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By Timothy Carter

Search engine optimization (SEO) is intimidating for newcomers, and I totally understand why. SEO requires your attention in multiple areas; you’ll need to improve your website, write content, research the competition, build links, and take care of a hundred other responsibilities. On top of that, you’ll need the experience to do all of these actions — well — and you’ll need to jump through hoops to stay current with the latest Google algorithm changes.

Outsource Your SEO Strategy the Right Way

Accordingly, most businesses that practice SEO end up outsourcing it in some way, either by hiring an agency or working with contractors. While this can be an effective strategy for supporting your SEO campaign, it can also work against you — so it pays to be cautious and do your research.

How SEO Outsourcing Goes Wrong

Let’s start by identifying some of the most critical ways that SEO outsourcing can fail.

  • Black hat practices and penalties. Some agencies build their business around “black hat” tactics. In the SEO world, that means using techniques like spamming links, writing low-quality content at high volumes, and even keyword stuffing. In some cases, these tactics can get you a short-term gain – just long enough for your contracting agency to cash the check. But in all cases, eventually, you’re going to face a Google penalty for doing this, ultimately negating any benefits you might have gotten along the way.
  • Scams and lack of work. Some companies don’t really exist; they’re shell organizations meant only to scam you out of money. For example, someone might claim they’re “optimizing your site,” but they might not actually be doing anything. These outright scams tend to be rare in the SEO community, but they can result in a total loss.
  • Cost and value. It’s also important to consider the balance between cost and true value. High-quality SEO services are necessarily expensive since it takes expertise, time, workforce, and other resources to execute effectively. But if you’re stuck paying $10,000 per month for SEO services, and you only see $9,800 in value, that’s not a good trade. SEO is a strategy that’s truly worth investing in, but if you’re not careful, you could end up paying too much when outsourcing.

Researching Potential Partners

So how can you prevent these problems?

Your best option is to seriously research your prospective outsourcing partners before hiring anyone. Generally, you’ll have two main options for who to hire:

  • Agencies. SEO agencies tend to be a bit more expensive. But, in exchange, you’ll typically have access to a bigger roster of experts – and support for every step of the SEO process. You’ll also typically have your own account manager and built-in guarantees to make sure you’re satisfied with the work that’s done.
  • Contractors. Contractors tend to be less expensive and more flexible. You can hire individual contractors to help you with specific needs, like link building or writing, or mix and match to build your own team. Either way, you might save money – but you’ll also need to expend more effort and face higher risks.

Whichever direction you go — you’ll want to research the following in every prospective hire:

  • Expertise. What kind of expertise does this potential partner have? Are they new to the SEO industry, or does the team have decades of combined experience? Are they familiar with your company and your industry, or is their experience mostly from a general background?
  • Services offered/high-level strategy. Figure out what services this partner offers and what kind of high-level strategy they’re going to follow. If they can’t answer your questions in this area, or if they try to avoid the subject, it’s a bad sign. Any SEO practitioner worth working with will explain the entire process to you and work to convince you that they’re capable of creating high-quality work. Good SEO strategies are a mix of technical onsite improvements, quality content generation, and value-focused link building with authoritative publishers. Link spamming and content spamming simply aren’t going to work.
  • Quality of work. You’ll also need to do your own investigating to figure out what quality of work this individual or organization is capable of. The best way to find this out is to ask to see examples. What are some examples of the best content this organization has written? What are some of the best live links currently pointing back to their site? If you’re not satisfied with this component, you may need to move onto someone else.
  • Reviews and testimonials. Next, look at the reviews and testimonials about this company left by its previous clients. Generally, when an agency or contractor follows black hat practices or scams people out of money, they have a cascade of bad reviews to show for it. Of course, good reviews and good testimonials aren’t a guarantee that you’ll get great service, but it’s a promising sign.
  • Past results. In line with this, see if you can get proof of past results. For example, does this agency or contractor evidence the ranking increases they’ve gotten for other clients in the past? New professionals in this industry still have a chance of getting good results for you, but you’re better off working with someone who has a long track record of success.
  • Communication. Reach out to promising candidates you’ve found throughout your research and start talking to the account managers and professionals who will be responsible for managing your campaign. Are they polite, prompt, and articulate? If so, it’s a great sign that you’re going to get the customer service you deserve.
  • Price. Of course, you’ll also need to think about the price of the services you’re getting. A company may check all the boxes above, but they may not be worth it if their service packages are too pricey.

The Working Relationship

Researching and hiring the right partner is a great first step, but you’ll also need to invest in the working relationship to see good results.

  • Push for transparency. A transparent SEO outsourcing agreement is ideal. You should be able to see everything your SEO partner is doing, down to the words they write for offsite content and the backend code changes they make to your website. If your agency or contractor refuses to report on their work, or if you’re not sure what they’re doing, consider it a red flag.
  • Insist on regular reporting. It’s also important to insist on regular reporting. Your partner should be showing you not just the work they’re actively doing on behalf of your brand, but also the results they’re getting you. How have your rankings changed over time? How much traffic is your website getting? Combine these metrics with your onsite sales and conversion statistics to calculate your overall return on investment (ROI).
  • Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, don’t assume that your SEO expert is taking care of it – or even that they know more than you. Ask questions. The more you learn about SEO in the process, the better you’ll be able to direct and make decisions about your campaign. And if your partner can’t answer a question or if they dodge a question, it might be a sign of trouble to come.

Hold the team accountable.

Finally, hold the team (or individual) accountable for their results. For example, if you drop in rankings for a specific keyword, ask them what they’re going to do about it. If you’re not getting the results, you wanted after several months of work, push them to make up the difference or give you a partial refund.

Conclusion

Outsourcing SEO can be incredibly valuable. In a best-case scenario, you’ll get to tap into some of the most creative and experienced minds in the industry while supporting your site with white hat tactics and saving money in the process.

