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.
Is there a way to expand the reach of the content you already have, without having to research a new topic altogether?
By repurposing the already amazing content you have!
This will benefit you for several reasons:
1. Reaching a new audience
Just like the fact that everyone learns in different ways, they consume content differently too!
They might not have time to read an entire pillar post but they can listen to an audio version or podcast on their commute to work. In the future, you can even tailor your audience based on how they prefer to consume content.
2. Creating traffic
When it comes to turning traffic into conversions, the more opportunities you give your audience to interact with your site, the better your chances are to get leads.
3. Saving time
Ask yourself, “how much time does my team spend writing brand new content?” Likely, it’s more than repurposing content you’ve already done the research for.
Not only that, but it will free up time to work on other new or ongoing projects for your company while still maintaining the amount of content you already post.
So, how can you actually transform dormant content?
What Content to Repurpose
Step one is to choose content that will last for years and still be relevant to searchers down the line.
Once you decide what content to repurpose, it’s time to figure out what new form the copy will take on! Here are five of our ideas that have proven to show results:
1. Turn Statistics and Data into an Infographic
A great way to display boring information is to make it visually appealing.
Infographics make all those numbers into something exciting. They can help put the information presented into perspective so that readers understand the reason for calling attention to the data.
The reason that infographics are useful when repurposing content is because the majority of people are visual learners. In fact, 65% of people are considered visual learners.
Typically, an infographic contains 5-10 interesting statistics arranged in an appealing design layout to extend the blog information.
There are tons of free and easy to use infographic creating websites that don’t require heavy knowledge of design tools or more complicated programs like photoshop. One option is the infographic option of Canva, it has a simplistic and intuitive layout that anyone can use!
2. Bundle Blogs into an eBook or Whitepaper
By now, you’ve probably written a lot of blogs that support one another or that relate to different aspects of one broad topic.
Or maybe you even have a dedicated pillar post. For those who aren’t familiar with pillar posts, Hubspot defines pillar posts as “the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keywords related to that topic in-depth.”
EBooks and whitepapers don’t have to be lengthy, think of them as just a longer blog post. And just like blogs, it’s always quality over quantity. Using all the blogs related to the broader topic, just stitch them together into a frankenstein mega blog.
Since all the main points are already written, it will take significantly less time!
3. Turn Single Blogs into Videos or Podcasts
People would rather watch a video than read text, it’s just a fact.
As marketers, it’s time to jump on the video train and create video content for our blogs. Not only will it have a high retention rate but it will also help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
When you embed a video to your blog, those that click on the video will show as a conversion. This means that Google will see that people are interacting with your blog and will be likely to recommend your blog post over someone who didn’t have that same interaction.
Even just turning prezis or slideshows into simple animations with a voiceover and music can help gain a high ranking.
If you don’t necessarily have the time to create a whole video for every blog, you can always create a podcast reading the blog.
Not everyone has the time to read an entire blog, so if they have time during a workout at the gym or on their way to work, they can listen to your blogs!
Not only are you tailoring your content to people’s needs but also the types of learners they are!
4. Break Down Long Blogs into Social Media Tips
Attention span is hard to maintain with the constant bustle of the online world.
If you have a blog that has a lot of little ideas that can be used individually, why not make social media posts that showcase these tips.
The best part is that you can even link to the blog post that inspired the tip within the social post and gain even more engagements.
5. Repurpose Videos into a Web Course
If you’re one of the companies that includes a mini video tutorials or explanations, this is easy to repurpose into fresh content.
You’ve already made the videos, and they’re doing great on your site. So why not make a little extra on the side when you’ve already put in the work?
Using a site like Udemy, you can upload your videos of the same theme and create a course out of it. Users will pay a flat fee for the entire course and then will have access to engage at their own pace.
What’s awesome about making a course on Udemy is that the courses allow for the creator of the course to get involved and help the users. Connections can be made and brand awareness can be developed!
Old content is not bad content, it’s just forgotten!
Repurposing your content is a great way to bring new life to your site and gain new traffic. Your information is sure to help someone out there find what they’re looking for, you just have to make your content heard!
What did you last type into Google? Chances are whatever the question, it recommended a blog or article on the topic.
In 2019, search engines like Google care about solving the intent of the searcher. This means that the viewer’s attention must be grabbed, the information was helpful, and the article had steps in place to engage with the company.
Do you want to learn about how to write a quality blog post that helps your relevancy on search engines?
Here’s a beginner’s guide to everything SEO to optimize your next blog post.
Creating Effective Content
Your goal as a writer is to keep people on the website.
Content that is overly complicated or boring will cause readers to abandon your page. The experience that your audience has is an important one.
You aren’t the only one writing a blog today. Countless blogs are posted every day, so how do you grab people’s attention?
Well, it all starts with creating meaning content that educates or inspires your readers. How do you do that?
The first thing to do when creating compelling content, is to find a compelling topic to write about.
Choosing A Topic
The best thing to write about are things that both relate to your services and educational topics. Simply put, people find blogs by searching for questions they have. So, answer them!
