An SEO powerhouse may rank well in search results, but that doesn’t mean the website gets the conversions it deserves. Finding a balance between form (user design, infographics, videos) and function (Google-friendly SEO, content length, authority) is difficult for small businesses and their marketers. It’s great to have an attention-grabbing, visually appealing site, but that doesn’t guarantee a local search presence for small, competitive companies.At our web design and marketing agency, we work with businesses to improve their SEO, with one of these areas being content marketing. Placing a priority on using conversion-based content is one way to change visitors into conversions while staying within Google’s ever-changing guidelines.The challenge is writing content that is informative, engaging, rankable and visually appealing enough that it convinces visitors to contact you or fill out a form. Here are five ways I recommend writing SEO-ready content that actually converts.1. Hook Them EarlyIt’s high summer. Your air conditioner is busted. Discluding AdWord pages, do you want to waste time getting suckered into keyword-stuffed, high-ranking HVAC websites that repeat the same information over and over again? No. You want to open a page that says the company provides emergency air conditioning maintenance in your area and to call this number right now.SEO can be a distraction. It takes away from conversion- and design-friendly elements on the top of a page. It’s smart to weave the SEO tactics in there, but always picture your mobile and desktop pages through a potential customer’s eyes. Use your big hitters early on. These include a straightforward headline, a nice banner image, testimonials, charts, bullet points, stats — leave the company history and technical rants for later on. If visitors scroll that far down, they’re likely interested enough to continue reading and will probably convert anyway.2. Write Logical ContentThe disgruntled homeowner wants to know if you are a reputable business that can fix his AC unit over the weekend. A good page will satisfy the homeowner’s concerns.Conversion pages — or pages that lead to forms or phone numbers — need to flow in regards to design and content. Most visitors skim website content, but there still needs to be a sense of order. One paragraph leads to the next, each section transitions to the next logical point down the conversion rabbit hole.An example of this top-to-bottom flow might include: who you are, the services you perform, evidence that you know what you’re doing, proof of it in the form of testimonials or reviews, and your contact information. A decent SEO writer has an abundance of opportunities to optimize those sections without slowing down a reader’s progression.3. Trim The FatRemove superfluous information.From an SEO standpoint, it’s easy to flood pages with internal and external hyperlinks in big blocks of content. This adds value, of course, but it can distract readers. The purpose of the page is two-fold: to show up in search results and to convert. When you start adding on third, fourth and fifth priorities — showcasing your new company video and slideshow widgets that have nothing to do with fixing someone’s air conditioner — you’re going to lose a potential customer to slower load times.4. Keyword Variation And Low-Key PromotionMost people have at least a slim understanding of how Google displays search engine results pages (SERPs). But the person reading about your “best HVAC repair” services, time after time, is going to know that “best HVAC repair” means nothing. It’s an empty phrase.But guess what? Search engines are smart. They provide hundreds of millions of answers per day to questions asked by all sorts of people. You might search for “weekend HVAC repair,” but I might search for “AC tech nearby.” Smart content writers study key phrase variance and match what their ideal client base will likely search for.There’s a complex science in this, fit for a different article. Long story short, overhaul the obvious, spammy keywords to keep your readers engaged in your content. You can look at promotion-heavy material the same way. Keep the “We’re the best, call us now!” talk to conversion areas. Let web visitors determine on their own that you’re the best through the well-written content you provide.5. ‘Better’ Is MoreBetter content and user experience can lead to more website visitors, which will likely lead to more conversions and a higher ranking on Google due to improved authority.The way search is going, it’s crucial for businesses to showcase themselves on sleek, mobile-friendly pages that get the job done. Overdoing SEO could backfire in later Google updates, and minimalist sites may have a tough time ranking them.Taking your time to write straightforward content that reads well is the best way to get an edge. Pages that rank high are worthless if they have high bounce rates.If your content is high ranking but your conversions are lacking, evaluate what pages your visitors go to next. Do visitors do background research on your business? Do they read reviews? Does the homeowner end up calling you for your emergency AC repair service? If they don’t, take another look at the actual value of your SEO and make sure you’re meeting these five standards for SEO-ready content that converts.
