ChatGPT for SEO: Comprehensive Guide to Maximize Benefits and Minimize Pitfalls
As experienced SEO experts who have been dabbling with AI for years, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to using AI in content creation.
ChatGPT has a lot of potential, and as it stands today, it is useful for a few SEO-related tasks. However, the reality is that it’s not a magic bullet (at least not yet) and there are some serious pitfalls to be aware of.
But don’t just take our word for it — we’ve also scoured Google’s official guidelines, along with our own candid experiences and those of other marketers, to give you the full story on using AI tools like ChatGPT for SEO tasks like content writing, keyword research, meta tag optimization, and more.
- Demystifying Google’s Guidelines for ChatGPT and AI-Generated Content
- ChatGPT For SEO: How to Make AI Your SEO Sidekick (and What to Avoid)
- Frequently Asked Questions About Using ChatGPT for SEO
- Can AI-Generated Content Rank Well in Google?
- Do You Have to Disclose That Your Content Is AI-Generated?
- Can Google Tell That Your Content Is AI-Generated?
Demystifying Google's Guidelines for ChatGPT and AI-Generated Content
AI-generated content is all the rage these days, but does it pass the Google test? And does having it on your website help or hurt your search engine rankings?
Why Google Gives the Green Light to AI-Generated Content
With the prevalence of AI tools like ChatGPT, Google has had to adapt its content guidelines to address the growing amount of machine-generated content.
And so far, the overwhelming message is that high-quality content is high-quality content, whether it was produced by humans or AI.
The top priority for Google is to deliver searchers with useful and relevant information, regardless of the method used to create it. The focus is on the end product, not the process.
The fact that a piece of content is AI-generated won’t give it an edge in Google’s eyes. However, it won’t be penalized for that reason, either. Quality and relevance are what matter most, and Google has specific guidelines for what makes content high-quality.
To sum it up, Google’s stance on AI-generated content is clear: quality is what matters, regardless of the production method. You should, therefore, prioritize generating high-quality content that meets E-E-A-T (Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness) standards and offers value to users.
“Our focus on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced, is a useful guide that has helped us deliver reliable, high quality results to users for years.”Danny Sullivan and Chris Nelson of the Google Search Quality team
If ChatGPT helps you do that, you’re golden.
If you’re using it to game the search engine algorithm…you could be in trouble.
AI Content Creation: Best Practices According to Google
With the use of AI-generated content on the rise, Google has issued guidelines to help creators ensure that AI-generated content meets the search engine’s requirements for quality and relevance:
- Write for people, not search engines. Produce helpful, reliable, people-first content that demonstrates the qualities of E-E-A-T.
- Always have someone on your team review all AI-generated content for accuracy and quality before it goes live.
- While not strictly required, it helps to include AI or automation disclosures for content where someone might question how the content was created.
- If you do choose to disclose the use of AI, don’t use the author byline of your content to do that, even when an AI tool is the primary author.
- Never use AI to produce content that mainly exists for the purpose of manipulating search rankings.
- Never use AI to ‘spin’ content stolen from other sources.
1. Aim For E-E-A-T with AI-Generated Content
E-E-A-T is all about showcasing your dazzling expertise, first-hand experience, unshakable authority, and rock-solid trustworthiness to cement your credibility and win over your audience.
It’s one of the main criteria Google uses to evaluate whether their search ranking systems providing helpful, relevant information. While these criteria don’t directly impact rankings, Google states outright that they offer invaluable insights for content creators looking to thrive in Google Search.
By understanding and adhering to the principles of Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness, you can better assess the quality of your own content and make informed adjustments to boost its performance.
Embracing E-E-A-T will not only improve the quality of your AI-generated content, but also help you align with the underlying factors that contribute to better visibility in Google Search.
In a nutshell, think of E-E-A-T guidelines as your secret weapon to success in Google Search, whether your content is crafted by humans, AI, or even better, a powerful combination of the two.
2. AI Writers Need Human Reviewers
While AI offers a powerful tool for creating content, it’s essential to have someone review and refine AI-generated content for accuracy and quality before you hit Publish.
Human review plays a crucial role in catching any errors or inaccuracies that AI may have overlooked, ensuring that the content truly provides value to users. This vital step guarantees that your content is useful, relevant, and trustworthy, aligning with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.
3. Add AI Disclosures Where It Makes Sense…
When it comes to generating content with AI, transparency matters. Disclosing the use of AI in your content creation process ensures that users understand how the content was crafted. This transparency not only builds trust with your audience, but also helps address any concerns they may have regarding the accuracy or trustworthiness of AI-generated content.
Being open about AI’s involvement in content creation also demonstrates a commitment to honesty and integrity, which can further enhance your brand’s reputation.
4. …But Save Bylines For Human Writers and Editors
While AI can be a valuable asset in content creation, Google recommends that the author byline credit the human contributor(s) who ultimately ensures the end product’s quality and accuracy, not the AI itself.
Instead, disclose AI usage within the text to maintain transparency and foster trust. This way, your audience remains informed about AI’s role in content generation while acknowledging the essential human oversight that guarantees the content’s value and reliability.
5. Use AI to Write for People, Not Search Engine Algorithms
Leveraging AI only for the purpose of manipulating search rankings breaches Google’s guidelines and can result in penalties. The primary objective should always be to create high-quality, valuable content that addresses users’ needs, with search engine optimization as a secondary focus.
AI can be a powerful tool for content creation, but it’s essential to use it ethically and responsibly. The key is to harness AI’s potential to enhance your content’s quality, readability, and relevance, rather than using it as a shortcut to game the SEO system.
By prioritizing genuine value and user experience, you’ll not only adhere to Google’s guidelines but also foster trust and credibility with your audience, ultimately leading to better long-term results in search rankings and online visibility.
6. Do Not Use AI to 'Spin' Content from Other Sources
In the realm of SEO content writing, ‘spun content’ refers to a black hat SEO tactic where you copy existing content from other sources, swap out a few key words or phrases with synonyms, and present the end result as ‘new’ content, with the goal of banging out a large volume of content using the lowest possible time and effort. The resulting content is usually lazy, hard to read, and generally unhelpful, not to mention that it’s pure plagiarism.
Although Google has gotten very good at detecting and penalizing spun content, ChatGPT and tools like it make spinning content easier than ever, so it’s a never-ending arms race. That said,
Using AI to ‘spin’ or copy content from other sources explicitly goes against Google’s guidelines on original and high-quality content creation and can result in an SEO penalty that is hard to remove.
Your focus should always be on generating distinctive and valuable content that provides value to users, rather than sneakily stealing content for the sake of manipulating search rankings.
ChatGPT For SEO: How to Make AI Your SEO Sidekick (and What to Avoid)
Right now, there’s no shortage of misinformation circulating the internet about the use of ChatGPT for SEO. These misconceptions tend to stem from misunderstandings of either ChatGPT’s capabilities, or of SEO itself.
To set the record straight, we’ve conducted thorough research and gained hands-on experience in this domain, leading us to develop a set of recommendations for using ChatGPT for SEO.
In this section, we’ll share the practical applications of ChatGPT for SEO, drawing from the hands-on experience of our SEO experts. These insights are based on what has actually worked for us — we don’t include anything here that we haven’t personally tested.
We’ll tell you what works, and outline the best practices to ensure the content you craft with ChatGPT adheres to Google’s guidelines for high-quality and original content.
1. Streamline the Creation of Schema Markup
One of the ways you can use ChatGPT for SEO is simplifying the process of creating Schema Markup. Schema Markup is a type of code that is added to a website’s HTML to provide search engines with more information about the content on the page. This additional information can include details about the author, ratings, reviews, and other relevant data that can help search engines better understand the content and display it more effectively in search results.
ChatGPT can be used to create Schema Markup by generating content that includes the necessary information for Schema Markup.
By using ChatGPT to create Schema Markup, you can save time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manually generating this content. Additionally, using ChatGPT ensures that the content is generated in a consistent and accurate manner, which can help to avoid errors and inconsistencies in the Schema Markup.
However, it is important to note that ChatGPT should not be relied upon solely for creating Schema Markup. It is still essential to have a human review the generated content to ensure that it is accurate and meets the necessary guidelines for high-quality content.
2. Optimize SEO Elements for Better Visibility
ChatGPT can be a valuable ally in brainstorming essential SEO elements like headlines, headings, meta descriptions, and meta titles. These components play a crucial role in optimizing web pages for search engines, ultimately enhancing their visibility in search results.
Leveraging ChatGPT for brainstorming can save time and effort, as it rapidly generates multiple options for each element. For instance, when creating a captivating headline, simply input basic information like the content’s topic or focus, and ChatGPT will present a list of potential headlines.
Similarly, ChatGPT can be used to generate ideas for headings, meta descriptions, and meta titles. By providing some key information about the content, ChatGPT quickly offers options that can be refined and optimized based on SEO best practices.
However, it’s important not to rely exclusively on ChatGPT for generating these elements. Human input and oversight are crucial for ensuring that the generated options are accurate, relevant, and in line with SEO best practices.
Additionally, remember that SEO is more than just keywords and rankings; headlines, headings, meta descriptions, and meta titles should also be engaging and compelling for human readers.
3. Quickly Craft Summaries, Tables, FAQs and Lists for Blog Posts
Featured Snippets appear at the top of Google search results, providing users with concise answers to their questions and often increasing click-through rates.
By incorporating structured formatting like bulleted lists, tables, FAQs, and summaries, you make it easier for search engines to understand and extract key information from your content, increasing the likelihood of winning a snippet.
Using ChatGPT for these elements also promotes consistency and accuracy across your content. By employing the same tool for these elements, you can maintain a uniform tone, language, and style, resulting in a more cohesive and professional-looking website.
4. Find a Starting Point for Broad Keyword Research on Unfamiliar Topics
Keyword research is crucial for optimizing your content for relevant search terms, ultimately enhancing its visibility in search results. ChatGPT can be a helpful starting point for conducting broad keyword research when you’re dealing with topics you don’t know much of anything about.
However, It is absolutely essential to note that ChatGPT does not have direct access to any metrics like keyword volume, difficulty, or SERP features. To obtain this information, you’ll need to use a dedicated keyword research tool or service. So you’ll need to plug the keywords you get from ChatGPT into another tool to see if they have actual value.
With that in mind, Tom Demers over at Search Engine Land has written an excellent article about how to use ChatGPT to find keyword ideas. We’ve tested this method and found it’s a great way to brainstorm jumping-off points for more in-depth keyword research using tools like SemRush.
5. Perfect for Snippets, Limited for Long-Form Content
ChatGPT shines when it comes to generating bite-size snippets of text for various contexts like landing pages, social media posts, and blog articles.
However, if you plan to use ChatGPT for bigger blocks of content, there’s a few important caveats to consider:
- Repetition: ChatGPT tends to repeat phrases within the same chat, resulting in robotic and formulaic content that puts readers to sleep. Right now, repetition is one of the single biggest tells for AI-generated content.
- Loss of Focus: Like a copywriter without their coffee, ChatGPT is prone to lose focus in long-form content, since it doesn’t actually know the overall purpose or intention of the text. You’ll start seeing a lot of unfocused or even incoherent passages.
- Lack of Natural Flow: Unlike skilled human writers use a variety of proverbial tools to boos readability: jumping between long and short sentences, breaking paragraphs into digestible chunks, cracking jokes to take the edge off, and sharing personal anecdotes to create a genuine connection. ChatGPT can do a decent job.
To make the most of ChatGPT’s potential, use it as a starting point for content and then refine the output with human expertise and creativity.
From our experience, the best approach is to think of ChatGPT as a brainstorming partner that helps you break free from the stifling grip of writer’s block. The next time you’re staring at a blank page, try plugging your ideas into ChatGPT — you’ll get an instant output that can help get those creative juices flowing. Once you’ve got a starting point from ChatGPT, you can take the reins and refine, expand, or build on the output to create a piece that truly resonates with your audience!