The easiest way to identify this is to think like your audience and ask the following:
- What do they want to know about?
- What will they identify with?
This isn’t to say you should never write about your own business when it makes sense. Your company just won an award or was featured in a major new article? Perfect opportunities to write about what your company can do for the masses!
But for most blog posts, it’s best to focus on the industry’s questions. This is largely due to the fact that the people you are hoping to reach don’t know about you yet! If you only talk about your business or yourself, people won’t be able to find you by searching.
Are you stuck for ideas or have writers block? Consider talking to other people in the company in different departments or that have unique perspectives. They could be a gateway to ideas!
Here are some questions to ask regarding potential leads to topics:
- What are frequent questions from customers?
- What does our audience need help with?
- What do people wish they knew regarding our industry?
- What are others in our industry talking about?
It may be beneficial to start with a very broad topic. As you research and write, you’ll likely find subtopics that could be expanded on. Try to approach the broad topic in different ways to create different avenues for expansion.
Keywords are the words or phrases that are commonly typed into the search engine. They are the main words people are looking for information on.
What are the words that your industry uses all the time? If you run a company that repairs air conditioners, your keywords could be “air conditioner repair.”
The concept of keywords is not to completely overwhelm your content with a keyword every sentence. It actually negatively impacts your search engine optimization because it’s considered stuffing.
Think about incorporating them naturally in the headlines and body, as if they were a conversation.
Language allows us to say the same thing differently. Maybe your keyword can be said a different way. Instead of repeating “air conditioner repair”, use a synonym. This can also help search engines to pick up on different nomenclatures because not everyone searches for the same thing the same way.
Develop a Long-tail Keyword and Title
Long-tail keywords are very specifically targeted keywords.
They typically are 3 or more words and contain a head term combined with more generic search terms. The head term should relate to what you want your company to be known for and what topics you want to provide knowledge on.
A good practice is to develop and focus on a single long-tail keyword.
Why are Long-tail Keywords Useful for Titles?
Often times the title is the opener for a question to be answered. Those who search for long-tail keywords will be the most likely candidate to read your post in its entirety and pursue your company further. They are the ones who will click down the conversion funnel.
Make a Working Title from a Long-tail Keyword
Everyone reads the title before committing to the rest of the blog. That means you have to make sure people are interested enough to continue by catching the viewer’s attention.
A working title is something you base the direction of your post off of. For example, using the broad topic of “video advertisements”, the working title could be “How to Optimize Your Video Advertisements in 2019”. We took the very general idea that could have been pretty much anything and made it specific.
Once you finish the post, go back to your title and rework it to align better with the end result. Your title should help people as well as search engines to decipher what the post will contain specifically. Readers will identify what they can get out of spending their time viewing your post.
Shorten Your URL Slug
A post slug is typically a viewer friendly URL name of a post or page.
They ensure clarity of the topic. For example, website.com/blog/our-first-blog.
Your slug doesn’t have to be the title of your blog. When slugs are overly long or complicated can be confusing and not memorable for users to find later.
It is also useful to have a consistent slug if the title changes. For example, if you intend on trying to better optimize your title to gain traffic, you don’t have to then also change the slug.
Best practice is to exclude years or numbers in general, this way you don’t have to change it if you update the page.
It’s important to keep the URL slug as short as possible without losing key information.
Optimize Image Alt-texts
It’s crucial to incorporate images throughout your blog to provide a visual interest.
Search engines can’t see images like we do, so you can’t optimize for actual images. What you can optimize is the alt text or name.
An alt name is information regarding what the image is about. From a search engine perspective, the best descriptions will better the results.
It’s an easy thing to forget but can ultimately help if you include them. Consider creating an alt text for your images based on your long-tail keyword or working title.
Additionally, including these will help with accessibility for impaired users and allow you to increase your reach.
Create an Interesting Meta Description
What’s the next thing users see after they read the title? The meta description.
The meta description is the brief synopsis of your article found right below the title. It is used by both viewers and search engines to provide information regarding what you intend to talk about.
Meta descriptions don’t directly affect your SEO; however, they are useful for including keywords. Searched information is often bolded if your article uses the keywords or the meta description does.
They should not mislead people into clicking on something they weren’t looking for. It’s good practice to use words that indicate what you want viewers to gain from reading further. This could be words like:
If you’re ever stuck on what to write to think of it as a headline. How would you get the attention of the viewer?
Including Strategic Blog Links
With more traffic, you’ll be able to develop better relationships with your viewers. You want users to feel that they can trust you.
So how can you create that trust with an informational blog? By being credible.
Including links to your sources throughout the blog will showcase that you have researched the topic and know what you’re talking about.
Now, including a link for every paragraph is not what you want to do. It’s best to sprinkle your sources only where it makes sense.
Likely at this point, you’ve got a few topics in mind for what you could write about, so plan accordingly! You can incorporate hyperlinks, Call to Actions (CTAs), to other blog posts of yours on related topics.
Have you already explained a topic that you mention? Link to it! This is good practice because if someone finds your content useful, they could find your services right within the blog.
