Learn the basics of SEO series: How to use keywords

If you didn’t read our previous article on finding keywords, check it out here. Once you’ve gone through the process and determined some keywords you want to try and rank for, then come back to this article.

Now, we’re going to be discussing just how to use those keywords. Keyword stuffing is no longer a sufficient plan, it can even penalize your site! But there are still ways to get your keyword on your site the “white-hat” way.

On-Page SEO

Here are some quick ways to get your target keyword onto your website. This will require you to go into your website, so if you’re unsure how to do that, it may be a good idea to contact your Webmaster or grab a freelance SEO consultant to get this done for you.

  • Meta Description- It’s that little description underneath the title part on the search engine. Although it’s not necessarily required for SEO optimization, it gets bolded when someone searches the term (see the screenshot).

cat-toys

  • Title Tag- You want your keyword in the SEO title tag of your page, or the main title if you utilize a CMS
  • First paragraph on page
  • 3-5 times throughout the content on the page
  • In an image’s filename and ALT text. I inserted an example below which shows how to add the ALT text in WordPress if we were ranking for “cat toys”.
  • cat toys wp.png

These are some basics you will want to have in place, in another article in our series we will go over more on-page SEO tactics.

Where to use your keywords

You’ve got your basic on-page SEO down. Now onto other spaces.

You can add keywords to:

  • Blogs
  • Social media profile
  • Guest posts
  • Emails
  • Offline

Blogs

Content creation is one of the best ways to get your keyword in front of your audience. Great content has the ability to be shared as well, helping you build links that can increase your authority in the eyes of Google.

If you’re not familiar, link building means that your site is being linked to by other sites. If someone links to this blog post, that’s a backlink for this site.

There can be good and bad backlinks though. Ones that hold the most sway are .edu and .gov domain links. If this blog was linked to on a site like USDA.gov that’s a much more powerful link than from something like billsblog.net.

Links hold different “link juice” based on the age of the site, how many backlinks they have, etc. Below are examples of what can affect the link juice you receive when someone links to your site.

What positively affects link juice:

  • Page appears high in search engine
  • Has quality content
  • Has high PageRank
  • Has relatively few outbound links
  • Has user-generated content
  • Mentioned often in social media

What negatively affects link juice:

  • “Nofollowed” the link to your site
  • Has irrelevant content
  • Page has lots of links
  • Page has paid links
  • Page isn’t indexed in search

 

The point of blogs is to be creating on-point articles that relate to whatever keyword you’re targeting and help your audience. In the case of the cat toys example, let’s say we want to target a long tail keyword like “how to buy a cat tower”. Someone searching for that may come upon our article that is a guide on just that keyword.

If your content is good enough, other people will link to it, helping provide you with beneficial backlinks. The backlinks tell Google that your site is useful to others, otherwise why would they link to it? It’s sort of like seeing tons of good Amazon reviews for a product.

Similar to this is guest posting. While the fad used to be that people would guest post short, low-quality articles to get backlinks, now the stakes are higher and you need to be writing unique, beneficial content.

While guest posting may not necessarily increase your ranking for a keyword, it will help you increase your exposure to a relevant audience.

Brian Dean of Backlinko recommends publishing long content. He coined the term “skyscraper technique” which refers to taking current content online and improving it by updating it or going more in depth.

Yes, long content (1500+ words) will take a while to write, but the impact of one great post compared to 10 ok posts is huge. The reason Brian’s site does so well is because his posts go more in depth than any others on the same subject. People go to him as the expert on SEO and backlinks.

Additional SEO blog tips

  • Use keyword in first 100 words of page
  • Create long content
  • Add images, charts, infographics, videos, etc.
  • Use Header tags (H1,H2,H3). Brian recommends at least one subheader for every 200 words
  • Don’t over-optimize anchor text (the wording used for your link)
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Learn the Basics of SEO Series: Keyword Research

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can seem like a tricky subject to master, especially if it’s not your full time gig. Not only do you have to learn about on-page tweaks, keyword research, and link building, but you also have to pay close attention to Google’s algorithm changes and how those impact your page’s rankings on the search engine.

Back when the internet was in its early days, SEO was all about keyword stuffing. Meaning Google was likely to rank your site higher if you had the keyword you were targeting (say “kids toys) a bunch of times on your site. Next came the PBNs, these are public backlink networks. It was where you could get tons of backlinks (more on that later) for your site to help increase your rankings. Google caught on and in their next algorithm update they penalized sites using PBNs.

The SEO world is constantly changing, but we’re going to give you some tips on the basics that can help you build a general understanding of the field.

Why is SEO so important?

How many times a day do you pull up a search engine to look something up or type in a question? According to a report by Fleishman Hillard, 89% of all consumers begin their shopping process on a search engine.

