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14 Best SEO Plugins for WordPress Sites in 2017

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Editor's Note: Alex Levitov curates the online publication Beautiful Life. Today he joins us to comment on the importance of SEO for a stable web presence, and to count the best SEO plugins for WordPress blogs in 2017.

 

Designing and handling a website is no easy task. There are certainly many user-friendly drag and drop website builders and customization options available nowadays; but at the end of the day, it is SEO that makes all the difference in traffic.

Your website can have a great design and incredible content, but if it does not rank highly for your target keywords on any of the popular search engines, traffic will still be hard to come by. The truth is, SEO can make or break a website.

A high SEO score automatically brings your site higher traffic and gives it better visibility. Fortunately, for entrepreneurs who use WordPress to manage their site or blog, there are plenty of simple plugins to help with the job of optimizing SEO.

Today, we are sharing our top 14 picks for SEO plugins in 2017, listed in no particular order -

1. Yoast

Yoast easily ranks among the best WordPress SEO plugins by offering all the basic features required to optimize your website to the fullest. Other than regular functions such as a keyword searcher and integrated editor, Yoast offers XML sitemap generation and submission, Google Analytics, on-page analysis, real-time tracking and so much more.

On-page analysis allows you to instantly gauge the position and ranking of any given content on your WordPress blog. It also gives you a preview of optimized content before it is published. You can even add and manage social media links and URLs for better web presence. Free, flexible, and easy to use, Yoast is great for beginners and professionals alike.

2. Akismet

Akismet for WordPress is an SEO plugin that is completely free, open source and easy to handle. The software will help you to clean out spam comments and safeguard your site against malicious content. Spam comments are usually submitted to your site by users and other websites either to exploit visible space for promotional purposes, or to deliberately hijack your content - either way, the effect on SEO is not desirable.

With Akismet, you can check the source and history of all comments and user profiles that have visited or connected with your website. The plugin provides a free trial version for personal blogs and a paid version for commercial sites.

3. Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps boosts page ranking and SEO of your WordPress web pages by submitting your website information to all popular search engines including Bing, Yahoo, Google and others. It generates quick reports stating the intent and structure of the site to enable quicker and easier access to search engine scrapers.

A good website builder with SEO features will offer built-in XML mapping features, but if you’re using WordPress, special plugins are the only way to go. XML Sitemaps supports all WordPress custom URLs, and issues a prompt notification to search engines every time you publish a new post or add a new page. You can also use the plugin to add internal links, get better indexing features, and insert rich snippets without compromising the speed or efficiency of your website.

4. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard is an indispensable tool for any webmaster, but especially for online marketers. It is primarily used  to help gauge the overall reach and performance of your website by reporting exactly where you stand with respect to many values, such as traffic, bounce rates, and more.

Google Analytics Dashboard creates detailed reports of your site's problem areas, and loose sections of content that need improvement. The tool enables users to track traffic sources, number of visitors, acquire new channels and optimize pages based on these insights. All in all, this plugin is a must-have for anyone who wants to optimize their WordPress site.

5. Premium SEO Pack

Premium SEO Pack is a good choice for any established WordPress sites that could benefit from advanced solutions for enhancing the visibility of their content online. SEO Premium Pack makes it easier to create quality websites and get higher rankings on search engines. The plugin also includes features for improving content monetization.

Using the minification option can quickly boost the speed, user-friendliness, and SEO appeal of a website. The plugin will also help to identify and remove 404 errors as well as 301 redirects.

6. All In One Schema Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets enables you to enhance the description of your website that appears on the results page of any search engine. Using the plugin, you can customize fonts, add color, images, star ratings, pricing, authors and many other details to make your site stand out from the crowd. Rich Snippets is a quick, efficient way to bring in more visitors by giving your site a better, more professional appearance in search results.

7. SEOPressor

SEOPressor is another powerful WordPress plugin that lets you customize and optimise your content for better SEO. Here, you can find the most useful keywords related to a topic, analyze the readability of content, and make it easier to index for search bots. A keyword search tool is integrated into the plugin and assists you in creating high-quality content. You can then score the content and analyze its overall appeal to readers.

8. WP Meta SEO

WP Meta SEO is a perfect tool for both professional and casual bloggers. For starters, the dashboard is loaded with functionalities that allow you check the page ranking and reach of content. Secondly, the plugin enables you to customize meta titles, descriptions and other technical aspects of your website easily. Finally, WP Meta SEO allows users to edit content in bulk: multiple items can be corrected for common errors, and analyzed for suggested improvements.

9. SEO Ultimate

SEO Ultimate is for all the web developers, coders and software experts out there who love tweaking the basic HTML5 coding or CSS stylesheets of a website. With this WordPress plugin, you can customize meta descriptions and control open-graph. The tool also enables rich snippets, 404 monitoring, and auto-linking functions. It improves the overall appearance of a website and increases the click-through rates in Google search results.

10. W3 Total Cache

If you are having trouble bringing up your SEO rank, it may have something to do with poor website design. While an SEO rank is determined in part by the popularity and performance of a website, page loading speed and user-friendliness are also major factors that Google emphasizes since users tend to click away from sites that are poorly optimized in these areas. W3 Total Cache improves the overall performance of a site by making it score well in the technical aspects of SEO.

11. Rankie

Rankie, while not a normal SEO plugin, is nevertheless an important tool for monitoring and boosting your SEO page ranking. It gives you valuable feedback and stats about the overall performance, reach and exposure of your site on a weekly or monthly basis.

This data is fairly insightful, and very useful for developing SEO friendly content as well as improving old content for better SEO traction. Rankie also tracks keyword usage, which will help site owners to navigate the best way forward in terms of writing and publishing new content.

