As we mentioned in this recent blog post, there’s so much discussion going on right now about whether or not, and how soon, AI (artificial intelligence) will impact how search engines like Google determine what websites, Google My Business Profiles/Google Search & Maps listings, or other digital properties to serve up in search results.
We think, now more than ever, it’s important to return to why the internet, via which individuals are able to access various digital properties, was first launched. Certainly and initially, the internet was created to allow for easier sharing of information. We believe that, regardless of the decade in which we find ourselves living and working, websites and other digital properties should still continue to support the internet’s initial mission, and therefore, focus on the target audiences they serve and what information those target audiences expect to find on the online property in-question. Plus, focus on what information would be most helpful to those audiences.
Two Best Practices For Digital Information Sharing That Also Support SEO
So, what are two practices that are critical to effective information sharing that also support SEO (search engine optimization)/being found on Google?
Provide the best User Experience (UX) by not overthinking, and being real and being honest about who your organization is and the services your offer. While you want external organizations to link to your site, don’t offer compensation for sites to do so. Google recognizes when the connection between organizations is forced vs. real and natural. In addition, don’t just write for SEO. Tell a good story, get people talking about you, be newsworthy, etc. Write about the things that matter most to you and your customers.
BE FRESH. Keep your website and any other digital property’s content fresh by continuing to produce and share new, content relevant to both your organization and your target audiences. Visitors to your online properties aren’t going to return if there’s no new information to be gleaned from your site, and Google and other search engines are way more likely to serve up a competitor site for relevant search terms (keywords) if that competitor site has fresher, newer content. What’s an easy way to keep your content fresh? Create and post a bi-weekly or monthly blog post!
Even if the two digital information principles/best practices above are all you have time to attend to due to limited staff, time, or $, barring any kind of technical issues with your digital properties, as Boston digital marketing experts offering SEO services, we believe you’ll be well positioned to be found on Google by the people you want most to find you. Plus, you’ll be supporting the internet’s original mission to share beneficial information effectively!
Don’t Have Time To Ensure Your Website Content Is Authentic Or Fresh?
Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.
How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies
Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.
How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask
Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.
Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.
Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.
Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.
In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.
Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.
Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.
Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.
What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?
Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.
We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!
Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.
Regardless of whether your organization has a small or large marketing budget and staff, you still want to spend your time and money on marketing judiciously. Who wants to throw either valuable dollars or time out the window, right?
Why not make this the year you ensure you’re maximizing your marketing efforts by revisiting your marketing plans based on the information shared below about what marketing tactics make sense based on available data.
What Is Pull Marketing?
Each marketing expert probably has their own thoughts on what they consider marketing tactics that fall in the “pull” category. But, at our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company, we think of “pull marketing” tactics as those to be employed if evidence shows that individuals are actively searching to identify someone in your geography who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems that your organization offers.
So how do you know if people are actively searching in the geography you serve for the products, services, and solutions you offer? The best way to ascertain the aforementioned is by conducting keyword research. As we explain in this previous blog post, keyword research helps you identify the average # of monthly Google searches that are conducted on search terms (known as keywords) relevant to your products, services, and solutions. Because of the tools to which you’ll need access and the challenges of figuring out how to structure your research, you’ll likely fare better by hiring an SEO company or a team of SEO experts, like ours, to conduct meaningful and accurate keyword research.
If keyword research does indicate a large volume of individuals are regularly searching to identify an organization like yours, then pull marketing tactics, such as optimizing your website to be found on Google via organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and/or paid search tactics (think Google Ads) make great marketing sense. You’ll still need to have an effective website (one with appropriate calls-to-actions and that provides for a strong user experience) to cause site visitors to take desired actions on your site (convert), but the two aforementioned tactics should definitely cause individuals who are “warm leads,” i.e., likely interested in your products because they are actively searching, to visit your website.
What Is Push Marketing?
We always like to say “push marketing” is about the putting the idea in the heads of individuals and organizations who might be a good fit for the product, service, or solution you offer. Push marketing tactics are all about serving up/providing information about your products or services to individuals who, based on various demographics and characteristics, such as age, gender, income level, job/career/industry, etc., might likely be interested in buying your product or engaging you for your service.
Examples of both digital and traditional push marketing tactics include: display advertising (both social media advertising and Google display advertising), banner advertising (ad purchased on a website that serves individuals and orgs. who might be a good fit for your product), and print advertising in a newspaper or magazine. The aforementioned list is not exclusive, but we think you get the picture.