Frequently Asked Questions About Using ChatGPT for SEO
Yes, and here’s why: Google uses the same ranking factors for AI-generated content as it does for human-generated content. However content is produced, Google recommends that you aim to produce original, high-quality, people-first content demonstrating qualities E-E-A-T.
To create content that meets these criteria, Google recommends thinking in terms of the Who, How, and Why of content production:
- “Who” refers to the author or team responsible for creating the content. Include bylines that link to more information about the author, their expertise, and other content they have created. This helps establish credibility and authority.
- “How” refers to the process and tools, such as ChatGPT, you use to create content. Be transparent about the use of automation, its benefits, and its role in the content creation process. This builds trust with your audience and enhances the credibility of your content.
- “Why” refers to the purpose of creating content. Focus on producing high-quality, people-first content that meets the needs of users, rather than content aimed solely at manipulating search results or generating clicks.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to provide users with the most helpful and relevant content when they conduct a search.
To date, there haven’t been any reliable wide-scale tests conducted comparing the ranking of human-written versus AI-generated content in search engines like Google. Most examples found online are individual experiments that may not be directly comparable. There are individual examples of AI-generated content that has done well (like BankRate’s content), and content that has not (this experiment using a site with entirely AI-generated content), but the examples are so different that they’re not comparable.
The key takeaway is that Google’s ranking factors focus on the quality, relevance, and usefulness of the content, regardless of whether it is human-written or AI-generated. The main objective is to produce original, high-quality, people-first content that demonstrates Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
No, but there are times when you should seriously consider it. According to Google’s official developer blog, AI or automation disclosures are useful for any content where someone might wonder about the content creation process.
However, Google also notes that giving AI an author byline is not the way to do that. Instead, it’s important to be transparent about the use of AI in the content creation process, while also giving credit to the human authors and editors who were involved.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to disclose that content is AI-generated is up to you…at least for now. However, with the rapid advancement of AI technology and the increasing concerns surrounding AI-generated content, it’s possible that regulatory changes or platform-specific guidelines might require transparency in the future.
By proactively disclosing the use of AI in your content creation process now, you can stay ahead of potential future requirements and show your commitment to transparency and honesty with your audience.
Benefits and Drawbacks of AI Disclosure
- Provides transparency and builds trust with your audience
- Gets ahead of potential platform-specific or legal requirements in the future
- Bias against AI-generated content can create a perception that your content is less credible or trustworthy
- May raise ethical questions about the use of AI in content creation
- Reveals your content creation methods to competitors
Most likely. Back in November of 2022, Google software engineer Duy Nguyen said that Google has “algorithms to go after” those who post AI-plagiarized content. So, it’s safe to assume that Google can detect AI content.
And that makes sense. As a search engine, Google’s primary goal is to deliver high-quality, relevant, and useful content to its users. They’re continuously refining their algorithms to ensure that low-quality, plagiarized, or manipulative content is not rewarded with high rankings in search results.
Google invests heavily in machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve its search algorithms, so it is reasonable to assume they can identify and take action against AI-plagiarized content. However, this does not mean that all AI-generated content is inherently bad or penalized by Google. As long as AI-generated content is high-quality, original, and adds value to users, it can still perform well in search results.
The key is to use AI tools like ChatGPT responsibly. Aim to create content that caters to your audience’s needs and adheres to Google’s guidelines. By doing so, you can harness the power of AI to improve your SEO efforts while avoiding potential penalties or negative impacts on your search rankings.
A Balanced Approach to AI-Generated Content
While ChatGPT and other AI tools have their place in the world of SEO, they are no substitute for good writing, thoughtful content creation, and a strategic approach to SEO.
As with any tool, it’s important to use ChatGPT wisely and in line with best practices to avoid negative consequences for low-quality content or plagiarism. Remember that AI-generated content is not a magic bullet, and it’s up to you to ensure that your content meets the same standards of quality, relevance, and usefulness as any other content you might create.
Our team of SEO experts is ready to help you with your content creation and overall SEO strategy. We understand the importance of producing high-quality, original content that adheres to Google’s guidelines and offers value to your target audience.
If you’re interested in learning more about our services and how we can help you succeed in your SEO efforts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We look forward to working with you!
Geo-Targeting Blueprint: Discover How to Get More Leads, Sales, and Revenue with Location-Based Marketing
Whether you’re a small business looking to expand your reach or a large corporation looking to maximize your digital marketing ROI, geo-targeting can revolutionize the way you reach and engage with your target audience.
The power of geo-targeting is that it lets you reach the right audience in the right place at exactly the right time.
And with these tips and success strategies, your business can start using geo-targeting to generate more leads, sales, and revenue.
Get ready to take your marketing game to the next level with our tips and best practices as we dive deep into the world of geo-targeting to explore how it works, why it matters, and how you can make it work for you!
- What is Geo-Targeting?
- How Does Geo-Targeting Work?
- Geo-Fencing vs. Geo-Targeting
- Why Geo-Targeting Matters for Your Business
- Creative Ways to Use Geo-Targeting to Drive Leads, Sales and Revenue
- How to Use Geo-Targeting on Facebook, Google Ads & More
- Facebook and Instagram
- Google Ads
- Geo-Targeting Done Right: Proven Tips and Strategies for Success
- Maximize Your Marketing Results with the Power of Geo-Targeting
What is Geo-Targeting?
Have you ever wondered why the advertisements you see online or on your social media feed are specifically tailored to your location?
That’s the magic of geo-targeting.
Geo-targeting in digital marketing is the practice of delivering personalized content or advertising to people based on their geographical location, with the goal of maximizing your marketing messaging’s relevance and impact in specific locations.
It works by using location data such as IP addresses, GPS coordinates, and other technologies to pinpoint a user’s location. The next section of this article will go over these geo-targeting methods in depth.
With geo-targeting, you can tailor your offers, information, and advertisements to specific geographic areas such as cities, regions, or countries. If you want to get really specific, you can even target a single zip code or postal code.
You can also use geo-targeting to exclude geographical locations that are unlikely to produce results or are not relevant to your campaign. In fact, excluding certain locations can be just as valuable as including others.
Bottom line: geo-targeting helps you deliver more relevant and effective marketing campaigns across a wide range of digital marketing channels — including PPC advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing.
How Does Geo-Targeting Work?
Geo-targeting works by using location data to pinpoint a person’s geographical location, then delivering personalized content or advertising to them based on their location…or, if you exclude that location, blocking people there from seeing your content or advertising.
There are several ways to gather location data, including:
- IP Address Targeting: Determining a person’s general geographic location based on their IP address. This is the most common geo-targeting method in PPC advertising.
- GPS Targeting: Using GPS technology to track a person’s exact location through their smartphone or other GPS-enabled device. This method is usually used for in-app advertisements or location-based services.
- Radius Targeting: Setting a geographic radius around a specific location, such as a store or business, and delivering targeted content or advertising to people within that radius. Great for hyper-local advertising, such as targeting conference attendees, university students, or employees at a specific business.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Targeting: Using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals to triangulate a person’s location based on their proximity to nearby hotspots or beacons. Many businesses take advantage of this method to deliver in-store advertising or to track foot traffic.
- Location-Based Keyword Targeting: Targeting people who are searching for specific keywords related to a specific location, such as “pizza delivery near me.” These are a cornerstone of both Google Ads and SEO to reach users who are actively searching for local products and services.
- Contextual Targeting: Estimating a person’s location or interests based on contextual data collected from a website or app. It’s often used in programmatic advertising to deliver relevant ads based on individual users’ interests and proximity to said interests.
Once location data has been gathered, platforms like Google Ads and Facebook can use it to deliver personalized content or advertising to your prospective customers based on their geographic location.
For example, your business could use geo-targeting to show different advertisements to users in different cities or regions, or to promote location-specific promotions or offers.
The possibilities with geo-targeting are endless. If you want help getting started or taking your geo-targeted marketing to the next level, our experts are here to help!
Geo-Fencing vs. Geo-Targeting
Geo-fencing and geo-targeting are two related but distinct marketing techniques that use location data to target specific audiences.
Geo-fencing is a type of location-based marketing based on setting up a virtual boundary around a specific geographic location. When someone enters or leaves this boundary or “fence”, it triggers an action such as delivering a targeted message or showing a specific advertisement on their device.
Geo-targeting, on the other hand, refers to the practice of delivering personalized content or advertising to users based on their physical location. This can be done through IP address, GPS, or other location-determining technologies. Geo-targeting allows marketers to reach customers in specific geographic areas, such as cities, regions, or countries.
In short, geo-fencing is a more specific form of location-based marketing that involves a small virtual “fence”, while geo-targeting is a broader approach that uses various kinds of location data to personalize content or advertising.
The Power of Location: Why Geo-Targeting Matters for Your Business
With geo-targeting, marketers can deliver more relevant and personalized content based on the physical location of their target audience.
The use of geo-targeting in digital marketing is advantageous for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Increased Relevance: Geo-targeting allows you to deliver content or advertising that is specific to a prospective customer’s location, making it more relevant to their interests and needs. This leads to higher engagement and conversions, since prospects are more likely to respond positively to content that is relevant to them.
- Better Targeting: By targeting prospective customers based on their physical location, you can ensure that your messages reach the right audience at the right time. For example, you can use geo-targeting to show different advertisements to users in different cities or regions, or to display location-specific promotions or offers.
- Improved ROI: Geo-targeting can help you achieve better ROI by delivering higher click-through rates, conversions, and customer engagement, which ultimately drives better results and a better return on your digital marketing investment.
- Hide Ads from Competitors: Say you want to keep your competitors from stealing your offers or marketing messages. You can use geo-targeting to hide ads from competitors by excluding specific geographic locations where the competitor operates or has a strong presence, or by adjusting the targeting criteria to only show the ad to users who are not within a certain radius of the competitor’s location.
- Responsiveness: Geo-targeting allows you to run short-lived but highly relevant campaigns, such as offers specific to the people attending an industry conference or trade show. Or, if you’re a roofing contractor, you can display ads related to roof repair in a town that just experienced bad weather. Taking dynamic advertising to the next level!
No matter what size your business is or what you do, geo-targeting can revolutionize the way you share and engage with your content!
Creative Ways to Use Geo-Targeting to Drive Leads, Sales and Revenue
With geo-targeting, businesses like yours can reach the right audience, at the right time, with the right message, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates.
Here are just a few of the various ways that geo-targeting can be used to boost your digital marketing revenue, including targeting specific locations, matching local currencies, delivering real-time offers, and more!
- Geo-target offers and information: Use geo-targeting to deliver location-specific information, promotions, and offers to current and prospective customers. This enables you to generate more business in a particular region without having to make the same offer to everyone, or market different offers for franchises in different locations.
- Match local currencies: With geo-targeting, your e-commerce website can display prices and other information in the customers’ local currency based on their location automatically. This happens so often nowadays that we barely notice it, but geo-targeting makes it possible!
- A/B test based on location: Geo-targeting allows you to deliver different versions of an ad and/or website to people based on their location, making it possible to test different designs and layouts and see what’s most effective in different regions.
- Steal customers from competitors: With geo-targeting, you can deliver targeted ads to people who are near a competitor’s store or office to entice their customers away. Say you’re browsing Instagram while stuck in a long line at Disney, and see an ad for Universal promising shorter wait times — that’s geo-targeting!
- Use lookback data to get granular: The ‘lookback window‘ is the period during which a person can see or click on an ad and it will be recorded as a conversion. Using look-back data and geo-targeting together, you can analyze where a user was at the time they converted and uncover location trends that help you deliver more relevant and engaging content.
- Market across channels: Using geo-targeting, you can deliver targeted ads and content to different platforms and devices based on the user’s location. A local restaurant, for instance, could use geo-targeting to promote walk-in specials to mobile device users nearby, and take-out specials to desktop users further away.
