blog, Blog, Blogging, brand promise, content marketing, good will creation, Google Analytics, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, Marketing Planning, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, social media, staying current, strategic planning, target audiences, Target Marketing, technical SEO, traditional marketing

A Semi-New Name for a Centuries-Old Marketing Practice

Because, in the last several months, I’ve had various fellow marketers talk to me about or take jobs in “content marketing,” or seen them post about it on social media, I thought the time was right to explain this term and marketing strategy in a blog post. Even though I’ve been aware of the term for quite some time because much of my work falls under the content marketing umbrella (particularly SEO, blog writing, social media voice, and Google Analytics data reviews), I haven’t tended to use that term with clients and prospective clients, thinking it might not resonate with them. But, perhaps, the time has come for me to do so. 2019 was called the “year of SEO” by some marketers. 2020 may be the “year of content marketing.”

While the term “content marketing” has only been in use for the last decade or so, and some individuals employ it solely related to digital/online/electronic distribution of information, one of its key premises has been around since at least the early 1700’s — when individuals began promoting products and services via the written word vs. the spoken word. And, that premise is that creating informational, helpful, desired content — which can be used across many marketing vehicles and tactics — will garner customers’ and prospective customers’ favor and loyalty.

Even though the focus wasn’t primarily or solely “online” usage at the time (the internet and social media were still somewhat in their infancy), during my tenure as a marketing leader at BMC HealthNet Plan (2008 – 2014), I wrote wellness-related copy that was able to be employed in print ads/advertorials as well as in hard-copy handouts used at events or for other purposes by BMC HealthNet Plan community outreach reps. PDFs of those handouts were then shared on the organization’s wellness section of its website.

The above is a glowing example of content marketing’s basic tenet of sharing information, that target audiences value, across numerous vehicles/tactics in order to retain or acquire audience members as customers. In this case, the target audiences were members or prospective members of the health plan, as well as community organizations or healthcare providers, who might refer them to the health plan.

Integrated Marketing vs. Content Marketing

Related to my initial comment at the top of this post that the key premises and intentions behind content marketing are not new at all, I want and need to speak to the synergies between content marketing and integrated marketing. Both aim to employ similar/the same content across numerous marketing tactics/vehicles to repeatedly expose target audiences to the same, consistent message. But, a key difference to me between the two is that content marketing isn’t just about promoting and creating awareness of a product or services through true “marketing/sales/promotional” messages. It’s about being helpful and creating good will by sharing desirable information that may or may not be directly related to an organization’s products or services (see our discussion of tangential topic blogging).

Loyalty is Priceless

Online/Digital/Electronic Content Marketing Vehicles/Tactics

Since most people who use the term “content marketing” to refer to online/digital/electronic distribution of beneficial content to create brand awareness and loyalty — and ultimately sales or some other desired conversion activity (such as signing up for an e-newsletter, making a donation, or submitting an inquiry about an organization’s products and services) — what are some of the online/digital/electronic vehicles/tactics in which content created for the above purposes can be employed? E-newsletters, downloadable white papers, podcasts, website page content, blog content, social media post content, downloadable e-books, infographics (images that contain helpful, detailed info.) and videos.

Love — Back at You!

The Love-Love Equation

The above list is not exhaustive, but provides a sense of the many primary ways organizations are sharing content electronically/digitally that they believe meets the needs of their various target audiences and demonstrates understanding of those audiences’ challenges and opportunities — all in the hopes of creating a loyal following who will show their “love” back by talking up the organization, purchasing its products, etc.

I, individuals I employ, and my expert connections have extensive experience related to both the creation and distribution of content to support an effective content marketing strategy. I hope you’ll reach out, when and if, you need our help.

dilution, integrated marketing, Results Analysis, Uncategorized

Why Trying To Do It All Will Dilute Your Marketing & Communications Impact

As promised in my most recent blog post about revisiting 2019 marketing activities to inform 2020 ones, I’ll be outlining below the primary digital and traditional marketing tactics that an organization or individual could use to spread the word about themselves in the hopes of generating some “conversions (sales, inquiries, donations, e-newsletter sign-ups, or other target-audience desired behaviors).” But before I get to that, I want and need to address the issue of “dilution” that access to an ever-growing number of marketing vehicles and activities has created.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency and a marketing consultant, I see so many organizations in my niche trying to do it all and have a presence everywhere, as far as promoting their agency/consultancy goes. It has caused me to really ponder that strategy/approach and whether that truly is an effective one — for both me and my clients. Of course, for us marketing agency owners, there’s a fine line we have to walk — we need and want to test various tactics and vehicles, so we can share our experiences with clients, and we also want to demonstrate proficiency, via our own marketing, related to those activities. But, honestly, some activities and vehicles just haven’t generated any kind of results for our firm, and trying to capitalize on each and every one is likely to lead to us not generating effective results from any of them. And, the same goes for our clients.