12. SEO Squirrly

One of the best ways to generate more traffic is by posting fresh, authentic, and trendy content. The SEO Squirrly plugin helps you with just that. Keywords are the core of an SEO strategy: including popular and relevant keywords not only boosts the readability of content but also increases page ranking. Squirrly optimizes a website by checking for keywords in important sections of the content such as title, URL, sub-headings etc. It also tracks all aspects of your SEO marketing strategy and gives you a weekly report on how you’re faring.

13. Redirection

404 errors, exceptions and redirections are some of the worst nightmares for a web developer. No one wants to spend time on a platform that doesn't give easy and immediate access to desired pages. With the Redirection plugin, you can tighten up the loose ends of your WordPress website.

This SEO plugin is especially helpful for users who plan on migrating content from a former WordPress directory or any former website. The custom "pass-through" redirection function, for instance, lets you pass through a URL into another site or file. It also collects all the 404 error logs and maps them with 301 redirects, ensuring that your website runs as smoothly as possible at all times.

14. AMP for WP

Gone are the days when a majority of people used desktop computers for Internet searches; today, most of them use smartphones for browsing websites. Your website has to be compatible with other devices and platforms to make the most of a wide viewer base. To this end, the AMP for WP plugin is an indispensable SEO solution that enhances the speed and design of your WordPress website immensely.

The Custom AMP editor also allows you to personalize your site, add content, and change fonts for mobile devices with just a few clicks. The plugin also comes with solid Google Analytics integration for better performance tracking and management.

To learn more about optimizing your WordPress site for SEO, check out our classes on the following topics:

SEO For Business Owners

The Primary Social Media Platforms: Blogging Platforms

Search Engine Optimization: How Understanding Your Analytics Gives You The Edge

Convert More Website Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 


How Google Analytics Can Build Your Web Presence

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Editor's Note: April Davis is a content producer at Webfirm, and joins us today to explain how Google Analytics can boost your online presence, and how to get started.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "a billboard in the middle of a desert?" It sounds like a ridiculous idea. Nobody would put a billboard in a desert because there's nobody in the desert to see it.

However, many businesses create "billboards in the desert" when they build a website and do nothing to bring visitors in.

One reason new webmasters face this problem is because they don't understand the tools bundled with their own website. This failure is especially true for Web analytics; while it may seem like a website is doing its job whether a human is paying attention or not, nothing is really that simple.

No digital marketing strategy is complete without effective reporting, because without transparency, how do you know what’s working and what’s not?

This is where tools like Google Analytics come in.   

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that allows you to measure - among many other variables - your website traffic. At first glance, this might not seem overly important or impressive. However, data from Google Analytics can help answer a number of key questions for website owners, including:

  • How many people are visiting the website
  • Where these visitors are located geographically
  • Whether the site is effectively converting mobile customers
  • What digital marketing tactics are driving the most web traffic (for example, PPC campaigns or social media marketing)
  • Which web pages attract the most visitors
  • How many web visitors have converted into an actual lead or sale
  • What digital channels users are coming from
  • Whether the website is fast enough, or takes too long to load
  • If it has a blog, the type of content that brings in the most visitors?

In answering these questions, website owners are able to establish what does and doesn’t work, and what they can do to improve the effectiveness of both their website design and their digital marketing strategy.

There are a lot of online tools and content from Google that can help you to understand Google Analytics, but to really learn the ins and outs of this effective web analytics tool and similar applications, a Web Analytics Certification can prove invaluable.

How Can You Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Business's Online Presence?  

So now that we know how important Google Analytics is in determining the objective of a website and targeting SEO efforts into the most effective channels, what are the benefits of applying it in everyday settings?

At its most basic level, Google Analytics provides the empirical data you need to make smart business decisions. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing research, so why would you invest in an AdWords campaign without first knowing which channels your web visitors are coming from?

When you dig a little deeper, you’ll quickly realize that Google Analytics comes with a host of other benefits.   

Tracking the Movement of Your Users

Google Analytics allows you to track exactly what people are doing when they visit your website. For instance, you can see what pages they visit, how long they stay there and the total bounce rate. You’ll also be able to see how they navigate through your site.

This will help you understand what pages on your site that visitors engage with the most, and which ones they’re not really interested in. This consequently means that once again, you can shift your attention to what’s not working and fix whatever makes them lose interest. It might be that the bulk of your visitors are coming from mobile devices and your site isn’t mobile optimized, or it might mean the content on your website isn’t appealing to your target audience.

In addition to these points, Google Analytics’ data will also provide insights into the usability of your site and whether it’s quick to load and easy to navigate, or whether it’s taking too long to load and is difficult to navigate.

Gauging Your Target Audience Perception

What’s your target audience?

Let’s say you’re a wedding dress designer who is targeting women between the ages of 25-35. You’re also targeting women within your local area. You can determine the accuracy of your target audience perception by using the audience reports that can be found within Google Analytics. These reports include everything from user locations and age, to gender and even interests.

After looking at these metrics, you might realize that your target audience is actually a little different from what you thought it was. For example, you might have a lot of mature-aged brides in their 40s shopping for your gowns, or perhaps you have customers from outside your local area who are interested in your designs.

Thanks to Google Analytics, you’ll be able to learn as much as you possibly can about your target audience, so you can ensure your ads and campaigns encompass the interests of your audience, while also making sure you’re targeting the correct locations, devices and etc.  

Better Allocation of Your Budget

Naturally enough, one of the biggest interests when it comes to analyzing website performance is determining how good return on investment (ROI) is. But how do you determine this, and how can you better allocate your budget to improve your ROI?

With Google Analytics, of course!

You’ll already be on track to improving your budget allocation when you nail steps listed in this article, but there are also reports available through Google Analytics that will offer you a percentage increase/decrease on your budget that’s dependent on the specific model of attribution you choose to use.

Once again, understanding your audience will also influence your budget allocation, as you might realise you need to be targeting users from different areas or with different interests.

How Can You Get Started with Google Analytics?

