news publications, like The New York Times, or The Seattle Times. They make their revenue by selling subscriptions to their content, but sometimes rely on advertisements.

When a consultant comes in, they ensure the company is delivering strong, engaging content, to keep people hooked and coming back for more. They also work to make the company more visible and authoritative in their field.

 

Lead Generation

This model focuses entirely on generating leads, as the name entails. And that means there’s a wide net here. It could be a trade school, a doctor’s office, even Uber, since it connects buyers who needs rides with people who are willing to give others a ride for a fee.

Consultants will come in and edit content, tailoring it by using lead capture and magnet tactics. Then, they will focus on conversion optimization and lead nurturing, to make sure leads follow the funnel set in motion.

 

How to Hire Ecommerce Experts

Referrals are the most common way entrepreneurs tend to connect with experts. This involves asking around to see who other businesses have hired in the past to tend to their problems. In your case, as an ecommerce entrepreneur, ask friends who also run their online stores.

Don’t forget to ask them why they chose to work with those experts, how much those experts charge for their services, and how to connect with them. This will allow you to get some upfront details, both positive and negative. It also makes it easy to find these experts online and do some further investigating of your own.

Pay special attention to any past projects they’ve included as case studies, anything they’ve written about how they work with clients, and their social media presence. That can all give you insight on what it would be like to work with them.

If referrals aren’t working out for you, try out organic search engine searches, LinkedIn, and even freelancing sources. Although you’ll have to sift through to find quality experts, they are out there, and they are usually very upfront about whether or not they have the time to take on another client.

 

Interview & Connect

Once you find the two or three experts you’ve whittled your list down to, it’s time to schedule some interviews. Plan on at least one call with the agency or freelancer before you start working with them, even if you can’t meet face-to-face. This gives you a feel for who they are, what they’re all about, which companies they tend to work with, and how you would fit into that.

If you can talk to multiple team members, that’s even more insightful, as you’ll see how they work together and what their dynamic is. Because remember, once you’re working with them, you want to make sure that they aren’t the type of team that will leave you high and dry, missing deadlines and delivering low-quality work.

More so, remember that there’s two sides to every story: while you’re putting them under the microscope, they’re doing the same to you. If they don’t think they’re able to help with what you need, they’ll tell you. They have extensive experience working with other clients, so they’ll be prepared with a proper presentation, qualifications, and an overview of their ideal clients. If you’re not the type they work with often, they may not be the experts you need.

For instance, say a freelancer typically works on creating and directing content marketing for niche clothing brands. But you’re running dog ecommerce shop specializing in high-end toys, treats and collars. Very different niches, and styles, and therefore, an entirely different target audience and content marketing style. If the freelancer doesn’t have experience in that field, they will tell you upfront, and won’t have any related work to show you.

 

Warning Signs

Something else to keep in mind is that unrealistic guarantees are not only tacky, but very clearly the tactic of someone with less experience. An expert will have years worth of experience, a portfolio to showcase work, references, and high ratings. They know that speaks for itself. They don’t promise the world, and they don’t make the mistake of saying things like “my content marketing is guaranteed to meet and exceed your sales goals for this year.”

No, an expert understands that marketing is all about experimentation. If anything, their content will aid you in your goals, but won’t outright meet them for you. There’s no way to truly tell, except by digging through piles of data, formulating a plan, forming a hypothesis, and executing that plan. Then it’s all about tweaking elements until the marketing begins to show results. And all of that takes time.

In other words, saying they will need deadlines and have certain projects done in a certain time frame is just fine. But if they’re promising the moon and stars, especially in a tiny window of time, then it’s best to move on.

 

How to Work With Ecommerce Experts

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Working with experts means you’ll be dealing with people who do this kind of content all the time. They probably read, write, and talk about it in their sleep. It’s a huge portion of their lives, it’s what their entire career is all about.

And that can seem very overwhelming, especially if you know nothing about it, hence why you’ve asked for their help.

But the good news, is that working with experts can be divided up into perfectly actionable steps.

 

Step One: Set the Project Scope

This is when you outline what work the expert is going to do and on what timeline. This is a project’s scope.

Now, let it be known now, most of the time, the timeline will just be a simple guess. Most projects spill over much longer, so keep that in mind before you run out of funding. If your budget is small, be realistic about how much time you’re dedicating to the project.

If you’re unsure about the time, most experts have a pretty solid idea about how much time things take, because they’ve been there before, so they will tell you how much time they are used to spending on projects like yours. After careful analysis of your goals and current status, they will be able to tell if you should be aiming for more or less time as well.

 

Step Two: Setting Up A Successful Kickoff

It’s a smart idea to start all of your projects off with a kickoff call or otherwise lengthy email exchange to really sort out the details.

Some freelancers really like to check out what the company site looks like, what the company is all about, the target audience, etc. Any preparation they do on their end, in the form of research on your business, is welcome, since they spend less time trying to get to know you during the call, and more time telling you their ideas about your company.

This kickoff also gives everyone a chance to voice concerns, special requests, and really iron out all the wrinkles. Maybe you’re under the impression that the freelancer that you’re hiring for content marketing also does YouTube video content? What if they don’t? Ask any burning questions, and feel 100% free to voice concerns. You want to be on the same page, everything on the table, before starting the project.