But the worst-case scenario should be enough to scare you into doing your due diligence well in advance. In addition, not all SEO companies will give you a return on your investment (ROI), so keep that in mind during your research.

Feature Image Credit: yan krukov; pexels

By Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach — preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter

Sourced from readwrite

By Kaya Ismail

Digital marketing has become a necessity for any business attempting to survive in this day and age. It’s been said that the most important thing is not the amount of money you spend on digital marketing but the way you spend it. What does this mean? Well, certain categories within digital marketing will give you more benefits than others, depending on your company’s size and goals.

Digital Marketing is constantly changing, but there are some foundational categories of digital marketing you need to have a strong grasp of to thrive in the digital ecosystem. To learn more about the top digital marketing disciplines and the software tools for digital marketing. we asked the experts and here’s what they shared.

Top Categories for Digital Marketing

If there is a universal truth in digital marketing, every marketing executive has their own ideas of how marketing should be done and even how many marketing categories there are. Working in such a rapidly evolving industry means that new marketing categories can crop up all the time.

Even in the past ten years, there has been a huge jump in how digital marketing is understood. However, like Kate Adams, SVP of Marketing at Boston, MA-based Validity, said, “while marketing categories aid in creating brand awareness, recognition and trust, what a lot of marketers don’t realize is that the success of their digital campaigns is highly contingent on the health of their data.”

To understand more about each category, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular digital marketing categories.

SEO

For some marketers, SEO is the pillar of their campaigns. This is because SEO is applicable to the other digital marketing categories. For instance, you’d have to use relevant SEO keywords in your drip campaigns and content marketing to make them effective and engaging, which is why SEO and research are fundamental for digital marketing.

SEO Tools

“When it comes to doing SEO, our go-to tools would be SEMrush and Ahrefs. We find using SEMrush helpful as it allows us to quantify our website’s estimated reach and also determine our site’s domain and/or resource authority,” shares Maya Levi, Marketing Manager at Tel Aviv, Israel-based ReturnGO.

SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to the practice of leveraging paid advertising that appears on the search engine results pages (or SERPs). In search engine marketing, companies place bids on keywords that Google visitors might use when looking for certain products or services, which gives the company the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.

SEM Tools

According to Christopher Moore Chief Marketing Officer at Mooresville, NC.-based Quiet Light, “The best tool for pay-per-click advertising is Google Ads Editor as it allows you to create and edit different ad campaigns across different Google accounts making it far easier to manage your various campaigns and edit ads as the campaign goes along to make them more SEO friendly.”

Content Marketing

Content can take many forms, from blog posts to voice instructions delivered through IoT devices. Since it can takes many forms, it is often seen as the lifeblood of marketing campaigns. Due to its flexibility, content marketing has a central and all-encompassing role in every marketing strategy and can be tailored to fit customer needs before, during and after the buying process.

Content Marketing Tools

There are many content tools out there to help improve your content marketing. They can help build, grammar, content suggestions and SEO best practices. Examples include Grammarly, Ink and Jarvis.ai. Most of these are artificial intelligence-based apps that helps marketers overcome writer’s block and create content more consistently across niches, and ensure SEO is baked-in to the process.

Email Marketing

Getting into inboxes and engaging recipients through email marketing has become more challenging than ever before, with inbox volume nearly doubling year-over-year. Email marketing tools can help simplify email marketing campaigns and provide crucial insights to help increase engagement and improve execution.

Email Marketing Tools

A good piece of advice is that you should always start with an ESP (email service provider) that fits your budget and your brand. “Flodesk is a great option for paid with no tiered plans, but if you want to start with free, MailerLite is another popular one with a generous amount of free subscribers before you need to upgrade your plan,” shares Abby Sherman, Director of Strategy at Minneapolis, MN.-based Snap Agency.

Data Analytics

Without data, marketing is nothing but guesswork. On the other hand, the inappropriate use of data can definitely cripple even the best-laid plans. “Marketing and sales teams waste up to 50% of their time dealing with data quality issues,” confesses Adams. “From duplicate records to outdated contact information. If companies aren’t reaching the right audience, their marketing efforts (and money) are going to waste,” she continued.

Data Analytics Tools

“To gather data and insights, we supplement our usage of SEMrush with Google Analytics (GA),” said Levi. “Google Analytics is easy to set up, and it allows us to stay on top of our social networking profiles and website’s performances. Through the data that we get from GA, we can resolve marketing roadblocks that we encounter along the way strategically,” she shared.

All in all, to make it easier for you to meet the demands of digital marketing, it’s best if you choose and invest in the right software that will make the research, execution, and optimization of these efforts much easier for you. Some of these helpful apps include CRM tools, automation software, and collaboration tools that, with the help of personalization and a human touch, will help you create relevant and effective marketing campaigns.

Feature Image Credit: Adobe

By Kaya Ismail

Sourced from CMS WiRE

By Danny Maiorca

If you’ve spent any time trying to grow website traffic, you’ll have heard of search engine optimization (SEO). Excelling with SEO makes it easier to attract new website visitors, netting more leads and more revenue.

Getting your SEO right takes time—and a lot of trial and error. But if you use a website built on a platform like WordPress.com, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to increasing your visibility in search engines.

In this article, you’ll discover several ways to rank for SEO on your WordPress.com website.

Differentiating Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Before we look at how you can rank for SEO with WordPress.com, it’s essential to identify the differences between it and WordPress.org. Often, users think they’re both identical—but that’s far from the truth.

Building a website with WordPress.com means that the platform will host your site. Though you can subscribe to various paid plans, you can also choose to use a free version. Unfortunately, this practice will severely limit customization.

On the flip side, WordPress.org is open source. While using WordPress.org is free, you’ll need to buy a hosted domain. WordPress.org gives more control than its .com counterpart, but it also requires more effort from you to maintain the site.

Okay, so now you know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Next, let’s take a deeper dive into how you can rank for SEO with a WordPress.com site.