That’s a huge chunk of your potential audience that you may not be reaching! This is why SEO can be so important for your business.

Questions to ask yourself during keyword research phase

Moz has an excellent beginner’s guide to SEO on their site. In it, they have a few questions you should be asking yourself during the keyword research phase. Answering thse question will help ensure you’re targeting the right keywords.

  • Is the keyword relevant to your website’s content?
  • Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when they search using these keywords?
  • Will they be happy with what they find?
  • Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other organizational goals?

Keyword Research Process

Keyword research is still a key part of the SEO process. Doing even just basic research means you are ahead of the game. If you are in a competitive space like sunglasses, you can’t just target sunglasses. If you do some homework, you’ll realize that “sunglasses” is dominated by big name brands and sites. It will be extremely difficult if not impossible to rank on the first page of Google for that term.

longtail-graph

Graphic via Moz.com

Rather, you want to go after keywords that are easier to rank for. Often, these are terms that are longer and referred to as “long tail keywords”. A term like “white mens sunglasses” would fit the bill. These are easier to rank for because there is less competition and less searches. But if you can gain the majority of those few searches, and do that for multiple long tail keywords you will be seeing a good deal of traffic.

moz-keyword-tool

Moz Keyword Explorer

If you check out the screenshot above from Moz’s Keyword Explorer. You will notice that “white mens sunglasses” has a search volume of 101-200. That is the number of searches that term gets per month. It’s not very much, so you will want to play around with different terms because even just switching words around or taking an “s” off something (cat toy v. cat toys) can change the search volume and difficulty of ranking.

Use tools like :

 

You may not find a keyword during your first or second search. It may take a few tries to find the perfect keyword for your business that is realistic to rank for.

In our next part of the series, we’ll discuss how to use these keywords in your marketing and on your website to improve your SEO.

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Three marketing automation campaigns all websites need

If you’re a website that runs on email (and it’s very likely you are or could be benefiting from it) then you should be utilizing marketing automation to take away the time-suck that is manually sending emails.

Marketing automation can reduce your workload, help you build relationships with your audience, and create better process to make your business more efficient.

If you just started using MA software or are thinking about implementing it, here are some simple campaigns you should be creating on your site.

Contact Form

This one is a no-brainer. Create a simple “Thank you” email that sends out whenever someone fills out your contact form. You don’t know how many contact forms I’ve filled out that have no autoresponder. The worst ones are where nobody even responds to my question.

If you have a variety of reasons people fill out the contact form, create a drop down to segment these reasons. They could be items like: testimonials, questions/comments, shipping, returns, etc.

Set up your automation software to alert you or your customer service rep whenever someone fills out the contact form so you can respond quickly.

Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is an offer for your audience to entice them to give you their email. This could be a coupon, discount, ebook, white paper, case study, etc. It’s all dependent upon your audience, your product/service, and what you think they would want to receive.

If you’re a marketing agency, case studies of past clients are a good lead magnet for a potential lead.

After setting up your form and creating your lead magnet, you need to create the autoresponder that will send them the lead magnet or a link to it when they sign up.

After setting up this basic autoresponder, you can go further and create drip emails that go deeper into the topic of the lead magnet and eventually have an email that showcases your product/service. The point of the drip emails is to keep the reader engaged with your business and show them that you know what you’re talking about in this space.

Newsletter

This is an easy win for marketing automation. If you have a consistent newsletter or send Home.pngout eblasts every few months, create a form to let people sign up for it. Then create a “welcome” email that sends after that.

Once they’re in your newsletter sequence you can also send them information about your products/services, webinars, events, deals/discounts, and more.

The software we use allows us to see what a newsletter sign up is now interacting with and calculates a lead score (this is the same for anyone that enters the system by providing their email).

Newsletter sign ups are not automatic leads, but they can become one in the future.

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Copywriting for business owners

Writing.jpg

There’s writing and then there’s copywriting. Copywriting is the type of writing you do if you’re trying to sell or convince, usually through advertisements, a landing page, a sales page, your product copy, emails, etc.

As a business owner, you know your product or service better than anyone. You should be the one to craft copy but often you need to hire a pro to get the job done. It’s fascinating to find that not many business owners would call themselves a copywriter, and some aren’t even sure of the definition of the term.

So what does it take to create copy that can truly convince a reader to take action? We’re going to go over formulas, strategies, and tips you can use the next time you’re creating a landing page or sales email. You’ll be surprised to find that once you learn the art of copy your writing will change, trust me.

What are the fundamentals of copywriting?

Copywriting is about driving action. Sometimes that necessitates a story or a great call to action.

If you’re creating a sales page, landing page, even an email, these are some of the basic elements you’ll need to create.

  • Headline
  • Subheader
  • Body Copy

Besides those fundamental elements, there are some other pieces you need to craft convincing copy.