Contributor Kristopher Jones outlines seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.
It’s no secret a well-executed content marketing campaign can deliver a solid return on investment.
According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates three times more leads than most outbound marketing strategies at 62 percent less cost.
As marketers pad their budgets with more money to invest in content marketing this year, one strategy that often gets overlooked is content promotion.
According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers were not even sure what a successful content marketing campaign looked like!
Content without promotion is like link building without links or creating a landing page without a call to action. That’s why promotion should take equal focus with creation.
Let’s look at seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.
1. Paid social promotion
Paid social promotion can be one of the most precise strategies available to market your content to people who are interested in and most likely to engage with your content.
For example, by using Facebook’s Audience Insights, businesses can segment audience lists by select boundaries, such as demographics, psychographics and intent. This allows marketers to create audience segments that are more in line with their brand and specific topics of content on their website. There are several benefits of paid social promotion:
- Increase website traffic with relevant visitors.
- Generate more conversions by marketing to people with high purchasing intent.
- Familiarize users with your brand.
Even advertising content over native or display ads can help to increase brand recall for customers who come across your website in future searches. Only now, they’ll think of your brand as a bit of an authority because they’re already familiar with your brand.
Paying to promote your content over advertising channels is a good way to cut through the noise and the competition.
Paid promotion is also an excellent strategy to target users who have interacted with your website or blog in the past month. Remarketing not only increases your chance of reclaiming a missed conversion, but it also helps to foster brand loyalty by providing them useful content based on their past consumption.
Before undergoing a paid promotion strategy, it’s key to have your goals outlined. These can include increasing readership for your content or generating more conversions on your website. With these in mind, you can quantify the impact of these strategies and assess their success.
2. Targeted sharing
Facebook is no longer the business to consumer (B2C) marketing giant it once was; after its last algorithm update, it limited organic reach for business posts on the platform.
One way to reach more people over social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is through targeted sharing.
Targeted sharing is essentially tagging someone in a post in hopes that they will share your content with their audience. Here are some ways to do that:
- Link to people in the snippet who would be interested in your article.
- Link to sources featured in the article directly in the snippet.
- Directly engage industry peers with a question or point of debate in the snippet to curate conversation over a topic.
Twitter’s advanced search tool allows you to find people in your niche who are close to you geographically, using certain hashtags and more:
Instagram recently introduced a “follow” hashtag that allows users to view content in their newsfeed using a certain hashtag. This has opened up an entirely new platform for businesses to reach more customers over Instagram who are already interested in your industry.
3. Use videos over social media
Another proven method to cut through the noise on social media channels is to include videos in your content.
The statistics around video marketing are truly staggering:
- Google states that half of internet users “search for a video related to a product or service before visiting a store.”
- Views on sponsored videos on Facebook increased 258 percent between June 2016 and June 2017.
From my experience, including a video on a landing page can significantly increase your conversion rate. In my opinion, the demand for video content over social media far outpaces the demand for written content.
Video can also be more engaging than written content. A compounding or viral video is the definition of a gift that keeps on giving.
Of course, there’s always a caveat. Hosting a long, informative video on your content can discourage click-throughs to your landing page, especially if it’s used to promote written content. I suggest posting a teaser video, an eye-catching image or a graphics interchange format (GIF) in your content to entice users to navigate to the landing page.
4. Influencer marketing
I believe influencer marketing is one of the most underutilized tools in our industry.
Influencer marketing is powerful in theory. Not only will influencer shares expose your content to a new audience, it confers credibility in the eyes of that audience.
According to a study from MuseFind, 92 percent of people trust influencers more than advertisements or celebrities.
There are many ways to approach this strategy: You can reach out to influencers directly in your industry to share your content or engage in a promotion partnership.
Consider using tools like Followerwonk and Intellifluence to find active influencers in your industry to reach out to.
You can also mention an influencer within your content or link to them in a social media snippet to attract their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will share your content to promote their own brand. In turn, this increases your content’s quantity of shares and link opportunities.