So, when is push marketing warranted? Push marketing makes great sense if keyword research indicates that individuals aren’t actively searching in your geography to identify someone like your organization. Particularly when a product or service offered is a brand new one that your target audiences are not likely familiar with/don’t know exist, then focusing on executing effective push marketing tactics will be the most efficient use of your marketing time and dollars.
When To Employ Both Push and Pull Marketing
Organizations with particularly large marketing budgets and teams tend to employ both push and pull marketing tactics, and therefore, both pursue people that are “warmer” leads for their products and services, i.e., those who are actively searching AND people who are less warm but still might be a good fit for their products and services. A key reason they may employ both push and pull marketing tactics is that pull alone doesn’t bring in the volume of leads and sales they need to meet their sales objectives.
For smaller organizations who have fewer in-house individuals devoted to marketing and a limited marketing budget, the majority of marketing dollars and time should definitely be earmarked for the type of tactics — push vs. pull — that make the most sense for the organization, based on what keyword research and any other appropriate available data indicates. But, it’s likely still worth investing a small amount of time and dollars in push marketing tactics, like Google Display or Instagram/Facebook advertising, just to see what such tactics yield in results.
Our Team Of Marketing Experts And SEO Experts Is Here To Help
We always say our Boston SEO company and Boston digital marketing agency “never encourages clients or prospective clients to continue with or start with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them.” In fact, our company’s tagline since we launched our marketing agency in 2014 has been “maximizing results thru research-supported marketing.” We’ll never suggest a client employ a particular tactic, based on whether or not we offer a service related to it. If we don’t offer a marketing service from which research indicates a client would benefit, we’ll refer the work to a one of our fellow marketing collaborators. But, the very first step is holding a complimentary discussion to learn about your particular organization’s marketing challenges and opportunities, so please use our calendar app to select a convenient day and time for you if you’d like to chat!
Refer to it as you will — and we are seeing a lot of reference variability, such as GA4 and G4 — but Google Analytics’ new property version will soon be here to stay and pushing aside the Universal Analytics (UA) version (a version which all of us digital marketers and data geeks are very familiar with and have grown to love over the years.)
Since as a Boston SEO Company and Boston Digital Marketing agency, we ask each and every one of our clients to provide us with access to their Google Analytics data — so that we can help them determine what marketing activities are and aren’t working for them and what their general “website health” looks like — we are sorry to see the UA version of Google Analytics go. We’ve been using it 20 years, both in corporate and consulting roles, to assess the aforementioned.
Per Google’s own declaration, UA versions of Google Analytics will stop recording hits come July 1, 2023, which means the last day an organization can use Google Analytics to effectively track website visitor behavior with a UA property version is June 30, 2023. That said, our digital marketing agency is already hard at work learning the “ins and outs” of GA4, and working with our clients to make the switch late 2022 or early 2023 to this new Google Analytics property version.
We just completed several online classes offered by Google to learn about the many benefits of GA4 Analytics and how GA4 differrs from UA Analytics. While it’s fresh in our minds, we’re sharing our immediate reactions. We decided not to outline pro’s and con’s because general use, and our own use, of GA4 is too new and what we might consider a “pro” someone might consider a “con,” and vice versa.
G4 simultaneously tracks both mobile app and website data
G4 can often track a user across devices and platforms (UA was only able to track based on device ID) — this means if an individual originally visits your website using their phone, but later visits your site using their desktop, laptop, or other device, your organization will be able to track that individual as one user (currently in UA Analytics that same individual would likely be tracked as several users) and follow their user journey. Important note: You’ll likely see your “unique user” volume drop when you switch from UA to GA4 Analytics for the reasons outlined above and below.
So how does Google accomplish the above? By looking at three distinct identifiers or identity spaces:
User ID (this is an ID that an organization provided to a customer or prospective customer or other website visitor as part of their need or ability to login to the organization’s website)
Google signal (available when people are signed into a Google account, such as a Gmail e-mail account and have consented to sharing that info.)
Device ID (this info. comes from a user’s browser or app instance ID)
Key Differences Between GA4 Analytics and UA Analytics
GA4’s tracking emphasis is on user events vs. sessions (note that session info. is still available in GA4)
Many standard user events (activities that a user completes on a website, such as downloading a document) are automatically tracked in GA4 vs. UA Analytics. This means organizations will be far less dependent on using Google Tag Manager to set up event tracking, something we believe most organizations will welcome. We know we found using the aforementioned tool very cumbersome.
A smaller number of standard/pre-defined reports are available within GA4, but an extensive set of tools known as “Explorations” allow data geeks to slice ‘n dice data to their heart’s content. We’ve always found the best way to learn a new tool is to set it up and start playing around with it. We’ve found if you do some digging around in GA4, you’ll figure out where and how to access info. that you analyzed regularly in UA Analytics.