Use SEO Plugins

If you’ve got a WordPress.com Business plan or higher, you can install a selection of SEO plugins with WordPress. One of the most common is Yoast, which offers a comprehensive solution to optimize SEO on your pages.

Once integrated, Yoast will rank your SEO with a traffic light system—red means you’ve got a lot of room for improvement, amber means that it’s okay (but nothing more or less), and green means you’re good to go.

Yoast also enables you to choose keywords and phrases while offering a readability score to help you create content that is easier to understand.

Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Yoast is an excellent tool for improving SEO on your WordPress.com website, but it’s a good idea to use the plugin in conjunction with others. Two commonly used SEO-related tools are Google Analytics and Google Search Console—both of which are free.

Google Analytics is the Silicon Valley giant’s free analytics tool and offers a broad range of valuable insights. Some of the areas you can gather useful information about include:

  • Your website’s bounce rate.
  • Average session times.
  • How people find your website.
  • The time of day that people visit your website.
Screenshot showing some of the categories available on Google Analytics

As for Google Search Console, you can find out how your website performs specifically in search rankings. Search Console will also help you:

  • Discover your average clickthrough rate (CTR).
  • Find out which search terms lead users to your site.
  • Learn what your average search engine ranking is.
Screenshot showing interface of Google Search Console

To use Google Analytics and Search Console, you’ll need to manually set them up for your website. But doing so is a reasonably straightforward process.

Another perk of Google Analytics and Search Console is that you don’t need a WordPress.com Business plan to use either. So, if you’re on a budget, the tools can help minimize your SEO expenses.

Think About Your Imagery

 

Optimizing the text on your WordPress.com website is crucial if you want to rank highly with search engines. However, your image optimization is just as important.

The size of any visuals you add to your website will impact your web page’s performance. If your page takes too long to load, users will go elsewhere—and your rankings will suffer as a result. So, you need to ensure that photos aren’t too big and your pages load fast (both on desktop and mobile).

When adding images, you also want to ensure the dimensions fit your page. You’re not going to find a one-size-fits-all solution for this; it’ll depend on your theme and other factors.

Customizing the image title and alt text also helps Google understand your picture and why it’s relevant. So, it’s worth keeping both of these goals in mind when adding featured and in-text photos.

Post Consistently and Add Value

Regardless of how well you’ve optimized your page for search engines, it doesn’t mean much if the content itself isn’t attractive to your audience. To gain traction, you must post relevant and original content and add value for users visiting your site.

If you’ve just set up a WordPress.com website, challenge yourself to publish at least one blog post every day for a year. As long as you adapt and fine-tune what you write, you’ll see your traffic grow. And as a side benefit, your writing will improve with the extra practice.

Alongside posting consistently, you can also improve your search rankings by updating old content regularly. For example, refresh the text, edit the links, and remove anything that is no longer accurate, such as old statistics.

Choose a Well-Functioning Theme

Screenshot of theme selection options on WordPress

Regardless of whether you have a free or paid WordPress.com plan, you’ll have access to a wide selection of themes. When choosing one, it’s important to think about more than how it’ll look once your website goes live.

Like the images on your website, the theme you choose can dictate how fast pages load. Rather than pick a theme that loads slowly, you’re better off choosing something that’s less attractive but won’t frustrate visitors.

You can experiment by trying different themes, and it’s worth reading online reviews to see which ones work the best.

Use WordPress.com to Build Your Online Presence

With hundreds of millions of blogs out there today, standing out is a lot harder than it used to be. However, complicated doesn’t mean impossible—and despite what many people think, it’s not too late to start your blog.

Although growing a WordPress.com website’s presence takes time, you can speed up the process by thinking about the areas we’ve listed in this article. Additionally, more users will find you if you optimize your site content and track your performance using analytics.

By Danny Maiorca

Danny is a freelance technology writer based in Copenhagen, Denmark, having moved there from his native Britain in 2020. He writes about a variety of topics, including social media and security. Outside of writing, he is a keen photographer. More From Danny Maiorca

Sourced from MUO

 

 

By Irwin Hau

Google’s progress over the last 20 years is mind-blowing when you think about it. Not long ago, users were impartial to the likes of Yahoo, Bing or even Ask Jeeves. Those names have since faded into the periphery while Google has gotten better at serving up relevant answers in record time – even if we’ve entered incoherent phrases littered with typos. Basically, Google gets us. And it keeps getting better at it.

The ever-evolving game of SEO has been largely dependent on the smarts of the Google Algorithm, and it’s changed a lot over the years. The latest development? Semantic SEO. But what is it? And how do you optimize your content in a way that keeps the Google robots happy? Let’s take a closer look.

Where did semantic SEO come from?

To understand how to optimize for Google, it helps to understand a bit of its history.

Initially, SEO relied on singular keyword-focused algorithms. Then came some pretty catalytic jumps, namely with ‘Knowledge Graph,’ ‘Hummingbird,’ ‘RankBrain,’ and ‘BERT’ between 2012 – 2021.

Knowledge Graph was revolutionary in creating a mindmap for Google to see the links between words. And Hummingbird made it possible for Google to understand a search queries’ full meaning rather than just as a string of individual keywords. It was also able to interpret a webpage’s overall topic, rather than just scan for certain words – a big reason that nefarious black-hat SEO technique keyword-stuffing fell out of favour.

With a priority in understanding users’ search intent better, the context of these search terms is also judged against existing search histories, considering their relevance within local and global parameters. Or in other words, it added context.

So say, for example, you typed ‘corona’ into your search bar. Currently, Google will predict that you’re more likely interested in the COVID-19 situation affecting your city, rather than the beer. So the first results you see will be related to just that. Semantic SEO is a step forward in the world of Google contextualizing.

What is semantic SEO?

To get to grips with semantic SEO, it’s helpful to unpack the word semantic.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, semantics is “the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. The two main areas are logical semantics, concerned with matters such as sense and reference and presupposition and implication, and lexical semantics, concerned with the analysis of word meanings and relations between them.”