 

Step Three: Practice Good Communication

Finally, it’s time to actually get to the work. And this involves a clear way of checking on work progress, turning in ongoing work, asking questions, and voicing feedback. Most people use email as a classic form of communication, but there are other alternatives, including texting, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Slack. These resources help you keep in contact with the expert, tweak anything as its coming in, and more efficiently streamline how you work together.

Expect to give feedback on the work at different stages. If you’re unsure about how to refer to something, and lack the technical terminology to explain it, feel free to bring a visual. Links to sources that have what you’re looking for, or images of content that you’ve see and would like, is a great way of cutting out the guesswork for the expert. And in turn, you not only get what you want, you’re likely to get some education on the terminology, and what it may or may not be used for. It will also shed light on why that particular item may or may not work in tandem with your business goals.

 

What Now?

Consultants are there to make life easier, to course correct, and to ensure companies are putting their best faces forward. Meeting the right goals is the cornerstone of what they do. Don’t be afraid to call upon a consultant if you want or need to do anything on the list above, or if you simply feel like you’d benefit from having someone come in and take a look at what you’re doing. It never hurts to get someone else’s fresh perspective, especially since their objectives are the same as yours: to see you flourish and use your full potential.

So, do you need a digital marketing consultant after all? What do you plan on doing?

Leave a comment below, would love to hear about the business decisions this guide helped to inspire.

The Ultimate Guide to SEO and Content Marketing

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Wondering how you can improve your keyword rankings?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still an integral part of the online marketing process, as it makes it possible for engines to find your content and make it available to users.

And running a business means needed that traffic. The more people that land on your content, the higher the possibility of conversions.

But perfecting tags and headers isn’t enough these days. In a world of continuous content flow, you need to find ways to freshen up your SEO.

Let’s take a look at some helpful tips to level up your SEO and content marketing skills.

 

Understand What SEO Really Does & How

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the act of making your content easier to track online. Doing so makes you stand out against the competition, thus increasing traffic and search engine ranking. The higher your rank, the more likely it is you’ll wind up on the top of the first page of results (ultimate goal).

But have you ever thought of why you need to make your content more searchable? Doesn’t your content just need to be good?

Well, not exactly. There is a lot of content online these days, not all of it relevant to yours, but still. Even when speaking of your competition, you’re essentially talking about another indie developer’s or publisher’s website, social media accounts, blogs, forum posts, YouTube videos, store pages, etc. It can be plenty of information for just one competitor to have, let alone millions.

It might make you wonder how search engines actually function so quickly with that much information to sift through.

 

Understanding Search Engines

Search engines do two things: crawling and building an index. These two tasks are what give search engine users a ranked list of websites relevant to their specific search.

Much like a subway network, there are different stops for every type of documentation―web pages, PDFs, etc. This is why search engines need to “crawl” the whole city and find the specific type of documentation you’re looking for.

They do this by taking the best path available, links.

Once the automated robots find these documents, they have to analyze what’s in them, and file them accordingly. This makes it easier to find the information users search for without wasting time. Kind of like a library system.

To keep up with demand (think about everyone searching for something right now), search engine companies have created what are known as datacenters all over the world. These storage facilities hold machines that process these searches quickly.

When someone searches for anything, these bots go to work, providing instantaneous results. Even a 1-2 second delay is too much.

 

How SEO Meets Search Engines

content marketing

Having empathy goes a long way, no matter what situation you’re in, and it’s no exception in business. Understanding what your audience needs and wants is crucial, not just because you want to help, but you want to make sure you’re making it easy to find online.

That’s where SEO comes in.

Search engines have one primary task and that is to provide relevant results to users in as little time as possible. The more you emphasize with your audience and know what it is they’re actively searching for, the better off you’ll be.

Suddenly, search engines will begin incorporating your relevant content to these specific inquiries from your target audience, and the more home runs you hit, the higher your rank.

And as trivial as that seems, it winds up meaning the world to a business. A study by Yahoo showed that users focus on the top left and center the most, with everything toward the bottom and too far right being essentially low priority. The higher your content ranks, the closer it is to that sweet top left.

 

Understand Search Engine Tools & Services

SEO tools are extensive, but some of the most useful are actually provided by search engines themselves. After all, they want you to create accessible, relevant content that they can track.

The more helpful their results list is at every turn, with every search from every possible user, the better they’re considered. And that helps them beat out the competition. There’s a reason everyone uses Google, but no one even thinks about Bing.

Take Google for instance, since we brought it up. How does Google help webmasters (you) rank higher in searches?

 

Google Webmaster Tools

Geographic Target - If a site targets users in a specific place, webmasters can provide Google with that information so as to make that site appear in country-specific search results.

Preferred Domain - The webmaster can select their preferred domain, making sure it’s indexed. Google will find a link to that site, just as it is typed and note it for future search results.

URL Parameters - Webmasters can also tell Google about certain parameters on their sites, such as “sort=price,” which makes it easier for Google to search for specific information. Think of it as a mutual benefit.

Crawl Rate - Affects the speed, but not the frequency, of Google’s requests during crawling.

