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By Lis Anderson

Public relations is changing. The media landscape looks very different than it did just two years ago, and savvy PR leaders should be adapting to the modern world.

PR professionals know how to generate interest in a brand and develop trust. Part of this is achieved through writing excellent content that resonates with an audience and placing it on relevant websites.

Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals understand how good content helps a website shoot up the SERPs (search engine results pages) by using carefully planned keywords. Good research means good content that can secure quality backlinks from external outlets.

Combining PR and SEO achieves great and, most importantly, measurable results. Even Google’s John Mueller backs the power of digital PR.

We’ve seen the results for ourselves. We boosted our PR with SEO and have seen the change in the quality of sales leads coming through. So, how did we do it? Here are some of our lessons learned:

First, look at your website. While this is your shop window, it’s also so much more than that. It’s how you attract people to find out more about you, how to establish yourself as a thought leader and how to create trust.

It’s also what Google analyses and decides to place you in search results for keywords. This is where combining PR and SEO can really work. Content is one of the main links between PR and SEO. It is an essential part of SEO to ensure you are found on Google. The higher up the search results you are, the more likely you are to get in front of your target audience.

Well-written content is highly valued by Google. And so are backlinks to your website.

Deliver what your audience wants.

Find out what works for your target audiences by tracking their behavior. Then, create more of the content that is doing well. Some of our metrics include:

• Number of visits to a blog post or service page.

• Bounce rate.

• Time on page.

• Next page that visitors go.

Use Google Analytics to understand how your content is performing as well as the behaviors of your audiences. This is where your SEO team can help. The PR team can take the information and rework the content on-site to ensure it appeals to the audience.

Create copy that resonates.

Boosting the amount of content on-site will help bring in traffic. Google wants to see plenty of fresh content and defined fresh content as:

• Recent events or hot topics.

• Regularly recurring events.

• Frequent updates.

New blog posts are helpful but so are updates to previous blog posts. SEO professionals can review blog posts, analyze backlinks and make suggestions for updating keywords. Savvy PR writers can ensure blog posts are high-quality written content.

This can be done for clients’ websites and also with media outlets. Identify the keywords that drive traffic, review articles to see their traction, and then work with your PR team to create even stronger content.

Turn your website into an important source.

This is another area where the SEO and PR combination can make a real difference. Backlinks are a crucial part of improving the domain authority of a website and, therefore, increasing visibility in search results.

Backlinks come in two forms: dofollow and nofollow. SEO values dofollow links, as these tell Google that the website is happy to share its domain authority with the origin of the link. Nofollow links tell Google that the websites aren’t sharing domain authority. It doesn’t mean that websites with nofollow links should be ignored, however, as they often come from high DA media outlets. Use them to build brand awareness and trust in the brand and website.

Together, they are powerful. Your PR team can be strategic in securing backlinks in the right places for the right audiences.

Research effective content.

PR professionals have close relationships with journalists and editors and know what their contacts are looking for. Many outlets have their own engagement and reach/view targets to hit. PR professionals work with them to produce content that resonates with their audiences.

SEO teams can help research keywords and topics that have value to target audiences. The crossover between the two is the sweet spot and can enhance relationships with media outlets. Your content will bring them the hits and reach they need.

Get techy with your content.

PR can support SEO work on the wider website as well. Meta descriptions are such an important part of SEO. These are the descriptions under the URLs that appear on search engine results pages. They’re important because they can sway someone to click on your link over another one.

Getting the tone of voice right and choosing the right language to communicate key messages is where your PR professionals will excel.

Choosing the right image to illustrate the blog post is also something that PR professionals can help with. PR people are well versed in sourcing images, arranging photoshoots and more. Journalists and editors often expect images, videos, links, etc. from PR professionals as part of a pitch.

Choose a powerful combination that gets you results.

A combined PR and SEO strategy is a long-term strategy that can increase brand awareness and improve the number and quality of leads as a result. They complement each other perfectly and help boost the quality and success of each other’s work. While there is crossover in skills—used in different ways for different ends— they can absolutely support each other.

Feature Image Credit: getty

By Lis Anderson

Lis Anderson is founder and director at PR consultancy AMBITIOUS and an agency MD with over 20 years in the communications industry. Read Lis Anderson’s full executive profile here.

Sourced from Forbes

By Erik Emanuelli

Are you looking for ways to increase your website traffic? If so, you’re in the right place!

In this post, we will discuss tips that will help drive more visitors to your site.

Traffic is essential for any business – without it, your website won’t be able to generate sales or leads.

1. Have a Business Blog

A business blog is one of the best ways to generate traffic to your website.

By creating quality content relevant to your target audience, you will be able to attract readers interested in what you have to say.

Not only will this help you increase traffic, but it will also help you build relationships with potential customers.

Here are a few tips for creating a successful business blog:

  • Write quality content that is interesting and informative
  • Use keyword-rich titles that will help your posts rank in search engines
  • Promote your blog articles through social media and email marketing
  • Engage with your readers by responding to comments and questions

2. Create Engaging Visuals

People are visual creatures and are more likely to remember something if an image accompanies it.

When you create blog posts, include images, infographics, or videos to help your readers understand and remember your content.

In addition to using visuals in your blog posts, you can also use them in your email marketing and social media campaigns.

By creating engaging visuals, you will be able to increase traffic to your website as well as improve your conversion rate.

Here are a few tips for creating engaging visuals:

  • Use high-quality images that are relevant to your content
  • Make sure your visuals are attention-grabbing and easy to understand
  • Include a call-to-action with each visual
  • Test different visuals to see what works best for your audience
  • Use a mixture of visuals in your marketing campaigns

3. Leverage the Power of Video

Video is one of the most powerful tools you can use to generate traffic to your website.

People love watching videos and are likelier to watch a video than read a blog post or article.

In addition, videos are more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content.

If you want to increase traffic to your website, start creating videos that are relevant to your target audience.

Here are a few tips for creating successful videos:

  • Create videos that are informative and entertaining
  • Keep your videos short and to the point
  • Optimize your videos for search engines
  • Promote your videos through social media and email marketing
  • Post them on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo
  • Engage with your viewers by responding to comments and questions

4. Target Long-Tail Keywords

If you want to generate traffic from search engines, you need to target the right keywords.

Most businesses make the mistake of targeting short-tail keywords that are highly competitive.

While there is nothing wrong with targeting these keywords, you will have a much easier time ranking for long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific, making them less competitive.

For example, if you sell shoes, a short-tail keyword would be “shoes.”

A long-tail keyword would be “women’s size 11 black dress shoes.”

Here are a few tips for targeting long-tail keywords:

  • Use keyword research tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Identify what your target audience is searching for
  • Create content that is relevant to your target keywords
  • Include your target keywords in your title, meta tags, and header
  • Use keyword-rich titles that will help your posts rank in search engines

5. Build Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to your website.

They are an essential ranking factor in search engines and can also help you generate traffic.

The more backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in search results.

In addition, backlinks can help you build relationships with other webmasters and influencers.

Start building backlinks if you want to generate traffic and improve your search engine ranking.

Here are a few tips for building backlinks:

  • Identify websites that are relevant to your niche
  • Reach out to webmasters and ask for links
  • Create informative and engaging content that other webmasters will want to link to
  • Submit your website to directories and web listings
  • Participate in forums and discussion groups

6. Use Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using influencers to promote your brand.

An influencer is someone with a large following on social media or another online platform.

They can help you generate traffic, leads, and sales.

To use influencer marketing, start by identifying relevant influencers in your industry.

Then reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in promoting your brand.

Here are a few tips for using influencer marketing:

  • Identify relevant influencers in your industry
  • Reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in promoting your brand
  • Create content that is shareable and relevant to their audience
  • Offer them something in return for promoting your brand
  • Monitor your results and adjust your strategy as needed

7. Build an Email List

Email marketing is a great way to generate traffic and leads.

Email marketing lets you stay in touch with your target audience and promote your brand.

In addition, email marketing can help you build relationships with your customers and prospects.

If you want to use email marketing to generate traffic, start by building an email list.