Semantic SEO is based on lexical semantics – so how the words relate to one another.

1. How to optimize your content for semantic SEO

Google aims to respond to users’ questions with articles containing the most valuable information and predictively answer follow-up questions. It knows humans are curious creatures, after all. So we will teach you how to optimize your content for quality AND be picked up favourably by Google’s radar.

First, you need to understand the intent of your article. Or in other words, which of the reader’s needs are you answering? Intent falls into 3 categories – and it’s crucial to know which of these your piece falls into if you’re going to keep readers happy. Users are browsing on the internet to either –

  1. Learn something;
  2. Buy something; or
  3. Find something specific (e.g., a shop their friend has just mentioned).

The breakdown of this intent falls roughly into 80%, 10% and 10%, respectively. Most users are on the internet with specific questions that they want answers to. So it’s important to understand the questions your article is trying to answer — otherwise, your website won’t convert, your bounce rate will be sky-high, and Google will penalize you for not being what your readers want.

2. Create quality content (not pieces jammed with keywords)

Most users don’t jump on Google to open a digital encyclopaedia and sift through information. Remember that. They want the specifics, and the worst thing you can try to do is provide a short, surface-level general overview of the subject. Google Knowledge Panels and Wikipedia already exist for this exact reason.

Knowledge panels are snippets of ‘general info’ pinned to the top of search results. So really, your general info article is getting into the ring with Google, and you can guess who we’d place our bets on.

Once you have the question your article is trying to answer, really unpack the value in that. Ensure your piece is thorough. You can even go as far as answering other questions related to that route of curiosity.

Top tip: According to recent web design statistics, content you wrote years ago can still work to boost your SEO and organic Google traffic. Google bots actively crawl every page of your website to find relevant matches to users’ search queries. Maintaining an active blog increases your chance of multiple pages being picked up and shown on the first page of Google.

At the end of the day, your piece should be chock-full of long-tail keywords connected to the topic of interest. Google will pick up on the quantity and quality of the semantically connected phrases peppered through your article and increase the relevance score of your article.

A quick example…

Say you’re writing an analytical piece about Harry Potter. Your semantically connected phrases could include ‘seventh Harry Potter book,’ ‘The Boy Who Lived Next Door,’ ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Neville Longbottom’, and ‘understanding the prophecy.’

Google would crawl this article and understand it is suited for readers who want to understand the relationship between Potter and Longbottom. In contrast, semantically connected phrases for an entertainment piece about the cast could include ‘child actors,’ ‘cast of Harry Potter,’ and ‘film journey.’

Ten years ago, the SEO strategy for both articles would have been to stuff the keyword “Harry Potter” in as many times as sanely possible. Thankfully, Google’s comprehension skills have improved, so we can focus more on writing richer pieces of content, without repeating ourselves unnecessarily.

3. Long-form content is better than short

It is difficult to cover a topic well in less than 300 words. So don’t waste the precious chance with a case of cat-got-your-tongue when people arrive at your show.

Google doesn’t want its users to have to hop through various pages to get the answers – that would be a bit like phoning up a customer service helpline that kept redirecting you to a different department member for every question you had (oh wait…been there). Frustrating!

No one’s limiting your time on stage, so go long. Instead, write pieces of 2,000-2,500 words that cover more ground and cast a wider safety net in answering a multitude of questions.

These longer articles can really help boost your lead conversion and drive organic traffic to your site. They also provide you with more opportunities to add semantically linked phrases – and when it comes to optimizing your site for semantic SEO, that’s definitely a good thing.

4. Increase the relevance of your article by reverse-fitting it to Google

Look at what comes up in the Google dropdown search bar. This will give you ideas for semantically related phrases you can tie into your article. It’ll also give you a better understanding of your user’s interests.

Google’s dropdown list will help you understand your user’s interests.

Additionally, you can scroll down to the end of the search results page, and record the small list of ‘Related Keywords’ displayed here.

Collectively these can guide what you cover in your piece, give you a mind map of LSI keywords (aka long-tail keywords) and the kinds of medium-tail keywords you can use. Incorporating more of both of these is preferable. It means you’ll cast a wider net for your article because Google will automatically include you for the longer-tail keywords.

5. Rank well for informational queries to earn a ‘Featured Snippet’

Everyone used to covet the Position 1 spot on a Google search results page. But now, people are aiming for Position 0. Why? Because you’re not only first, but Google additionally shows an open sliver of your content. It’s really like getting a foot into the door of attention, increasing traffic to your page from the users who’d like to read more.

You can aim to be chosen for these ‘featured snippets’ through structuring your content with question headlines, followed by bullet point answers or scannable content. Incorporating various headlines with popular questions and relevant answers will improve your chance to rank better for the overall topic. Instead of just reeling in people based on one keyword, you can catch people who asked various kinds of questions to do with your topic.

If you don’t get the Position 0 spot, don’t fret: aim for another highly-placed spot instead. You will recognize Google shows an accordion-style FAQ of follow-up questions underneath the ‘featured snippet.’ When clicked on, a snippet of the answer opens up, so it’s a very respectable runner-up prize.

6. Use structured mark-up and semantic tags in your code

Not seen by users, this backend advanced SEO technique helps the Google machinery understand the organization of your article. Using semantic HTML elements enhances the accessibility and searchability of your article. It also improves your chances of achieving the coveted Google 0 position.

Using semantic tags tells the browser a little more about the meaning and the hierarchy of the content. Instead of seeing <div> and <span> for differing blocks of content — use semantic tags like <header> <nav> <article> <footer> to organize your content. And within content blocks, use element heading tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and paragraph). These break up the text and order your copy according to importance.

Final thoughts

There’s an opportunity to delve deeper into topics to rank well as a specialist article covering a niche topic. You can also feature it as an informational snippet in Position 0. Now Google has caught up in leaps and bounds; you can worry less about gaming the system with keyword-stuffing — and instead, challenge yourself to write even more meaningful content.