Getting started is easy; as there are no initial start-up costs and you can get started easily from the Google Analytics website. All you need to sign up is an existing or new Gmail account, and of course, a website to track. Then, you simply follow the provided steps.

For more in depth information on getting started with Google Analytics, consider a certification in Web Analytics. Our professionally guided classes will teach you everything you need to know to raise boost sales and raise ROI.

 

 

 


How to Build an Engaged Social Media Community

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Editor's Note: Tess Pajaron works in business management for Open Colleges. Today, she joins us to explore how brands can build an active and engaged social media community.

 

While consumers have been using platforms like Facebook and Twitter for over a decade now - beginning with the raging success of MySpace in the early 2000s - brands have only begun to catch on in the last five years and realize the full potential of social media for marketing.

Social media not only makes people better, but offers plenty of amazing opportunities to businesses of every shape and size.

Instead of using social networks solely as marketing platforms to advertise products, companies can now use social media to build customer experience and create engagement. The ability to connect and communicate directly with a target audience allows brands to build a solid fan base and grow their community easily.

Here are 6 tips to help you create an engaged network of followers that will support your brand -

1. Make sure your business is easy to find

You can't grow your social media community or spread the word about your product unless customers can easily connect with your business.

Here are a couple of tricks you should use to make sure that your brand is accessible to customers and prospects:

  • Your social sharing icons should be prominent on your website
  • Feature the URL of your website and social media handles on business cards and other print media
  • Include a link to your brand website in social media channel descriptions
  • Personalize your email responses: don't solely rely on automated messages
  • Track all associated hashtags and mentions to know who is talking about you and your product. Engage with those who are!

2. Know your audience

Your social media community is not a homogeneous gathering of people who behave in the exact same way. Rather, it is comprised of individuals. Each one of them has unique reasoning and behaviors that predict how they will interact with your brand. Segment your audience, and target these smaller groups with the right messaging in order to reach them more effectively.

To create a strong social media community, good communication is vital. And in order to communicate well, you need to get to know your family. You will have a completely different relationship with different segments of your family. Your engagement with followers will differ on the basis of what you know, resulting in better responses.

3. Solve the problems of your followers

Use social media not just to directly promote your products, but to interact with your customers and learn what their key pain points are. If you want more results from your marketing, you need to do your best to solve problems for your customers.

Most likely, there are plenty of businesses out there that offer similar products to yours, so you need to stand out. That's something you can achieve by building trust in your community and helping your followers with issues unique to them.

Invite your community to join you in helping others deal with such issues. Promote user-generated content on your social media channels as well – that's how you build loyalty and offer real value.

4. Be generous

Motivate the members of your community to share their own content and spark exciting conversations on your social profiles. One way to do this is offering incentives, like coupons, or giveaways. Another way is by sharing user-generated content, and bringing valuable contributors into the spotlight.

Analyze your social media data to find out who your top contributors are. These will be the people responsible for engagement on your website. The more feedback signals you get – like shares or comments – the more likely the social platform is to show your posts to a higher percentage of your followers.

Create content for your top users. Be generous and add a personal touch to all your communications. That's how you build relationships and help fans feel connected in the community surrounding your brand.

Don't forget to keep the communication lines open and instantly respond to your followers if they reach out to you.  

5. Listen to your audience

To build a social media community, you need to produce content that your audience wants to consume. That's why your first step is finding out what they want, and there are many ways to go about doing this.

Create a quick video and ask your fans what they want to talk about. When your community provides you with answers, follow through by implementing new initiatives based on what they requested.  

Put your followers and their needs or desires at the center of your social media strategy. Actively listen to their social chatter to build further engagement.

Instead of asking your followers to share photos of the products that they purchased, ask them to share content that shows what your products have enabled them to do.

Make your social media channels focus on lifestyle, not just on products or services. You can be sure that purely promotional content will reduce engagement. Offer your fans behind-the-scene content that shows the inside of your company or how your product is developed. That's how you take your brand to the next level and develop a community of people who share a sense of purpose.

6. Be honest

People like to deal with businesses they trust. A smart way to build trust in your business is admitting to your mistakes when you make them. No company is 100% perfect. And some forget that it pays to be open and honest.

If you admit your faults and offer transparency in the face of criticism, you will win big among followers by showing your willingness to listen and your ability to adapt. On the other hand, if you try to mask a bad situation or avoid the problem, you will be on your way to destroying that trust. Show the human side of your business to win loyalty among your fans.

Conclusion

Social media is a great opportunity for brands, but building a community is about much more than just promotion. With a little bit of effort and creativity, you stand a great chance of engaging existing customers and raising your bottom line in terms of prospects and exposure.

Get started with any of the methods listed above, and watch your community grow!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

 

How to Perform Segmentation Using Google Analytics

Content Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Crisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


A Simple Guide to A/B Split Testing

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Editor's Note: Elena Tahora is a marketing manager at Web Design Malta. Today, she joins us to discuss how A/B Split Testing can improve the success of your online platforms, and various methods to make it work.

 

Creating a new website, ad, or conversion page can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark, and shooting in the dark is scary for online marketers. However, there is a way to make design choices more smartly: A/B split testing is a marketing technique that compares two separate versions of web content to determine which performs best on your audience.

The basic A/B testing process is easy to understand: after creating an item you want to test, you create small variations, and use trial runs to determine which has a higher conversion rate. The best version wins, and from that point on, further A/B tests can refine your product into something highly effective.

Applications

A/B testing has a diverse range of applications, and all of them can help to make the most of your web traffic. Options include:

  • Headlines and Subheadlines
  • Testimonials
  • Paragraph Text
  • Call to Action (CTA) Text
  • CTA Buttons
  • Links
  • Images
  • Social Proof
  • Content Near the Fold
  • Badges and Awards
  • Media Mentions

Although this list focuses on design features that can be optimized with A/B testing, the method can be used on basic sales copy as well. You can experiment with free trial lengths, pricing structures, sales promotion, delivery fees, and basically anything else that can be changed on your site.