To build an email list, you must collect your target audience’s email addresses.

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Use sign-up forms on your website and blog
  • Include a call-to-action in your emails
  • Offer something of value in exchange for email addresses
  • Be sure to include a call-to-action in your emails so that your recipients know what you want them to do.
  • Make sure your emails are informative and engaging.

8. Use Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is great for generating website traffic, building relationships, and improving your search engine ranking.

When you guest blog, you write an article for another website in your industry.

This gives you exposure to their audience and can help you build relationships with other webmasters.

In addition, guest blogging can help you generate traffic and improve your search engine ranking.

Here are a few tips for using guest blogging:

  • Identify websites that accept guest blogs
  • Reach out to them and pitch your ideas
  • Write informative and engaging articles
  • Include a call-to-action in your bio

9. Use Social Media

Social media is great for generating traffic, building relationships, and improving your search engine ranking.

When you use social media, you can connect with your target audience and promote your brand.

In addition, social media can help you build relationships with other webmasters and influencers.

Here are a few tips for using social media:

  • Identify the social media platforms that are relevant to your niche
  • Create informative and engaging content
  • Engage with other users on the platform
  • Include links to your website in your profile
  • Monitor your results and adjust your strategy as needed
  • Use hashtags to reach a wider audience
  • Participate in groups and forums
  • Use social media ads

10. Track, Analyse, and Repeat

The most essential part of any traffic-building strategy is to track your results.

You need to know what is working and what is not.

Without tracking, you will not be able to improve your results.

There are a few things you should track:

  • website traffic
  • leads
  • sales
  • conversions

To track your results, you need to use web analytics tools.

Many web analytics tools are available, but Google Analytics is the most popular.

Once you have set up tracking, you need to analyse your results.

Look at your web traffic and see where it is coming from.

Then look at your leads and sales.

Finally, look at your conversion rate.

Once you have analysed your results, you need to adjust your strategy.

Make changes to your website, content, and marketing campaigns.

Then track your results again and repeat the process.

Final Words

Website traffic is essential if you want to succeed online.

There are many ways to get more visitors, but not all of them are effective.

To build traffic that converts, you need to focus on creating shareable content, building relationships, and tracking your results.

Following these tips can generate the traffic you need to succeed.

What are your favourite traffic-building strategies? Let us know in the comments below.

By Erik Emanuelli

Erik Emanuelli is an online marketer who has been blogging since 2010. Be sure to check his website for free SEO resources.

Sourced from readwrite

Sourced from KHTS

As we move into the digital age, it’s more important than ever to ensure your business is taking advantage of all the online marketing opportunities available. SEO is one of the most effective ways to reach new customers and grow your business, but there are so many different aspects to it that it can be hard to know where to start. In this blog post, we’ll outline the different types of SEO you should be aware of in 2022 and explain how they can benefit your business. Read on to learn more!

Mobile SEO

The first type of SEO is mobile SEO, and as the name would suggest, this type of SEO focuses on mobile devices. Did you know that half of the global search traffic comprises mobile users? This is one of the reasons why Google now crawls a site’s mobile version first, which means businesses should keep this in mind. Mobile SEO is basically optimizing a website so that it displays and runs smoothly on mobile devices, which includes site speed, time to interact, as well as the sizing of fonts and images.

Content SEO

The next type of SEO is perhaps one of the most well-known: content SEO. And with so many digital marketing agencies offering these services, such as Cozab, it’s difficult to imagine that brands have not begun understanding the benefits this type of SEO provides. Content SEO is the creation of content that helps sites rank higher. Three factors determine the success of content SEO: keyword strategy, the structure of the site, and copywriting.

Local SEO

Another incredibly important type of SEO, especially for physical businesses, is local SEO. Local SEO focuses on increasing the ranking and visibility of sites based on their geographical positioning to their audience. In other words, local SEO refers to anything done to help physical businesses reach their local audience. The most important aspect of local SEO is ensuring you have a Google My Business profile; without this, it will be incredibly difficult to reach your local audience.

Off-Page SEO

One of the most important types of SEO, which is almost a category of SEO that other types of SEO fall under, is off-page SEO. Off-page SEO refers to anything done outside of your website to raise the ranking and visibility of your site on search engines. This could include getting good reviews online, having other sites link to your site, using social media to market your business, paid advertising on YouTube videos, and more. Off-page SEO increases your authority and drives traffic to your site.

On-Page SEO

The opposite of off-page SEO is on-page SEO; as the name suggests, this type of SEO involves optimizing your site to rank higher. There are many ways that this can be done, such as by optimizing your URLs, images, internal links, HTML, title tags, and more. However, that is not all it refers to; on-page SEO also involves optimizing engaging and informative content written for Google bots and improving the site’s user experience.

E-Commerce SEO

As we move into the digital age, it’s more important than ever to ensure your business is taking advantage of all the online marketing opportunities available. SEO is one of the most effective ways to reach new customers and grow your business, but there are so many different aspects to it that it can be hard to know where to start. In this blog post, we’ll outline the different types of SEO you should be aware of in 2022 and explain how they can benefit your business. Read on to learn more!

Technical SEO

Finally, the last type of SEO is technical SEO, which refers to helping Google bots crawl, index, and interpret your site. Why do you want to do this? Because the easier the job of the bots crawling and indexing your site, the more information the search engine has about your site, and the more accurately it can predict what type of searches to associate with it. For example, increasing your site’s mobile-friendliness and creating an XML sitemap are just some ways to do this

Sourced from KHTS

By

If you’re dumping all of your startup’s funding into paid ads, you’re missing a massive amount of SEO-driven customer growth opportunities.

In 2021, $621 billion in venture capital was deployed to startups raising funding. More than 50% of that funding went straight into ads.

The problem? People hate ads. Ad blocking technology usage has increased dramatically year over year. Even worse, 68% of online experiences start with a search on Google, Bing or another search engine. Only 6% of those searches result in an ad click.

If you’re dumping all of your startup’s funding into paid ads, you’re missing a massive amount of SEO-driven customer growth opportunities. Here are three ways to drive customer growth for your startup using SEO.

1. Publish keyword-driven content often

The key to driving organic traffic from search engines is to provide content that is genuinely helpful to readers. That all starts with identifying what readers are searching for, understanding their problems and providing information they can use to solve them.

Most startups publish random content on their website that isn’t optimized for what their target market is actually looking for. Blogging isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago. It’s not meant to be an online diary. It’s meant to target specific searches that your ideal customers are typing every single day.

Keywords are the lifeblood of SEO, as they help you understand existing and future opportunities for traffic around topics and phrases that relate to your product or service. For instance, someone searching for a do-it-yourself guide to building a bookshelf is probably going to convert on recommendations in the article for products. If it’s too complex, they may even book a contractor instead.

Creating keyword-driven content that targets your ideal customer profile is how you win in SEO. Use tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to research topics that your typical customers might search. Then, create blogs and pieces of content that address those problems. Publish at least five to 10 pieces per month and you’ll start seeing traffic flood to your website.

2. Optimize your public knowledge base

Creating more new content as a startup without outsourcing can be difficult. After all, you’re already wearing too many hats at a startup and your job description grows by the day. If you run a software or tech-based startup, an easy win for SEO is optimizing your public knowledge base.

Your knowledge base contains vital information about your industry, how to use your product, and how to solve key problems in your space. For instance, maybe your software helps companies with logistics management and warehousing. Within your knowledge base, you already explain key information that can pick up organic traffic and searches. And best of all, it’s directly related to your product or service, meaning the potential to convert traffic is huge.

In your keyword research tool, plug in topics that your knowledge base already covers. See if you are missing any keywords and topics that you can expand on to go further in-depth on the content you’ve already published. On your knowledge base, make sure it’s set to index in search engines rather than being content locked away in a user portal or back-end system.

Your knowledge base shouldn’t be exclusive to customer service or users looking for support. Make it public, indexed in search engines and reap the rewards of organic traffic that are hyper-relevant to your business.