Malware - Google lets you know when there are some major issues, such as malware on your website. Malware creates a bad user experience, and so search engines won’t want to refer your content (lower ranking).

Crawl Errors - Google will let you know when there are 404 errors and will report them. It hurts your ranking as well, but at least Google is letting you know so you can fix your redirecting issues.

HTML Suggestions - Google will look for search engine-unfriendly HTML elements, like poorly-written meta descriptions and tags. See? All those times you thought your tags and descriptions didn’t matter were missed opportunities!

 

Reevaluate Your Keyword Research

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If you stop to think about it, SEO revolves entirely around a few words typed into a search box. It seems so simple, but in reality, there’s an entire system at work ready to make it happen at a moment’s notice.

As a webmaster of your own content, it’s your responsibility to meet search engines halfway. They provide you the opportunity to display your content. They even give you free tools to make it happen.

All you need to do is ensure you increase your chances.

The most important way to do this is actually what makes SEO possible in the first place: keywords. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website. By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can learn which terms are ideal for your SEO goals, as well as what it is your customers really want to learn more about.

Rather than focus on getting more traffic, you need to focus on getting more of the right customers to your content.

 

Selecting Your Keyword(s)

It may seem impossible, selecting the right keywords to essentially summarize all of your content and make it highly searchable. But there is a step-by-step process you can follow. Plus, you only need to do this once, assuming you get it right the first time.

  1. Ask yourself if the keyword(s) and your content go well together. Will people find what they’re looking for on your website when typing in those keywords?
  2. Search for the term in major search engines to see what pops up. Does your content coexist here, or would it not make much sense? Also, how does your site compare in terms of quality?

  3. Buy a sample campaign for the keyword at Google AdWords. Buying test traffic to see how well it converts is a good way to eliminate guesswork. Just make sure you track impressions and conversion rates over the course of at least 300 clicks.

  4. Use the data to determine if your keywords need changing. After all is said and done, each one of these steps will let you know if you’re on the right track, or if you need to get a firmer grasp of what your audience is looking for.

 

Understand Your URL Structure

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Think about your target audience and what their needs are. When they look at your URL, what will they see? If you can easily predict the content that will be on that page, you’re on the right track, but otherwise, you may need to rethink your URL.

Remember, shorter is better. Description is important, but making sure your email is easier to copy and paste into blog posts and text messages is what makes the whole thing visible.

The same goes for overusing keywords in post and page titles. Remember, linking to this content will generate its own URL. Overusing keywords will lead to less usable URLs, and may lead to spam filtering.

 

Remember the Four Pillars of Web Design

Your website needs to adhere to certain expectations, as you may already know. There are common knowledge ones, such as having a landing page, a contact page and a blog. But what if I told you everything needs to neatly meet four major needs?

  1. Easy to use, navigate and understand.

  2. Provide direct, actionable information that is relevant to the inquiry.

  3. Professionally designed and accessible to even the most modern of users.

  4. Deliver high quality, legitimate, and credible content.

In other words, your website could be gorgeous. But if it’s not easy to use, or doesn’t deliver relevant content, it’s still going to waste.

 

Covering All Forms of Search Intent

Ever stop to consider that maybe not everyone is searching for the same thing on your website? Just like everyone wants a different type of cupcake, different people want different types of content.

  • Transactional Searches - making a purchase or completing a task like signing up for a free trial, creating an account, or finding the best local Indian cuisine.
  • Navigational Searches - visiting a predetermined destination or sourcing a specific URL; these searches are performed with the intention of surfing specific content.

  • Informational Searches - non-transactional information, getting quick answers; the equivalent of finding out what your local weather is.

 

Let Go of Meta Tags

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Seriously, it’s been spammed to death, and search engines had no other option than to discard this as a measure of SEO.

Instead focus on title tags, meta description tags, and keywords. Even the meta robots tag is important, because it controls crawler access.

 

Stop Keyword Stuffing

“Indie game development studio Calico is the best indie game development studio in the Seattle area. We make indie games at our studio in Seattle and focus on engaging, high-quality indie games.”

Notice anything weird?

This is copy designed for robots, not users, for one thing. And also, well, even the robots don’t like it. It’s a myth that keyword density matters.

In reality, keyword quality is all you need. Use your keywords as organically as possible, with usability in mind, so you don’t put off any humans or robots.

 

Transcribe Video Content

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If you’re not already creating video content, it’s time to change that. In this day and age, if you have a creative business to showcase, a digital one, a physical one, or you sell services or products, then you need video content. Everyone does.

And the reasoning is simple: visuals have taken over. Everything from Instagram to YouTube is a visual. It provides entertainment or information quickly and efficiently, on demand. And it doesn’t involve reading walls after walls of text at every turn, which not everyone is going to do. Video is easier for the consumer.

But back to the point. Transcribing your video content and placing it underneath the video, in a post on your blog makes it possible for search engines to pick up essential keywords you’re  (hopefully) trying to rank for.

Either do it yourself, which is tedious, or use SpeechPad.

 

Find Large Images to Reduce

Ever wonder if your images are making your website run super slow? Here’s a way to find your large images within Google image search, and then reduce them to keep site speed running smoothly.