So, where I’ve landed for my own marketing and that of my clients is this — and it’s very much in keeping with my last blog post — it’s impossible to “do it all” on the the marketing & communications fronts, and to do it well. It’s also very important to regularly (at least quarterly, if not monthly) assess which vehicles are or aren’t generating desired results and to put your marketing $ and time into the ones that are. I equate trying to spread your marketing $$ and energies too far/thin to trying to be a “jack of all trades, and master of none.” We all know trying to offer too many products and services, or trying to be “all things to all men” doesn’t work well from a business standpoint. The same premise holds for marketing.

In sum, as marketers and business owners, if we try to have a big presence and impact everywhere, it will lead to us not having a big presence or impact anywhere. There just won’t be enough time or dollars spent on any one marketing activity or vehicle! Plus, if results don’t show it’s warranted, why put your $$ and energies into a tactic that just isn’t working for you? Not all marketing tactics are appropriate for each and every organization and each industry. Why fish where your target audience members aren’t? If they don’t tend to swim in certain marketing pools, why drop your pole’s line there? 

Possible Marketing & Communications Tactics/Activities

Image Courtesy of Kiwicare.co.nz

Note that some of the below straddle more than one category.

Traditional:

  • Broadcast Advertising (Radio, TV (Cable, Network, Streaming Service) )
  • Print Advertising (Magazine, Newspapers)
  • Direct Mail
  • Sales Hand-outs (Flyers, Brochures, Sales Pieces), Business Cards, Promo/Give-away Items)
  • Transit (Buses, Trains, and Bus and Train Platform/Station)
  • Mall or Other High-Traffic Venue, Such as a Convention Hall
  • Outdoors (Billboards)
  • Public Relations (Reporter Pitches, Press Release Distribution)
  • Events (Your Own Event, i.e., an Event You Created, or Participation in Another’s Such as a Trade Show; Event Sponsorship/Attendance)
  • White Paper Creation and Publication (to Position You As Subject Matter Expert)

Digital/Electronic/Online/Internet:

Networking:

  • Online (Sites Such as Alignable and LinkedIn)
  • In-person (Chamber, Industry, and Other Business and Community Events)

Of course, depending on the size of your organization, some of the above tactics may be outside of your scope because of the associated implementation and maintenance cost, and/or the time that you or your staff would need to be involved — even if you outsource some of the work to a marketing agency like ours. 

We can help you figure out where to best employ your marketing dollars and time in 2020, so reach out for a complimentary brainstorm.

 

Google Analytics, integrated marketing, Marketing Planning, Results Analysis, Setting Marketing Budget, strategic planning, Uncategorized

Why You Should Revisit 2019 Marketing Results to Inform 2020 Activities

I’ve repeatedly shared in this blog and on social media that my firm’s tagline is “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I will never encourage a client to start or keep doing something on the marketing front that doesn’t make sense for them, based on available data. Data on which to make decisions can be primary, i.e., a client’s data, or secondary data, i.e., data found online about others’ experiences related to particular marketing tactics or vehicles. On a related note, the end of any budget year — and for many this is the end of the calendar year — is the perfect time to look back at which of your organization’s, if any, marketing activities have worked well for you. That should inform where your marketing $$ would be best spent in 2020. Sounds like I’m stating the obvious. That it’s a “no brainer”, right?

You’d be surprised at how many organizations continue to spend money on marketing activities that either aren’t working for them or regarding which they have no idea if leads, sales, inquiries, or other desired prospective customer or customer behavior — known as “conversions” are being generated. In fact, I was prompted to write this post because I’ve witnessed both the aforementioned scenarios numerous times with prospective clients.