3. Generate niche digital PR coverage

Doing digital PR for your startup is critical for SEO. Digital PR includes things like getting mentioned in relevant publications online, podcasts where you share industry advice as an expert and so much more. Digital PR serves multiple purposes, and can directly enhance your SEO and ability to rank for organic search terms.

When doing digital PR initiatives like podcasts or interviews in written publications, or being an expert source for journalists, you earn a brand mention and backlink that directly improves your website’s authority. In simple terms, you can rank better organically and drive more traffic.

In addition, these efforts will build brand awareness and drive referral traffic to your site. The trap that most startups fall down is not niching down enough. PR isn’t just getting mentioned in TechCrunch and getting 30 under 30 listings.

You can also go straight to niche sources where your ideal customers hang out, consume content and connect. Start searching for “best blogs in [industry]” and “top [niche] companies.” Identify a list of 50 to 100 of these websites, media companies and startups that you can cross-promote.

Write a guest post for their blog. Feature them on your podcast and get featured on theirs. Tap into their niche relevant audience rather than going for the biggest publications you can find. You’ll get more pitches accepted and the traffic you receive will be highly relevant to your product or service.

By

Sourced from Entrepreneur

By

Digital marketing is an ever-changing world, with new platforms and algorithms constantly shifting the goal posts. Tom Welbourne, founder and director at agency The Good Marketer, tells us how to avoid rookie mistakes.

The constantly-shifting digital marketing landscape is exciting and full of opportunities. But this presents room to make costly mistakes, from underestimating the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) to lacking clarity about social media marketing goals. Gaps in your marketing plan can make otherwise promising strategies fall at the first hurdle.

To avoid making mistakes, the key is knowledge. We’ve compiled the six biggest mistakes that newbie digital marketers make to equip you with the knowledge of what to avoid – and how to do things the right way.

1. No clarity on audience

Think you know who your audience is? It’s time to rethink your assumptions and get more specific. Most people have an idea of who their audience is, but this is useless if you don’t clearly define their age, gender, and interests as well as broad audience categories.

For example, a mortgage provider will have multiple audiences, from first-time buyers looking for their first mortgage to more mature homeowners who have had mortgages before but are looking for a new agreement.

Use analytics tools like Google Analytics to find out who your audience really is, rather than who you think they are.

2. Lack of clear goals

You won’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know exactly where that is. Clear goals give you a clear destination and help to map where you need to hit along the way. If you establish that you want to reach 10,000 followers on Instagram, you can break this down into what you need to achieve month-on-month to achieve that overall goal.

Digital marketers use the ‘Smart’ (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goal framework to create well-defined growth goals that will give a direction to take and the basis to measure your campaign’s success.

3. Setting unrealistic goals

Perhaps the most important aspect of Smart goals is the ‘achievable’ aspect. Having clear goals is important, but you will always end up falling short if your goals aren’t realistic.

If you currently have 500 followers, setting a goal to gain 10,000 followers organically in six months is always going to leave you disappointed and feeling like you’ve failed.

To ensure your goals are realistic, evaluate based on past experience; do some research about similar businesses; or speak to other people in your industry about what could be achievable.

4. Ignoring SEO

Everyone loves an aesthetically-pleasing website, but how many people prioritize SEO when building their site?

SEO is an essential digital marketing strategy used to increase the online brand visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs). When someone searches a keyword related to your business, SEO improves the likelihood of making it to the top of those results.

When newbie digital marketers hear about SEO, they can mistake the acronym as something too technical for your average marketer, but they’d be wrong. SEO is something that even a beginner can do comfortably when equipped with the right knowledge.

5. Overlooking quality content

You’ve heard it over and over and will continue to: content is king. Your marketing strategy is nothing if you haven’t taken the time to create quality content that works for your audience.

Ultimately, your digital marketing strategy will succeed if your content can provide value to your audience. Whether you’re solving a problem or providing valuable insight, take time to reflect on how your content conveys value.

6. Lack of recorded strategy

Often, newbie marketers have a strategy in mind for how to reach their goal, but leave it undocumented and not fully developed. A written strategy gives you a clear outline of how to grow your brand or business, and how to leverage your USPs to achieve your vision of success.

Being a digital marketer is a learning curve. The mistakes will probably be plenty, so the best you can do is equip yourself with a solid framework that provides a path to follow. The best marketers are able to use the same process of goal-setting, strategizing and implementation no matter the project. Once you get to grips with how these stages can benefit you and your work, the world is your oyster.

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Sourced from The Drum

By Lauren Fox

At Brafton, we’ve found our newsletter subscribers to be our best, most engaged audience. These are our people. They live and breathe content marketing, just as we do. Some even partner with us to create and execute awesome content marketing campaigns for their brands.

Over the last two and a half years, we’ve placed a significant emphasis on growing this subscriber base, and we’ve achieved a 170% increase (and counting!) across 84 countries.

Newsletter subscriptions coming from organic search traffic.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking for ways to grow your newsletter list, too.

SEO blog content has been the foundation for our growth. How does it work? Simple: We create blog content that ranks highly in search, and we make it super easy (and tempting) for readers to subscribe to our newsletter once they visit our blog.

While the concept seems straightforward, the effort is anything but.

Read on to learn how to get users from your website onto your newsletter list, and why email marketing and SEO work so well together.

Part 1: Attracting potential subscribers to your site

The first part of this newsletter growth process is actually getting your potential newsletter subscribers to your website. Here are 5 solid strategies for doing just that:

1. Keyword research

Our blog has been around since April 2010. We’ve published over 7,500 articles in those 12 years.

That’s a lot of content.

But it wasn’t until we rolled out a data-led keyword research and content creation strategy in 2018 that we started seeing significant traction with organic traffic growth:

I won’t go into detail about the strategy we used to get there (you can read about it here), but I will wax poetic about the importance of keyword research and topic selection if you’re looking to grow your blog — and your newsletter subscriber list as a result.

Keyword selection is crucial.

If you don’t choose the right topics to write about, you won’t rank highly in search results. And if you’re not showing up in search, no one is going to come to your website to read your content — or to subscribe to read more from your brand.

2. Great content writing

Great content is your foot in the door with your next potential newsletter subscriber. In an ideal scenario, they come to your site, they read your content, they’re incredibly impressed, and they happily enter their email address to get more of the same from your brand directly into their inbox.

Writing great content not only gets you to appear more often in search and improves your organic visibility, but it’s also the best way to convince a reader to sign up for your newsletter.

What do I mean when I say “write great content?” Well, there’s a creative and scientific element to this part of the process, and we do it because it works:

Using the briefing process we developed, and an extremely talented pool of in-house writers, we’re able to create content that comprehensively covers all potential subtopics and answers all potential questions a searcher might have about the target keyword. In effect, we attempt to use data to create the most comprehensive content on the web for each topic we choose to cover.

This keeps us competitive and ranking well in SERPs, which means more chances for a searcher to land on our blog and subscribe to our newsletter.

3. Content reoptimization

Sometimes the content we create gets old. It becomes outdated and stale, or new competitors create better content than ours and start outranking us.

Reoptimizing a piece of content helps us attract more potential newsletter subscribers to our blog in two main ways:

  1. By reoptimizing the blog content, we improve our ranking for our target keyword and, as a result, we start getting more clicks to the page for the targeted audience searching that term.
  2. By improving the comprehensiveness of the piece by covering more topics, we rank for a larger number of variant keywords and then drive more clicks to the page.

Here’s the data from a blog post that was underperforming before we did a reoptimization on March 30, 2021, and what newsletter subscription goal completions looked like after the reoptimization, year-over-year:

An increase in newsletter subscription goal completions YoY from a content reoptimization.

Even though the increase in total subscriptions here is relatively small, this was just for a single blog post. Imagine doing this for 50 blog posts a year. At scale, it can make an impact.

4. Audio/visuals in blog content

Some people are just more visual learners than others. They prefer eye-catching infographics and video tutorials over hundreds of words of straight-up written content. And I’m not just saying this without any actual data to back up my claim.

We’ve consistently found that blogs with infographics drive more clicks to our site (compared to blogs that do not feature infographics).

