Search Marketing

Someone please tell me the difference between retargeting and remarketing already!?

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Do you know? If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not sure. While the jury seems to still be out, here is the latest consensus.

Retargeting and remarketing focus on totally different prospects.

Remarketing focuses on people who are incredibly motivated. These people have either added something to their cart, or done something else to express clearly they are interested in buying your product. They’ve made it way down a buying funnel, and fell off somewhere near the end of the buying process. Remarketing efforts take the form of e-mails, and focus on finding out why the person fell off, what else the provider can do or what other information they can offer, to help nudge the individual in the direction of completing their purchase.

According to a survey done by AgilOne on, dedicated to finding out which kinds of marketing initiatives people appreciated most, e-mail came out on top. And, of the e-mail messages, the most well received were 1) an alert to when a product was on sale 2) VIP customer appreciation emails and 3) cart abandonment email reminders. So, if you are considering adding, or testing, to your email strategy, consider framing some new messages to align with one of the above three categories.

Retargeting (read: ad stalking) on the other hand focuses on people who are slightly or moderately interested. We call them slightly or moderately interested because they’ve visited your site, but have not taken any other actions to express their interest in actually purchasing anything. Retargeting efforts focus on keeping your brand top of mind, to help remind people that they visited your site, and that you’re still there. This happens, mainly, in the form of ads served to the visitor. The hope is that, once they’re ready to buy, you’ll be top of mind.

stalking3_zpsc7af660d

So  - pro’s of retargeting? Since this is done via a third party like AdBrite, AdRoll and Google google display network, you can set it and forget it. You can reach people anywhere they happen to go on the world wide web. According to an InkSkin Media recent survey of 1600 adults, 53% find online ads useful. That number goes up to 60% when you look at a slightly younger population (ages 20-29) .

Cons? Data shows that consumers will get annoyed by you, especially if the ads are on a site completely unrelated to their search. Rule of thumb, after about the 3rd or 4th, you’ll have more people feeling annoyed, than helped, by your ad.

 

 


5 Digital Trends That Will Define 2016

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1) High Customer Expectations Will Just Keep Getting Higher

Personalization, targeting, retargeting and seamless e-commerce experiences will be exponentially more important in 2016. An average customer experience will no longer fly. The ‘new normal’ in customer experience will trend towards tailoring the experience to each person’s behaviors, interest,  and on, and even off-line, activities. Companies must think about specific customer journeys, personalities and interests of their varied customers. They must seek out the appropriate tools to execute on those initiatives, and empower their employees to work together to bring the experience to life.

 

2) Powerful Tools (Read Data) For All:

Integrative software that felt out of reach for many small businesses will become more affordable. The market has become more saturated with copy cat, yet powerful, tools across numerous parts of any business making them more accessible.

Close-up of a modern business team using tablet computer to work with financial data

3) Data, Data, and More Data

With powerful, data driven software accessible to more companies, marketers will begin to focus on the data. You'll see marketers leaning heavily on metrics to help inform strategies and priorities.

 

4) Be Prepared to Spend More

While online ads are still relatively cheap, the increase in competition in the digital world should increase the cost of advertising quite a bit. Small companies with already limited budgets may find themselves struggling to make any sum of money go the distance when it comes to paid advertising.

 

5) Work With Siri, Not Against Her

Search Engine Optimization is going to change dramatically. This is in part due to social media beginning to be indexed by Google (aka your social presence will affect search results). This is also in part thanks to our favorite mobile friend Siri and her counterparts. Siri, the google app, etc., are now woven into our technology of choice - our phone. Now that mobile browsing has surpassed desktop, and these technologies have become less clunky, people will begin trending their way to find what they need. To ensure you don’t get left out of the mix, make sure you’re serving these bots with the information to find you.

 

Meet the real woman behind the voice of Siri 

 

 


Small-Budget Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season

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Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.

This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.

Holiday Vines

Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.

Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:

1 holiday vines

Embed Vine: https://vine.co/v/OgIwBEnLKPv

Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.