5. Content syndication
Content syndication is not new to search engine optimization (SEO), but it’s not often the focus of many content marketing strategies. Content syndication is a great strategy to instantly expand your audience reach with little effort.
Do your research before identifying a site for syndication. Ask about their analytics to see what their visitor traffic is like and monitor keywords to identify the topics of discussion being held.
If you decide to syndicate content on sites like LinkedIn, Medium or community forums, it’s best to be picky. Only share your best content.
If you do participate in a content community, understand that half of your responsibility is also sharing other people’s content to remain an active member. This will help establish relationships across your industry for potential link opportunities and shares.
6. Link building
Link building remains one of Google’s three most important ranking factors when determining organic rank. It is a good idea to increase your content’s reach and visibility by improving its organic backlink signals.
It’s important to remember that link building needs to be strategic when promoting a specific webpage. I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into building links to a topical blog post, evergreen content or webpages that serve a valuable function in your website’s information and sales funnel.
Here are just a few basic link-building strategies to promote content to a wider audience:
- Guest post on authoritative publications with a contextual link back to your content.
- Engage in broken link building using manual outreach to offer more value to existing content.
- Email industry thought leaders about a piece of your content that would be valuable to their future research.
Ironically, the best link-building strategy out there is to craft high-quality content that people organically link back to on their own. Of course, this requires promotion for people to find this content in the first place, but hopefully, you’ll get some ideas from this post to help with that.
7. Personalized email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to market to customers who are already interested in your brand. Email marketing has the benefit of increasing customer retention while also delivering shares and links right to your content.
Not everyone on your email marketing list will jump at the chance to read your next blog post. Here are some basic strategies to increase email engagement:
- Design an e-newsletter to promote recent posts to your blog or showcase your most viral content for the month.
- Segment subscriber lists based on their interaction with your site.
- Personalize emails to include the name of the recipient, as well as pertinent information related to their engagement on your site.
- Include interactive content, such as a fun GIF or video, to make emails stand out and warm up subscribers to future emails.
- Conduct split testing on headlines and messages and measure their impact.
Content marketing has taken on a life of its own as a buzzword in our industry. With reduced organic reach over both search and many social channels, it’s never been more important to focus on promotion strategies that cut through the noise and get content discovered.
Great SEO does not exist in a bubble, but is part of a broader marketing framework. Columnist Marcus Miller explains how an awareness and understanding of this framework can improve SEO performance.
It’s a peculiar time to be a marketer. Many of us in the SEO world, myself included, are not traditionally trained as marketers. In fact, I studied computer science and was initially a web and software developer.
My marketing career was a fortunate accident — a case of being in the right place at the right time. I was working developing e-commerce sites, and when that job was done, the question soon became, How do we get more traffic and more customers? This led me into the new and exciting world of SEO circa 1999.
Of course, there is more to marketing than just getting highly ranked on search engines, and it took me a while to figure this out. But over the years working as an SEO, I have learned the value of more traditional marketing processes and how they relate to SEO.
Search engines want to connect people with the best possible results — so user engagement and satisfaction is likely an SEO ranking factor. Certainly, on-page signals and links are still super-important, but these won’t help if users do not engage with your site. SEO is now firmly a part of the overall marketing process, and good marketing will only help improve rankings and drive more traffic.
And so it follows that the SEOs I respect and admire are all highly savvy marketers. It’s not enough to focus on delivering more traffic. To do great SEO in 2017 and beyond, you have to be a great marketer.
In this article, I am going to look at the marketing mix and a classic marketing tool known as “the 4 Ps of marketing.” I’ll discuss how you can use this tool to improve your marketing and SEO.
The 4 Ps of marketing
The classic definition of marketing is simply “putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.”
Stripping away the complexity can be powerful. The 4 Ps of marketing helps us here by focusing on these four key areas:
As it happens, SEO does a lot right by default. When a user searches is certainly the right time, and a search engine is often the right place. Yet, we also have to ensure the product and the price are right as well — after all, there will be a lot of competition on that search engine’s results page. And, of course, there is more to digital marketing than just search engines, however important they may be.