Even though our blogs with infographics make up just ~3% of all of our blog pages, they generate 25% of all the clicks to our blog pages and 21% of all the impressions generated by blogs in search:

They also have a higher CTR (2.0% vs 1.6%) and a better average keyword position (22.4 vs 30.2):

Finally, they tend to generate more backlinks organically:

Blog post: The Anatomy of a Marketing Ideation Workshop (Infographic)

How does this impact our newsletter list growth?

These pages drive more clicks, rank better in search and get linked back to more often. All of these results drive a bigger audience of potential newsletter subscribers to our website to read our content and click “Subscribe.”

5. Pillar pages

When it comes to attracting an organic search audience that is highly likely to subscribe to our newsletter, one of the top strategies we’ve rolled out in the last year is our pillar page strategy.

Over the course of 2021, we published five of these long-form guides. They’re a cross between a blog post and a landing page — and they are search-targeted.

Example of a pillar page targeting the keyword “what is content creation.”

Compared to our blog content, users coming to the site to view these pages tend to bounce less, view more pages per session and subscribe to our newsletter at a higher rate (1.11% vs 0.38%):

I’m not recommending you completely ditch your blog strategy for pillar pages, but they are a great supplemental way to generate more newsletter subscribers per page.

Part 2: Improving on-site newsletter conversion (CRO)

We’ve discussed plenty of ways to improve the content on the page to attract more visitors from organic search. But what happens once they get there? How do we actually get visitors to convert from first-time readers to weekly email subscribers?

Enter: Conversion rate optimization!

CRO is all about finding ways to get site visitors from reading your blog in their browser to receiving your content directly in their inbox. (Which is the ultimate goal, of course). Read on for four on-page elements that’ll likely improve your newsletter subscription conversion rates:

6. Pop-up form

There’s a reason why nearly every site you visit on the web has an annoying pop-up form asking you to subscribe to their newsletter. It’s because it works.

There was a time when our blog didn’t have a pop-up form (back around 2017). We decided to run a test and added the first iteration of our pop-up form, which looked like this:

Here are the results we saw:

  • Daily subscriptions without pop-up: 1.59
  • Daily subscriptions with pop-up: 8.32
  • Change: +532%

We happily kept that pop-up form in its place and never looked back.

In the years since we originally implemented the pop-up, we’ve modified how it behaves so that it’s more likely to capture a form fill. We:

  • Redesigned the pop-up to be slightly more clear in terms of what the user is signing up for.
  • Adjusted the timing on the pop-up. It used to come up too soon for the reader to make any real judgment on whether they might want to subscribe. We decided to go with 30 seconds, as this time is enough for the user to get the flavour of the post, but still retains most of the users (as we found they start to drop off after 45 seconds).

These may seem like small modifications, but cumulatively they improve the chances that we’re serving the pop-up form at the exact right time for a reader.

We’ve also learned over the years that the more ways website visitors have to subscribe to our newsletter, the better. Here are 3 more elements that we’ve included on-page to drive up our subscription rate:

7. Sticky sidebar

This is one of my favourite CTA elements and I think it really personalizes the experience for the reader on a blog. The sticky sidebar follows you down the page as you read, and the “Subscribe” CTA is always present on the screen. It’s not overly distracting, but it does make it super easy for the reader to subscribe at any time (even if they’ve closed the pop-up form).

There was a period when we removed this sidebar from our blog pages and our newsletter conversion rate plummeted. It ticked back up once we added the sidebar back to the page. Lesson learned!

8. Inline subscribe CTA

We started embedding a CTA directly into each blog post. Its design is meant to not be too interruptive, but it’s present as yet another way for users to subscribe.

This inline CTA is included once per blog post, around 50% down the page. We intentionally do not place it too close to the end of the article. This improves our chances of catching someone once they’ve read a significant portion of the content but won’t be missed if they don’t finish reading the entire piece.

9. Dedicated newsletter sign-up page + nav link

As a final on-site CRO element, we launched a dedicated landing page to promote our newsletter:

Like any good conversion landing page, it succinctly (and persuasively, we hope) explains what subscribers get by entering their contact information.

And if they’re not yet convinced, we’ve included a sampling of some of our best blog content for them to peruse before they make the final decision to subscribe:

Every single element on this page is geared toward prompting users to fill out the form.

We use this landing page as a standalone promotional tool both on site and through external channels (paid and organic alike).

  • We advertise the page on Google and social platforms.
  • We share a link to this page in our email marketing — so friends of subscribers can easily subscribe.
  • We even give it a prominent spot in our main navigation:

You may think it’s not worth it to add a “Subscribe” button to your main navigation — it’s pretty important real estate, after all — but it will get you more newsletter subscribers organically as users land on and navigate through your site.

And people do actually navigate to this page and subscribe this way. Since launching the page in January 2021, it accounted for 17.64% of our total on-site newsletter goal completions (in 2021) with a whopping 24.12% conversion rate.

All the on-site elements I’ve covered may seem like tiny, insignificant changes but they 1) took significant research, analysis and effort to implement, and 2) they worked.

Since adding these elements in 2021, we have doubled our newsletter subscription conversion rate:

Small changes can yield big results — and every new newsletter subscriber makes a difference.

Part 3: Enhancing subscriber engagement

Now that we’ve looked at ways to grow your subscriber list and improve your subscription conversion rate, I want to switch gears and talk about what happens once someone does subscribe — and how content is invaluable to and inseparable from newsletter marketing.

Content is what fuels newsletter marketing. You cannot have one without the other. Sure, you can technically run a newsletter that solely shares external sources, but without some sort of original content to include in the email, you’re not going to retain subscribers for very long.

As I mentioned earlier, our newsletter audience is our best, most engaged audience. We hear time and time again about how much they like the content we produce. We like to reward them with even more great content.

Here are the primary ways we’ve kept our newsletter audience engaged with content:

10. Downloadable content & webinars

By offering different types of content, like downloadable assets (eBooks and white papers) and live-streamed webinars and workshops, we’re giving our audience more ways to connect with our brand.

They can dive deeper into a specific topic in their own time with a white paper, or get their real-time questions answered with a webinar or workshop.

From a marketing results perspective, we can see which contacts are most engaged with the content we’re offering by tracking email click-through rate, downloads and webinar sign-ups. It also gives us important insights into which topics and formats work best to improve user experience, and we can double down on those content types in the future.

11. Surveys

One of my favourite ways we’ve connected with our newsletter audience over the years is through surveys.

We ask them questions like:

  • What types of content marketing resources do you want more of?
  • What’s your favourite area of content marketing to learn about?
  • How do you rate your skill level with content marketing (and other areas of marketing)?
  • What are your favourite hobbies outside of content marketing?

The feedback they provide is invaluable to our marketing efforts. It’s one of the best ways to know exactly what our newsletter audience wants from us.

If you’re ever unsure about what your audience thinks of your newsletter, or where you might be lacking, a survey is arguably your best resource for those answers. And it doesn’t need to be a complex multi-question survey either — it can be a simple “How are we doing?” button you include in each send.

12. New layout for better user experience

We’ve also changed the look and feel of our weekly newsletter over the years. And we continually work to improve the user experience with these design updates.

Our newest iteration from 2021 contains a variety of sections based on what we’ve found to be most useful for our audience:

  • A roundup of recently published blog posts.
  • A rotating featured content section where we can promote our latest infographic, job opening or employee spotlight.
  • A visual CTA to promote an eBook download or a webinar registration.

My favourite sections of our newsletter are:

Recommended reading

Here, we share industry-related content from other brands in the space. Even if we didn’t create the content ourselves, we want to provide these additional resources to help our audience stay ahead of the content marketing curve. The hope is that they get everything they need (content marketing-wise) from our newsletter, and keep opening up our emails week after week.

Subscribe CTA: “Did you get this email from a friend?”

This section links out to our newsletter subscribe landing page. It’s here to help folks subscribe to our newsletter if it’s been forwarded to them from a friend. People forward emails all the time, and this way, we’ve built in an easy way to encourage new readers to subscribe to our content. It’s a CTA that doesn’t change week to week, so it doesn’t take any effort to maintain, but it’s there to organically generate more newsletter subscribers.