Don’t Just Use Text
Plain text that all looks the same is frankly just boring.
By offering other types of media like images or videos will greatly increase the amount of time people spend on your article.
Including videos, especially near the top of your article, increases your chance of being on the front page of Google by 53 times. Why? Because people that take the time to watch your video, increase your bounce rate.
In the eyes of search engines, if people just view your page and then leave, it didn’t really help them. When people click to watch a video embedded on your blog, Google sees that as people finding valuable resources on your site. And it is more likely to recommend the article to people.
Most people would rather watch a video than read text, and giving people the option, puts value in your content.
If you’re just starting out on your blog or if you’re just looking to better your blog writing, this is an excellent map to creating quality content.
Make the most of every post on your site by incorporating these tips!
You’re a great writer. You can produce killer content that people connect with. What about pictures? Do you have them on your site, or blog? Are your images optimized for SEO? Or do you just throw up whatever you have on hand at the time?
Believe it or not, there is a technique to posting images that can affect your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Done improperly, it can be a detriment to how Google and other search engines view your website. Part science and part art form, correct image optimization is ultimately about two things:
- Making the user experience a good one
- Appeasing the SEO gods
Achieving the second item depends largely upon achieving the first item.
Whether you’re a seasoned blogger, or just wrote your first post, the following essentials in regard to image optimization for SEO will help your content rank better with search engines.
Do I Even Need an Image?
Some people would consider posting anything without at least one image. But why? Humans are innately visual creatures. In fact, for those of us who do not have severe visual impairment, sight isn’t just our primary sense involved with assimilating information from the world around us. It is used at a far greater rate than all the other senses combined. And pictures have been shown to be just as, if not more effective in relaying information in certain circumstances.
Including pictorial content with a post achieves several items for the user:
Provides visual appeal: opening a page that is a sheer wall of text causes a brain to immediately tune out. Many people won’t get past the first paragraph, and your websites bounce rate will increase. Spice up your post and break up the monotony with an image.
Visuals can help clarify a topic. There’s nothing like a graph, chart, or even an on-point meme to get a point across.
Besides the obvious visual appeal for readers, search engines not only like to see that you are providing pictures, but that your images are optimized for maximum effectiveness. The metadata and descriptions associated with your picture can help increase your chances of being found in an organic search.
Where Can I Find Images?
It is considered best practice to use your own, original photos. Decent cameras are reasonably priced. Heck, some people have gotten proficient enough with their smartphone’s camera that they use this as their primary picture taking device. The biggest obstacle many people find in providing their own pictures is time. It may take too long to gather the right objects and get the lighting just right, or to go out into the wild to locate that ideal scene.
If you need to gather your visuals more quickly there are online venues designed specifically for this purpose. They come in two flavours – free and paid.
Some of the free sites like pixabay have pictures that are truly free. What’s the difference between free, and truly free? Some “free” sites offer photos at no charge, but they have a watermark on them. You have to pay a subscription, or membership fee to use the photo without the watermark. Might be okay if the mark is generic, but they usually aren’t, which makes the pic kind of useless for posting on a blog.
Some have a two-tier system. There is a small selection of free (and sometimes lower resolution) pictures without watermarks, and then if you pay a membership/subscription fee, there is a greater selection of photos which include better resolution.
Then there is truly free. There are no watermarks. There are no membership fees, or tiers. Pictures are offered at varying resolutions. The selection may not be as wide or deep as some of the pay sites, however if you are creative you can find the free sites may be more than enough to supply your needs.
After locating the perfect picture to go with your content, there are a couple of things you will need to do with the image.
- Change it up. When allowed to alter a pic, do it. Chances are you aren’t the only one using this picture, so by adding an effect, or overlaying some text, or cropping the image, you make it different from any other site where users may happen upon this visual. Canva is a great online tool that can help with basic alterations. If you want something a little more robust, gimp is a great picture manipulation program loaded with tons of options – and it is free! (truly free)
- Remove unnecessary metadata. This is the part of the image that the users won’t normally see; things like the title, tags, authors, date taken, etc. In all, there are about 25 attributes that should be removed whenever possible, to help with overall page performance and not get search engines bogged down with irrelevant information.
Image optimization for SEO isn’t just about removing irrelevant items. It is also about ensuring the correct attributes are present and correctly formatted. The following items won’t usually be seen by the user but make a big difference for image optimization.
- File name: Never leave an image or photo file name with the default that was set by the camera or program (ie. DSC44553.png or img33224.jpg). Always change the file name to something that is relevant to the content, preferably the focus keyword. This not only helps indicate to search engines the relevance of the image to the text but can help with placing in organic searches.
- File format: There are several file formats that will serve for a content image, with the two main types being .jpg (this has its small size going for it), and .png (which allows for background transparency). On occasion a .gif may even be desired for animations. Remember to keep the file sizes as low as possible; use compression if necessary.