Let’s have a look at each of these four key areas:
Who are your customers? What are their goals? What jobs do they have to perform that you could do better? What are their pains? Ultimately, how does your product help your customer? Understanding your customer and how your product relates to their needs is fundamental to your pricing and promotion of your product (or service).
At my agency, for example, we provide a digital marketing service. This helps our customers achieve their business goals and takes away the work and pain involved in trying to stay abreast of the digital marketing landscape. We try to save our customers time and money and improve their results, so they can focus on doing what they do best.
Your product or service is the foundation of your marketing approach. You need absolute clarity here. Price and promotion will all be influenced by your product.
Getting found is only half the battle — you have to convince your prospective customers that your product or service can deliver.
Price is intrinsically tied to value. But price must also consider established price points in your industry. If you are too expensive, your product won’t sell, no matter how desirable. If you are too cheap, profit margins will suffer.
There is something of a pendulum with price, where a lower price will typically generate more sales, but a higher price will generate more profits. You have to find what your perfect balance is here, and that will depend on your marketplace and lead generation strategies.
SEO is a great example of how difficult pricing can be. Typical wisdom will say that SEO costs around $100 an hour. However, when we spent some time analyzing SEO packages and SEO prices, we found some very different perspectives on what people were willing to pay — particularly when it came to small business SEO services.
Pricing is fundamental, and you need to carefully consider price points to ensure you can deliver the service but still make a profit. Brand and online reputation will play into this, of course, but most of us are not Apple — so you might be able to pull off being 10 percent more expensive than a competitor if your product is right, but push too hard on the pricing and you will typically lose work.
Where will customers look for your product? Will your customers search for you? Will you generate business through offline channels or in person? Does your marketing mix include a combination of online and offline marketing channels?
If you are an emergency plumber, then people are going to grab their phone and go straight to Google, so that one is fairly obvious. But, for many services, different people will buy in different ways: networking, referrals, search engines and so forth. Determine where your customers are and where you need to be to sell to them.
Where will you get your marketing messages in front of your prospective customers?
Search engines? Search ads? Social networks? Online banner advertisements? Press? TV? Direct mail? Billboards? Do you use ads or top-of-the-funnel strategies like content marketing? Do you try to sell, or do you use lead generation and nurturing strategies?
Is time of day a factor? Is there any seasonality in your marketplace? Are there other external factors that can be leveraged to improve your marketing?
What do your competitors do here? Are some channels highly competitive? Where are the opportunities? A SWOT analysis can be useful here (another traditional marketing tool).
This really depends on the customer, and often the best approaches strategically integrate marketing channels to maximize results.
In our business, we find that higher-funnel activities like content marketing work best for us in contrast to ads. As an example, we have a piece of content that details 30 small business SEO tips. This generates some good exposure and leads for us. Whereas, if we run search ads, we will get leads, but we are often in competition with other agencies. It also tends to come down to price, and while we are not expensive, there is always someone cheaper.
You have to figure out how your marketing, lead generation and sales work together to fine-tune your approach. If you can find some way to provide comparable quality while being measurably the cheapest service, you can likely be aggressive in all channels.
Putting the P(ieces) together
So, there are a lot of moving parts here. You can tackle product, price, place and promotion in any order. And in all honesty, I tend to merge place and promotion when we do this for ourselves and our clients. Product informs price. Price points inform the product. No point adding some radical new features if they push the price up too high.
You must consider the marketplace you operate in and your competition. Scalable marketing success will very much depend upon getting all of these factors aligned. If you measure the success of your SEO by how many conversions you generate from organic traffic, then you can improve your SEO by tweaking your product pricing.
The point I am trying to make here is that great SEO does not exist in a bubble. It is part of a broader marketing framework. As marketers and SEOs, we have to consider these other factors to ensure we can keep on improving the work that we do.
If you have a product that is not selling, try considering each of these factors. Is it the product itself? Is it the pricing? Or is your promotion just not up to scratch? Use the simple 4 Ps framework to interrogate your marketing, and your results will only improve.