  • Show benefits, not features
    This is a biggy in the copywriting world. If you sell laundry detergent, a feature is that it has powerful stain-removing chemicals. A benefit is that you won’t have to throw away your favorite shirt just because it got ketchup on it. Talk about what your product/service will “do” for the customer.
  • Grab attention
    This usually occurs in your headline, which makes it one of the most important pieces of copy on the page. If you don’t grab their attention, something else will and they’ll leave your page. Make them feel the urge to continue reading.
  • Make them take action
    You need to provide some sort of action item. If you’re selling laundry detergent, you want them to buy the detergent! If you sell software, maybe the action is to sign up for a demo. Don’t just let them leave after you’ve convinced them of how much they need your business.

What are the different types of copywriting?

As with most everything out there, there’s no one way to write copy

Copyblogger has an excellent article on 10 Ways to Write Damn Good Copy, I’ll let them explain these copy types.

  • Plain Copy
    That copy isn’t going to win any literary awards, but it will get the job done. It will give a prospect the information she needs to make an informed decision about the product.
  • Storytelling Copy
    Provide a compelling story that introduces a conflict that your product/service can solve
  • Conversational
    Copy that is a conversation between yourself and the reader.
  • John Lennon Copy
    This is about creating copy that makes your reader imagine a world where their pain point doesn’t exist. That dream world can be achieved with your product.
  • Long Copy
  • Killer poet copy
    Combines style with selling
  • Direct from CEO Copy
    This type of copy will have the CEO’s name and signature at the bottom. It’s a conversation between the reader and CEO.
  • Frank Copy
    This copy is open, honest and transparent to build trust.
  • Superlative copy
    Only use this if you can make seemingly outlandish claims that are actually true.
  • Rejection copy
    Make your product exclusive, like the American Express Black Card. It instills a sense of wanting to belong.

Resources

10 Principles for Turning into a Killer (Copywriter)
Copyblogger

What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting?
Copyblogger

The 1-2-3-4 Formula for Persuasive Copy
Copyblogger

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Building an email list isn’t easy- 5 tips to help grow yours

pexels-photo-30814

It’s tough out there. The market for your attention is huge! Everywhere there are free downloads, pdfs, coupons, ebooks, webinars, all created to drive your limited attention to one company and get you to give up your precious email.

How do you do it nowadays? It used to be that you could just put up a newsletter sign up form that says “Get the latest news” and the emails would start rolling in. Now, you really have to create an enticing offer to get someone’s email.

Like I said, it’s tough. But there are ways to grow it, and we’re going to go over that right now!

  1. Create a great lead magnet
    A lead magnet is an offer, something to bring the leads to your email list. This depends on what industry you’re in. For a clothing ecommerce site, you’ll want to focus more on discounts and promotions. For a marketing agency , SaaS business, or other content-driven site, you’ll want to go more towards information products like webinars, ebooks, checklists. Make sure this lead magnet is something relevant to your audience. You don’t want to be offering the top 50 people to follow on Twitter if you’re a marketing agency. A better lead magnet for you would be a 30 minute video on the do’s and don’ts of creating a marketing strategy.
  2. Create multiple ways to sign up
    Don’t just rely on your lead magnet, also have other ways to sign up. Maybe you have a weekly newsletter that gives out 10 marketing tips or you do webinars, or even a content upgrade for one of your more popular blog articles.
  3. Test out email sign up forms
    This could be something like Hello Bar, which is a bar that sits at the top of your website and allows people to sign up for whatever you’re offering. You can experiment with pop ups, scroll boxes, exit-intent pop ups. See what works, what doesn’t, and what people complain about. If you get too many complaints about a pop up, it may be time to remove it.
  4. Don’t ignore offline events
    If you’re heading to a trade show or have a booth at a conference, have a piece of paper or laptop on your table to collect email sign ups. No shame in trying!
  5. Add share buttons
    Don’t forget the power of sharing. On your landing page for your lead magnet or inside your emails, you should be using social share buttons and “email a friend” buttons to help spread the word. These buttons make it super easy for your readers to share without much effort.

 

Need even more tips? Here are some extra resources

25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List
Hubspot

How you can build an email marketing list as quickly as possible
Kissmetrics

List building 101: How to build an email list…and actuallu make money from it
Social Triggers

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Improve your social media process

pexels-photo-57690.jpeg

If you’re using social media to get the word out about your brand, talk to your audience, or just engage online, how are you managing it all?

If you’re like many small businesses, you feel the need to be on every platform: Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Google Plus, YouTube. And like most small businesses, you’re likely running all social media on your own. You barely have time to run the business, how are you going to have time to run your social media effectively?

Here’s the main takeaway from this article: create a process.

If you want to post daily, don’t literally post daily. There are tons of tools out there that will help you schedule posts to go out when you want them.

How do I create a process?