- Alt text: Most CMS’s media libraries will offer an extra field called alt text when uploading an image. Do not treat it as optional and leave it blank. Do not treat it as an extra field for more keywords. Instead, fill it in with a short description of what is in the picture. This field is used by programs for those who are sight impaired to give a verbal description of what the rest of us see when looking at the image. It can also help when a browser runs into problems downloading the image, by placing the alt text directly on the screen, allowing everyone to get some idea of what is supposed to be there, rather than just a blank image or file not found error.
- Give credit where credit is due. Read the terms and conditions of each site where you procure your visuals. They all have varying rules and degrees to which a picture may be used, and the way credit should be given. This not only lets search engines know you have authorization to use a picture, it can also save your hide legally in case a photographer or graphic designer sees their image on your site and challenges your rights of usage.
- Picture size: as a general rule-of-thumb, ensure the picture is no wider than your content, and it does not fill the entire screen from top to bottom.
- Captions: people scan titles headings and image captions (no not words imposed over the text, but words underneath a pic – relevant to the article), so a short line of relevant text under the picture can help the reader understand something if it is unclear.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when setting up a picture for your content is the user experience. Is it original? Is it relevant to the content? Is it clearly, and properly labeled? Is it correctly sized on the page? Does its file size allow for rapid loading? With proper image optimization your visuals will be useful for both the reader and for search engines.
Has someone warned you that your website has thin content? Worried it’s holding you back?
When people talk about thin content, they’re usually thinking of its effect on search engine ranking – but you should also be mindful of how it impacts your clients or customers.
What is Thin Content?
Think of it like this.
You set out to the store, shopping list in hand, to get what you need for your upcoming house party. And you’ve got to do it fast, because the party’s tonight.
As luck would have it, you find everything on your list at the first store you try. You’re satisfied, and you’ll definitely return to that store the next time you’re planning a party.
But what if you struck out? What if you had to make one stop for drinks, another for cake, and a third across town for cups and plates?
Not only are you annoyed, but you probably won’t visit those stores for party supplies again – their selection is just too thin.
That’s also how people use Google’s search engine results page.
When someone makes a search query, they don’t want to have to tap in and out of three different webpages or open three browser tabs to find the answers they’re looking for. They want instant, accurate information the first time.
And since Google and other search engines want to make users happy (more users mean more advertising revenue), search engine algorithms work hard to deliver the most accurate, relevant search results that matches a user’s query.
To that end, a webpage that succeeds in the delivering relevant, quality information people want will be land a higher position in the search engine results; a page that delivers sparse, low-quality, irrelevant, unoriginal content will drop in ranking.
Thin content is content that provides little to no value to the people who find it. If search engine algorithms judge a page as having thin content (based both on the substance of the page itself and the way users interact with it) its ranking can plummet as a result.
Some people think the way to fix thin content is to add more words to a page; this can help in some cases, but there’s almost always more to it than that. The length of the copy on a page is only one of the factors that go into deciding whether a page is worth someone’s time. A pamphlet can be thin, but so can a novel.
Signs and Examples of Thin Content
So, how do you know if your content is thin?
If a domain contains numerous thin pages across the site, you might log into Google’s Search Console one day and find a manual penalty for thin content. That means your site has been judged as one that, “appears to contain a significant percentage of low-quality or shallow pages which do not provide users with much added value.”
Another thin content warning sign is a page that fails to get good user engagement. Once you’ve ruled out other factors that could turn people away – annoying pop-ups, slow page speed, outdated or plain bad site design – it’s time to point the finger at content.
Google also provides concrete examples of pages that often qualify as being thin content: affiliate pages, automatically-generated content, doorway pages, and unoriginal content. These aren’t prima facie thin content, but they can be.
- Affiliate pages are designed for the sole or primary purpose of getting people to visit (and purchase products/services from) another site, which earns kickbacks for the owner of the affiliate page. A common example is a list-style blog post that includes multiple links to product pages on Amazon. An affiliate page that offers little in the way of added value or information can be thin content.
- Auto-generated content is text churned out by an automated tool. When it’s only there to influence search rankings, this type of content falls under the definition of ‘thin’ regardless of length.
- Doorway pages exist mainly as a gateway to another page, providing minimal value and serving as an unnecessary threshold people must step over to find the information they’re looking for. These pages are often a relic of outdated SEO tactics, like the creation of numerous similar location-based pages that provide no unique insight or information.
- Unoriginal content is a wide category that encompasses all sorts of lazy tactics: pasting articles from other pages, pulling product descriptions from a manufacturer’s site, multiple pages with all or most of the same copy (like a fill-in-the-blanks) or borrowing images and infographics from other content creators. Unoriginal content isn’t always synonymous with plagiarism – a newly-written page that reiterates existing information without adding new or interesting insight can also fit the label.
Finally, a page can qualify as thin simply for lacking in content. Conventionally, any page containing fewer than 300 words runs the risk of being thin content, but that’s more a guideline than a golden rule (some pages, like a Contact Us page, have no reason to be wordy).
The bottom line is this: if the page is lacking in value, it could be thin content regardless of length. Short pages are often thin, but thin pages are not always short.
How to Fix Thin Content
Fixing thin content is not only about adding more words. It’s about improving your content to provide the value your users are looking for.
