Everyone in America is familiar with franchises. They are represented on street corners coast to coast; McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’, Great Clips, and hundreds more. From fast food to haircuts, and commercial cleaning to glass repair, franchises help meet a need for almost everyone at one time or another throughout each year. Their economic impact is fantastic, with those in the United States alone producing an output of nearly 800 billion dollars annually. In fact, franchises made up 10.5 percent of all US businesses in 2020 and employed over 8.5 million Americans.
Among businesses, franchise organizations have a unique component structure; a central licensing organization – the franchiser, often a large company with an entrenched corporate mentality, which supplies, supports, and collects fees from much smaller local businesses – the franchisees. The success of franchises across 295 industries attests to the benefits of this structure. In at least one area of the franchise world, however, there is an intractable struggle between franchiser and franchisee that often leads to marketing issues and lost opportunities.
That’s where we come in. At MLT Group, we have spent the last decade specializing in website design for franchise organizations and have become franchise SEO experts. In the process, we have assisted several national franchise companies to improve their digital marketing and have achieved outstanding ranking results for a plethora of franchisee sites. Now, for the first time, I’m about to tell you what we’ve learned, the not-so-secret problem in franchise SEO and marketing and the Big Fix that’s needed.
Number One: It’s important to recognize that franchise organizations want their franchisees to be successful. This desire is driven by economics and pride. Successful franchisees pay more fees to the franchiser and promote more interest among other potential franchisees. It is equally important to recognize that franchisers and franchisees don’t always share the same priorities. A franchisee sees business success as primarily defined by profit. The more business the better. A franchiser considers both profit and brand image to be paramount concerns. Which makes sense– the brand they have built is the foundation of their entire franchise organization.
Number Two: This misalignment in priorities frequently leads to problems for both franchisees and franchisers in the realm of digital marketing, with both groups struggling against one another rather than working in cohesive and collaborative harmony.
Concerns of the franchiser:
We need everyone to represent the brand consistently and accurately across all digital platforms. This is important to consumer confidence in the brand.
We worry that some of our franchisees lack the expertise in digital marketing to deliver our brand and messaging appropriately on their websites or on social media.
Even though digital marketing is most effective for service businesses when geo-targeted to the appropriate service area, our ability to assist hundreds of franchisees in producing digital marketing unique to their area and offerings is limited by budget and time.
Digital is more complicated and changeable than print, radio, or TV ads, making it harder to control from one central source.
Even though unique content is essential to search engine optimization, it is not feasible for corporate to write unique content for 400 or 1,500 separate sites, all explaining the same services.
Due to these concerns, franchise organizations often take the following actions which directly harm the digital marketing of their franchisees:
To control brand and messaging, they do not allow each franchise to have a unique “local” website and/or social media presence.
They do not allow each franchise to have its own unique domain name, preferring to house information about the franchise under the corporate “our locations” page or a URL like Bigfranchiseco.com/location_2463.
They may insist on franchisees using duplicate “boiler plate” marketing text for their websites, which is an SEO killer.
They do not accurately inform franchisees that the most effective way to rank on search engines is to have a unique local website with original content that is SEO’d and updated regularly.
Concerns of the franchisee:
Our local franchise needs to rank highly in search engines for the services we offer within our service area.
We need help to design, build, and populate a professional website and/or create an effective social media marketing campaign.
Our digital marketing efforts are limited by budget, available time, and lack of expertise in digital marketing.
We need a local web presence that is not owned by corporate.
Even though regularly posting unique website content is essential to search engine optimization, we do not have the time or expertise to create this content.
We want a robust social media campaign but do not have time to maintain it.
We want leads to come directly to us when potential customers find us online, not directed to us by corporate with fees or strings attached.
“Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique local websites.”
Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique, local websites. Many would also benefit from independent social media campaigns as well. Corporate can do a lot when it comes to buying online ad space for multiple locations or establishing a robust social media presence for the whole organization. Many franchise organizations maintain impressive social media campaigns, and for some, it can be enough for a franchisee to piggyback on these efforts. However, in terms of traffic and lead generation from Google and other search engines, there is no substitute for a robust local website for each franchise or major franchise market.
There are exceptions. Fast-food franchises, rapid oil change locations, car washes, and similar businesses do not need local websites. Due to the nature of their offerings, a central corporate website with locations pages is sufficient for these sorts of businesses.
“It is imperative for businesses to be easy to find and easy to do business with.”
Companies providing services in people’s homes and businesses (cleaning, repair, remodeling, lawn care, pest control, etc.) need independent, local websites optimized effectively for Google and other search engines in order to achieve the best rankings possible. Solid rankings on search engines are the gold standard for being found, and the surest way to drive relevant traffic and leads. With an increasingly savvy consumer market, it is imperative for businesses to be easy to find and easy to do business with.
There are multiple benefits of an independent local website for a franchise. These include:
A unique domain name – important to franchise SEO and local marketing
A platform for unique content specific to the franchise’s services and service area
Ownership of the website for both control and as a valuable business asset
Results – a well-built and optimized local website will get better rankings and more traffic, leading to more leads and better ROI
“Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control.”
The Big Fix: Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control. The fix is to allow individual franchise owners to have their own local websites and to offer them trusted vendors who can provide quality digital marketing services that meet corporate brand expectations. Moreover, putting some money into the solution via co-pays helps the franchisees feel they are not bearing the burden alone. Additionally, the big corporate sites often have a good reputation with the search engines, so making sure to link from the corporate site to each independent franchise site provides powerful link juice. All of which lends itself to better franchise SEO, better Google rankings, more traffic, more leads, and better ROI. It’s a win-win that corporate franchise organizations need to understand and implement in the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing.
Theo St. Mane is a partner and director of operations for MLT Group – Creative Solutions in Rochester, Minnesota. He has over 30 years of marketing experience and has spoken at national and regional conventions of franchise groups. He has also consulted on digital marketing for a variety of national franchise organizations since 2012.
If you are a blogger or have a company blog or news feed set up on your website, you know that publishing content regularly is an important part of brand recognition and an effective SEO (search engine optimization) tactic. Not only does Google look for and reward new content, seeing it as a sign of an active site, but you simultaneously grow your digital footprint as the blog posts add static pages to your site. Whether you use your blog as a platform to promote your goods or services, offer news about your company, or provide informational articles that will help users interact with your website, products, and company overall, consistent blog posting is an effective digital marketing strategy. While its effectiveness is undeniable, blog content producers face the facts that it is also a digital marketing strategy that takes dedication and hard work.
Researching topics and writing clear, concise, and interesting blogs consistently takes time and effort. Because of that, it is important for content creators to understand where the balance is between not creating enough and over-creating to the point of time wasting. To discover that balance, creators need to ask how long their blogs should be and how often they should be posting content.
Some companies only need to post one or two 200-word blogs monthly to meet a happy balance. Others may need to post 2,000+ word pieces several times a month in order to achieve their visibility goals. While it can be difficult to find your own middle ground between those dramatically different scenarios, doing some research and comparing your company size and specialty to blogs of a similar operation can help. Most bloggers will find that trial and error is the best way to find their own sweet spot in content creating schedules.
What Counts as “Consistent?”
Consistency is a variable term. What is best in your situation depends entirely on your ability to create content at the scope and frequency that will benefit your website traffic and company, without overdoing it, wasting valuable time, or falling short of your goals. For many small to medium companies, producing 300–500-word blog posts once or twice a month is an ideal consistency. At MLT Group, we have the capabilities to consistently create content, from one blog per month to six or more, for a variety companies ranging from freezer warehouses to bankruptcy firms and disaster restoration companies.
The level of consistency that is right for you also depends on the type of content. If you have in-depth information to provide your audience, longer blogs will be required. Longer blogs might limit your bandwidth for frequency. A manufacturing company with detailed information to provide might spend more time writing each blog, requiring a lower frequency of posting for time management purposes. On the other side of that coin, a company like a clothing store, with simpler information to provide, may be able to post 100-word blurbs daily.
This is where social media in your digital marketing strategy can pair nicely with consistent blogs for even more effective digital media marketing results. In the example of a company positing lengthy informational blogs infrequently, they might also use social media to post shorter notes with a higher frequency. These could be designed to drive more traffic to their deeper ‘on-site’ blog posts.
Because social media does not require a bevy of information on each post, you can supplement a lower rate of blogs with a higher rate of more superficial social media content. Even if it is superficial, frequent social media posting, and a company’s consistent blogs with rich information, will help get the attention of Google’s SEO algorithm.
Likewise, with the clothing store example, social media can still be paired effectively with blogs. Linking social media to the daily blog post will increase audience range and website traffic, resulting in more sales and more recognition from the Google algorithm.
Overall, no matter what content creating schedule you determine to be the best fit for length and timeline, sticking to it and keeping consistency at the forefront will help you utilize your blog page as a powerful (and virtually free!) digital marketing strategy.
What Does Consistency Do?
So how does consistent blogging as a digital marketing strategy work? There are two main effects that consistent content creating will have on your brand and website.
1. Brand Trust
The more content you create, the more information your audience will know about your brand. Understanding breeds trust, and brand trust is the number one benefit of consistent blogging. If your audience has trust in your brand, you have a stronger opportunity to gain their loyalty. Loyalty means repeated interactions and increased traffic either through marketing promotion or word of mouth.
Consistency in creating content will grow your audience and help you gain the trust and loyalty of customers and supporters. Imagine if the New York Times did not give a daily email update to newsletter subscribers. Those subscribers would be less likely to turn to the Times daily. Providing an update on stories, news snippets, crosswords, and more each day for years has established the New York Times as a go-to email news source for many people.
Additionally, creating content while sticking to a consistent schedule will help your company and blog become authority figures over time. If your audience knows you will be posting on a regular schedule, they can go there for related information and find new content when they expect it. Creating content over time will also help you establish a backlog of blogs containing even more information than just the new content you released that week or month. Becoming an authority on your own brand and the industry you are in through consistent content creating will show an audience that you have integrity and quality. Google and other search engines will notice too, which is why gaining brand trust through consistent content creating is a key SEO tool.
Search engine optimization is a term that describes work done to move your website or blog up as much as possible on the list of search results that Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other search engine provides users. SEO tools like pay-per-click advertising, keyword targeting, and blogging/content creation are today’s most effective digital marketing strategies.
New content is attractive to the Google algorithm, and since Google is the most utilized search engine, it is a no brainer that establishing and maintaining consistency in your content creation to help your site catch Google’s eye is an important SEO tactic that can drive traffic to your site. Google is so interested in new content partly because it signals an active and authoritative site. Just the kind of site that Google wants to return as a search result for users. Additionally, new content helps keep users on sites for longer, an indicator for user satisfaction in search results.
Not only does consistently created new content get Google’s attention and approval, but it can also help you target which keywords are interacted with the most around content related to your company. User interaction with some blogs over others might help you recognize that one key phrase is bringing in more search traffic than another key phrase, helping you to better target future blogs. Integrating new keywords into blogs will help you continue to discover more keywords that you can incorporate into newer blogs and so on.
Using brand trust gained through a history of continued, consistent content creation to bolster your SEO abilities is the proven effect of making and sticking to a blog schedule. Blogs produced frequently are a digital marketing strategy that can keep your website and company in front of a growing audience and help you grow as a brand.
The conversion rate of your site is a measurement of how many users interacting with your web pages take the next step. Whether that means signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, sharing a post, or any other engagement, an optimization of your conversion rate is a goal every website owner should have.
The most practical way to optimize your conversion rate is to build a responsive web design with user friendly interfacing tools and a clear-cut aesthetic. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) starts with a strong, simple website foundation that easily integrates the tools you need.
While everyone can benefit from conversion rate optimization, there are specific types of user engagement that website owners can generate with effective CRO tools. Common goals of engagement that website owners want to “convert” users to take the step into doing include making a purchase, signing up for a mailing list, following on social media, sharing information on social media, contacting your business, and even just clicking to another page. There are two main types of CRO that you can utilize to meet these goals of engagement with your site: primary CRO and secondary CRO.
Primary CRO: Direct interaction with your site
When users interact directly with your website, the factors that guide their interaction depend on how you build your site and the tools you provide to them. Much of this depends on design, comfort, and information.