Top Tips

  • Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
  • Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
  • Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
  • Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.

Holiday Emails

2 holiday card

Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.

But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.

Top Tips

  • First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
  • If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
  • Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
  • Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.

3 merry christmas

Web Banners

Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer FunkyPigeon.com is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.

4 web banner

More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.

If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.

Content

In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.

However, you need to start early. Create indirect branded content (including infographics) on holiday themes, such as:

  • X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
  • X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
  • Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)

Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.

Smart Gifts

5 success kid meme

Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.

But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.

And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?

So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:

Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!

Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.

6 plantable paper

The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.

Over to You

The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.

With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!

 


Ramp Up Sales With SEO: An Agency Guide

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Over the last 7 years I’ve been directly involved with teaching digital agencies how to market, service and ramp up services with a SEO product. As I partner with these digital agencies, I’ve noticed that there’s a stop gap between the sales staff and an active, healthy SEO client lifecycle. In many cases, this is based on a lack of education in the nuances of dealing with and servicing a typical SEO product.

SEO

I’ll be focusing on this difficulty for agencies in my session on May 13th, as part of Digital All Stars, a virtual one-day event hosted by OMI.

We’re aiming to help train and teach the basics of dealing with these unique challenges that agency sales reps and account managers face when offering SEO, and how best to market these services. What we’ll cover will be a crash course in how to ramp up sales with SEO. If you’re an agency that wants to add a new service line, or needs some training to perform better, don’t miss my session on May 13th.

Where Reps Fail with SEO: Common Pitfalls

In all of the agencies I’ve trained in offering and closing SEO projects, there seems to be a common trend: the lack of confidence and knowledge surrounding what SEO means specifically for the client website in question. What we’re teaching here are principles to live by, for your whole team from technical to sales.

If the sales reps can get these ingrained into their communication strategy, then your agency’s closing ratio will go up. Here’s are the top priorities for your team to learn for continued success:

  • How to qualify the site as a SEO candidate

  • How to position a large SEO value

  • How to introduce SEO to existing clients

  • How to close the contract for 6-12 months

  • How to share the knowledge (tools the clients can use)

The session outline covers these using the best strategy I’ve seen work for top agencies over the years, and can essentially help agencies growth hack the SEO intake process. Personally I think that doing this 4-5 times in a row, even if the lead doesn’t close in the end, will equip your reps with the confidence and level-set knowledge to hit and exceed their targets.

The Big Secret To Closing A Client on SEO

SEO is an educational sale to clients, and it’s arguably quite an easy one. The idea is to position yourself as a SME for SEO and let the client see the value himself, essentially closing the deal. In many cases, I’ve seen clients call back after days or weeks of looking at a technical report, and ask more questions.

At that point, they’re probably in. They’ve started to understand the value of SEO, and how it affects their bottom line. I’ve found that sharing your expert knowledge always works well because it’s intricate and complex, and those leads probably won’t want to do it themselves in the end.

SEO business deal

Expanding the knowledge base at your agency is just smart business; it’s a great feeling for sales reps to fundamentally understand what needs to be done, and how technical fixes can make quick ranking changes for clients. This understanding builds a bond between the client and agency that can last for years.

5 Best SEO Tools For Sales (That You Probably Don’t Know About)

I’m a big believer in giving away those practical tools that I’ve found useful when working to intake a client, so I’ve added this section to my session in the virtual summit. There are many cases when your sales rep might end up sitting at a desk in the client's office, showing them things and explaining strategy. Showing off these tools can give some awesome insight about the SEO situation, and really create a wow factor for clients.

I always recommend using some of these tools live in a presentation with a client, because it shows just how much improvement needs to be done on the client’s site. Just be careful not to paint yourself into a corner here, if you’re the agency that has handled the client’s web marketing in the past.

I’ve done this session in a few different countries, and it’s developed to be mainly geared towards sales. We’ll be doing more courses and drilling down into more specifics in the SEO sales funnel with OMI in the future. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and getting war stories from the summit participants! Find out more about the virtual summit here.