Interestingly enough, the Google-provided training we took highlighted the same items we highlighted above as benefits or differences in this grid that was shared in the training.
As we’ve shared on social media and with our SEO company’s clients, Google announced in September 2022 a key revision to their search algorithm (the algorithm they use to decide which websites to serve up, and in which order, for search terms entered in their search engine) to which each and every website owner should pay close attention. And, that is that they, as the #1 search engine used by individuals (92% or more of individuals use Google as their primary search engine), will be paying greater consideration to whether or not a website’s content is “helpful” or “unhelpful” when making search engine results listing ranking decisions. As you would expect, sites with “helpful content” are more likely to be served up and rank well in search results for relevant terms.
Impact of Google’s September 2022 “Helpful Content” Algorithm Change
We know first-hand how much of a shift in ranking can take place when Google views your site as one that shares “helpful content.” Our site now rank approx. 50 spots higher in Google search results for a high-volume, relevant keyword and that shift happened almost overnight. We believe that the positive shift was due to Google recognizing that our Boston digital marketing agency consistently publishes blog posts that are easily understood by a “lay person,” but also provide enough instruction to implement some of the marketing tactics we describe and recommend in our posts.
Shared below in Google’s “own words” is information from Google’s Search Central blog about how to ensure your website content is “helpful.” We’ve highlighted (via bold italics) what we consider to be the most critical policies to apply when making decisions about what topics to write about — and how to write about them — to make sure your content is beneficial to the various audiences who visit your site. All of their recommendations should improve your website’s “bounce rate,” i.e., the percentage of people who land/start on your site without interacting it in any way, such as clicking on a link or call-out, or visiting another page of your site. When prospective clients or clients are bouncing too quickly from your site, it’s an opportunity for a competitor to win them over on their site, right?
Unhelpful Website Content And How It Impacts SEO
The flip side of the positive practice of regular production and posting of “helpful content” is to eliminate content that Google may deem as “unhelpful (which could negatively impact how your website ranks for “desirable” search terms).” Such “unhelpful” content includes:
Short content that is “stuffed” with keywords and was primarily loaded to your site to support your site being found on Google for those keywords.
Content that is outdated — think events that have already passed or information that is no longer relevant or accurate, particularly pre-pandemic information since the pandemic greatly changed both business and consumer behavior.
Content that is all “about you,”, i.e., too focused on selling your products and singing your praises or sharing your differentiators without explaining how your prospective clients or clients would benefit from your products, services, and solutions, i.e., explaining what pain points of clients they would address.
Our team is here to help you interpret this most recent Google algorithm change, and put the right steps in place to make sure you respond to, and take advantage of, this recent Google algorithm change appropriately, promptly, and effectively. It’s very much in keeping with what we shared years ago in one of our very first SEO blog posts about making sure your website is “authentic.” So, please reach out if we can help you effectively navigation this change in algorithm — one we think makes is warranted, was a long-time-in-coming, and will provide for a far better user experience on all websites.
The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.
How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:
Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.
How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:
Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
Where did 2022 go? It’s hard to believe it’s late October, and that means that consumers are already starting their holiday shopping. Regardless of whether your target audiences are shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other holiday celebrated towards the end of the calendar year, it would be a huge marketing mistake to not capitalize on the year-end uptick in online shopping by making sure your website ranks as well as possible for terms related to it.
While the focus of this post is related to retail, e-commerce, and B2C organizations offering physical products, as you read thru it, you’ll see there are applications for organizations trying to sell services, tickets to events, or even looking for someone to make a donation to their non-profit organization as a gift to someone else.
SEO Tactics For The Holidays
Below are both easy, and more time-consuming/complex SEO tasks your organization should complete by early November to support having a successful holiday sales season.
Conduct keyword research to determine the search phrases your target audiences are using most related to holiday shopping or holiday gift giving. If you don’t have access to a keyword planning/research tool, reach out and we will share holiday-shopping-related keyword research with you that we already conducted for FREE (a more extensive list than what we share further on in our post.) That’s our holiday gift to you!
Incorporate high-volume keywords (search terms) that are relevant to your target audience in:
the public-facing content found on a holiday-related landing page (if you plan to have specials/sales/discounts or want to promote certain items that make great holiday gifts) and/or incorporate such terms on existing product-specific pages.
website product and landing page headers (H1 and H2), as appropriate.
page title tags, particularly if you have a distinct landing page or several such pages for holiday shopping and specials.
