Organic SEO Explained: 5 Steps for Improving Organic Search Engine Optimization

Organic SEO — also known as organic search engine optimization (SEO) has become an important factor in your business website marketing.

The process can be complex, but there are a few simple steps you must follow.

In today’s post, we’ll walk through each step and provide tips and insights you can use for your business right away.

Organic SEO Step 1: Keyword Research – What are people searching for?

If you’re like most people you get excited about a project and jump into it before doing all of the prep-work necessary to make it a success. The same rule applies to organic SEO. You need to do the right prep work before optimizing your website.

You need to first determine if:

  • people are actually searching for the phrase
  • how much competition you have for that chosen phrase.

Thankfully there are many tools to help you find great keyword information.

Say you are a website design company in Minneapolis, you probably want to people to find your website by searching “Minneapolis website design.”

Putting this phrase into Google AdWords returns some interesting data. The competition for that phrase is stated as “High” with around 5,000 searches a month. Competing for this phrase directly will take a considerable amount of time (and money).

What to Look For

Most businesses should look at the keyword ideas section and find keyword phrases that are either “Medium” or “Low” in the competition column. You can also take phrases from the keyword ideas section and add a geographic location to them, such as “corporate website design Minneapolis”. You can see that the competition drops considerably, however so does the number of searches. This is something in which you’ll have to weigh the return on investment.

These long-tail niche phrases can drive a considerable amount of traffic compared to the high-level key phrases and can be much easier to rank well with.

Before committing to a list of keywords for your website you should do some first-hand research and run the searches through Google to see who you are competing with online. Review their websites to see what they are doing in terms of keyword targeting, website structure, and on-site optimization to achieve the rankings.

After determining a list of phrases that fit your business you need to figure out how you want to work these keywords into your website content.

Each page of your website should cover a specific topic or keyword / key-phrase. Use natural language and sprinkle in the keyword. There’s no need to overdo it because Google wants you to write content for people, not search engines.

To recap, before optimizing your website you need to do some prep-work. Research your target keywords to see what the competition is and if people are actually searching for that phrase. Remember to be patient with your search engine results as they can take time to increase.

Organic SEO Step 2: Improve Your Website Structure

If you are starting with a brand new website, making sure you build your website with a friendly organic SEO structure. Make sure your code is clean and concise.

Google, just like people, will read and follow your thehttps://www.mltgroup.com/local-seo-services.php information on your website more often if the content is laid out in a straightforward manner.

An SEO friendly site structure follows a logical path and organization. From the main pages to sub-topics, and more, the site should be easy to navigate:

site architecture

Your website should validate at W3C (http://validator.w3.org/) although this is not completely necessary for good rankings, it does help with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and ensuring your code is well formatted.

Give Your Webmaster These Guidelines

Keep this note in handy if you work with a developer. Often, developers tend to overlook the website “head” (<head>…</head>). The head tags often contain Javascript, CSS and META tags for the page. Since the data in these tags doesn’t show up on the actual display of the website this area tends to get ignored and can become unnecessarily large. All CSS and Javascript code should be referencing external files. This not only speeds up the load time of the website (which is becoming more important to Google’s algorithms) it also makes editing the code later easier.

 

Finally, we come to the meat of the website, the body tag <body>…</body>. Between these two tags is what your visitors will see on screen. This is also where the majority of your on-site SEO will take place. In keeping with an organic SEO friendly architecture, your site should make proper use of the HTML tags.

Don’t build your website with tables. Instead, use div tags modified with CSS (CSS based layouts). Although tables can produce a similar result on screen as a CSS based layout, the code to create the same functionality with a table can be 3-4 times as large. Remember: the more code a page has the longer it will take to load, affecting its results in the search engines.

Organic SEO Step 3: Your On-Site Optimization

On-site optimization is still crucial to help search engines and people find your products and services. Think of it this way: if you don’t put the right information on your website how will the search engines know what you do?

Your on-site website optimization goes hand-in-hand with a search engine friendly website architecture. If your site has a poor architecture, your on-page efforts won’t work as well. There are a few HTML tags to optimize properly that is a must for every page on your website, they include the “title” tag, “meta description” tag and “h1” tag.I’ll go into detail about each one below.

Title Tags

Search engines use your title tag to understand what that specific page is about. The title tag shows up at the very top of your browser window. Having a well-written title tag should be common sense if you are wanting your page to come up for that keyword, however many people overlook this and leave the default “Untitled Page” text in it.

This is great if you want to rank for “untitled page” however I doubt that is what you want.

Here are a few title tag rules to follow:

  • First: Be Concise. You only have 70 characters that the search engines will respond to, so make them count.
  • Second: Include Your Keyword. I can’t stress this enough: if you want to come up for “blue rolling widgets”, by all means, put “blue rolling widgets” in your title tag.
  • Third: Include Synonyms. If people search for “blue rolling widgets” you can also try variations on those words such as “rolling widgets” “blue widgets” etc. Each of those is words that your potential customers may search for.
  • Fourth: Be Local. Local business should include their location. Most people that are searching for a local service or product will put in the region they want to find it in. Adding a local identifier to your title tag greatly increases your chances of getting found locally.
  • Fifth: Don’t Duplicate. If at all possible never duplicate a title tag on your website. This confuses the search engines when serving up searches to your website.

Meta Description Tag

You can find this tag in the head of the website. This tag doesn’t directly affect your page ranking, but you want to have a compelling title tag to get people to click through to your website.

Here are some good guidelines for writing meta descriptions:

  • First: Be Concise. Again you have a limited amount of characters to use, about 150 for the description tag.
  • Second: Be Informational. Be sure to describe what someone would see on the page. For our blue widget example above our meta description tag could look something like this: “Buy blue widgets from ABC company, a provider of blue widgets to Anytown USA since 1988”.
  • Third: Don’t Duplicate. If at all possible write a unique description tag for every page on your website. This helps to tell Google what each page is about and gives them the ability to offer your customers the correct information.

Organic SEO Headings

Think of the H1 tag like a chapter heading in a book. It tells you what the entire section is about. H2 – H6 tags are for sub-headings and breaking up content logically on the page. The H1 tag has similar power as the title tag in the ranking algorithms of Google and other search engines.

Check out our rules for writing great headings:

  • First: Only One Time. Each page on your site must contain only one H1 tag. Use sub-headings to give directions for sub-topics
  • Second: Be Concise. The H1 doesn’t have a limit, but people should easily be able to tell what the page is about by reading it
  • Third: Include Your Keyword
  • Fourth: Don’t Duplicate. This actually is important for two reasons, you don’t want to have the same H1 tag across multiple pages and you don’t want to just copy your web page title tag. The H1 tag should compliment your title tag.

So to recap, your on-site website optimization is a critical step in making sure you are well optimized. Having well-written title, description and H1 tags give Google a good understanding of what your website is about, making it easier for them to give your users the correct page on your website.

Organic SEO Step 4: Off-site Optimization

On-site optimization is done at the front-end of an SEO campaign.  Off-site optimization moves you up the ranks.

While the off-site optimization can be the most difficult and tricky part of the search engine optimization campaign, I will help you through some of the most common issues.

Let’s discuss some techniques and tips on the best (and worst) off-site organic SEO tactics.

Link Exchanges

Most people think that a link exchange (where I put a link on my website to yours and you put a link on your website to mine) works well for improving SEO authority. They can be helpful if you’re getting a link from a well-respected site (ex: technorati.com).

However if both sites have a low page rank this can actually hurt as your links will “bleed page-rank”, basically meaning that you are passing page-rank from your site to someone else and canceling out the effect.

You want one-way incoming links to your website. These are much more effective because they tell Google “I am a good quality resource on this topic. Others have linked to me because of it.” The more one-way incoming links you can get to your site the better.

Poor Quality Links to Avoid

If you have been researching how to generate links back to your website you may have seen links or ads directory submission services. While you can get a ton of back-links to your site quickly, they are generally of lower quality and Google won’t pay as much attention to them.

If your link profile (the break down of links on your site) skews heavily towards the low-quality sites it will take considerably more links to compete with someone who has a better link profile.

 

Good Quality Back-links

A good quality back-link can be priceless to a search engine campaign.  These high-quality back-links require work on your end to foster a relationship with the website owner. These types of links can come from industry-specific journals or blogs, distributors or educational resources. You generally cannot simply ask the website owner to link to you (unless you are a well-known company), you will need to become an active member on their website. Show that you are an expert in a field and you may receive a link.

Write GREAT Content

This goes without saying for anything you do online. Writing good quality content helps you gain links to your website. If you have a blog, people may put a link to it naturally on their site as your information explains a subject they reference. You can become a guest contributor on authority websites to build your influence and link back to your website. These websites are usually looking for great content and having an experts view on the topics they cover can give you a lot of exposure.

Be Social

Social media and social networking is here to stay. Be sure that you fully utilize your online profiles. Be sure that what you are posting to these places is interesting and informative, not a sales pitch. Your social followers are much more fickle than the general website searcher as they are inviting you into their profile. Be respectful and don’t bombard them with posts. Unless your company has a lot of news, posting once a week or so would be ideal. You want to keep your users aware of your business but not get annoyed with you.

Press Releases and Articles

Both press releases and articles have their place in a well-rounded organic search engine optimization campaign. You can describe your company, services, and offerings all you want in them, just make sure it is newsworthy. Most press release services will charge a fee for submitting your release but for this fee, your press release is getting submitted to actual news organizations such as the AP, large market newspapers and high profile bloggers.

So to recap, your off-site optimization should be done on a consistent basis. Gathering a ton of back-links at once and then never looking at it again will give you a short boost but you won’t maintain your rankings. Always write good content. Be a good online neighbor and social friend. Link to people who you feel do a good job and you will tend to receive the same. As for social media don’t over post. You don’t want to be de-friended.

Organic SEO Step 5: Analytics (Measuring your results)

After you have made your website live the first thing you should to do is install Google Analytics www.google.com/analytics (or a similar program). I like Google Analytics for a few reasons. First, it’s completely free and second, you can gather a ton a data on the traffic to your website.

When you log into Google Analytics you’ll see a graph showing the traffic for each day. This is great to get a brief overview of how much traffic your website is receiving, but doesn’t give you a ton of data as to where people are coming from or what they are viewing.

Click on the Visitor’s Tab

This tab provides more detail about your viewers on the site including the number of unique visitors, bounce rate, time on site and new visits. Each of these sections can be clicked on to get additional data.

Next, look at the Traffic Sources tab.

This tab gives me a quick overview of where people are coming to my site from, whether it be search engines, direct traffic or referring sites. As with the visitor’s tab you can click on each of the sections to gather more detail about each site or search engine. If you drill down into a specific website you can see how many visits came to your site for a particular day.

Last, let’s review the Content tab.

This section shows you the amount of traffic that each specific page on the site is driving. If you are using a landing page for an advertising campaign you can see from this section if your ads are working.

You can also see if people are not following to a certain point on your site, such as a check-out page. If your customers are not flowing to where you want them you may need to revise your on-site content to help drive them to the correct locations.

As you can see Google Analytics can supply a ton of information about your website. Even just scratching the surface you can gather powerful information about your company’s website and find places to make improvements. Google Analytics has a great help section as well if you have additional questions on what you are looking at.

