Did you know that small businesses should allocate about 8% of their revenues to marketing?
That’s right, according to the SBA, a small business with under $5 million in yearly revenue should have a marketing budget consisting of around 7-8% of their yearly revenue. The SBA points out that in certain industries, a small business may even need to earmark up to 20% of revenue during their early branding years.
But wait, we’re not done with the small business math lesson yet. Research shows that in 2017, an average of 51% of all web traffic came from organic search.
If your small business marketing strategy is predominantly digital, you should be spending at least 3-4% on search engine optimization (SEO). The challenge is that most small business owners don’t know much about search engine optimization. You’re an expert in your industry, not SEO.
Although it probably won’t benefit you to learn how to SEO your site from top to bottom, you should know enough to talk the talk while shopping around for the right marketing services.
At the most basic level, you should understand the basics of on-page vs. off-page seo, and what each of these SEO segments encompass.
What Is On-page and Off-page SEO?
At the highest level, search engine optimization can be broken down into off-page and on-page SEO. On-page SEO consists of factors that a website owner can directly manipulate on their site. Off-page search engine optimization refers to the digital signals outside of one’s own website that marketers can influence indirectly.
There are notable differences between on-page and off-page optimization in SEO which we will go over in the following sections. On a strategic level, off-page SEO is the more difficult and tedious of the two, so we’ll cover that first.
What is Off-page Optimization in SEO?
Off-page optimization consists of the actions that can be performed outside of your actual website to improve your organic search rankings.These measures are meant to reflect your website’s social credibility and industry authority. Because these search engine ranking signals come from other websites, they cannot be easily manipulated.
Off-page SEO Factors
There are several off-site SEO factors, including:
- Backlinks to your website
- Brand mentions
- Social signals around your website
Think of rankings as elections of web pages in the search engine results. Your page has to get the vote if it wants to be on page one. In the world of off-page SEO, those votes come in the form of backlinks. Backlinks are hyperlinks from external websites that send users and search engine crawlers to your website.
Depending on their relevance and authority, backlinks can affect your organic rankings to different degrees. Think of the importance of each of your backlinks as being located on a Cartesian plane, where the X-axis is authority, and the Y-axis is relevance.
You can have the most authoritative backlink in the world, but if it’s not relevant to your niche or industry, your pages will have difficulty ranking well. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a highly relevant backlink from a site that doesn’t have any authority in your industry, you’re still going to find it difficult to rank.
Your page rankings will not see much benefit if your links are one-dimensional on the relevance-authority spectrum.
To many startups and small businesses, branding is a buzzword that only holds merit if you have venture capital money backing your organization. Bootstrap entrepreneurs tend to avoid paying for branding because it can result in exorbitant costs with very little ROI.
In this particular case, we have concrete evidence to verify that a brand mention may very well be one of the most critical off-page SEO factors for your site. According to Google’s Panda Patent filed in September 2012,
“An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource. Thus, a resource in the group can be the target of an implied link without a user being able to navigate to the resource by following the implied link.”
When it comes to off-page SEO, brand mentions seem to be just as important as backlinks to your website.
Since off-site search engine optimization is meant to reflect the authority of an entity in the real world, it makes sense that having social credibility in the digital world is a ranking signal.
To show that the use of social signals for organic rankings isn’t entirely theoretical, take a look at the US 2016/0246789 A1 Searching Content Of Prominent Users In Social Networks Patent. Without reading through everything, this patent indicates Google’s ability to augment rankings based on what your social media connections find valuable.
What does this off-page SEO signal mean for you? The more shares your content gets, the higher it will likely rank. Social shares also create nofollow links and generate real traffic, so even if you’re not concerned with improving your SEO, a social share will bring relevant traffic to your site.
How to Do Off-page SEO
Now that you know about the different types of off-page SEO, consider how they can be used in your digital marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, getting another website to link to your site or mention your brand is no easy feat. In today’s digital landscape, the most scalable off-page search engine optimization techniques are the least effective.
Most off-page SEO experts will leverage local or niche directories, and guest blogging to build backlinks.
Local and Niche Directories
Yext and BrightLocal are commonly used tools for local directory listing. You simply enter your business’s information, and the tools manage the footwork so that you don’t have to.
When it comes to niche business listing sites, the process is typically more involved. For example, imagine that you’re doing SEO for law firms and you’d like to get listed on several lawyer directories. You’ll most likely have to enter your profile information manually on each site.
Building Backlinks with Guest Blogging
When done correctly guest blogging is one of the most effective methods for building links to a website. The trick is finding websites in your industry that aren’t in direct competition with your own, and asking the site owners/managers if you can contribute a blog article for their readers.