And the process is simple. Simply go to Google Images and do a site search on your business, like “site:quicksprout.com.” Turn off Safe Search (right-hand side) so you’re sure you have all possible images. Then filter by size, you want images larger than 640x480.

See if you can spot images which at full size are much bigger than they need to be. Ideally, these are the images that are very big, like 1024x681. There’s a poor cropping job somewhere in there. Now you can save the image, edit it properly. Check out these free image optimization tools for image compression.

 

Run A Co-Marketing Campaign

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In case you’re not aware of what it is, a co-marketing campaign is when two companies collaborate on promotional efforts for a co-branded offer. In this situation, both companies promote content, or a product, and then share the results of that promotion.

The reason it works so well is because your audience doubles, for both companies. And that helps drive leads, links, social engagement, etc.

More so, because there’s double the data, there’s more to go on. Suddenly you get clearer perspectives, motivation, and insight that can be used to drive more sales.

And there’s many types of co-marketing campaigns, largely depending on industry. For instance, charitable causes help those trying to grow their personal nature-based brands, such as animal rights activists, or forest preservation. Joint webinars help those who provide information and services of almost any kind, like marketing, for instance. Events, like co-branded local meetups, can help game developers who are joining forces to create a game together.

 

Update and Republish Old Content

When content gets old, people stop reading it. A lot of it just gets buried under all the new content you keep posting, for one thing. But also, the thing about information is that it loses credibility over time, especially if your content is all how-to focused, or information based. Essentially, anything that provides value.

That’s why every few months, it’s a good idea to take a few of these posts and unpublish them. Then read over them and delete anything that isn’t relevant anymore. Add some updated information, since there’s probably plenty of progress that’s been made since the original date of publication. For instance, if you’re writing about tech, and you mentioned Amazon Echo, you could suddenly mention Amazon’s Fire TV Cube, and it’s mixed reviews.

Once you’ve updated your post, go ahead and republish it. This adds relevant information, a breath of life into an old post, and moves it higher in the website’s architecture, so it has more impact.

 

Remove the Date in Serps/WordPress

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You know when you complete a Google search and there’s dates on the left-hand side showing you how old the source is? Well, when it’s over a year old, people tend to not click on them as much. Or even filter them out. To avoid that, you can have that removed, but it does involve some specific steps.

This involves a but of skill, so let someone know if you need help! First, find the function “the_time()” because that is where you’re going to tinker around. Likely, you’ll find it in archive.php, index.php, or single.php.

Next, use an FTP client like Filezilla. Download your WordPress theme files to your computer, and make sure to just copy the folder wp-content/themes/your-active-theme-folder. You don’t need the entire installation.

Now go to Search, Multi-File Search, enter “the_date” in the find field, and click other before navigating to your theme’s folder and selecting it.

At this point, you should be seeing all the files containing “the_time.”

All you need to do now is alter “the_time()” in those files.

It should look something like <?php the_time(‘F jS, Y’) ?>

Replace it with: <script language=”javascript” type=”text/javascript”>document.write(“<?php the_time(‘F jS, Y’) ?>”);</script>

 

Scrape Ubersuggest for Keyword Ideas

Create a Google Doc spreadsheet and in cell A1, type in something you want to query Ubersuggest for. It could be “how to,” for instance.

Then in cell A2, type in the following formula and press enter:

=ImportXML(“http://ubersuggest.org/?query=”&A1&”&format=html&language=English%2FUSA&source=web&submit=Suggest”, ”//li/span’)

The spreadsheet will fill up with Ubersuggest’s answers now.

 

Create An Expert Roundup

If you have plenty of valuable posts chock full of informative, actionable advice, it’s time for an expert roundup. But there’s a catch: it can’t be a fluffy roundup post, because there’s too many of those out there. And frankly, they offer no real value to anyone, not even you.

Instead, create a truly informative roundup, whether it’s actionable, proven advice you swear by, or it’s content about what life is really like behind the scenes, etc. Something readers can really walk away from knowing they learned something new and important. Something that can inspire them, change their minds, or even convince them to try something.

These types of posts get shared heavily on social media, especially Twitter. So it’s a useful tool if you want to generate more engagement, bring traffic to your website, or gain a higher social media following.

Also, if you already have a nice thing going with some influencers, it may be useful to reach out. Ask if they want to participate in your post by answering a simple question you can quote in there, and then link back to their content.

Remember to let them know when it’s going live, and to let them see the quote within the context, prior to publication. You’d be surprised how many edit their answer once they see the full picture.

 

Get A Column On An Industry Publication

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Guest posting is always nice, but you know what’s better? Having your own column. Not only is it an ongoing writing gig that pays, whether financially or in traffic, or both, but it’s also a great way to establish yourself as a prominent voice within your industry.

And that goes for startup founders, anyone trying to grow their personal brand, or creatives who make digital products, like video game developers and app designers.

First look for publications to write for, and use All Top if you want to make the process easier. If you do use it, search for a keyword that’s relevant to your industry and you will see a list of top publications relevant to you.

Now list the ones you want to contact. You can write on a Post It, create a spreadsheet, whatever you want, but remember to jot down the domain name.

When you reach out, make sure you’re clear about wanting to write something ongoing for them. Not everyone will agree, but keep at it. Also, some publications want you to pitch to them first, so it would be wise to have a solid idea all figured out beforehand.