It does often require you to put more words on the page – after all, a lengthier page has more room to explore a topic in enough depth. But the substance of your content matters more than its length. Since the Panda update in 2011, Google’s search engine algorithm has become increasingly savvy about distinguishing valuable content from thin content, regardless of length.
The key to avoiding and fixing thin content is to understand what your audience wants, what search engine algorithms like to see, and how to cater to both in a way that contributes to achieving your goals.
Trying to increase your website’s ranking on Google? Heard horror stories of Google’s updates completely wiping sites off the search rankings? It happens, but not at random. Let’s have a look at what exactly a Google penalty is – and the reasons Google may drop your site in its rankings.
What is a Google Penalty?
Let’s start with Google’s goal: to eliminate poor-quality content to refine the quality of search results.
To do this, Google released their Penguin update in 2012, which wiped some sites out of search rankings altogether. This update downgrades site rankings based on many factors (which we will chat about shortly), forcing companies to change the way they look at SEO and prioritize the quality of their content.
Subsequent updates continue to sharpen the search engine’s ability to judge the quality of a site.
Why Does Google Penalize Websites?
1. Your Website is Outdated
The design of a website plays a large factor in its site ranking. Two main design concerns are whether the site is mobile-friendly or if it is new or up-to-date. According to Forbes, “you could lose anywhere from 5-30% of leads based on this factor alone”.
When you’re building your website design, make sure you also keep meta titles and meta descriptions in mind. They help Google understand what keywords your website wants to rank for; without them, Google may not recognize your site as relevant and penalize you.
2. Poor Link Structure
What makes up link structure? Let’s break it down:
- External links – these connect your content to other sites. You want to link to other high-ranking websites so that Google will associate your content with other high-quality sources. Additionally, these sites should be relevant – for example, if your website is fashion-themed and only links to sites about food or electronics, Google views this as a problem. Linking to low-quality or irrelevant content sites will put you straight on Google’s radar to drop down in ranking.
- Internal links – these connect your content to other pages within your website. It gives Google an idea of how your website is mapped out and what your overall site content is like. That being said, it’s important to interlink to relevant If you’re linking your blog post about saving money to your pricey gift shop, for example, you may get penalized.
- Backlinks – these are links from other sites that direct back to yours. The goal with backlinks is to get high-ranking websites to link back to you. It would be fantastic to have backlinks from CNN or New York Times. This is high-level, but the idea is you want to avoid fake or illegitimate websites to maintain a higher ranking.
When it comes to links, remember – quality over quantity.
3. Buying Links
Yes, some companies still buy links to their website to increase in ranking.
Google sees this as an attempt to deceive PageRank, which calculates where your site should appear in search engine results based on what content Google views as relevant and high-quality.
When you try to manipulate Google, they can catch this – and the bad links you have been buying. Buying links can even drop you off the rankings completely.
4. Your Content Has Little Value
This can be anything from not enough content, shallow content that your readers have already found on many other sites, or content obviously trying to rank for keywords. These are all the wrong way for your content to help rank your website.
Your site must offer significant content to readers. Google judges how users interact with your website. If people visit your site and immediately leave, Google will catch on that users don’t value your content and will penalize your site and it’s ranking.
5. Slow Speeds
How frustrated do you get when a page is taking 10 seconds to load? Do you abandon the page and move on?
A lot of people do – and Google notices. Neil Patel recommends using a caching plugin or a CDN right away to avoid this issue.
If you’re not sure how fast your existing site is, check out Google’s PageSpeed to see if you have room to improve on your desktop or mobile site load time.
In the end, you must always put the user experience at top-of-mind.
They’re the ones visiting your websites and, in turn, buying your products or services. The goal is to give them the most seamless experience, so they have no reason to exit your page.
Doing this will help avoid penalties, increase the quality of your traffic and number of conversions, and create a happy relationship between your website and Google.
When you’ve poured time and energy into a great blog post, you want it to reach as much of your audience as possible. Small changes matter when it comes to boosting blog SEO. Take a run through this blog optimization checklist before you post — it won’t take long, and it’ll help your blog get seen by the right people.
Keywords are words or short phrases that encompass what the blog post is about (see our blog: What Are Keywords and Why Do They Matter?). When you use them well, keywords can help the post rank for search queries that include those words.
Why Blog Keywords Matter for SEO
Search engine algorithms use repeated words and phrases as clues to what a webpage is about. Placing relevant, natural-sounding keywords in the blog content, title, meta description, and URL can contribute to a blog post’s search engine ranking.
How to Optimize for Keywords
Incorporate your chosen keywords into the blog:
- Headings (one or more)
- First paragraph
- Meta description
There’s no perfect word count for SEO, but the length of a blog can factor into its ranking.
Why Blog Length Matters for SEO
Search engine algorithms often deem pages with less than 300 words inadequate to rank in the search engine results. However, longer isn’t necessarily better; a 3,000-word post stuffed with irrelevant content will fare just as poorly as a short one.