Conclusion

You’ve learned the basic steps of creating a successful organic SEO campaign.

Now you have two choices.

One, try it out for yourself.

Two, work with an expert to get “done for you” results. If you want to try the latter, fill out the form below to get a free marketing proposal.

 




What is Inbound Marketing? Learn More About Inbound Marketing With Our Step by Step Guide

What is inbound marketing?

If you’re a business owner or marketing employee at your company, you’ve heard the term before.

You get the gist of it from the name — inbound marketing is the process of attracting people to engage with your business.

It sounds great in theory, but you’re curious about how it works in practice.

It’d be great to not have sales making cold-calls and scouring LinkedIn for leads.

We’re sure you’d love it if your phone was ringing off the hook or your inbox was filled with requests for your product or service.

In the back of your mind, however, you’re wondering if inbound marketing can work for your business.

You want to make sure you’re getting a return on investment for your marketing.

You’d be willing to invest if you were sure there were tangible results you could expect from an inbound marketing campaign.

In today’s post, not only will we answer the question, “What is inbound marketing?” but we will give you a full understanding of the process from A to Z.

How Inbound Marketing Works

Have you ever read a blog post about a topic, service, or product you’re interested in? Especially one you found through Google search?

Have you ever signed up for an email list where you receive something free in exchange for providing your email address?

Then, later on, you might see advertisements from the same company on Facebook.

Since you’ve seen the company before or are familiar with the brand, you might click through to the website through that ad.

At some point, you’ve purchased a product or service from a brand you first experienced online by watching or reading their content.

That’s inbound marketing in a nutshell.

It’s the exact opposite of the old form of marketing where businesses spent as much money as possible on advertisements to blast their message to consumers as many times as possible.

Why the shift from outbound to inbound.

Here’s what the numbers say:

  • 90% of searchers haven’t made their mind up about a brand before starting their search (Source: Hub Spot)
  • Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
  • 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders (Source: 2018 Demand Gen Report)
  • 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Source: 2016 Demand Gen Report)

We live in a world of a massive number of choices. We have stronger filters to ignore ads from companies trying to force their message on us.

Instead, we search for the products and services we truly want. And we search for them on our time. We’ve become more shrewd with our buying behavior — reading reviews, buying from companies who educate and entertain us first, and using the internet to make more informed buying decisions.

There’s still room for advertising, but at some point, you’ll have to market yourself well on the internet.

So how do you create this inbound marketing strategy?

Here’s the step by step process.

Step 1 – Understand Your Audience

Quick question for you — what’s your target audience?

Do you know their hopes, fears, and desires?

Do you know their demographics?

Have you been keeping an eye on the channels they use to interact with businesses in your industry?

Before you move into the next steps of the process like keyword research, content marketing, SEO, social media, email marketing, and more, you want to have a great idea of who your target audience is so you can create the right campaign.

Here are some great customer research tips you can use to define your target audience.

Use What You Know

If you’ve been in business some time you know some facts about your target audience.

Brainstorm the following and get the answers to these questions on paper:

  • What are the current demographics of your target audience (here’s a great article on finding them if you don’t know)?
  • What are the pain points and problems your product can solve for them?
  • Can you name some of the goals and aspirations your product can provide them?
  • How does a member of your target audience see themselves?

Using this brainstorming technique can give you some raw information to make a more detailed customer profile or avatar.

Go Straight to the Source

Sometimes the best method for discovering the needs of your target audience is asking your current customers about your product or service.

If you have an email-list with contacts for current clients, send out a survey with questions related to why they bought your product or service and how it can be improved.

Get on the phone with your current customers and ask them about their needs.

Track every review for your business and comment on your social media profiles and engage with those customers to get deeper insights.

Keep an Eye on Your Industry

There are many ways to keep tabs on the pulse of customers in your industry.

You can go to these sources to find out what customers like and dislike about the products or services in your industry.

Quora

Quora is a question and answer social media website.

You can search for terms based on your industry and get great information about what people in your target audience want and need:

Quora inboud marketing

Amazon

Amazon isn’t just one of the biggest retailers in the world, it’s one of the largest qualitative research resources you can find.

Search for products similar to yours on Amazon (if you have a service based business you can find books about the industry).

Read the reviews, especially the 3-star ones. Why? Because 3-star reviews strike the perfect balance — they’re not overly negative or positive. Someone who leaves a 3-star review has honest insights to share.

amazon inbound marketing research

Forums and Facebook Groups

Forums and Facebook groups provide unfiltered insights you can use to understand your customers.

This is great for industries that require a lot of technical knowledge like welding supplies. In that example, you could search for metal working forums and find out which processes and parts are working well (or not) and why.

forum inbound marketing research

Often when searching across the industry landscape, you can find useful information. You can even go as far as swiping the actual words people use to describe your product or service and add it to your marketing messages

Create a Customer Avatar

After you’ve done your due diligence, you can compile all your customer research into a profile you can use for your marketing.

A customer avatar is a detailed description of a member of your target audience. You create a description of the person including information like their interest, job, age, gender, etc

Creating this profile crystallizes who you’ll be talking to in your messaging. You need to have a clear picture of your target audience before you create content for them and know which channels to place and promote your content to attract the right type of visitor.

Here’s a great guide on creating a detailed customer avatar.

Step 2 – Research for Content Marketing and SEO

We recommend content marketing and SEO for each business we work with.

You can use other marketing channels, but these two are core elements of any successful inbound campaign.

Content marketing is the process of creating content to attract people in your target audience to your website. Blogging and page content are the main channels used for content marketing through SEO, but the term covers a broader range.

Search Engine Optimization goes hand in hand with content marketing. SEO is the process of adding relevant information about your product or service to your website to rank its pages on Google.

Both activities combined can increase the organic traffic to your website.

If you can convert some of that traffic into leads, content marketing, and SEO starts to work as an ‘automated salesman’ that draws people to your site and through the awareness stages of an inbound marketing campaign.

forum inbound marketing research

Source: Hubspot

After you have a great idea of the wants, needs, and interests of your target audience, you can research the phrases they type into Google. This helps you create content that will rank in search engines for terms people use to find your product or service.

Keyword Research

How do you find the right keywords?

There are many different processes and tools, but some core strategies when looking for keywords are:

  • Relevance – You want to find keywords relevant to your business. Keywords that sound good and get a lot of traffic are worthless without the right intent.
  • Volume – Keywords have a monthly volume – or an average number of searches. If a keyword sounds good to you, but the data says the volume isn’t there, try a different keyword.
  • Competitiveness – Keywords with higher search volume are usually more competitive, meaning you’ll need better content and more backlinks to rank for those words.

Keeping these items in mind, you can use a combination of brainstorming and competitor research to find keywords to use.

Brainstorm Using Keyword Research Tools

Google Keyword Planner

There are tools that help you find important keyword information.

These include the Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Uber Suggest, and more.

Take all of your different product or service offerings and brainstorm potential topics and put them into a keyword research tool.

These tools will often provide recommendations and suggestions based on your input.

Here are some great deep dive guides on keyword research:

Competitor Keyword Research

One of the simplest ways to find out which keywords work well is finding the terms your competitors already rank for.

Then, you can create better content and promote it more, which can help you leapfrog them on search engine results. 

You can plug your competitor’s websites into these tools and find great keyword information.

Here are some great competitor research guides:

At the end of the process, you should have keywords based on the main topics, products, and services of your business.

You also want to have keywords based on sub-topics and variations of your main ones to use for landing pages and blog posts.

The structure you’ll use for your sitemap should look something like this:

site architecture

You will want to have a complete sitemap for the main pages and other landing pages you want to create for your site.

You’ll assign keywords to each of those pages.

Then, the rest of your keywords can be used as part of your blogging strategy.

This Sounds Like a Lot of Work Doesn’t It?

We want to provide useful information regardless of whether or not you work with us.

That being said, content marketing and SEO can be an arduous process.

If the process we’re showing you looks promising, but you want a helping hand, fill out the form below for a site audit and marketing proposal:




 

Step #3 – Put the Channels and Tools in Place for Your Inbound Marketing Campaign

Once you have the research done for content marketing and SEO, you need the right tools to implement the campaign and decide if you’re going to use other channels to market your business.

Let’s start with the bedrock tools and channels you need for content marketing and SEO.

A Technically Sound, Responsive, and Built to Convert Website

You need to have a high-performing website because search engines use user-experience as part of their algorithm

This means your site needs to meet these standards

  • Fast loading speed – If your site is slow, users will leave quickly and search engines track this behavior with a metric called bounce rate
  • Mobile responsive – Your website needs to look appealing on a mobile phone.
  • No broken pages – Broken pages disrupt the flow of your website, which causes users to leave as well
  • Site architecture – Your website pages need a clear and logical structure

Also, your website should be built to covert, meaning you have multiple areas of your site to turn casual browsers into e-mail list sign-ups or get them to contact you.

You can use embedded forms:

form embeds for inbound campaign

Via- Shopify

Pop-ups:

pop up form for inbound

Via- Optin Monster

Strategically placed calls to action:

contact forms inbound marketing

There’s no use having tons of traffic coming to your site if you can’t convert it.

Here are some great in-depth guides on conversion optimization

Each page of your site should have an intention behind it. Consider the behavior you want visitors to take on each page when creating design and content for them.

Tracking and Reporting

You need data to make informed decisions for your inbound marketing campaign.

There are tons of tracking tools out there, but here are some metrics you need to track and best-known tools to use.

Traffic

Your website needs to track information about the traffic coming to it. Google analytics is the go-to software for this.

It comes with lots of useful information you can use to guide your campaign.

Some great guides on understanding Google Analytics are:

You can also use Google Search Console for additional analytics insights including impressions, click through rates and some keyword ranking data.

Check out these guides on getting the most out of Google search console:

Keywords

You want to track how well your keywords are ranking over time.

This helps you spot which terms are doing well and which ones need some TLC to improve their rankings.

These companies provide the gold-standard in keyword tracking:

Other Tools

If you focused on just the tools above, you’d know the bulk of the information you need to optimize your campaign over time.

There are a plenty of others you can use, however, and smart SEOs have put together some great curated resources:

A System to Nurture Visitors and Leads

Once you attract visitors to your site with content marketing, SEO, and other inbound marketing channels. You want a system in place to nurture those leads, engage them, and turn them into sales.

The most common lead capturing and nurturing system is email marketing software. Companies like MailChimp, Convertkit, and Aweber work well. You can also use more advanced tools like infusion soft, click funnels, and Ontraport that collect emails but also handle payment processing and other sales features.

You can also create a system where you entice visitors to request to learn more about your service, set up a demo, or a free strategy session.

Either way, you are drawing visitors into a marketing funnel.

The goal of a marketing funnel is to engage with people further after their first visit.

You want to capture their information and continue the conversation.

Here are some great guides on creating marketing funnels:

These are the basic tools and systems you need to get your inbound marketing campaign started.

There are a bunch of other channels you can use to pour ‘gasoline on the fire’ and get additional traffic.

However, the bottom line – Your business will usually get the most long-term benefit from a content marketing and SEO campaign.