 

Get Product Reviews Using Influencer Platforms

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Influencers open up a vast world of possibilities, but this is something you likely already know. Viewers trust influencers, go to them for recommendations, and insight on products that they’ve been considering purchasing.

So it’s no surprise that companies actively gift influencers free products in exchange for a review. Now, few influencers will accept paid reviews in exchange for kind words, because they know that their job is on the line. If their audience realizes it, they’ll lost credibility, get in to a dramatic situation with their platform, etc.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to brace yourself either. Hopefully, you know your product is good. And everyone will have their own opinion on things, anything, really. What works for one person, doesn’t always work for another person. Ultimately, the best you can do is see what the influencer has to say about the product you spent x amount of time meticulously designing and creating. And if it’s negative feedback, the influencer will likely tell you upfront before anything gets posted.

Two platforms, Famebit and Tomoson enable brands to find influencers to work with and to promote their product range. The price varies depending on the influencers audience size, so keep your budget in mind.

 

Build Your Content in Topic Clusters

This is when you post relevant content that individually covers smaller themes within an overarching topic.

So, say you’re a game developer who wants to post about what development looks like. You could do a post on the top three things aspiring developers should know, another post on actually getting into the industry, another post on balancing work and leisure time, a top 10 list on advice you’ve learned the hard way since going into development, etc.

Having large groups of content that revolve around the same topic builds more relevance around the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Suddenly, search engines recognize you as a voice to pull up whenever anyone has a query regarding your niche.

 

Link Reclamation

The great thing about link reclamation is that it can be used by everyone: small business founders, designers, those trying to grow their personal brand, etc. And the reason why this applies to everyone is because all it involves is tracking down mentions.

Whenever someone mentions you, your business, your product/service, or even your content without actually linking it to you, it’s time to get in touch with them, and request that they link back to your website (the original webpage).

Something seemingly simple has shown time and time again that it can elevate your conversion rate, spiking organic traffic, and boosting your SEO plan.

But how exactly does one find out when there’s an unlinked mention anyway?

 

Use the Right Tools to Find Brand Mentions

Tools like Mention and BuzzSumo offer free versions that allow you to set up alerts by adding keywords related to your brand, your products or services, or even yourself.

To optimize this, exclude mentions from your own website, something you can typically do within the setting options. Also, remember to separate keywords out.

 

Set Up Email Alerts

Then it’s time to manage your notifications, another thing you can do within settings usually. Select the option that gets you a daily digest email, of sorts. That way you don’t have to get a notification of every single time someone mentions you—it’s all consolidated instead.

This can be lifesaving for those who actively get mentions on a daily basis, as their notifications would quickly get overwhelming.

With a daily digest email, you get everything you need, so that you can check for links.

 

Use Plugins to Check For Links

As much as you probably want to go one by one, manually checking for links (you don’t), there is a method of bulk checking and saving precious time.

Assuming you’ve created an Excel spreadsheet and copied and pasted the information from the daily digest email, you can use the SEO Tools Plugin to perform a bulk check for links.

If you really want to go the manual way, you’d have to click into each webpage, view the page source, and then search for your domain name within your browser using “CTRL+F.” If it’s not in the HTML of the webpage, it’s not linked to you… yet.

 

Reach Out

Reaching out takes three mini steps, all of which are easy, and one of which is a one-time effort. Let’s lay it all out:

 

#1 Write An Email Template

Writing an email template allows you to copy and paste what you wrote into each and every email you send out to people who have mentioned you. Of course, there will be some information that changes for each, but all in all, it’s a time-saving practice. Otherwise, you’d be forced to write original copy for each mention, which if you get several of in a day, you’d be in big trouble.

Try something along the lines of:

“Hi ________,

Thank you for mentioning __________ within your article, it means so much!

However, I noticed that you didn’t link us in the mention, is there any chance you’d be willing to update the post with the link? To save you time, please use this link: ____________.

Thanks, and if you ever need further information about ________, don’t hesitate to ask. We can supply you with images, videos, or whatever else may suit your articles.

Thanks!

___________”

 

#2 Find Contact Information

Once you’ve written out an email you can keep reusing, it’s time to start reaching out. But to do that, you’ll need a way to actually make contact.

Although you could reach out to the website owner, your best bet is to reach out to the actual author of the piece that mentions you.

To do this, look at their contact and “about us” pages. If they don’t list an email or anything, try using a tool like BuzzStream, which extracts contact data for you. Another option is to use Email Generator, designed by the MailTrack Team.

Ideally, you want to reach out to the person who manages the content. To do this, skim the blog posts to find who is listed as the author most frequently. To verify that you have the right person, search for their content manager on LinkedIn. If they are, add them to your list.

Note, this only works half the time. Other times, there’s no author listed on the posts, or there’s multiple authors published equally. For these situations, go to their LinkedIn company page and click “see all # employees on LinkedIn.” The resulting list has job titles, which should help to simplify everything.

If for any reason there’s a few people who seem like they could be managing the content, it’s time to dig even deeper. Click into each person, browse their experience and search for mentions of content managing for blogs.