Optimizing Length for SEO
Aim to write at least 500 words per blog post. Beyond that, the ideal blog length will depend on your audience. Pay attention to how your blogs perform and look for trends related to page length.
It’s in the writer’s interest to make a blog post as easy to read as possible. Spacing, formatting, and writing style all weigh on a blog’s readability.
Why Readability Matters for SEO
Making your content easy to digest will increase the time people spend reading it and encourage them to share it with others. It can also increase the likelihood the content will rank in Featured Snippets, which is a huge boost to blog SEO.
How to Optimize Blog Readability
- Add informative headings and subheadings to make the post easier to skim.
- Format lists or step-by-step instructions as numbered or bulleted lists.
- Break large paragraphs into shorter chunks. Single-sentence paragraphs are common in the blog world.
The title is your chance to convince the reader to click in 50-60 characters or less. A good title:
- Is short (search engines cut off titles longer than 60 characters);
- Is compelling (but not clickbait); and
- Promises readers something of value if they click.
Why Blog Titles Matter for SEO
A great title will drive more traffic to the blog, which significantly impacts its rankings. As mentioned above, the title should also include relevant keywords.
How to Optimize Blog Titles
Craft your title around keywords and the value readers receive from the blog. Shorten it 50 characters or less and add compelling adjectives to make it pop.
5. Call to Action
The title succeeds in persuading readers to click on your blog post. What do you want them to do once they’re there? Whatever the goal, readers are more likely to do it if you guide them in the right direction with a clear call to action.
Why a Call to Action Matters for SEO
An effective call to action keeps people on your site and discourages them from bouncing back to the search engine results page (see our blog: Understanding Bounce Rate, Long Clicks and Pogo-Sticking).
How to Optimize Call to Action
Place the call to action prominently on the blog post (the best spot will vary audience-to-audience, so consider testing different placements). It should be relevant to the subject matter of the article and the user’s pain points.
6. Internal and External Links
Internal links are links to content that is within the same domain as your content: other blog posts, product pages, contact pages, and so on. External links are the opposite: they point to other websites.
Why Internal and External Linking Matters for SEO
Interlinking helps search engine algorithms to understand the website’s structure. Links to credible, authoritative external sources help build your site’s credibility within the eyes of the all-seeing search algorithm. Both are an important part of boosting blog SEO.
How to Optimize Links
Be picky about the links you include! Credible external sites will bolster your blog’s credibility, but poor sites will do the opposite. Insert internal links should in a logical way that benefits the reader.
7. Anchor Text
Anchor text refers to the clickable text of an internal or external link. On most sites, anchor text is underlined and highlighted in blue.
Why Anchor Text Matters for SEO
Search engine algorithms use anchor text another clue to what a web page is about, both regarding your blog and the page you’re linking to.
How to Optimize Anchor Text
Good anchor text is succinct, informative, and relevant to the target page. Incorporate keywords where it sounds natural to do so.
Images are a necessity in any blog post, no matter the length or the topic. Along with their visual appeal, original images can help boost your blog’s SEO.
Why Images Are Good for SEO
Images make the blog easier to read, increasing the chance people will share it and explore the rest of your site. Keywords in image titles and file names can help give the algorithm context on your blog’s topic. Images also allow the site to rank in image searches.
Optimizing Images for SEO
Upload high-quality images with keyword-rich titles and file names. Avoid adding overly-large images, as they can bog down your site’s loading speed (see our blog: Why Page Speed Matters.
9. Meta Description
The meta description is a 160-character summary of the blog that can display below the headline on the search engine results page.
Why Meta Descriptions Matter for SEO
The meta description can be a huge factor in a reader’s decision to click through to your blog from the search engine results page. Like blog titles, meta descriptions are a chance to pique the reader’s curiosity and promise something worth clicking for.
How to Optimize Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions that exceed 160 words will be cut off, so be sure to include the good stuff in the first 160.
Spelling and grammar checkers have come a long way, but they’re still not perfect! Take time to proofread your blog before posting it.
Why Spelling and Grammar Matters for SEO
Poor spelling and grammar will stop some readers in their tracks. Few people will share an error-ridden blog with their friends, let alone peruse the rest of the site. Proofreading keeps readers on the page and preserves your credibility.First, give the blog a once-over yourself. Then, pass it to a colleague for a second look. If no one’s available to help, a free proofreading tool like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor beats no proofreading at all.
Content is a contest. Whether you’re writing blog posts or cutting videos, there’s always someone else out there who wants to win over your audience as bad as you do. These content strategies can help increase audience engagement across a variety of mediums to help get your message out there.
1. Gauge the Competition
Who’s winning the race for your important keywords?
Finding ways to outrank those competitors will help bolster your share of the audience.
One important step in increasing engagement is finding (and fixing) gaps in your current keyword strategy.
You could be falling behind in areas where your competitors already have plenty of content. There could also be high-volume keywords the competition hasn’t covered yet, leaving an opportunity for your site to fill in the gap.
Conducting a keyword gap analysis requires a strong grasp of your site’s current standing and where you want to improve: how people are finding your site now, which keywords are most valuable to you now, and what your competitors are doing better.