They get free content to publish for their audience, and you get to cite any of your own resources that you mention and link to within the article you contribute. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind while guest blogging:
- Your article must be high quality – it is a reflection of your brand, and the publisher is more likely to keep backlinks for off-page SEO intact if your content is valuable
- Don’t be self-promotional – your article might be denied
- Don’t stuff your article with links
- Target sites that don’t compete with you – trying to get competitors to promote your ideas is usually a waste of time
- Use advanced search operators to search for sites that use “write for us,” “contributor guidelines,” or “guest blog” to promote their acceptance of guest authors
What is On-page SEO?
On-page optimization in SEO refers to direct measures that can be taken on your website to improve it’s rankings in search results for related queries. Examples include using related keywords in the visible content and in meta tags like your page title, image alt and meta description.
6 On-page SEO Factors
On-page SEO boils down to six main factors. There are more than six factors, but the six below will get you 95% of the way.
Page titles are by far the most important on-page search engine optimization factor. If your site framework doesn’t have special functionality to create a unique page title, it will usually use whatever you set as the page name in the backend of your page.
If you’re using WordPress as your CMS (which I highly recommend), then you can easily use the Yoast SEO plugin to create a unique page title.
The HTML for your page title will be within the <head> tags, and will look like this:<title>Your Page Title Here</title>
The page title is what shows up in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and in the browser tab at the very top of your screen. For this reason, it’s important to optimize page titles for SEO, and for user click-through.
Keep the page title length under 70 characters, and closer to 50 characters if you can. This will prevent your title from being cut short in the SERPs, while keeping it concise and appealing. It has been best practice to include your keyword near the beginning of the page title if possible. However, you’ll probably see better results if you create a title that is appealing to users and include your target keyword where it seems most natural.
After the page title, heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.) are the next most important on-page optimization factors. Use the page headings like you would an outline for a paper. Headings should follow a logical hierarchy without skipping steps.
It’s best to only use one H1 on a page. That being said, it’s also important that your web page is about one organized topic to begin with. This helps Google and other search engines identify and better understand what your page is about, and if your page deserves to rank highly for related user queries.
Some marketers without an understanding of technical SEO use headings for their styling characteristics. For example, content marketers sometimes use H2s when they want to emphasize text by making it large, despite that text not actually being important to the main content on the page. Avoid this practice, and instead use the cascading stylesheet (CSS) to style your text. This will help you avoid emphasizing text to search engines that should really be taking a backseat.
Keyword usage within the body of your page is important. I am not a proponent of focusing on using a certain keyword density, as was common practice in the early days of SEO. However, if your page is about a certain keyword topic, it’s only logical that you would use your target keyword and closely related terms within the body of the page.
Similar to the primacy and recency psychological principles, it is typically a best practice to include your target keyword near the top of your page and the bottom of your page. You can use related keywords throughout your page to avoid keyword stuffing while still following on-page SEO best practices.
As an interesting aside, in 2016, one of my clients’ web pages was competing with another site’s page for a high-competition keyword. The keyword was not visible anywhere on the competitor’s page, and still they were ranked page one, position two for this 1600 per month national keyword. The takeaway: though it’s best practice to use your target keywords in the body of your page, Google’s algorithm is becoming more and more advanced each day and exact match keyword usage isn’t do-or-die.
Including the target keyword in your page URL is a best practice. This used to be an important on-page ranking factor, but it’s speculated to account for less than 1% of your page’s SEO value today.
The biggest benefit of this practice is that when someone links to your page with a naked URL (the actual URL is used as the anchor text), the link anchor text will still include your page’s target keyword.
There are three main pieces to image SEO:
- Optimized image alt tag
- Image filename includes target keyword
- File size is kept to a minimum without hurting user experience
An optimized image alt tag should include the keyword and be under 15 words. The true best practice here is to craft an honest description of the image while including your target keyword. With their image recognition technology, it is likely easy for Google to determine when someone is keyword stuffing in an image alt tag, and when someone is accurately describing an image for good user experience.
Since there are limited ways to optimize an image, including your target keyword in the filename is also a good practice. This can be difficult to do when you’re optimizing images on a website that already has images without filenames that have been optimized for on-page SEO. You’ll have to save the images to your local machine, then upload them again with the keyword-focused name.
As a last step, you’ll want to compress images before uploading them to your web page. You can use a free online image compression tool for most .jpg and .png files. A tool like Tiny PNG is usually a safe bet, and Google also released an open source file compression program called Guetzli in 2017. Guetzli is not as easy for marketers to implement since you cannot simply run the program with an online tool.
Meta descriptions are not visible on your web page, but will show up under your page title in the organic search results. Your meta description should be around 300 characters, with an absolute maximum of 320.
Many times, Google will choose their own meta description from the visible content on your page that best aligns with searcher intent. This probably has the biggest effect on an eCommerce SEO strategy, as meta descriptions and on-page product descriptions play an integral role in the overall page’s SEO value.