Now more than ever, there are so many (actually too many for this marketer’s taste) diverse marketing activities and vehicles a marketer can invest time and $ in (we’ll be discussing this further in our next blog post). A fresh, new year is the ideal time to figure out which of these have worked in the past and/or might work in the future. Because each organization employs their own specific traditional and digital marketing tactics, we can’t address each & every piece of marketing results data you should look at in this post; however, we will provide some examples below to get you thinking about the types of analyses you should be completing and why.

Even if you can’t tackle this until the new year gets underway, to maximize your 2020 marketing budget, you or your team should:

  1. Conduct a detailed review and analysis of your Google Analytics data to get a good handle on visitor activity and behavior:
    • how/why are visitors getting to your site?
    • what are they doing once they get there?
    • which marketing activities are driving traffic to your site — this particular data set is critical to figuring out where to employ marketing $$ in 2020 — using reports under the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, you can see not only if visitors are coming to your site directly vs. thru organic search (finding you thru a search engine), but you can also see if they landed on your site due to your social media post or profile website links, via e-newsletter links, etc.
  2. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account attached to your website — make it an early 2020 goal to get one set up — you can use visitor data available thru your content management system (CMS)/website platform to look at some of the data above, but don’t expect the data to be as detailed or “rich” as Google Analytics data.
  3. If you’ve been running any kind of online advertising campaigns — whether they be social media, Google Ads, or banner ads — you should be able to employ reporting capabilities within the online advertising tool(s) to slice ‘n dice results.  Or, if you don’t have access to reporting capabilities yourself, ask whomever set up up or from whom you purchased the ads to provide you with detailed reports on 2019 advertising results.
    photo of planner and writing materials

    Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

  4. And, related to the above, even if you did achieve what you consider to be a significant # of ad click-thrus at a reasonable cost-per-click (this varies by the nature of the advertising, industry, whether advertising is business-to-business, or business-to-consumer, etc.) if you didn’t cause enough new inquiries/leads or sales in 2019 to achieve a positive ROI related to your online advertising, then you should revisit your online strategy for 2020.
  5. Using information available in Google Analytics Acquisition Reports or using data available within social media accounts themselves, look at likes/shares/comments of your posts. If you’re not getting any of the aforementioned engagement, on one or several networks, you need to revisit the nature of the posts you’re sharing, and if you’ve already done that a few times, maybe you shouldn’t invest so much time in those non-engaging forms of social media this coming year!
  6. If you send out e-newsletters or e-blasts via Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, use available data in those e-mail service tools to look at results like “open rate” and “click-thru” rate to determine if your efforts on the e-communications front are worth the time and associated dollars.

Need help analyzing available marketing data, want to make sure you have the right tracking tools in place for 2020, or need help figuring out what are the appropriate tactics and vehicles to be included in your 2020 integrated marketing plan? We’re data geeks, and would love to help, so please reach out!

 

blog, Blog, Blogging, Uncategorized

The Many Benefits of Blogging

I guess it makes sense that’s there are a lot of blog posts out there about what else? Blogging. The more organic/technical SEO (search engine optimization) work we do for clients, the more we’re witnessing and truly appreciating the very great influence that an authentic and well-maintained website blog can have on where, in search engine results, a listing to an organization’s website appears. In fact, we often now find — when reviewing our own or our clients’ Google Analytics data — that the top page(s) on which website visitors land or enter a site are blog posts vs. the site’s home page.

You never want to use your blog to randomly store a bunch of search terms (keywords) for which you want your website to be found if those terms aren’t really relevant in any way to the products or services you offer or the solutions you provide. That’s known as “keyword stuffing” and both Google and website visitors will pick up on it. Google will likely ding you for it from an SEO standpoint, and those who visit your site may find it too sales-y or view or it as just plain spammy. That said, regularly creating and publishing topic-specific blog posts that are in keeping with your organization’s mission, the products and services you offer, and the problems to which you offer solutions is a great way to:

  • Include appropriate keywords for which you want your organization to be found in blog post content to enhance and support other organic/technical SEO strategies, such as incorporating those keywords in your page title tags and in non-blog website content
  • Be recognized as someone who understands your target audiences’ “pain points” and who can literally and/or figuratively eliminate or reduce their pain
  • Be viewed as a subject matter expert (SME) or thought leader by both individuals who can directly buy your products and services or engage you for work, and by individuals or organizations who can refer the right target audiences to your organization

blog about digital marketing

In addition to the primary benefits of blogging described above, drafting and issuing honestly-written blog posts at least once every six weeks that are relevant to you and your target audiences, will reap the following benefits:

  • Having great fodder for social media that you can continue to reuse/re-purpose, particularly if most of your blog posts are ever-green in nature, meaning their content never gets outdated. Simply post the link to your blog post on social media with an enticing teaser lead-in to get your social media followers to click on the link and visit your website
  • Creating a block of time in your work life to step away from day-to-day tasks and employ your creative skills. Writing can be relaxing and it also:
    • Reminds you of your expertise, i.e., that you are a SME
    • Causes you to pat yourself on the back for all you know and all you’ve recently learned
    • Forces you to take a stand on a particular topic and recognize what your beliefs are related to it
    • Causes you to understand what makes you different from your competitors

Finally, while, in general (think at least 75% of the time), you want your blog to discuss topics related to the products, services and solutions you provide, you can create good will among your various target audiences and with other individuals or organizations who might refer them, by blogging once in a while about topics that are tangential, but  benefit society/communities at-large. Examples of good will blog topics include:

  • Physical health and mental well-being
  • Safety – including holiday, such as Fourth of July and Christmas tips
  • Benefits of volunteering, mentoring, helping in your community, etc.
  • How and why to be kind to others
  • How to find your passion
  • Ways to balance personal and work life

In addition to regularly writing our own blog posts, clients can and do engage us to ghost-write their blog posts for them. Whether you’re just looking for our help getting started and with creation of a blog editorial calendar, or you’re looking for someone to serve as your blog voice, we’re always available for a complimentary chat.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the benefits of blogging, particularly anything we may have missed!!!

online advertising, Quora, Uncategorized

My Quest To Use & Understand Quora’s Ads Manager Tool

If you’re not familiar with the Q & A site, Quora, check it out! It’s a great place to get answers and respond to both personal and business questions. Not only can you establish yourself as a subject matter expert (SME) by responding to questions, you can also purchase advertising to be served up to audiences who might be in need of the products or services you offer — based on the questions they are asking and topics they are reading.

I figured the easiest way to not forget, and, therefore, be able to accurately document the good, the bad, and the ugly of my first attempts at implementing an ad campaign using Quora’s ad manager tool, was to start a draft of a post about my experiences and add to it as I went along with my ad campaign implementation, so here goes.

The Ugly

Before reaching out to Quora Customer Support for help, I attempted to use the Ads Manager tool on my own, but could make no headway (a button never appeared to allow me to save any work, nor did I receive any kind of prompts to move forward). I now believe that had something to do with the fact that I use Chrome as my default browser because  when I switched to Internet Explorer I was able to save my work. At least with my particular computer and Chrome browser set up, I wasn’t able to scroll down in the tool to see what I needed to see and have access to what I needed to have access to.

Despite switching the browser I used to access the Quora Ads Manager tool to Internet Explorer, and being able to, then, edit/add a campaign, when I tried to add/edit an ad set (equivalent to a Google Ads ad group) under a campaign, I wasn’t able to save my work or select my targeting. I got those red circles with the lines thru them — indicating “STOP” — whenever I hovered my mouse over the various targeting options.

Soooooo, I had to reach out to a Quora Ads rep once again, and that’s when I learned that the third item listed under “The Bad” section below was getting in my way of moving forward. However, even after a call with the rep where I seemed to be able to use both Chrome and/or Internet Explorer to make revisions to my campaign, I found that neither of these browsers were allowing me to do all I needed to do in Quora, and I eventually had to use Mozilla Firefox. Yup, crazy but true!

The Bad
1) when you set up your campaign start date and time, it is only available in Pacific Standard Time, so you need to calculate what your desired start time or end time would be in Pacific Standard Time when you set that up.

2) Unlike with Google Ads where you can spend as little as $1 a day, you are required to spend at least $5.00 a day.

3) Once you set up an ad set and pick a primary targeting option (see options below contextual, audience, behavioral, and broad), you are stuck with that targeting option, unless you want to delete your ad set and start all over again.quora primary targeting options.png

4) Each time I finished entering my ad copy, images, and logo for a particular ad, I would see a preview of my ad to the right of the fields where I added them. The preview of the ad included a box with a check in it that said “capital.” I kept trying to launch the ads, but kept getting an error message that I needed to do something related to this checked-off capital box, but whether I left it checked or unchecked, and then hit the “apply” button, I could not seem to get my ads approved for launching. Huge sigh. I kept getting the message that “an ad revision was required.” So, here I go again, reaching out to the Quora ad rep. What it came down to is this — Quora doesn’t like and won’t approve a lot of capitalization in ads.