2. Optimize Metadata
To most people, metadata is an afterthought.
For anyone with a website, it shouldn’t be.
Metadata refers to two types of information: basic descriptions of digital files (file author, date crated, file size, etc.) and descriptions of webpage content. Both types of metadata play a role in your content’s search engine visibility.
Search algorithms use metadata to help determine what a webpage is about. When metadata contains relevant keywords, it gives the page a better shot of ranking for those search queries.
Optimized metadata may not increase audience engagement alone, but it can help give well-crafted content the boost it needs.
3. Increase Page Speed
Slow loading speed is one of the biggest barriers to audience engagement.
Nearly half of all internet users will not wait longer than three seconds for a page to load. It doesn’t matter how great a blog or video is if it’s dragged down by a slow-loading site.
If you’re not sure of your site’s speed (or can’t figure out why it’s slow), Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can give answers. Beyond that, there are lots of big and small fixes to increase page speed.
4. Boost Presentation
Looks matter, at least when it comes to boosting audience engagement.
The nicer the page presentation, the more likely people are to view the content, share it with others, and link back to it — all important ingredients of attracting and engaging an audience
Overall site design plays a big part in this (which is one reason to redesign your site periodically). But there are also many smaller steps you can take to make your content easier and more enjoyable to consume.
- Break blog posts into short paragraphs with a logical flow, adding bullet points and lists where applicable.
- Add relevant images. Blog posts with images get an average of 94% more views than those without.
- Embed a video. Video increases the average time people spend on a site by 105%.
If you do add supplementary videos and images, be sure to optimize them with keyword-rich metadata.
Speaking of different mediums…
5. Use a Variety of Content Mediums
Radio didn’t bring an end to libraries. Film wasn’t the death knell for radio. And the Internet hasn’t dampened the popularity of video (only changed how we see it).
Why? Because different people like to consume information in different ways.
Some of your audience will always prefer a long-form blog post or whitepaper to a video; others won’t give text the time of day when there’s a visual alternative.
Using a variety of content broadens the appeal of your site to a wider audience. Blogs, eBooks, videos, case studies, infographics, and podcasts can all help to build different segment of an engaged following.
6. Be an Authority
Authority is one of the biggest factors in how search engine algorithms choose which sites make the front page. To increase audience engagement, you’ll have to show that you’re an authority in your industry.
Being an authority doesn’t mean you’re the be-all and end-all for your industry. Rather, it means you have a take on the topic that is more in-depth, more authentic, and more current than the competition.
For future content, focus on quality and relevance over quantity. As for older content that still performs well? Keep it current!
7. Send the Right Content to the Right Audience
Instead of blasting all your content to everyone at once, take a precision approach. Aim for where you know it’ll connect.
There are lots of ways to make sure your content reaches the right people and get them to engage with it:
- Starting an email list is a great initiative for anyone looking to build an army of loyal followers.
- A/B testing provides guidance when it comes to making the best possible first impression on visitors.
- Retargeting visitors with content you know matches their interests brings wayward audiences back into your sights.
The point is, different content will resonate best at different points in the marketing funnel. Once you’ve figured out your funnel, you can begin to weave it into your content strategy.
Getting Audiences to Engage with Your Content
No content creator can produce a viral masterpiece every time, but these steps will help put it on the screens of audiences that matter.
It all starts with strategy. We’d love to help you find yours.
Ever wondered how brands come up with fresh content to post on social media every single day? Their secret is remixing. Instead of creating brand-new content from scratch, many smart brands leverage their existing blog posts into fresh content for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
There are lots of practical reasons to reuse blog posts for social media content:
- Save time. Rather than spending hours writing great blog posts and crafting social media content, you can produce multiple forms of content for your site and social media platforms simultaneously.
- Drive traffic to your site. Building content from your blog posts lets you re-share old URLs in a new context, driving more traffic to the original post you so carefully crafted.
- Maximize your audience reach. Some people love to hunker down for a good read, while others would rather consume quick bites of content in videos or graphic form. Turning a blog post into different social media content gets your message out to the broadest possible audience.
Which Blog Posts Make for Great Social Media Content?
You know your content better than anyone, so you probably have some idea of which ones would make for great videos or images. But keep in mind that the blog post should be:
- Relevant to your audience. Some posts age better than others; don’t choose a post that is outdated or no longer interesting.
- This depends on how you measure blog performance. If your number one goal is site traffic, use Google Analytics to find out which posts have generated the most user sessions; if brand-building is your focus, see which posts incited the most social media engagement.
Ways to Remix and Reuse Blog Posts for Social Media Content
To get you started, here are a few time-saving tips on reusing blog posts for great social media content.
We have written previously about the benefits of using video on social media. People are more likely to view and engage with videos than any other form of content, and there are lots of free tools that can help you make captivating videos out of blog posts. One of our picks is Lumen5, which automatically pulls content from articles and turns it into easily customizable scenes.