Feature Image Credit: freeboilergrants; pexels

By Irwin Hau

Irwin Hau is a private business consultant and Founder of Chromatix, a multi-award-winning web design and conversion agency based in Melbourne, Australia. Since opening shop in 2009, he’s gone on to amass over 70 awards and mentions for work in web design and digital solutions.

Sourced from readwrite

By Kevin Kruse,

In an age where all B2B marketing is digital yet very little of it actually works, it’s tough to know whose advice you can trust. Perhaps the first clue is when they acknowledge, up front, just how ineffective most marketing really is.

Alex Boyd, founder and CEO of RevenueZen, isn’t shy about sharing what most B2B marketers get wrong about SEO and LinkedIn. But he’s hesitant to give advice without first understanding the context and nuance of a particular situation, which is usually a sign someone has earned their chops.

I recently caught up with Boyd to hear his thoughts on SEO strategy, demand gen philosophy, LinkedIn spam, and why, at the end of the day, a simple phone call can go a long way.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Kevin Kruse: What have you seen change or shift in marketing and demand generation in the last several years?

Alex Boyd: Anything “mass” has decreased in effectiveness as well as anything easy to measure with a low barrier to entry. Those types of activities have less value because everyone presses the buttons that are easy to press, like sending a lot of emails and running a lot of very general ads. When you think about what marketers need to do to justify their tactics, it’s usually putting up big numbers on a dashboard to show to the CEO who doesn’t always “get it.” And so the easier something is to measure and show on that dashboard, the more marketers will do it, even if the channel is saturated and the leads aren’t converting.

Kruse: What’s a common misconception people have about demand generation?

Boyd: A lot of people think all leads are created equal, but they’re not. How you got that lead in the first place is so important. On paper, a lead is an object in a CRM with an email address. But how would a salesperson define a “lead”? It’s somebody who’s gotten more interested in your product than they were before. The person who says, “I saw your CEO in that great Forbes article and I have a few friends that use your company. I’m ready to sign,” is a lead. But, to many marketers, so is the person who entered their email address just to download a checklist and always dodges your calls when you follow up. Those two leads are not equal. Demand generation isn’t about the quantity of leads. It’s focusing on how the lead got to your company, and whether or not the environment in which they arrived warmed them up to what you sell.

Kruse: In general, what’s working in B2B marketing, assuming “working” means generating a lead that comes to you in the right way and with some interest to potentially buy?

Boyd: You already know it depends, but I’ll share what I’m seeing: first, founder-driven, brand marketing—meaning sharing the perspective of what the leadership team believes in a personal, organic way. LinkedIn is a good example, but this could also look like the CEO giving a fireside chat, or speaking at an event. People want to know what the people behind the product believe because that tells them more than a list of features. The feature list is static, but what the founders and leadership team believe is dynamic—it tells you about the future and where the company is headed. CEOs shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that managing their social media accounts is “below them”: many prominent CxOs of tech unicorns are very active on social.

Secondly, organic search still has a lot of potential. Most SEO is still done quite badly, even by experts. The biggest thing that Software-as-a-Service companies in particular get wrong about SEO is they think they need to optimize for people searching for exactly what they do. That’s table stakes. What the SaaS companies who see massive growth through organic search do is they compete for the attention of their buyer. It’s not a game of what your product does, it’s a game of attention. And if you get in front of people and put your name, brand and insights in front of them while they’re looking for related content and they happen to encounter your product that way, you’re going to show them a new way of doing things. And that’s the core of SaaS marketing: showing someone a new way of doing things.

Kruse: Do you have a real-world example of how that kind of attention-grabbing SEO works?

Boyd: One of the best ways of doing SEO at first is to talk about the basics. Most companies will create a blog for announcements and news, but nobody is searching for your company. So why not rank for keywords they’re already searching for? A company called lightyear.ai is a great example. They’re a marketplace for IT and networking solutions—kind of like a kayak.com for IT. They don’t assume that people are searching for “IT product marketplace”, because they’re not. They rank for things that people search for to educate themselves on how to buy IT. It’s a subtle shift in thinking: when you’re a small start-up, your new idea is not the centre of your prospects’ universe.

Kruse: How should you approach SEO if you’re trying to sell something new?

Boyd: When you’re selling a brand-new product, the way you do SEO should change. Nobody is searching for your unique new product category – yet. If you sell something new, you need to rank for things that are related to what you do but aren’t your product. If you’re building an AI to help recruiters sort through resumes, you don’t want to rank for “AI resume screener”, you want to write about the Top 10 Ways to Screen Candidates, or How To Write An Amazing EEO Statement. Once your company is larger, this game changes and you then want to focus on people who are already looking for exactly what you do.

Kruse: You’ve been creating a new product for LinkedIn. Tell me about that.

Boyd: The way that people engage on LinkedIn has been broken for a long time. A lot of people see relationship-building as transactional: “I liked your posts, please take a meeting.” There’s a feeling of entitlement. That needs to change.

The right way to engage on LinkedIn involves writing good content, engaging with others, networking, and actually building community. Our product shows you which of your target accounts are talking to your competitors, customers and strong connections. And it tells you exactly which important conversations to take part in. The whole point of our product – Aware – is to give people the ability to send a LOW volume of hyper-targeted messages that have 60%+ conversion rate: unheard of.

Kruse: What’s one piece of advice you’d like to leave marketers with?

Boyd: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Tech marketers spend so much time geeking out on growth-hacking funnel jockeying, but sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and call a prospect instead of waiting around for an answer. I think we need to spend more time building relationships with people, which sometimes means just calling them up.

Feature Image Credit: Founder of RevenueZen: Alex Boyd

By Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse is the Founder + CEO of LEADx, a platform that scales and sustains leadership habits throughout an organization. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of  Great Leaders Have No Rules, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, and Employee Engagement 2.0. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here

Sourced from Forbes

By Seth Price,

Search engine optimization can help the right customers find your company. Embrace it.