First, you want to determine which social media sites you want to be on. Don’t pick them all! If you’re selling home decor items or have a food blog, Instagram and Pinterest may be best for you. If you are your own brand, or are in the marketing world, Twitter is a great place for you to hang out. You need to find the 1 or 2 sites that are right for your business.

Next, set aside 1 day per month to create your social media posts. Now, this isn’t literally a whole 8 hour process, but it’s best to mark it off for social media if you really want to create great content and not rush yourself.

During this day you will be creating all posts for the next month and queueing them up in your social media tool (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc).

You can create these posts in a spreadsheet where you put each post in a new row and have columns for the URL, image, notes, or anything else. Having all posts set up like this helps you spread out topics you want to cover throughout the month, as well as identify holidays. You don’t want to be posting 5 days in a row of recipes, so spread those out.

Once they’re all created, open up your social media tool and choose when to schedule each post. Take a look at your social media analytics to see when your audience is looking at your posts (Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics).

For a site like Twitter, there is a constant stream of posts going through your audience’s feed. It may be a good idea to recycle some posts now and again to make sure your audience sees them. A tool that does this is called Edgar.

The same goes for most social media sites, don’t think that just by posting once that everyone saw it. It’s a good idea to repost some of your more important items like a good blog you wrote. Especially on Facebook, because the newsfeed is getting harder and harder to penetrate as a business.

Spend the rest of this day looking at your competitors to get ideas for posts, read up on the latest social media news.

What else should I be doing?

Now social media isn’t just a once a month thing. You need to be checking your accounts daily or at least a few times per week. This ensures you can respond to comments and messages in a timely manner. You don’t want your brand to be seen as slow or as ignoring a question. You want to be responsive.

Social media is very visual, so make sure you are posting great graphics. If you post a photo from someone in your audience, make sure you credit them. Also try making some graphics of your own. A site like Canva will help you make nice looking graphics to share.

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The Digital Marketer’s Toolbox

As a digital marketer, you have a lot of tasks you need to handle. Some days you’re creating spreadsheets, other days you’re implementing a new CRM for a client, Tuesday it’s researching keywords, and Friday you’re monitoring social media.

How can you get it all done without frying your brain?

Luckily there are tons of tools and apps out there to help you get the job done. Whether it’s SEO, social media, marketing automation, creating graphics, there’s a web app you can use (and often for free!).

Here are a list of tools you need in your digital marketer toolbox.

Zapier - Digital Marketer Toolbox Blog.png

Zapier

If you haven’t used them yet, you should. You can get a basic plan for free to test them out. Zapier lets you link up multiple web apps to work together. Rather than hire a developer, you can create a “zap” to take the contact information for anyone filling out your SurveyMonkey survey and put that info into Google Contacts or your CRM. Doing that manually would take hours!

There are tons of zaps you can do, and Zapier is constantly adding new capabilities each week.

Evernote

This is the best note taking tool out there. It syncs up to your devices whether it’s a laptop, desktop, or phone. You can save webpages, photos, handwritten notes, typed notes, and easily organize and search them.

Keep notes on uses of social media you come across, cool email campaign inspiration, ideas you have in the middle of the night.

Awesome Screenshot

This extension is something I use daily. If you’re on a PC and hate having to do “Print Screen” only to capture the entire screen and then go crop it, you will love this extension. It works on Chrome and Firefox browsers and let’s you decide how to get the screenshot, either doing a custom size, capturning the entire page, or even doing a timed screenshot.

Gmail Filters

If you’re a slave to your Gmail inbox, you need to get it under control with filters. If you’re not familiar, filters help you sort incoming emails based on nearly any criteria from the sender name to subject line to words the email contains. You can manage your inbox if you spend a little time creating these filters, and you’ll be much happier when you do.

DropBox

This is a given. If you’re working with a team whether in the office or remotely, you need to have a central place where all files are stored. The last thing you need is for the designer to be out of the office and you need that updated logo image that is saved on their laptop.

Trello

Trello helps you manage projects and stay organized now and into the future. You create cards for each task that needs to get done and can assign it to team members, change the status, write notes, and more. It’s a create way to visually see what everyone is up to and what needs to get done.

Toggl

A great time tracking tool to keep you on task and make sure you stay within time limits for certain projects. You can go back and see what is taking up a lot of your time and where you should be focusing more. Plus, it’s free!

Canva

If you like creating quick little graphics for blogs or social media and don’t have a designer or want to bother them for it, Canva is a lifesaver. It comes pre-populated with tons of beautiful templates to help even the most non-design savvy marketer create a nice looking image.

Dapulse

This is a project management tool based on boards. You can easily create new boards like “Social Media Management” and within it have different boards for each client, with tasks inside where you can attribute a team member, mark the status, write notes, and more. We use this here at MARKIT Group.

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