Once you have the information you need (name) add it to the spreadsheet. Ideally, you want the blog name on the far left, the domain rating in the center, and the person of contact on the right.

Finally, find the email address to contact each person. Tools like Voila Norbert or Hunter make this step easy.

 

Note: Secondary Contacts

It’s no secret that focusing on the companies and blogs that are the best fits for promotion is the way to go. The big ones, with the most engagement.

But content promotion and link building increases your success rate, especially if you reach out to a secondary person if your first target doesn’t respond.

This will likely be someone who:

  1. Is another content manager

  2. Is a marketing director (your first contact’s boss)

  3. Is the founder or CEO of a smaller company

If you’re unsure of who the higher-ups are, use LinkedIn. Go to the company page, click on employees, and note the first page’s results.

Then drop them into the same sequence you put the first round of targets on.

 

#3 Send An Email

The final step is an obvious one: send an email. But you want to do this as soon as possible, ideally within the first day or two after they publish a post that mentions you. The reason being that during the first few days of publication, visibility and traffic are higher, especially if the authors are mentioning the post on social media, drawing traffic to it. As time goes on, the interest in that post wanes, as new content is being uploaded.

Another reason why you want to reach out quickly is because the author will likely have other content to tend to. The longer you wait, the more the post subsides in their mind. Ideally, you want to reach out when that article is still fresh on their mind, just to make their lives easier.

And after you send out your emails, it may be helpful to keep track of who responds back, and who doesn’t. Is your email template effective, or does it need to be revised? What’s the conversion rate? Weigh the answers and react accordingly.

 

#4 After the Response

Because your request/ask is easy, most people will respond fairly quickly. When they do, you should reply with three things:

  1. A thank you

  2. A timeline for when you’ll publish

  3. A note that you’ll send them from their section before it goes live so they can approve it

This keeps them in control of what gets published and keeps them informed on when to expect the next step.

Before the article goes live, follow up with their section, giving them a few days to get back to you with any edits.

Note, this sparks the conversation up again, giving them a reason to reply. Seeing how you did what you said you’d do establishes trust and reliability. Combined, it sets the tone moving forward, and increases the likelihood that they’d work with you again.

Just make sure to send them an email the morning of publication with the link, and offer to make any last-minute changes. Then request to share it on their social media.

 

Community Hijacking

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Community hijacking is when you find online communities that are made up of your target market, build a relationship with them, and then get them to promote your content, brand, products, services, etc.

It also counts if you find a community made up of people who have access to your target market.

 

Setting The Scene

For instance, for the sake of illustration, say you run your own bakery. You sell donuts, cupcakes, tarts, danishes, brownies, etc. You even sell coffee and tea. Maybe you donate part of your profits to a cause, such as children’s literacy.

So then you find a community on Instagram that is all about pastries and coffee. That’s all they post and often times, you see books being displayed on these well-arranged, beautifully set-up coffee tables, right beside cupcakes and tarts.

Then you notice that many of these accounts are linking to their favorite coffee shop and bakery websites. Some even link to literacy causes, because clearly, this is a community of like-minded people… who just happen to be your target audience.

 

Collect The Data

To increase your chances of success, make a list of the popular accounts within that community. There are very intricate ways of doing this using tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider, and data scraping, but if you want to be less intense about it, go ahead and just start following several of these accounts. You’ll quickly learn who gets the most mentions, who has the most followers, the better content, and even who posts the most.

 

Reach Out

To keep things cost effective, focus on users that are located as close to you as possible. Preferably local, as this will further increase the chances of working together. Politely explain who you are, why you’re reaching out, and how you found them. Then ask if they’d be willing to use one of your items in a post, and link to the product (it helps to have product links, and if you really do run a bakery, an online menu).

Of course, don’t ask for handouts. You want to ask how much they’d charge for the work, offer in the free product, and then ask when they’d post it.

 

Keep Track Of Community Accounts

Once you reach out to people, it may be helpful to make a spreadsheet of them. Their names, links to their profiles, and basic information like follower count and average posts per day will come in handy when fighting for time during a busy schedule. Having that information readily available makes things run smoothly.

But don’t forget to add some essential columns: replied, willing to work together, and unwilling. This will allow you to keep track of anyone you’ve already reached out to, so you don’t make the mistake of bothering them again. And it helps you know which type of accounts are more likely to work with you. It helps you hone in even further on your target audience, thus making it possible to more accurately select who to reach out to in the first place.

 

Boosting Underperforming Content

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Even though websites publish post after post, and amass a ton of valuable content, a large percentage of most website organic traffic comes from a few posts, at most. This is because most organic traffic focuses on quality posts, not so much filler content.

Logically, that means the more value you provide in each post, the higher the quality of your content, and the more organic traffic you receive.

 

Find Easily Improved Posts

If you open Google Search Console, go to “Search Analytics” and then “Clicks”, “Impressions” and “Position”, you will see the keywords that bring in the most traffic to your website. Your objective is to find keywords that are between 10 and 25.

Pick a keyword and then click “Pages” to see which page the keyword is ranked for. The results should point to a nicely ranked page. That is the type of content you want.