 


Google Sends a Message: Get Mobile or Get Out

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We’ve been hearing it for years: if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you’re going to suffer across the board. Searchers will bounce right off your site if it doesn’t load quickly or format well on their device, you’ll lose sales if your site layout doesn’t make for easy browsing, and shopping carts will be abandoned left and right if the buying process isn’t designed for mobile screens. And that’s just for ecommerce. Even I have to admit that when I’m searching, I question any business that isn’t up to date on this front. It makes me worry about their other business practices!

Mobile search

But even if you’ve been able to overlook all the warnings about the necessity of mobile-friendliness so far, you can’t afford to any longer. Google is introducing a new algorithm that will slam sites that don’t work well on mobile devices – making it very hard, if not impossible, to be found on SERPs viewed on a device, unless you’ve optimized your site for easy mobile browsing.

Related Class: Mobile Web and Responsive Design Fundamentals

Google is essentially throwing down the gauntlet, and sites that don’t rise to the challenge will be lost to the dregs of search engine results. And this isn’t just a problem for small business that haven’t been able to get going on mobile; recent studies, like this one by TechCrunch, indicate that nearly 45% of Fortune 500 companies are in trouble too.

How it Works 

As you’re probably aware, Google looks at a ton of different factors when ranking sites for SERPs. Over the years, digital marketers, business owners and web designers have tried to roll with each new update to stay on top. Google’s major updates can really shake things up, but the general trend has always been to reward quality original content, user experience, and authority. Generally speaking, every update makes it trickier to fool the algorithms with black hat techniques, keyword stuffing, and other practices that prioritize search bots over real life users.

Related Class: Mobile Search and SEO Fundamentals

Google’s latest update – called Mobilegeddon if you have a flare for the dramatic – is rolling out now, with some sites already feeling the impact. In a Google+ hangout Friday morning, Google’s John Mueller said that the update is “already rolled out completely” in some data centers. If you haven’t been affected yet, it’s only a matter of time (and not much time). Search engine results for desktop and tablet browsing won’t be affected – just smartphones, which constitutes a huge amount of traffic these days.

mobile search

What Google is Looking For

What does it mean to have a mobile-friendly site? You essentially have two options, and according to Google, one will not offer a ranking advantage over the other. The first is a separate mobile version of your site or page, and the second option is a website built with responsive design that responds to the device it’s viewed on. Both options will help you sail through this Google update, as long as you have some key elements.

  • Readable text (no zoom needed)
  • Links/buttons that are spaced out enough to be clickable without difficulty
  • Vertical scrolling as opposed to horizontal scrolling
  • Content or add-ons that won’t play or function on a mobile device (think Flash)
  • A design that scales to the screen to reduce zooming and scrolling

What You Can Do

For general update FAQ, as well as answers to some of your more technical questions, check out Google’s Webmaster Central blog on the topic. The best way to get started is to test your site for mobile friendliness. You can do this using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test here, or use your Webmaster Tools to access the Mobile Usability report. If you think your site is mobile friendly and it’s still getting a low score, you may have code or functionality that is blocking Google’s smartphone search bots from crawling your pages.

To learn more about adjusting your site to perform well in Google search results, check out this great class on optimizing your website from search expert Kent Lewis.

 


Perfecting PPC: 3 Expert Tips to Get More for Your Money

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Once you’re up and running with a paid search campaign, it’s up to you (or your team) to follow it closely and make improvements and adjustments as needed. PPC campaigns aren’t just a ‘Set It and Forget It’ traffic boost; the data you collect can and should be used to optimize your ads for success, whether for you that means increased impressions, more click-throughs, or higher sales conversions from those clicks. But you don’t have to rely on just your data for optimization.

PPC

My blog last week highlighted the basics of launching a PPC campaign, with tips from an OMI class led by expert Allen Klein, Fundamentals of Paid Search. Now it’s time to take it up a notch, with ways to plan and adjust your campaign to get the best results for your ad spend – with more helpful advice from the above class, and insights from PPC expert George Revutsky‘s intermediate-level OMI class, 8 Elements of Highly Effective Search Marketing. Use data from your own campaign, and these recommendations from top experts, to get the most bang for your buck in every campaign.