While it's clear that this method can do a lot for your business, A/B split testing is also subject to many regulations which - unless followed carefully - can sink your website quickly. For this reason, it's generally safest to conduct your trials with tools designed specifically for the purpose.

In the following paragraphs, we'll review some of the best commercial A/B Split Testing tools. Let's jump in!

A/B Split Testing Tools

1. Content Experiments by Google Analytics

Google Analytics is such a prominent resource for online marketers that it hardly needs introduction. This suite of analysis tools is a baseline for data analytics across the web, providing users with an opportunity that none can rival: retrieving data directly from the world's largest search engine.

For A/B split testing, Google Analytics provides you with Content Experiments. This feature allows you to split-test page variants for a particular campaign. Advanced reporting options give you a detailed understanding of what worked, and why.

google a/b split testing

The main advantages for Google Analytics are: it's free. And as already mentioned, it taps into the largest source of content information on the web.

The only downside is that Google will not provide you with tools for generating variant pages, and Analytics is a complex tool which can be hard to understand if you're just starting out. For beginners, options with a more visual bent may be helpful.

2. Visual Website Optimizer

Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) is an effective A/B Split Testing tool with a great track record. Prominent case studies range from the car manufacturer Hyundai to computer chip maker AMD.

VWO is also very easy to use, involving the following steps for absolutely any content on your website:

  • Include simple source code from VWO on your webpage to make it active 
  • Developing variations on content using a visual HTML editor.
  • Select goals to optimize for (engagement, revenue, clicks, etc.)
  • Start running your tests and track the test results

VWO has a variety of plans that depend on the size of your business, beginning at $49.00 a month for sites with 10,000 monthly visitors.

3. Optimizely

Optimizely is both well-known and widely used, and specializes in boosting CTA conversion rates. Used by nonprofits such as the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, it's a great place to go if you want to increase your presence and get more people on board.

Optimizely has a three step process:

  1. You must collect data on your current site performance before deciding your goals.
  2. Predict future anticipated progress before creating variants to test.
  3. With variations set, you can start running the experiment and finish by analyzing the results obtained from the A/B split tests.

Optimizely has the big advantage of offering a thirty day free trial period which allows you to see how it works and what it can do before committing to any payment schemes. Pricing after this period is not published on the site, but reviewers indicate that it is mainly affordable for large or mid-range enterprises.

4. SiteSpect's A/B Testing Tool

SiteSpect is a company that offers extensive testing of business ideas, with a designated A/B testing platform that is very easy to use. The provided visual editing tools make it a cinch to brainstorm small adjustments, and generated analytics data will help your company to understand factors that affect conversion rates, reduce costs, drive revenue and mitigate risks.

Like Optimizely, SiteSpect offers a trial period which can help your company to determine if its worth the cost.

5. Unbounce

Not everyone needs the ability to test every font, subtitle, link or button on a website. Some people pursue A/B Testing for one specific goal, and that goal is common enough that Unbounce has one purpose: optimize landing pages.

Whether you are promoting a webinar, a course, or a single product, landing pages are an easy default destination for potential customers. A/B Testing with Unbounce will help you to optimize for the specific goal of gaining more conversions and sign-ups, and also offers more than 80 pre-designed landing page templates to experiment with in case you don't know where to start.

For some users, this tool has everything they need to get started. Through its simplicity and specialization, Unbounce offers a nice contrast to the range of complex features in Google Analytics.

Going Alone...

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, A/B split testing tools help you to avoid pitfalls that could reduce your site rankings. But in case you decide to forego tools and formulate your own code/strategy, bear in mind that Google is watching you, and it has a few things to say:

  1. Avoid cloaking. This means showing one variant of content to your normal site visitors, and another set of content to web crawlers. This is considered extremely fishy, and it's a sure way to get hit with a penalty.
  2. Use rel=“canonical” tags to distinguish a test page from the main version. This is more a matter of sensible practice than a law: unless Google knows which page is your real page and which is the test page, the real page may go down in rankings because visitors won't be able to find it.
  3. Use 302 redirects. When directing users away from a page to a test page, 302 redirects - as opposed to standard 301 redirects - tell Google that this redirection is only temporary. They'll back off and wait for you to finish.
  4. Get it over with. At some point, you have to get on with business and leave A/B split testing behind. So don't test forever, and don't perpetually use the exact same test. This is suspicious, and you'll get in trouble for it.

You can read Google's full list of detailed guidelines here.

Conclusion

Every online marketer wants more visitors, and after getting more visitors, more conversions and sales. A/B split testing is a great multitasking strategy which can boost response rate to a diverse range of prompts.

Whether you pick a tool or develop a strategy on your own, you can't go wrong by trying new things and seeing what works best.

 

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

Strategic User Experience Design

How to Create Personalized Web Experiences That Increase Engagement

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


How to Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation

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Editor's Note: Jane Hurst is a business writer and regular OMI contributor. Today, she joins us to discuss how your company's website can be optimized for lead generation.

 

Driving fresh traffic to your website is essential for getting new customers, and nowadays it’s vital for marketers to be strategic and creative when developing ways to build their client base.

As a further challenge, getting traffic is half the battle: afterwards, your site needs to be optimized to capture leads and turn them into sales. Otherwise, your visitors are meaningless statistics that won’t do anything for your business. If you are looking for ways to optimize your site for lead generation, here are some ideas to get you started.

Optimize at Every Step

Let’s say you are selling a rare kind of product. If someone has searched for the type of product you are selling and they end up on a blog post about it on your site, make sure that the post is linked to a relevant sales offer. This way you get to capitalize on the interest of incoming traffic and get more sales.

For instance, if your visitors are reading an article about a type of auto insurance policy, link to an offer for a deal on the auto insurance that you sell. You want to keep your visitors’ attention and get their business. Once they are thinking about a certain kind of item, they are never more likely to buy it: instead of waiting for them to browse your site further, make sure they can act immediately.

