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5 Types of Video That Improves Marketing Content

5 Types of Video That Improves Marketing Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Video content is a hot topic in marketing circles. We’ve been seeing studies for years now that video is the way people want to consume content. Search engines continue to reward businesses with video on their homepage with additional traffic. So if you haven’t yet embraced video, now is the time to start.

Oftentimes when people think of video marketing, they think of social media content. While there’s certainly a great case to be made for using video on social platforms (and lots of ways to do it!), incorporating video across other marketing channels is just as essential.

Here, let’s take a look at the five types of video content that can be added to any business’s marketing system. This will allow you to tell your brand story in a dynamic, engaging way.

1. Brand Story

Every brand has a story. Lots of entrepreneurs have fascinating tales of how they got the idea to start their business and the journey that they went on to get that business off the ground. But when we talk about core story, it’s not about where the brand has been, it’s really more about the customer’s story.

Every brand has a problem that they solve for their customers. It’s their own unique approach to solving the issue. This is what attracts customers to the business in the first place and keeps them coming back time and again.

Creating a video that tells your core story is a great way to establish trust immediately with prospects. A strong core story outlines a prospect’s problem, paints a picture of a world where the problem has been solved, and then offers up your business as the solution to the issue.

Putting a video like this front-and-center on your website sets you up for success with prospects. Not only do prospects feel seen and heard by what they’re seeing in the video—this is a brand that really gets my problem!—they also have a sense of connection with the people behind the brand.

When the business owner gets on camera and talks directly to their prospects about how they address their big concern, this wins their trust and builds a human-to-human connection from the get-go.

2. Service or Product Videos

You have gotten the attention of a prospect with your core story. Next, your prospect might want to learn more about the specifics of how your business can solve their problems. That’s where product or service videos come in.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run. A video showcasing your offerings can help to dynamically demonstrate all the pros of purchasing your product or service.

For more complicated products, like a new software system or a tool or machinery that requires some set-up, product videos can help eliminate some of the fear that a prospect might feel about purchasing a complex product. When they see how easy it is to set up and use in the video, they’ll feel more confident in their ability to do it on their own.

The same is true of videos that feature services. Let’s say you are a car mechanic. People are often distrustful of car mechanics, thinking they’re able to rip people off because most of us don’t understand how a car actually works. A service video, where the mechanic walks viewers through the standard inspection process and points out potential red flags along the way can help to eliminate prospects’ fears that they’re a scam-artist mechanic.

Even for simple products, video can help to bring the item to life. A product video for a children’s construction toy that shows the features of the completed model might sell a parent on the purchase. Or a video on a clothing e-commerce site, showing a model walking back and forth in items of clothing can give viewers a sense of how the shirt or pants look and move on a real person.

3. Client Testimonials

Testimonials, reviews, and case studies all play a similar role in the lead nurturing process. They offer social proof that your business is as good as you say it is. Of course, you have a vested interest in selling your business as the best business out there in your field. That is your job when you have your marketing hat on, after all! But customers don’t owe a business anything. Glowing feedback from customers demonstrates to prospects that the hype is real; you are as good as you claim to be.

Written reviews and testimonials are great, but videos can help to elevate that connection. By showing prospects an existing happy customer, you give them a taste of what their life could be like if they hired you. If you’re looking for tips on how to get the most out of your interview with one of your happy customers, check out these steps for putting together an effective case study.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s face it, scrolling through dozens of questions in a standard FAQ page is boring. Why not create the most engaging FAQ page possible by incorporating video answers onto the page?

This is also a great opportunity to get a number of people from the company involved in the video creation process. Have someone from each department get in front of the camera. They can each record a handful of answers to the FAQs that are most relevant to their role at the company.

First, this is a fun activity for the team members who participate. Additionally, it provides you with the opportunity to introduce prospects to even more of the faces behind the business. And the greater the sense of familiarity and personal connection you can establish early on, the more you will stand out in terms of trust and likability.

5. Personalized Sales Videos

Once you have won prospects over with great video content on your website, it’s time to take things to the next level. Encouraging your sales team to use one-to-one video in the sales process allows them to embrace personalization.

Using a tool like Loom makes it easy for even the least tech-savvy sales team in the room to record and send videos. Creating a personalized video, where they address the prospect by name and speak to their specific concerns and questions, makes that prospect feel special. They think, “If this business went through the trouble to record a video just for me, can you imagine the lengths they’ll go-to for me if I become a customer?”

Video content can play a role throughout all stages of the customer journey. Video can be critical to establishing trust, building a personal connection, and moving prospects down the hourglass towards their first purchase.

The 7 Steps to Keyword Research

The 7 Steps to Keyword Research written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Both SEO and content creation strategies cannot be implemented successfully without keyword research. Creating content that is ranking and speaks to the intent and needs of your ideal audience requires an understanding of which keywords matter to the relevant searches.