Other Inbound Marketing Channels and Platforms

There are other channels and platforms you can use for inbound marketing.

Let’s walk through each and talk about how they work and whether or not they can work for your business. 

Paid Advertisements

Paid advertisements can work well when combined with content marketing and SEO.

You want to use paid advertisements to catch people’s attention in a way that’s not intrusive.

Nobody is going to respond to your ad if it’s nothing more than a half-hearted attempt where you basically shout out “buy my product!”

Smart advertisers use paid advertisements to capture attention based on the context of the user’s experience.

What do we mean?

If someone is searching for something on Google, this means they have the intent to either learn more or buy your product.

In this context, it makes sense to send them to a landing page with an offer for your product or service with a paid ad.

If someone’s on social media or browsing websites that display banner ads, they aren’t necessarily in the mood to buy right then and there, especially if they aren’t familiar with your brand.

In this context, you want to use ads to provide value and get people familiar with your brand.

Let’s say someone has visited your website and now you want to remarket them with an ad. You could be more aggressive here since they’ve already shown some interest.

Let’s look at the platforms and the best context to use them in.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is a pay per click platform where you can display ads based on keyword data.

Here are some in-depth articles on using Google Adwords:

Google Ads is best for products and services that users show buyer intent for. This means you should only run Adwords campaigns based on phrases for people who seem more ready to buy.

Someone searching for “Size 12 Blue Nikes” is a great example.

Google Ads works well for business owners who want to get a pretty accurate direct ROI number. It’s also great if you are looking to get results a bit sooner as SEO and content marketing take months to start showing great results.

Google Display Network

google display network

The Google Display Network allows you to show banner ads on other people’s websites who participate in the Google Adsense program.

If you see a banner ad like the one above, the business is using display network ads.

The only problem with these types of ads is…nobody pays any attention to them. 

So why use these type of ads at all?

These ads only work if you have something valuable to give away or useful information that might pique casual browsers interested like a free white paper

Direct advertisement of products doesn’t work well for banner ads.

Facebook/Instagram Ads

facebook ads for inbound marketing

Facebook ads can work quite well if you do them right. Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can post ads to both platforms at once.

With Facebook ads, you want to provide value up front to build awareness for your brand and get people to engage with you.

This is why a lot of companies offer something free in exchange for an email address. This gets casual browsers into their funnel so these companies can further educate and persuade them.

Video works well on both platforms as well because people are used to seeing videos pop up on their feed and it’s an “easy to digest” form of communication.

Here are some excellent guides on Facebook Ads:

These platforms have another great feature you can use to directly sell to customers – remarketing ads.

Remarketing ads show advertisements to people who’ve interacted with your brand already.

You can create remarketing ads for people who have:

  • visited your website
  • watched one of your videos
  • liked your page
  • interacted with your posts

You can get advanced with remarketing and create all sorts of ads based on what the user has already done, e.g., creating a specific ad for people who read a single blog post on your site.

Here are some great guides on remarketing advertisements:

Other Advertising Platforms

Google and Facebook are the two major players when it comes to paid advertisements.

You can expand your advertising efforts across these platforms too.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads are best for B2b Sales.

Useful guides:

Youtube Ads

If you’re handy with a camera or have access/budget for studio time, you can create amazing ads for Youtube

Useful guides:

Twitter Ads

Again, you’d want to provide useful and entertaining info on this platform as people on Twitter don’t have buyer intent.

Useful guides:

Organic Social Media

Organic social media means social media promotion without the use of paid advertisements.

There are many different methods you can use for social media marketing.

Before we get into those, here’s our #1 tip – be social on social media. 

Social media isn’t a megaphone for your products or services.

It’s not just about likes, comments, and shares.

It’s about engagement.

The best marketers use social media to actually talk to other human beings with the primary purpose of connecting with them.

We cover social media marketing in a bit more depth here, but you can use social media in lots of cool ways like:

  • Running contests
  • Repurposing blog content – photos, infographics, video
  • Creating groups based on the industry
  • Creating polls and quizzes
  • Hosting live sessions to answer followers questions
  • Promoting blog content and interacting with commenters

This is just a short list of the infinite ways you can use social media.

Remember, the tactics aren’t as important as the goal – engage, engage, engage.

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps move casual browsers through the stages of awareness.

You get someone to sign up to your email list and then create messaging that informs and entertains them. The messaging should become more promotional over time.

The bottom line – you want people to know, like, and trust you to get them to buy from you.

The time cycle for how long this takes depends on the business, industry, and audience, but you have to get the person on the other side of the screen ready to take the next step.

There are different stages to the email marketing process to be aware of.

List-Building

For your e-mail list to be successful, you need to get people on it.

In short, you want to generate traffic to pages on your website with e-mail sign up forms.

You can do this in a number of ways.

Here are some guides that go in-depth about the process:

List-Nurturing and Copywriting

Once someone signs up to your list, you need to create the right messaging to compel them to take the desired action.

This usually starts with creating an engaging “welcome email” and sending messages with smart copywriting that persuades them with each message you send.

Check out these guides on messaging and copywriting:

Making the Offer

Eventually, you’re going to need to make the offer to sell your product or service and get people to buy.

There are many ways to lead to the ultimate sale.

These guides can point you in the right direction:

Tying it All Together

The tools, channels, techniques, tips, and tricks you can use for inbound marketing are endless.

They do, however, all move people through a similar process.

These are called the stages of awareness

inbound marketing funnel

Each stage has different goals and you need to know which of your resources works best for each stage.

We broke down the actual tools and techniques you need to use in each of these stages because we felt too much of the opposite occurs — people tell you the stages, but not the tools.

With this overview understanding and the insights and resources we provided, you should have everything you need to start putting together your inbound marketing campaign.

What questions do you have about inbound marketing? Let us know in the comments.

SEO VS SEM – What’s the Difference?

SEO companies throw a lot of terms at you.

SEO, SEM, PPC, Adwords, Display Network, CPC, CTR.

My goodness, that can be a lot to take in.

MLT Group is different. We write content for business owners and employees at companies who need marketing help.

We don’t want to bog you down in jargon. Instead, we want to show you which strategies can make the most sense for your business.

In today’s post, we’re going to break down some of these terms – mainly SEO vs SEM – so you have the type of understand you need to make a smart decision.

SEO VS SEM – What’s the Difference?

SEO and SEM and marketing channels.

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your business appear on organic search results. Organic search results are results that you don’t pay for (directly at least).

We’ll describe the techniques in a bit more depth soon, but SEO is the process of making changes to your website that make it more appealing to search engines. Also, it involves techniques used outside of your website to achieve the same goal.

Search engine marketing (SEM) includes SEO, but it encompasses other forms of marketing, most of which involve paying directly for website traffic.

There are many guides on SEM Vs SEO on the internet. Why did we decide to write one? We checked the results for the topic and noticed one key element missing.

Most companies don’t talk about the psychology of using these channels.

We understand business owners are human beings who want to see results. Not only should you know the difference between SEO and SEM, but you should also understand the type of mindset you’re going to need to have when using each channel. One favors patience. The other favors instant (but also more costly) rewards. Both work, but each has a different level of value depending on the industry and business owner.

Let’s dive into each type. By the 犀利士
end, you’ll know which route is best for you.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO helps your site rank well on organic search results, like these:

SEO Vs SEM Serp

How can you create a website Google loves?

You use the following techniques.

On Site SEO

On site SEO involves doing things on your website to help the search engine understand what it is about.

The first step involves researching the type of words people type into Google when looking for your product or service. This process can get complicated, but in short, it’s a combination of brainstorming and using tools that tell you how many people search for certain phrases each month,

Once you understand how people search for your type of business online, you can use that information to optimize your website.

You can optimize your website in the following ways:

  • Content – When you use the words people type into Google for your product or service — keywords — it lets the search engine know your page is about that topic.
  • Tags – There are sections in your website’s code where you can add these keywords to help the search engines get an even better understanding of your page
  • Links – Linking to a relevant source on another page of your website or another website is valuable because search engines use links as a vote of confidence to what you reference

These are just the basics, but they’re good to know for understanding the on-site process.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO helps your site perform better.

See, the search engines don’t just want to see that your site has great information. They want to know you provide a good user experience.

Why? Because search engines care most about providing great results for real human beings.

If your site loads slowly, has sloppy code, broken links, isn’t secure, and is missing important data, search engines are much less likely to rank your website.

Technical SEO can get very in-depth, but here are the cliff notes:

  • Error pages – Error pages can pop up when you delete pages without redirecting them — telling the code that people who visit the deleted page should be forwarded to a new one. This happens often and can harm your SEO
  • Broken links – Broken links – links on your site that point to broken pages – can occur for the same reasons
  • Redirect chains – We won’t get in-depth on this topic, but you want to make sure to properly forward links of broken pages to other relevant ones
  • Load speed – You don’t want a slow website, period. It harms your chances of ranking well. If your site loads slowly, work with a webmaster to fix those issues

Again, there are many more technical SEO issues we can cover, but these are the core ones to know. Once your site is optimized and performing well, you can use off-site techniques to improve your chances of ranking even more.

Off Site SEO

You need to use off site SEO techniques to increase your site’s authority.

What does authority mean?

Search engines use links to your business’s website as a ‘vote’ for it’s quality. This makes sense. If many other websites link to yours you must have useful information on it.

They also use mentions of your business that aren’t linked. These are called citations.

Combined, getting both will help your website become more authoritative. The more authoritative your website and its individual pages, the higher — on average — you will rank on search engines.

Link-Building

You could write an entire book on link-building. There are an endless amount of tactics you can use to get links to your website. For your purposes, here’s what it’s important to know.

You want to get the right links. What are the right links? The right links are links from other authoritative websites that are related to your business. 

Example, getting a link from a less authoritative but related website can and often will count more than getting a link from a more authoritative yet less related one.

We help our clients get back links by reaching out to related websites and telling them why our client’s website content makes sense to link to. That’s a simple way to explain a sometimes complex process we use.

Citations

A citation is anytime someone mentions your business online.

Someone posts a Facebook status about your company? It’s a citation.

You fill our your Yelp profile. It’s a citation

You become a member of your local chamber of commerce. You get it.

We help our clients build citations by finding relevant directories in their niche and submitting their sites for consideration.

The last two words are important.

When it comes to link building and citations, we reach out to other websites to consider linking to or citing your site. Getting the links or citations isn’t guaranteed. This is important because it’s the only way search engines can serve up good and honest results. If everyone was guaranteed these links and citations they would have no value.

This is the very small gist of the SEO process. For deeper insights you can check out these articles:

 

The ins and outs of SEO aren’t as important as the mindset you need to have a successful campaign.

SEO is a Long-Term Strategy

If someone promises you page one rankings in a short amount of time, run for the hills. 

SEO takes time.

You can start to see good results in 4 to 6 months, but you have to be able to handle the wait.

Google is slow.

If you’re not the type of person who can delay their gratification, SEO might not be the right strategy for you.

If, however, you’re a forward thinking business owner who understands quality results take time, SEO could be a good fit for you.

Organic Search Accounts for Most of the Traffic

There’s a reason why it pays to be patient and rank your website using SEO.

Organic search results – ones you don’t pay directly for – get the majority of clicks through to websites.