5) Unlike other “Ad Manager” online tools, such as Facebook’s and Google Ads’, an agency, such as ours, can’t implement an umbrella management account under which it can set up/add, and then run and manage client ad campaigns. An outreach must be made to customer service when a client account needs to be added to an agency’s account.

The Good

Unlike Google Ads, Quora encourages the use of punctuation at the end of a statement, so you can use ! and ?, something Google frowns on, and doesn’t normally approve in search text ads.

Customer service is ready and willing to help when you need it!

I did finally get my ads launched and running on Quora. I decided to go with “keywords” as my primary targeting option, and ads, such as the one below, now appear alongside questions and answers related to keywords such as “SEO” and “SEM.”

results quora ad

Stay tuned for future updates via new blog posts that elaborate on how my new Quora ads fared, as well as a more in-depth discussion about targeting options available in Quora.

In the meantime, please feel to reach out with any Quora questions — because, hey that’s what Quora is all about — answering questions.

 

 

Uncategorized, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

Recognizing and Supporting the Warriors Among Us

Recent messaging I’ve been exposed to, activities I’ve participated in, and health challenges with which I’ve dealt have prompted me to remind all my readers to continue to recognize and support the many and varied warriors among us. With October just around the corner, and news media, advertisers, and merchandisers splattering pink ribbons everywhere, breast cancer patients and survivors, as well as their caregivers, come most immediately to mind as individuals who need and deserve our support, but they are a just a small fraction of the many warriors in our midst.

Because of when the Committee gathered post-summer, fall reminds me of my previous pro bono publicity work for the Braintree-Milton-Randolph MA Relay For Life — an activity that regularly provides the opportunity to meet or hear the stories of patients and survivors who’ve battled or are battling many types of cancers (including breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and more), and who are incredible fighters.

I was also diagnosed with a rare cancer — abdominal sarcoma — in September 2006, so this time of year always brings reminders of the emotional and physical challenges I faced at that time and continue to face 13 years later as a result of the chronic conditions cancer treatment and surgery left me with. In fact, on the day I’m posting this, I’m off to have some CT scans to try to identify the cause for some new digestive symptoms I’ve been having.

Cs3tLONWEAALwPV

At different points over the past 7 years, I have had the good fortune of interacting with cancer and other health warriors on a weekly basis because of my “sometimes” need to receive IV iron treatments (I no longer absorb iron well from food or supplements). I say “good fortune” because, while I may arrive at my hematology/oncology practice not wanting to deal with the pricks of blood draws or IV inserts, or simply grouchy because I have to give up several hours weekly to this health inconvenience, when I witness or talk to other patients about what they are going through, I realize how small my challenges are. While I don’t wish bad health on anyone and feel great compassion for those dealing with it, the courage and grace many patients — and those who help them — exhibit under really difficult circumstances is both a reminder to me of how indomitable the human spirit is and an inspiration to me to stay positive and be grateful for the gift of life.

My pro bono work for Our Heart Speaks (OHS), an organization that provides a voice and means of healing through artistic expression to individuals finding themselves suddenly struggling with new disability or chronic illness, reminds me so often how there are individuals who feel fairly rotten on a daily basis, but who, for a variety of reasons, don’t feel comfortable or have the need for regularly sharing their pain, fright, and suffering with the outside world, including friends and family. I’ve learned thru my social media work for OHS that, particularly patients who suffer from “invisible illness,” such as digestive issues or chronic pain that isn’t obvious to both the loved ones and strangers in the patients’ lives, often feel like they must struggle with their health challenges in silence because there’s no “physical evidence” that can be seen by the human beings with which they interact that they are suffering.

As I alluded to above, we must recognize that warriors come in all shapes & sizes. Some warrior souls are cloaked in the body of a 90-year old woman, and some use the body of a 5-year old boy as their vessel. Some are battling cancer, some, other terminal or chronic diseases like ASL, MS, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. And, some struggling with serious mental/emotional illness that paralyzes them, or, with addiction or social issues, such as homelessness.