And it does: We’ve found that 10% of people who subscribe via email do so on this page coming from the newsletter.

When determining the best newsletter content and layout for your brand, it’s always most important to do what works best for your audience. You may not achieve the perfect newsletter format right out of the gate, but over time, and by gathering feedback (via surveys or organically through email replies), you’ll get closer to giving them exactly what they want.

When I talk about enhancing newsletter engagement, our goal has always been the same: Be the best possible content marketing resource for our audience. As a result, we’ll get their attention and their loyalty, and possibly even their referral to a friend or colleague — and that helps us continue to grow our subscriber base.

Conclusion

Newsletter marketing has been at the core of Brafton’s marketing strategy for many years now, and we’ve found time and time again that there is plenty of reason to reinvest our efforts into this growth.

I hope the methods I’ve shared have inspired you with plenty of ways to grow your own newsletter list.

Because once you’ve got those readers subscribed, you’ll be unstoppable.

By Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is the Director of Marketing at Brafton. She has grown the Brafton blog from 30K to 230K monthly visitors and tripled its newsletter subscriber base over the course of three years. Her expertise ranges from content research and planning to performance analysis, with a focus on content strategy.

Sourced from MOZ

By Lindsay Mineo

If you’re an SEO like me, you probably spent at least a year or two at an agency where you worked with other experienced SEOs. On large teams, there’s always someone to learn from, bounce ideas off of, or to help finish projects on time.

But what happens when the SEO team is just you? This is the question I had when, after several years agency-side, I moved in-house to be the first and only SEO the organization ever had.

More than three years later, I’m still a team of one. I had to figure out how to accomplish my goals without the built-in support of an established team, and although there are challenges, being the only SEO is an opportunity to flex your knowledge, develop the practices that will bring the organization into the digital age, and maybe even grow your own team.

Here’s how I get things done, and hopefully some of these practices will be helpful for you as well!

How and why some organizations start with just one SEO

Many “legacy” organizations are going through a digital transformation: transitioning from traditional media to a digital presence by investing in their websites and digital specialists. The pandemic likely accelerated this process, and these groups will be hiring their first dedicated SEOs.

This is how I was hired. The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest environmental nonprofits in the world, with offices in dozens of countries and thousands of employees. One SEO. Yet this is fairly advanced — most nonprofits have zero*.

*Sidenote: If you are a nonprofit SEO I would love to connect!

One of the first digital transformation hires was the analytics director, Jenny. Jenny’s mission was to find opportunities to grow the site. Almost immediately, she saw that half of the website’s traffic is from organic search. So she asked, “Who manages search here?” Turns out, no one. She believed that if the website was important, the organization needed to invest in it. And that meant a strategy for search.

Jenny needed to highlight how beneficial an SEO would be. She built an analytics dashboard for the CMO, who was from a traditional media background. His first question was, “What’s organic search?”

Yes, really. Then he had a lightbulb moment: “Oh, so Google! Wow, that’s all our traffic?”

And a new SEO position was funded.

A rough start

Unfortunately, this realization came at a less than ideal time. The Nature Conservancy was in the middle of this digital transformation, starting to heavily invest in digital marketing, building a team, thinking strategically about the website, and the CMS was shutting down. They scrambled to find a new CMS and execute a site migration.

No worries, they thought, the web developer vendor will handle SEO. Their contract included this line item: “SEO industry best practices for relaunch”.

If your stomach just clenched, imagine how I felt when, during an interview, my soon-to-be-boss excitedly said, “You might have noticed that the website looks a little different today. Our relaunch went live this morning!”

Yes, they went through a site migration while hiring for an SEO. They celebrated with cake.

Teams without an SEO don’t know what they don’t know, and they’ll make mistakes that you will be responsible for fixing. Until that moment, I had been thinking that I’d be setting the SEO strategy for the future of the organization, help the website emerge as an authority and a leader in the nonprofit space, and contribute to my personal goal of furthering the mission. Instead, my first several months on the job would be cleaning up the migration.

When I started, there were hundreds of errors across the site. It was slow, there were no dedicated SEO fields in the CMS, and there were broken links everywhere. Worse, there was no SEO guidance for content creators, meaning each new page created more errors.

So, how did I start to move the needle on over 2,000 pages that were published with zero thought towards SEO? I had to triage: there was no way I could fix all the issues myself, so my priority was slowing the rate at which new, problematic pages were published.

The solo SEO process

Step 1: Make friends on other teams and find your evangelists

When you’re the only SEO, especially if you’re also the first, it might seem like no one at your organization understands your job. But someone, somewhere, does — at least a little. You just need to find them.

And when you do, don’t immediately ask for favors or demand they change how they do their jobs. Approach your new friend with empathy, interest, and understanding. Start by learning how you can help them do their jobs.

Analysts

My first friends were on the analytics team. Obviously I had Jenny, the analytics director, and I also had Leigh Ann, an amazing analytics architect. She had been with The Nature Conservancy for 20 years and knew how desperate the site was for SEO guidance. Chances were if I was annoyed at an issue, she had been annoyed at it for years. She was thrilled some of these issues were finally being addressed, and I was thrilled I had current and historical data to back up my recommendations.

Developers

My second friends were the developers. When you’re the only SEO, you’re the default expert on both content and technical SEO. I give the developers a heads up on what the content team has planned that might require their involvement and, more importantly, educate the content team on the level of effort required for seemingly small tasks. This not only helps me directly, it also increases understanding and keeps relationships smooth across teams.

Other marketers

One unexpected friend I made early on was Rachel, a marketer with the Florida chapter. She worked with SEOs in a previous role and understood the value of organic search. She reached out to me after a training, wanting to collaborate. Together we created a new page specifically designed to bring in organic traffic.

The topic was mangroves, trees that grow in coastal saltwater that provide important habitat for animals and protect communities from storm impacts. The Florida chapter talked quite a bit about mangroves but didn’t have a dedicated page for them. I sent Rachel some keywords, questions, and examples of mangrove content and she built a new page. We collaborated on every element. We both wanted to show how SEO could improve the kind of content most marketers were creating.

A persistent notion among marketers is that their pages are primarily seen because they’re promoted. While the page was shared on social media and in an email, within a few weeks, it was ranking for our target keyword. Six months later, 85% of the traffic to that page was from organic search. I made sure to give that page — and Rachel — a shout out, both to give her credit and to show other marketers the kind of success SEO can bring. She also shares the success of the page with other marketers and is a valuable SEO evangelist.

Step 2: Provide SEO education every day

It doesn’t matter if you work with hundreds of SEOs or you’re the only SEO, every SEO role involves a good amount of education. The field changes frequently, new clients and stakeholders have varying levels of understanding (or worse, outdated ideas), and websites and priorities change. You need to keep up with the field and communicate changes and best practices simply and effectively.

Agency clients expect their vendors to be consultants, but when you’re in-house, it can be easy to forget to treat your colleagues and superiors like a client. And when you’re the only one with SEO expertise, everyone has questions. It’s your job to not only answer their questions, but also to be proactive.

Being the only SEO means speaking up and asserting your knowledge. Within my first two months, I conducted an SEO 101 training open to anyone at the organization. I covered what SEO is, what it means for content creators, busted myths, walked through what a SERP looks like, how to optimize pages using our CMS, and highlighted examples of pages that were already doing a great job. I ended the training by giving attendees steps for conducting their own research, and offering to help anyone creating new content. (Giving out candy doesn’t hurt, either.)

Of course, not everyone is going to react well to someone who comes in and tells them the way they’ve been doing things this whole time is wrong. Naturally, you’ll encounter resistance. That’s okay — focus on those who do want to work with you, and minimize conflict with everyone else. Results, hopefully, will speak for themselves.

You get to choose the SEO hill you die on. Figure out what’s going to move the needle the most at your organization. Understand when to fight and when to let something go in order to appease that higher up you just can’t win over right now.