And that’s only the beginning. There are virtually no limits to the applications for geo-targeting. In that sense, it’s as valuable for the most local of local businesses as it is for huge multinationals!
To learn how geo-targeting can work for you, get in touch with our experts for a quick consultation.
How to Use Geo-Targeting on Facebook, Google Ads & More
Knowing how to utilize geo-targeting on each platform will make a huge difference in maximizing your digital marketing efforts and ROI.
Below, we’ll explore the various platforms that offer geo-targeting options, including Facebook, Google Ads, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Facebook and Instagram Location Targeting
Facebook and Instagram offer location targeting options for advertisers on the Meta Ads Manager platform, which allow you to reach people based on their current location, hometown, or recent location history. Advertisers can target users by country, state, city, postal code, or a specific address, and can also choose to target people who have recently been in a specific location.
To use Facebook or Instagram location targeting:
- Select a campaign objective for your ad set in Ads Manager.
- Select your audience source in the Audience section.
- Click on Locations and follow the prompts to choose your locations based on:
- Location status: target customers living in a location and/or recently in a location, or traveling in a location
- Enter a location: target customers in specific countries, states, provinces, cities, congressional districts (in the United States), or ZIP or postal codes
- Browse locations: choose from suggested countries or regions
- Location radius: target customers in a smaller, relevant area within a larger geographic area
Google Ads Location Targeting
Google Ads offers location targeting options, which allow you to show your ads to users in specific geographic locations. You can target by country, region, city, postal code, or a specific address, and can also target users based on their device’s location or by using a radius around a specific location.
To use Google Ads location targeting:
- Go to the Settings tab in your campaign.
- Select Locations and specify the geographic locations you want to target based on:
- Countries: target customers in an entire country, or multiple countries
- Areas within a country: target customers in specific cities, regions, or ZIP/postal codes
- Radius around a location: target customers within a certain distance from your business
To exclude people in specific geographical locations from seeing your ads:
- Go to the Settings tab in your campaign.
- Select Locations.
- There are two ways to select locations to exclude:
- In the search box, type the area you want to exclude and click Exclude.
- Click Advanced search, and check the box next to Add locations in bulk. In the box, paste up to 1000 locations to exclude. Add locations from one country at a time.
Twitter allows you to target their ads based on the location of the user by countries, regions, metros, cities, or postal codes. You can also target users based on their device’s location.
To use Twitter geo-targeting:
- Go to the Targeting section of your ad campaign.
- Scroll down to Demographics.
- Within the Locations section, input the locations you want to target.
Radius targeting (showing ads to customers within a certain distance of a specific address) is currently only available to ad accounts in the United States or Japan.
LinkedIn allows you to target users by country, state, city, postal code, or a specific address, and can also target users who have recently been in a specific location.
To use LinkedIn geo-targeting:
- Create a LinkedIn new audience in Campaign Manager.
- Customize your target audience’s location(s) following these steps:
- Choose either a Recent or permanent location or Permanent location from the Locations dropdown.
- In the search field, type the location name you want to include in your targeting audience and select the desired locations.
- Add more locations by clicking the X at the end of the location search field to clear the field.
- Remove selected locations from your target audience by clicking the X next to the location name.
- Click Exclude and select the regions and/or countries you want to exclude from your campaign.
Geo-Targeting Done Right: Proven Tips and Strategies for Success
Geo-targeting is a powerful tool for digital marketers, but you have to deploy it strategically with purpose to maximize your results.
Your geo-targeting efforts are more effective and drive better results when you incorporate the following key considerations and best practices.
- Be precise in defining your location. To achieve the best results with geo-targeting, you need to reach people who want your product or service, are able to pay for it, and in the case of a local business, are close enough to travel. Additionally, areas that are too small will strictly limit your potential conversions, while areas that are too large will waste ad dollars on irrelevant audiences. You need to strike a balance between making sure your ad spend is being used effectively and reaching a large, relevant audience.
- Exclude irrelevant locations. As well as targeting specific locations, it’s also important to exclude locations that are unlikely to generate conversions. Your ad spend will be more effective and you’ll avoid wasting money on ineffective campaigns.
- Use tools like Google Trends to gain insight into your customers’ regional preferences. Identifying how their interests and habits differ on a regional basis will help you hone in on messaging and imagery that boosts your geo-targeting efforts.
- For search ad campaigns, include regional terms in your keyword lists even if you are geo-targeting. Your campaign will have a higher chance of success if you reach a more relevant audience.
- If possible, include your target location’s name in your ad. You can improve your campaign’s relevancy and impact by including the name of your target location in your ad, helping you connect with local customers and build brand awareness in the target area.
- Add location extensions and call extensions to local ads. Location extensions and call extensions can be incredibly valuable in local ads, since they provide your customers with important information like your address and phone number instantly. The easier people can reach you, the more likely they are to convert.
- Test, monitor, optimize, repeat! As with any campaign you launch, geo-targeting campaigns should be monitored to identify what’s working and what’s not so you can adjust to achieve better results.
You can explore and leverage so much more when it comes to geo-targeting, but the above are good tips for beginners.
Maximize Your Marketing Results with the Power of Geo-Targeting
By tailoring your marketing campaigns based on location, you can boost your ROI and improve your overall marketing performance.
The geo-targeting methods, tips, and best practices shared in this article will help you get the most out of your geo-targeting efforts, but there is always more you can optimize. When you’re ready to take your digital marketing to the next level, contact us today.
2023 SEO Checklist: 7 Best Expert Tips to Guide Your SEO Strategy
Keeping up with SEO trends in 2023 is key to staying competitive and reaching more customers. That’s why we compiled this SEO checklist — to give you a year’s worth of SEO tips in one neat package.
SEO is constantly changing. The best SEO tricks that worked 6 months ago may not be relevant today — and what’s worked in the past could even cost you a Google penalty now.
So, where should you concentrate your efforts?
Here are some of the SEO trends our experts are watching for in 2023 and what you need to be paying attention to as well.
- Improving E-A-T — Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
- Leveraging Featured Snippets
- Optimizing for Voice Search
- Improving Mobile User Experience
- Enhancing Video SEO
- Utilizing New Google Shopping Features for eCommerce
- Keeping Up Image Optimization
If you want to move the needle on your website’s search rankings, we’re here to help. Get in touch with our SEO Team to learn more about our services here at TrafficSoda.
1. E-A-T is Crucial, Strengthen Those Signals
E-A-T — Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — is the most important acronym you’ll use in 2023
This plays a crucial role in Google’s ranking system, especially when it comes to high-stakes subjects like health, safety, or finance.
On multiple occasions Google has come out and reinforced the importance of your website’s E-A-T signals.
Remember, Google’s ultimate goal is to provide it’s users the most relevant and accurate results. They want their users to love the ‘Google Experience’ and keep coming back.
In order to find the best results Google uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to identify what a search query means and provide the best possible answer.
This also means this AI and machine learning needs to eliminate junk, spam, and inaccuracies from its results. Which is a tall order because, you know, the Internet.
Showing Google that your site is worth their user’s time, will remain of absolute top importance leading into 2023.
What E-A-T Means For Your SEO Strategy
- E stands for Expertise, meaning you hire real subject matter experts to create, or at least collaborate with you to produce, high quality content.
- A stands for Authoritativeness, which means that you and your website are recognized as a leading source of accurate, timely information on your particular niche.
- T stands for Trustworthiness, which means you have real reviews and mentions from real people (especially people who are also experts in your niche.)
If you’re doing all the above, but still aren’t seen as a leading authority in your niche, then building your brand recognition is crucial. Here are some ways to get started:
- Detailed, transparent About Us and Contact Us pages. Trustworthiness starts at home. When visitors visit your website, they should have no doubts about who you are and what you mean, and they should be able to contact you easily.
- Back up your facts. Throughout your content prove you know what you are talking about by linking to high authority websites like .edu, .gov, etc.
- More and more positive reviews. More than your competitors, with more than satisfactory ratings
- Your own Wikipedia page, or at least mentions. It’s hard to fake authority on Wikipedia since if you aren’t legitimate, your page will be removed quickly.
- Backlinks and mentions on authoritative websites. While press releases are a good starting point, you really want to aim for mentions, news articles and interviews on other authoritative and trustworthy websites.
There are a lot of SEO trends that will take effect this year, and all of them involve the E-A-T of your website on some level.
2. Featured Snippets Matter More Than EVER
Believe it or not, it’s been nearly a decade since Google launched Featured Snippets ‒ a.k.a the info boxes you see above searches.
And they’re becoming more and more powerful by the minute.
Featured Snippets now show up on 41% of all queries and account for an astounding 35.1% of all clicks in organic search results.
Here’s an even bigger shocker: when you ask Google a question, Featured Snippets show up 99% of the time…except for “How” questions, where it’s more like 52%. Still a majority.
To marketers, this reality is at once a tremendous opportunity and a massive existential threat.
When Google uses your page as a Featured Snippet, clickthrough rates can more than double overnight. It’s a huge boon to your organic traffic and a badge of honor for your site’s credibility.
But when one of your competitors owns the Featured Snippet instead — especially for your most valuable keywords ‒ they overshadow your presence in the SERP completely.
It pays (literally) to claim that spot for yourself. So, what can you do to get Featured Snippets in 2023?
What Featured Snippets Mean For Your SEO Strategy
Getting your website Featured in Snippets means playing ball with Google’s artificial intelligence.
According to Google, one of the biggest driving forces behind Featured Snippets in 2023 is an AI model called the Multitask Unified Model or MUM. Essentially, the model compares the top bolded text portion of a search snippet result with established high-quality search results for relevance, accuracy, and credibility.
Google also plans to use more warning messages when a search doesn’t generate results that have “high confidence.”
As a marketer, getting Featured Snippets in 2023 means you need to:
- Focus on reinforcing your website’s Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) as much as, if not more than, keywords.
- Continue building up high-quality content (not just text but video, audio, and images) and backlinks that underpin trust and authority.
- Through your content, answer relevant questions that factor into customers’ journeys.
- Create content that covers all points of your customer’s journey rather than just one or two. Newcomers to your product or service might ask, “What is [Product]?” but they’ll soon want to know, “How does [Product] work?” and eventually, “Who offers [Product]?” Make sure you answer all of these questions!
The importance of Featured Snippets in your SEO strategy in 2023 cannot be overstated, as you’ll see in the rest of this SEO checklist, starting with the very next point…
3. Conversational Queries & Voice Search Deserve Special Attention
Spoken searches have been slowly but steadily on the rise since Google Voice launched in 2009. Moving into 2023, about 40% of the population uses voice search and 71% actually prefer using voice search over typed search, so you can expect the upward trend to continue.
The top three key facts you need to know about voice search in 2023 are as follows:
- In contrast to text-based searches, voice searches are longer, more conversational, and almost always take the form of a question. Where do I find [Product]? How do I use it? What does it taste like? How much does it cost?
- Most voice searches take place on-the-go, using smartphones rather than in-home devices (a.k.a. “smart speakers.”) So, picture people sitting in the car, not on the couch.
- More than 50% of voice searches are for local services and businesses like restaurants and retail stores. Think of search queries that end in “near me.”
In other words, if your business is local, voice search matters to you, and optimizing for voice search should be a key priority for your SEO strategy going into 2023.
What Voice Search Means For Your SEO Strategy
As a starting point for optimizing for voice search, consider the following:
- Long-tail keywords. These are now essential to securing competitive SERP positions, especially conversational queries that show up in voice search.
- Speakable Schema. While still in beta as of writing, Speakable Schema is the Google-approved way to optimize your website for voice search.
- Local listings. Review your company’s Google and other local listings to make sure they include everything customers could ask about: operating hours, location, product selection, price range, wheelchair accessibility, and more. Google will pull from these listings to answer voice queries, so make sure it’s right!
Finally, remember what we said earlier about MUM and featured snippets. A lot of the principles for optimizing snippets are similar to those for optimizing voice queries.