Other warriors among us are the medical professionals who give their hearts and souls to their patients by helping them both emotionally and physically deal with their illness. Still, other warriors can be found in the friends and family members of those dealing with illness who do all they can to envelop their ill loved one in an invisible blanket of love. I also believe warriors can be found among the many individuals who give their free time to generate both awareness about research studies and research funds in support of a particular health challenge or social cause.

As briefly touched on above, in addition to physical-health warriors, there are innumerable warriors among us who, while not belonging to one of the four broad warrior groups above, i.e., the afflicted/challenged individual, professional caregivers, friend and family caregivers, and awareness and fund generators, battle non-physical-health challenges that seem equally insurmountable to health challenges. These include afflictions and challenges such as poverty, injustice, discrimination, and bullying. Plus mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD.

As you do when you celebrate Halloween and seek to identify who the person is under a particular costume, make an effort to identify the warriors beneath the surface of the individuals with whom you interact. And, regardless of their circumstances, let’s all be sure to give a shout out and emotional and physical support to all the warriors we come across in our daily lives, not just in September & October, but all year long.

In close, and, in keeping with the above, please do let me know if you would like me to add a warrior song, individual, or organization to my “Keep Up The Fight” page. I would be thrilled to do so!

Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, social media, technical SEO, Uncategorized

Why SEO Is Not A One and Done Marketing Activity

Even if Google didn’t regularly change its algorithm that determines which organizations’ listings it serves up on the first two pages of search results, and even if new competitors haven’t entered your marketplace or existing competitors haven’t up’d their SEO game, your organization still needs to regularly revisit your SEO strategy and tactics. By regularly, I mean, at least quarterly.

My digital marketing agency is often engaged to implement activities related to keyword research and planning (such as employment of appropriate keywords in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags). While keyword research and planning is a large, complex, and time-consuming activity that doesn’t need to be revisited monthly or quarterly, there are a number of SEO review and audit type activities that should. I won’t repeat those activities in this post because I’ve already outlined them in the recent blog posts shared below, but I hope you’ll take the time to read or re-read these past posts. They outline easy tasks you can and should complete to make sure you are up-to-SEO-speed and that potential issues with your website aren’t impacting your SEO, or that tactics that you are or aren’t employing related to your social media presence, aren’t harming how your organization ranks in search engine results in some way.

Don’t have the time or capacity to complete the above monthly or quarterly SEO activities? My team is always here to help! E-mail or call us for information about the services we can provide related to quarterly SEO reviews.

 

 

integrated marketing, keywords, Objectives Setting, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, Target Marketing, traditional marketing, Understanding Your Environment, website

Why Keyword Research Benefits & Informs So Much More Than SEO/Organic Search Results

Many business owners and marketers are not aware that or give much thought to the fact that keyword research and planning has implications far beyond organic SEO, i.e., beyond the putting of technical tactics in place (such as including high-volume search terms, known as keywords, in website content and page title tags) to ensure a listing with a link to an organization’s website or social media presence ranks as high as possible in search engine results for high-volume search terms relevant to the organization’s product and service offerings.

Before we get into how and why keyword research and planning extends beyond SEO, here’s Keyword Research & Planning 101:

Q: What is keyword research?

A: Keyword research is information generated by “keyword planner” tools, such as the tool that resides within Google Ads advertising manager platform, that shows the average monthly search volume (the number of people who have entered the phrase in-question into Google’s search engine over a month’s period) for search terms (keywords) relevant to the particular products and services an organization offers.

Q: How are keyword research lists generated?

A: Distinct keyword research lists are created for each of the products and services (and sometimes the sub-products and sub-services) an organization offers by walking in the heads of the various target audiences served and entering phrases (search terms) into a keyword planner tool which are thought to be ones target audiences would be using to identify providers of products and services relevant to the organization.  In addition to the nature and actual name of the products and services in-question, search terms should include problems for which target audiences might be seeking a solution, such as “how to lose weight quickly.” The keyword planer tool will then normally generate 100’s or 1000’s of similar search terms that individuals have entered into Google to identify an organization who offers relevant products or services, and their associated average monthly search volume.

Q: Why do I need to define the geography for each of my products and services before keyword research begins?

A: The phrases used by individuals to identify a provider of a particular product or service, as well as associated search volumes, may vary by city, state, part of the country, or country.

Q: What does keyword planning mean?