Step 3: Do (at least some of) the work yourself

One of the biggest culture shocks moving in-house was the level of bureaucracy standing in my way. The larger the organization, the more hurdles you’ll have to jump. Sometimes it takes half a dozen people to approve a title tag change and content owners are sometimes always too busy to fix their broken links. I quickly realized there would be times I’d need to just do things myself.

If your SEO agency experience ever involved providing recommendations to your point of contact and then wondering why almost nothing got implemented, you may have no idea how long it takes to actually do the work you’re recommending, or what very real barriers your client faces. I didn’t when I was with agencies.

At The Nature Conservancy, I tried everything I could think of to encourage content owners to fix their issues: meeting one-on-one with them, sending emails with step-by-step instructions, even setting up automated email reminders. They just didn’t have the time.

So, I started making some of the changes myself. I’d remove a few broken links on one page, update title tags and meta descriptions on another, and worked with my team’s writer (who was willing to pitch in) to update content. It’s important to not be too busy, proud, or afraid to do the work.

If you’re thinking this is time consuming, you’re right. If content owners didn’t have the time to manage a dozen pages, how could I manage thousands? Right when I was starting to resign myself to spending Saturdays doing all the stuff I was recommending so we could start seeing results, we hired a production manager, Lane. He quickly made a sizable dent in our backlogged work.*

*In the never-ending cycle that is nonprofit work, Lane’s plate is now also overloaded.

I was lucky that we had the budget to hire Lane, but what if we didn’t? It would have been unrealistic and unfair for me to actually spend my weekends implementing optimizations across thousands of pages. If anyone is in this position now, build a case for hiring someone. Estimate the time it would take to implement your recommendations, and the cost of not implementing as much as you can. Use the metrics that matter to the powers that be, and show how SEO contributes to their own goals. Ask your advocates for help, especially if they might have some insights you don’t.

In the meantime, protect your priorities: Block off time on your calendar for focused work (and use it), enforce no-meeting Fridays, don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good” or “done”, learn how to say “no” to tasks that don’t fit your priorities, and recognize and admit to your limits.

In essence, do the work, but don’t actually work through your weekends!

Step 4: Find your community

It can be a bit lonely and isolating to be the only SEO at your organization. Who do you go to for a gut check, a proofread, or to ask a dumb question without judgment when you’re the only SEO? You need to find your community outside your employer.

First and foremost, you don’t need to have every answer immediately. “I don’t know, let me find out” is an acceptable answer. You can Google answers to the questions you’re asked, or you can find people to ask.

Former colleagues, former classmates in similar positions, website forums, even Twitter hashtags can be a good community. Women in Tech SEO is a wonderful, global community for women in the field. I also had some success reaching out to others in similar positions at related companies. There are SEO podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, conferences, and online courses to learn from.

No matter where you find your community, don’t just take: remember to help others as much as they help you.

Why it’s actually great to be the only SEO

Being the only specialist at a company comes with unique challenges, as outlined here. But there are some wonderful benefits to being the only SEO on your team.

The wow factor

Chances are, your colleagues and superiors are learning a TON from you. I regularly hear things along the lines of, “Wow, I never knew we needed to do this!” or “This is hugely helpful!” for simple best practices.

Employee appreciation

Your colleagues can be extremely happy you’re on the team. Like Leigh Ann, the analytics architect, who had spent years measuring metrics that no one had been working on. And Rachel, from the Florida chapter, who got to show her boss results from our collaboration.

It feels good

When there’s no one else who knows SEO at your organization, there’s also no one to disagree with you! But in addition, if you’re the only SEO on the team, your company may be low on digital expertise, maybe even transitioning from traditional media to a digital presence. You get to genuinely help bring an organization into the digital future and show how SEO can have incredible results.

By Lindsay Mineo

Lindsay is the Digital Content & SEO Manager for The Nature Conservancy.

Sourced from MOZ

By NisonCo

In the age of digital marketing, it seems influencers, email marketing, SEO, and social media reign supreme. Are there any classic marketing tactics that have withstood the test of time? The answer is yes — there are quite a few “old school” marketing moves that still pack a punch. Let’s look at six tried and true marketing tactics you should still consider using in the modern era.

1. Networking and Relationship-Building

Networking online or in-person is just as important in the modern-day as it was in the past. Strong networking skills are essential for any marketing professional or business owner. Successful networking generates referrals and leads, encourages steady client retention, and helps to build a positive reputation among peers and patrons, alike.

Attending conferences in your area is a great way for you to meet other people in your industry and build connections with local businesses and clients that are geographically nearby. Attending national networking events or conferences can also help you expand your network across the country and meet prospective clients and professionals that are doing similar work and perhaps can partner with your business or brand to form a mutually beneficial relationship.

2. Actual Facetime with Your Audience

No, we’re not talking about FaceTime with screens. Investing in facetime with your audience or customers is still a necessary part of doing business and can be greatly beneficial to your relationship with clients, collaborators, and partners. You will develop stronger circular regional relationships by curating interaction opportunities as well, which in turn helps to build more resilient local economies.

When you have face-to-face time with clients or business partners you’re able to pick up on things that are often missed in emails or audio calls such as facial expressions, body language, and other social queues that can get left out in written text or audio-only interactions. This can help build trust and deepen relationships which can yield fruitful business opportunities.

3. Offering Freebies and/or Discounts

People like free stuff. It’s as simple as that. This is a marketing tactic that won’t be retired any time soon because it has proven time and again to be effective. Freebies and discounts allow your target audience to interact with your brand or business and engage more actively with your services and content or sample your products.

It also offers an excellent opportunity for free advertising. When hosting a contest or free giveaway you can get entrants to repost the contest on their social media accounts, follow your brand’s account, and tag other people to spread the news — extending your reach and engaging your target audience in a fun way. Everyone wins.

 

The USPS created a guide titled

The USPS created a guide titled “Still Relevant: A Look at How Millennials Respond to Direct Mail” (PDF) to help companies understand why millennials respond to mail and how to create an appealing mail piece.

4. Direct Mail Lives!

If you think paper mail is dead, then you would be wrong. It turns out everyone really does love mail. Direct mail is still a great way to reach out with the right purpose in mind, even for younger generations.  There are several benefits to using direct mail. Direct mail campaigns give a high return on investment (ROI)—even higher than paid ad campaigns.

It is possible to reach your target audience with the right information at the right time. Direct mail campaigns can work solo or in conjunction with a digital marketing campaign such as by integrating online sales or QR codes, and it is very easy to track their progress.

5. Radio Advertising

Audio is making a significant comeback, so don’t sleep on this medium! Listen to what the founder and CEO of NisonCo Evan Nison had to say about the benefits of radio advertising in Forbes:

The resurgence of radio-based advertising has become increasingly apparent. Podcasts and web-based streaming audio ads can reach national and global platforms. Radio ads can be used to target very specific local regions and varied audience segments.

For those with a brick-and-mortar business location especially, radio advertising is the fun, affordable option of choice for hyper localized advertising. For those looking to level up their findability in the technological age, look into optimizing your local SEO performance.

6. Testimonials and Reviews

People are generally more attuned to the tactics used to get them to buy things or engage with a brand. Testimonials provide both credibility and accountability for brands and businesses because customers are naturally more likely to trust feedback from other consumers. Creating space for testimonials and reviews allows for clients to leave positive feedback or bring attention to issues that can then be addressed to help better the brand or business. In addition to these benefits, bringing them into the modern era by dedicating time to respond on social media sites and to poor reviews will aid in your local SEO strategy so your site will rank better on search engine results pages.

Conclusion Caveat: It’s a Modern World

It is imperative to examine the past for the lessons it has to offer our present, with the caveat that the world we live in exists today in the here-and-now. Each marketing strategy — old and new — has strengths and weaknesses when placed in different applications and contexts. If your brand is uncertain what blend of old-school and digital marketing strategies to employ, reach out to our team of PR, SEO, and Content Writing specialists today to begin crafting a comprehensive plan.

This article was submitted by an external contributor and may not represent the views and opinions of Benzinga.