4. User Experience on Mobile Is Still the Gold Standard
Mobile first indexing has been a reality since 2019 and it’s not going to change any time soon.
Yet every single day, we see websites from huge companies that still aren’t on board with Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices.
If you feel your SEO efforts aren’t doing much, and your site isn’t very mobile-friendly, fixing that issue could be the key that finally lets your site’s rankings flourish.
What Mobile-First Indexing Means For Your SEO Strategy
Here’s the good news: Google is very transparent about what they want to see when it comes to optimizing your website for mobile users in 2023.
First, you need to make sure your mobile site is as Google-friendly as possible:
- Have the same content, structured data, alt text, and meta robots tags on both your mobile and desktop sites
- Make sure Google can see your primary content and don’t lock it behind “lazy-loading” (anything that requires swiping, clicking, or typing to load)
- Verify both the mobile and desktop versions of your site in Search Console
- Use mobile URL hreflang for mobile URLs, and desktop URL hreflang for desktop URLs
- Don’t block mobile URLs with the disallow directive
- Don’t use URLs that change every time the page loads for your videos or images
- Don’t use fragment URLs on your mobile version (a fragment URL starts with a # at the end)
Mobile-first indexing aside, mobile devices are now the first point of contact for many customers when they’re looking for information about your products and services. So it’s vital you make sure your site can be viewed easily on any device and that the customer can find what they’re looking for quickly, no matter how small their screen may be. Add it to your 2023 SEO checklist!
5. Optimize Your Video for SEO
Google has featured video in its search results for some time now.
And since over half of customers make buying decisions based on video, ignoring it in your 2023 SEO strategy is like leaving money on the table.
What Video Means For Your SEO Strategy
Video content can rank well if it’s optimized with descriptive and relevant information, including meta info and structured data.
Google has published a detailed overview of what it looks for in video SEO; some of the most impactful points include:
- Give each video its own dedicated page, where the video is the most prominent subject. This page is necessary for some Google features, such as Key Moments, Live Badges, and other rich results, to pull your video and give it maximum exposure. There’s no penalty if you put the same video on a dedicated page and another page with other information (like a news article or product details.)
- Create and submit a video sitemap so that Google’s robots can easily find and understand your videos
- Use a high-quality, relevant thumbnail that explains what your video is about and why people might want to watch it
Google has also added two structured data features to help people find answers through videos faster:
- Seek markup, which allows Google to identify and display Key Moments automatically and dynamically
- Clip markup, which tells Google exactly which timestamps to label and use for the Key Moments feature (like a manual version of seek markup)
You can use Clip or Seek markup to make video results in Google Search more clickable and help users find answers more quickly. It’s a win-win!
6. Improve Your eCommerce Site’s Visibility with Shopping Graph
Google is already the world’s leading search engine, but with the skyrocketing growth of online shopping, it’s also aiming to become a leading eCommerce platform as well.
Recently, Google also launched the Shopping Graph feature, lets customers find your store’s products across Google, — not just on the Shopping tab but on the SERP, YouTube, Google Images, and Google Lens (snap a photo and Google will identify the product and tell you where to buy it…how cool is that?)
And as of now, you can add your products to Google Shopping for free — or, mark up your listings so that Google does that heavy lifting for you automatically.
What Google Shopping Graph Means For Your SEO Strategy
There are two ways to go about getting your products onto Google’s Shopping Graph:
- Manage your listings manually using Google’s Merchant Center
- Use newly-added Search Console Merchant Listings for guidance on adding Product structured data to your product pages.
Anyone who sells products online can benefit from this easy win. Your products will get free exposure by Google on a credible, sleek, and cool platform.
If your business sells products online and Google’s Shopping Graph isn’t on your SEO checklist in 2023, you’re losing a huge opportunity that your competitors might not decline.
7. Make Your Images Worth a Thousand Clicks
It might seem like an easy task to optimize your images for the web, but chances are that it’s a tad more complicated than you think.
For many years, Google has been recommending that you use alternative text (alt text) and other optimizations for images on your site. Yet, many businesses still don’t take this seriously or they think it’s a waste of time.
Nowadays, it is not just about boosting your Google ranking but also accommodating the millions of customers who rely on alt text to navigate your site — who will leave you in the dust and never look back if you don’t offer it.
So, now’s the time to do an image audit on your site to see if you need to make changes to get up to speed with what Google (and customers) expect from you in 2023 and beyond.
What Image Optimization Means For Your SEO Strategy
- Create good URL structure for your images: Google uses the URL path and file name to understand your images, so make sure your URLs are built logically
- Add structured data: Structured data lets Google Images display your images as rich results, including a prominent badge, which drives targeted traffic to your site
- Optimize for speed: Images often make up a large part of a page’s size, so use image optimization and responsive image techniques to make it fast and easy
- Use descriptive alt text in the alt attribute: Alt text improves accessibility for screen reader users and low-bandwidth users who can’t see images on web pages
It is time to do what Google says and pay attention to your website images. Your bottom line will thank you for it!
Leverage These 2023 SEO Trends to Reach More Customers Online
Google changes its search algorithms 500 to 600 times per year. Every day of the year. And as clever as we are as marketers and SEOs, Google’s algorithms are getting smarter by the second.
A successful SEO strategy for your business depends on staying on top of the latest SEO trends in 2023.
Following these SEO tips will help you kickstart the year with a boost in ranking and more qualified traffic.
If you need help moving the needle on your website’s search rankings, we are happy to help. Get in touch with our SEO Team to learn more about our services here at TrafficSoda.
Holiday Marketing Campaigns: 7 Best Ideas to Boost Your Sales Over Christmas
There’s a million holiday marketing campaign ideas out there. But what actually works?
If you sell anything online, you probably know the struggles of marketing in the chaotic holiday season.
You’re swamped with work, half your team’s on vacation (or sick), and the sheer competition for consumer attention is absolutely off the charts.
But success doesn’t depend on a Christmas miracle. Or a fortune’s worth of ad spending.
Stats and experience show that you can do a lot to boost your holiday sales if you use the right kind of data, make proactive moves, and apply some basic (but powerful) marketing psychology.
In this article, we’ll give you 7 of our best holiday marketing campaign ideas ‒ plus 3 essential tips to make sure you rock them.
- Leverage the Christmas Time Crunch
- Win Hearts & Minds With a Holiday Video
- Share the Love with Your Loyal Customers
- Ring In the Season with Holiday SEO Blog Content
- Conquer the Wish List with Price-Specific Landing Pages
- Make Gift-Giving Easy with Gift Card Promotions
- Embrace Holiday Themes Across Your Digital Presence
1. Leverage the Christmas Time Crunch
FOMO is your friend.
As soon as November rolls around, people start stressing about holiday shopping. And it’s not just about gifts, but everything else you need for the perfect holiday: festive decorations, holiday meal prep, plane tickets to Grandma’s, and more.
Time is of the essence, and everyone knows the best stuff is in short supply.
So, you can make fear of missing out (FOMO) and scarcity powerful allies in your holiday marketing campaign.
Now, urgency isn’t something you can just throw around without thinking. The modern consumer is pretty wise to vague statements like “limited time offer” or “while supplies last.”
You need to translate that urgency into something concrete and effective, like:
- Deadline for guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas. Consumers expect lightning-fast shipping these days, but they know things slow down over the holidays. Consider using it as a strength by putting pressure on people to make a purchase by a specific date. It has a very powerful effect.
- Countdown timer until Christmas or another big milestone. Adding a countdown timer to your landing page can boost revenue by as much as 9%. Over the holidays, countdown timers are extra effective since everyone already has “X days until Christmas” in their minds.
- Inventory warnings. “While supplies last” is vague, but it really works if you can give a specific number. This is a very effective strategy used by Amazon to move products in short supply.
It’s not just a holiday marketing trick. You’re giving your customers one last chance to purchase that perfect gift before it’s gone, and they’ll thank you for it. It’s just that a positive side effect of this is that conversions increase as well!
2. Win Hearts & Minds With a Holiday Marketing Video
A 30-second video says a million words.
As a rule, people are more likely to say ‘yes’ to requests from people they already know and like.
We’re all less likely to turn down a request if it’s from a friend or neighbor.
The same goes for you and your loyal customers. People who know and like you are automatically more likely to take advantage of any future offer you make to them.
Since the holidays are such an emotional time of the year, this is the perfect time to cultivate positive brand recognition and relationships that ultimately lead to more revenue.
And there’s no better way to do that than with a holiday video.
One study showed that emotional, holiday-themed video ads are twice as likely to make people cry, 86% more likely to evoke happiness, and 117% more likely to inspire feelings of warmth.
You don’t even have to make it long, expensive, or highly choreographed. Simply showing the faces behind your business and being relatable makes a big impact on people.
Basically, all you have to say is, “We’re so excited about the holidays, too, and we wish all of you who celebrate a Merry Christmas. Thank you for being part of our business.”
3. Share the Love with Your Loyal Customers
A little love goes a long way.
Reciprocity is a powerful thing. It is natural to feel obligated to repay someone when you give them something. It’s why free samples remain one of the most effective marketing tactics of all time.
And what better time to give something away than during the peak gift-giving season?
The holidays are a great time to shower your loyal customers with discounts, freebies, and giveaway contests to make them feel extra special.
Especially if you can tie in some urgency and a warm message of gratitude, too.
Leading up to December 25, many brands offer holiday-themed “12 Days of Giveaways” or “12 Days of Discounts” which successfully combine the seasonal spirit with persuasive deadlines.
Plus, you have plenty of options for spreading the word about these promotions:
- Email: You can reach your existing customers and followers through multi-touch email campaigns in the lead up to the holidays.
- Social media: Great for reaching loyal followers and catching the attention of new ones. You just need to make sure you follow Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms’ guidelines if you’re hosting a holiday marketing giveaway, since they can be quite prickly about the rules.
- Remarketing ads: Retargeting helps you re-engage bounced buyers to boost your holiday marketing ROI, and further build relationships with those who have already purchased.
It’s the holidays, after all, and there’s no better time of year to get something for free!
4. Ring In the Season with Holiday SEO Blog Content
Any businesses with a seasonal niche can benefit greatly from blogging.
For example, if you sell Christmas-themed decorations or clothing, a well-optimized SEO blog post will see traffic spike around the winter holidays year after year after year.
But what if your company doesn’t have a seasonal niche?
Putting out holiday-themed blog content is still a great way to increase traffic, sales, and revenue for businesses with no holiday-specific products.
Consider what kind of content people are looking for during the holidays and incorporate it into your holiday marketing ideas! For example:
- Gift ideas for specific customer segments/demographics: like 10 Winning Gift Ideas for Dad, or the Best Office Secret Santa Ideas Under $25.
- Holiday Buying Guides for specific product categories: like High-End Cookware Holiday Buying Guide, or the Holiday Gift Guide to Pens & Journals.
- Gift ideas that solve a specific problem: like the 10 Most Practical Busy Mom Gifts, or Impressive Gifts for a Father-In-Law You Just Met.
Topics like these will attract people who are actually interested in what you sell, and they don’t require you to bend over backwards to fit the holiday theme. It’s just a matter of describing the products that you already have available, with a festive bow tied around it.
Start publishing this year, and by next December, you’ll have plenty of content on your site that will get your visitors excited for the holidays again. Next year, just update your holiday SEO blog content (and your holiday marketing campaign as a whole) with new products or trends. You’re good to go!
5. Conquer the Wish List with Price-Specific Landing Pages
Speaking of gift guides…if you sell online, here’s another way to reach eager holiday shoppers:
A landing page that highlights products within a specific budget range to appeal to gift shoppers.
For example, a landing page featuring “Gift Ideas Under $50” or “Stocking Stuffers.”
These pages make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for, which means more conversions for you. They’re especially a huge hit with last-minute shoppers or Secret Santa participants who don’t have much else to go on.
But this holiday marketing campaign strategy doesn’t only benefit sales of your cheaper products ‒ because a lot of people value not underspending on certain people in their lives.