Use structured data to support your products appearing at the top of Google search results when someone searches on a very specific product need like “yellow pocketbook.” As a result of the aforementioned fall 2022 algorithm change, use of Google “Shopping ads,” a Google Merchant Center Account and/or Google Surfaces is no longer mandatory to have your products shown to individuals who are shopping. This article details Google’s reason for making the change and where your product information may appear when you properly use “structured data.”
The above task/tactic may be a more complicated and difficult one for your organization and may require your website developer’s help. You can learn more about structured data (also known as “schema markup”) via these resources:
How To Incorporate High-volume Holiday-Shopping Keywords In Your Website Content
Recent holiday-shopping keyword research we conducted indicated the following as being among some of the highest-volume search terms used related to holiday shopping or gift shopping, in general (the number shown represents the average # of monthly searches in Google for that term):
gifts for men – 301,000
gifts for mom – 201,000
gifts for dad – 135,000
gifts for women – 135,000
Christmas gifts for mom – 90500
Gifting ideas for men – 90500
mens gifts ideas – 90500
gift ideas for women – 90500
mom Christmas gifts – 90500
women’s gifts ideas – 90500
women’s gifts for men – 74000
Christmas gifts for men – 74000
Gifts for mens Christmas – 74000
Christmas gifts for dad – 49500
Gifts for girlfriends – 49500
Christmas gifts for boyfriend – 40500
Christmas gifts for womens – 40500
Gifts for womens Christmas – 40500
Gifts for wife Christmas – 33100
Best Men gifts – 33100
Gift ideas for mom – 33100
Husbands gifts – 33100
Unique gifts – 33100
Best Christmas gifts 2021 (note you can use this phrase but change to 2022) – 33100
Gift for Christmas for wife – 33100
Unique gifts for men — 27100
Christmas gift idea for her — 27100
Christmas gifts for a girlfriend — 27100
Christmas gift ideas for her — 27100
Best gifts for men 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
Best gifts for women 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
Christmas Gifts 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
Christmas gf gifts (change to 2022) (reminder people use acronyms like bff, bf in searches) — 27100
Gift ideas for boyfriend – 22200
Gift ideas for dad – 22200
Best gifts for mom – 22200
Top gifts for guys – 22200
Best gifts for moms – 22200
Secret santa gift ideas – 22200
Fun gift – 22200
Ideas gift boyfriend – 22200
Christmas gift teenagers – 22200
Gifts for husbands Christmas — 18000
Best gifts for dad — 18000
Best gifts for dads — 18000
Gift ideas for girlfriend — 18000
Unique gifts for women — 18000
Christmas gift ideas for mom — 14800
Ideas for mens stocking stuffers — 14800
Good gifts for mom—14800
Gift ideas for wife — 14800
Christmas gift ideas for moms — 14800
Unique Christmas gifts — 14800
Secret santa gifts — 14800
Mom’s Christmas gift ideas — 14800
Christmas gifts to her — 14800
Christmas gift ideas for him — 12100
Cool guys gifts — 12100
Cool gifts for guys — 12100
Presents for mom — 12100
Gifts for mother — 12100
Women best gift — 12100
Best gifts for women — 12100
Gadgets for men — 12100
Cool Christmas gift — 12100
Christmas fun gift — 12100
Christmas gift ideas 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
Best gift 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
Gift ideas him Christmas — 12100
As mentioned above, we are glad to provide a much more extensive list of holiday shopping terms and their associated average monthly searches in Google. You can e-mail us at email@example.com to have the list sent to you. As we share all the time with our new SEO clients and attendees of our SEO classes, and as we did in this previous blog post, keyword research can also help you identify new products, services or solutions you should offer.
As alluded to above, be sure to use the term 2022 once or several times related to holiday shopping, and also be sure to include terms for non-Christmas holidays that are celebrated in December. Plus, think about what acronyms or abbreviations someone might use related to a loved, such as “bff” for “best friends forever.”
Before you begin incorporating high-volume keywords in your content, think about whom would most likely be the recipient of a gift of your product, services, event or class tickets, or a donation, and use terms that the searcher of your product or service might use. Let’s say you offer hand-made jewelry for women, you’d want your site to rank well for terms above like “Christmas gifts to her” and “Christmas gifts for mom” and should incorporate such or similar terms in your website content.
We’re Here To Help You Rank Well For Holiday Shopping Search Terms
Got questions or need our help. Reach out today as holiday shopping has already begun!