 

Connect The Posts Internally

So next, look up the posts where you mention that keyword, and add an internal link that connects that high-ranking page to the lower-ranking one. Suddenly, the boost from an association with a popular page will catapult your low-ranking post to a good rank in search results.

Once you’re done adding the links, read the copy over. Is there anything else you could add that could make the post more valuable? Any other links you could add that connect it to more high-ranking content? And check for things like keywords within title tags and H1 headings.

 

Keep Track Of Your Progress

It may help to use tools like Accuranker to keep track of keywords. After all, if you’re using several of them, or testing out new ones that show potential, you’re going to want to keep tabs on all of them. It would also be useful to rank them according to traffic. Which keywords prove the most effective.

If you do use Accuranker, upload your keywords and tag them. Then you’ll get weekly, or even daily reports, depending on your setting preferences. Once you see the data, you’ll know which keywords to focus on, which to eliminate, and which to try boosting through internal linking to popular pages.

 

Measure Your Site Speed

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Believe it or not, even small variations in page speed and load times can have effects on its ranking. The reason being, of course, that people don’t like waiting too long for their content to be loaded. In fact, it shouldn’t take more than 2 seconds.

If that number spikes up to 5 seconds, the bounce rate goes up by 90%. Just one second more, at 6 seconds, and that percentage goes up to 106%.

In today’s modern age of instant access to shows, to movies, and video games, movies, even beverages and food, a slow website isn’t an option anymore. Because if your website is slow, there’s always another site that will provide the needed information in less than half the time.

So, what can you do to measure your site speed?

  • Go to https://developers.google.com/pagespeed/

  • Enter your web page URL (homepage is a good gauge of your website speed in general).

  • Once it’s done analyzing, you should see your optimization rate for both mobile and desktop.

  • Scroll down and there should be a list of issues with your web page with information on how to fix them. Click to see details.

  • Test other inner pages, important ones like sales pages.

  • Pay attention to the differences between mobile and desktop variations.

 

Google Author Tags for Multiple Author Sites

Why would anyone need to add Google author tags for multiple author websites? Because it is the act of letting Google know you’re the author of the content you publish online. The HTML markup code known as rel=author is all you need to dramatically impact how your content appears on search results.

Because Google uses rel=author to include a picture of the content’s author, it’s important that you tailor your Google+ in the way you want to be reflected. When readers see your image below a post and click into it, they’ll be directed to the rest of the posts you’ve written.

 

How to Do It

Let’s set the scene: you wrote post A, but a guest author wrote post B. You need to link to the individual author profile from each post (do as follows for each post).

 

Securing WordPress

Before moving forward, let’s tackle what you’re already thinking: security isn’t an SEO tactic. You’re right. But when a website lacks security, and gets hacked or worse, that has an effect on your SEO ranking. At the end of the day, you want to make sure your website doesn’t have a security problem, or else, you’ll have an array of issues, from SEO to financial.

So there are a few things you can do about security, assuming you have a WordPress website. These are all code based, so if you don’t feel comfortable with it all, feel free to ask someone trusted for help.

 

Security

You’re going to need to access your .htaccess file to do this, so again, if you require assistance, make sure to get it now.

Add this code above #Begin Wordpress. When you’re done, it should look exactly as it looks below:

# Block the include-only files.
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^wp-admin/includes/ - [F,L]
RewriteRule !^wp-includes/ - [S=3]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/[^/]+\.php$ - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/js/tinymce/langs/.+\.php - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/theme-compat/ - [F,L]

# BEGIN WordPress

What this does is it blocks outside access to your “include” file directories.

If you want this to work for a multi-author website, just remove the following line:

RewriteRule ^wp-includes/[^/]+\.php$ - [F,L]

 

Your WP-Config.php File

WP-config.php is where your username and password is installed. Assuming you don’t want to move files around, use this code in the .htaccess file.

Put this at the top of the .htaccess file to blog anyone trying to open it with their browser.

<files wp-config.php>
order allow,deny
deny from all
</files>

 

Change Your File Permissions

Run these two commands to change file permissions. You’ll need shell access to the server.

For directories:

find /path/to/your/wordpress/install/ -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;

For files:

find /path/to/your/wordpress/install/ -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;

 

Using SEO Smart Link

Internal linking is the act of linking from page to page within your own website. It’s seen when you’re reading a blog post, click on a link within that post, and find yourself taken to another relevant post in the same website.

And while internal link building is critical in the world of SEO, giving older, lesser ranking content more visibility, and hence boosting your website ranking, there’s still one problem:

As time goes on, these posts get further from the homepage, so they get buried.

The only real way to avoid that is to consistently link to them from new posts and pages. And that’s where the SEO Smart Links plugin comes in. This plugin makes it easier to internal link to older posts.

 

Setting Up

 

  • Go to http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/seo-automatic-links/

  • Install the plugin.

  • Under Internal Links, you’ll see some options and a line explaining that SEO Smart Links can process your posts, pages, and comments. Select posts, pages and under excluding, select “prevent linking in heading tags.”

  • Next, choose Targets and Settings. You want “Target Posts Only” unless you have pages really important to you.

  • “Process only simple posts” and “process RSS feeds” are also good ideas.

  • Under “Ignore posts and pages” and “ignore keywords” you can ask it to ignore certain content when lining. Many people put contact and about in there.