1. Sometimes being #1 isn’t the best.

Seems oxymoronic, I know. But bidding to be the #1 paid search result for a keyword or phrase is often not the most cost-efficient way to get conversions. Revutsky explains this perfectly in his class: if you budget a set amount for your PPC campaign, say $1000, and bid high just to get to the top spot, you’re going to reach your ad spend limit with fewer click-throughs achieved, and as logically follows, fewer conversions/sales.

A smart PPC bidder would aim for spots 2, 3 or 4, which require lower bids but will still reach a lot of eyeballs. With a lower price per click, you’ll be able to afford more click-throughs, and thus more conversions, on your $1000 budget. The #1 spot may be good for the ego, but it’s not always good for squeezing the most out of your budget.

2. Double your visibility by bidding for keywords that you already rank for organically.

It’s not unheard of for businesses to disregard their best organic keywords when considering a PPC campaign push. After all, you’re already ranking up there above the fold for that term – why do an ad as well? Sounds logical, but actually you can much more than double your revenue by doubling up on one keyword or phrase with paid ads and organic SEO.

Think about the layout and number of results a searcher sees, particularly above the fold. It’s really not very many, so if you can be two of those results instead of just one, you’ll be significantly increasing your chances of a click and thus a sale. Revutsky found that this strategy brings in 46% more revenue and 23% more profit; watch the class for the full case study and a much better explanation than mine.

3. Think carefully about ad location – and test your results.

When you’re setting up a campaign, there’s obviously a lot to think about and plan for. While it isn’t quite as easy as choosing a position on the page, you can help determine whether your ad appears at the top of the search results, along the side, or even at the bottom. Here’s how PPC ads typically layout: in mainline and side ads.

PPC layout

And here’s a heat map showing where searchers’ eyes generally go when their search results load:

PPC layout

So it’s pretty obvious that getting your ad to that top spot (even if it’s not #1) is going to get you a lot more notice and clicks. So how do you get there? Google has a great support page with tips for getting your ad to the top, but it really boils down to have a high Ad Rank for the keyword you’re bidding on – judged by your relevancy (CTR) and your bid. Mainline ads require a higher Ad Rank than side ads, so you’ll typically need a higher Cost Per Click to get up there. Google helps you figure this out by showing your estimated top page bid for different keywords.

The question of whether this increased cost pays for itself in PPC-driven sales is really up to you and your data; you’ll definitely see higher CTRs, but is the ROI worth the increased bid you need to get up there? Crunch your numbers and perhaps even A/B test the same ad in both mainline and side positions to see what works best for your campaign and your keywords.

Related Class: Google Shopping Overview

Again we’ve only scratched the surface of SEM optimization here – but I hope that these tips from two paid search experts will help you think strategically about what you can do to perfect and refine your PPC campaigns. There’s a lot more to learn, including how best to organize your campaigns and accounts, and how to use negative keywords to hugely improve your results.

Get the full rundown in the intermediate level class: 8 Elements of Highly Effective Search Marketing.

 


How To Crush Your First Paid Search Campaign

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Paid search campaigns are a critical element in a good digital marketing strategy, but not something that I have had to deal with much in my marketing roles. Basically I’ve done a lot of SEO, and not a lot of SEM! But I’ve been getting up to speed in recent weeks with OMI’s Search Engine Marketing classes, which encompass a great mix of topics like PPC, AdWords and local search.

Paid search

I started at the beginning with a class called “Fundamentals of a Paid Search Campaign,” led by Microsoft’s Paid Search Account Strategist Allen Klein.

With Basic, Intermediate and Advanced classes under OMI’s Search Engine Marketing umbrella, even a search marketing newbie like me can move quickly to the top levels. Here’s a crash course on paid search for other newbies – it’s a great jumping-off point if you’re thinking of adding paid search to your strategy (and you probably should be).