The visual features of your site are the first and foremost aspects of your website that users will engage with. Because it’s your front line of interaction, it’s very important to have a clear design that showcases your brand’s aesthetic
Gaining the interest of your targeted audience is the initial step to increasing conversion rates. Appealing visuals is part of that, but it’s also very important to build your site with a simple, intuitive design. Information should be clear to users about your site, products, and purpose, and it should be a natural experience for them to move from one page to the next. Piquing user interest and keeping it is the first step in increasing conversion rates with responsive web design.
The internet can be a dangerous place. Users want to feel safe when they interact with a website, and it’s up to the website owner to ensure that trust. Things like pop-up windows, obscured links, and ads can severely reduce conversion rates and damage your website’s relationship with users. Building in links, windows, buttons, and other design features that are transparent in their motives, easy to understand, and show they are secure is a sure way to increase conversion rates.
CRO doesn’t mean tricking users into engaging with your site. It’s a way to open the door for new and return users to build trusted relationships with your website and everything else you offer.
A big part of supporting your website’s trustworthiness is making it as accessible as possible to users. This means having a fast load time for all pages, a clean build without errors, high resolution, and a logical structure of information. It also means your website should have all the information your users need to know, from contact information to details on where materials are sourced and what other parties you work with.
Improving conversion rates depends on users being able to use your site as the tool you want it to be used as. Keeping a perspective on how accessible each new part you integrate into your site is key in supporting CRO.
One way to better understand how accessible your site is to users is by considering the way they will navigate through it. Supporting CRO requires a good navigational system that lets users click through your site and find exactly what they are looking for as quickly as possible. However, it can also provide room for exploration through other parts of your site that could lead to another conversion rate different from a user’s initial search goal. Exploration with your site’s navigation system can happen before or after your user makes their first conversion.
Practically speaking, this can mean a suggestion for another product after a user puts an item in their cart, or it may be an opportunity for users to perform a broad search on your site that brings up many products meeting the search term.
Secondary CRO: General interaction with your brand
While the majority of the conversion rate analytics come from direct user interaction with your site, secondary reactions also play a big picture role in CRO for your brand. Interactions external from your site, such as social media and press, often lead to a more direct conversion in the future.
If you don’t have a social media presence on popular platforms, you are significantly limiting your conversion rate potential. Not only is social media a source of free advertising exposed to a global audience, it’s also a tool for you to build a community around your brand.
For many site owners, too, social media is a way to humanize a commercial enterprise while showing constant news updates that may otherwise be unworthy of a full press story. For example, many use social media to show the staff involved, processes used, and other “behind the scenes” information.
Implementing all of these uses of social media for CRO and saturating multiple platforms with your brand profiles creates countless opportunities for backlinks to your website. Links directly from your profiles or from followers and similar brands are a large contributor to direct website traffic and increases in conversions.
Another common secondary interaction with your website and brand is a regular newsletter. Establishing a mailing list sign-up option on your site will let you collect a fan base that includes users who do not use social media or who want more in-depth information and updates about your business. Links through your newsletter bring users to your site where direct interaction and conversions occur.
As a website owner, you know what types of users your audience includes. An effective way to spread your website’s presence to new users is with targeted ads. Targeted ads are especially useful for finding new users on social media. In fact, many targeted ads are only activated through social media platforms. Users clicking on targeted ads are more likely to lead to a conversion because those users are open to interacting with an advertisement in the first place. Ads can seem untrustworthy, and users tend to stay away from them unless there is genuine interest. Be smart with your ads!
Depending on your brand, you may be able to generate a real community around what products or services you offer, nonprofit actions you perform, or whatever else your website showcases. This community is built on various tools including social media, newsletters, and ads. Bringing together people who support what you do builds a natural support system for CRO. For many website owners, testimonials and anecdotes are some of their most persuasive elements for conversion. If you see a community forming around any aspect of your site, no matter how small, don’t underestimate disregard it. Foster community with interaction and content.
Build a Responsive Website
Implementing some or all of these CRO tools is an option for many website owners. These tools provide a standard for responsive web design formulated around CRO, but there may be other techniques unique to your own website you can use. MLT Group LLC can help you generate new ideas while utilizing tried and true methods for CRO and responsive web design.
Manufacturing marketing has a ton of room for growth and potential.
Why? Because most manufacturers, machining companies, and engineering companies aren’t great at marketing their own businesses.
This is understandable.
If you work in or own one of these types of businesses, you know this truth: time is of the essence.
You have to meet deadlines, make sure your operations are efficient, and constantly monitor the output of your facilities. Although many of the employees in your business may be knowledgable enough, they just don’t have the time to do things like create content, run PPC ads, promote the business through social media and other marketing channels, or keep track of SEO data to keep growing traffic.
So what’s the best manufacturing marketing solution?
How Agencies and Manufacturers Can Work Together
From time to time, we publish industry-specific guides like our post about real estate SEO.
We write these guides because we’ve gained expertise in working with these types of companies. In the past 18 months, we’ve worked with several companies in the manufacturing space in areas like precision machining, stud welding, and industrial services.
We’ve found that while different strategies are always needed for each individual business, manufacturing companies have some similarities when it comes to growing their business with SEO
Niches like marketing and SEO are very competitive. Often, you need to create insanely in-depth content and promote the “you know what” out of it to get your content to rank on search engines.
This isn’t the same for manufacturing companies.
We use a tool called Ahrefs to measure how competitive certain keywords are. Take a look at these screenshots from the tool showing the large difference between the keywords in our niche and the keywords in the manufacturing niche.
You still have to use a solid strategy to rank, but there is a pathway to getting a great amount of traffic with a little bit of persistence.
Content Depth and Quality
Often, the type of content that works well in a manufacturing marketing campaign has both depth and quality.
This is especially true for manufacturing companies because:
Many manufacturing techniques, machinery, and processes require an in-depth explanation to understand
Each type of term or phrase used often counts as an LSI keyword, which is a fancy way to say a secondary keyword. In-depth content x industry jargon = a keyword rich piece of content
Most companies who write content for their blogs in the space write thin content, meaning writing in-depth content can help you stand above and beyond the crowd
The Need for a Smart Agency
Most manufacturing companies can benefit from using an agency because of their lack of time to market the business.
Interestingly enough, many companies are convinced an agency can’t help them because they’re not technical experts. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
First, we have a staff of copywriters, many of which focus solely on writing technical content.
Second, we listen. Proper SEO discovery and studying resources can lead to a content campaign that meets SEO needs and maintains technical quality.
Last, we’ll go the extra mile to make sure we understand your business. If that means coming to take a tour of your plant, meeting key employees, and scheduling calls for content until we have the perfect content recipe, that’s what we’ll do.
In the beginning, there is usually some back and forth to get the technical terms right, but after that, our content doesn’t need much editing on your end to be worth publishing.
Want to see how we can improve your website? Fill out the form below for a FREE site audit!
So what are some of the components of a successful campaign?
On-site SEO is the process of adding keywords — words people use on Google searches — into important areas of your website like:
Image file names
Anchor text for links
The terms themselves aren’t that important.
It’s important to know that your entire website should be covered for SEO. This is especially true for manufacturing companies who run an e-commerce business.
Each product and category page on your website should have on-site SEO as well as keyword rich content on that page:
If you have a larger website, it may take time and money to create content for each and every category and product on your website. Often, we work with companies with large inventories by adding content to a handful of pages to start and gradually add it and boost their SEO with a monthly content creation package.
This way, you can dip your toe into marketing without breaking the bank and steadily grow over time.
Content Marketing For Manufacturing Companies
So why type of content should you create if you want to make a splash as a manufacturing company?
Content marketing for manufacturing companies usually follows a few simple rules of thumb:
Keyword researched topic – Some manufacturing topics get a high amount of traffic, some don’t. We focus on finding a balance between high-traffic keywords and competitive level.
Industry expertise – It’s good to establish a niche and focus on creating content in a narrow area first then going broader over time, e.g., a precision machining companies focusing on aerospace machining to start then branching out to something like medical devices.
Persistence – Creating a large volume of work over time leads to compound rewards. As pages get indexed by Google, they start to rank for more and more keywords.
We provide free marketing proposals and consults that walk you through just the type of content we will create and how it will benefit your site. Each proposal is custom-researched with no cookie-cutter components.
Enter your information into the form below and we’ll have a proposal to you in 48 hours or less:
Website authority factors into search engine rankings.
What is website authority?
Google uses links from other websites to yours to measure the quality of your site.
Each link to your site, called a backlink, is like that site ‘voting’ for yours.
So how do you get more votes?
There are a few different ways we’ll show you:
The rich get richer strategy
Google likes links from high-quality business directories. They are also a huge part of local SEO.
Manufacturing has many quality directories you can submit your site to like Thomas Net:
Industry-specific directories provide the following benefits:
Topical relevance – Getting backlinks from strong websites matters, but so does getting backlinks from industries in the same niche.
Reputation – High reputation directories provide more authority than low reputation sites. Manufacturing has many high-quality directories to choose from
Real business – Often, you can actually get sales from these directories as customers actually use them to find products and services.
You can also use local directories and general business directories, which help build your authority by:
N.A.P – The more times your name, address, and phone number shows up on the web, the better. These are known as citations
Local signals – If you do have a local manufacturing business or a service area business, using these directories can help with local SEO
Reputation – Google loves industry-specific directories, but it also loves gold-standard general and local directories like chambers or commerce and websites like Localeze.
On top of adding your business to quality directories, you can use outreach to get quality backlinks.
Here’s how the process works:
Create stellar content – Your content needs to be worth sharing to get backlinks
Find related websites – Many websites in the space keep resource lists and link pages. Finding them is as simple as doing a Google search like “precision machining + resource list”
Pitch – Send a custom email to each site telling them why your content is great and how it will benefit their website to link to your content
The last point is key. It’s easier to land a backlink if your content adds value to other websites. Google uses outbound links as a ranking factor, too. They want to see that pages link out to other sites and get links back.
They want this because it shows your site is a “resource hub” that makes a good faith effort to give users the right information. Having this mindset when creating and pitching your content makes a huge difference.
Of course, we keep this in mind when we do outreach for you. Just talk to us and we’ll show you exactly how we work.
The Rich Get Richer
Once your pages rank higher, it’s easier for them to stay there.
Often, pieces of content on page one naturally get backlinks.
Think about it.
If you write an article and need to cite sources, you go to Google.
Then, you find the best article on page one to link to.
As your content ranks high on Google, you can improve it to get even more traffic by:
Adding secondary keywords
Expanding the content for length, depth, and quality
You don’t need a fancy business plan. You need revenue. Powerpoint presentations and boring marketing conferences aren’t going to help you build a brand, develop an audience, and find more customers who want to buy what you have to offer.
The #1 Marketing Principle You Must Follow to Successfully Grow Your Business
Take a look at this google search for “marketing advice”:
There are nearly a billion results.
There’s no shortage of marketing advice out there. And a lot of it works.
You know what definitely won’t work?
Sitting on your hands…
Reading blog post after blog post about marketing tips and implementing none of them…
Telling yourself next week, next month or next year will finally be the time when you invest in marketing…
Execution trumps creativity every time. You can have the most creative marketing ideas in the world, but if you don’t see them through, who cares?
I don’t know you personally, but I’m guessing you’re either a business owner, marketing employee, as aspiring to do one of the above. You think about improving your marketing or hiring a smart agency to do it, but you sit on the fence and procrastinate.
Why? Because you’re afraid.
Afraid of taking risks.
Afraid of wasting time and money.
Or afraid of all the above combined.
If you want to succeed in marketing, or business in general, you have to understand that fortune favors the bold. You have to invest time, money, or both to take your marketing to the next level.
There’s more competition out there than ever before.
Fortunately, that’s a good thing.
Principle #1 – Saturated Markets Are Good (But Only if You Do This)
Why? Because, to be honest, most of them just aren’t willing to put the same amount of work in as we are and it shows. We’ve checked our competition’s content marketing game and we are up to the challenge.
Even in hyper-competitive industries like marketing, you can pretty much cancel out 90 percent of the field right way. Why? Because pulling off a legitimate content marketing campaign is difficult. Not difficult in that you need to be a genius to do it, but difficult in the fact that it’s time-consuming.
We write a 3 to 5,000-word blog post covering topics in-depth, like advanced PPC tracking, at least once a week. That’s on top of the landing pages we create, ads we run, videos we shoot, and designs we change.