A: Keyword planning means going through the above keyword research exercise, and then making some decisions and outlining the actions you’ll take next related to the benefits outlined below, based on what an organization learns from analyzing and reviewing its keyword research.

key

Now, that we’ve got some terms and their definitions behind us, just what are the key benefits of doing/uses of keyword research? Keyword research can be used to:

  1. This one you’ve hopefully got down by now — Optimize your website for search (SEO), and therefore, improve how high up in search engine results a listing with a link to your website or social media presence (an organic vs. paid advertisement listing) appears for high-volume, relevant keywords entered in a search engine by your target audience(s).
  2. Inform an integrated marketing plan for one or several of your products and services by providing information on whether or not a sizable number of individuals are actively searching to identify organizations that provide the types of products and services you offer. If individuals aren’t actively searching for certain products and services, then your marketing plan will need to include more “push” vs. “pull” tactics. For example, your organization would not want to invest money in paid search advertising that is presented to searchers searching on appropriate terms, but display advertising, a form of online advertising that allows you to target individuals with certain interests or who are reading about certain topics, might be effective as a means to create awareness of your particular product or service among appropriate target. Learn more.
  3. Determine if there are new products or services you should be offering. Sometimes, a review of keyword research lists can reveal unmet target audience needs and opportunities to offer a new product or service.
  4. Determine if there are certain products or services you should be focusing on or promoting more, based on what keywords and associated search volume reveal.
  5. Uncover topics that are of interest/important to target audiences to influence what you talk about in social media posts, blog posts, videos, or sales materials. For example, you may discover problems for which your target audiences may be seeking a solution that you hadn’t thought of, and you’ll want to call that out in marketing activities and sales literature.
  6. Support non-website tagging activities, for example, what keywords to use as “tags” when you add a video to your YouTube channel or to use as “hashtags” in social media posts. Learn more about video tagging. Learn more about using hashtags in social media.

One of our SEO services for which we’re most engaged is keyword research. Reach out for a complimentary phone discussion if you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you on that front.

online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, SEM, SEO, technical SEO, Uncategorized

CAPITALIZE ON SUMMER’S LULL TO GO AFTER LOW-HANGING SEO FRUIT

I’m sure there are exceptions to this, depending on how staff summer vacations are scheduled and the nature of services you offer and the time of year those you serve tend to use them, but in general, summer seems to be a slower time for many organizations. So along with blueberry & strawberry picking during the lazy, hazy days of summer, why not consider reaching out and snagging some low-hanging fruit related to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Search Engine Optimization is all about making sure your organization’s website is well-positioned to rank high in search engine results listings for those terms most used by your target audience(s) to identify an organization that offers your services. There’s two broad categories of SEO tactics an organization can implement to improve how high up in results listings they appear for desired search terms: paid search (ads that appear at the top of Google, Bing, and other search engine results) and technical (non-paid activities you can undertake to improve where you come up in non-advertising/organic results).

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Detailed below are technical-SEO-tactic low-hanging fruit/SEO best practices to pick away at this summer. They’re presented in the order of what I believe to be the criticalness for addressing.

#1 – Make Visitors Feel Secure

  • If your site’s address is still an https:// vs. https:// one (insecure vs. secure), you are very likely being ranked lower in search engine results than your competitors and this issue is expected to worsen. Visitors don’t like visiting sites that aren’t secure and search engines don’t like to send searchers to such sites. Your website host or developer/designer should be able to install an SSL security certificate to convert your site from an insecure one to a secure one.

#2 – Think About the Company You Keep

  • If for whatever reason, a good amount of your site’s traffic is being driven by links (known as backlinks) found on sites that are considered “spammy,” this will also negatively impact where and how frequently search engines will share a listing that points to your website for terms relevant to your organization. Sometimes, many non-reputable organizations may be sending traffic to an organization’s site without your webmaster even knowing it. Read how to check for that issue and how to address it.

#3 – Mend Those Broken Relationships

  • Broken links, i.e., links on your site to another page of your site (internal link) or to the page of another organization’s site (external link) that don’t work and provide visitors with a “404” error message will cause search engines to “ding” you as far as results rankings go. Ideally, you should conduct an audit quarterly – not just during the slower days of summer – by clicking on all your site links to see if they still work.