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

By Seth Price,

Managing Partner of Price Benowitz LLP and Founder & CEO of BluShark Digital

Sourced from Inc.

Sourced from Mashable,

You can waste time reading hundreds of articles on SEO (which changes constantly, BTW), spend thousands of dollars learning the basics at school, or you can get access to a toolkit that breaks it all down for you.

With the GuinRank SEO content optimization tool, you can create content that Google automatically wants to rank. By running it through this AI tool, everything you publish will already be SEO-friendly. After all, since Google relies on artificial intelligence to rank and score web pages, it only makes sense to use AI to beat it at its own game.

GuinRank works by helping SEO beginners analyse their competitors’ keyword content and then providing ideas to write articles that easily result in the same search results. It features a keyword analyser (KA) that helps you understand exactly how hard it would be to rank for a search query based on the words you currently have. Then, you can adjust accordingly. It also features a content optimizer (CO), which increases your content’s relevance by simply recommending keywords to include within the sentences you already have. It will show you the top 20 Google results that pair with the subject of your content, so you can ensure your page ranks and shows up on search results.

See it in action:

GuinRank doesn’t just help show you which keywords to include in your content. It will even show you micro-niches on the internet that have little-to-no competition, so you can carve out a unique space on the web to get your content noticed and seen. You can even run your page through the page analyser tool, which will give you a Google score automatically, and show you what you can improve on.

A two-year subscription to this helpful tool is valued at $680. But, for a limited time, you can sign up for only $59.99.

Feature Image Credit: Good SEO strategy can bring you more online engagement. Credit: Caio / Pexels

Sourced from Mashable

By Sean Harper,

Every business needs a website, and search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential part of helping people find it online. Not only is SEO a low-cost and evergreen way to attract new customers and build brand awareness, but implementing a few basic strategies at the outset can have a major impact on your bottom line.

Here are some easy SEO practices that can help take your business’s site up a notch.

Build technical SEO strategies.

Technical SEO helps search engines read your website. If you improve the technical aspects of your site, you can usually improve both your rankings and your user experience. These basic technical SEO strategies are a great place to start:

Boost your site speed: Think about your own browsing habits — when something takes forever to load, you aren’t as likely to stick around. Search engines see this as an indication that your site isn’t answering users’ questions and move you down in the rankings.

Use internal links: By using internal links, you help search engines understand what content on your site is important and how it all relates to other pages. For example, a dog groomer’s website might link a blog post about trimming nails to a page listing its services.

Avoid confusion: Search engines don’t like duplicate content or 404 errors popping up throughout a site. For that matter, neither do people. So if you move content, be sure to use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one to let search engines know where it went.

Secure your site: Getting an SSL certificate is easy to do and gives your domain the higher priority “https” prefix rather than just “http.” Websites with an SSL certificate almost always rank higher than those without one.

The takeaway: Take the time to build a website that is easily navigable, loads quickly and doesn’t have broken links or pages. When everything works, you’ll make most search engines happier.

Write content with SEO in mind.

Whatever type of content you create — blog posts, videos or something else entirely — you need it to fulfill two fundamental requirements:

• Provide information that is important to your target audience.

• Show up in search engines so your target audience can find it.

A good way to start is to develop content that answers the questions your customers most frequently ask about your industry. By answering common questions, you ensure that your content is relevant.

But users can’t appreciate good content without finding it first, so the next part of the equation is keyword research. Keyword tools like SEMRush, Wordstream or Wordtracker let you find keywords that have good search volume, are easy to rank for and relevant to your business.

The reality is that you may have to get pretty granular to capture the audience share you want. Let’s look at Kin as an example. “Insurance” is an incredibly broad and competitive keyword that doesn’t tell us much about what the user is looking for. Do they want business insurance? Life insurance? Are they ready to buy or just doing research? It’s hard to say, so we aim for keywords that are relevant to what we do: homeowners insurance. This, and related keywords, may have less search volume but they’re more targeted.

Once you know your keywords, get them in your content. Every page of content should be optimized for a primary and secondary keyword. Experts recommend using your primary keyword once or twice for every 100 words of content. Secondary keywords don’t get used as much but should be peppered throughout the content.

The takeaway: Keeping SEO in mind ensures that you write content that your target audience is looking for. The more you deliver on what readers want, the more likely you are to rank higher in search results.

Build backlinks from trusted sources.

Earning links to your site from other websites shows your content is relevant and trustworthy. In fact, someone found your information so useful that they wanted to link back to your page as the source. Search engines read backlinks as a strong indication that your content is valuable.

In recent years, search engines have prioritized websites in search results that have a degree of credibility for the topic. That’s why you often hear SEO experts now talk about a website’s E-A-T, or its Expertise, Authority and Trust. Search engines like Google reward quality backlinks that come from well-known and authoritative websites.

Some backlinks may show up on your site without you doing anything, but the majority of businesses that take SEO seriously work to get other quality sites to link to them. This usually involves reaching out to webmasters and content developers of websites that you want a link from. Yes, you are asking for a link, but doing so in a way that provides the business case that explains why your content is relevant to their audience.

The takeaway: The better your content is, the more likely you are to get organic backlinks. You may also want to employ a link-building strategy that helps you get the sites that you really want to link to your site.

Learn how to interpret analytics.

The best websites do a good job of turning web traffic into customers. Do the people who come to your site take action? Are they signing up for your newsletter or buying from your store? Is there a page that’s getting a lot of views that could end up improving sales?

Any entrepreneur can use data to answer these questions. Free tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics show you how much traffic you’re getting and where that traffic is going. Once you have baseline data, you can set realistic goals, whether that’s increasing traffic or keeping people on your site longer.

The takeaway: Data drives SEO campaigns. For entrepreneurs who are just getting started, there are plenty of free tools that can help you learn more about how users are engaging with your site.