We do this because we know our competitors won’t.
The great news for you? You’re probably not in a niche as competitive as marketing. And you’re competition likely won’t do the work.
If you did just these three things well over time, you’d destroy your competition:
The catch? You’ll have to do it for a while before it pays off in a major way.
But, if you’re in business, you should be thinking long-term.
Principle #2 – “Me Too” Marketing Doesn’t Work
Every business has competitors.
But most businesses make the same mistake when it comes to competing. They try to copy their competitors’ tactics.
Why doesn’t this work?
It doesn’t work because taking the same actions someone else will, at best, get you the same results.
But often, it won’t because you don’t know why your competitors are taking that action in the first place.
It’s important to have your own marketing strategy based on your unique insights like:
Audience – Have you taken the time to understand your ideal audience? Do you know their hopes, dreams, fears, and desires? Until you do, you won’t know how to create the right marketing messages.
Brand – Dollar Shave Club launched their company with a viral video campaign. Their videos used crass language, over the top humor, and theatrics. Another shaving company with a different brand couldn’t pull the same type of campaign off. You need to build your brand with intention and articulate what type of company you want to be then market the business itself.
Goals – Your goals — aside from the obvious like sales — aren’t always going to be the same s your competitors. That’s why you need to clarify what those goals are before you start a content marketing campaign
Your competitors built their own marketing campaigns using these insights; insights that you don’t fully know. Copying their tactics is both inauthentic and ineffective.
Principle #3 – The 10x Rule
Our formula for creating content is simple:
Study what’s out there
Note what the competition does well
Find the gaps they didn’t cover
Create something 10x better
This speaks to the point above about saturation.
You can beat out your competition. But to do that, you have to blow them out of the water. If you’re writing an article about a topic, it should be the best article about that topic on the internet. You should promote it unabashedly — literally send more outreach emails than your competitors.
If you believe in your product, trying to get 1,000% better results through marketing shouldn’t scare you, it should excite you!
Which brings me to our next point…
Principle # 4- No Amount of Marketing Can Solve This Problem
Feathers – Great products that just need a ‘lift’ from marketing
Bricks – Duds that no amount of marketing can “lift”
You see a lot of startup owners making this mistake.
They figure their product just needs a good marketing campaign and it’ll start flying off the shelves.
No amount of marketing will work unless you can answer these questions:
What does your product do and who is it for? – You’d be surprised at how many business owners can’t articulate this
Does anybody want your product? – Often, “revolutionary ideas” that haven’t been thought of before…haven’t been thought of before for a reason. Your product needs a market fit. Content marketing can’t create demand; it only amplifies it
“What’s in it for me?” – This is the question people ask anytime they read your content, learn about your product, or interact with your brand. That’s why knowing your audience on a deep level is important. If you know their problems and the solution your product offers, you can communicate that through marketing.
The number one benefit of having a great product?
You’re excited to promote it. If you know you have something amazing to offer, investing in marketing becomes a triviality.
Principle #5 – Always Lead With This
“People don’t buy drills. They buy holes.”
If you visit a random company website, you can see this mistake being made about 75% of the time.
You see it when the company rambles on about “being in business for 30 years,” or has a long list of features their products or services have.
People don’t care about features. They care about the benefits.
People don’t care about “MPG.” They care about saving money and time.
People don’t buy workout routines. They buy bodies that look good naked.
You care about getting more people who are genuinely interested in your product or service to engage with your brand, turn into leads, and become sales. As a forward-thinking business owner, you want to be seen as the go-to experts in your field with word of mouth of your brand spreading like wildfire.
Go look at your website right now.
Is it feature focused? Or benefits focused?
If it’s the former, it’s time to start creating new content or hiring someone else to do it.
Principle #5 – Never Do This
Michael Jordan used to visit the opposing team’s locker room before games.
He’d walk around, shake hands, smile politely, and make small talk.
Under the surface of his smile was a bit of an evil smirk.
He knew, and his competitors knew, that in his mind he was thinking, “I’m going to destroy all of you.”
See, when you know you’re the best, you don’t focus on your competition, you make them focus on you.
Every minute spent worrying about what your competition doing is a minute you could’ve used to build your own business. This attitude works especially well in content marketing and SEO. You might not have an authoritative site..yet. But you will.
And while you’re building up your authority, you’re focusing on making your product better, your content better, your marketing better.
Then, one day, out of nowhere, you’ll start rising up the rankings and get noticed in your niche. You want others in your industry to think. “Who the hell is this and where the hell did they come from?
“Writing isn’t about putting words on the page […] It’s about breathing life into something and then working to make sure that life becomes something beautiful.
That means spending ten hours on a post, instead of 30 minutes.
That means writing a guest post every week, instead of one every few months.
That means asking for links without any shame or reservation, not because you lack humility, but because you know down to the depths of your soul that what you’ve done is good.”
It’s much, much, much easier to promote your content when you actually believe in it. This goes back to point #2 about “me too” marketing. You’re not going to want to promote an unexceptional piece of regurgitated content because, deep down, you’re ashamed of it.
You didn’t do your best and the people you want to share it with will smell the low-quality from a mile away. The low-quality mindset you had when creating the post will leak right into the pitches you make when you’re trying to promote it.
The opposite is also true. When you “become so good you can’t be ignored,” people will have no choice but to pay attention.
Principle #7 – Find Balance When Doing This
SEO and marketing are weird in the sense that the people in your network can bounce back and forth between being competitors and colleagues at the same time.
Since getting links from other websites in your niche builds authority, you have to build relationships with people in your niche. At the same time, you also may have some overlap in the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
How do you solve this problem?
Here’s how we look at it:
There’s more than enough room – There are enough search terms available for you to get enough traffic to move the needle for your business.
Be authentic – We only reach out to or link to other sites and site owners we admire and respect. Your “competitors” also add value with the content they create. There’s nothing wrong with showing a little love.
Connection is needed – You need both inbound and outbound links to rank well. That means being cooperative and nice is a prerequisite for being successful at content marketing.
Principle # 8 – Kill Your Darlings
Want to know how to kill your business?
Stay stagnant, don’t innovate, and maintain the status quo.
Whenever you’re thinking about being complacent, think of all the companies who failed to switch things up when their business model or marketing effort became obsolete.
Principle #9 – Don’t Be “Smarter Than a 5th Grader”
When you write your content, aim to write at about a 5th-grade level.
Use short sentences and simple words.
Don’t use business jargon if you don’t need to.
This goes for the copy you use on your landing pages to writing blog posts.
Simple is better:
If your content is hard to read, people will leave your site
Using jargon makes you look arrogant, not smart
True intelligence makes complex topics easier to understand, not the other way around
Ernest Hemingway is known for his blunt and simple style. There’s even an app named after him that helps you write your content in a simple way.
Principle #10 – Use the “D-Day Approach”
D-Day is one of the most famous moments of world war II.
The good guys sent a bunch of troops to the beaches of Normandy to attack the bad guys.
They sent a large group of soldiers into a small and concentrated area.
They won the battle and secured an important strategic advantage. Taking Normandy allowed them to expand in the right territories and win even more victories. Many say this battle was the beginning of the end of the war.
In your case, you want to concentrate your forces.
If you want to fail, try every marketing tactic in the book all at once.
Now, you do have to experiment with different marketing channels to find one that works. But when you do find one that works, double-down on it. When you’ve mastered it, move onto another tactic.
Principle #11 – Avoid the #1 Marketing Mistake 99% of Business Owners Make
We work with clients. Part of working with clients is steering their minds in the right direction.
A critical piece to this – getting them to stop thinking only about themselves.
Yes, when you build a website, it’s your website. But the website isn’t for you. It’s for your customers.
When you write an about page, the page is about you or your company. But a great about page talks about the benefits you’ll provide your customers.
It’s your business, but you won’t have a business unless you market it for, you know, other people.
Nobody cares about your vision.
They want to know your product can solve their problems.
You have to make sure your marketing speaks to that and that alone.
Go look at your company or personal website right now. Who do you talk about more — yourself or your potential customers?
If it’s the former…we should talk.
Principle #11 – Do The Little Things
Everybody wants to swing for the fences with their marketing.
It’s appealing to write ultimate guides, go viral, and get a ton of followers on social media.
It’s not appealing to do the little things that, combined, can move the needle for content marketing and SEO.
Bill Belichick — 7-time super bowl winning coach — spent a long time as an assistant. He’d do all the grunt work the head coach and others didn’t want to do. And he did it gladly. He’s won many championships from taking advantage of little key moments where he used the experience of hours and hours of watching film.
That’s what the top SEO’s and agencies do, too. Behind the scenes, they’re working on the little things.
You’ll never see them up-front, but the effects are real.
Principle #12 – Never Stay Satisfied
We’ve talked about mastering one marketing channel before you move on to others, but once you’ve mastered that channel, move to the next, and keep doing it until you become a marketing swiss-army knife.
Once the traffic from SEO starts to roll in, you’ll feel good about your business, but don’t stop there.
Pour gasoline on your marketing fire.
Principle #13 – Stop Believing in This
Do you ever look at your competitors and think they’re just lucky?
They had the right connections.
They built a career off of a few lucky viral hits.
The industry wasn’t saturated when they started.
Blah, blah, blah.
Yes, luck is involved in marketing success (and every other type of success for that matter).
But you can learn how to engineer luck.
The more seeds you plant, the more likely your marketing campaigns will grow. Yes, that means writing (or investing in a writer) in-depth content over and over and over again even if it doesn’t pay off right away. It means scheduling out social media posts as if you had a big following when you actually don’t.
The top players in the field are almost always there because they’ve been at it for a long time. Success, especially content marketing success, takes time, not luck.
Principle #14 – The Only Guaranteed Way to Beat Your Competition
There are no guarantees when it comes to marketing (see the point above).
But, if you want to make a splash and stand out among your competitors, there is one way to do it.
Create something no one would even think of trying to replicate. Make your competitors feel exhausted by even looking at your content and imagining having to create it.
When it comes to regional competitors in our area, other marketing agencies, we just try to take it to a level they don’t want to match. We’re playing the long game. You can, too.
String together a long enough streak of insane pieces of content, and you’ll be too far ahead to lose
Principle #15 – Stop Consuming, Start Creating
About 99% of people read marketing blogs and do nothing with the information.
Many business owners sit on the fence about hiring a marketing firm for years.
There’s a consistent theme running through all the marketing principles we’ve listed — action.
You can’t know all the answers up front.
You discover the secrets of marketing by experimenting. This goes for in-house marketers and agencies.
Too many would be marketing owners are sitting on their hands, slowly letting their businesses get phased out of the future.
Your time is now.
Principle #16 – The Rich Get Richer
The 80/20 rule states that there will be an asymmetrical relationship with the total amount of resources.
That’s a fancy way of saying a few people reap most of the rewards.
The top 20 percent of blogs get 80 percent of the traffic.
On your own website, the top 20 percent of the pages will get 80 percent of the traffic.
It’s important to stay active and experiment because once you succeed, your success will beget more success.
If you get backlinks to a blog post and it starts to rank on page 1, it will receive backlinks naturally.
If you grow your social media following, your followers will promote your page for you.
Now, at this point, you use the marketing principle above and put your foot on the gas pedal. Once the growth curve goes up, you push even harder. This is how you become a household name and have permanent success.
Principle #17 – Don’t Lie to Yourself
You know what mediocre business owners do? They hire companies that provide “affordable SEO services” and get upset when they don’t get any traffic.
You know what mediocre marketers do? They write a few blog posts with thin content, send a few tweets, do no real blog outreach, and throw their hands in the air when they’re not on the first page of Google.
It’s rare to give an honest effort at marketing and fail completely.
It’s extremely common to give half-assed attempts and fail.
Which type of marketer or business owner are you going to be?
Principle #18 – Forget Everything You Learned in Business School
There is no way to “learn business” other than actually running or working for one.
The type of marketing knowledge provided in business school is mostly worthless. These institutions are decades behind the current landscape of content marketing, digital marketing, and SEO.
Get your hands dirty and forget about the dry jargon they taught you at university.
Principle #19 – Do What Works for You
If you’re better on video than with the written word, shoot videos.
If you don’t like being on camera so much, do audio.