People shopping for significant others or close friends or relatives might be drawn to a page featuring only more expensive items (even your most expensive items).
All you need to do once you’ve created the pages is get the word out, which is easy to do by:
- Email campaigns with ultra-specific and attractive subject lines are designed to catch the attention of shoppers in a certain price range in search of ideas
- Organic social media posts that encourage your loyal fans and followers to share your posts with their networks for free
- Social media ads, especially when combined with a sense of urgency…save big on your last-minute shopping with these awesome products for under $50!
The price point is the decisive factor for many people when they are shopping online, and this tactic makes them feel like they are getting an exclusive deal just for them!
6. Make Gift-Giving Easy with Gift Card Promotions
For people who are struggling to find the perfect present, gift cards save the day.
But just because you’ve got gift cards, that doesn’t mean shoppers know about them. It will be up to you to spread the word.
Don’t let the holidays pass you by without promoting your gift cards to your target audience. Once the shipping deadline for the holidays has passed, shift your digital advertising efforts to digital or physical gift cards.
Gift cards are also great to include in holiday giveaways and promotions. Providing a free gift card for those who make a minimum purchase, or to the first few purchasers, can be the tipping point that gets people to choose you over your competitors.
7. Embrace Holiday Marketing Themes Across Your Digital Presence
Picture yourself walking downtown on a mid-December afternoon, when the stores are all crowded and Christmas is in the air.
You’re mulling over which of two stores to visit for a must-have gift item. One store is decked with garlands and wreaths, playing holiday music, and scented with gingerbread cookies; the other is sterile, dark, and overall a bit uninviting.
Obviously, most people would go for store number one. The festive ambiance gets them in the mood to shop.
And there is more to it than just warm feelings ‒ we associate holiday designs with holiday savings. You know there’s a deal to be had and you want to learn more.
Why not apply this same idea to your digital presence?
It’s easy, inexpensive, and effective to incorporate holiday-themed graphics, colors, and messages into your website, landing pages, emails, and social media accounts.
It has the same positive impact of putting up Christmas decor, without the hassle of climbing ladders or untangling lights.
3 Tips For a Successful Holiday Marketing Campaign
You can make your holiday campaign as simple or as complex as you like. Regardless of the approach you choose, these tips will help you make your campaign a success!
1. Review Previous Holiday Marketing Campaigns
Don’t let the Ghost of Christmas Campaigns Past come back to haunt you.
Even if your previous campaigns aren’t as relevant now, you can still learn a few things from them. Past performance helps you better understand your audience and what works (and doesn’t work) for them.
Don’t just focus on your performance stats, look at your customer data too. Have you seen a significant change in your customer base? Knowing your customers will help you create holiday messages that will hit home.
2. Get Ahead of the Holidays
Customers can hardly stand the wait; so please, reader, don’t be late!
We’ve got bad news for all the procrastinators out there: most people plan to finish their Christmas shopping before December even starts.
In fact, 58% of shoppers plan to be done their Christmas shopping in November. You’re losing out on tons of potential sales if your holiday marketing campaign isn’t in full swing before December.
By planning ahead, this will allow you more time to focus on other aspects of your business like customer service and inventory when the season is actually in full swing.
3. Put Customer Service First
He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So do your customers.
89% of people have switched to a competitor after experiencing a poor customer experience.
And up to 95% will spread the word about that negative experience with other people.
So no matter how awesome your holiday marketing campaign is, if you don’t back it up with rockstar customer service, you can’t call it a success.
If your customers have any questions or problems, your customer service team needs to be ready to help. If you ship products, you need to make sure they’ll arrive on time.
About your website. Is it able to handle the number of people shopping at once? If there are any technical issues, do you have a team on the ground to deal with them?
Given the mad rush this time of year, it’s not always easy for companies to handle customer’s complaints and requests with the efficiency and dedication they deserve. However, you cannot afford to ignore it.
The answer may be outsourcing your holiday marketing campaign to a professional digital marketing agency.
Outsourcing your holiday marketing campaign will give you more time to focus on customer service and get back control of your business while still reaping the benefits of being active online.
Marketing Your Way to a Merry Christmas
Marketing is an important part of any business, especially around the holidays. It’s a chance to create a lasting impression and to remind your customers what your brand stands for.
We can help you put together a great holiday marketing campaign that will get you in front of your potential buyers and support your sales goals. Get in touch with our digital marketing experts to learn more about our services here at TrafficSoda.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: Know the Differences for Best Results
On-page vs. Off-page SEO: in order to rank, you need to know the basics of both.
With Google’s latest ‘helpful content update’ many creators are sweating how to approach SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keep their website traffic flowing. It’s never been more important to optimize your On-Page and Off-Page SEO, and ensure your website offers original and helpful content written by people, for people.
Traditional On-Page SEO best practices are tried and true. There are also important factors outside of your website that impact SEO as well.
Off-Page SEO gives your website more authority, trust, and relevance in the eyes of Google ‒ all key ingredients to better search rankings.
Your best results will come from incorporating both On-Page and Off-Page SEO. And to do that, you’ve got to understand how they work together.
Remember: Google is a business and searchers are their customers
SEO is hard. It takes consistent, meaningful efforts to get recognized by search engines and move up the rankings. Remember: Google is a business and searchers are their customers. They care deeply about what people think about their search engine, meaning they care about providing good search results.
If you can prove your website has useful, relevant, authoritative content that is easy to read and navigate, Google will reward you for it.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?
To put it simply, the difference between On-Page and Off-Page SEO is where the magic happens.
- On-Page SEO refers to things you can do on your website to boost its search engine ranking, like optimizing a page’s content, images, and meta tags. These are things you have control over.
- Off-Page SEO refers to things you can do outside of your website using external factors like social media and influencer marketing to boost its search engine ranking. These are things you typically have less control over.
Of course, that’s the short answer, and there’s a lot more to it! So, let’s dive deeper into the difference between On-Page and Off-Page SEO and how they work together to get you better SEO results.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is a series of search engine optimization tactics that take place on your website.
Google’s mandate is to recommend the best web pages to searchers based on their search criteria. So, in essence, On-Page SEO is all about delivering an awesome user experience and making sure Google knows it.
This includes (but is not limited to) optimizations of various page aspects such as:
- Quality of content (like articles, videos, and images) on individual pages
- Behind-the-scenes code that helps Google read your website and understand it
- Overall navigation and structure of your site
- Page loading speed
- How your site loads on mobile devices
- Other on-page elements
Well-optimized pages provide a better experience to website visitors both in terms of performance and purpose. Since Google is more likely to recommend high-quality pages to its users, your SEO efforts pay off in the form of more visitors to your site.
If your website plays a significant role in your business, then it’s well worth the time and effort to make sure that your website delivers the best possible user experience.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Off-Page SEO is a collection of activities that happen off-site but pertain to your site pages. When these activities are beneficial, they help boost search engine rankings.
Generally, this part of SEO involves getting your brand or website mentioned in a positive light on other sites across the web.
Off-Site SEO includes, but is not limited to:
- Backlinks on other websites
- Social media shares and mentions
- Activity on your Google Business Profile
- Other off-site elements
Off-Page SEO is more difficult to control than On-Page SEO. Search engines are looking for ‘natural’ links and mentions, not ones you paid for, and they are excellent at spotting fakes.
That said, there are ways to do Off-Site SEO without going against the guidelines and risking a Google penalty.
Some Examples of On-Page and Off-Page SEO
To give you an overview of On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO tactics, here are a few examples of things that fall under On-Page and Off-Page SEO.
On-Page SEO examples:
- Making sure your website loads quickly and is easy to use on a mobile device.
- Publishing high-quality articles on your website’s blog.
- Creating a well-organized FAQ page that answers commonly searched questions about your company, industry, products, or services.
- Adding relevant and high-volume keywords to your page titles, descriptions, and headings, in a meaningful way. Keywords should not be used for the sake of being included, they should genuinely help explain the page’s content.
- Adding relevant alt text to images helps people who use screen readers navigate your website.
- Making it easy for people to get around your website with internal links and logical navigation.
Off-Page SEO examples:
- Answering questions on a discussion forum and linking to a relevant page on your website.
- Having social media users mention your website and share links to your content in relevant spaces.
- Growing a loyal social media following that engages with your content.
- Increasing the number of relevant links to your website on other high-quality websites, like reputable publishers and industry sources.
- Using your Google Business Page.
Want to know exactly how these activities affect your website’s search engine ranking? Our next section takes a deeper dive into On-Page and Off-Page SEO factors.
On-Page SEO Factors: Things on Your Website that Impact SEO
On-Page SEO has everything to do with what you control on your own website, everything from the content you publish to how it’s designed. If you were to spend any time or money on SEO, we would absolutely recommend you start with On-Page SEO.
Below is a list of a few key factors that play into On-Page SEO. You can use these as a basis for assessing your website’s SEO friendliness.
- Core Web Vitals: a set of metrics that quantify the user experience for the website. The user experience metrics include visual stability, interactivity, and load time. It is important to improve your core website vitals because it communicates to Google that you have a positive user experience.
- Page Speed: load time for a page is an important part of On-Page SEO because Google ranks pages that load faster for the user. Optimizing page speed can also help get your pages to Google’s search index.
- Mobile Friendliness: allowing users to easily navigate your website via mobile device will improve your rankings.
- Title Tags: including defining titles for each page that thoroughly describe the content is important. Google needs keywords to determine whether a page is related or not.
- Meta Descriptions: meta descriptions are HTML tags that assist in describing what the page is about in a sentence or two.
- Content Quality: On-Page SEO thrives on quality content. Quality content answers a question for the user, is easy to read, relevant, and has a unique approach to the problem. If you can check all four of these off the list, Google will love you.
- HTML headers: headers or tags that specify what the webpage’s content contains. HTML headers help your visitors understand your content and help search engines relate your content to a user’s search query.
- Image Alt Text: image alt text is an HTML tag that describes an image or what it conveys. Search engines use image alt text to determine if it is relevant to the user’s search query, and people with screen readers need it to understand an image’s content.
- Internal Linking: aside from linking related content to provide your readers with additional information, internal linking will benefit your website’s SEO by helping the search engines find new relevant content.
- Navigation: important for On-Page SEO because it ensures that all users can access the content on the web page equally. Google prioritizes web page accessibility no matter what browser is in use.
Off-Page SEO Factors: What Impacts SEO Outside of Your Website
Online information about your website, instead of what’s on your website, is what Off-Page SEO is all about. Signals from around the web have a significant impact on how high and where your website ranks on Google. Off-Page SEO is tough to do since so many factors are out of your control. That said, here are a few key factors that play into Off-Page SEO:
- Backlinks: create more authority and trust with search engines. Google takes backlinks seriously and has even implemented algorithm updates to attack spam links embedded in content. Building trustworthy and highly relevant backlinks should be done properly.
- Social Media: does not have a direct correlation to search engine ranking but having a presence on social media allows people to engage with your content and is an opportunity for you to reach new consumers.
- Unlinked mentions: occur when a third party, unaffiliated site mentions your company name or website and does not link to your site. Unlinked mentions hold some value when it comes to off-page SEO because they build authority and trust with your website.
- Google Business Page: formerly called Google My Business, this is a Google platform for businesses to display information like their type of business, location, service, contact, and hours. Google uses GBP to populate Google Maps search results and is a key SEO factor for local businesses that need traffic in specific locations.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO: Why You Need Both
There’s more to search rankings than what’s on your website.
Both On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO are integral parts of a successful SEO strategy.
With so many moving parts and strategies to follow, navigating SEO can be tricky. If you’re new to the process, it pays to consult with SEO specialists for guidance.
Get in touch with our team of expert digital marketers today for all your SEO needs!
When & How to Outsource Your Inbound Lead Generation in 2023
If you want to grow your business, you need leads. Period.
But finding qualified prospects and nurturing the relationship isn’t easy.