Fundamentals of a Paid Search Campaign

 

This class starts off with a clear message about how to create a successful campaign – the story of why Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos decided to start selling books and CDs online. Although no one else was really doing so at the time, Bezos saw that selling books would provide a large inventory that could be accessed easily. The other key factor was cost – he knew that the postal service’s Media Mail option represented a very cheap way to ship these items, and at a flat rate since it isn’t weight-dependent.

Maximize Efficiency

Why is this relevant to paid search? Because Bezos was able to dominate the market by creating a high level of efficiency for his specific niche. Easy inventory, cheap shipping and little competition essentially combined to create a super-efficient niche that allowed Amazon to establish itself. And once he did that…well, we all know how it went for him (net worth 34 billion in case you’re wondering).

The takeaways should be clear if you’re paying attention: Find that niche or fill a gap that maximizes efficiency, and establish yourself there.

In terms of paid search, this really means honing in on those keywords that work well for you, those ones you can always go back to for good results. They play to your strengths, but are unique enough not to play to everyone else’s strengths too. The reason for this is pretty simple – you need to get high Click Through Rates (CTR) to establish your paid search campaign and achieve a good position in the paid search auction.

AdRank = CTR x Your Max Bid

Okay, in reality it is a little more complicated than that – but your main focus should be on getting good CTRs so that your ads can be seen. Google describes AdRank as “calculated using your bid amount, the components of Quality Score (expected click through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.” As always with SERPs, high quality content and landing pages are rewarded, but you can optimize in various ways to move yourself up the list.

Related Class: PPC and SEO: A Perfect Pair

CTR is really a measure of your relevance to the person searching; if your ad is highly relevant to the paid search term you’ve bid on, you’re likely to get a click. If you choose keywords based on factors other than relevancy, or write ads that don’t fit well with your paid keyword, you’re unlikely to tempt searchers. Once you’ve established a good CTR on your ad, more searchers will see your ad as your AdRank improves.

Reach and Relevance

When bidding on your chosen keywords for a new paid search campaign, you’ll need to choose whether you want exact, phrase or broad match searches to see your ad:

paid search

As this slide shows, exact match bidding will limit your reach considerably, but you’ll also have much more relevancy (read: higher CTR) to those searchers. Phrase and broad matches will help you reach more people, but will lower your CTR as you’re not going to be 100% relevant to those you reach. So what’s a paid search campaigner to do?

Allen Klein suggests waterfall bidding – place your highest bid on exact match, your second bid on phrase match, and third bid on broad match. This class really emphasizes being efficient in your choices, and exact match is the most efficient option. It’s also the best way to establish your ad when it’s new so you can move up the AdRank, making it a great place to start out with new paid search terms.

Ad Location, Optimization, and Best Practices

Where your ads will appear in search results will also have a big effect on CTRs and efficiency, but your budget may be the deciding factor there since ads are priced based on location on the SERP. I’m running out of space to address this fully here, so I’ll refer you to the expert:

Watch the full class here for more on optimizing your ads, keyword best practices, and bidding on ads in terms of page location.

 paid search

 


What Google’s New .How Top Level Domain Means for Marketers

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Today, Google made available the purchase of .how domain names available to the general public. This is huge for digital marketers and coaches around the world.

Google's aim with this new Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) is to make it easier for businesses and individuals to share content & teach people how to do something. With the online education industry projected to grow well into the $100's of Billions in the next few years, the new .How domain extension provides an incredible opportunity to those looking to showcase their knowledge.

If you're ready to pick up your .How Domain, head over to Get.How (by Google) and get started now.

How to Get a .How Domain Name Google's New Top Level Domain Extension for Marketers

 

As a marketer, you're at the front lines of discovering new customers, educating them about your products or services, and showing them how you can help achieve their goals. There are many ways this new TLD can positively impact your business.

There are already a number of businesses and individuals that are using .how domains, to showcase their skills and offer eLearning opportunities to people around the world. If you want to learn how to skydive, how to be a better cook, or how to win in a sword fight, then you're in luck. With a .how domain extension, these businesses are poised to experience some major SEO benefits for search terms around "how to ..." when it comes to their specific niches.