Outsource the work you don’t want to do yourself.
There are many different ways to market your business successfully. But it makes no sense to go against your strengths.
Principle #20 – Use Tools and Data
You can’t build a house without a blueprint and tools.
You can’t run a successful marketing campaign without data and tools to grow your business.
We’re talking more than just Google Analytics here (even though you can gain a massive amount of insights just from this tool).
Don’t be afraid to invest in software to track your marketing results.
And check the data often, but not too often to gain insights from, e.g., six times a day like most marketers do.
Principle #21 – Watch What People Do, Not What They Say
If you polled readers, they’d tell you they don’t like “listicles” or click-bait headlines. Content marketing data says otherwise.
The National Enquirer is still in business for a reason.
People have an outward image they portray and then behave differently in private.
Know the difference, and you can market to them correctly.
Principle #22 – Become a Marketer for Life
You want your career or business to last your whole life, don’t you? Well, at least you want to stay in business or work you love until you retire.
Settle in. This is a long game you’re playing. The marketing wisdom you gain over time will compound like interest in a savings account.
After you get your foot in the door and find some success, commit to developing the skills of influence for the rest of your life.
Principle #23 – Test Emerging Platforms
Around 2012, you could get a ton of organic reach from Facebook. Now, not so much.
In the early days of AdWords, clicks were so cheap the platform was like a money printing machine. Now, not so much.
Some have said LinkedIn is the platform de jour. It’s worth trying to see if you can get in at the right time.
Platforms, strategies, and techniques always come and go. It’s best to test new ones before they get too saturated.
Principle #24 – Focus on Metrics That Matter
Traffic doesn’t matter if it doesn’t convert into leads and sales.
If you’re running an SEO campaign, total organic search traffic matters more than ranking for your favorite keywords.
Having e-mail subscribers means nothing if they are just there to consume free content.
Being data-driven is great, but being insight driven is better. What you do with the data matters more than the data itself.
Principle #25 – Read Marketing Books
All marketing books aren’t created equal, but some stand head and shoulders above the rest. Here are some of our favorites:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
The Boron Letters
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Principle #26 – Prepare for Failure in Advance
You will write content that doesn’t rank.
You will send pitches that get rejected.
Money? You’ll definitely invest at times without getting perfect ROI.
But that’s the game of marketing.
Principle #27 – Master the Basics
You can jump on the hottest trends like voice search and A.I., but it would be foolish to do so until you have a basic understanding of things like:
Simple technical SEO
If you mastered those 4 things alone, you’d be in the top-tier of most marketers because…most aspiring marketers don’t even scratch the surface of those.
These marketing principles aren’t hard, per se, they are just time-consuming.
Consume the time. Do the work.
Principle #28 – Get on Google’s Good Side
Until further notice, Google is the king of online marketing.
It would be wise to use their guidelines and tools to benchmark your success.
When they make a definitive announcement, take it to heart.
When one of their employees gives you advice, take it:
Use their tools like page speed insights and get top grades:
Obvious, yes, but also extremely useful.
Principle #29 – Don’t (Always) Listen to Marketing Gurus
Some marketing techniques and strategies become conventional wisdom, even if they no longer work.
Some people still think you need to add keywords in your meta description (which was never true). Same thing with ‘keyword density.’
Don’t get caught up in tropes. Take advice, yes, but implement it to see what works and try some novel strategies of your own.
Principle #30 – Use the Right Technique at the Right Time
This adds on to the point above.
Marketing rules change depending on the situation.
You’ve heard that content length is a ranking factor. It is.
But that doesn’t mean you should write a 5,000-word essay about “pizza shops in Wichita, KS.” You probably don’t need that much content to rank. A national content marketing and SEO campaign are completely different than a Local SEO campaign.
When in doubt, just study what ranks for the keyword you’re trying to target.
Studying the SERP for search intent is, again, time-consuming but worth it.
Principle #31 – Avoid Shortcuts
It’s all fun and games until your website gets hit with a penalty.
It’s easier to try and siphon money from customers quickly instead of building relationships that increase customer lifetime value.
Marketing advice and live advice have a lot in common.
Don’t try a marketing “crash diet.” Marketing is an attitude and a lifestyle. If you’re sincere about trying to do well, you will. If you’re not, you won’t.
Principle #32 – Learn How to Write Copy (or Hire a Copywriter)
The internet is flooded with bad copy.
Great copy uses simple language based on things your target audience is thinking.
They’re not thinking about how long you’ve been in business. They’re thinking about how your business can help them solve a problem. That’s it. Speaking to anything but that is waste of time, which is why it’s important to learn how to write copy.
Unless you’re in a commodity business, your first instinct shouldn’t be to join the race to the bottom.
When you have a great product and customers believe it will solve their problem, price becomes a triviality.
Don’t lower your prices. Up your marketing.
Principle #34 – Share Your Marketing Vision With Your Team
If you can share the long-term vision and goals with your company or team members, you can get them to invest in it and communication between different departments will be much easier.
Sales and marketing should be on the same page.
SEO and content marketing often requires the help of developers. Keep them in the loop, too.
It’s worth taking time to meet with your team and review your marketing goals.
Not only does this improve tactics, but it also improves morale.
Principle #35 – Don’t be Afraid to be Crazy
Look at this ad:
And this one:
And this one:
Sometimes it pays to try something a little ‘outside the box’
Principle #36 – Talk to Your Customers
How often do you take time to talk to the people who’ve already bought your product or service?
You can get huge insights from talking to your customers.
If you’re in a recurring service based business like we are, talking with your customers more often and asking them about their needs helps them feel “top of mind” and important.
Plus, if you see improvements you can help them make that aren’t covered with your current services, you can sell them to your current customers.
The best customers are often the ones you already have.
Principle #37 – Get In Your Marketing Zone
Here’s what’s going to happen. Once you get traction, you’ll enter a state of ‘marketing flow.’ When all the cylinders are firing — great content, outreach, traffic, social shares, etc — you can stay in that groove for a long time if you actively seek to maintain the momentum.
If you’re the content creator or marketer who’s doing the work yourself, take this a step further in your day to day activities.
If you have the ‘hot hand’ while you’re writing a draft of a blog post, keep going. When doing a tedious task like conversion rate optimization, get into the flow of the monotony until you can find a way to get through that mental wall — kind of like a ‘runners high.’
Consistency and momentum matter most when it comes to marketing. Get in your zone and stay there.
Principle #39 – Have Fun
Business and marketing have a serious purpose. Mainly, to make money.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be boring, ‘corporate’, and dry all the time.
If you actually like marketing, you’ll be a better marketer. If you treat marketing like a chore or an expense instead of an investment, then that’s what it will be.
Connect with your audience more, use humor, have a loose environment with your team (but still get things done).
Yes, writing 5-000 word guides like this isn’t the most fun thing I could possibly be doing, but I love marketing and so does my company.
We can help you feel the same way.
Principle #40 – Pick One Thing Right Now
Reading this entire article would be a waste if you didn’t implement at least one tactic.
Choose the one that seems easiest to implement and go after it.
Time is ticking and the competition is only going to increase.
You’re already, you know, a little bit behind.
Start now. Heck, call 507-281-3490 and start with us!
We could write marketing principles for days, but these are enough to get you started.
What are some of your favorite marketing tips, lessons, and insights?
What is content marketing exactly? – Many publications online throw the term around a bit, but it’s important to understand the true definition of content marketing and how it works
How does content marketing work? – This post will dive deep into the deep ‘how-to’ and step by step methods for building an effective content marketing strategy.
Will it work for my business? – The short answer? Content marketing works for all businesses when it’s done right. Don’t worry, we’ll show you the light.
This post contains the most comprehensive list of content marketing tips on the entire internet. We provided this giant list to give you every option possible to make smart decisions for your business.
Before we dive into the tips, let’s answer the questions above.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Put simply, content marketing is a tool to grow your business.
If your efforts aren’t leading to your desired outcome — engagement, leads, or sales — your strategy isn’t working.
Unsuccessful marketers focus on vanity metrics — analytics that do nothing more than boost your ego.
Successful markets focus on leading their customers through the sales process from start to finish and improve their efforts until the entire process works.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
You begin a successful campaign by answering the following questions:
Who is my target audience?
What does my target audience want?
How does my target audience interact with content online?
What types of content drive the desired behavior and results of the customer?
How can we create engaging content for readers that also meets digital marketing standards?
What is the best way to lead customers through the sales process?
And taking the following actions:
Perform target audience and keyword research
Create an initial content strategy
Produce content regularly
When you create you create an implement your strategy, you want to track and refine it over time to optimize your results.
Stick with us…
We’ll walk you through tips to answer all these questions and act on the information as soon as possible.
Will Content Marketing Work for My Business?
This question bugs you the most, doesn’t it?
You’re a forward-thinking business owner or marketer. We know this because you’re here searching for useful information.
But, deep down, you might wonder if content marketing will produce results for your business?
Maybe you think you’re in a ‘boring industry.’
Maybe you’re worried about return on investment — is dumping money, time, and resources into your content going to pay off? How can you truly know if it’s paying off? The ROI of content strategies is notoriously hard to track, but there are ways you can do it.
Content marketing works.
It can work for your business.
It’s nothing more than a tool. It’s up to you or the digital marketing agency you work with to use it the right way.
Side note: If you’re working with a digital marketing agency, ask them how their strategies are going to help your business improve its bottom line. Really, drill down on that question because great agencies can answer that question and bad ones can’t.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go over the tips. Feel free to jump around and find ones you think will work for you.
Create a Customer Avatar
Question for you — do you know who your ideal customer is? Do you know his or her hopes, fears, desires, and frustrations? Can you paint a vivid picture of them in your mind?
You need to know your target audience with pinpoint accuracy and a customer avatar can help you define your audience. With a defined audience, you can create targeted strategies.
Some questions you can use to build your customer avatar are:
What keeps them up at night? Finding your target audience’s deep pain points and frustrations can help you highlight them with copywriting and provide solutions
What are their hopes and dreams? You need to know what your client aspires to, not just in terms of your product, but their life in general. This way, you can tie in your product or service with their lifestyle, which builds trust and shows empathy
What end result will your product fulfill for them? There’s a classic marketing quote that goes, “When people buy a drill, they don’t want a drill. They want a hole.” Make your marketing fit that mantra
What other solutions may they have tried?
With this information in hand, you can create a targeted avatar. Then, you use the avatar to write content for your ideal customer. This makes the reader feel like you’re speaking to them personally.
Use This Word Often
This subtle change can skyrocket the results of your content strategy.
The change? Use the word ‘you’ more often.
When you use the word ‘you’ instead of phrases like ‘our customers’ ‘our client’ and [xxxx], you show an investment in the person on the other side of the screen.
Most companies talk about themselves way too much.
Your customers want to know what you can do for them. Keep your content focused on their needs at all times.
Paint the Picture
Imagine you’re at your computer right now.
You receive a notification with a new lead or sale.
Your phone is ringing off the hook with customers calling after finding your company on Google.
Minutes later, you get another notification from your company blog. A reader just commented, “Wow. This is the best content I’ve ever seen. I’m bookmarking it to re-read.”
You think to yourself, “I wished I’d started sooner,” and you’re feeling the same rush of emotions you felt when you hit previous milestones in your business.
And most importantly, when tracking your revenue, you’re seeing numbers that make you wide-eyed.
These are the results you can expect from a successful content marketing campaign.
Now, read the next few sentences:
Our company provides digital marketing solutions, SEO, and web design. We can help your company reach a broader audience online, engage with them, and produce positive results.
One sentence says what the company does. The other paints a picture of how the customer will feel after you’ve transformed part of their life.
Check out the way Ramit Sethi uses the paint the picture technique on his sales page for a personal improvement course:
Read Your Customer’s Mind
Want an easy way to figure out exactly what your customers are thinking and make them feel like you’re reading their mind?
Here’s how you do it:
Research – Read product reviews on sites like Amazon, Quora, Yelp, Google reviews, and Facebook reviews.
Highlight – Find the phrases customers use over and over
Become a psychic – Use their exact words in your copy
Use These Tricks to Measure Content ROI
If you want to get an idea of how much revenue your campaigns drive, use these techniques:
Copywriting and blogging aren’t the same as academic writing.