Keyword research is a critical first step to establishing a successful marketing maturity model. While it’s worth investing some time and effort in the process, it need not be arduous or difficult. In fact, I have some tips to help you conduct simple, effective keyword research.

1. Ideation

Who will know your business better than you? Hopefully no one. That’s why a great first step in keyword research is to sit down and brainstorm terms and questions your business answers for clients.

You should have a solid idea of what your business does and what people ask for. Are there certain questions their sales team gets all the time? Is there a consistent piece of feedback you get in reviews about what you did differently from your competition?

Do your best to focus on what customers ask for and stay away from any industry jargon. You are looking for the words and phrases that customers would use to describe your goods and services.

Part of the brainstorming process should also include understanding the types of customers you’re hoping to attract. What do you want to be known for, and what related terms should you focus on?

2. Turn to Google Keyword Suggest

Google Ads does have a keyword research tool, but I find it easier to just go to the search engine itself and run some test searches. Their autosuggest tool is a powerful way to generate keyword ideas that reflect what people are actually searching for.

Let’s say you own a home remodeling business. If you go to Google and type in “home remodel” check out the suggestions you get.

While some people are looking for specific companies, it seems most turn to Google when they’re in the early design stages. They’re on the hunt for ideas. Others still are looking for an app or software to help them begin the planning process; and that makes sense—it’s easier to commit to an expensive remodeling process if you’ve been able to run some scenarios in advance and are certain it’s worth it. And of course, because the home remodel process is expensive, you see questions about loans coming up close to the top as well.

From this one simple search, you now have a goldmine of information and lots of SEO and content ideas. Maybe write a post outlining how to budget for and finance renovations. Perhaps you can create a video showcasing your favorite free design tools where prospects can test out remodeling ideas.

You can also check out the “People also ask” box featured in the middle of the SERPs and the “Searches related to…” links at the bottom of the page for more ideas.

People also ask Google search result example home remodel

3. Keywords Everywhere Extension

While you’re on Google, why not check out what the Keywords Everywhere extension can tell you? Designed to work on Chrome and Firefox browsers, this extension will tell you even more about the search terms you enter.

Once you type in your search term, the extension will display related keywords on the Google page. It will also pull in Google advertising data, showing you the search volume, cost per click, and Ads competition.

4. YouTube Suggests

While YouTube is owned by Google, it’s still worthwhile to pop on over to their homepage to check out their autosuggests on your relevant keywords.

While the search term might be the same, the results you’ll get are often radically different. That’s because people use Google and YouTube in very different ways. Folks often turn to YouTube for tutorials and other types of content, which means you’ll get to see a whole other side of keyword possibilities by checking out autosuggestions on both Google and YouTube.

5. Wikipedia

Another angle to explore is everyone’s favorite online research tool: Wikipedia. Type in your keyword there, and you’ll find a table of contents at the top of the page. This gives you a whole new list of ways to explore your client’s area of expertise. Take again the home remodel example.

The table of contents on home improvement dives into the reasons one may undertake a home renovation project. Perhaps there’s a way for you to build out content around each of these areas. Create a podcast episode around energy-saving renovations, with information about replacing windows, updating insulation, and walking listeners through alternative energy sources, like solar and geothermal. Write a blog post about how to incorporate safety and emergency preparedness measures into a home improvement project, from fire and burglary alarm systems to back up generators that supply power during an outage.

6. Answer the Public

When you’re looking for popular questions related to your search term, I suggest you check out Answer the Public. Simply type in your search term on the homepage, and the tool will create a visual representation of related questions and phrases, and will even provide you with an alphabetical list of related terms.

7. Analyze All Existing Content and Create Your Hub Pages

Once you’ve done your keyword research, it’s time to take a look at the content you already have. How does that content align with the relevant keywords you found along the way? Are there ways to tweak the content to speak more directly to searchers’ intent? Are there gaps in the content you can fill with new content that will better address those most relevant search terms?

From here, you can begin to build out hub pages. These pages serve as the go-to guides on a given topic, and it’s easy to hone in on the best topics for hub pages once you’ve done your keyword research and understand what people are really searching for when they research your industry or field. Hub pages have major benefits from both an SEO and content perspective, so creating a handful of effective hub pages should be the ultimate goal of your keyword research.

Keyword research is never done in a vacuum. Great keyword research is at the heart of strong SEO and content creation strategies. It will drive your editorial calendar creation and help you get ranking in SERPs. By following the steps above, you’ll be sure to cover all of your bases and give yourself the greatest shot at happening upon unique keywords that can help you get noticed in a crowded marketplace.

How to Get High-Quality Backlinks

How to Get High-Quality Backlinks written by Jenna Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Getting backlinks can seem like a daunting task. How do you get other businesses to link to your site online?

If you don’t have any backlinks yet you can get up and running pretty quickly by tapping your existing partners and resources within your community. Things like the local chamber of commerce online listings, alumni directories for the founders’ schools, and church and community directories are great places to start. This is the low-hanging fruit, and getting these backlinks set up is a great way to ease into the next steps in a backlink strategy.