The moment someone visits your site, you can start to learn about how your conversion path works. If that path doesn’t take visitors where you want them to be, it is time to optimize that path to turn those leads into sales. The key is to keep giving visitors things to look at that they are interested in. If you can do this, then they are more likely to stay and come back for more down the road. If they really like what they see, they will recommend it to others, generating even more leads.

Use Thank-You Pages

A lot of marketers miss out on a big opportunity to deliver premium content to those who might be interested. Once visitors have submitted the form on your landing page and are taken to a thank-you page, include a link to informational content related to their purchase. This is an opportunity for you to suggest further offers that could be of interest. Never miss out on an opportunity to get more sales.

Send out an automatic thank-you email known as a “kickback email” after a transaction, and include more specific calls to action. Don’t go overboard and send daily emails. After a while, that approach will just land you in the spam folder. A good rule of thumb is not to send out offers more than once a week, and once every two weeks is considered a standard rate. This will keep you in your prospects’ minds without coming across as pushy or over-the-top.

Studies show that by using kickback emails, companies can double their engagement rates when compared with rates that result from traditional marketing emails. Calls-to-action aren’t just about selling to a particular lead, either: you can also include social media links and offers to encourage sharing and social engagement.

Take Advantage of Social Selling

Instead of using email as your main source of lead generation, consider what social selling can do for your company.

A content analytics tool like Leadfeeder can show you what companies your website visitors work for, and exactly what they are doing while on your website. This allows you to qualify your sales leads so that when it’s time to reach out, your sales reps knows the exact interests of each prospective buyer. Content analytics tools can often integrate with your email marketing tools and CRM to further increase lead-flow.

Leadfeeder is free and easy to set up; it can be used to identify new leads, get automatic reports, and output relevant data that will help you to know which leads are most promising.

Personalize Calls to Action

When using calls to action, aim to be personal. For instance, if someone has already visited your return policy page, you can use this information to be more personal with him or her the next time they visit. Let’s say a customer has visited your Father's’ Day Gift Guide page three times in the past two months. It’s time to create a call to action just for her: the next time she visits any page on your site, it can offer discount codes on Father's’ Day gifts.

A stranger obviously won’t see this level of personalization – at least not until until he or she has submitted a form. But the next visit can be tailored specifically for his or her interests. In order to pull this off, all you need is a set of simple tools such as Hubspot’s Content Optimization System. Using this or something similar will help you to serve up the smart content that you need to personalize messages for your leads.

Nurture Leads Individually

Getting a sale is an achievement, but getting repeat sales from the same customer is icing on the cake. Customers are people, and people will only stay interested in your company as long as you are interested in them: so stay interested.

As soon as a lead fills out a form on the landing page, put it right into your workflow. Send them useful content that is relevant to their interests and needs. The more you nurture, the more you are going to learn, and the more your customer will know when the time comes to close a sale.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

How to Get Clients & Generate Leads

Email Marketing Tactics

How to Create the Perfect Landing Page

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Fundamental Digital Marketing Techniques to Master in 2017

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Editor's Note: Teena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss the most important digital marketing techniques to master in 2017.

 

You’re ready to get started in digital marketing – but how do you know where to begin? If you’ve done some research already, you know there are dozens of potential avenues to pursue, and you could fill a dictionary with terms you don’t fully understand. While it can be dizzying to navigate all the information you’ll run into, there’s a good place to start: master the key principles and techniques that will get you on the path to building your online presence and growing your client list.

In this article, we’ll spell out the basics of digital marketing strategy so you can get your feet in the water and start figuring out what will work best for you and your brand.

Strategy

What your digital marketing strategy will look like really depends on your goals. What do you hope your business will accomplish with an online campaign? How wide of a focus do you want to have? At this point, you should take account of simple factors like the size of your business, the scope of your campaign and your target audience.

When figuring out your target audience, you should construct a buyer persona – who are the people who likely want the product or service you are offering? Hubspot suggests collecting information such as location, age, income and job titles. This information is particularly important if you are targeting decision-makers, and those who can choose whether or not to buy into your offering. Analytic tools allow you to quickly sort your prospects based on the above factors, many of which can be gleaned from social media profiles. They can also build your social media audience – another key strategy – based on interests and keywords, thus increasing your traffic and growing your potential client list.

Once you’ve determined who you want to target, you will use multiple techniques to develop a strategy for capturing your audience wherever they are on the web. To accomplish this, digital marketing strategy has three main pillars: social media, your website, and email lists. Since almost everyone has a social media account, social media is a fantastic place to start building your online presence and connecting with your prospects.

Understanding the major social media platforms and knowing how to build a presence on them is a first step to communicating directly with the very audience you hope to attract. Knowing the style and personality of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat can help you decide what forum will work best for your brand. Blogging platforms or live streaming can also help you to drive traffic towards your site.

Anyone can build a social media presence, but the whole point for you as an online marketer is driving traffic to your website where you offer and advertise the products and services that you want your audience to see. Hosting content on your website in the form of helpful blog posts, webinars or whitepapers is a great way to engage your visitors. By maintaining a rich and living catalog of free content, you can vitalize your social media posts, and most importantly, build an email list.

Email lists form a very important part of every online marketer's toolkit. When visitors are interested in your content, an opt-in form can be used to offer them a free taste of what you have to offer. After collecting email addresses, marketing automation tools and list managers can be used to send targeted emails based on customer’s unique tastes and interests. This is a great and long-term supplement to social media.

Here are other strategic components you’ll also want to master to get started:

Aesthetics

A good website is nothing without good design, and the same goes for your social profiles and posts. In the same way that print or televised advertising must catch the eye, your digital marketing must be designed in a way that holds your prospects’ attention and clearly demonstrates your value proposition. Even seemingly simple choices like color are important decisions: 85% of buyers say color influenced their purchase, according to Revenizer. Using distracting fonts, generic stock photography or failing to visually differentiate your brand are big mistakes when designing your digital marketing campaign. Ensuring you communicate clearly with your web visitor as soon as they land on your site and hold their attention afterwards are key techniques for the best digital marketers.