Here’s some data to check out:

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SEO Has a High Long-Term ROI

Once you start to rank your website for a number of different key phrases, you’ll notice your traffic can increase in leaps and bounds.

As time goes on and your site increases its authority, it reaps even more rewards.

The “rich get richer” phenomenon is present in SEO.

Imagine you get your website page to rank #1 for one keyword.

It can start to rank for a bunch of other keywords too.

This means you can have traffic coming to your site for a variety of different phrases based off one one page. That’s the power of a successful SEO campaign run over the long term.

Now that you have an understanding of SEO, let’s talk about SEM.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing includes SEO, but uses other techniques, mainly paid advertising.

Google and other search engines have platforms you can use to pay directly for advertising in a few different ways.

Here’s a breakdown of each relevant platform.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is a platform you can use to pay for listings on search engines.

Here are some paid listings for reference:

We go into a bit more depth about PPC advertising in this guide.

Here’s the short version:

  • You use similar research to find key phrases you think your target audience uses to search for your product or service
  • You create pay per click campaigns where you set budgets for how much you’re willing to spend if someone clicks one of your ads
  • The search engine grants placements for website pages based on two factors — how much they spend and the quality of the ads and website pages themselves 

Either by yourself or working with a smart digital marketing agency, you can monitor the campaign and pretty much discover the direct ROI of your results:

  • You spend a certain amount on clicks
  • A certain number of those clicks become real leads
  • You close a certain number of those leads
  • If the profit you make from those leads is more than you spend, you’re happy

On top of Adwords, there are some other search engine marketing platforms you can use to spread your reach.

Google Display Network

The big difference between normal pay per click ads and display network ads is that display network ads appear not on search engine results pages, but other websites.

You might know them as “banner ads.”

Websites can participate in displaying these ads on their site through Google Adsense.

Other site owners participate in increasing the ads themselves through the display network.

Display network ads tend to have pretty low click-throughs (do you click on them?) but they can be useful if you’re creative with them and use them to share valuable information as opposed to trying to sell with them.

Here’s a great guide on doing just that.

Now, why would you want to create ads on the display network for any other reason but to sell your product or service?

You can use them to build awareness about your business so people will know, like, and trust it. This can lead to them becoming customers down the road.

This is important to remember – marketing isn’t just about selling right away.

Think of display network ads like digital billboards.

We could go in-depth about all the various forms of SEM but we aren’t going to.

The purpose here is to help you understand why and how these marketing channels work so you can choose one or both.

SEM Provides Instant Results

With SEM, you can “pay to play.”

If you want to get results now and you don’t like waiting, SEM might be your best bet.

Keep in mind, however, these instant results come with a cost.

The more competitive your industry, the more you will have to spend.

SEM Provides Great ROI Metrics

The best part of SEM is the fact that you can pretty much verify the ROI you are receiving from the money you spend. For pragmatic business owners, this could be the right route.

There’s a saying that goes, “you can’t go broke making a profit.”

If your ads are profitable and have a great margin, you can spend more money without much worry because you can rely on your money making money for you. 

Of course, this is no easy task or exact science either. SEM is anything but a “set it and forget it” strategy, which is why working with an expert often makes sense.

Conclusion

Both channels work. Both channels make sense.

It’s up to you to decide which one is best for you.

Our recommendation? Use SEM to kick off your campaign and SEO over the long haul to get consistent results.

An even better recommendation? Talk to us and figure out the best strategy. Fill out the form below

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How to Get SEO Results Fast

If you’re a business owner, you want fast SEO results. Who wouldn’t?

Better SEO results lead to more traffic, leads, and sales.

Time is an important asset in business and you want to make sure you’re spending it well. How can you create an SEO campaign that gets you the results you need? What should you look for if you want to work with an agency to get the job done?

In today’s posts, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting the fastest SEO results possible for your business.

The #1 Method for Getting Fast SEO Results Isn’t What You Might Think

If you’re familiar with SEO, you’ve probably heard the following advice:

All of these techniques contribute to a successful SEO campaign, but they’ll work much faster if you take these steps first.

Google wants to display the best search results possible.

While based on an algorithm, the search engine first and foremost caters to people.

Many of the new updates to Google’s algorithm have everything to do with the way people interact with your website. Before you work on any fancy SEO techniques, cover the bases regarding your websites performance and impression on visitors first.

Optimize For Load Speed

Have you ever visited a slow website before?

How did it make you feel?

Did it make you feel like you wanted to engage with the company or do business?

No. It made you feel frustrated and annoyed. You likely left.

Google treats load speed as a factor for ranking websites because of the way it affects visitors. If your site isn’t up to par, you won’t get the fast SEO results you’re looking for.

Google provides a tool you can use to test the speed of your website and provides insights on how to improve it. Other tools like Pingdom do an excellent job as well.

load-speed-seo-results

Factors that affect load speed are:

  • Image size and compression
  • Website coding techniques
  • Whether or not you are using a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Your website’s host server

This is a short list of items. You can work with an agency or developer to remedy speed issues which will help your website climb up the rankings.

Mobile Optimize Your Website

If your website isn’t built to display well on mobile phones, you are going to suffer on search engines.

The company itself has basically said so:

mobile-optimize-seo-results

Since Google now bases its rankings on the mobile version of your site (or lack thereof) having a mobile-optimized site isn’t a choice anymore.

Your site needs to be mobile-optimized yesterday. Even better, you should build your site to be responsive. This means the design of your site will adjust to look great on any sized screen.

Curious about making the needed coding changes to make Google love your website? Enter your details below:




 

Focus on User Experience

There are basic SEO techniques, tips, and tricks. But the best strategy you can use involves focusing on your visitors.

If you simply focused on creating a website with content that served the needs of your target audience, you’d get those fast SEO results you’re looking for.

Here’s an example:

Content length is a key factor in search engine rankings. The longer your content the better according to many experts:

content-length-seo-results

But what if you’re a local pizza shop? Do you need to write a 3,000-word guide on different types of toppings? No.

The best SEOs know that matching the search intent of site visitors matters most.

If your service or product needs explanation, then long-form content will work for you.

If you sell a product that’s visual, providing more images (as well as optimizing your images) would make sense.

This is where working with an agency can come in handy. At MLT Group, we sit down with each individual business owner.

Instead of talking about the tactics that get the fastest SEO results, we talk about their target audience and the goals and vision for their business first. This dictates the strategy.

SEO isn’t just about creating content with keywords. It’s a philosophy that affects every single aspect of your website.

Do a Deep Technical Analysis of Your Website

SEM rush released a guide with 40 technical SEO issues to take note of.

You should always begin your campaign by making your website as healthy as possible by fixing things like:

  • Broken links
  • 301 redirects
  • 404 errors
  • Duplicate content
  • Missing tags

Don’t get bogged down with the lingo. You can use tools like Ahrefs site auditor to discover issues and get solutions. You can then work with your webmaster to fix these issues.

If you don’t have one, you can work with an agency to help fix these problems on a recurring basis.

Once you’ve covered the basics of Technical SEO, UX, and other performance issues, you can work on the nuts and bolts of your SEO campaign to start seeing the results you’re looking for.

The SEO Process Explained

You know that  SEO is the process of getting your website to rank on search engines, but what does that process actually look like?

Here are the steps required for creating a campaign.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of finding out what words people type into Google to look for your product or service.

When you know the right keywords to use, you can use them in your content to let the search engines know what your website and business are about.

When we work with clients, we start the process by talking to them about their target audience. We don’t dive right into the tools.

Understanding your audience and market is crucial to doing the right research.

After discussing the details of your target audience’s goals, dreams, hopes, fears, desires, and everything in between, you can go to the tools and fight the words that match those emotions.

Good keyword research combines the following techniques:

  • Good old fashioned brainstorming
  • Competitor research – Neil Patel has a great guide on this topic
  • Use of tools like the Google Keyword Planner

Once you have a great list of words to use in your site content, you can optimize your site for SEO

Optimize Your Website

There are many factors that go into optimizing your website for SEO.Keeping things simple, some important techniques are:

  • Using keywords in page title, headings, photo alt tags, and content of each page of your rite
  • Using SEO friendly coding to create a great navigation and site structure
  • Linking between related pages
  • Having a sufficient amount of content on each page of your site
  • Adding multi-media to different pages of your site

Once your site is optimized, you can use content marketing and link-building to increase the speed of your SEO results. Perhaps you can even sprinkle in a bit of PPC to spice things up.

Use Content Marketing to Increase Search Engine Rankings

Content marketing and SEO work together. SEO involves using the right researched keywords in your content and content marketing is the process of creating content that meets your users needs.

The better your website uses content marketing the faster SEO results you will achieve.

Here are some in-depth guides on the topic:

The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

When done right, content marketing can dramatically increase the speed of your SEO results.

Of course, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of creating an entire content marketing campaign on your own, you can put your website’s traffic generation in the hands of capable experts.

Who would we suggest you work with?

Hm…we wonder 😉

Conclusion

Anyone who promises instantaneous SEO results isn’t telling you the truth.

Even the best SEO campaigns take time to kick in.

You can start to see results as soon as a few weeks to months, however, and using the right strategies or working with the right team can help you get the results you’re looking for.

If you’re curious about how an agency can help, let’s talk. Just fill out the form below and we will send you a free marketing proposal.




Social Media Marketing for Small Business: 9 Social Media Marketing Tips All Business Owners Should Know

If you’re a business owner in the year 2019, someone has told you the importance of social media marketing.

You know it’s important, but you need to know if it’s important enough for your business to spend time, money, and effort on. After all, it doesn’t have clear ROI metrics like paid marketing. 

The short answer? Yes, social media marketing is important and you should focus on it.

But telling you it’s important isn’t enough.

You need insights, advice, and strategy.

In today’s guide, we’ll cover 9 social media marketing tips to help you grow your business and we’ll talk about the time, money, and effort you should put into them.

Run a Contest or Giveaway

A contest or a giveaway is a great way to catch peoples attention on social media.

You can also use them to generate leads for your business.

In the short term, giving away your product or services for free will cost time and money, but you can reap rewards in the future if you do it right.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Choose the product or service you want to give away
  • Create a Facebook ad campaign targeting people in your audience
  • Allow people to enter the contest by giving you their email address
  • Run the campaign for a set period of time (1-2 weeks)
  • Announce the winner through your email list first with the subject line “Contest winner announced”
  • Announce the winner through social media
  • Create a special offer/deal/discount and promote it to all the people who didn’t win

This simple social media marketing tip works well for businesses in all different niches.

Harness the Power of Video

Video is a great medium to use because people can watch them passively.

You don’t have to focus to watch a video like you do when you read.

You can use video to build your brand by sharing informative, entertaining, and useful information your target audience wants to watch.

Or you can use video as a creative twist for advertisements.

We’ve discussed how businesses have used video to spark viral campaigns that helped them grow their business.

While you may not go viral with your videos, they will be a sharable asset you can use to spread awareness about your brand and business.

Be creative.

If you’re a carpet cleaning company, show a before and after video of your cleaning.

Real estate agent? Provide cool virtual tours of your awesome homes and share them online.