This morning I participated in an interview with two University of Connecticut students who were working on a class project about leadership in marketing & communications (I’m a UCONN alum to whom they outreached via LinkedIn). I had already completed an initial draft of this post before my meeting with them, but while discussing with them the shift that has occurred since I first launched my marketing career – from “traditional” marketing to digital marketing – it struck me to refer to traditional marketing as “pre-internet” marketing. I’m going to start using that term and “non-digital” more because “traditional marketing” has just never felt right to me as the term to use for activities advertisers engaged in more before Google searches, social media, and texting took over the world!
Read on to learn what I see as the two broad categories of perks to employing non-digital marketing activities.
1. Perks To The Marketing Professional Developing and Executing Non-Digital Marketing Tactics
Call me crazy, but I miss things like print checks and listening to possible music beds and writing advertorial copy – all things that came with being involved with or overseeing non-digital marketing activities like direct mail, TV and radio advertising, and print advertising. I also miss physically visiting or viewing images of billboard locations and scripting messaging for radio ads. And, I miss holding a beautifully crafted – both in appearance and messaging – sturdy, direct mail piece, and being responsible for buying a target audience mailing list and working with direct mail house partners. I miss ad slicks and seeing my print ads in the Metro newspaper that I snagged at the train station to read on my commute to work, and I miss seeing my advertising subway posters on that same commute.
Particularly during my days when I was employed in bank marketing roles, and we implemented integrated marketing campaigns that ran anywhere from one month to three, I loved overseeing the content, production, and design of various pieces; plus, working with our external marketing agency to produce a number of physical marketing pieces that all mirrored each other and sent customers and prospective customers the same marketing messages and reminders. These included:
Physical statement stuffers that went in customer bank statements – it was so enjoyable to brainstorm with others on my team to arrive at fun, punchy, effective copy and seeing the stuffer come to fruition in its beautiful slick, printed form. Often we would create extras of these for tellers or other bank employees to give out to customers or prospective customers.
Lobby posters – these would appear in each of the bank’s various branches and most branches had several locations within the office to hang the posters that highlighted whatever product or service we were promoting that month.
ATM messages – back then, people used ATMs more and we’d arrange for messages to appear on the screen that mirrored the campaign-in-question’s key messages.
Teller posters/cards – these were mini versions of the lobby posters that were placed at teller stations for viewing by customers as they waited in line or interacted with the teller.
Visual displays – these were physical/tangible items we’d place in bank branches that were relevant to the product or service we were promoting, such as telephones to encourage people to use the bank’s “phone banking” service.
The takeaway? Pre-internet marketing activities allow marketing staff and professionals to use a different part of their brain and more of their senses, including touch/feel, and it’s important to shake things up that way, right? Using one part of your brain can help strengthen the other part of your brain, or give a certain part of your brain a rest or new perspective.
2. Perks To The Organization Employing Non-Digital Marketing Activities And To Their Target Audiences
In keeping with the message that ended the discussion of perk #1 above, everyone has different preferred and default means of learning and absorbing information. Organizations need to understand that seeing a billboard or an advertisement at a movie, mall, or subway station might resonate more with, or be more easily digested by, certain individuals than an online ad or social media post.
Plus, some target audiences may not spend a lot of time online or on the phone because of personal life circumstances or the nature of their job – equating to missed opportunities for the organization who is advertising. Some target audience members may be more likely to see or notice your advertising if it occurred on or in a billboard, train, bus, mall, TV, radio, or a printed/hard copy of a newspaper or magazine. I think you get the picture! Plus, there is so much distraction for a prospective customer when they are on their phone or computer; non-digital marketing tactics are often served up and to, and viewed by, customers when they are in more of a “captive” vs. distracted mode.
To summarize the above, we believe both the advertiser and target audiences win when marketing activities that go beyond digital ones are employed to create awareness and educate prospective customers. As we discussed in our recent blog post, non-digital marketing activities can greatly contribute to the success of a multi-tactic, integrated marketing campaign.
We Can Help You Decide If and What Non-Digital Marketing Is Right For Your Organization
While we often refer to ourselves as a Boston digital marketing agency or Boston SEO company, we are so much more than that, and bring significant non-digital/traditional marketing experience. We can serve as a marketing consultant for developing strategic marketing plans and as your outsourced digital marketing team. Our team can help with both high-level marketing work like determining strategy, as well as hands-on implementation of day-to-day marketing work and marketing campaign and advertising campaign tactics.