Once you’ve established those links, it’s time to move onto more advanced tactics. Gathering more backlinks should be an ongoing effort, and if you’re looking for legitimate ways to get backlinks, these are the best way to do it.

Research Competitors Backlinks

Start by investigating your competitors. Where are they getting backlinks? Are they in industry databases or local publications that list providers in their city? Once you’ve discovered these additional places where you can be listed, it’s sometimes as easy as filling out a simple form to get your business listed.

A comprehensive SEO tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs can help you research your existing backlinks as well as the links your competitors have acquired.

Update Existing Content

Hopefully, you already have some content on your site. Sometimes, there’s an opportunity to restructure or refresh the content you already have in order to generate backlinks.

Do you have any blog posts that list providers or tools that are helpful for your readers? Take a look through the list and add some new businesses onto these lists. Then, reach out to these businesses to let them know their service or tool has been featured; they’ll want to let their customers know that they got a shout-out on an outside site, and so you’ll likely get a backlink from them.

Submit Guest Posts

Guest blogging has long been a popular, more advanced way to get backlinks. Reaching out to relevant sites and writing a guest post on their blog is a great way to get links. However, over the years the trend of guest posting has waned a bit, so it’s now more difficult to get a guest blogging gig.

It’s worth the try, though! Put together a targeted list of blogs and publications that would be a solid fit for a strategic partner for your business. Write a compelling, error-free pitch email, outlining the topics you could write about and why it would bring real value to their audience. Tailor your pitch to each blog’s specific audience, and take the time to research who you’re emailing so that you can send a personalized message. Finally, feel free to follow up with your contact in a respectful way if you don’t hear back initially.

Join a Podcast

While guest blogging seems to be falling out of favor, guest podcasting is my new favorite way to get backlinks. Just like with guest blogging, guest podcasting is great because it allows you to tap into the existing audience of the brand of the podcast you’re appearing on.

And there’s an additional benefit that guest blogging doesn’t have: It’s very little additional work. While writing a blog post requires research, writing, editing, and selecting photos and relevant emails, when you are a guest on a podcast, you simply show up and talk about what you do every day. You’re an expert in your field, and you can speak comfortably on your topic with little preparation. And with most podcasts, you can call in from wherever you are to speak with the host, so within the 30 minutes or so that it takes to do the interview, you have generated great backlinks.

A service such as Podcast Bookers can get you set up a pitched to podcasts very quickly.

Write up a Report

While it’s sometimes challenging to convince others to let you guest blog, if you have exclusive research to share, you can capture everyone’s attention. Offering up research is a great way to get media links and to even open guest blogging doors.

Yes, exclusive research takes time. However, if you are able to partner with one of your existing business relationships, you can both reap the benefits and halve the work. You and your strategic partner can tap into your networks to find people to interview for the research. Then divide and conquer when it comes to assembly the data and creating visually-appealing ways to share it.

Connect in New Content

How can you get attention and backlinks for new content you create? Mentioning relevant influencers, community members, or others in your posts is a great way to get re-shares on new content.

Of course, you shouldn’t just stuff names into posts for the sake of name dropping. Make sure that the people you’re mentioning are relevant to what you’re writing about. For example, let’s say you are a home remodeling business. Consider pulling together a series of posts featuring families you’ve done work for. If there’s anyone that’s a pillar of the community who they’ve worked with, ask if they’d be willing to be featured. Let’s say you helped the former mayor remodel her kitchen—ask her if she’d be willing to talk about the process and share how her new and improved kitchen has bettered her life.

Once the post goes live, let the person know and ask them to re-share with their network and followers.

Publish a Press Releases

With all of these new digital marketing tactics, it’s possible to forget about those tried-and-true methods. But press releases are still a great way to get attention and backlinks! Are you launching a new product or opening a new location? Did you make a big, announcement-worthy hire? Are you participating in a local community event? There are plenty of reasons you might write a press release.

If you need a refresher on how to write an effective press release, check out this guest post on our Duct Tape Marketing blog.

Link Out

This is a long-game approach to getting backlinks, but it’s worth the effort. When you’re creating content, link out to tools and resources you genuinely like and think are helpful. If you’re featuring a specific tool or mentioning an individual person, you can email the business or person to let them know. But it’s good practice to include external links in every post, and many of those external links don’t warrant an email to the source.

However, it’s likely that the source is doing exactly what you’re doing: monitoring your online presence. They’ll see an alert that they’ve been linked out to, and that simple thing such as a link can get your brand on their radar screen. While they might not shout out that piece of content or link back to them right away, there may come a time in the future where they’re looking for a link to share that’s relevant to your client’s business, and it’s your site that they’ll turn to.

It’s important for you to build up a repository of backlinks. It matters for SEO ranking and your online reputation, and the more mentions you can get across the web, the more likely you are to win the attention of a new audience. But just as important as quantity is quality. A great marketing strategy can help you gather backlinks that are relevant to your business.