Even if you’re in an industry that’s you considered unexciting, you can create videos that educate your target audience.

Not sure what videos to create? That’s where working with an expert comes in.

 

Give Your Brand a Personality

All too often, businesses try to use social media as a loudspeaker to blast ads out to the masses. Or, they use it to build awareness about their brand, but they do it in a stiff and corporate way.

It’s okay to use humor, inject personality, and have a little fun when it comes to marketing your business on social media.

Go back to our example above with Dollar Shave Club. They use humor to sell their product. They are even a little brash and inappropriate.

Contrast this with most other businesses who are afraid to go outside the box from time to time.

It’s refreshing to see a company who doesn’t take themselves seriously 100 percent of the time.

Participate on Your Platforms

If someone writes a review for your business on Yelp or Facebook, you should reply.

If someone leaves a comment on one of your posts, you should reply.

Any time someone engages with your brand on social media in any way, you should engage back.

Scour the landscape of business social media profiles and you will mostly see infrequent posting and little to no interaction with potential customers on their platforms.

These are people who took time out of their day to try and connect with you. Imagine you are a potential customer who leaves a comment on the businesses’s facebook page.

You get a reply back almost right away.

You feel like the business actually cares about your opinion, wants, and needs.

Aren’t you more likely to buy from that brand?

Of course.

Most of the social media game is a matter of activity, but there’s another even more important factor.

Be Consistent and Master Your Platforms

It’s better to do really well on one platform than it is to be inconsistent on multiple platforms.

Find one platform, use it frequently, master it, then move on to another one if that makes sense.

Different platforms work better for different industries. Choose the one that suits you best.

If you are a business with a visual product like custom homes or makeup, Instagram may be your best bet.

Youtube also would work well for the aforementioned businesses.

Keep it simple and start with social media’s gold standard platform – Facebook.

Whichever platform you choose, you can win the social media marketing game by simply being more consistent than the competition in your niche.

Schedule Your Posts Ahead of Time

This speaks to the point above about being consistent.

Instead of constantly spending time posting on social media each day, you can carve out time to work on a week to a month’s worth of posts and monitor the replies as they come.

If you don’t have time to do it yourself, you can work with a social media manager or digital marketing company to do it for you.

Having a well oiled social media marketing machine working for you helps you spend more time working on your business instead of working in it.

Take Advantage of Social Media Advertisement Platforms

Social media marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk says now is the best time to invest in paid social media marketing on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Members of MLT Group attended an event he spoke at his he reiterated this statement.

In the talk, he likened the current advertising platforms to the early days of Google Adwords.

If you use the right strategy, the clicks on your ads can range from affordable to even cheap.

The caveat is that you need to use the right strategy.

Here are some great beginners guides on starting your on paid social media marketing campaign:

Running a great campaign takes patience and effort.

Which is another great reason why working with a smart company can help.

Use Remarketing to Connect With ‘Warm’ Prospects

It’s easier to sell and persuade someone who’s already familiar with your brand.

Remarketing is a great way to market to ‘warm’ prospects who are more likely to buy your product or service.

After you’ve spent time building awareness about your brand through social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, etc, you can use remarketing ads to share an offer with people who’ve already visited your website or interacted with your brand in some way.

If you have a product for sale, you can create a special discount offer.

If you have a service, you can offer a free trial or consult as a way to build trust and show them how your services can benefit.

You can also send an offer without a discount or free trial of any kind.

Play the Long Game on Social Media

When it comes to social media marketing tips, the best tip is to use the platforms consistently for a long period of time

This isn’t the sexy answer, but most of the effective strategies in business and life are simple.

Digital marketing isn’t going anywhere.

Neither is social media.

If you can think in terms of years and decades instead of weeks and months, you will succeed.

If not, you won’t.

 

How Much Are You Charged for a Click on Your Adwords Ad?

How much are you charged for a click on your AdWords ad?

It seems like a simple question, right?

You have probably heard of the phrase “pay-per-click” (PPC advertising) and it makes sense for the most part, especially as a compliment to SEO services.

Your advertisement shows up on Google and you pay each time someone clicks on it.

Google Adwords

But how does Google determine how much you spend each time someone clicks on your ad?

In today’s post, we’ll provide a simple explanation for how Google AdWords works.

By the end of this post, you’ll know how you’ll be charged for ads, the different factors that affect your budget, and insights you’ll need to create your own successful Google AdWords campaign.

Factors That Affect How Much You’re Charged for a Click on Your AdWords Ad

Before we dive into specifics on using the Google AdWords platform, let’s talk about some of the different factors Google uses – either directly or indirectly – to determine how much you’re charged when someone clicks on your ad.

In essence, Google AdWords is a “pay to play” platform. If you outspend your competition, your results will appear first. In some cases, it makes sense to spend premium amounts for a click:

  • If your product has a high price or has a high customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • You are confident you can convert visitors to leads and sales when the land on your website
  • You know you can make a return on investment (ROI) on the amount you spend

In other cases, you’ll have to balance different factors to determine how much you are willing to spend on an ad.

Here are some important factors to note.

Competition

You’ll likely spend less per click to advertise handmade socks than you would if you created parts for airplanes and rockets.

The more competitive the service or product you want your website to appear for, the more it will cost.

What factors determine competition? Here are a few:

  • Commercial intent – Products or services people are searching for because they are ready to buy have “commercial intent.” These keywords (the phrase typed on Google related to the product or service) receive lots of attention from advertisers. Example:  Red Men’s Nike Shoes Size 12
  • The number of advertisers – This relates to the first point, but the more advertisers who want to promote a similar product or service, the higher the cost per click (CPC) because the advertisers will try to outbid each other and drive up the price
  • The bids themselves – Google uses an auction system to display ads. The behavior of the group of advertisers who bid on keywords changes depending on the word, the industry, and other factors like personality

Average Cost Per Click Adwords by Industry

Wordstream created an excellent graphic that shows the average cost per click for ads in different types of industries:

adwords-industry-benchmarks-average-cpc

You can infer why some industries have a different average cost per click than others.

Lawyers and consumer services are at the top. Both make sense in their own way. Lawyers can spend more because the price of their service is high. While the consumer services industry has lower priced products and services, the commercial intent is higher.

Before you create an AdWords campaign, do your research on industry benchmarks.

Better yet, you can work with us to create aPPC strategyy from scratch:




 

Your Strategy

To further answer the question, “how much are you charged for a click on your google ads ad?” it’s important to talk about strategy. Your PPC strategy is one of the major factors for how much you’ll spend per click.

In Google AdWords, you can both set track different metrics like:

  • Max CPC – You can set a cost-per-click amount you aren’t willing to exceed
  • Total Budget – You can set an amount for the total amount you want to spend per day, per month, or for a longer period of time
  • Impressions – This is the number of people who see your ad
  • Click Through Rate -This is the percentage of people who see your ad and then also visit your site

When you put together an AdWords campaign, you have to keep the metrics in mind while creating your strategy and altering it.

We will walk through the details in a bit, but here are some potential scenarios to consider:

  • If your impressions and click through rate are low, you aren’t spending enough relative to your competitors
  • If your impressions are high but your click-through rate is low, your ad might not be persuasive enough
  • An ad with a high click-through rate, but a modest CPC and number of impressions could mean you can spend more because you have a winning ad that will convert when you increase your bid
  • If your ad has a high click-through rate, but people don’t engage with your website once they visit it, you may need some design or content upgrades to make your service or product more attractive

When it comes to answering the question  – How much are you charged for a click on your AdWords Ad? There are a lot of factors to consider.

Your best bet, learn the basics and start a PPC campaign. Experience teaches you more than any blog post will.

Let’s talk about the basics. Then, let’s talk options. We can help you set up a custom PPC plan based on your businesses needs that will help you attract people who want your product or service.

The Basics Behind Creating a Successful Google AdWords Campaign

Keyword Research

When you create ads for Google, you need to research keywords.

What are keywords? Keywords are words or phrases people type into Google when they’re searching for stuff.

Google keeps track of important data about keywords:

  • Monthly Volume – This number tells you how many people search for a keyword every month
  • Competition – Google bases this number off of how aggressive the bidders are
  • Average CPC – This number shows the average amount of money you would need to spend to get a click

Google provides a tool called the Google Keyword Planner where you can see this data and make decisions about which keywords to use for your campaign:

Google Keyword Planner

You can use this tool along with good old-fashioned brainstorming to come up with potential keywords to use in your campaigns.

Creating Your PPC Ads

After doing your research, you’ll have a group of keywords you want to target during your campaign.

If your business has multiple services or products, you will want to separate the keywords you targeted into groups based on the different types of products or services you have.

These are called ad groups:

Google Ad Groups

 

 

Each ad group will have its own individual set of keywords:

google PPC ad keywords

When you visit the campaign settings, you can set a daily budget and a bidding strategy:

The dashboard provides useful tips to help with your campaign. You can choose between manual options where you can set your own bid prices. You can also use Google’s ‘smart bidding options’ which allow you to choose your budget and leave it to Google to make the best use of your money.

For each Ad group, you can create different advertisements to display on the search engine. Make sure to use appealing media in your ads like pictures and logos. If you need a new logo, you can hire a logo maker at an affordable price.

Google uses a quality score measure to determine how likely your ads are to get click-throughs. It also uses your quality score to determine your placement. An ad with a high-quality score and a lower bid could show up higher than an Ad with a low-quality score, but a higher bid.

Neil Patel has a great guide on ways to improve your quality score if you’re looking for an in-depth analysis

If you decide to work with a smart digital marketing agency like MLT Group, we will walk you through the process from start to finish using cutting-edge research and optimization techniques.

Conclusion

The concept of PPC advertising is simple. If you make more money than it costs to advertise, advertising makes sense.

As a business owner, you just want to get great results. Instead of learning all the industry jargon and creating a campaign for yourself, why not work with an agency who will partner with you.

Here’s your next step. Fill out this form below, we’ll give you a free audit of your website and marketing, then we’ll reach out to talk about a great campaign that works for your business. 




 

Web Design Best Practices for 2019 and Beyond

“Web design best practices” isn’t just a buzz phrase.

In any profession or skill, understanding the best core methods can help you create the best results.

When it comes to creating custom websites, the final product is always different, but each site should have some traits in common.

These traits are important for user experience. They’re important for getting your website to appear on search engines. They’re even important for paid ads.

Together, they’re important for the growth and health of your business as a whole.

Some of these web design best practices are technical. Some are guiding philosophies to keep in mind. All of them will help your business have a website both you and your visitors love.

The #1 Web Design Best Practice

Each time we meet with a new client, we always ask this question:

“What purpose do you want your website to serve?”

Or this variation:

“Why do you need a new website?”

Sucess in business or life, in general, comes from understanding why you’re doing something in the first place. When you don’t answer the question beforehand, you don’t get the best results.

You’ve been to a website like this before. When you visit the site, it doesn’t make an impression on you. You’re not sure what to do next. The company’s mission isn’t clear.

It’s just a website. 

If you have a website already, think about the impression it has on your current visitors. Is your purpose clear? 樂威壯
Do you have a unique selling proposition to share? Do they know what steps you want them to take?

When you work with a full-service marketing agency like MLT Group, we can help you answer those questions.