 

Analytics & ROI

You need to know if your campaign is working, right? You need to know that you’re getting a return on any investment of time and money into your digital marketing campaign. Analytics helps you to figure that out, and make smart adjustments as you go along. While you might think of analytics as data that measures web traffic – (think Google Analytics) Hubspot points out that’s only the beginning. More important is the connection between your social media and email marketing efforts, and measurable results such as prospective leads and conversion to sale rates.

Having a good handle on your marketing analytics lets you see exactly which channels are most effective with which targets – is your Twitter campaign strategy effective, or are you getting more volume from direct email? Or are they effectively tying in together? You want to know not only how many people clicked through to your website, but which ones were converted into clients.

SEO & SEM

When people are researching products, they’ll type keywords into Google, Bing or other search engines. Search Engine Marketing lets you use those keyword searches to raise your website higher on the list of results people see, and target digital advertising in the right places. Consider that 89% of consumers use a search engine to look for information before investing in a service or product, and 70% of buying decisions begin with those queries. You want to make the most of this fact. Getting to know tools which help in this area can help you improve your company’s search engine optimization (SEO), and thereby improve your target audience reach.

Search Engine Watch says that search engines seek factors such as quality content, fast web performance, and user experiences. While optimizing your pages can mean incorporating the most-often-searched keywords relating to your service or product, it’s about more than “keyword stuffing.” It’s also about having user-friendly content answers to the questions or pains that your prospects are looking to solve.

Can enhancing your SEO take time and expense? Sure. But Ballantine estimates the ROI on SEO in 2014 was $21.93 for every dollar invested. That compares with $6.48 in revenue for television advertising, $8.29 in telemarketing or $10.06 in newspaper ads. The investment is a good bet.

While the realm of digital marketing is complex and goes beyond the principles outlined here, these techniques form the foundation of every good digital marketing strategy. No matter who you are, what you’re selling, or who you want to reach, the Internet is big, and everyone starts in the same place. Now that you have the basic principles for building a digital marketing strategy, why not get started today? You’ll discover the effort is well worth your time, energy and investment.

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

 


5 Easy Ways to Find The Right Keywords For Ads

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Editor's Note: Roy Dopaishi writes about content marketing and advertising for Paidtraffic. Today, he joins us to share the best methods for finding great keywords to use in content and PPC campaigns.

 

An AdWords campaign is driven by keyword research. Target the right keywords, and your ads appear at just the right moment when prospects are searching for the products and services your business offers. But if you target keywords that are too broad or narrow, you run the risk of failing to reach customers and wasting your adspend.

This is why it’s so important to identify the right keywords before launching your campaign. But what’s the best way to do it?

There are many tools to help you with this vital task. Google’s Keyword Planner is often cited as a useful start - in addition to giving keyword ideas, it uses analytics to make predictions and improve suggestions.

The problem with Google’s tool is that thousands of others use it, so there will most likely be plenty of competition for your target keywords. Relying solely on this tool also restricts your reach, as it only provides limited keyword samples.

Fortunately, there are many other methods of finding the right keywords to target. Implementing these can give your AdWords campaign a major competitive advantage, since most advertisers don't bother. Let’s get started!

  1. Question and Answer Sites

Quora is an excellent way to find common questions that prospects are asking.

A search for “kitchen remodeling” yields the following results:

quorasample

Browsing through Quora results provides rich keyword suggestions that you may have otherwise missed. These queries can then be plugged into Keyword Planner to generate even more ideas.

For example: if your business does kitchen renovations, then after reading related conversations, you might include keywords such as “cost of kitchen remodel” or “finance a kitchen remodel” in your ad groups. These are also excellent topics to create blog posts around.

Yahoo Answers is another popular question and answer site you can use to find keyword ideas.

  1. Google Keyword Suggestions

When typing in a search query, Google displays keyword suggestions in the search box.

keywordsuggestions

This is another way to find related keyword ideas based on your initial search query. Entering in different letters of the alphabet displays additional results. However, typing in each letter and copying the results can be rather tedious.

KeywordTool.io is a free keyword research tool that uses Google Autocomplete and other search engines including YouTube and Amazon to generate a comprehensive list of keywords. This tool parses the results so you can easily select relevant keywords and export them to a spreadsheet.

keywordtool

Here is an example of Google Autocomplete results:

autocomplete

And results from Amazon:

amazonresults

One thing to keep in mind is keyword intent and type. Simply adding every single keyword to your ad groups is a recipe for disaster. Instead, think about the intention behind your keywords and whether they apply to your business.

  1. Competition Research

There is one source you should never overlook: your competitors.

Competitors in your industry are more than likely using AdWords to bid on relevant keywords, so keeping an eye on your competitors can provide additional keyword ideas. Identify competitors by searching for your target keywords and entering their URLs into SEMrush.

Here is an overview of top organic keywords for trekkinghero.com:SEMrush

And top paid keywords:

SEMrushtop

 

Note that the tool only provides limited keyword data. To see a full report, you need a paid subscription to the site, but you can perform basic keyword research for free.

  1. LSI Keywords

Search engines are getting increasingly sophisticated.

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are phrases semantically related to your main keywords. For instance, if a page contains keywords like “Apple”, “Macbook”, and “computer”, Google knows the page is about technology rather than fruit, and won't deliver it to the wrong people.

Use tools like LSIGraph to generate a list of LSI keywords:

LSIGraph

These keywords can not only be added to your campaign, but included within the content on your page to help it rank better in organic search results.

  1. Your Own Search Data

If you have a Google AdWords campaign running, then you already have potentially valuable keyword data at your fingertips.