The 3 Essential SEO Tools for Any Marketing Consultant

The 3 Essential SEO Tools for Any Marketing Consultant written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

To manage a strong SEO strategy, you need to keep a lot of balls in the air. From comprehensive keyword research to keeping tabs on the competition to tracking backlinks, you need a great set of tools to help you manage it all.

We use a suite of tools to help us manage the many facets of SEO. These three are the ones we use every single day to stay on top of SEO for our clients and ourselves!

Best Overall SEO Tool: SEMrush

SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO platform with dozens of tools and crystal-clear reporting, and that’s why we’ve partnered with them.

SEO can quickly get confusing. You’re running multiple reports, and when it’s across a handful of platforms, you can lose track of the through-line on your data. Because SEMrush has so many features and services all under one roof, it makes keeping track of your reports and data much simpler.

SEMrush offers the following tools and reports:

  • Domain Analytics: This includes an overview, organic and paid research, backlinks, traffic analytics, display advertising, and PLA research. Plus, you can look at domain versus domain and overall ranking.
  • Keyword Analytics: From their keyword manager to the keyword magic tool, you can do a deep dive into existing keywords and look for new ones that could net major benefits.
  • Marketing Insights: These include traffic rankings and analytics, providing insights into your audience, their geographic location, and what pages people are finding through which channels (direct, search, or social media).
  • Gap Analysis: To identify gaps in keywords or backlinks, you can compare your domain against competitors’ to see where there’s overlap and where you can move out ahead of the competition.
  • Topic Research: Enter any content topic and get a list of ideas for titles based on what competitors have already published on their sites.
  • SEO Content Template: By entering a set of keywords you’d like to use in a particular piece of content, SEMrush will give you tips on how to optimize for those keywords, based on the current content landscape on Google.
  • SEO Writing Assistant: This tool will analyze your writing for SEO, readability, tone of voice, and originality.
  • Lead Generation Tool: SEMrush’s site audit widget allows you to add their code to your website. Prospects will have the option to audit their website content for free, and a report will be delivered from you to their inbox. This helps marketing consultants drum up new leads.
  • Listing Management: Distribute business information, manage reviews, and keep all local listings pages current.
  • CPC Map: See CPC broken down state-by-state, and industry-by-industry. Plus, see CPC cost versus demand for each industry.
  • Projects: This is key for marketing consultants; you can save and manage your clients’ SEO data from the projects dashboard.

As you can see, SEMrush has you covered, no matter what kind of SEO research or work you’re trying to do. It’s still best practice to use Google Search Console for each of your clients, but Google Search Console requires that you link up to each individual client’s website. With the projects feature on SEMrush, you can easily switch between SEO reports for all of your clients.

Best Tool for End-to-End Tracking: CallRail

SEO only happens online, right? Not quite. While your standing in SERPs is determined by your online presence, the effects of a strong SEO strategy ripple out into the real world. Once people discover a business online and decide they like what they see, they often reach out offline. This is particularly true for small and local businesses, where the phone is often the first point of offline contact between a prospect and your employees.

CallRail is a tool that gives you insight into where call traffic is coming from. Basically, the tool allows you to insert a line of code into your website so that you can clearly see the link between offline and online interactions with prospects. You can also create specific phone numbers that are associated with each ad campaign you run. Then, when you get a call to a certain number, you know that prospect learned about you from that particular ad. They apply the same technology to form submissions, so that you can clearly see the connection between behavior in completing forms online and in-person interactions.

CallRail features

An overview of CallRail’s features, as outlined on their website.

Why does this matter? First and foremost, it provides you additional insight into your marketing efforts. When you’re only tracking online responses to ad campaigns, you’re only getting half the story. Perhaps you craft a campaign that’s so compelling, multiple readers flock to their phones to call your client. If you’re only tracking online reactions, you might think you’re getting crickets in response, when in reality the campaign was so successful people jumped right to making contact with the business.

Which leads to the second point about the importance of call tracking. It allows you to demonstrate your full value to clients. When they can see that your marketing tactics led to X number of clients calling their store, they feel more comfortable in paying you the rate you deserve for your work.

Best Tool for Local SEO: BrightLocal

What works for Walmart’s or Salesforce’s SEO strategy will never apply to a local business. Local SEO comes with its own unique set of tactics and strategies, and BrightLocal is a tool designed to address those local marketing needs.

Some of their SEO tools overlap with SEMrush’s offerings. They provide information on keywords and search ranking, but the difference is that all of their reports and information is localized. So if you have a client operating out of the St. Louis area, all of the data BrightLocal provides will be related to that geographical area.

Plus, they have tools that are focused specifically on two of the biggest SEO hurdles for small businesses: local listings and reviews.