The answers can be simple things like:

  • Finding qualified employees
  • Getting more traffic and leads
  • Informing the customer about your product that requires research before purchasing
  • Demonstrating your expertise in the industry
  • Building your brand

The process doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to occur.

While you’re thinking about the ‘why’ behind a website for your business, let’s dive into some specific best practices.

Responsive Design

Per Statistica, 52.4 percent of all search traffic comes from mobile phones.

Google announced that it will shift to “mobile first-indexing.” This means that Google will first look at the mobile version of your website when it decides how high it wants to rank your website.

If your mobile website has a bad user experience, or, even worse, you don’t have a mobile website, you will lose out on website traffic, leads, and ultimately sales.

Also, not having a mobile-friendly website is just bad for business in 2019.

Without knowing you, I know you have a smartphone. Knowing how much you interact with the web through your phone should tell you everything you need to know.

This is where responsive design comes in. Responsive design goes a step above and beyond creating a mobile-friendly website.

With responsive design, we build websites that accommodate any screen size from phone to tablet to desktop.

Here’s the short version of how we do it:

  • Create unique designs for different screen sizes
  • Build different versions of the web site depending on size
  • Test all versions until the site displays seamlessly on any screen

Reponsive design is even better than building a mobile-friendly website because it’s more cohesive and uniform.

If your current website isn’t at least mobile friendly, we need to talk:




 

Create An Awesome User Experience

On each page of your website, you must consider the action you want your user to take and then create a design to accomplish that goal.

This is known as user experience design. 

UX design, per the Interactive Design Foundation:  “is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.”

You can dive deep into the topic of UX and discuss different aspects, but the key is to figure out how to create a great user experience on every page of the website.

The elements on each page can vary, but include things like:

  • Header space
  • Content
  • Images
  • Buttons
  • Animation
  • Color
  • Taglines

When we work with clients, we discuss these elements in-depth, but they’re all results of the user experience you want to provide.

If you do the process backward and piece elements together without understanding what you want to achieve, you often achieve nothing.

The Homepage

Your homepage is the most critical page of your website because it’s the first thing people see.

Internet visitors are picky and will leave your site quickly if your design doesn’t entice them to view more. This is bad for multiple reasons. One, you don’t want visitors to leave your site right away because, duh. Second, if people visit your site and leave right away, it can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Each time a visitor comes to your site and leaves right away, you get a “bounce” which is something Google doesn’t like to see.

So how do you come up with an attractive design that makes people want to click through?

Here are some of our homepage design best practices.

Put Your Best Stuff Above the Fold

When someone comes to your homepage, they won’t necessarily see or scroll through all of it. Depending on their desktop screen size, they’ll see what’s “above the fold.”

Here’s an example:

website homepage example

For your website design, make sure you utilize the important areas of your homepage that appears above the fold.

Header and Banner Space

Your header and banner space is usually a wide horizontal space that goes across your entire screen. There are many different ways to design this space and add content, but you want to make sure to add your most important information in this area.

These elements can include:

  • Deals and discounts
  • Unique selling propositions
  • Call to actions
  • Tag-lines
  • Images
  • Video

Here’s an example of an e-commerce store that features a discount deal in their banner space:

homepage banner space

Here’s another example of a company who shows their unique selling proposition with a call to action (CTA) to go to an important page on their website.

unique selling proposition

Some industries, like real estate and custom home building, utilize images to show off the quality of their work.

real estate homepage banner

When you work with a design and digital marketing agency, you’ll go through a question and answer process to figure out the most important aspects of your business. Then, those aspects will be incorporated into the design and adworcontent.

Graphics and Buttons

Visual cues help people understand what to do next.

 

Graphics and buttons take the guesswork out of decision-making for your visitors and make your website look more professional and fun.

“Break out boxes” are a classic example of great use of graphics. Break out boxes are graphics that feature and link to important pages on your website.

Here’s a good example of them:

break out boxes

Always think of ways the content on your site could be represented with graphics and images instead of text alone.

Interior Page Designs

Your interior pages are all the other pages on your site besides the homepage.

The most common interior pages with unique designs are:

  • services pages
  • product pages
  • product category pages
  • content pages
  • unique individual pages

With each page, you should set an intention for the desired result you want to achieve.

There’s a theme here – always put your visitor in mind before you design a website page.

We work with our clients to create a strategy for each page on the website. We start with questions like:

  • What do you want visitors to do while on this page?
  • How do you want visitors to feel while on this page?
  • What impression do you want to provide when visitors land on this page?

Let’s take a look at some of our clients’ websites and break down the strategy behind their page designs.

Services Page Design

Elcor Construction provides paving and excavating services.

On their services page, they wanted visitors to see their work in action. On the page, we used break-out boxes to highlight their primary services and make them easy to find:

services page design

The design on this page helps reflect professionalism, the quality of their work, and the idea they want the visitors to get the information they need quickly.

Product Page Design

Northland Fastening Systems provides stud welding equipment.

Each of their products — studs — has a wide variety of variables for each part. On the product page, we added a menu for the visitor to select the material, thread size, and length of their stud. Then, the product page automatically generates a part number to order the exact product:

e commerce product page design

Visitors can find the exact part they need. Other stud welding providers may ask to look through an entire table of numbers to find their part. This design strategy saves time and gives the user the impression they are working with a large company who can handle all their needs.

The sidebar menu also helps visitors find related products they might also need.

Product Category Page Design

Poppi Italian Leather sells custom handbags imported directly from Italy. Each handbag type is carefully selected and grouped into categories:

e commerce category page

Each product photo uses high resolution, color balanced, and enhanced photos to make sure the custom quality comes across on the page.

Custom Individual Pages

Some pages are one-of-a-kind unique.

That’s exactly the type of design we created for 12 For Health — a health and wellness company.

They have a program called the 12 Habits of Health. For the 12 Habits page, we created a custom rotating gallery to feature snippets describing each habit:

custom page design

The design also includes important statistics that show the importance of adopting healthy habits.

The color palette evokes positive emotions associated with a healthy life. The interactive style speaks to a sense of activity, which is a big part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you use a specific focus and intent on each page you create for your website, you’ll guide the user experience to help the visitor find what they need and achieve your desired outcome at the same time.

Aside from specifics for the homepage and interior pages of your website, there are some general web design best practices you should always follow.

Consider SEO and Content Marketing As a Web Design Best Practice

The way you design your website has an impact on how well it will rank in search engines for a number of reasons. That’s why it’s important to have a digital marketing plan in place to decide how the content will work within the frame of the website. There are also specific design techniques you can use or avoid to help your site’s SEO performance. When you work with a smart digital marketing agency, they’ll take a large number of factors into consideration. Here are some important elements to consider.

Content-Length

Often, the longer the content on your website, the better. The search engines want pages with as much information as possible. This has to be balanced with the design of your website. You don’t want readers to feel overwhelmed by your content. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to weave the content into the design in a way both search engines and users will enjoy.

Use Subheadings

Subheadings (H1-H5) help break up the copy and give your reader a mental break between paragraphs.

Add Images

You can add images between content areas and even wrap them around the text of your website to enhance the way your content looks on the page.

Here’s a great example:

website design images

Create Panels for Different Topics

Let’s say you have a service page that has multiple sub-services underneath it. You can make each section of the service look unique by creating a panel for it.

Here’s an example below:

Take a look at this page. It has 500+ words of content, but it doesn’t feel like 500 words. From the user’s perspective, they’re seeing great information carefully woven into the design:

website design and content

Build Your Website to Convert Visitors into Leads and Customers

Getting traffic to your website won’t make a difference unless you convert that traffic into a lead or a sale.

Your website design should have multiple areas with calls to action (CTAs).

CTAs come in many forms.

Contact/Request a Quote Forms

In addition to displaying your phone number on your website, you want users to be able to contact you by email.

You can create forms and place them in high-traffic areas of your website. This will give them the chance to reach out to you if they have questions or want more information.

contact form

Email Newsletter Sign Ups

Email marketing is still one of the top channels for communicating with customers and potential customers.

To get visitors to sign up, however, you have to go above and beyond adding a form to your sidebar that says “Sign up for our newsletter.”

They need a reason to sign up and they don’t want to feel like they’ll be receiving a newsletter — they want value. 

How do you both provide and communicate that value?

Here are some tried and true techniques.

Offer Something Valuable for Free

You can offer visitors a valuable resource and ask them for the email address.

Examples can include:

  • Access to deals and discounts
  • Whitepapers
  • A free email course
  • Videos
  • Quiz with answers

Check out this example of a giveaway in exchange for an email:

email opt in

Notice the following:

  • The headline and description for the give away are focused on the visitor
  • The signup form is prominent – not tucked away in the sidebar
  • Use of compelling copywriting to persuade the visitor

Give Them a Sneak Peek of What’s Inside

Notice the phrasing for this email signup form:

email sign up preview

This copy answers the question “what’s in it for me?” up front

Strategically Place Your Sign Up Form

You want your email sign up form to appear where visitors are most likely to engage with it.

To some, this comes in the form of a pop up:

pop up

Although many people don’t like them, numbers show they work.

If you want to be less aggressive, you can create an “exit intent” pop up that only appears if the user is about to leave the website.

Often, you want to embed your signup form in an area that’s clear, visible, and obvious, like the banner space area of a page.

Phone Number

Many people still want to call your phone number directly.

You can use the header space of your website to display your phone number and add it in other relevant spots like your footer, contact-us page, and even at the end of your blog posts.

Conclusion

This is just a short list of the web design best practices you can use to create a website both users and search engines love.

A clear digital marketing plan from start to finish makes a world of difference when it comes to the success of your website.

Why not work with an expert team to help you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Website Secure? Why Your Website Must Have an SSL Certificate

Do you have an SSL security certificate on your website?

It’s easy to check.

Type in the name of your website and look at the top left-hand corner. If you see the lock icon, you’re secure. If not, we need to talk.

In 2019, website security — aided by an SSL — is no longer optional, especially for SEO purposes.

In fact, not having security measures can cost you business and literally drive away customers.

Lack of security can prevent you from ranking high on search engines.

It can affect the quality of your pay per click campaigns too.

Also, in today’s landscape of wary users who are worried about their privacy, failing to have a secure website causes people to have a negative view of your brand.

In today’s post, we’ll provide a quick and simple explanation on SSL certificates, give you specifics on why you need them, and provide the best options to resolve the issue asap.

So, What the Heck Is An SSL Certificate?

Think of an SSL like a padlock.

Your website is your home. Your visitors are the guests. The SSL locks the door to keep unwanted visitors from entering.

Your home — website — has many transactions, data, and information flowing back and forth.

SSL certificates were originally made for financial transactions, but they can also be used to create secure connections for other activities like exchanges of personal information, form submissions, and more.

We won’t bog you down with the details, but SSLs ‘encrypt’ — or block — important information from people and hackers with bad intentions.

At a minimum, it makes sense to have a secure website regardless of the specific reasons.

That was the thinking a while back — having an SSL is the sensible (but not required) thing to do.

Now it’s required — if you want your website to succeed that is.

Allow me to explain why.

The #1 End All Be All Reason to Have an SSL

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a minute.