When you write for web, use these elements of style to keep your reader moving down the page:
Headings (H1, H2, H3)
Add media in between sections to break up the copy
The Yoast SEO plugin provides a ‘readability score’ to make your content easy to read online:
Use the Skyscraper Technique
The skyscraper technique is simple.
Here’s what you do:
Find the best piece of content about a subject
Write a piece of content that’s 10X better
Reach out to people who linked to and shared the other article and show them yours
The creator of this tactic, Brian Dean, uses it to rank for tough to beat keywords like “Google Ranking Factors.”
Optimize for Click Through Rates
When you perform on-site SEO for your website, you will create a unique meta description that will appear on search engines.
You want to add relevant key phrases to your meta description to rank highly in Google and you also want to make sure your description is compelling.
Why? Because Google’s new Rank Brain algorithm prioritizes click-through rates, meaning they will rank a site with lower authority, but a higher click-through rate than its competitors.
In this post, Neil Patel describes techniques you can use to research your current site pages and optimize them for CTR.
Map Your Content to Lead Customers to the Sales Process
Each customer is at a different awareness stage when they discover your business. They may be unaware of their problem, aware of their problem and wondering if you can solve it, aware of your problem and believe you can solve it, or ready to do business with you because they’re convinced you can solve it.
Leading your customers from lead to customer involves guiding them through the process step-by-step with different pieces of content:
To create an effective content funnel, anticipate which stage of awareness your customer will be at when you create a piece of content and use that content to guide them through to the next step.
Write For Humans, Not Search Engines
While you do want to create content search engines love, you must create content people love too. Google is trending toward prioritizing the user’s experience over the standard SEO techniques.
Writing content people want to read also provides these SEO and digital marketing benefits:
Longer ‘time spent’ on page (a positive ranking factor)
Lower bounce rates (a negative ranking factor)
Brand awareness through word of mouth
Find Your Citations
If your business has been around for a while, chances are people have mentioned it online. When someone mentions your business online, it counts as a citation for your business. Consider a citation a vote of confidence.
You can search for your citations online and reach out to those who have mentioned you and ask them for a link.
Email marketing is still one of the top tools you can use to grow your business with content marketing.
To bond with your customer and lead them through the funnel of education to sale, you can create a welcome series.
A welcome series provides automated emails that send out in sequence based on when a new lead signs up for your email list.
Sending them an introductory welcome email creates an instant connection, helps customers remember your brand, and creates familiarity when you send them new messages:
This infographic from Spark Page shares excellent details and step for creating the perfect welcome series:
Beef Up Your Content
Numbers don’t lie. And the numbers say long-form content ranks best on Google.
Industry standards used to say the key length per page was 300-500 words, but new data shows the top-ranked content online usually has 1800-2000 words:
When you create long form content, aim to make it the best content about the chosen topic period. You also want to choose an evergreen topic, meaning the topic will be relevant for years to come.
Epic content takes time and effort, which is why it works so well. Few people are willing to put that much effort into their content and the ones who do run laps around the competition.
Use Search Display and Facebook Ads to Gain New Leads
Most companies think about ads the wrong way. Ads aren’t just a tool to get users to buy right away. You can also use ads to draw in casual readers and move them through the stages of awareness we mentioned earlier.
If a customer doesn’t know or trust you, they won’t click on an ad to buy your product or service right away. If, however, you use ads to provide them with something useful, interesting, and free to get their attention, you can build the trust you’ll need to market to them later. Check out these awesome examples of companies using ads to connect with users:
Content marketing requires patience to see the fruits of your efforts.
It may take several months to a year for your post or page to rank on page #1 for Google.
An SEO campaign isn’t considered mature until the one year mark. When you work on a content strategy, think about your long term engagement, sales, and traffic goals then work backward to create a strategy that fits.
When creating a content marketing strategy, think of how you can not only gain a customer but keep them for life. An effective content marketing strategy not only lands new customers but continues to remind them why they purchased in the first place.
Ways to increase engagement for the long with customers and prospects are:
Email marketing (both sales and engagement-oriented)
Active social media
Use This Powerful Ranking Signal
Collecting as many reviews and testimonials from customers and clients has multiple benefits:
Google uses reviews as a ranking signal
Reviews provide ‘social proof’ which show potential customers why they should trust you.
According to research from Bright Local, 91 percent of people surveyed said they read reviews (at least occasionally) and 84 percent say they trust reviews as much as their own friends.
Republish Your Content
You may have heard that duplicate content is a definite no-no. As it turns out, that’s not exactly true.
You can republish your content on other websites as long as you identify the original piece of content with a rel: canonical tag.
Some platforms, like Medium, have this import function built right into the platform:
Even top Google engineer, Matt Cutts, explains how many forms of duplicate content don’t harm your SEO:
Harness the Power of Guest Blogging
Guest blogging on authoritative websites helps you gain quality backlinks, send traffic back to your website, build your email list, and increase your brand awareness.
That is if you do it right.
The aforementioned Google engineer once declared that guest blogging was dead, but he meant that spammy guest blogging was dead.
Given you find a reputable website and create legitimate and useful content, guest blogging is still a top white hat technique businesses can use.
There are many great third party tools and websites you can use to aid your content marketing efforts.
You don’t, however, want to build your business on someone else’s property. This is called digital sharecropping.
Let’s say you decided to add all of your content only to Facebook instead of your own website. If Facebook decides to change its terms of service or delete your page, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Having your own dedicated online real estate and using long term strategies like SEO and email marketing will ensure your content efforts don’t go to waste.
Use Influencer Marketing to Build Your Brand
Influencer marketing is the process of leveraging the fame of celebrities to promote your product. This extends further beyond typical “A-List” celebrities like actors, rock stars, and comedians. There is a large number of social media influencers out there — people who are only famous through their social media platforms — that you can work with to promote your product. Neil Patel has a great guide on launching an influencer marketing campaign.
Spy on Your Competition
There’s a simple recipe you can use to beat out your competition on search engines:
Find out what your competitors are doing well
Do it much better than them
You can use tools like Ahrefs and Buzz Sumo to figure out how your competitors use content marketing. Once you have data on the type of content they create, where their links and engagement come from, and the level of depth they put into their content, you can create better content on the same topics and reach out to everyone who engaged with their content.
It’s that simple.
Create a Maze to Keep Your Readers on Your Website
You can use what’s known as the Wiki Strategy to improve our SEO and keep readers on your website longer.
Here’s a condensed version of the strategy (follow the link to see full):
Create the best content online
Link to reputable sources in your content – Wikipedia is a heavily cited and linked website. Meaning that you never have to leave Wikipedia to find more information. You want to create the same effect with your linking strategy
Find experts to contribute to your site to build the catalog
Promote your content
Track your progress
These are just a few of the many content marketing tips you can use to grow your business.
Again, this is about the mindset behind SEO. You can think all you want about using a strategy like the Skyscraper Technique, but actually doing it is about 100x harder than reading a blog post about it.
Rule # 2 – Prepare For Obstacles in Advance
Roadblocks are inevitable.
You’ll write content constantly without getting the results you expected.
You’ll invest money that doesn’t pay off in rankings and traffic right away.
At a certain point, you’ll wonder if content marketing is right for your business.
Spoiler alert: it is, but you need the right mindset to make it work.
Here are some simple ways to prepare for these roadblocks in advance:
Plan, plan, plan – From keyword research to creating a content strategy, to adding time-blocks on your calendar to work on content, the more you prepare, the easier content creation will be.
Wait – If you decided to commit to content marketing for a year, wait a year before you judge the success of the campaign. Sure, make adjustments along the way, but commit to seeing the strategy out first before you throw in the towel.
Why – Remember why you started creating content (or hired someone) in the first place. You wanted to grow your business, build your brand, and connect with more people. Focusing on your “why” can help you persist when times get tough.
If you’re a thought leader, it means you’re one of the “go-to experts” in your space.
Content creation is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader, but not if you focus on becoming one.
Right now, you should focus on creating the best content you possibly can.
You should promote your content and connect with people in your niche.
Do this for a long enough time, and you’ll earn the right to be called a thought leader. It will be self-evident.
Content marketing has created an awesome path for anyone to demonstrate their expertise.
Sadly, the majority of content creators focus on the prize instead of just doing the work.
Just do the work. Do it often.
The traffic, sales, and admiration will come later.
Don’t worry about those for now.
Now, stick with us to learn about the nuts and bolts of a solid content creation strategy.
Keyword Research 101
Keywords are the life-blood of a content creation campaign.
Have you ever typed something into Google looking for an answer, a location, a service, etc? Those phrases you type in are keywords.
When you do keyword research, you’re looking to find the right phrases to use in the content you create.
So what qualifies as a good keyword?
Here are some good benchmarks to follow:
The keywords you target your content around should match a goal you have for your business. You want to make sure that someone who types in that keyword will be happy to find your site and you’ll be happy they landed there.
We’ll use an example from our industry. We could create content around the keyword “SEO” but it’s a broad and vague keyword. Someone searching for the keyword SEO might be a curious browser, not someone who’s serious about working with an SEO agency.
Something like “content marketing services” matches our goals better. A person searching for that is at least interested in learning about a service we provide.
Or take this blog post, which we targeted around words like “content creation” and “quality SEO content.” Not everybody who reads this post will want to work with us, but that’s not the point. We provide education about SEO and content marketing so that you either:
Decide to work with us
Decide to take our recommendations and use them on your own
Both are good options because they meet our overall goal: being a leader in content marketing and SEO. Helping people for free is a big part of reaching that goal, so creating quality content for free is part of our strategy (and will likely be part of yours too)
Different niches have different levels of competition.
Marketing is, to say the least, a very competitive space. We’re competing with all the marketing blogs in the world.
If you’re a local plumber in, say, Wichita Kansas, your strategy will be different because your competition will be different.
We will talk about the steps to keyword research shortly, but let’s look at some of the ways you can size up the competition as part of your content creation efforts.
Google doesn’t outright tell us who’s site is the most authoritative.
There are third-party tools that give you a pretty good idea though.
Here’s a screenshot from a tool we like to use, Ahrefs:
Authority Score 101
Take a look at the two numbers on the right, UR and DR. Here is the explanation of what these scores measure directly from Ahrefs:
Domain Rating is a proprietary Ahrefs’ metric that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (in terms of its size and quality).
URL Rating (UR) shows the strength of a target page’s backlink profile on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with latter being the strongest. Both internal and external links are taken into account when calculating this metric
Every page on your website has the same Domain Rating (DR) that are based on a few things:
Linking root domains – This just means the total number of websites that link to you. 3 links from three different websites are better than 3 links from the same website. Make sense? Ok good.
Authority of the linking root domains – Quality beats quantity here. 1 link from a high authority domain can be more important than many links from low-quality websites
Link profile – A link profile is all the links you have on your website + how they are linked. A good example to help you understand: a link from a medium authority domain that links out to a handful of other websites can be better than a high authority domain that links out to a ton of other sites. The authority of the whole site, in a way, gets split up by the total number of links. This concept is called “link juice.”
Each page on your website has its own unique URL rating (UR).
Here’s how to think about this. Website pages show up on Google, not entire websites.
Here’s a page on our website that ranks on page one in the search engine results page (SERP):
Google wants the best pages to show up on the SERP for a query (what people type into the search bar). In this case, it’s providing results for people who search for things like “Minneapolis SEO” “Minneapolis SEO company” “Minneapolis SEO agency” etc.
So instead of looking for which websites have the best information about these topics, Google chooses individual pages to show up on the results page.
One of the factors it uses is the authority of individual pages that are targeted for “Minneapolis SEO.”
This authority is measured by UR.
Some of the factors that affect UR are:
Linking root domains to the page – Each website that links to this exact page – https:/www.mltgroup.com/minneapolis-seo.php boosts the authority of the page itself
Linking root domain authority – You want to get links from pages with high DR and UR pointing to pages you want to rank on Google
Internal links – Internal links are links from one page of a website to another page of a website. Why is this important? Internal linking tells Google, “Hey, this page is important!” When you create a page you want to rank, you should link to it from lots of other pages on your website. This screenshot shows how this structure can work
When you’re doing keyword research, you want to think about the authority of the pages who rank for the keywords you’re trying to target.