Local listings sites like Yelp and Google My Business are critically important to a small business’s survival. That’s where prospects go to learn about local solutions, read reviews, and get directions and contact information. BrightLocal makes it easy for you to make sure your client is listed on all of the relevant local directories, which gives them a boost in backlinks and ensures that they’re discoverable by those prospects who rely exclusively on local listings, rather than general Google searches, to find local businesses.

BrightLocal reputation management dashboard

A screenshot from BrightLocal’s website, featuring a sample version of their reputation management dashboard.

They also make reputation management easier. Online reviews are particularly critical for small businesses. With a household name brand, people usually already have a sense of whether they’re well-regarded by others. For local businesses without the name recognition, though, people will go online to see what the general consensus from existing customers is about the business. If your client doesn’t have a strategy for soliciting reviews from happy customers or managing negative feedback from unhappy ones, BrightLocal can help you stay on top of all reviews posted across various local listings sites.

Handling SEO for yourself or one client is hard enough. When you’re managing SEO for multiple businesses, things can get unwieldy, fast. When you have the right tools on hand, though, it’s much easier to manage the many moving parts that come along with creating a great SEO strategy.

Why Obtaining Backlinks is a Lot Like Networking

Why Obtaining Backlinks is a Lot Like Networking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Obtaining backlinks is an important part of building out your SEO strategy. When you have a fair number of backlinks from reputable sites, it signals to Google that your site is reputable, too. By establishing yourself as a trustworthy presence on the web, you’ll find your pages getting prioritized in Google’s rankings, ahead of your competitors that are relative unknowns in the Googleverse.

But the prospect of having to round up backlinks can be intimidating. How do you get people to link out to your content, anyway? Well, in many ways, it’s a lot like networking. Here, I’ll show you how to apply your existing networking skills to your backlink building efforts.

Start with Your Best Customers

When you send a new LinkedIn request, is it easier to write to your former colleague, or to cold-message a total stranger? The person who already knows and likes you in real life is a lot more likely to respond favorably to your networking request.

The same is true in the world of backlink building. If yours is a local business, turn to some of your most valued customers. Are they members of local communities where you can ask them to spread the word about your business?

Perhaps you own a dry cleaning business, and some of your regular customers are all members at the same church. Consider asking if they’ll include you in the church’s directory, which features local businesses that can help members prepare for special events at the church, like holidays or ceremonies (where they might be wearing their best dress or suit and need a dry cleaner after the fact).

Offer Something in Return

Once you’ve spoken with your customers, take a look at the list of businesses in your community with whom you’ve already established a strategic partnership. If you’re a local contractor, do you have an architect who you typically work with? Maybe you run a coffee shop that sells pastries from the local bakery. Anyone who’s an existing partner or supplier is a potential backlink-sharer!

Whatever the case may be, ask this business if they’re willing to link to your site from their site. And then offer to do the same for them. It’s a win-win, and another smart way to gain mutual benefit from your existing relationship.

Sponsor Local Events

Local events are a great way to get your name out there in the community. It shows that you’re invested in the town or city where you’ve decided to open up shop, and having your name attached to a good cause never hurt any small business!

When you sponsor a local event or donate to the cause, that’s a great opportunity to ask the event host to link back to your website. If you’re one of the event hosts, ask if they’ll include you logo on their homepage and link to your site from there. If you donated an item to their silent auction or provided a food booth free of charge, it’s fair to ask for a shout-out on the event webpage.

Take Advantage of Existing Networks

Beyond your personal relationships with people in the community, it’s likely that you’re already a part of certain local networks. Maybe you’re an alumni of the nearby college or private high school. Perhaps you joined the local Chamber of Commerce when you started your business.

Most of these existing networks are already doing outreach within their spheres. Your alma mater likely has a newsletter featuring class notes that highlight their graduates’ accomplishments. Your local Chamber of Commerce probably has a directory of businesses who are members or are part of the local community. Make sure that your business is listed in the resources that are maintained by these existing networks!

Get Mentioned in the Media

Local press releases are another great way to build up backlinks. Start by establishing a relationship with the people at your local publications. When you have a newsworthy event—say, you want to announce the grand opening of a new location or you just hosted your first-ever Halloween festival for local children—reach out to the person who handles business news or events at the local paper.

Take the time to research and find out their name, rather than sending a “To whom it may concern” email. If you didn’t know them before, that personalized touch can go a long way to getting your message noticed. Attach your press release, and rather than focusing on what getting published could do for you, provide a brief explanation of why the story would be of interest to the community. Finally, be sure to include links to your website within the press release, so that you can obtain backlinks when they post it on their online publication.

Building up backlinks is an essential part of a strong SEO strategy. And while it can seem intimidating at first, if you think of it as an extension of your existing networking efforts, it suddenly becomes less scary! Tapping into the relationships you already have within your community can help you quickly build up the backlinks you need to gain credibility with Google and other search engines.

Basics of On Page SEO

Basics of On Page SEO written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

A great SEO strategy is focused on getting your entire website to rank well. Rather than using generic keywords across all of your pages, you can tailor your SEO page-by-page, giving each individual webpage the best shot at performing well in SERPs.