How to Do On-page SEO
Many of the on-page search engine optimization factors above come with insight about implementing these components. When it comes to on-page seo and off-page seo, on-page is easier because of a site owner’s ability to make direct changes.
You can implement best practices on your target pages, and while blogging for SEO. You’ll just have to adjust your approach for the different searcher intent behind your keyword topics.
Read more at https://www.business2community.com/seo/whats-difference-page-off-page-seo-02043800
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.
Search outpaced social for referral traffic last year, driving 35% of site visits vs social’s 26% share of visits
According to a new referral traffic report from Shareaholic, 2017 was the first time since 2014 search owned a larger share of visits over social.
After a year fraught with terms like “fake news,” and headlines centering around brand safety issues and extreme content, it appears the actions taken by social sites to curb the influx of malicious content is turning out to be a real boon for search referral traffic.
For the first time since 2014, Shareaholic says search outpaced social in the percentage of overall traffic it delivered in 2017. According to the analytic platform’s data, search drove 34.8 percent of site visits in 2017 compared to social networks which accounted for 25.6 percent of referral traffic.
Chartbeat, an analytics platform for online publishers and media organizations, has witnessed a similar trend with traffic from Google search to publisher websites up more than 25 percent since the start of 2017.
“Google Search has always been the largest referrer to Chartbeat clients,” writes the company’s CEO, John Saroff, on Chartbeat’s blog, “In late August, Chartbeat data scientists noticed that Google Search referrals across our client base were trending up.”
The CEO says his team initially thought the rise in Google referrals were attached to events like last year’s solar eclipse and Hurricane Irma, but traffic continued to rise even after news headlines around the events subsided. Instead of falling back into normal patterns, Chartbeat saw Google search driving even more traffic to publisher sites.
Search beats out social for share of visits
“At a high level, it’s clear that social media’s tenuous grip on being the top referral category is over. After beating out search for the last three years, it’s given back the title, driven by changes to the algorithms behind Facebook’s News Feed,” writes Shareaholic in its latest traffic report.
Shareaholic’s findings are based on traffic to more than 250,000 mobile and desktop sites that have opted-in to the content marketing platform’s publishing tools. The company says it analyzed a variety of traffic sources — direct traffic, social referrals, organic search and paid search — for websites that ranged in size from a thousand monthly unique visitors to one million, and spread across a broad selection of website categories (food, tech, fashion and beauty, marketing, sports, general news, and more).
Google was the top overall traffic referrer for the year, and owned a 36.82 percent share of visits during the second half of 2017. While Google’s share of visits was up more than seven percentage points between the second half of 2016 and the second half of 2017, Facebook’s dropped 12.7 percent during the same time frame.
Even with a double-digit drop however, Facebook remained the top social network for share of visits in 2017.
Shareholic notes the changes Facebook has made to its news feed algorithm, boosting content from “trusted” news sources while penalizing spammy, click-bait headlines, influenced the site’s drop in share of visits: “After a rocky 2016 US election year, Facebook made a number of major changes to what content they display in the news feed and how they display it.”
The two charts below, one from Shareaholic and the other from Parse.ly convey similar trends with respect to search vs. social referral traffic in 2017, through the third quarter of the year. The Parse.ly data reflects the upward trend in referral traffic from Google (all – including AMP – Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages format) and declining trend in referral traffic from Facebook specifically (all Facebook – including Instant Articles).
Publishers also see continued gains from search driven by AMP
While Shareaholic’s traffic referral report is based on a wide category of websites, Chartbeat’s data is specifically attached to publishers’ web traffic.
As mentioned earlier, Chartbeat saw a 25 percent surge in traffic to publisher sites by Google search over the last year. Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s chief of product, engineering and data, told Digiday that Facebook referrals to publishers was down fifteen percent in 2017 — aligning with Shareaholic’s findings.
Facebook’s news feed algorithm tweaks to curb fake news and spam content are definitely impacting its overall referral traffic numbers, but Chartbeat reports the most significant factor driving traffic to its clients’ sites is AMP content. After analyzing whether or not the rise in traffic was the result of a bug, or “un-darkening” of previously dark social traffic and finding nothing, Chartbeat turned its attention to mobile versus desktop traffic numbers.
“We then looked specifically at search traffic by device and the answer was clear from our dataset. Mobile Google Search referrals were up significantly while Desktop Google Search referrals were flat,” writes Saroff.
Chartbeat then dug further into its data to evaluate sites using AMP and said it found a “stark” difference between the sites using AMP and those that were not.
“While Mobile Google Search traffic to our AMP-enabled publishers is up 100 percent over the same time-frame, traffic to publishers not using AMP is flat.”
Chartbeat says, during the last six months, Google Mobile Search referrals now outpace both mobile and desktop Facebook referrals.