One of the quickest ways to turn blog posts into social content is this: pull the juiciest bites of information from the article and share it in the form of a brief text post or image. It can be an authoritative statement, an inspirational quote, an impressive statistic, or a compelling question. Choose something that will stop users in their tracks and entice them to click through.
Bold, colourful visuals boast universal appeal across social platforms. Social posts that include images always grab more attention than text alone. You can condense the main points of the blog into one image or break them into a series of images that each highlight a point.
Turn an information-heavy blog post into an easily digestible infographic. While they do take longer to create than one-off graphics, the potential return on investment is high; an eye-catching infographic can catch on and spread to all corners of the web. Be sure to include your brand’s logo and a link to the original blog post somewhere on the graphic.
5. Live Video
Have more to say about a particular post? That’s a great opportunity delve deeper into the topic or host an audience Q&A in a live video broadcast. Live videos on Facebook are most likely to appear at the top of the news feed, and your followers will get a notification letting them know you are on-air. It’s free, simple, and gives your audience a chance to connect with you and your company on a more human level.
Writing for SEO is not all that different from writing well in general. You want to make it clear, compelling, and as concise as possible. But there are a few essential SEO writing tips you should know if you’re new to the world of blogging.
We’ll start with keywords, word count, and a few notes on style.
Writing for SEO means choosing your words carefully. If a word or phrase reoccurs throughout a web page, the search engine algorithms are more likely to dig up that page when someone searches for that phrase. Those are your keywords: words and phrases that help to define what your blog post is about.
Do: Use Keywords Them Strategically in Each Blog Post.
An effective keyword is one that:
- Accurately reflects what the blog post is about.
- Is something your customers are searching for.
- Does not have steep competition for the keyword.
We visit the topic of how to use effective keywords in greater depth here.
Don’t: Stuff Blog Posts Full of Keywords.
Search engine algorithms look at more than the number of times a keyword reoccurs in a blog post; they also consider its semantic value. Algorithms penalize sites that engage in ‘keyword-stuffing’, which means cramming a dense volume of keywords into a post to try and game the system. While the ideal keyword density is up for debate, writing for SEO means integrating strategically-chosen keywords into natural-sounding prose.
2. Post Length
Ironically, it often takes longer to write a concise piece than a lengthy one. But there is such a thing as being too concise when it comes to writing for SEO.
Do: Write At Least 500 Words.
Like your high school English teacher, search engine algorithms may take points off if your work is too short. There’s no strict word count for blog writing, but any page with fewer than 300 words may come under scrutiny for having thin content. We generally aim for 500 words at minimum.
Don’t: Pad It Out With Fluff.
Most readers are looking for fast, clear answers. Don’t bury key information beneath a lengthy introduction or sprinkle it among irrelevant tangents. If you are stretching to reach 500 words, consider broadening your chosen topic.
3. Active vs. Passive Voice
There are two ways to write action. One approach puts the force driving the action first; the second focuses on the person (or place, thing, etc.) at which the action is directed. That’s the simplest way to explain active and passive voice, a choice which can have a big effect on a blog post’s readability.
What does this have to do with SEO writing tips? It’s simple: the more people enjoy reading your post, the more likely they are to consume it in full, explore the rest of your site, and share it with others. Search engine algorithms take these as signals of a high-quality post that should rank well in the search engine results.
Do: Use Active Voice Whenever Possible.
With few exceptions active voice makes for clearer, more effective writing. Active voice is generally more concise and transparent than passive voice, and it flows naturally. Try reading some examples of examples of active and passive voice out loud: you’ll notice how active voice is smoother.
Don’t: Use Passive Voice Unless You Have To.
Passive voice, on the other hand, is often stiffer and less exciting compared to active writing. While most readers won’t nit-pick your post for passive voice, it will affect their reading experience. Switching from passive to active voice is a small change that has a big impact on the quality of your work.
4. Grade Level
Grade level is a way of measuring how easy a post is to read. The higher a post’s grade level, the more work it takes to read and comprehend its content. You can assess your post’s grade level using Microsoft Word’s built-in writing tools or a free tool like Hemingway Editor.
Do: Write for An Accessible Grade Level.
Don’t shut out potential readers by using long, complex paragraphs and unnecessary jargon. For a general audience, we recommend aiming for a grade level of six to eight. This limitation also has the benefit of encouraging you to write clearly and concisely.
Don’t: Make Errors.
Writing at a sixth-grade level doesn’t mean you should make sixth-grade spelling and grammar mistakes. The occasional typo is fine, but readers are unlikely to read through a post that is rifled with errors.
5. Be Connected
Your blog is not an island. There are many reasons to incorporate outbound links to other sites into your post. Chief among them is the fact that high-quality links gives your readers more value when they visit.
Do: Vet Your Sources.
Emphasis on high-quality. Search engine algorithms judge you by the company you keep, penalizing sites that link out to sub-par pages. If you wouldn’t put something on your own blog, don’t link to it, either!
Don’t: Forget to Give Credit.
There are times when backlinking is mandatory. Borrowing content from other sites without attribution is plagiarism, which can tank your search engine ranking as much as your reputation. Always take notes on the origin of your information while you’re researching your blog post.