That’s what on page SEO is all about. When you focus on these SEO elements on each page of your website, you can spread the SEO wealth and work to get multiple pages ranking for specific, targeted keywords. Here are the elements of on page SEO that every business should be thinking about.

Create a Legible URL

Every URL on your website should be short, sweet, and keyword-rich. Establishing the keywords for your homepage and main product pages are usually straightforward. Your homepage will likely be your business name. Your product pages might feature the names of the specific products. Your contact page should say just that in the URL.

Things sometimes get a bit more complicated when you’re creating URLs for content pages. How do you name each blog post? What’s the best URL for your latest podcast episode? The same basic principles apply here.

Keep the URLs as short as possible. Write them in plain english, avoiding number or letter sequences that might represent dates or mean something to your team behind the scenes, but that will read as gibberish to an outsider. And include relevant keywords in a way that makes sense. Don’t simply stuff keywords into URLs for the sake of hitting an arbitrary keyword goalpost.

Craft a Keyword-Rich Title

Each page on your website should also have its own title. Don’t get your title confused with your blog post headline; they’re two different things. Your headline is what appears at the top of your post, whereas your title is an attribute that affects your search engine ranking.

A title is the blue header that appears in Google search results, so you want it to be matter-of-fact and contain a relevant keyword early on. While blog post headlines should be created to entice the reader and draw them in, your title should cut right to the chase. What is this page about? The title will be read by both human prospects and customers as well as Google’s robots, which are looking to understand the content of your page.

There are a number of tools out there designed to help you create an effective SEO title for each of your website’s pages. If yours is a WordPress site, I’d highly recommend the Yoast plugin.

Write an Enticing Description

Your description is the other half of your SERPs metadata. While your title is the blue link that Google searchers click on to travel to your page, the description is the blurb underneath that gives them more information about what they can expect to find on the page.

As I said above, your title should be matter-of-fact; it’s the description where you can get creative and really work to draw the reader in. I like to think of descriptions as an ad for the page itself. In SEO strategies of yore, people tried to stuff as many keywords into descriptions as possible, thinking they’d trick the search engines into ranking the page higher based on their keyword-heavy word salad.

In reality, it’s the descriptions that are written for your audience, not search engine bots, that will win out. When your descriptions draw readers in, they click on the blue link. And actual attention from real readers is better than sneaky attempts to cram keywords in where they shouldn’t be.

Descriptions are another metadata component that the Yoast plugin can help with. The plugin allows you to change the description for each page, so that you’re not stuck with generic information that Google pulls from your site.

Include SEO Elements in Images

Images can do more than add visual interest to your website. By doing a little bit of behind-the-scenes work on your images, you can put them to work for your SEO strategy.

Whenever you include an image on your website, give the file a keyword rich title. If you run a lawn care business and are including a photo of a garden you worked on, rather than leaving the image file as the date the photo was taken, change it to something like “[Business name] garden care Denver Colorado.”

The same approach should be taken when including Alt text on images. Alt text is designed to help search engines understand what an image is about. A rich Alt text description that includes relevant keywords is yet another way to signal to search engines just what this specific page on your website is about.

Focus on H1 Headings

When you think about how you want to organize your on-page content, you should consider both human and robot audiences.

Think about how to divide the content up in a way that makes it easy for readers to understand. Let’s return to the lawn care company example. Say you’re writing a blog post about how to eliminate common lawn and garden pests. Before you write the post, create an outline. Where do you need to start when it comes to explaining this topic? What basics should you include for those who know nothing about lawn care? Consider the most sensible order in which to present the information.

With the lawn pest example, maybe you start by outlining signs a reader’s lawn might have a problem, with descriptions and photos to help them figure out just what kind of pest might be causing their particular issue. Then, you can detail specific courses of treatment for each type of pest.

Once you’ve decided how to divide up your content for reader usability, you want to think about how to organize that information in an SEO-friendly manner. Your headline should become an H1 heading. Your sub-points should be H2 headings, and bullet points can help organize information under each subcategory. While this strategy for organizing content makes it easier for readers to skim and settle on the information they’re looking for, it also helps Google to better understand your content.

Include Internal and External Links

A well-optimized page will include both internal and external links. Including internal links to other pages with relevant content can help Google to better understand how all of your content is related. When you include internal links, make sure the anchor text has keywords in it. That can boost your rankings with search engines.

Some people are hesitant to include external links on their site. Won’t that just drive traffic away from me and to someone else’s business? In reality, high-authority external links create a better user experience and are good for SEO. When you can draw a connection between your brand and a well-established and respected business’s page, it benefits you in the eyes of both your prospects and search engines’ algorithms.

On page SEO is a critical component in your overall SEO strategy. It’s all well and good to have broad SEO goals for your site, but you also want to optimize each page individually to give it the greatest chance at standing out in SERPS in its specific area of focus.