It’s not an exact science, but here are some rough guidelines:
Low authority sites/pages – If you have a newer website that doesn’t have much authority yet, you want to first focus on keywords that have low to medium authority themselves (low = 10-30)
Medium authority sites/pages – As you create and promote content over time, your site authority increases, making it easier to rank for more competitive keywords (medium = 30-50)
High authority sites/pages – If you publish and promote great content over a long period of time, you can start to rank for highly competitive keywords. High competitive keywords usually get more total traffic volume, which means the number of people who search for that keyword in a month. You will need to write the best quality content possible to rank for these terms (high = 50+).
Other Site Authority Considerations and Tools
Site authority is just one of many metrics you can use to gauge your chances of ranking a page on Google.
Just because your site pages have lower authority than others doesn’t mean you can’t rank them. You just have to go the extra mile to beat out the others.
Here are some ways you can do that:
Write 10x content
Get a handful of top quality backlinks. Nathan Gotch has an excellent backlink guide you can use to get started
Use smart outbound links. We will talk about this in more depth, but the quality of the links you put on your pages that link to other sources can help your page rank, too
Be bold. You won’t succeed in content marketing unless you’re willing to do what others won’t. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box and over deliver. A great example of this: Neil Patel spent tens of thousands of dollars and essentially wrote a book worth of content to rank for “online marketing“
Keyword Research Essentials
Keyword research is a topic that can go into great depth. Here are the cliff notes of a great keyword strategy and some excellent resources you can use to learn more:
Steal your competitor’s keywords – With tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEM Rush you can plug your competitor’s URLs into their dashboards to see what keywords they already rank for. Then, you can create better versions of their content to outrank them 🙂
Good old fashioned brainstorming – You know what products and services you sell. You also have an idea of what words people might use to search for products and services in your niche. Start with those as a baseline. Take a pen and pad, write ideas down, and cross-check with keyword research tools
Make up your own damn keywords – If you have a unique strategy or insight that helps people in your niche, create content about it and make up a name for your strategy. It’s a nice hack you can use to get on page 1 fast. Some people go as far as to give their companies a unique name. As their brand gets recognized, they create a total keyword volume out of thin air! Remember earlier when we said to be creative? This is an example of what we meant.
Keyword Research Resources and Tools
The basics are enough to get you started, but if you’re looking for more in-depth resources to start your content creation campaign, these guides will be a ton of help:
On top of doing keyword research, you can perform market research to make your content even better.
Part of this research involves studying your competition.
The other part involves studying your potential customers and people in your target audience.
Study the SERP
We wanted to rank this post for keywords like “quality content” and “SEO” content.
When studying the SERP and the blog posts we found, we noticed a few things in common between the posts and saw ways to create something better.
First, we noticed most of the posts used short tips and tidbits on how to create quality content that was a bit vague:
If you wanted to create content using these tips, you’d have a general idea, but not a step by step process or useful resources.
That’s why we put together step by step information with screenshots, resources, and concrete processes you can use right now to create quality content yourself (and if you don’t have the time, our company will use this exact process for your business.)
We also noticed the posts talked (mostly) about ways to impress Google.
Yes, you have to optimize your content for search engines, but your number one goal is creating content your visitors find useful.
In a later section, you’ll see our step by step process for creating user-focused content.
A final, and really important item, we saw missing was a lack of focus on the content creators themselves.
Nowhere did we find tips on the mindset and tools you need to be a successful content creator.
Or, for business owners looking for content creation help, we didn’t see any tips on finding the right type of agency or content marketer to work with. We included sections on both in our guide.
Studying the SERPs is just one of a few important tasks for content creation.
Stick with us to discover the true keys to content marketing success…
Use The World’s Largest Customer Research Center
If your business doesn’t have a product, service, or content related to something on Amazon, you have a very obscure niche.
Amazon reviews offer great insights you can use to create content.
We looked at some books on content marketing to see what readers thought about books on creating quality content:
We looked for 3-star reviews, which usually have a good mix of praise and criticism. We found some interesting insights.
Some readers were looking for relatable ideas for their kind of business instead of the “create epic content to grow a massive company” style content you often see:
This led to us creating a section with examples and scenarios for normal small and medium-sized business owners.
We also noticed many comments about formatting and ease of use for finding information:
We added a table of contents, FAQ section, and worked to make our in-depth guide as simple to read as possible.
We also noticed a theme where readers didn’t feel the content was catered to their experience level:
In our tips section, you’ll see sections for different skill levels.
Customer Research With Quora
Quora is a question and answer platform. Users ask questions about a wide range of subjects. You can plug keywords into Quora to see what questions people are aking in your niche. You can use these insights to create content that answers people’s questions, which can help your posts rank better on Google (remember Google likes user-focused content).
Digging through Quora, we found this question, which led to us creating a section with our top recommended tools:
With the keywords and insights in hand, you can start to plan for the different types of content you can create for your business’s website.
Different Types of Content You Can Create
Different types of content require different strategies to be successful.
If you’re a content marketer (or you’ve hired an SEO agency to help you out), it’s important to know what goal each type of content serves.
If you want to get technical about it, there are lots and lots of different categories content can fit into.
For this guide, we’ll focus on the basics (pro tip: mastering the basics is often better than trying all techniques at once.)
You’re reading a blog post right now.
Why? Probably because you’re looking for information to help you create your own content or insights you can use to get somebody to do it for you.
Either way, you’re here because you need or want information.
If you don’t think this post is going to deliver what you want, you’ll leave.
If you think the post does deliver want, you’ll read through the whole post, maybe sign up to get even more marketing tips, or reach out to us directly because you want our help.
We write blog posts to educate people about content marketing and SEO.
We want our content to be so in-depth and useful that you can implement the strategies on your own.
Why? Because we’re building our brand as content experts. Getting every single person who reads our posts to buy our services would be nice, but that’s not our goal. Done strategically, creating a company blog can help your businessstand out as an industry leader.
Blog Post Best Practices
If you want your blog to be successful, it has to hit certain benchmarks like:
Intent – Search intent means people who visit your blog post get what they’re expecting. Study the posts that rank well for your target keyword to get insights on intent.
Optimized – Each blog post you write must be optimized for a certain topic or keyword to rank on Google.
Media – Pictures, videos, infographics, and other forms of media keep readers on the page longer. “Dwell time” is a ranking factor search engines use.
With these benchmarks in mind, focus on the content marketing done in your industry. Blog styles and formats vary from industry to industry.
A simple recipe that works for any industry, though: study the blog posts your competitors create and make your content undeniably better.
Services and product pages have a simple goal: get people to buy or request more information.
Your service and product pages should be more focused and, for lack of a better word, aggressive than your blog posts.
Each services page should include:
A Unique Selling Proposition or Tag Line
You have to provide reasons why your product or service is better than the others and communicate it well.
Look at content marketing expert Neil Patel’s service page for his agency, Neil Patel Digital:
He does a couple things well here. The call to action at the top of the page is simple, straightforward, and compelling at the same time. Who doesn’t want more traffic?
On top of that, he displays logos of the companies he’s worked with. Why? Two persuasion techniques are used here: social proof and the power of association.
Social proof is basically evidence of why something is good, e.g., positive book reviews. Us humans like to know other people trust a brand or product before we purchase it. Then there’s the association bias.
Whenever you can, it’s smart to associate yourself with other trusted brands. Who doesn’t know Facebook, Google, and eBay? Neil leverages his partnerships with these companies and it’s persuasive because they’re so well known.
Highlight the Benefits of Your Product/Service
Content creation often boils down to one question:
What’s in it for me?
All the content on your product and services pages should answer that question.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a second. Say they visit one of your services pages and the first paragraph they see is something boring about how your company “was founded in 1965 in a one-room shack” or whatever.
Does that information really drive decision-making? Perhaps, but more often than not business owners use their service and product pages the wrong way – to talk about themselves and talk about the features of their services instead of the benefits.
Nobody cares about the fact your riding mower has x, y, and z capabilities. They care that your lawn mower mows lawns faster!
Focus on the benefits your product or service provides.
As the famous saying goes, “People don’t buy drills, they buy holes.”
Look at this example from Legion Athletics. On a product page for one of their supplements, they start the page by addressing the problem and providing solutions in the form of benefits:
They list all the features of the product on the bottom of the page. Much more time is spent on highlighting the benefits of the product and the transformation it will provide people who buy it.
This is how smart marketing works.
Many of the guidelines for creating great blog content apply to creating product/service pages:
Content length – Your content has to be as long or longer than the competition to rank. For product/service pages, use images to “break up” the words on the page
Media – See how the video was used in the example above? Adding media to your product/service pages can make them more persuasive and keep people on your pages longer.
Optimization – You’ll need to do keyword research and optimize your product/service pages, too. You can use modifiers to get more clicks like “Buy” “Discount” “20% off” “Free Trial” etc.
Calls to Action – Make sure to prompt readers to either buy or learn more about your product/service in an overt way (see screenshot below)
When we use the phrase landing pages, we’re talking about highly-target pages that provide readers two options:
Engage by signing up or buying
You won’t see menus on these pages. You won’t see any links pointing you somewhere else.
These pages are focused.
Landing pages are often used to get e-mail subscribers.
Let’s say you’re running Facebook Ads to get more customers. The last thing you want is to spend money, have them click on your ad, and then leave without subscribing.
This is why most landing pages make it crystal clear what they want you to do next:
Other forms of content exist and are useful. We focused on written content creation for this post because it’s a core type of content you must master.
Once your content marketing campaign is in full swing, you can try other formats to pour gasoline on the fire.
Video can be an excellent content marketing tool. Some people prefer visual content to written because…they don’t like to read all that much! No worries, video is a great way to repurpose your content. Each blog post you publish can be transformed into a video. Each video can be broken up into smaller pieces and shared on platforms like Instagram. You can take one video and feature it across multiple platforms like Youtube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Most SEO best practices posts don’t tell you anything new.
The posts usually contain the same old SEO information and the writers simply add the current year to the title.
We want to be different.
This post is going to cover the SEO best practices you won’t hear anywhere else.
Above and beyond the normal advice like “create epic content or use the Skyscraper technique” we’re going to look at SEO insights that really move the needle.
Let’s dive in.
The Most Important SEO Best Practice of Them All
The SEO industry has a lot in common with the weight loss, self-help, and finance industries.
Every year, millions of articles come out in these spaces with either the same old advice:
“Write down your goals”
“Save 20% of your income”
Or there’s a hot new fad everyone wants to jump on:
“Do the Keto diet”
“Wake up at 5 a.m. and meditate”
In the case of SEO, the common advice would be something like “perform outreach to get backlinks” and the advice of the day might be in relation to the latest algorithm change.
In all cases, you’re choosing the wrong strategy if you dwell too long on either type of advice.
The most important SEO best practice is simple:
Experiment with new strategies
Analyze your findings
Double down on what works
Instead of reading articles about writing epic content, write epic content (or hire someone to do it) and measure the results.
Instead of watching videos about blogger outreach, take the last piece of content you wrote and promote it as hard as you possibly can.
If you’re a business owner who’s on the fence about working with an agency or getting marketing help, stop reading blog posts about “finding the right agency,” pick one and give them 12 months to build a successful campaign.
SEO has much more to do with implementing sound advice than it does being an expert.
Someone with less SEO knowledge but more commitment can rank their websites higher than the competition. Speaking of…
With that belief in mind, you don’t go the extra mile when it comes to marketing. Maybe you try writing some SEO content, but you don’t take it any further.
You can’t see past ranking #1 for “Plumbing services in Ohio.” You have modest goals because you run a modest business in a modest industry.
Instead of doing what every other plumber in the city does and wishing for the best, why not go above and beyond your competition — not just in SEO, but building a brand that stands out in your entire industry.
For local SEO, here are some techniques you can use that most of your competitors won’t:
Write detailed blog posts about interesting ways your business connects with related topics, e.g., your new green plumbing system/fighting climate change
Here’s an excerpt from the post discussing the strategy:
The first principle of the strategy is that you should only write something if it’s going to be the best article on that topic on the Internet. Anything less than that is a waste of time. If there is already a better article on the topic out there, then you’re only adding to the infomania pollution of the Internet by publishing yours, so you must only publish something if it is truly the best article on the topic.
Why does this strategy work?
Because it focuses on the user first and SEO second.