When I first started drafting this blog post, I thought I’d be mainly talking about traditional marketing and what I miss about it. But, as the post evolved, I realized the traditional marketing tactics/activities were just a piece of something bigger that I miss, sometimes, and that is being aware of, involved with, and/or or having oversight for ALL the marketing activities that a particular brand/organization executes. Often as a consultant, my team and I are working with organizations who have their own internal marketing team, and/or who work with a number of different outsourced marketing vendors or agencies. This means, while we are responsible for one or several pieces of the overall marketing strategic plan – usually digital pieces, we aren’t always aware of, kept informed of, or responsible for other pieces. As you would expect, each and every marketing message or tactic that is put out there in the universe by an organization has an impact – both negative and positive – on the effectiveness of the other marketing tactics.
Regardless of the above, because we strive each and every day to support our clients’ success, and to serve and be viewed as a member of their team, we often make recommendations and suggestions related to overall marketing strategy and various marketing tactics that others are overseeing. Sometimes, we suggest adding a new marketing tactic to the mix, even if we won’t be the ones making it happen, and sometimes, our suggestions are about shaking up how an existing marketing tactic is handled or executed.
Why Every Organization Needs Someone Monitoring and Aware Of All Marketing Tactics
Ultimately, each and every organization needs to have one person – whether it be an outsourced marketing consultant or agency or an in-house marketing director, chief marketing officer, or the business owner themselves – who:
Is aware of and tracking and analyzing the results of each and every marketing activity to ensure that marketing dollars and time are spent on those activities that lead to the greatest awareness, and ultimately highest possible number of conversions, such as sales (product purchase or engagement for services), and inquiries.
Ensures that marketing creative (messaging and design) is consistent across all marketing activities.
What Is Integrated Marketing and Why Is It So Important?
As hinted at above, integrated marketing means that all the marketing tactics you use to promote your organization and create awareness of it are cohesive, and therefore “mirror” each other. All tactics included in a strategic integrated marketing plan/campaign to promote a particular product or service should:
Contain and repeat the same key messages of the campaign
Reflect the same product or service promise and your competitive differentiators
Have a similar appearance as far as logos, design, color, and graphics go
For centuries, those who have succeeded at growing an organization have known that you have to hit the audiences whom you think will be the best target/users of your product or service numerous times to create both awareness and sales. Target audiences need to hear and see the same message multiple times for it to both stick and resonate. If you shake things up too much across your various marketing tactics and vehicles, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to expose your targeted customers to the same messaging and look and feel and you’ll also CONFUSE them.
Help For Creating, Executing, and Implementing An Integrated Marketing Plan and Campaign
At Results Communications & Research, we bring more than 30 years of experience of implementing effective, integrated marketing campaigns, including ones that contain both digital and more traditional tactics such as outdoors (billboards), print, transit, movie, mall and broadcast (radio, TV) advertising. We can help you develop a strategic integrated marketing plan that outlines the various marketing vehicles and tactics we believe you should employ in a particular campaign, based on what we learn of your marketing objectives, challenges, and target audiences. Then, we’ll work with you to ensure proper tracking is in place to track the effectiveness of each of the various marketing tactics to help inform what tactics to employ in future campaigns or reallocate existing campaign $$ and/or pivot mid-campaign, based on what results are showing. So, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We love developing, executing, and analyzing the results of integrated marketing campaigns!
I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for several months now — while folks were still wearing shorts. You’ll learn why shortly (hah, hah, see what we did there?) But, fortunately, it was a very busy summer at Results C & R, and when it’s busy, we always put our clients’ marketing work above our own.
Earlier this summer, I visited my local “Paper Store,” and while perusing and admiring their clothing items for women, I was extremely surprised to see how short their various short offerings were. I had always assumed The Paper Store catered to women of my age, i.e., women aged 40+ and that their “sweet spot” as far as target audience went was women 45 – 65. These assumptions were likely based on the following:
What I observed to be the demographic of other shoppers when I visited various Paper Store locations
The fact that, despite their rewards/coupons program, their prices for various items like clothing, toiletries, and accessories, are higher than what you would pay at a discount store like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, or Marshalls. And, therefore, younger generations (who in many cases would have lower income than the above middle-aged group) might be less likely to shop or make a purchase at a Paper Store.
I decided to take a poll on LinkedIn (which I also shared with my Facebook connections) a few months back to to see what other consumers believed The Paper Store’s primary target audience to be and to inform my planned blog post.
As shown above, poll results indicated that I am not the only one who believes The Paper Store’s primary target audience is women over 40. If the aforementioned is really true, then why didn’t The Paper Store offer longer shorts — shorts that hit you one, two, or three inches above the knee — to its shoppers this summer? Either The Paper Store overlooked their primary target audience’s needs and missed out on an opportunity to sell them a summer staple, or women 45 – 65 really aren’t their primary target audience (or, at least not their primary target audience for shorts). Or, based on our poll results, there’s a big misperception about who their target audience is. Regardless, one or more of the following seems to be at play:
The Paper Store is hoping to reach and sell to a younger demographic/consumer and is moving in that direction by selling clothes that appeal to younger audiences — and perhaps, they are achieving that goal. Only they know the answer to that.