The Most Useful Ways To Utilize Google Search Console

The Most Useful Ways To Utilize Google Search Console written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Even if you don’t have much marketing experience, you understand how critical a presence on Google is to getting your business name out there. It’s the world’s largest search engine, and it’s often the place people go to discover new brands that can solve the problem they’re facing.

All of this to say that how and where you appear in Google search results matters. If you want to develop a better understanding of your business’s presence on the search engine, you must set up your Google Search Console account.

This free tool is designed to help you measure traffic to your site, understand where people are coming from and what they’re searching to find you, plus fix issues that are holding you back from putting your best foot forward in search results.

Let me walk you through the specific features of Google Search Console, so that you understand how to use the tool to its greatest effect.

Submit Your Sitemap

When you’re creating a new website—or making major changes to your existing site—you need to introduce this new site to Google. Google will only consider displaying your site in their search results once they understand what your site is about, and the way that Google comes to know the content of your site is through crawling and indexing.

Basically, Google has robots that crawl each site, looking for keywords, content, links, errors, and any other information that can help them understand what a website is about and whether or not it will be a helpful site for their users. From there, it indexes your site; essentially, it adds you to their roster of sites they might display in search results.

Google will eventually index all sites on the internet, but by uploading your sitemap to your Google Search Console platform, you can fast track the indexing process for your site. While Google might happen upon your site a few days after it’s been uploaded or overhauled, sharing your sitemap within Google Search Console cuts that indexing time down to a few hours.

Find Crawl Errors

While Google is crawling your website, they’ll be on the lookout for errors. If your site is sprinkled with broken links, 404 errors, or shows signs of having been hacked, Google will punish your website in SERPs. They’ll infer that your site will likely be unhelpful for searchers, and so they’ll move you down the results page (or omit you altogether).

Sometimes, though, there are errors on your site that you don’t even know about! If you’ve been in business for a while and have a website with dozens or hundreds of pages, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and the like, it’s hard to keep on top of finding broken links and 404 errors in that maze of content.

Similarly, hackers can basically piggyback on your website, without you knowing, and use your domain name to host their own spammy or dangerous content. This happens outside the bounds of your own website’s backend, so it’s impossible for you to see the hack through your WordPress site or other hosting platform.

Fortunately, with a Google Search Console account, you’re able to access all of the information about errors that Google finds on your site. They share a list of the issues with your pages, so that you’re able to go in and fix anything that’s causing Google to penalize your page.

Understand Query Keyword Ranking Data

Knowing how and where you rank on Google for certain search terms is vital information for a business owner to have. When you understand what search terms are leading real people to your website, you can tailor your existing content to better address their needs and create all new content designed to rank for search terms you’d like to be seen for.

Google Search Console is the place to see how you actually rank in Google. It will show you real search terms that led consumers to various pages of your site. Not only that, it will give you an assessment of your average ranking for that term.

For those pages that are ranking on the first page of SERPs (basically, anything that falls within the 1-10 ranking range), you know you’ve done some great SEO work. The content is strong, and the metadata and descriptions are enticing users to click on the content.

For pages that are ranking on that second page of SERPs, you know you’re almost there. Armed with this information, you can begin to tweak your approach on these pages. Maybe the on-page content itself is great, but the meta description needs work to draw readers in. Or perhaps you can add a video to accompany the existing content that will keep readers on the page longer and encourage them to move onto other pages on your site.

Discover Click Through Rate

Your click through rate (CTR) is a ranking factor on Google. If you have a great ranking for your page but a low CTR, Google might punish you in rankings. Any page that’s ranking within the first five links should have a CTR of between seven and 10. Anything lower than that indicates that the page’s content is useful, but for some reason people aren’t clicking through to it in search results.

Armed with information about results ranking and CTR, you can better identify the issue with your content. In the case of a high ranking page with low CTR, you know the issue isn’t the page itself. Once people land on the page, they’re loving the content—that’s how your page ended up ranking so well in the first place.

But the low CTR indicates that something’s off with the content as it displays on Google SERPs. Maybe the title isn’t compelling or doesn’t accurately describe what readers find on the page. Maybe the metadata and description are misleading. Whatever the case may be, you know to focus on that aspect of SEO, rather than wasting time trying to optimize the page itself.

Get Definitive Answer About Backlinks

Backlinks are another ranking factor. When your website is cited on other sites, Google infers that yours is a trustworthy page that is an authority in your area of expertise. These are major signals that you’ve got a useful website, which will in turn give you a boost in your SERPs ranking.

While there are other tools out there that can estimate your backlink status, Google is able to give you the definitive answer. Using Google Search Console, you can see exactly where your website is linked to elsewhere on the internet.

From there, you can work to build out more backlinks strategically, or even ask to remove links that are harmful for your site (more on that next).