Feature Image Credit: getty

By Sean Harper

CEO and co-founder at Kin Insurance.

Sourced from Forbes

By Steve Hall.

In 2021, harnessing the power of SEO is a necessity for all businesses, regardless of their size or industry. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the power of the digital; companies that had a pre-established online presence found it far easier to navigate the challenges of lockdowns and border closures than those that didn’t.

SEO is quite a technical area of marketing, which is why many companies opt to outsource their SEO activities to external agencies. While this is a great strategy, there tends to be an enormous difference in the quality of work and results obtained between various SEO companies. So, how can you tell the good from the bad?

If you are searching for a team specializing in SEO in Melbourne, read on to discover what factors you should consider (and which agencies you should definitely steer clear of!)

What does an SEO agency do?

Before picking an SEO agency, it’s important that you understand their exact function.

SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’, which is the process of making improvements to your site to increase search engine visibility. When you search a term — known as a keyword — using a search engine, the engine will crawl through every page on the internet, taking into account a variety of factors to present the website they think best matches what you are looking for.

These factors can include:

  • How secure a website is
  • The page load speed
  • Whether or not a site is mobile friendly
  • ‘Crawlability’ — that is, whether or not the engine’s bots can access a page.
  • Analytics on user engagement
  • The presence of quality, keyword optimised content
  • Backlink profile.

It is the role of an SEO agency to put together a strategy that elevates your website to the top of the search engine results page, or SERP.

SEO is different to ‘pay per click’ advertising, or PPC, in that you cannot pay to have a site elevated to the top of organic search results. It takes insider knowledge, a strategic mindset, and hard work to get a website ranking for any one particular keyword. A good SEO agency understands this and knows that your end goal is to have more traffic to your site that results in increased profits.

How to choose an SEO agency

First up — why do I need an SEO agency?

While it’s true that there are some areas of SEO you can implement yourself, it really is a job best left to the professionals. By hiring a reputable SEO company in Australia, your company can focus on what they do best while benefiting from the experience and knowledge of SEO experts.

However, not all SEO agencies are created equal, and there are literally thousands of them out there. When deciding between agencies, consider the following key points:

1. Make sure they know what they’re talking about

One of the great things about SEO is the amount of resources there are out there. The SEO community is enormous and very willing to share their knowledge with newcomers.

The downside of this is that many agencies claim to be SEO experts when they only really have beginner knowledge. SEO is more of a science than an art and it takes extreme skill and patience to execute proven strategies.

That’s the other thing about SEO — it takes time. Don’t be fooled by any agency who promises quick results. In reality, it can take months to improve keyword ranking, particularly if you are operating by the SEO rules.

An agency that advertises lightning fast turnaround may be following ‘black-hat’ techniques. If Google, or any other search engines, catches on to the fact that you are trying to bend the rules, they can blacklist your website and send it plummeting to the bottom of the search rankings.

Be discerning about who you trust your website with and only work with agencies who have proven results and know what they’re talking about.

2. Understand your own goals

SEO is really just another form of marketing, and the end goal of any marketing strategy is to increase customer engagement (and profits). For most people, this will be their SEO goal.

However, amidst terms like ‘keyword ranking’ ‘traffic’ ‘lead generation’ and ‘page speed’, this goal can quickly get lost. Before meeting with an SEO agency, make sure you have sat down internally and discussed your future direction. If your goals line up with the expertise and strategies of your SEO agency, you are more likely to have a successful campaign and get a return on your marketing investment.

3. Ask for recommendations

When it comes time to pick an SEO agency, many people turn to Google. After all, a team that specialises in search engine ranking should occupy a top spot on the Google results page, right?

Well, not necessarily. A better strategy might be to ask for recommendations within your industry or from other similarly sized companies. There are many factors that go into a good SEO agency, and not all of them can be demonstrated through a quick Google search.

4. Communication is key

Finally, prioritise communication. Ideally, your SEO agency should report to you on a monthly basis. This report can include what kinds of on-page, technical, and off-page activities they have undertaken and what the results have been — increased keyword ranking, improved page speed, and more.

Whether these reports are accompanied by in-person (or virtual) meetings is up to you. However, when you’re trusting your website and search engine rankings with an external agency, more communication is always better than less.

Finding an SEO company in Australia is no easy task. Take your time, meet with agencies in-person, and ask all the questions you need so that you can be confident in your choice. Then sit back and let the SEO experts do the work for you!

By Steve Hall

Sourced from AdRANTS

By Dr. Peter J. Meyers

Head keywords. Long-tail keywords. The chunky middle. The chonky thorax. Is it any wonder why most people outside of SEO think we’re talking gibberish? Ask a dozen SEOs what keywords qualify as “long-tail” and you’ll get 13 opinions and 17 fistfights.

What we can agree on is that — due to Google’s advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) — the long tail of search has exploded. However, I will argue that NLP has also imploded the long tail, and understanding how and why may save our collective sanity.

What is the long tail of SEO, exactly?

The long tail of search is the limitless space of low-volume (and often low-competition) keywords. Tactically, long-tail SEO centres on competing for a large number of low-volume keywords instead of focusing on a small set of high-volume keywords.

Long-tail SEO encourages us to let go of vanity, because high-volume, so-called “vanity” keywords are often out of reach or, at best, will empty our bank accounts. Low-volume keywords may be less attractive on the surface, but as you begin to compete on hundreds or thousands of them, they represent more traffic and ultimately more sales than a few vanity keywords.

You’ve probably seen a graph of the long tail like the one above. It’s a perfectly lovely power curve, but it’s purely hypothetical. And while you may smile and nod when you see it, it’s hard to translate this into a world of keywords. It might help to re-imagine the long tail of SEO:

I’m not sure the “reclining snowman of SEO” is ever going to catch on, but I think it helps to illustrate that — while head keywords are high-volume by themselves — the combined volume of the long tail eclipses the head or the middle. Like the familiar curve, this visualization dramatically underestimates the true scope of the long tail.