Say they visit your website and glance at the top left corner of the window and see this:

not secure website

Or, what if they click the top left corner to investigate further and see this:

website not secure

Your site may or may not be secure.

Your sire may or may not be compromised.

Contrast this impression with another website in your nice that does have a secure website:

secure website

Safety, security, and a padlock icon vs. “the website might be secure, but visit at your own risk.”

Visitors are becoming savvier every day. Some even know what an SSL certificate is and won’t trust a site that doesn’t have one.

You need to have a secure website because the trust between you and your customers or potential customers is vital.

If your website isn’t secure right now, it’s likely you’ve lost at least one potential customer because they visited your site and saw it had security issues.

The sad part? Oftentimes the websites without certificates aren’t harmful or malicious in any way. They simply don’t have the right security measures installed. Either way, in the eyes of web browsers your site can be seen in the same category as a potentially malicious site.

You could stop here and decide to get an SSL installed for that reason alone.

Still, there are even more reasons why this security measure is vital.

Google Doesn’t Trust Websites Without SSLs (Anymore)

Google has…  a lot of power. 

You want Google to like your website for obvious reasons.

Did you know that not having a secure website can affect how well your website ranks on search engines?

How do we know this?

First, let’s start with a message from Google itself. Google is pretty cryptic when it comes to their methods. When they do make an announcement, it’s critical to listen to it.

Here’s their message regarding site security on Google Chrome:

google message

They also shared an announcement back in 2014 stating the inclusion of SSL certificates is now part of their algorithm. Sites with HTTPS are secured with SSLs:

https as a ranking factor

It’s been four years since this announcement. Think of how much more prevalent ideas like privacy and security have become. We’d wager it’s bigger than the “1 percent” of their algorithm they mentioned in the statement above.

Additional Ways Lack of Security Harms Your SEO

Google and other search engines measure a very large number of factors when it decides which websites to rank above others.

Many of these factors involve the way visitors behave on your website.

Not having a secure website can affect some of these important metrics.

Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate measures the number of times someone visits your website and leaves right away.

This makes sense. If a lot of people come to your site and leave immediately, you might not have the right information or your site provides a bad user experience.

Imagine someone visits your site and sees a message saying “this site might not be secure.”

Not good.

Having a secure website can help decrease your bounce rate because visitors will trust it more.

Time on Site

Search engines figure the longer people spend on your website, the better and more useful the information.

Bounces have the negative effect of counting as a bounce, but also they decrease the average time spent on your website.

Number of Pages Visited

You’re starting to see the trend. Google and other search engines want to see people visiting your site, staying for a little while, and checking out different pages on the website.

Again, the initial bounce lowers other important metrics. When you get a bounce, you get credit for 1 page visited only, which lowers your average.

The Bottom Line: Security matters for a number of reasons. Fortunately, SSL certificates are affordable and can be installed quickly.

Your Best Security Option

Don’t get bogged down by words like “SSL” and “encryption.”

Your simplest and most effective route for securing your website is simple.

Send us an email or give us a call at 507-281-3490.

We can easily update your website with an SSL certificate at an affordable rate.

Just a click of a button or a dial of a number and you can put your security concerns to bed.

 

 

Redesigning Your Website? 5 Creative Web Design Ideas to Inspire You

How long has it been since you redesigned your business’ website? Has your business grown in that time? How has your business changed? Does your current site reflect this? While some studies suggest sites should be redesigned every 2 years, there’s no definitive rule on how often you should update your web design. However, if your site is looking dated, doesn’t reflect your business’ growth, or isn’t running as well as it should, you can be sure it’s time for a redesign.

When updating your web design, it’s hard to know where to start. Sifting through web design trends, best practices, and different utilities is overwhelming, especially to the uninitiated.

We’re here to help with a few creative web design ideas that can help you narrow down what won’t just look great but work best for your business’ site.

1. Keep things Simple

Is your site looking a little cluttered? Even big business sites are struggling with cluttered sites that leave visitors feeling the pains of information overload. When visitors get overwhelmed on your site, they’re more likely to leave, costing you sales.  Instead, consider a more minimalistic design that prioritizes only the most important information and has a simplistic, easy to navigate site map. When visitors land on your site and know exactly what to do and where to find the information most important to them, it leads to a better user experience and more sales for you!

2. Have a Mobile Design

We can’t stress this enough—your site should be designed and optimized for mobile. Usage on mobile devices is only growing and sites that aren’t mobile optimized are being left in the dust. If you’re ready to redesign your website, make sure you also get a mobile design that’s properly optimized. This makes it easy for visitors to use your site on mobile devices and is also a positive SEO and PPC ranking factor.

3. Change Defaults

If you have a template site, change the defaults to mix things up! With just a few clicks, you can totally restyle your website, and give it a fresh new face that is more modern and better reflects your business. Just make sure to develop this new style across the entire site, rather than just a few pages.

4. Research New Utilities

Things have changed since you last designed your site and there’re a rainbow of utilities you can implement on your new site. Everything from video chatting features to customer review utilities are easy to implement on your site. Do some research on the different utilities available and which ones would most benefit your site and your business’ goals.

5. Look Outward for Inspiration

Even professional web designers face creative blocks. Look at Pinterest, articles, and your competitors’ sites to gather inspiration for your new site! What are other sites doing well? What could they do better? This will help you refine your image, so you can implement the ideas yourself or better communicate them to a professional. Remember though, you’re designing the site for your visitors, not for yourself. What you personally like may not always be what’s best to attract your ideal audience.

Web Design Made Easy

When redesigning your site, partner with the professional web designers, builders, and SEO professionals MLT Group. Our team will work with you to understand your business, goals, and needs to design a custom website that not only looks great but is easy for visitors to use. From design to build, we’re your web development partner and make the process as easy as possible.

Ready to redesign your site? Contact our creative team today at 507.281.3490 or sales@mltgroup.com to get started!

Digital Marketing Minneapolis – The Ultimate Guide to Working With a Minneapolis Digital Marketing Agency

When you Google “digital marketing Minneapolis,” you’ll see a wide range of results. How do you know which digital marketing agency is right for you?

You’re here because you’re curious about how digital marketing can help you grow your business.

As a business owner or decision making employee, you know you should be marketing yourself online, but you have questions.

Do you need search engine optimization (SEO)? Do you need to run ads on Google? Should your site be mobile optimized?

Should you be on social media? If so, which channels? Does social media marketing matter in your industry? 

Perhaps the most important question is what will digital marketing actually do for your business?

You want to take your business to the next level, but you want to make sure you’re getting a return on your investment.

Before we dive into specific answers to each question, let’s start with this premise.

Digital Marketing is a Tool to Grow Your Business

At MLT group are digital marketing goals for you are simple.

We use digital marketing to help you find more customers, increase your brand awareness, and engage your visitors.

Instead of starting with digital marketing tactics and going back towards the needs of your business, we start with your business goals in mind and create digital marketing solutions to meet your needs. 

The best digital marketing campaigns are customized because one size fits all solutions don’t work in business on or offline.

In our guide, we’ll discuss some of the individual components of digital marketing and give you the insights you need to make an informed decision for your business.

Why Digital Marketing is a Necessity for Minneapolis Business Owners

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a second.

He or she is looking for a product or service you offer.

What do they do next?

Do they grab the nearest phone book? Look in the newspaper?

No. Either on their desktop or phone, they go to searching for information online.

They go to Google and enter the service or product you offer into the search box. When they see the results, do they find your business? 

This is someone with either the curiosity or intent to buy your product or service.

From a logical standpoint, it seems like a no-brainer to display your business in front of people who are already looking for what you have to offer, right?

If the idea of putting your products and services in front of people who are actively searching for them isn’t enough, consider some startling pieces of data:

These numbers suggest that core digital marketing strategies are needed in 2018. Let’s talk about each of the individual components that can go into your strategy.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 1 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Consider search engine optimization the backbone of any digital marketing campaign.

Google accounts for a large amount of traffic on the web. SEO puts your business front and center for people looking for the services you provide.

If you search for a product or service online, chances are the results you see didn’t make it to the top of the list on accident.

SEO uses a number of different techniques. When you combine them, your website can begin to climb the search engine rankings.

On-Site Seo

On-site SEO is the process of optimizing your website by entering researched keyword data into your sites code, content, and link-structure.

Effective on-site SEO combines dozens of techniques implemented on just a single page of your website such as:

  • Adding keywords to your title tag
  • Creating keyword rich content
  • Adding keywords to photo alt tags
  • Adding keywords to headings
  • Providing relevant links to your pages
  • Creating a great overall user experience

Just take a look at Brian Dean’s infographic, the anatomy of a perfectly optimized page:

digital-marketing-Minneapolis-businesses

Not only do these techniques need to be used on a single page of your website, rather for each page of your website.

This is where working with a smart digital marketing company comes in. At MLT group, we take the guesswork out of your hands and do the heavy lifting to make sure each page of your website makes Google go gaga for your Minneapolis business.

On-site SEO is just the beginning. You must also use different techniques to show the search engines why your site deserves the top spot.

Link-Building

Google uses links to determine how much ‘authority’ your site has.

It considers a link from another site to yours as a vote for the quality of your information. In digital marketing terms, we call links from another site to yours ‘back-links’

To increase the authority of your website, you want to get as many backlinks from quality sources as possible, because they increase two important metrics:

  • Domain Authority – This metric measures the authority of your entire website
  • Page Authority – This metric measures the authority of a single page on your website

Take a look at our DA and PA shown from the Moz Backlink Researching Tool:

犀利士
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” 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To gain our current level of authority, we had to earn links from 107 different sources. 

Link-building is an art form, one that doesn’t come easily to business owners with little digital marketing experience.

We’ve built a network of reputable sources in various industries to help our clients gain the links they need to boost their authority and climb the search engines.

How does it work? Sparing you the nitty-gritty details, we reach out to our network to find reputable places on the web that feature businesses like yours.

If you work with us, you can focus on running your business while we focus on getting the right websites to notice it.

Research, Tracking, and Strategy

Research, tracking, and strategy are important before during and after you launch your SEO campaign.

Pre-launch, you need to make sure you’re using the right phrases in important areas of your website.

For example, you may consider yourself a ‘maid service’ but the phrase ‘house cleaning’ might receive more searches per month.

Once you find the key phrases you want to use, you’d perform on-site optimization and begin your link-building campaign.

You’d want to track the following important metrics to measure growth over time:

  • Positions of target keywords – Even a well-optimized page will take time to reach page 1 on Google, so it’s important to know where the pages on your site stand in the beginning. This helps set expectations and keep you focused on long-term growth.
  • Traffic – You’d expect to see your traffic numbers grow over time. Quarterly measurements provide solid data.
  • Traffic sources – Traffic can come direct, via search engines, from social media, or from people clicking on links to your site from other sites.

MLT Group Provides ‘Done for You’ Tracking and Reporting

We consider an SEO campaign mature after 12 months and measure the progress of important key metrics each quarter.

We provide our clients quarterly ‘scorecards’ giving them an easy to understand snapshot of their site’s SEO progress.

Imagine you’re working with us on an SEO campaign after 12 months.

You check your scorecard to find many of your services ranking on page one.