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By NisonCo

Sourced from Benzinga

Website migration is more than just an update. It’s a process of substantial change in your website’s structure or tech stack. Migrating your site can be time-consuming, expensive, and risky. But sometimes, it’s either the best or the only option.

Migrations usually take place when:

  • You change your company’s name, so you have to move to a new domain
  • You begin implementing the HTTPS protocol, making your site more secure
  • You move to a new content management system (CMS), such as WordPress
  • You do a major website redesign
  • You change your site’s structure, to optimize for conversions or navigability

Nevertheless, if it’s not done properly, a website migration can have negative effects on your SEO. As a result, your ranking, traffic, and authority could drastically decrease.

What can you do to prevent SEO pitfalls? In this post, we’ll share 14 website migration best practices that will help you restructure or move your site without undermining your SEO efforts.

Let’s dive in.

Before you get started

To ensure a smooth transition, thorough planning and testing are key. This is why, before taking a look at SEO, we’d like to share some premises to get your website migration right.

Let Your Audience Know

Notify your users that your website will be moving. Migration is a challenging process. Therefore, there are chances of having some setbacks from time to time. Transparency is key and every large company does this. Tell your audience beforehand, so they can know what to expect, and plan accordingly.

Don’t Do It All at Once

A step-by-step approach makes changes easier to manage. Migrating the entire site in one morning might not be the best approach. Start by creating a staging site, and build your new website there. Once everything works smoothly, you can proceed to push the changes to your domain. This is especially useful if you are running multiple types of migration (e.g: URL, HTTPS, and CMS).

Do It When Traffic Is Low


Understanding your audience goes a long way. And, when it comes to migration, knowing when your traffic is low can be helpful. If you make major changes when just a handful of users are online, any hiccups will have a relatively small impact. Moreover, thanks to the lighter server load, your new site will be crawled and indexed more quickly.

Be Ready For Setbacks

Although website migration comes with great benefits, as aforementioned, it is quite challenging. Plan, test, and make the most out of your staging site. Don’t get discouraged if something turns out wrong, it’s part of the process.

Next, we’ll share a couple of tips that will help you minimize the chance of things going south.

SEO migration and why it matters

Search engines find your site, crawl it, and rank it over time. Google decides how to crawl and rank your site depending on certain data sources you provide. For example, your sitemaps or your site’s interlinking. When you modify your website, you modify that information as well. Consequently, applying an SEO migration strategy is crucial to not lose the visibility that took you so long to build.

Additionally, a poorly handled migration can turn your most linked-to pages into 404s. These changes would have an impact both on both SEO and UX.

With an SEO-focused strategy, you make sure you’re not losing visibility in the process of migrating your website.

How Long Does It Take?

On average, SEO migration takes approximately 3 months. However, the amount of time required for SEO migration will depend on how big your website is.

If your site has over 100 pages, it’s going to take way less than if your site has 3,000 pages. The duration of your SEO migration will depend on the amount of content you’re moving, along with any audits that may be necessary. Be patient and have all your resources ready.

Website migration checklist

The most effective way to migrate your website and protect your SEO efforts is to plan ahead.  There are a couple of the steps you should follow to get it right:

  1. Audit your existing site
  2. Create a backup
  3. Set up a staging site
  4. Run a health check on your new domain
  5. Crawl your site
  6. Create a map of 301 redirects
  7. Update all your links
  8. Set up a custom 404 page
  9. Set up an XML sitemap
  10. Test on mobile
  11. Set up your schemas
  12. Update your robots.txt
  13. Keep control of your old domain
  14. Do a post-launch performance check

1. Audit your Existing Site

Before starting your migration, it’s important to conduct an SEO audit on your existing site. That way, you’ll understand which problems your current site has, and you will be able to fix them during your migration. Make sure you review:

  • Duplicate content
  • Content relevance
  • Broken links
  • Page structures
  • Mobile performance
  • Missing or duplicate meta tags

2. Have a Backup

It’s a good idea to back up your site before you start working on it. With a proper backup, you’ll be able to revert any site-breaking mistakes you may make.

3. Work with a Staging Site

A staging site is a private website that serves as a testing ground for new updates. We recommend you always work with a staging website. It’s extremely useful to test any new changes without affecting your live site. And, with the right SEO tools, you can even do SEO testing on staging.

4. Do a  Health Check on your New Domain

If you’re moving to a new domain, you should check its organic health first. In other words, you should screen for past or current problems in the domain, so you can have a clear idea of what you might face in the future. These problems could be:

  • Past penalizations for spammy content or backlinks
  • Irrelevant or spammy current backlinks pointing to your website

By checking the metrics and the history of the new domain you can know what it used to contain (e.g: games, adult content, literature, etcetera), what Google relates it to, and see if it’s beneficial for your business or not.

5. Crawl Your Site

Crawl your site and create a URL and content inventory. With it, you’ll be able to:

  • Get a general look at your URLs
  • Detect problems and correct them on your staging website
  • Set 301 redirects and map old URLs to new URLs
  • Detect outdated internal links and update them to reflect the new URL structure
  • Set optimization priorities

Tools like ScreamingFrog and Moz are great for this task.

6. Set Permanent Redirects

Once you have listed all your URLs, you’ll notice which ones are working as intended and which ones aren’t. It’s time to fix that.

Every URL in your new website must take users somewhere. But it can be hard to ensure that after you’ve changed your URL structure.

That’s what 301 Redirect maps are helpful for. By using a 301 Redirect map you can redirect all your problematic URLs to new and better pages.

How you’ll set 301 redirects will depend on your CMS and your preferences. But, in most cases, it’s as simple as opening your .htaccess file (which you’ll find at the root of your domain), and adding this line:

Redirect 301 /old-page.html  http://newsite.com/new-page/

Remember to replace “/old-page.html” and “http://newsite.com/new-page/” with your old and new URLs respectively. Do this for every new redirect.

For each of your missing pages, you need to find a destination on your new site. We urge you to be attentive and careful when setting up redirects. We recommend that you use Google Search Console to handle both redirects and the indexing of your new pages. You can manually submit your URLs into Search Console and ask Google to crawl them.

7. Protect your Links

Once you’ve updated your new URLs and know how they’ll be, it’s time to update internal links. Thus, you can prevent broken links or internal redirects. ScreamingFrog is useful for this.

The same applies to backlinks in other websites directing to your website. You can get a look at your backlinks with a tool such as Majestic, MozLink Explorer, or Ahrefs. If the URLs those sites are linking have been redirected, you shouldn’t need to contact them. But, if the content in question has been removed and you don’t want to set up a redirect, you can:

  • Create a new piece of content under that URL
  • Leave it as is (which makes you vulnerable to broken link building strategies)
  • Contact the editors of the sites that link to yours, and ask them to replace the link

8. Have a custom 404 page

Despite all your efforts, there might still be some broken links left on your site, after you launch. This is why it’s essential to have a custom 404 page to redirect users to navigate through your site. Otherwise, they will encounter a blank page and will likely leave.

Make sure your 404 is optimized to take users back to your website’s home. You can also lead them to pages that may be relevant for them. For instance, you can list your most visited pages on your 404.

9. XML Sitemap

Create a new XML sitemap and upload it to your Google Search Console. Thus, it will be easier for search engine bots to understand your website’s structure.

Most sites have two types of sitemaps:

  • An XML sitemap, made for bots
  • An HTML sitemap, made for humans

The HTML sitemap is usually found on the site’s footer. The XML sitemap, on the other hand, is accessible by adding /sitemap.xml to a website’s root domain. For instance, https://jeffbullas.com/sitemap.xml

Make sure both of these sitemaps reflect the new changes on your site. Depending on your CMS, you may be able to automatically create and update your sitemaps with a plugin.

10. Responsivity Matters

Before indexing your site, Google will evaluate your mobile experience. Consequently, building your new website with mobile UI in mind is vital.

Google has also shown a preference for sites that use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). So, consider the possibility of delivering your content to mobile users in this format.

11. Mind About Schema

Schema is a set of data vocabulary that helps search engines understand your content. While implementing it doesn’t directly translate into better rankings, it can help you get rich snippets and lead to more clicks.