What are long-tail keywords?

In the words of the ancient SEOs, “It doth depend.” Typically, long-tail keywords are low-volume, multi-word phrases, but the long-tail is relative to your starting point. Historically, any given piece of the long tail was assumed to be low-competition, but that’s changing as people realize the benefits of targeting specific phrases with clear intent (especially commercial intent).

Targeting “widgets” is not only expensive, but searcher intent is ambiguous. Targeting “buy blue widgets” narrows intent, and “where to buy Acme Widget LOL-42” laser-focuses you on a target audience. As searchers and SEOs adapt to natural language search, previously “long-tail” keywords may become higher volume and higher competition.

The long tail has exploded

Google has told us that 15% of the searches they see every day are new. How is this possible? Are we creating that many new words? That’s sus, bruh!

I can explain it to you in a very short story. The other day, my (half-Taiwanese) 10-year-old daughter couldn’t remember what her Chinese zodiac sign was, so she asked Google Home:

Hey, Google, what’s the animal for the Chinese new year calendar thingy for 2010?

It’s easy to get hung up on the voice-appliance aspect of this, but whether or not you believe in the future of voice appliances, the reality is that voice search in general has driven the need for natural language search, and as Google becomes better at handling natural language, we’re reverting to using it more often (it’s our default mode). This is especially evident in kids, who never had to learn to dumb down their searches for antiquated algorithms.

How can we hope to target keyword phrases that are literally evolving as we speak? Fortunately, NLP cuts both ways. As Google understands context better, the algorithm recognizes that many variations of the same phrase or question are essentially the same. Which leads us to…

The long tail has imploded

Back in 2019, I did a keyword research case study at SearchLove London on UK mega-retailer, John Lewis. In my research, I was surprised to see how many searches Google was automatically redirecting. There’s the obvious, like Google assuming that people who searched for “Jon Lewis” in the UK probably meant “John Lewis” (sorry, Jon):

It’s interesting to note that Google has gradually, quietly moved from the previously more prevalent “Did you mean?” to the more assertive (some might say aggressive) “Showing results for…” In this case, optimizing for Jon Lewis in the UK is probably pointless.

I expected a rabbit hole, but I landed in a full-on bunny chasm. Consider this search:

Hjohjblewis?! I landed on this misspelling entirely by accident, but I imagine it involved an attention-starved cat and cat-adjacent keyboard. This level of rewriting/redirecting was shocking to me.

Misspellings are just the beginning, however. What about very similar long-tail phrases that don’t surface any kind of rewrite/redirect, but show very similar results?

Note that this same set of terms in the US overwhelmingly returns results about former US Representative and civil rights leader, John Lewis, demonstrating just how much not only intent can shift across localities, but how Google’s re-interpretations can change dynamically.

That same year, I did an experiment for MozCon targeting long-tail questions, such as “Can you reverse a 301-redirect?”, demonstrating that posts written around a specific question could often rank for many forms of that question. At the time, I didn’t have a way to measure this phenomenon, other than showing that the post ranked for variations of the phrase. Recently, I re-analysed my 2019 keywords (with rankings from April 2021) using a simplified form of Rank-Biased Overlap (RBO) called RBOLite. RBOLite scores the similarity between two rank-ordered lists, yielding a score from 0-1. As the name implies, this score biases toward the higher-ranked items, so a shift at #1 will have more impact than a shift at #10.

Here are the scores for a sampling of the phrases I tracked for the 2019 post, with the title of the post shown at the top (and having a perfect match of 1.0):

You can see visually how the similarity of the results diverges as you change and remove certain keywords, and how this creates a complex interaction. What’s fascinating to me is that changing the question phrase from “Can you” to “How do you” or “How to” made very little difference in this case, while removing either “301” or “redirect” had more impact. Switching “you” vs. “I” by itself was fairly low impact, but was additive with other changes. Even the SERPs with “undo” in place of “reverse” showed fairly high similarity, but this change showed the most impact.

Note that the week-over-week RBOLite score for the initial phrase was 0.95, so even the same SERP will vary over time. All of these scores (>0.75) represent a fair degree of similarity. This post ranked #1 for many of these terms, so these scores often represent shifts farther down the top 10.

Here’s another example, based on the question “How do I improve my domain authority?”. As above, I’ve charted the RBOLite similarity scores between the main phrase and variations. In this case, the week-over-week score was 0.83, suggesting some background flux in the keyword space:

One immediately interesting observation is that the difference between “improve” and “increase” was negligible — Google easily equated the two terms. My time spent debating which keyword to use could’ve been spent on other projects, or on eating sandwiches. As before, switching from “How do I” to “How do you” or even “How to” made relatively little difference. Google even understood that “DA” is frequently substituted for “Domain Authority” in our industry.

Perhaps counterintuitively, adding “Moz” made more of a difference. This is because it shifted the SERP to be more brand-like (Moz.com got more mentions). Is that necessarily a bad thing? No, my post still ranked #1. Looking at the entire first page of the SERPs, though, adding the brand name caused a pretty clear intent shift.

The long tail is dead. Long live the long tail.

In the past decade, the long tail has exploded and then imploded (in many ways, due to the same forces), and yet somehow we’ve landed in a very different keyword universe. So, where does that leave us — the poor souls fated to wander that universe?

The goods news of this post (I hope) is that we don’t have to work ourselves to death to target the long tail of search. It doesn’t take 10,000 pieces of content to rank for 10,000 variants of a phrase, and Google (and our visitors) would much prefer we not spin out that content. The new, post-NLP long tail of SEO requires us to understand how our keywords fit into semantic space, mapping their relationships and covering the core concepts. While our tools will inevitably improve to meet this challenge (and I’m directly involved in such projects at Moz), our human intuition can go a long way for now. Study your SERPs diligently, and you can find the patterns to turn your own long tail of keywords into a chonky thorax of opportunity.

By Dr. Peter J. Meyers

Sourced from MOZ