Your traffic has improved quarter over quarter, meaning more leads and customers to your business.

You notice a service doing well but in need of a little love. What do you do? You simply speak with one of our digital marketing specialists and we alter your strategy, implementing several micro-techniques you’re unaware of but get the results you want.

That’s the power of working with a digital marketing company. 

Keeping up with your digital marketing on your own and running a business is a tall task. Why not work with a professional?

Case in point, Search Engine Optimization is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 2 – Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is different than search engine optimization (SEO).

With SEO, you can perform techniques on your own or work with a Minneapolis digital marketing agency to get traffic through your website from ‘organic’ search rankings.

Organic simply means you didn’t pay for the search results. As we discussed earlier, Google uses a variety of techniques to choose which pages show above others.

Search engine marketing involves the use of paid listings, which can come in many forms.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Take a look at this search engine results page (SERP).

At the top, you’ll see the paid listings (PPC), move further down and you’ll see the organic listings:

Minneapolis pay per click
paid listings
Minneapolis organic search
organic results

You’re probably wondering how pay per click advertising works in comparison to organic search techniques.

Here’s the way to look at both.

Pay per click advertising does work, but it isn’t as effective as ranking your website using SEO.

Why? Because the click-through rates are much lower.

click through rate

Source: Modern Marketing Partners

Think of your own user experience. How often do you click on advertisements?

With PPC advertising, you can spend your way to the top of the results. With organic search, you must earn your spot, which is why they’re more trustworthy and convert much better.

The benefit of PPC advertising over organic SEO is the fact that PPC can provide instant results. 

Since an SEO campaign can take up to 12 months to mature, a PPC campaign can help you get traffic, leads, and sales in the short term. Many companies opt for using PPC while their organic results improve. 

How Pay Per Click Advertising Works

Pay per click advertising involves bidding dollar amounts (per-click) to get your business to show up in paid listings.

You can create a PPC campaign and set metrics like:

  • Daily budget
  • Bid amounts (the highest you’re willing to spend to receive a click for ‘x’ term)
  • Ad groups – these groups contain the keywords you want to target for the campaign

Each campaign will have a set daily budget limit, and you pay each time someone clicks on one of your results that appear for one of the search keywords you targeted.

The highest bidders get the top results. You must decide whether the terms you want to target are worth the cost-per-click (CPC).

This can be based on the price of your product, the number of leads you can convert to sales, and potential conversion rate of the page you send the ads to.

If you do use a PPC campaign, the following techniques will help them perform their best.

Keyword Research

For your campaign to be effective, you must make sure to use the right keywords as part of your PPC campaign.

How do you find the right keywords?

A few techniques are:

  • Competitor research – You can use tools like SEM Rush to see where your top competitors are spending their money on ads
  • Google Keyword Planner – The Google Keyword Planner is a tool provided by Google to give you important data such as average bid amount, traffic volume, and competition (example below)
  • Brainstorming variations – Once you have a sample of keywords you find through the keyword planner, search for variations of those terms to see if they are viable too

google keyword planner

Implementation

You can then use this data to come up with a comprehensive PPC plan.

After setting your target keywords and budget amounts, you can run a test period (one to two weeks) and check the results to answer important questions like:

  • How well are the ads converting to leads/sales?
  • Are you spending too much/too little for your target keywords?
  • How does your click-through rate stack up against your impressions?

These insights provide information you can use to alter your strategy over time.

If this sounds like a tall task, you can rely on a Minneapolis digital marketing agency like MLT Group to handle the process from start to finish.

Enter your information below and we’ll send you a free digital marketing audit




Digital Marketing Strategy #3 – Content Marketing

Content marketing goes hand in hand with SEO 

Many smart SEOs know the benefits of a solid content marketing campaign.

content marketing

The search engines want to provide the best results to users and it analyzes content to help make that decision.

Content marketing comes in many forms, but it’s the process of creating content that gives users what they want, is optimized for search, and persuades your readers to take the desired action.

So what forms of content does content marketing encompass?

  • Page content – From homepages to category pages to service/product pages and more, each page on your site can be used to attract visitors
  • Blog posts – You can use your blog to cover a wide variety of topics related to your industry
  • Social media – We’ll discuss in-depth soon, but social media can be an effective content marketing tool to build your brand and even convert casual visitors into loyal audience members or customers
  • Email marketing – Email is another useful channel to communicate with your audience, share informative content, offer promotions, and more
  • Media – Videos, infographics, photos, and all forms of media count as content marketing even though they aren’t in written form

These are just a few examples of content marketing. It’s an all-encompassing term that covers any aspect of communicating with your audience.

If you decide to work with us, we can explore each option in-depth. For now, let’s talk about how to create a successful content marketing campaign regardless of the medium.

How to Create An Awesome Content Marketing Strategy

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a second.

What impression will they have about your business when visiting your website?

Does your content answer their burning questions and address the problem they need to be solved?

Can they find the information they need quickly?

Will they stick around to check multiple pages of your site because they’re informative and persuasive?

Is your offering clear? Do they know why they should choose your business over the competition?

Do they feel like you understand not only their needs but the means with which they like to interact with your type of company?

Is it easy for them to engage with you?

These are the questions you need to answer before you create any piece of content.

Once those questions are answered, you can create a content marketing campaign that works.

Content Marketing With MLT Group

When you work with MLT Group, we collaborate with you to understand both your business goals and the target audience you serve.

Then, we conduct research to decide the best types of content to create, which channels to use, and a strategy to continue drawing in new visitors while keeping your current audience engaged.

Instead of treating content as an afterthought, we consider it a core piece of your digital marketing strategy.

Without content that reflects your brand, engages visitors, and works toward the desired result, you’ll end up with wasted time, effort, and money.

This is why choosing the right digital marketing agency in Minneapolis is important. You need to know they have the expertise and resources to help you grow your business with content marketing.

Our company puts you in touch with one of our SEO specialists to create the perfect campaign.

Then, we work with our staff of SEO content experts who can write content both humans and search engines love.

We’ll distribute your content across the right channels and track the results to make sure your traffic, brand-equity, and other important business metrics are seeing steady growth.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 4 – Design and Build

When you think of words like digital marketing, SEO, content marketing, etc you don’t necessarily think about the way your website is designed and built.

These two factors are critical to SEO success for many reasons.

User Experience

At the end of the day, Google’s number one priority is giving their users the best experience possible.

Again, putting yourself in your users’ shoes, imagine how they view your website.

Does your design look professional? Does it match the impression of your business you want to portray?

Is the site navigation simple and easy to understand?

Does your site appear and function well on a mobile device? Does it load quickly?

Designing and building a website with responsive coding, SEO-friendly coding, a simple-sitemap, and clear calls to action (CTAs) showing the visitor where to go or what to do next are all hugely important for digital marketing.

Let’s look at some of the important digital marketing and SEO factors related to design and build.

Design and Build Related Digital Marketing Metrics

Search engines keep track of the following factors that are informed by design and build:

  • Mobile friendly – Your site must be mobile friendly or it won’t receive favor on search engines, period, because Google has switched to mobile-first indexing
  • Bounce rate – A bounce occurs when someone visits your website and leaves right away. Slow loading websites, unprofessional looking design, and difficult to understand navigation can cause more bounces, which harms your SEO
  • Dwell time – The longer a visitor spends on your website the better. Professional design with effective calls to action and simple navigation can keep visitors on your site longer
  • Crawlability – Search engine bots ‘crawl’ through your website to find pages to ‘index’ or place on search engine results. Your sitemap, link-patterns, and site errors (or lack thereof) affect crawlability.

As a full-service marketing company, we keep your digital marketing goals in mind from start to finish, including design and build along with content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, and all other forms of digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 5 – The Suite of Additional Strategies and Services

When you work with us, we focus on providing the best solutions for your business.

This is why we’ve created an ‘a la carte’ menu of services where you can see exactly how much each service costs, how it benefits your business, and information on if the service is a good fit.

SEO, content marketing, SEM, and design/build are all core services almost any business should employ.

The following list includes services that can add even more value to your business.

Social Media Marketing

You know your business should be on social media, but which platforms do you use, how do you use them effectively, and how do you know if social media will provide good ROI for your business?

Working with a digital marketing agency will help you answer those questions in-depth.

There are two forms of social media marketing you can use — free and paid.

Paid Social Media Marketingpaid social media marketing

Companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked in have paid advertising platforms you can use to promote your business.

You have many options to target potential customers like demographics, interests, geography, and more.

You can pay for impressions (simply the number of people who see your ad), clicks to your web page, or even more advanced metrics like email sign-ups, video views, page likes, and more.

There is a lot of opportunity to do well with paid advertising on social media right now because it is a newer industry, which means (for now) the costs aren’t as high as PPC ads on Google.

This is a section that deserves an entire guide of its own. The simplest way to understand the breadth of paid social media marketing is to talk to us.

Organic Social Media Marketing

Similar to SEO, you can create content for social media on your own or work with a team of experts at a digital marketing agency to help you.

The key here is to remember that social media isn’t just about likes, comments, and shares.

Just like SEO and other digital marketing techniques, it’s first and foremost a tool to help you grow your business and brand by giving users what they want and love.

There are many aspects that go into a social media campaign, but here are some useful tips:

  • Promote all blog content through social media to give it extra reach
  • Share interesting and informative tips with your audience
  • Use creative forms of media like video and infographics
  • Update your pages regularly
  • Gear your social media content toward a certain result and use strong calls to action

Online Review Campaigns

Did you know that the number of positive reviews your website gets affects your search engine rankings?

Positive online reviews also let potential customers know your brand is trustworthy and provides quality services or products.

We can help you create a review building campaign to reach out to your customers and generate positive buzz around your business.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still one of the best marketing channels because it provides direct access to your customers and potential customers.

You can use email marketing to:

  • Share useful tips and information directly with your audience
  • Offer promotions and discounts
  • Sell directly to your customers (after educating them about your product)
  • Gather reviews
  • Encourage your audience to share your brand with their networks

We can help create custom messaging, design, strategy, and implementation to use email to reach your business goals.

Media Services

From creating corporate videos and commercials to creating logos to making infographics to creating custom graphics to use in your content, we provide a wide array of media services to add flair to your digital marketing campaigns.

Marketing Strategy

Our marketing strategy services help to create a full marketing plan for your business.

We can help you define your target audience better by using in-depth market research techniques and tools like surveys, data-driven research, and interviews.

We can help you craft a unique selling proposition, tag-line, and promotional messages.

We’ll help you cover every aspect of your marketing campaign from budget amounts to recommended channels, target campaign launch dates, the frequency of messaging and promotions, and much more.

Some companies come to us with a good idea of where their marketing needs to be and we provide the right solutions. If, however, you need a ‘ground-up’ solution requiring a digital marketing agency that works just like an in-house marketing professional that handles everything, we’ve got you covered.

Conclusion

Digital marketing is a tall task.

As a business owner, you already have a ton to focus on.

Why not work with a digital marketing agency that helps you save the time, headache, and frustration of having to be a marketing expert for your business.

We have the expertise. You have the drive and ambition that made you a successful business owner.

Let’s work together to build a successful digital marketing campaign. Fill out the form below and let us provide a custom plan to help you grow your business.