#4 – Capitalize On Effective Relationships

  • Think about what highly respected organizations might be willing to post a link to your site from theirs since links from other credible organizations greatly improve your search engine results rankings. Reach out to those organizations this summer to ask them if they’d consider adding a link.

#5 – Plan for the Fall

  • Even if your site provides a good user experience and contains beneficial, comprehensive info., to succeed at SEO, you need to regularly update it with fresh content. Search engines reward organizations who do so. If you don’t already have a blog on your site, speak with your internal webmaster or external developer/designer about adding one (assuming you believe there are one or several internal or external individuals who can provide content). If you have a blog, but  aren’t posting regularly to it or aren’t good about “tagging” it to be found by search engines, think about how you could improve this come fall.
  • If you don’t have a “responsive” site, one that responds to the device accessing it – particularly mobile phones – speak to the individuals mentioned above about how you can address that issue in fall 2019.

And, speaking of fall, stay tuned for a late summer/early fall 411 piece that provides additional technical tactics for you to consider & pursue.

 

 

brand promise, competitive advantage, differentiation, keywords, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEO, technical SEO, website

Why Adjectives & Qualifiers Matter in the Game of SEO

Not that long ago, I wrote about the importance of “differentiating with detail.” The more detailed an organization can be about what makes them the best provider of a particular service or product, and therefore, how they stand out from a competitor, the better.

In somewhat of the same vein, as I help organizations of all shapes & sizes better position themselves to rank well in search engine results for the terms their target audience(s) are most regularly searching on, I’m continually reminded of the importance of detail and the benefits of “unpacking your adjectives” called out in the Schoolhouse Rock piece from my childhood below. What I’m seeing on a fairly consistent basis is this — organizations are not qualifying or describing their services or products in enough detail. They know what product or service they offer, and therefore, expect their target audience(s) will know too. The problem with this is that their target audience may not find them in the first place, through a search engine search, because the organization isn’t sending out appropriate signals via their website content and behind-the-scenes page title tags.

Here’s some examples that demonstrate the issue above:

Let’s say you’re a business-to-business (B2B) organization primarily offering consulting services to a particular industry or related to a particular function/department of an organization. You need to call that out in website page content and page title tags. For example, if your organization primarily works with higher education organizations or individuals in HR roles at an organization, you need to qualify/modify the phrase “consulting” in website page title tags and content, i.e., use terms like “HR consulting services” or “higher education consulting services.”

Only offer your products or services in a particular geography? Well, that’s another reason to break out the adjectives and modifiers like “Greater Boston”, “South Shore MA”, or “New England” in website content and page title tags like “South Shore MA digital marketing agency” or “digital marketing agency serving New England.” You wouldn’t believe the number of organizations I’ve seen with websites that have no “geographic triggers” in website content or page title tags to inform search engines where they operate/who they serve. In this scenario, it’s impossible to rank well in local search or in geographies you serve that are “not local.”

Are your services or products offered on both a wholesale (B2B) and retail (business-to-consumer (B2C)) basis or just one or the other, and is that obvious to search engines who are crawling/indexing your website content and page title tags? For example, if you offer food products that can only be bought retail or wholesale, are you making that clear through using the right modifiers like “hospitality industry food products” or “food products for the hospitality industry?” Or, “consumer food products” or “retail store food products?”

Do both businesses and individuals/homeowners need the type of services you offer, and do you only offer one or both? Make sure you spell that out through language in page title tags, such as “home roofing services”, “residential roofing services”, “commercial roofing services” or “business roofing services.” Or, “residential real estate appraisal services” vs. “commercial real estate appraisal services.”

I think you get the idea, and trust me, you’ll reap great SEO rewards just by keeping the above need to “modify” in mind when you either review an existing website from an SEO standpoint, or are writing page title tags and website content for a brand new site. And, as you go through this exercise, as our blog post reminds, think about how and when to use acronyms, industry jargon, scientific terms, internal speak, etc. to modify/qualify certain services or products you offer. Give great thought to whether your target audience(s) are using the aforementioned in the search terms they enter into a search engine like Google. If you don’t think your audiences are using those terms, forego using them in website content and page title tags, and instead, use the “lay person” terms that they are likely using.

Not sure what search terms/keywords your target audience(s) are most frequently entering in search engines to identify organizations that offer your particular products or services? Reach out. We’re keyword research and planning experts and can help you determine what phrases to focus on in website content and page title tags and how to best modify and qualify the products and services you offer.