Google is not (just) interested in your website’s authority score. It’s interested in whether or not your website — and business as a whole — serves the needs of searchers.
When it comes to creating content, designing your website, creating a site structure, and more, start with the premise that you want to provide the best user experience possible.
Writing in-depth content that answers readers questions
Having a great user experience
Adding entertaining elements like media
After you’re done, go back in and use the core SEO techniques.
Understand this Core Behavioral SEO Best Practice
Remember when I said SEO and marketing are a lot like finance, weight-loss, and self-improvement?
These industries have another thing in common:
The need to commit to goals.
Consider adding the commitment to your company’s marketing to your list of goals for 2019 and follow through with it.
But, as of this moment, we’re not trying to become the go-to experts about these topics.
First, because we focus on providing useful content for business owners and marketing employees, we want to write about topics that are the most actionable for our audience.
We’re not discussing A.I. in strategy meetings with potential clients, so why write about it?
Second, as of this moment, we simply can’t write about those topics with a level of authority we’d feel comfortable with.
This is the exact opposite attitude of many other SEO companies and digital marketing agencies.
They might write a paragraph about artificial intelligence in their blog post, but if you reached out to ask them to build a custom A.I. based digital marketing strategy for you, they wouldn’t be able to do it.
SEO is at the peak of competitiveness in 2019. Writing “me-too” content isn’t going to work. Mentioning topics that are hot and trendy, but you know nothing about, won’t work either.
Focus on becoming the best at what you know and sharing it with your audience. This 80/20 approach will reap massive rewards.
Run Your Content Marketing Campaign, Add Experiments Along the Way, and Double Down on What Works
You have your content planned out for the year, but written content can’t be your only content marketing channel.
You’ll have to use a combination of these channels:
The goal and steps are simple — test marketing channels and run experiments until you find a channel worth mastering.
You don’t want to throw spaghetti at the wall forever. When you find a channel that works, do it again.
“Everyone who’s ever launched a product—a book, an event, a course—has asked this question. It’s the number-one question every amateur entrepreneur wants answers to. It’s the question I asked after launching my first product.
And it is absolutely the wrong question to ask.
I made the mistake of asking this question to Derek Halpern right after my first successful course launch.
I had released a brand-new course for writers called Tribe Writers. Even though I launched it to a list of less than 2,000 people, I sold over 400 courses and made $25,000… in a week
“What should I build next?” I asked Derek.
“Whaddya, stupid?!” Derek said in his most wonderful New Yorker accent.
“Uh, no?” I said.
“Why would you go build something new when you have a product that is selling?”
“Let me ask you something,” he continued. “Do you really think everyone who needs this product has heard about it yet?”
“Oh, definitely not.”
“Good. And do you think everyone who has heard about it and is going to buy it has bought it? Or do you think more people on your list will eventually buy it?”
“I think more people will buy it.”
“Ok. So why are you talking about another product? Why don’t you just keep launching this product and learning how to sell it better and better?”
Once you find a marketing channel that works for you – double, triple, or quadruple down on it.
Here are some excellent examples of people doing just that.
[…] managing money isn’t necessarily about what you know; it’s how you behave. But that’s not how finance is typically taught or discussed. The finance industry talks too much about what to do, and not enough about what happens in your head when you try to do it.
This quote doesn’t just describe finance, but many other industries including SEO.
Add Sub-Head Here
See, it’s easy to nod your head when you work with an agency and they tell you that SEO takes 12 months.
It’s hard to stick with the campaign after you’re 6 months in, spent $15,000 on the campaign, and haven’t got the flood of traffic you hoped for yet.
Facebook ads seem like a great way to promote your content.
But sticking with them when your ads are bleeding money could mean the difference between disappointment and marketing pay dirt.
Our SEO best practices guide contains much less tactical information and much more behavior-oriented and psychological information.
Why? Because winning the SEO game is about what goes on between your ears, not the techniques themselves.
Trust the process long enough to get real insights.
The SEO best practices that work have nothing to do with simple techniques and strategies. Often, they have more to do with comittment, persistence, and long-term thinking.
What do you think?
Are there any SEO best practices you’d like to add?
Allow us to explain how this ties into SEO for real estate.
Google uses a variety of factors to rank website pages and there are a few key factors they use that make it hard for smaller businesses to rank for competitive search terms as part of the realtor SEO process.
Some of those factors are:
Authority – SEO authority is measured by many factors including backlinks, citations, content, site architecture, and much more. Big brands check the boxes across the board.
Brand recognition – Google shows preferences for businesses and websites with high brand recognition
Service and product type – Certain types of services and businesses make it difficult for small businesses to rank because of the way they choose to display listings on the search engines results page (SERP)
Let’s take a look at each factor one by one.
While Google doesn’t share its ranking recipe with us, many smart SEOs have created useful metrics. Moz uses domain authority and page authority to help show which sites have more authority than others.
Domain authority – This measure calculates the authority of your domain name (your website as a whole.) They use the number of inbound links, otherwise known as backlinks, the age of your domain name, your internal linking profile, and more to create this score.
Page authority – This measure calculates the authority of a single page on your website. They use the same factors above to calculate your score, but on a page by page basis.
Let’s take a look at the DA and PA of some of the websites that rank well for competitive search terms like “Homes for sale in Minneapolis” and “Homes for sale in Minnesota.”
These are very valuable terms, as they receive a combined total of 15,000 searches per month.
Here is a screenshot from the Moz analysis tool that shows the DA and PA for a website page that ranks highly for these terms:
Domain Authority and Page Authority
The website example has a high domain authority score.
Scores of 90 and above are reserved for major brands like the companies above, CNN, Facebook, Twitter, and Google itself.
Page authority scores of 50 and above are also very difficult to achieve
The odds of a smaller real estate company achieving those scores are slim to none.
The website page example shows hundreds of different linking domains to the page. The more sites that link to an individual page, the better. Big brand website pages have no problem receiving links from various domains because they’re well known and established.
The website also has a high number of individual links pointing to each page.
In our example, we’ll use a score pulled from a realtor website in the area (that doesn’t have proper SEO yet):
This score is typical for an individual realtor website and it’s no match for the big brands who rank for these terms.
In fact, the entire first page of the search engine results page for these terms feature big brand companies with very high scores:
According to most SEO data, if you’re not in the top 3 results on a SERP, you won’t receive much traffic:
While ranking on page one for these terms would help you gain a large amount of traffic, you’d need to spend the same amount of money, time, and resources as these big brands and it would take a very, very long time to do so. These brands have been established on Google and other search engines for decades.
Real estate SEO requires you to find unique opportunities to rank in search through long-tail keywords, which we’ll discuss later on in the post.
Other search engine results page factors
By looking at these results page examples, you’ll notice the following:
Brand recognition – For competitive terms, big brands get special treatment. Why? Because they know they can trust the credibility of big brands. Oftentimes, their name recognition alone will push them to the top of search results, even if they’re not actively using the type of real estate SEO techniques we’ll show you.
Service and product type – Google also knows people searching for homes in large metro areas want to browse lots of listings. Industries that exhibit this behavior from searches, like real estate, will always show preference to aggregates like these.
Fortunately, there are techniques to help you rank highly for a number of medium and lower competition phrases.
For small businesses in competitive industries, targeting a large number of medium and low competition phrases gives you a better chance of gaining more traffic as a whole.
A real estate SEO expert realizes a little extra thinking is needed and the right techniques can help any real estate website get the traffic it needs to grow their business.
Let’s take a look at some of our best real estate SEO hacks.
Realtor SEO Step 1 – Find Long Tail Key Phrases
The question is, if you can’t rank for the phrases you think are best suited to your business, what do you try to rank for?
If you think outside the box, you can find dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of keywords with decent traffic volume.
First, you want to find key phrases related to your business based on the main topic, but not directly targeting it.
Here are some low to medium competition real estate SEO keywords we found based on the topic “Homes for sale in Minneapolis”
Twin Cities real estate (220 searches per month)
Central MN homes for sale (220 searches per month)
Minneapolis lots for sale (800 searches per month)
Northern mn lake homes for sale (170 searches per month)
Lake homes for sale MN (4400 searches per month)
Lake homes for sale southern MN (170 searches per month)
Lakefront homes for sale MN (320 searches per month)
Lake property MN (320 searches per month)
Houses for sale south Minneapolis (480 searches per month)
Lake cabins for sale in Minneapolis (1000 searches per month)
Notice how each term listed above didn’t attempt to compete for direct variations of the main term “homes for sale in Minneapolis,” like “homes for sale in Eagan, MN”
Why? Because these variations [competitive keyword] + [suburb] are all dominated in real estate SEO by the same big brands above. They have an infinite number of listings and variables to create pages that rank.
What you’re looking for are terms that feature individual small business on page one.
Type each researched phrase into Google. If you see an individual small business appear, you have a shot at ranking.
Notice the insights from our research. The low to medium competition phrases we found didn’t mention the main phrase head on, but rather niche topics surrounding the phrases like:
Regions of the state instead of the exact city names
Nicknames in the industry/state people are familiar with like Twin Cities
The big brands usually focus on competitive terms only, because they can. They dump tons of data onto their websites and, voila, they rank.
The lower to medium competition phrases contain topics as opposed to overt key phrases.
Bonus SEO Techniques
If you get even more outside the box and double down on your research, you can find tons of awesome related topics people are searching for on Google.
Think outside the box. What are some topics people might search that aren’t competitive keywords?
Look at more of our research findings:
Best neighborhoods in Minneapolis (880 searches per month)
Best schools in Minnesota (880 searches per month)
Best neighborhoods in St. Paul (140 searches per month)
Best places to live in Minnesota (1300 searches per month)
Cost of living in Minnesota (1300 searches per month)
Benefits of Using Long Tail Real Estate SEO ‘Topics’ over High Competition Keywords
When you create content around long-tail topics instead of high competition keywords, you stand a much higher chance of getting traffic from search engines.
Also, you are getting a much more targeted and qualified searcher.
Think of someone looking for “homes for sale in Minneapolis.”
They could be ready to buy a home or they could just be casually browsing. They’re also reaching results pages with tons of results, which can be too overwhelming for some.
Now, imagine you’re the person searching for phrases like “Minnesota lake homes” “best neighborhoods in Minnesota,” and “best schools in Minnesota”
Someone who performs all these searches might be seriously thinking about buying a home in the area.
If your website pages rank for these topics, you’re giving the searcher exactly what they want.
They don’t have to sift through mountains of data and content to get the answer they’re looking for.
These topics also signal a very valuable factor — search intent. Search intent is the reason behind the user’s search. Targeted searches mean a higher level of search intent, which means you’re getting a more qualified lead.
Imagine this same user not only searching for multiple topics but continuing to find your business at the top of the results pages for each topic.
Supply them with very targeted, informative, and useful content and your business will be top of mind.
Even if they don’t engage with you right away, where do you think they’ll visit when they’re really ready to buy?
The big, bland, uninformative aggregate which may or may not have a Minnesota lake home in a great neighborhood with a good school — where even if they do find this perfect home it will be a needle in a haystack — or your website that’s already proven to give them the exact answers they were looking for?
Step 3 – Create Content that’s 10x Better than the Competition
Long tail key phrases, or topics, aren’t anything new.
Hundreds of SEO’s, marketers, and agencies talk about using them.
Many people do try ranking for long tail key phrases, but they stop short of what they need to do to reach the top of the results.
Here’s what a typical marketer would do:
Find a long tail key phrase
Create a piece of content around that key phrase
Wait for the rankings to skyrocket and traffic to roll in
A real estate SEO expert would take it further. These techniques might work for non-competitive industries, but to do well in competitive industries, you need to do more.
This is where the power of content marketing comes in.
Content marketing is the process of creating content to engage, educate, and persuade readers..
The rules for success are the same in content marketing as they are for … anything else.
You have to work harder than your competition and provide more value. The idea of content marketing sounds nice, but when it comes to doing it well, most won’t put in the required effort.
This is why this real estate SEO technique works so well. Most people aren’t willing to do it. The competition for low-hanging fruit — results anyone can get — is ten times higher than the competition for results that require effort.
This is the most counterintuitive aspect of content marketing, the higher you aim, the easier it is to compete.
At MLT Group, we provide realtor SEO services and can create a real estate SEO strategy just like this. If you’re curious to learn more, send us a note.