Inbound lead generation takes serious time and effort. Not every business has the resources to do it right ‒ or at all, in the case of some small businesses.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone else handled it all for you?
Outsourcing your inbound lead generation lets you build your lead pipeline quickly and efficiently.
In our experience, businesses with small in-house marketing departments tend to benefit the most from working with a lead generation agency ‒ but there are times when larger businesses with a full marketing team can benefit greatly from working with an agency as well.
In this blog, we will look at whether outsourcing lead generation is right for your business (including why it’s not always the best choice) and what you need to do in order to get the best results.
1. Outsourcing Your Inbound Lead Generation: What You Need to Know
There are two types of lead generation: inbound and outbound. Inbound lead generation is about getting prospective customers to contact you, while outbound is reaching out to potential leads yourself.
Here, we’re talking about inbound lead generation.
The goal of inbound lead generation is to find and nurture qualified leads so you can convert them into sales once they’re ready to buy.
We already mentioned how outsourcing your lead generation saves you time. Instead of burning all your time hunting for new prospects to pitch, you can hire a lead generation agency to bring qualified leads right to you ‒ so all you need to do is close the sale and start the work.
You instantly free up hours of time to devote to other tasks that will help your business grow.
But time savings aren’t the only reason to partner with a lead generation agency.
a) Get an Entire Expert Team for the Cost of 1-2 Employees
A basic lead generation campaign typically includes:
- Digital Advertising
- Technical set-up
- Targeting and research
- Landing Page
- Web developer
- Email marketing expert
- Marketing asset
- Technical integrations, as needed
- Web team
Other things to consider are:
- Organic social media posts
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Public relations, like press releases
- Influencer marketing
It’s rare to find someone who is proficient in all those things in-house; which is one of the biggest reasons hiring a lead generation agency can be useful.
For the price of one or two employees, you get the skills and knowledge of a complete team of lead generation professionals.
And that’s not all…
b) Gain Valuable New Perspectives on Your Business and Market
Here’s what we’ve noticed working on hundreds of campaigns for companies across North America:
Many in-house marketers know their business a little too well.
The longer you spend working in-house, the harder it gets to think like a customer. And it’s really tough to write compelling copy and campaigns when you’re stuck inside of that box.
Outsourcing your lead generation to an agency lets you avoid this pitfall entirely.
Best of all…
c) Reduce Costs and Increase Profits
Hiring an agency to do lead generation for you can actually save you money in the long run.
When you outsource, you don’t have to spend time training and managing anyone or buying all the essential tools they’ll need to do the job right.
Outsourcing the work can help your budget go farther and be more cost effective, driving a higher return on investment without all the legwork.
Your internal sales team can even work alongside an agency for faster ramp-up and increased lead efficiency, putting your business growth goals in reach!
2. When Outsourcing Inbound Lead Generation is Worth the Investment
From our experience as a digital marketing agency focused on acquisition marketing, there are three factors that contribute to a successful lead generation outsourcing relationship:
- You’ve developed your brand with an in-house marketing person/team.
- You’ve set clear lead generation goals for the near future.
- You know what a quality lead is to you, and you have a process for defining them.
Generally, outsourcing your lead generation to a digital marketing agency works well when your business has a small in-house marketing team, or even a single marketing person.
This team should have already established brand guidelines that can be used alongside more targeted lead generation campaigns. Generating leads while you’re still nailing down your brand is more challenging and less efficient.
A small, busy marketing team cannot handle lead generation on top of all their other duties (see the list above), and hiring and training someone in-house specifically for lead generation work is an expensive and time-consuming investment.
A lead generation agency fills that gap more cost-effectively.
Hiring an agency that specializes in lead generation is also the best option if your business is looking for a quick turnaround. What might take an in-house team months to implement can be handled by outsourced digital marketing professionals in just a few weeks.
That said, it’s important that you have SMART goals in mind for your lead generation before you hit the launch button. You shouldn’t be making it up as you go along, or drastically changing course in the thick of it. Effective lead generation starts with clearly defined objectives.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your process for qualifying leads is set in stone before hiring a lead generation agency. This process is crucial to setting up lead generation campaigns that will bring in qualified leads rather than low-quality ones.
3. When NOT to Outsource Your Inbound Lead Generation
In our experience, businesses with small in-house marketing departments tend to benefit the most from working with a lead generation agency.
Full-time marketing teams may not need support all the time or as consistently as smaller teams, but can often benefit greatly from partnering with an agency on an as-needed basis. If you need extra help with a lead generation campaign in-house, or need training, consultation, or feedback, a lead generation agency can be your best friend.
There are also cases when fully outsourcing lead generation might be a good idea for larger companies. If you’re launching a new product or expanding to a new market, for example, you benefit greatly from hiring a lead generation agency who has experience in that market.
Another situation where outsourcing your lead generation may not be the best option is if you just don’t have the budget for it yet. A good lead generation campaign can be expensive, and an ineffective campaign can cost you more than none at all.
If your business is still in its infancy, consider starting small with an email campaign, building your community through social media or ads linking to your website as a first step.
Should You Leave Your Inbound Lead Generation to the Experts?
Outsourcing lead generation can be a great investment for your business. It saves you time from training or hiring your own team, produces better results, and gives you more flexibility as your business scales and adapts to a changing marketplace.
You should hold off on hiring a lead generation agency if you’re still working on branding, goals, and a process for qualifying leads. And if you have the resources and time to invest a portion of your in-house digital marketing team to lead generation, you should!
To learn more about lead generation and talk to a digital marketing professional, contact our team here at TrafficSoda. We’ll help you find the perfect balance between outsourcing lead generation and in-house lead generation for your business.
SEO Timelines: How Long Does It Take to Get Results?
You might have heard that search engine optimization (SEO) is a quick and easy way to get
Here’s why that’s wrong.
The truth is…once upon a time, SEO could work quickly.
But as search engine algorithms have evolved and the online space has become more competitive, the SEO landscape has changed drastically.
Every business owner wants to see results come quickly. But when it comes to legitimate, proven SEO strategies, results simply don’t happen overnight.
Any agency that says otherwise is not to be trusted.
Below, we’ll cover the real factors that will affect how long it will take for SEO to get measurable results for your business, as well as the minimum time investment to really get your money’s worth from SEO.
How Long It Takes for SEO to Generate Leads and Sales
When it comes to SEO, business owners often ask, “How long does it take for SEO to work?”
Which usually means, “How long before I rank #1 in Google?”
This is the wrong question to ask because ranking #1 in Google isn’t the end goal. The goal is to generate qualified leads and sales opportunities.
In other words, organic search traffic is only as valuable to your business as the revenue it generates.
The real question that you should be asking is, “When will SEO start generating sales and leads for my business?”
Based on our experience and that of our colleagues at other reputable SEO agencies, we can give an estimated timeline of 4-6 months for SEO to begin producing some form of results, which could include:
- Overall improved average ranking
- Website being indexed for more keywords
- More traffic to your website and opportunity to close that traffic
The above timeline represents our average client experience. This is when things start to work, but not necessarily when you achieve your end goal.
There are numerous factors to consider when determining when you can expect to begin seeing SEO generate results. It would be impossible to cover them all in detail here ‒ but some of the most significant factors are:
- Competition for high-priority keywords
- How effective are the site’s inbound links
- Healthy, SEO-friendly site
- Regularly published content on the site
1. Importance of Competition in SEO Timelines
Generally, the more competing websites that your business is up against, the harder and longer it will take to see your website climb to the top of search engine results.
In a crowded industry, many of your competitors will have experienced SEO professionals behind them to improve and maintain their rankings. Understanding the level of competition based on your products/services and location will help you get a sense of how long it will take for SEO to get results.
For example, a small local massage therapy clinic will face less competition than a real estate brokerage business serving a large city, amongst many other real estate brokerage businesses. That same brokerage would face less competition than a national-level mortgage company with competitors in every market in the country.
Search results are all relative, and that is the key to understanding why SEO works differently for different businesses online
2. Importance of Inbound Links in SEO Timelines
Acquiring more inbound links will help your business achieve the SEO success you are striving for more quickly… but it is not all a numbers game.
Quality over quantity, like most things, is always the way to go. Having fewer, high-quality links from relevant websites will have a much greater impact on your overall results than having a greater number of low-quality links from other irrelevant websites.
Acquiring higher quality links are much harder to earn, having them on your website will make it more difficult for your competitors to replicate and compete with you. As well, higher-quality links last longer and keep their effective power.
The speed in which your business online can acquire links takes time, make sure to look out for any abrupt increase in links. This could identify an inorganic attempt at a manipulative ranking and negatively affect your business’ SEO.
3. Importance of a Healthy SEO-Friendly Website
SEO isn’t just about keywords and content. Your website’s internal workings also have a big impact on how it ranks.
When your website appears on a Google search results page, it becomes part of what Google offers its users. And Google cares a lot about its users’ experience.
So, a big part of its search ranking algorithm is focused on checking the ‘health’ of your website. It looks at technical aspects of the site that have an effect on the user experience, like:
- Site speed
- Crawl errors & broken links
- Mobile friendliness
- Site structure
When your site is healthy and SEO-friendly, the work being done on the content and external links side takes effect much faster. On the other hand, a site that is not technically optimized for SEO will move slowly or not at all.
4. Importance of Content in SEO Timelines
Quality content published on your website plays a vital role in how quickly you will see SEO results.
There isn’t a set length/word count for SEO optimized content. It just has to be long and detailed enough to solve the visitor’s problem.
Along with quality content requires consistent content. Maintaining a publishing schedule will encourage Google to come back to your website to read and learn more about your expertise. It also encourages users to return, suggesting a positive user experience that Google’s signals will notice.
If you focus on producing helpful content that answers specific questions your target market may have, you will see results. Users will come, have a great experience and build trust with your brand (possibly reaching out) and Google has more information about you to determine where else you can rank.
SEO Timelines Then vs. Now
To explain why SEO doesn’t happen overnight, it helps to recognize a crucial difference between the early SEO landscape and what we see today.
Old SEO: When Low Competition Got Big Results
In the early days of SEO, it was possible to skyrocket a website’s search ranking by identifying and optimizing for a small number of high volume, low competition keywords.
The trick was to target keywords that were popular, but not competitive.
You could build an entire strategy around these ‘golden’ keywords, climb to #1 in the rankings, and have most of your traffic come from them within a few months.
Nowadays, it’s extremely rare to find a single keyword or small group of keywords that can drive a lot of traffic to your site.
People just don’t search like that anymore. Plus, the web is way more competitive today than it was in the early 2000s. There are nearly 2 billion websites today, compared to just 17 million in 2000, an increase of nearly 11 thousand percent.
New SEO: Targeting the Long Tail
Today, people are adding more words than ever to their searches to get faster, more specific results.
They’re asking specific questions that they need answers to, rather than searching individual keywords and seeing what comes up.
We call these searches long-tail keywords. And search engines like Google and Bing have gotten very good at delivering long-tail keywords relevant results.
Long-tail keywords are:
- Easier to rank for, because they’re less competitive
- Generate more revenue, because they’re more specific
- Account for a higher search volume in total than shorter “golden keywords”
Today, generating search traffic that brings you leads, sales, and revenue means curating a larger number of natural language or long-tail keywords searches that grow and change over time.
Is SEO a Good Investment?
When you have the funds and stamina to be patient with the results, as well as stay in the game for the long haul, SEO is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that all businesses should invest in.
A minimum of 4 to 6 months of SEO services will allow you the time and money to see the results that you want. For businesses that do not have a budget for SEO services for up to a year, we recommend a few key steps regardless:
- Make your website SEO and user friendly – you may need a professional to help with this as a one-time project
- Work on building out good quality content on your website if you build genuinely helpful content to your target market, it will pay SEO dividends down the road
- Consider using additional funds towards paid advertising to start generating traffic to your website
It’s important to remain patient throughout the SEO process. When businesses fail to see results after a couple of months of SEO services, they are tempted to give up ‒ when they could actually see results in a matter of weeks. We often refer to this time period as the “trough of sorrow” in the industry.