You can view actual search terms that have triggered your ads from the Campaigns menu. Simply click the “Keywords” tab, and then click the “Search terms” button:

adwordsmenu

 

The Search Terms report shows queries that are triggering your ads.

This information is valuable for two reasons, as you can:

  • Identify search terms with high profit potential
  • Identify irrelevant terms to add as negative keywords

Be sure to regularly comb through your own data to find more valuable keywords to add to your PPC campaign.

Conclusion

Finding the right keywords is essential to gain measurable results, and it doesn’t take much effort. Less than half an hour of your time can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your ads, so there simply are no downsides to doing the research. Take advantage of your new knowledge, gain an edge on your competitors, and get started today!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Fundamentals of Measuring Search ROI

Creating and Curating Content People Love

SEO For Business Owners

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


5 Ways to Boost Your Video Marketing Strategy for Millennials

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Editor's Note: Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist who writes for SEO Sandwitch. Today he joins us to discuss good video strategy for attracting a millennial audience.

 

An extensive knowledge of all things digital make millennials a complicated segment of consumers to attract. So why do marketers put up with them? Maybe because millennials also have the greatest buying power of any generation, which automatically gives them the biggest consumer voice. Marketers are therefore willing to overcome a multitude of quantitative and qualitative challenges to fulfill their requirements, starting with a rapid pace of technological advancement.

Changing Face of Video Marketing Strategy

Out with the old, in with the new – that’s the mantra video marketing professionals should bear in mind if they wish to stay relevant and sell their products online to millennial consumers, who value originality, sincerity, and creativity above all else. Marketers should focus on finding an original voice for video marketing, one that captures the attention of a culture that gives precedence to personal expression.

At the same time, they should be also mindful of brand consistency and utilize performance marketing data to optimize their content. This is more complex than it sounds, and there is no single, overarching solution. But don’t let the messiness scare you away: by following generally good practices and mixing in your own ideas, it’s not hard to create video content that millennials will appreciate and respond to.

Below you will find five points for devising a competent video marketing strategy targeted to millennial customers -

1. Build Your Strategy on Video Marketing, Not the Other Way Around

In the millennial age, videos no longer play a merely supporting role in your marketing campaign: they have grown to become their own unique marketing strategy. A millennial audience will often begin by consuming video content before entering your sales funnel, and they respond to a style that emphasizes personal expression and reflects consumer sensibilities. For this purpose, the fundamentals of video communication are vital components in your new marketing strategy. Communicating effectively through videos will drive emotional engagement across various disciplines, from customer relationship management to product marketing and cross-platform paid advertising. Learn how a good video is constructed on a fundamental level, and use that knowledge to drive content across your marketing efforts.

2. Take Time to Analyze Your Target Audience

Some marketers think it’s important to deploy an especially complicated and well-researched video strategy when catering to millennials. This can give marketers a feeling of paralysis as they reflect on possible inadequacies in their finances, logistics and brand. It is true that best practice for video marketing geared towards millennials requires some fine-tuning, particularly in terms of identifying the right audience groups. However, that does not mean companies have to sit down and completely rethink their brand to accomplish this.

Narrowing the broader domain of ‘millennials’ into manageable segments is a much easier task thanks to digital marketing tools that largely automate the work. Insight into the best millennial-targeted video marketing strategy comes from testing, analysis, and scale. This is vital to your marketing strategy, since the millennial generation has a hard time trusting too many people too fast.

Instead of attempting to impress your target audience with a traditional advertisement-focused video marketing campaign, your video strategy should be different: it should be extremely visual, experiential, personal, and easy to comprehend.

3. Have the Right Video Marketing Support

Video marketing professionals should have provisions in place to counter the consumer shift in digital platforms. This means arranging for video support that complements your existing production plan:

  • Understand your budget. A large budget will allow you to create impressive 360-degree videos which are sure to draw audience’s attention. Even if you’ve got a smaller budget, you can still create amazing video marketing content in VR.
  • Kajabi is a great platform for people to create and sell content, courses etc. For video makers, this is a great way to make money from their work; for you, it’s a great resource for supplementing your video library.
  • ClickMeeting is a leading webinar solution that enables you to easily generate instructional campaigns.

In every case, you should not rely on any single solution to generate great video content. Creativity and thoughtfulness is essential to set your brand apart from competitors, which means that experimentation is a must.

4. Crowdsourcing, and other creative strategies

When settling on a long-term production strategy for your video content, there are three possibilities:

  1. You can rely on an internal video-marketing team
  2. You can outsource these responsibilities to freelancers
  3. You can crowdsource your content

While the end goal is always to become as self-reliant as possible, don’t forget the importance of creativity in reaching out to millennials. Before settling on a style, be willing to try things out. Find different approaches, and see what works best. By reaching out to freelancers from popular sites like Freelancer and Upwork, you can find diverse talents. Crowdsourcing platforms like veed.me will also give you instant access to new and exciting ideas.

When you find something that works well, you can stick with it and build from there, but don’t confine yourself in the beginning. Strict boundaries will only put a limit on your versatility.

5. Consider Utilizing Artificial Intelligence

The video marketing landscape has greatly changed in the last decade, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is partly responsible for that. Believe it or not, AI can be used to generate creative ideas for video content. Understandably, some people find the idea of machines driving creative output bizarre and borderline offensive. But when properly utilized, AI will drive and augment human expression rather than supplant it. Don’t think in terms of creative cannibalization, but rather in terms of extended capability.

Martech Advisor has done a good story on how AI can empower video campaigners. New tools like Magisto can speed up the video production process by an exponential factor, helping you to set a good pace and dramatically decrease costs. While it may seem like a novel idea, it’s one more creative solution to consider in order to further differentiate your brand and appeal to a market driven by an appetite for innovation.