Here are the steps you can take to create ‘10x’ content to blow your competition out of the water.
Visit your competitors’ pages and analyze them
Let’s look at the top result for “Lake Homes in Minnesota.”
It has strong authority scores, but these can be overcome:
Here’s a screenshot of the top ranking web page:
Let’s analyze what it does well:
Focus – you can tell the entire site is focused on one subject
Search filter – while they list thousands of results, they provide an easy to use search feature
Authority factors – as stated above, the site is pretty authoritative
To outdo this result, do everything it does well and then add to it. Fill in the gaps and do what your competition isn’t doing.
Some ideas for this are:
Homepage results – This result is a homepage. As it stands, many home pages still rank well, but topic-focused pages with great content marketing are trending up
One way to outrank your competitors is to simply double or triple the amount of content they have on their page.
You don’t just want to create content that rambles on. You want to make it both useful and relevant to the search engines. The next step will show you how to do just that.
Find Related Phrases
Take the main topic you’re creating the page on and type it into Google. Scroll to the bottom of the results page to the ‘people also searched for’ section:
These related searches are known as LSI keywords. If you add these keywords to your content, it helps Google better understand what the page is about.
Bonus tip: take each of these LSI keywords and put them into a keyword suggestion tool like Ubersuggest to find even more related keywords to your related keywords. Then, you can map out the LSI keywords as topic headings and use their related keywords for the content within those headings.
Create a Page With Solid SEO Structure
The main topic of your page is “Lake homes in Minnesota.” You’ll want to mention this phrase a few times in your content.
Then, you can use the LSI keywords to create an outline for your 10x content page. Here’s an example of how we might do it.
Page Title – Lake Homes in Minnesota
In the opening section, you can create an introduction for the entire page. Make sure to use the main target keyword in the first sentence of the page because it is a ranking factor for Google.
Add heading – Lake Homes by Region
In this section, you can mention that you service regions across the state of Minnesota. Then, you can add subheadings for each major region.
Lake Homes in North Central MN
Lake Homes in the Twin Cities
Lake Homes in Southern MN
Each of these regional sections could include featured listings from the are and a brief introduction for each region discussing what’s awesome about living there.
Then, for each regional listing, you can display all the individual cities within the region. You can add links to each city that takes users to a page displaying listings narrowed down to each city.
Lake homes in Wayzata
Lake homes in Minnetonka
Lake homes in Wabasha
Bonus tip: when users click on each individual city, what should they find? Another page with awesome content, featured listings and sub-topics. In the future, when your site is more authoritative, each page could rank for a long tail keyword.
Add heading – Lake Homes by Type
In this section, you can write a paragraph about the different types of lake homes you provide. You can show a featured listings section with one home of each type to explore
Also, you can create sub-topics based on your research, list them, and link them to pages with full listings for each type of lake home. Again, these pages will feature their own detailed, informative, and useful content.
You can repeat this process for every variable of region or type based on “lake homes in Minnesota.” Also, you can create headings around other useful and relevant topics like “best Minnesota neighborhoods” “best Minnesota schools” and “cost of living in Minnesota.” Each of these sections will have content tailored to areas near Lake homes.
Doing this will create a ‘resource hub.’
See this video from Moz for an explanation:
Google likes pages that layout information neatly and tell users exactly where they need to go for more detailed information.
Also, Google’s robots ‘crawl’, or scan, the pages of their website. If your content and link structure is too confusing, Google will stop crawling your pages, meaning your results won’t get indexed and rank on Google.
You can create these ‘resource hub’ pages for medium competition topics like “Lake Homes in Minnesota.”
Over time, you can add unique individual pages for each LSI keyword and subtopic, giving you many opportunities to rank.
Again, even for these little niche pages, you want to 10x the content on those pages compared to your competition.
Underneath each of these niche topics, you can repeat the process and add more useful content, e.g., writing unique blog posts and linking to them from your niche page.
Here are some examples of real estate blog topics you could write about:
Best neighborhoods in the area
Top school districts
Tips on moving to a new city
This entire process will help your website cover a broad range of topics.
The cool part? The more you do this, the more opportunity each page of your website has to rank for dozens or even hundreds of keywords.
For real estate SEO, creating topic-based pages and subpages works much better than trying to rank for competitive terms. And, it creates a multiplier effect. Once Google crawls your page enough times, it’ll realize you’re a go-to resource, and it will start giving you preference over other websites.
Instead of wishing you could capture a share of the 15,000 searches for “homes in Minnesota,” you can get double the traffic by avoiding the strategy altogether.
Optimize Your Content on Each Page
After you’ve created your ‘resource hub’ page, make sure you still follow the basic on-site optimization steps:
Use your target keyword in the content
Use your target keyword in the meta description
Use your target keyword in headings
Save all images you add to the page under names that have keywords in them (Google can’t read images)
Link to other credible resources from your page, e.g., local newspapers, trusted local bloggers, Wikipedia, .gov and .edu websites.
You can use media, tools, and content structure to make your pages more useful and entertaining. This serves a major benefit.
These strategies keep users on your site longer and Google tracks time spent on your site as a factor.
It also helps you avoid a ‘bounce’ – when a user visits your site and leaves quickly – which is a negative ranking factor.
Use the following strategies:
Write short sentences
Use headings and bullet points to make your content easier to follow
If your page is very long, create a hyperlinked menu so users can pick and choose which sections to read without having to read
Add Google maps to your page
Add videos from your Youtube channel to your page (Google owns Youtube and prefers sites who display Youtube Videos)
Add visuals like images and infographics
Step 4 – Promote Your Content
This is the last leg of the race.
If you want to guarantee your pages will rank high, you want to promote your content and build relevant links from high-quality sources back to your pages.
Although backlinking isn’t the only SEO strategy you need in 2018, it’s still important
If you want high-quality links, you have to reach out to other websites and ask for them.
There are a few ways to find quality links.
Get Links from Your Competitors
You can enter your competitors’ website URLs into backlink research tools from companies like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEM rush. Find the websites who link to your competitors’ websites and present them your new, improved, 10x better version of content on the same subject.
A few of the sites you reach out to will link back to you.
You can repeat the process for each of the pages that rank on the first page.
Source Local Bloggers
You can reach out to local bloggers in the area and reach out to them.
Some good examples of types of local blogs you could reach out to:
You can reach out to each blog and attempt to get links in the following ways:
Find a related blog post and suggest one of your pages to link to as a bonus resource
Offer to write a guest post that relates to their blog topic and link it back to your website
Offer to pay for a sponsored post by the blogger themselves for a link back to your website
Use Google Alerts to Find Easy Linking Opportunities
Google Alerts is a tool you can use to get notifications whenever a site mentions a certain phrase.
You want to set Google alerts for your business time to get a link whenever someone mentions your business.
Also, you can enter some of your topics and related phrases. Whenever someone mentions the topics as part of their content, you can reach out with your useful resource to link to.
Promote Your Work On Social Media and Forums
You’ll want to share each piece of content you create on all your social media platforms. You can also use tools like Buffer to schedule multiple posts at once and share them repeatedly.
Find relevant forums surrounding your topic and post your content there as well.
Use Retargeting Facebook Ads to Follow Up With Visitors
If you install a tracking code on each of your ‘resource hub’ pages, individual topic pages, and blog posts, you can send them retargeting ads to bring them back to the site.
Step 5 – Wash, Rinse, Repeat
If you perform this process repeatedly you can start to rank for many topics and keywords in a matter of a few months.
If you continue to do it, your site will start to become more authoritative as a whole, making it possible for you to start ranking for competitive key phrases.
This strategy takes a lot of work. As a real estate business owner, you might not have the time to do it yourself.
That’s where our digital marketing agency comes in. We can implement the entire strategy we just showed you to help you dominate real estate SEO and SEM in your market and location.
Call us at 507-281-3490 or fill out this form and we’ll get back to you right away.
Instead of thinking of how much online marketing costs, think of how much it’s costing you not to market your business effectively online. Even if you have a steady client base, good service, or healthy revenue, chances are you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t get the most out of your web presence.
Here’s something we can agree on…
We live in a digital world. Keeping up with the trends in the marketplace won’t be optional much longer. Deep down, you know this, but we have some facts and data to back our findings.
Are you making one of these 5 online marketing mistakes?
Online Marketing Mistake # 1 – Not Having and Search Engine Optimized Website
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 buy into the search box — both paid and organic.. 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:
How many leads and customers are you missing out on by not having an optimized site?
Let’s say you sell a product that costs $100. Let’s also say an average of 500 people searches for that product in your area.
The number one result receives 33 percent of all traffic to a results page. If you were the number one spot, you’d have 165 leads coming in every month. If you converted 10 percent of those leads into sales, you’re looking at $1,650/month and roughly $20k /year of extra sales and that’s from an optimized page for one product. Think of numbers like those with multiple products and/or services.
This example illustrates what we’ve been able to do for clients in various industries. Do the math. Think about how putting your business in front of hundreds or thousands of people will do for your revenue.
Online Marketing Mistake # 2 – Not Blogging
If you thought the search engine optimization statistics were startling, take a look at the data behind the magic powers of blogging:
First, search engines want to know you’re regularly updating the content on your website. Search engines use this as a ranking factor because they want help users to find businesses who are proactive about keeping their site information up to date.
Second, people want to know you’re proactive about keeping your site information up to date. If they visit your blog to find you haven’t posted anything new since 2012, what will they think about your business?
We know what you’re thinking. You don’t have time to write a new blog post once a week or once a month.
That’s where MLT Group comes in. We provide blogging and other content marketing services to help you work on your business instead of in your business.
Online Marketing Mistake # 3 – Having a Slow Website
Did you know your website loading speed directly affects where your website ranks on Google and other search engines?
Think about it.
Doesn’t it annoy you when a site loads slowly? Haven’t you clicked away from a slow loading site to find a faster one?
Google uses certain measures as clues to how fast your site loads including:
Bounce rate – A bounce means someone visits your site and leaves quickly. Slow loading websites cause bounces. Google penalizes your site for having a high bounce rate.
Time spent on site – Google and the other engines also monitor how long people stay on your website. The longer they stay the better. Having too many bounces reduces the average time spent on your site.
According to a study analyzing 143,827 different websites, there is a significant drop off in site loading speed after the top five ranking results. What does this mean? To compete with other businesses trying to rank highly in Google, your site must be coded for fast loading speeds.
Does our team use a few of these remarkably effective and authoritative psychological content techniques? Maybe 😉
The point is this — unless you’ve dove deeply into the untapped power of content marketing, you have no idea how powerful it can be for your business.
Think about it.
While your competitors use the same old cliches and buzzwords to describe their business — words every business uses — like quality, efficiency, and customer service, you can shock and awe your site visitors with stellar content.
Maybe you’re no Hemingway. No worries. We employ a tightly knit group of a few dozen copywriters with expert digital marketing knowledge who can help your business attract and engage customers.
Here’s how it works. You sit down with our head editor. She interviews you. We take your answers and spin them into content gold.
Noticing a trend here? Working with a smart digital marketing company fills the gap between the results you want and the methods needed to achieve them.
Online Marketing Mistake # 5 – Ignoring Design and Multi-Media
Maybe you have a website, but it’s — to put it nicely — outdated.
If you think you can just get around to redesigning your site, think again.
Remember those two important metrics we mentioned earlier — bounce rate and time on site? Your website design affects both metrics in various ways.
If your design isn’t appealing, some visitors will visit it and leave creating a bounce. If on the other hand, you have an attractive website, visitors will stay longer and increase your average time on site statistics.
In addition to having an appealing design, you can incorporate other multi-media elements to keep your visitors’ eyes glued to your website:
Video – From commercials to product tutorials, video helps inform your users and gives them another option to learn more about your business aside from reading
Infographics – Infographics provide an effective way to display your companies benefits. For example, sharing an infographic about the benefits of working for your company can increase employee referrals
Images – Images on pages, in blog posts, and in photo galleries add another visually appealing element and can also show your product or services benefits. For example, you can display before and after pictures of a service you provide for homes.
The Bottom Line
Online marketing matters.
Investing in online marketing will provide the return you’re looking for as long as you do it the right way.
You have to work with a company you can trust. One who has intimate knowledge of the space.
How can you know who to trust? Take a look at the companies’ own online marketing.