 

Link Building

  • Now you’re going to add specific posts that should be linked to when specific keywords appear. This is how your older content will get linked without you having to do it all manually every time. Under “Custom Keywords” you’ll click “prevent duplicate links for grouped keywords, and then you’ll start adding in keywords and the URL.

  • Enter as many keywords as you want, comma separated, and enter the URL you want them to link to.

  • Do this for every post you want to control.

 

Setting Limits

  • Then it’s time to set limits. Under the “Limits” menu, set the number of max links (3-5 is optimal).

  • Max Single and Max Signal URLs should be at 1.

  • Finally, select “open in a new window” so that your audience is more likely to navigate back to your newer content afterwards.

 

Twitter Advanced Listening

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Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you how important social media is. It’s a way to get the pulse on what’s going on, on what people are thinking. Whether it’s about the new breakfast joint on the corner, or a massive news report, everyone is reacting to something, suggesting something, or recommending a new product or service.  Especially with influencers running around.

And at the center of it all, is Twitter. While other platforms like Instagram are more about visuals, and things like fashion or even food, Twitter is about everything, visual or not. Information doesn’t disappear after 10 seconds like with Snapchat. It’s far more readable than Tumblr.

And yes, you can incorporate SEO into Twitter. Here’s how:

 

Making A Keyword List

Before setting up searches, it’s necessary to make a list of variations that have to do with your niche. If your main topic is game design, it would be…

  • gamedevelopment
  • game development
  • #gamedev
  • #gamedevelopment
  • game design
  • Gamedesign

Then you’d have a list of words for intent like…

  • Help
  • Tips
  • Question
  • Launch
  • New
  • Upcoming
  • Releases
  • Indie

And if it’s location based…

  • Seattle
  • WA
  • Washington

And finally, your brand. Say you’re running a business called Gamer Tech and your name is Bill Simmons…

  • bill simmons
  • gamertech
  • gamer tech
  • gamer tech seattle

 

Create And Test Your Advanced Search

Now go to https://twitter.com/#!/search-advanced and type in some of the keywords you came up with.

Good searches have a few solid results in the last 24-48 hours. You’re looking for activity that is relevant to what you’re looking for. If you type in a search and nothing really pops up, it’s not a good search.

Ideally, you want at least 3-4 relevant searches in the last two days. Fresh activity is key, since it makes it likely you’ll have more to track.

 

The IFTTT Recipe

Once you find searches you want to keep monitoring, create an IFTTT recipe to watch for them. You’ll receive an alert across a few platforms, which is nice. You’ll get an email or text when an alert is triggered.

  • Create a free account and make a new recipe. Use Twitter as the trigger.

  • Fill out the search field. For instance “seattle indie game design.” Then click “create trigger.”

  • Select either email or Gmail as the action channel.

  • Fill out the fields and customize as needed: you’ll be filling out which email you want the alert sent to, what subject line you want it to use, etc.

  • Select if you want to receive a text message and set your action fields.

  • Wait for emails to come in. This is the hardest step of all, since it requires patience. Note: if it takes too long, and you’re not getting any alerts for days, it’s time to revise the search repeat all the steps listed with the exception of step one).

But that’s not the only tool you can use for Twitter. To connect multiple platforms together to automate things, use ifttt. To set up multiple categories, or columns,  and track Twitter searches as they go through live, use monitter. If you want to see the popular articles picking up steam and being shared, use Tweet Meme. And to get all the mentions of your brand, you, or anything else you want emailed to you, like of like IFTTT, use Tweet Beep.

 

Measure And Track Success

content marketing.PNG

Each month, check up on:

  • Direct Navigation - traffic as a result of searches, bookmarks and email links without tracking codes.

  • Referrals - links from trackable emails, promotions or branding campaigns.

  • Search Traffic - queries that sent traffic from a search engine. Compare the contribution of each search engine with its estimated market share.

This will help you pinpoint any issues if your traffic were to drop. For instance, if one search engine drops off, it’s clearly an issue with that search engine’s ranking system. You’re not doing something specific. If all traffic from all search engines drops off, then it’s an accessibility issue.

 

Conversion Rates

Check your rankings to see where you stand amongst the competition. If others rank higher, sift through and see what it is they’re doing/providing that you’re not.

Conversion rates will also let you know which website page people are landing on the most. Is it the landing page, a specific post, or the store page? Whatever it is, you can improve it to increase conversions. Because if people are landing on it only to back out, then you have some improvements to make.

Some common site improvements are:

  1. Layout - top left is critical, that’s where your call-to-action should be.

  2. Design - Sleek websites that clearly provide all information in a way that is searchable even by skimming eyes do very well.

  3. Multimedia - Walls of text don’t convert well. Instead, try using spaces, infographics, videos, images, and even audio to provide further information along with your copy.

 

Deciding the Next Steps

Obviously, there is plenty that you can do in terms of SEO and content marketing that can get you ahead of the game. It's all about the timing. Although a step may be valuable in itself, it may be used at the worst of times, making it anything but successful.

The question here is, which tactics are the best for your business right now? What drew you to your conclusions?

Leave a comment below with your answer, would love to get some feedback on what you found the most helpful!