Related Class: The Marketer's Secret to Content Marketing Success

Let's say you're in the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry and your product is a CRM tool that helps businesses track their customers actions and qualifies them as sales leads when they complete certain steps within your selling process. You're likely spending a lot of time educating your sales leads (and customers) on how your product is going to provide value and help them close more deals.

We know that content marketing is rapidly becoming one of the best ways to reach and engage new customers. From the example above, in order to help educate your customers and attract new sales leads, you could create a new website on a .how domain that's designed around the concept of giving out free (unbiased) advice for business owners on how to grow their sales funnels.

How to Get a .How Domain Name Google's New Top Level Domain Extension Creating Compelling Content for Marketers

Launching a new platform that features genuinely beneficial educational videos, regular blog content, downloadable free resources, and offers a way to get in touch with your business for personalized advice, is a great strategy for building trust and a powerful reputation within your industry. If you're looked to as an authority on how to convert leads into customers, and you're a source of meaningful content for businesses looking to do exactly that, then you're really going to solidify your position in the marketplace.

As Google's CIO, Ben Fried put it, "embracing .how is a great opportunity for companies and individuals to improve how they reach and engage thinkers and people who want to learn."

Whether you take advantage of Google's new .how domain extensions or not, you can't afford to miss out on the opportunities that are created when you become an online authority on a topic deeply connected to your business. If you're looking for some tips on how to kick off your content marketing strategy, check out our awesome class on Executing a Winning Content Marketing Program.

 


Blogging: An On-Page SEO Checklist

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The structure of a blog, as well as the content, is key to making it work in SEO terms. Even the most engaging and well-written blogs can get lost in the vortex of the digital world without the essential SEO markers to ensure that they end up in the right place and reach their full potential. Below is a guide to the ideal SEO blog structure that you can use to hang any kind of content on so that it will stand out and work effectively as a digital marketing tool.


Your page title is key. While the content itself is the most important element on the page, the title comes in a close second. Fifty-five to 60 characters is the ideal length for a blog title, enough to be descriptive but not verbose. Make sure you choose a title that is relevant, eye-catching, and contains your target keywords.

Use the meta description. The meta description is a block of text that offers a great opportunity to sell the page contents and alert users that this is what they were looking for. It’s a description for humans, not robots, and should be worded to encourage someone reading it to click through to the rest of the blog.

Check the URL. This tactic is useful for both search engine and human users. Make sure the URL is relevant to the page and also correct (i.e., no spelling mistakes or inaccuracies). Keywords should also be included if appropriate and you should use hyphens, not underscores, between words.

Keywords in the content. You can make good content into great, highly effective content with the use of keywords. It’s important to make sure that they read like they are occurring organically in the text, otherwise the whole thing will feel clumsy. Choose blog topics that naturally incorporate these keywords and you’re more likely to become identifiable with the areas you want to online. Remember - write for humans, not robots.

Related Class: Introduction to SEO

High-level header tags. The H1 tag is a powerful tool, so don’t overuse it. Use one per page so you don’t confuse search engines (at the top preferably) and use it to describe exactly what your page is about.

Sub-heading tags. H2 to H6 can be used multiple times and are essentially sub-headers you can use to divide up the text part of the content. It’s useful to include keywords in your sub-headings and try to structure them so that they give insight into what the article is about – they should make a user skimming the content want to read it in detail.

The right images. Images must be used in the right format, such as JPEGs for higher quality images (save in Photoshop at less than 60 percent resolution to avoid slow page load times as a rule of the thumb), GIFs for those images with fewer colors, and PNG format for graphics. Remember to save the images with the right file name – one that describes what the image is about – and use hyphens between the words.

Descriptive alt tags. Use alt tags to communicate to search engines what the image is about, which will help with your SEO. Make it descriptive, as this is what will pop up if the image does not load.