We as agencies or individuals cannot control a lot of the SEO process. We don’t control Google, their algorithm, or what competitors do. The only thing we can do is understand what Google is looking for, give them what they want, connect with our customers and give them what they want, and we will start to see results.
SEO is not only a science, but also the art of adapting to changes in the industry.
Remember that SEO results increase over time, not overnight. Your results should be significantly better after 12 months than they were after 6 months.
To get the results that you need online for your business, professional SEO services are OFTEN worth the time, energy, and money that you invest.
If you would like more information about our SEO and digital advertising services, please do not hesitate to contact our SEO team here at TrafficSoda.
3 Fatal Risks of Cheap SEO Services (Avoid at ALL Costs)
Here’s the hard truth: cheap SEO is too good to be true.
Just because you’re better than your competitors in ‘real life’ (better products, better workmanship, better results, etc.) doesn’t always mean you’ll get a better search ranking.
Google and Bing search results are extremely competitive.
If somebody’s ranking higher than you, it’s likely because they hired an SEO company to optimize their website.
And the only effective way to outrank them is to beat them at their own game.
There’s just one problem…
Bad SEO is Worse Than No SEO at All
Many SEO companies are more interested in your money than your success.
Doing SEO cheaply is not only detrimental to your website traffic but can also harm your business’s reputation both online and offline.
The long-term risks of cheap SEO include:
- Loss of business revenue;
- Getting banned from search results, period; and
- Handing all your potential search revenue to your competitors
Those are the consequences we want to help you avoid. So, in this article, we lay it all out on the table.
Read on to learn all about:
- How, exactly, cheap SEO can tank your business
- Biggest red flags of cheap SEO
- Black Hat vs. Grey Hat vs. White Hat SEO (and why it matters)
- What GOOD SEO can do for your business
1. How Cheap SEO Can Tank Your Business
Google and Bing are for-profit companies, and their customers are search engine users. This means that both Google and Bing want to give people the best, most relevant search results. Search engines have spent years building parameters to identify high quality, relevant search results.
The problem is that bad actors frequently reverse engineer these parameters to exploit rankings, which results in low quality search results and poor user experience. As a result, Google and Bing regularly update their algorithm to identify manipulative SEO tactics and suss out actions that are fake and spammy.
Cheap SEO services often use manipulative tactics that go against search engine guidelines.
Google and Bing actively scan the web for these shady practices using the most advanced machine learning algorithms available.
You might not get caught right away, but you must assume you will get caught at some point.
And when that happens, you can lose traffic, get block-listed, and potentially forfeit all your future search traffic to your competitors.
a. Cheap SEO Decimates Your Website Traffic
Organic search is by far the #1 source of website traffic online, and the most authentic.
If you successfully rank at the top of the search results, you will benefit from more clicks and visits to your website, presenting an opportunity to turn those clicks into customers.
Poorly done SEO can tank your ranking, meaning customers won’t be able to find you and will click on your competitors instead.
b. Cheap SEO Gets You Block-listed from Google and Bing
Google and Bing’s top priority is to create a positive user experience, so penalizing manipulative tactics is smart business for them.
Using cheap SEO tactics will cause search engines to penalize and even ban you, banning you from appearing in search results at all until the issue is rectified.
A search penalty means a real and immediate loss of potential revenue for your business.
If you ignore the penalty, you will find it almost impossible to recover. Your site traffic will continue to drop steadily, leaving you behind the competition and low on stamina to make a comeback.
c. Cheap SEO Funnels Revenue to Your Competitors
Now, you’re block-listed from the search results. So, who do you think all those potential customers are going to click on instead of you?
You already know the answer.
Shooting yourself in the foot with manipulative SEO is like handing your customers revenue on a silver platter.
Plus, ethical SEO practices can take weeks or months to have an impact. So, the more time and money you waste on cheap SEO, the longer you will have to wait for results on good SEO when you finally switch gears.
It’s not worth the risk.
2. How to Spot Red Flags for Cheap SEO
Hiring cheap SEO services can have serious immediate and long-term consequences to your business that can be difficult or even impossible to recover from.
To avoid them, you need to know what to look out for.
First, there’s some SEO industry jargon you need to know. These are the labels we use to separate cheap, manipulative SEO tactics from legitimate SEO: white hat, gray hat, and black hat.
- White Hat SEO services follow the search engine-approved guidelines for optimizing a website. White hat SEO focuses on improving the user experience and creating high-quality content. There is zero risk in using white hat SEO.
- Black hat SEO services rely on manipulating and violating search engine algorithms against guidelines to improve your search rankings. The short-term goals of black hat SEO services are to get you fast-paced wins to fool you into thinking their services have the best and fastest results on the market. Manipulating the algorithm is not effective because it can never keep up with Google’s constant updates, which results in your rankings being wiped out due to unethical practices. Black hat SEO is extremely risky.
- Gray hat SEO services test the limits of what search engines allow, exploiting ‘gray areas’ in the guidelines. Once a gray hat tactic becomes known, search engines often crack down hard, which will cost you the same way as black hat SEO. The results do not stick well over time and require repeated work. Grey hat SEO is very risky.
No serious business should never engage in black hat SEO. Your website will no longer be trustworthy to users or search engines, and recovery could take years.
Although gray hat SEO is often sold as a ‘medium risk for a medium price’, which can be tempting for businesses on a tight budget, the risk is high and the results are not sustainable. Business owners should avoid this trap at all costs.
Overall, white hat SEO services are the only kind worth your money and time because the job done will be the safest and most beneficial for your business online.
So, how do you know when a company’s pitching you cheap, black/grey hat SEO? There are a few key phrases and promises that agencies will make that should ring alarm bells:
a. Big Promises for Low Price Tags
SEO is not rocket science, but it is not as simple as you might think. It’s not just sticking a bunch of keywords and tags on a website.
Achieving long-term success with SEO takes a lot of manual work that cannot be easily accomplished on a shoestring budget. Either you settle for a very small number of keywords, or you end up paying for the work that really needs to be done.
b. No Long-Term Strategy
Cheap SEO companies will offer you short-term solutions, but this is not realistic.
SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time to gain the rankings you deserve. If the company you are considering offers no plan past one month, they are more than likely a scam. They are either not doing their job or just looking for quick and easy money from unsuspecting customers like you.
c. No Transparency
Do not trust any SEO company that doesn’t offer you transparency into what they’re doing. It is important that you have visibility over the SEO process so that you can assess the results and make changes as needed.
The best SEO companies will offer a full audit of your site and provide explanations for any errors found. They will also provide recommendations for how to fix these errors, give an overview of how to improve rankings, and show rankings progress.
d. Inexperienced Team
One of the most important things to look for when choosing an SEO company is their expertise and experience.
Do they have a website with a portfolio of websites that they have previously optimized? Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients? Can you find any information on them at all?
An experienced SEO company won’t mind telling you who’s on their team and should be eager to tell you about their experience. If they’re not transparent, they could be hiding something.
e. Guaranteed Results
No one can guarantee a #1 spot on Google.
It is an outright impossible claim to make for an agency, as SEO is a competitive practice that depends on hundreds of signals which can change at any point in the day.
What can be guaranteed are solid and safe practices that can win better results when done properly over time.
Agencies that claim their services will guarantee a specific result in a specific timeframe is one of the biggest warning signs for cheap, black hat SEO that will hurt your business.
What About Using Negative SEO to Attack Your Competitors?
Usually, SEO is about trying to boost your own company’s search ranking. Negative SEO is when one company uses manipulative tactics to hurt a competitor’s rankings instead.
Negative SEO is gray hat SEO. A negative SEO campaign against your industry competitors is risky because the traffic attacks can be traced back to you.
Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online.
Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online. Google will penalize websites for building spammy backlinks that use anchor text to improve their ranking by matching the exact keywords.
Any mentions of negative SEO practices should be shut down immediately, the risk is simply not worth it.
3. The Long-Term Value of Affordable White Hat SEO
White hat SEO isn’t cheap, but it’s effective – and it can be affordable. When done well, SEO is the most cost-effective and reliable way to reach your target customers and understand what they are looking for when they search for businesses online.
Investing time and money into effective, white hat SEO services will benefit your online traffic, leads, and sales in the long run.
- Search is the #1 source of website traffic. Organic search is a key way people find your website and become customers, whether you sell products or services online or offline. Being highly visible on Google and Bing is money in the bank.
- SEO builds trust and credibility. SEO creates trust and credibility by providing a positive user experience that is easily discoverable on search engines. Establishing authority online through good content results in natural backlinks that boost your ranking. Online credibility takes time, working towards your goals of authority and credibility online takes time, patience, and affordable SEO services from an experienced agency.
- SEO boosts local businesses. Using SEO will improve your local engagement and traffic online by connecting users to your business based on their location. SEO professionals can do this by optimizing the businesses website content and including local citations and backlinks to guide the user to their product or service. An experienced agency can provide effective, local SEO services at an affordable price.
- SEO is quantifiable. With SEO, you can measure your progress using analytics. A competent SEO agency has people dedicated to connecting the dots and assessing the improvements made through SEO. This information can also be used to maximize ROI and ensure that your SEO remains affordable. Hiring a team that is knowledgeable about tracking analytics and SEO data is essential.
- Good SEO means a better user experience. Google is dedicated to providing a positive user experience through relevant search results. Search engine optimization also means optimizing your user experience, so people love using your website and come back for more. Optimizing your website’s user experience will also help maximize the ROI from both SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
Bottom Line: Avoid Cheap SEO Services at All Costs
Cheaping out on SEO is never the way to go. This will only cost you more money and more problems in the future that could potentially be irreversible.
We hope that you now understand the risks of cheap SEO services and the benefits to investing in white hat SEO services that put your success first.
TrafficSoda has built hundreds of successful SEO strategies for companies, like you, looking to increase traffic, leads, calls, online purchases and more. When you’re ready to jump in with a personalized plan, reach out for your free strategy proposal.
How To Choose The Best PPC Advertising Channel For Your Service Business
Running a service-based business can be undoubtedly lucrative, especially when you’ve got the experience, tools and skills to build yourself a lifelong customer base.
But in today’s highly competitive landscape, you need to do everything possible to maintain your edge.
You know that marketing and advertising are essential to your continued growth and success, and these days, there’s no marketing without the internet. But also know you’re no expert in digital advertising ‒ not to mention you’re busy providing essential services to your clients!
To cut to the chase, you need to get the most bang for your advertising buck. And that means choosing the best PPC advertising channel for your service business from day one.
I, for one, hate seeing time and money go to waste. So I’ve put together some points to help you get off on the right foot and choose the right ad channel for your business.
Read on to learn:
- Why You Must Spend Your Digital Ad Dollars (and Time) Wisely
- 5 Time-Saving Steps to Take Before You Decide On a PPC Advertising Channel
- 3 Digital Advertising Channels You Can Quickly Use to Get New Customers
1. Why You Must Spend Your Digital Ad Dollars (and Time) Wisely
Let’s start with the basics.
Even a well-written marketing message with a strong creative direction is wasted if it doesn’t reach the right audience. Focusing on the correct marketing channel is key.
That’s why you don’t overhear ads for HR software while your toddlers are watching Sesame Street clips on YouTube Kids; nor do you typically see display ads for Sesame Street while you’re browsing LinkedIn.
However, choosing the right advertising channel isn’t always so cut-and-dry.
Chances are your audience is a lot broader than something like, ‘kids age 2-4 who watch PBS’ or ‘tech-savvy HR professionals.’ Say you offer a service like plumbing or auto repair. Your customers don’t congregate on a particular channel at all – in fact, they’re practically everywhere!