Conclusion

In an Internet-driven world, millennial audiences have become extremely fragmented, and video marketers must contend with new challenges if they wish to tap into the millennial market. That being said, the sheer potential of a properly executed video marketing strategy, combined with the purchase/social media power of millennials makes for a blockbuster formula.

The points mentioned above will help you in exploring and defining your video marketing strategy for a new generation of millennial buyers. The risk is small, and the upsides are massive, so find a point that seems helpful and get started today!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Marketing to Millennials

Video & Multi-Screen Strategies

How to Create a Content Segmentation Plan

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


23 Better Ways to Write a Follow Up Email

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Editor's note: Belle Balace is a social media strategist with Visme, and Leslie Ye is a marketing editor with HubSpot. Today, they've shared an infographic with us designed to help marketers send more effective follow up emails.

When contacting business prospects, writing a follow up email is as crucial as reaching out. In follow up emails, you have to be straightforward yet engaging in order to elicit a response without coming across as pushy.

It may take days or weeks before you get replies, even if you’ve already sent a few emails, and this can be discouraging. But when you don't get a response, don't immediately give up! Here’s a little wisdom from Thomas Edison: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this - you haven’t.”

You may be doing or saying the same things over and over again and forgetting to try new ideas in your follow up emails. Be persistent, but don’t be that annoying person who constantly says ‘just following up’ like a verbal tic - that's just stating the obvious, and it will turn people off after awhile.

Next time you write a follow up, try being creative and thoughtful. The more personalized and unique your emails, the better your chances of getting a response. Take time to investigate good ideas, seek advice from the email marketing experts you know, and run A/B tests to see what kind of follow up emails work best for you.

If you're looking for inspiration, here are 23 follow-up emails you can try when you've used up all the generic templates:23_better_alternatives_to_the_just_checking_in_email_1

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Email Marketing Tactics

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Click here to sign up!

 


Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Paid Traffic Conversion Rates

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So you’ve got your Google AdWords or other PPC advertising up and running, but now what? Unfortunately, the work is far from over if you want to achieve optimum results.

In fact, the hard slog begins as soon as your campaign goes live. By this we mean optimization. More specifically, conversion rate optimization (CRO). And when it comes to perfecting your paid traffic, there’s always room for improvement.

What is CRO and why is it so important?

So you might be getting the traffic, but what good is that if you’re not generating any decent leads yet? CRO is about changing things up on your site and applying different tactics to enhance the user experience, and ultimately turn visitors into customers. It’s an effective way to improve your conversion rate without having to increase your overall adspend.

Over to our proven top 10 CRO tips.

1. Match your message

It’s absolutely imperative your ads align with what’s marketed on your website. Be genuine and don’t make overzealous claims about your product or service that could mislead your visitors.

Make sure the landing page you’re sending them to has the content they’re looking for. High bounce rates can account for visitors clicking through from your ad, only to be presented with a landing page that doesn’t deliver the goods.

2. Optimizing your Landing Page?

bounce-rate

The readability and relevance of your landing page is another big factor that can determine whether your visitors stay or jump ship.

What kind of user experience are you creating for your visitors once they click through to your landing page? On a very basic level, landing page optimization can be boiled down to 2 key factors - matching intent and testing different ad sets.

Check out this class to learn more about optimizing your landing page to improve conversion.

3. Tweak your headline

As in other forms of advertising, your headline is the attention grabber. So take the time to refine your hook. Adding numbers to a headline is always a useful trigger, but make sure they are relevant.

4. Review your call to action (CTA)

Just as important as your headline is your CTA. Ensure you are clear and direct about the desired outcome. What is it that you want your visitors to do? The copy and design of your CTA can make a big difference to your conversions. If you have a text link CTA, consider using a button to make it stand out more. Creating a sense of urgency in your copy will also go a long way.

5. Add videos and images

The buzzword for 2016 was video and this still holds true. Including a video on your landing page is more likely to spur interest and engagement from your visitors than text. Among the different types of videos, Introductory, review and explainer videos tend to provide good results.

Don’t overlook image selection either. Choosing the right image can evoke the kind of emotions that will turn visitors into customers. On the flip side, the wrong image might send them off in the opposite direction. Never underestimate the power of an image!

6. The proof is in the social pudding

We all love a recommendation - it’s why word of mouth is so effective, followed closely by social proof. Including proof of your brand likes, shares, customer reviews, testimonials and product ratings will influence purchase decisions, and also build trust.

7. Speed up your site

It’s the little things that count. Site speed can make a huge difference, so you should at least check to ensure your website is running at its best. No one wants to visit a site that takes ages to load - who has time for that? You can lose dozens of prospective customers thanks to a few milliseconds of lag.

8. Show your scarcity

For e-commerce sites in particular, scarcity is a powerful tactic. Including the limited number of stock available for certain products will create a sense of urgency for a visitor, and instigate an immediate purchase response. Why would they want to miss out if there’s only “2 left in stock” or if you’re running a limited time deal?

9. Include contact information

Prominently including a phone number, email address or other means of contact on your homepage adds more credibility to your site. Just knowing they can talk to a real person if they need to makes visitors feel more comfortable and raises trust of your products/services.

10. Test it out & analyse

You won’t know what works best unless you test. Running A/B split tests on important variables like your landing page copy, sign up forms, color palette, images and CTA will help towards improving your conversions.

Heat maps are also a great way to understand what attracts your visitors’ attention, by clearly showing where their eyes are drawn on a page. Based on the data you receive from a heat map, you can add or remove details from your page accordingly.

We don’t suggest you start implementing all of these tactics at once; you may find that one small change will go a long way. This is where it’s handy to have a dedicated Google AdWords expert to advise you on best CRO strategy can be helpful. Whatever you do we hope these tips will help pave the way to higher conversion rates for your campaigns!

A version of this article first appeared on Paidtraffic

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Turn Website Visitors into Customers via Conversation OptimizationCreating and Curating Content People Love, Social PR

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here!