The Paper Store isn’t giving enough thought to their primary target audience’s needs and what they will and won’t wear.
The Paper Store is targeting numerous target audiences at once as part of their overall target market, but only targeting certain products to particular target audiences, as indicated in part by the fact that they offer:
A very large collection of Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer products which I see most used by middle-aged or older women vs. teens or 20- or 30-something women because of the price associated with those products
Alex and Ani bracelets or other jewelry items which I’ve seen worn by both younger and middle-aged women, but primarily by women under 30
In keeping with the above, there is no pecking order when it comes to the various audiences The Paper Store serves; therefore, there is no one true primary target audience – just lots of smaller target audiences to whom various distinct products are targeted
The Paper Store’s website has been updated for fall and at the time of this post, homepage images showcase women who appear to be aged 40 at most, and who could possibly be and pass for 30-something and younger. So, I’m left thinking my bulleted thoughts above are accurate. Did/do I and others have their primary target audience wrong or is the retailer just trying to move away from that older audience, and attract younger consumers/shoppers? Or, are they just trying to offer something for everyone?
Products, Services and Marketing Creative Must Meet Needs Of And Resonate With Primary Target Audiences
Ultimately, what I hope you will take from this post is this. Whomever your primary target audience is, if you want to maintain them as customers and grow the amount of business they do with you, you have to offer products and services that make their lives better and easier, and your marketing creative (messaging and images) should reflect those audiences and what they hope to accomplish with your products and services, i.e., their reasons for buying them. If, for whatever reason you want your primary target audience to shift, i.e., you want to cause a new audience with different demographics (this could be based on age, location, gender, income level, and more) to become the primary consumers of your products, you need to make sure that products and services resonate with and provide solutions to problems of that new audience and your marketing creative speaks to that new audience and their needs.
Know What You’re Good At And Who You Serve
We’ve always been of the mindset that “you can’t be all things to all men.” You need to know what you’re good at and understand what the demographics of the audience who will be most interested in your particular products and services, i.e., your primary target audience, will look like. That’s usually a best practice when it comes to deciding what products and services to offer and how you market them. But, in the case of The Paper Store maybe trying to be many things to many people is working for them? Regardless, I won’t be visiting The Paper Store again to purchase shorts. I hope that was The Paper Store’s intention/objective.
Anyone who knows me well, knows I love watching cooking shows on Food Network, particularly ones where competitors have to combine ingredients that are given to them to make a dish that is appealing to both the tongues and the eyes of the particular show’s judges. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m watched pretty much every episode of “Beat Bobby Flay,” and countless episodes of “Chopped.”
So, what does food have to do with me, my company, and search engine optimization (SEO)? While my digital marketing agency isn’t just an SEO company, we’ve definitely gotten to be known, particularly in the last five years, for helping organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) in the Greater Boston area and beyond be found better and rank better on Google. Due to more than 10 years of being responsible for how websites rank in Google and other search engines, I’ve learned thru hands-on experience what combination of ingredients, i.e., what SEO tactics/activities, make for a winning SEO recipe!
Keyword Research: Your First and Most Important SEO Ingredient
I’ve given to, or shared with, Massachusetts chambers of commerce and SCORE chapters, as well as existing and prospective clients, a number of SEO presentations about the importance of keyword research. I’ve also written blog posts about it, and have a Word doc I’d be glad to share with you if you reach out to me to ask for it (hey, we don’t want to give out all the secret ingredients in our special SEO sauce too easily!) As we’ve shared in all the aforementioned documents and activities, keyword research ALWAYS needs to be a first step or ingredient in implementing an effective SEO strategy and recipe.
Even if you believe you already know what search terms (known as keywords) your various target audiences are entering into Google’s search engine to identify an organization or individual that offers the products, services, or solutions to problems you do, you should still make the time to confirm your intuitions about target audience’s search behaviors are accurate for these two key reasons:
you may be ranking well or trying to rank well for terms that target audiences are truly searching on, but are you missing out on terms that audiences are searching even more frequently on (high-volume search terms), and therefore, missing out on being found for desirable, relevant search terms because you don’t include those in your website content, page headers, meta tags, or other SEO real estate?
while you believed prior to keyword research completion that individuals were actively/regularly searching to identify an organization that offers the products, services, and solutions you do, your keyword research ends up indicating that the number of people entering relevant terms into Google is very low or negligible. The aforementioned scenario means all the SEO tactics in the world aren’t going to solve an immediate challenge of wanting and needing to generate more sales and leads for your organization since a “push” vs. “pull” strategy is warranted. You’re not going to drive a lot of “organic search” (search engine) traffic to your site, so traffic to your site will need to come from clicks on social media posts, display ads, links/banner ads on other external sites, e-blasts, and other marketing activities that put the idea of your products, services, and solutions in the minds of relevant target audiences who aren’t actively searching to find you.