If you don’t use it yet, give it a go. And if you already do, don’t forget to consider it for your migration.

12. Update Robots.txt

You can use robots.txt files to offer suggestions to search engine robots about how they should crawl your site. Your robots.txt should always include:

  • Files and directories that search engine robots aren’t allowed to crawl
  • Your sitemap’s URL

Create a robots.txt for your new website, and update it on Google Search Console. That way, you can prevent Google from crawling sensitive directories. For instance, if you’re migrating to WordPress, you may want to disallow robots on the /wp-admin/ directory. In that case, you’d include the following in your robots.txt file:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

13. Don’t Let Your Old Domain Expire

If you let your old domain expire, someone else may buy it and take advantage of your backlinks. On the other hand, by staying in control of your domain, you can:

  • Maintain control of your online reputation
  • Make sure all backlinks are properly redirected

14. Post- Launch: Check Performance

Once your new website is live, you’ll have to check if it meets your performance standards.

Chances are that, after a change (however large), your position in the SERPs won’t be instantly affected. A couple of weeks after your new website has gone live, conduct an audit and check:

  • Engagement metrics
  • Speed across different devices and browsers
  • Average SERP positioning
  • Organic traffic
  • Backlinks

SEO isn’t a one-off project. It’s a consistent effort. And, the longer you invest in SEO, the better the result you’ll get. After migrating your site, use technical SEO tools regularly. That way, you can stay on top of any new changes that may impact your position in the SERPs.

Key takeaways

Migrating your website is a big challenge that should be taken only if it is worth the effort. You can protect your SEO wins by working with the right tools and implementing best practices.

If you don’t have the expertise to face these challenges in-house, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. It’ll be worth it.

Clay Kramer is the Head of Product at SEORadar, an SEO disaster prevention tool used by thousands of people worldwide.

Sourced from JeffBullas.com

 

 

By Rodney Laws

Budgeting is a key concern for every business, regardless of its size or nature. “What of giant companies with remarkable cash reserves?”, you might ask. Well, they only have such resources because they budget so efficiently. Everyone faces the same balancing act: on one hand, trying to invest in the future, and on the other hand, trying to keep expenses down.

This certainly applies to SEO, because it’s something that can be pursued indefinitely. There’s no such thing as a perfect page. Even if there were, a simple regular update to the ranking algorithm would once again leave it short of perfection. You need to know when to stop your efforts and move on — and for that, you need to know what you stand to gain by doing more.

Any page on your website that you want indexed could deserve SEO investment, depending on what you’ve already done. Due to this, you must carry out some analysis to determine where to focus your attention. In this post, we’re going to identify some tips that can help you figure out which pages on your website are most worthy of search optimization. Let’s begin.

Look for straightforward technical issues

When something isn’t working the way you want it to and there are numerous potential causes, you should check the simplest ones first. This isn’t just because they’re far more common. It’s also because they’re relatively easy to resolve. In the SEO world, there are basic technical issues that can completely ruin rankings, so look out for those.

The most obvious example involves discovering that a page you meant to index has been rejecting crawlers. No crawlers means no rankings. Another example is slow loading. Maybe the page that’s doing the worst in the rankings is loading several times more slowly than others on your site, causing it to be penalised. Google prefers speedy websites for obvious reasons.

PageSpeed Insights is great for finding slow pages.

Line up these basic issues and make a priority of fixing them as soon as possible. If there’s one page riddled with them, that should be your focus until they’re all resolved. You’ll never get more impactful results in SEO (and more ROI) than when you fix simple technical issues: making progress after that gets a lot trickier.

You may be able to improve performance sufficiently through tweaking, but it’s possible that you’ll need an infrastructure upgrade. If you created your site through a free or low-cost website builder and invested minimally in hosting, for instance, it’s time to scale things up. This doesn’t mean you need to give up the freedom of open source ecommerce, though. There are managed hosting providers (such as Cloud ways) that give users the freedom to choose which systems they use and make whatever modifications suit their goals.

Shoring up your technical foundation and achieving strong reliability doesn’t mean you can stop, though. SEO fully justifies consistent budgeting, and should remain a priority for years to come. It’s just a matter of ordering. Get the easy wins first, and face the tougher challenges later.

Consider what a page may one day become

Next, you should think not only about what a page is for now but also what it might be in the future. High-value pages should adapt to visitor preferences and SEO standards, but you may also want to expand them to do more with the visits they receive.

Take something like a roundup page listing the best pizza places in Winnipeg. If it got enough traffic, you could make the content more detailed to include more places. This would allow you to add more affiliate links and make some more money. It would also make the page feel more credible and authoritative.

You could even start linking out to other pieces of content like the best curry places in Winnipeg or the best pizza ovens for making pizza at home. Searches like that are extremely actionable, and valuable as a result. It could eventually become one of your most important pages, driving a lot of affiliate revenue and earning you myriad links.

This kind of affiliate page can be very lucrative.

If you can look at a page on your site and see that kind of potential, start investing in SEO for it immediately. That way, it will be ranking relatively well when you start broadening the content. Conversely, if you see a page that’s never going to be more complex than it already is, then is there much value in trying to get it ranking better?

Carefully review your page analytics

The problem that a lot of people have with reviewing analytics is that they expect arduous work. They imagine poring through spreadsheets and tables for hours on end. What’s more, they suspect that it might never meaningfully pay off. Why go through such strain if that’s the case?

Thankfully, that isn’t an accurate conception of what this process involves. This is due to the proliferation of convenient analytics tools: even Google Analytics is reasonably intuitive when you get to grips with it. Using such a tool, you can easily follow all the stats that matter. The result? Enhanced data aggregation and a drastic reduction in time spent on manual review. That’s a huge victory.

When you follow your on-page analytics, pay close attention to any metrics that represent general success for you. Look at things like average time on site and number of unique visits. This will help you understand which pages are performing well and which aren’t. As a result, you’ll find it easier to allocate resources effectively.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to factor in the broader context when you’re dealing with pages that aren’t destination pages (or at least aren’t solely destination pages). Category pages and homepages are good examples. A homepage should be a good landing page, set up to rank well for relevant keywords, but it must do something with that ranking success: pass it on to more actionable pages (namely product pages).

For each page, root through all the links leading to or away from it, and think carefully about what role it plays in your website overall, as well as what role it could play if improved. Remember that there must always be a purpose beyond promotion (boasting about your brand might feel good, but it won’t earn traffic, nor will it convince people to invest in you).

Use competitors’ websites for comparison

Let’s say that one of your pages — not one of your most important, but not insignificant — is fairly mediocre when it comes to SEO. Does that mean you should invest in it? Well, before you decide, do some searches for relevant terms and find rival pages to analyse. How do they compare to yours? Are they better? Worse? Similar?

Beyond that, take a close look at what those pages offer because that’s extremely important here. Imagine that your website sells hats, and you have a page that sells top hats specifically. If it isn’t ranking very highly but none of the pages outranking it sell anything, that lowers the need to invest in the page.

You should still work on getting the ranking up at some point, but it isn’t particularly urgent. Anyone who wants to order a top hat will probably make their way down to your site at some point if it’s the highest-ranking sales page. Consequently, you won’t lose any customers to other stores. Only some thought leadership and brand credibility through not being top.

If your page were ranking more highly in general but under another store page, that would be a bigger reason to invest in SEO. A searcher who just wanted to go ahead and buy might just order through the first viable store result. It’s all about understanding context. What do you stand to gain or lose by putting time into SEO?

Conclusion

SEO is a vital part of running a business with an online presence (which should be almost every business these days). Unfortunately, it’s complicated and costly to carry out thoroughly. To work more efficiently, you need to pick out the pages that most warrant that level of investment.

Try these tips to give you a strong indication of where to spend. You should be able to come up with a shortlist of pages that you can optimise without breaking the bank. The result? Stronger rankings, lower spend, and less work. Good luck.

Feature Image credit: Pixabay

By Rodney Laws

Editor at Ecommerce Platforms