On the other hand, your target audience could be also so specific that there’s simply no obvious, sure-fire avenue for reaching them. Say you’re trying to sell turnkey co-packing services for burgeoning hot sauce companies in the Northeast U.S. with between $200K and $750K annual revenue. Last I checked, there’s no such thing as Hotsaucebook where all the hot sauce aficionados congregate…and even if there were, they might not be the specific kind of aficionados you’re looking for!
Put simply, choosing the right online advertising channel can be tricky. There are dozens to choose from, and not all of them will bring in the client and customer leads your business needs to grow.
2. The 5 Time-Saving Steps to Take Before You Decide On a PPC Advertising Channel
To begin, here are a few of the basic steps you must take to be properly equipped to decide which digital advertising channel your business needs right now.
a. Familiarize Yourself with Forms of Online Marketing
You can’t advertise your business successfully without a basic understanding of the PPC landscape.
The only way to fully leverage the power of internet marketing by yourself is by taking the initiative to learn about it on an elementary level. When you lack this baseline comprehension, it’s far too easy to make costly mistakes (see: 5 Mistakes KILLING Your Google Ads Budget.)
If you haven’t got time to hit the books, do yourself a favour and find yourself a lead generation partner who’s already done the heavy lifting. You’ll save yourself dozens of hours of trial-and-error, not to mention potentially thousands of dollars in spending gone astray!
b. Thoroughly Weigh the Costs
Understanding the costs involved in digital marketing channels will allow you to shape a budget on what’s acceptable to spend. It’ll also help you temper your expectations on what kind of funds should be poured into each channel.
To illustrate, you could be earning $1,000,000 in revenue per week. If you’re spending $1,000,001 per week to generate those sales, you’re still in the hole $1.00! It’s Business 101, but easy to lose sight of when you’re still learning the ropes of a new advertising channel.
Here are a couple of considerations to ponder over:
- It’s possible to spend nothing on digital marketing and find some success, but the percentages aren’t high. You’d have to be online most of the time, not performing other vital functions for your company.
- Remember to weigh in time spent when you’re assessing costs. If you’re achieving modest results but spending all day milling through online marketing tasks, that’s not ideal.
- Outsourcing your marketing is the most time-efficient approach. But thorough due diligence will let you know what costs are fair, and if it will benefit your company.
c. Clearly Define Your Goals
For advertising to be profitable, and to decide the correct channels, you must know your objectives. Crafting an action plan is a must.
In an online marketing capacity, here are how goals align with strategies:
- If your goal is to build a reputable brand image, you will likely utilize a mix of social media marketing, display ads and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
- Provide you want to come across as an industry expert, blogging, content marketing (e.g., writing free eBooks), and social media marketing are the most common approaches.
- Lastly, a lead generation strategy would necessitate online ads (PPC and social media), SEO, social media marketing, and content-based lead funnels.
d. Craft a Budget
At first, you might want to start with a smaller budget to get things started with your digital marketing. Understand that there’s a ceiling with how much success you’ll find with this approach.
Overspending is even worse, but that’s why you’ve performed the necessary cost research. You must coordinate those industry-standard prices with what’s affordable and makes sense for your current business model.
You’ll find that you’ll be able to steadily grow your marketing budget to reflect your company’s evolution.
e. Tune into Your Audience
Getting positive results with any marketing strategy or campaign necessitates a deep insight into your audience. Otherwise, you won’t know how to target your messaging.
Any knowledgeable lead generation partner will utilize industry and competitor research tools to help you round up essential data about your target market, such as:
- Where can they be found online (e.g., social media networks, blogs, or websites, etc.)?
- What content do they like?
- What online activities do they engage in?
3. Top 3 Digital Advertising Channels You Can Quickly Use to Get New Customers
Now that we’ve offered some criteria involved in choosing the right internet ad channel, it’s time to look at the channels you should be investigating.
When we launch a lead generation campaign for a new service client (HVAC, plumbing, contracting, etc.), we choose a combination of the following channels based on the client’s needs. Each of these channels offers a variety of audience targeting options, acceptable cost per lead, and (if executed well) a reliable return in the form of customer leads.
a. Google Search Advertising
Search ads are best utilized to leverage search-based intent. When customers need something ASAP, like a plumber for a burst pipe, they type something like, “Toronto plumbing” or wherever their hometown is. This is the most effective form of marketing for emergency-based services where a customer requires something immediately.
b. Display Advertising
When people see display ads online, they aren’t looking for something directly – they’re just browsing, going along with their usual web activities, and end up seeing a digital banner.
So, if your business is service-based and reliant on emergency calls, this might not be the best network for you.
But if the bulk of your revenue comes from renovations and rebuilds, this kind of brand awareness can really pay off. The use of display advertising is often more long-term strategy, and a way to ensure your business is top-of-mind for your target market.
Eventually, when they decide they want what you’re selling, your business will be who they contact—if you’ve executed correctly!
c. Social Media Advertising
Currently, 31% of people use social media as a primary research tool when they seek products. It’s playing more of a pivotal role than ever throughout the customer journey.
Ads on social media are more effective than other forms of marketing on the platform, including celebrity endorsements, updates on brands’ pages, and recommendations or comments.
Those who click on social media ads are 26% likelier to buy from the brands they see. However, these customers are more interested in signing up for a membership than purchasing a product or service.
Social media advertising is a wise avenue if you’re a plumber or electrician writing a blog and looking to grow an audience. This will help you establish yourself as an industry expert with a broader base.
Getting Started With Digital Advertising
Let’s be honest. Not all online marketing channels will profit your business.
Success depends on understanding the strengths and limitations of each channel.
At TrafficSoda, we specialize in determining the most efficient way to turn ad dollars into customer leads. We’ve worked with a broad range of service-based businesses including HVAC companies, builders, roofers, cybersecurity providers, data centers, car mechanics and dealerships to generate leads through targeted PPC ad campaigns.
We start by researching our clients thoroughly in what we call the discovery process. By understanding all aspects of your customer audience, market, competitors and sales process, we can help you choose the best PPC advertising channel for your business.
If you’re still not entirely sure which channel is right for you ‒ and you don’t have the time to invest in learning the ins and outs on your own ‒ feel free to drop us a line.
7 Questions to Ask When Developing Your Lead Generation Strategy
Are you throwing away hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on online advertising with little to no results?
Still can’t figure out how to attract more of your ideal customers cost-effectively?
You might’ve been told that pay-per-click advertising is the answer – but like most things in business (and in life) it’s not as simple as the ‘experts’ make it out to be.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are literally hundreds of step-by-step guides out there claiming to hold the secrets to lead generation success. Thousands of so-called marketing gurus who say they’ve developed a foolproof method to get your business – any business – more leads than you can handle.
And that is mistake number one.
Now, we can’t speak to your situation specifically…but from our experience, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many advertising dollars go to waste: a generic, paint-by-numbers marketing strategy that doesn’t account for foundational facts about your business.
Why You Need to Stop, Think, Ask and Answer
We know you’re eager to hit the ground running. You need new customers, and you want to start acquiring them as soon and as efficiently as possible.
It can be tempting to believe you can skip ahead to the ‘execution’ phase (aka, the fun part).
But it pays – literally – to put in the work and ask the right questions early on, because the result is a powerful lead generation strategy that puts the right messages in front of your ideal customers and turns them into real leads.
These aren’t necessarily easy questions. Developing a lead generation strategy isn’t like a personality quiz. They are, however, crucially important and well worth your time to answer.
We can’t take you through all these questions right here and now, but we would like to introduce you to 7 of the most fundamental questions you must ask when developing any lead generation strategy:
- What is your lead acquisition cost and average order value?
- What is your marketing funnel?
- What is Happening in Your Market?
- What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART?
- Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals?
- Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers?
- How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads?
1. What is Your Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value?
Developing a smart and cost-effective marketing strategy to scale your business is no easy task, especially if you are unaware of the costs associated with lead acquisition (cost per lead) and average order value.
But first, let’s start with defining what a lead is. A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.
Now, let’s define what Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value are and what they mean to your business.
Lead Acquisition Cost (LAC) are all costs associated with getting one lead, i.e., getting a potential customer.
Average Order Value AOV) tracks the average dollar amount spent each time a customer places an order on a website or mobile app. To calculate your company’s average order value, simply divide total revenue by the number of orders.
Wrapping your head around these important metrics can change the way you perceive your business, and how you approach a new cost-effective marketing strategy. Without these numbers factored into your strategy, you could find your business spending substantial amounts of marketing dollars on the wrong initiatives and not producing favourable results.
The good news is that Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value can actually be pinned down to the cent, and TrafficSoda can help, so you don’t have to feel around in the dark for these numbers.
2. What Does Your Marketing Funnel Look Like?
The buying process has multiple stages.
Most people are not ready to buy the moment they see your ad, and for that reason, it is important to warm your customer up so they can go from being unaware and uninterested in your business to engaged and ready to buy.
At TrafficSoda, we specialize in determining the shortest pathway from your advertising dollar to your sales funnel. To do so, we first start by researching our clients thoroughly in what we call the discovery process. By understanding all aspects of your customer audience, market perception, competitors and sales process and marketing – we can develop a hypothesis, test and refine.
3. What is Happening in Your Market?
Creating a strategic lead generation strategy starts with taking a close and honest look at who you are as a business.
What do you do that provides unique value for your customers?
Have you investigated the full scope of your business and have insight into your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Researching what is happening in your market, what customers are saying about your business and competitors, and the actions your top competitors are taking to stand out, and better align with customers, is a great place to start.
With this information at hand, you can then produce the right market messaging that resonates with your target audience.
4. What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART?
Goal setting is an important component when crafting a new marketing strategy.
What are your current sales like?
How much would you like to scale as a business?
What are your timelines for achieving this growth potential?
By mapping out a clear picture of your ideal business situation and your plans to support this growth internally, you and your team will know exactly what you are working towards. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) can help you set marketing goals that align with your overall business goals.
5. Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals?
This is a loaded question, so we at TrafficSoda like to focus first on the current number and quality of leads your business is interacting with.
From here we like to look at overall lead generation strategy, and how it’s managed, monitored, optimized AND nurtured.
Quality lead generation does not mean you can have a “set it and forget it” mentality. Regular monitoring and tweaking of your marketing is essential to its performance and overall impact.
What types of data are you collecting and how are you using it to make data driven decisions and improve your overall strategy?
6. Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers?
Is your copywriting aligned with customer needs or is it more ‘You’ focused as a business?
Copy can almost always be refined to better communicate your unique value proposition to the customer.
We cannot stress the importance of good copywriting enough when it comes to marketing strategy! Without it, all the time and money associated with your marketing will prove ineffective in converting prospects to leads and leads to paying customers.
7. How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads?
How do you nurture leads?
Do you currently have any nurture campaigns?
In the customer buying process, also known as the buying decision process, the customer journeys through multiple stages before making the decision to purchase your product or service.
Customers online are interested in conducting thorough research, weighing their options and taking their time before making a purchase. This means that you have a unique opportunity to entice, connect, build trust, educate and promote the value of your business. Through constant communication with your audience and helpful email automation.
It is important to evaluate where your customers are in their decision making and understand the potential objections or setbacks to why a customer may not invest in your business – and address them honestly while providing value.
Lead nurturing is essential, and in many instances your own sales representatives need to take an active role to ensure that warm leads don’t go cold mid-funnel. It can actually take between 7 and 12 points of contact before getting a sale, so as a business you really want to deliver as much value as you can in advance so there is little to no doubt in a customer’s mind that you are the obvious choice.
An automated email path is a great way to nurture your leads, build a relationship and humanize your company and brand. If a customer is no longer engaging with and opening your emails after a couple of weeks, it is safe to say that they are no longer a ‘warm’ lead and can be removed from future email marketing.
Start Building an Effective Lead Generation Strategy NOW
Ready to attract more of your ideal customers?
We want to help you produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing strategy. Contact TrafficSoda to build a powerful lead generation strategy that fills your funnel with quality leads and helps your business scale.