Keyword research allows you to take a preliminary set of keywords/search terms you believe your audiences are searching on, and generate a much larger list of relevant search terms and the average # of times a month someone is entering that particular term into Google, for a particular geography. By reviewing this research, organizations can identify the keywords for which they most want to be found, and then make sure, as explained above, that those terms are included in SEO tactics/activities such as meta tags and public-facing website content and headers.
SEO Audit: An Ingredient That Adds Depth To Your SEO Recipe and Strategy
My Greater Boston SEO company employs a paid vs. free SEO audit tool to accurately determine for which of the keywords/search terms our clients most want to rank in a particular geography (identified thru the keyword research process above) they already rank well. We used to conduct SEO site audits for clients manually, but as our client list grew and the number of terms for which clients wanted to rank grew, we knew we needed to, and did invest in, a more cost- and time-efficient way to conduct SEO audits.
I consider an organization to rank particularly well for a particular keyword in Google if a listing with a link to its website or its Google My Business Profile/Google Search & Maps listing appears in the first 10 – 12 listings (for a particular geography) that Google serves up for the high-volume keyword in-question, i.e., appears on the first page of Google search results. I consider an organization to rank well, versus particularly well, if a listing with a link to its website or Google My Business Profile/Google Search and Maps appears within the first 25 listings Google serves up for desirable search terms, i.e., on the first two pages of Google Search results.
Identifying the intersection of relevant high-volume search terms and ranking on Google on pages BEYOND the first two (in positions 26 or higher in Google, and depending on the nature of an organization’s products and services, it may be critical to rank in position 1 – 12 in search results) allows us to know where there are areas for SEO improvement — therefore, areas where our client could be experiencing sweeter SEO success and for what terms we need to apply our secret SEO sauce to support ranking better in the future for those important keywords. The aforementioned secret sauce includes, but is not limited to, applying tactics such as employing the high-volume keywords in meta tags, page headers, and page content.
Why You’ll Want and Need To Repeat Your SEO Audit
Once you’ve set up your initial SEO audit, you’ll want to repeat it monthly to see if and how your organization ranks for the high-volume keywords regarding which you’re applying a lot of your SEO energy. Repeating this SEO audit will allow you to continue to tweak your SEO strategy and where you spend your SEO time, so that you continue to rank better and better for the keywords that are most important to the success of your organization and to your target audiences. Read why SEO is not a one and done marketing activity.
Why You Need This Winning SEO Ingredient Combo
Why does combining keyword research with an SEO audit make for a winning SEO recipe? Why spend time trying to rank well in Google for relevant, high-volume terms you’re already ranking well for? Sure, SEO is not a one and done marketing tactic and you should continue to employ appropriate-to-the-page-or-post-in-question content, headers, and page title tags that include those keywords for which you already rank well, but why not put the majority of your SEO energy into trying to rank well for high-volume search terms your organization currently isn’t ranking well for so you’re not missing out on important opportunities to reach your various target audiences?
Here’s an example from my own business. Two high-volume keywords I want my own site to rank well for are “digital marketing agency Boston” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. = 480/month), and “Boston SEO company” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. also = 480/month) since both of the aforementioned keywords have the highest average monthly search volumes among keywords/search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems we offer. Based on an audit we conducted today, we learned that we rank better for the term “digital marketing agency Boston” than we do for “Boston SEO company” — hey, Boston is fortunate to be a place that a very large number of SEO experts call home, so we are always competing with the best of the best SEO experts to rank for relevant terms. Anyhow, given the aforementioned audit information, while we’ll want to continue our efforts at ranking for “digital marketing agency Boston,” we’ll put extra effort into tactics to rank for “Boston SEO company (for the time being anyhow since rankings constantly change and shift depending on your marketplace and competition to be served up for certain keywords.)
Continuing with our food metaphor, we know this was a lot to “digest,” We’d be glad to walk you thru a recent case study we put together about the above winning combo, so please don’t hesitate to use our calendar app to schedule a time to chat https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.