Blog categories. Chronologically ordered blog archives give nothing to a user and don’t encourage browsing. Using blog categories instead helps the reader find what she is looking for more quickly.

Forge internal links. You can increase the effectiveness of your blog for your site as a whole by hyperlinking to other pages on your site that are relevant. Use keyword-rich, branded, and normal anchor text to do this.

Claim authorship. Claiming authorship of content and linking it to a Google+ account offers another degree of visibility and will make the effectiveness of that one piece of content stretch even further. In addition, author rank is predicted to become even more relevant as Google continues to understand the authority of each publisher.

For more information on what Google Authorship is and why it’s so important for your website, from a SEO and content marketing perspective, enroll in the Online Marketing Class, How To Implement Google Authorship for SEO Results.

This article has been edited - but originally appeared on Klood and has been republished with permission.

 


5 Reasons Your SEO Strategy Needs Google+

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Getting found in Google is a top goal for any local business. And rightly so. Google is still the top search engine, with 67 percent of all monthly searches happening there, according to comScore. But some businesses remain mystified about how they can get found by more local searchers using Google.

An active Google+ page that’s linked to your optimized Google+ Local listing is an important part of your SEO strategy. Not only does Google+ make your Google Maps listing more robust and useful for searchers, it’s also a great place to share content and connect with your audience and influencers, who in turn can help share your content. Plus, it can help boost your website’s SEO. Here are five reasons Google+ can improve your visibility in Google search.

1.  Your pages can rank well in search. Having a claimed and optimized profile on Google+, along with updated content, can help your business get discovered on the search engine results page. In addition, your optimized Google+ Local page can perform well in local search. But, it’s not enough to have your pages claimed and optimized; you also need to post engaging, shareable content on Google+ that will tell Google that your page is an active, useful resource. And, asking your connections to share your content increases your activity as a business, helping your page become more visible in the search results and driving traffic back to your website.

Related Class: Introduction to Google Plus for Small Business Marketing

2. Google+ drives personalized map results. As users search Google Maps, add places to their “favorites,” and leave reviews, Google Maps will start to suggest similar or complimentary local businesses they might enjoy. In addition, the new Google Maps is furthering integration with Google+ by allowing users to filter searches by those in their Google+ circles. This means the more active you are on Google+ as a business, the more opportunities you have to influence local search results by boosting positive fan engagement. You can also help your local search results by encouraging your best fans to add you to their Google+ circles and favorite your business. Plus, the more active your customers are, the more they can help others discover your business when they search in Maps.

3. Social signals may impact your website’s visibility. While there is no definitive proof that social signals like +1s can do anything to boost your page or your website’s visibility on search engines, some studies have noticed a correlation between these signals and your site’s position on the search engine results page. That’s because these virtual “props” on your social media content can tell Google that your content is relevant and authoritative. And, when this content links back to your website, it can signal to Google that your site is relevant and authoritative as well.

4. Positive reviews help you stand out. Reviews for your business on your linked Google+ and Google+ Local page are extremely valuable because they appear along with your map listing on the search results page. But, nobody wants one-star reviews prominently feature on their web presence. So, ask happy customers to leave you positive, thoughtful reviews to make sure consumers new to your business see great things about you and want to visit your website or contact you to do business. Plus, the more reviews you have that include your target keywords, the higher your map listing may display in the search results.

5. Google authorship boosts your site relevance. Authorship is a feature of Google+ that lets you link content you publish on another domain directly to your personal Google+ profile. When you do this, your Google+ profile picture will appear directly next to content you have written in the search results, emphasizing your content and helping increase clicks to it. This is great for building your personal brand, which can help you build credibility for your business by establishing yourself as the expert in your field. Plus, using your personal Google+ account is a great way to spread the word about your business to drive interest and shares among your personal network.

To learn more about how Google+ helps you express your brand, create deeper connections with your audience and get discovered across Google and the web, enroll in the Online Marketing Class, Build Your Brand Across Social with Google Plus. You'll hear real world examples from brands will show you how Google+ help brands meet their marketing objectives — such as building awareness and influencing consideration.