Disavow Links

Sometimes your content can end up on strange websites. I’ve seen instances where clients’ content was shared by weird, seedy websites. While you want to build up backlinks, you want them to be with reputable companies and on websites that are related to your industry or field. Backlinks on untrustworthy sites can actually be toxic for your online presence.

Once you’ve seen where your site is linked to, you can submit a disavow list via Google Search Console to remove your backlinks from unsavory sites. Keeping your business’s online presence clean is a key part of managing your online reputation and ensuring you continue to rank well.

Eliminate Duplicate Content

Google will punish websites that have duplicate content across their pages. In some cases, this duplication is necessary (like if you have the same content on your standard webpage and then have the exact same content on a printer-friendly page). However, duplicate content can theoretically be used for nefarious purposes, so Google flags all large chunks of duplicate content as suspicious.

Through Google Search Console, you can see what content Google has taken issue with on your site. From there, you can either remove the duplicate content, or take steps to consolidate your duplicate URLs.

Google Search Console is a powerful tool that allows business owners a behind-the-scenes look at how Google is assessing their website. Using this information, you can optimize your online presence to address Google’s concerns, create content that resonates with your ideal customer, and ensure that your site is achieving its greatest ranking potential.

5 Ways to Get More SEO Bang for Your Buck

5 Ways to Get More SEO Bang for Your Buck written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 5 Ways to Get More SEO Bang for Your Buck

Every business needs SEO. If you’re a consultant or marketing agency, every single one of your clients is looking for you to get them results. They want to show up in search engine rankings—and not just show up anywhere, but rank competitively so that they get noticed by new audiences.

For experienced marketers, SEO isn’t complicated or difficult. We all know that there are certain things we need to do, like creating a website with the proper structure and implementing a content plan. Once you’ve covered the basics, you want to take your efforts to the next level so that you can really deliver for your clients.

These five techniques can help you take what your clients already have and turn it into even more valuable SEO fuel.

1. Optimize Your Old Content

Many business owners have produced lots of content over the years. If your client has been blogging for 15 years, there’s a ton of valuable content to tap into! The key is to go back and re-optimize that older content. Removing broken links, getting rid of outdated resources, and updating to be relevant for today’s audience is a great way to give your client’s existing content a boost.

This is also an opportunity for you to link to newer internal content. If your client has since created several explainer videos on the topic, plus a great podcast episode, why not include links to this newer material?

2. Embrace New Formats

Today, content is about so much more than blog posts. And fortunately a format like video can help you create exponentially more content in the same amount of time.

Take, for example, what I’m doing with this podcast. I’m actually recording this as a video, and will pull the audio separately to create the podcast episode that you’re listening to now. I’ll also create a blog post to accompany this episode. That means that in about ten minutes of work, I’ve suddenly created content in three separate formats (video, audio, and written word).

3. Add Video to Your Pages

Speaking of video, if your client doesn’t already have video on their website, now is the time to include content in this popular format. Not only are people more eager than ever to consume content in video format, video also helps increase your ranking with the search engines.

One of the ranking factors for Google and other search engines is dwell time (essentially, how long a visitor stays on a given web page). Longer dwell times lead search engines to infer that the content on the given page is relevant to the viewer, which they reward by giving you a boost in SERPs.

I’ve noticed on our site that pages that have video embedded on them encourage people to stick around. Visitors usually stay on these pages one to two minutes longer than pages lacking video. Even if they don’t watch the entire video, a video clip that can hold their attention for even 30 seconds will keep them on the page for longer than blocks of text would.

4. Get on Podcasts

I’ve talked before about the SEO benefits of guest podcasting. Lately, there has been a shift away from guest blogging and towards guest podcasting. Lots of businesses have started podcasts, and they’re hungry for guests to fill those episodes. Why not get your client on relevant shows?

Guest podcasting is great for a number of reasons. The time commitment is minimal; in 20 minutes of talking, you can create an entire episode. Plus, since you’re a guest, it’s up to the podcast host to edit the episode and do all of the behind-the-scenes work.

Podcasters are happy to link to your client’s website, ebooks, and other resources. This creates backlinks for their site, which are an important external element in building reputation and SEO. Plus, the podcaster will promote the episode through their networks and channels, bringing additional exposure to your client.

5. Collaborate with Clients to Produce Content

The final step to boosting your client’s SEO is a bit more involved, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Each month, work with one of your clients to produce content. This could be a video or podcast interview on your own site, a case study, a co-created survey, or just about anything else you can dream up.

Put together a package of content featuring and partnering with your clients. Through this process, you’ll generate backlinks and great content for both of you. Collaborating with your clients is great for strengthening your relationship with them, plus it can help you close more deals for yourself!

Prospects love to see examples, case studies, and the like. Co-created content touches on all of those elements. And when you’re producing and promoting your own content, you’re showing off your marketing prowess to potential clients.

As a marketer, you understand how to nail down the basics of SEO. When you’re ready to take things to the next level, these five steps are a great place to start. By amplifying your client’s existing efforts, you’re getting the most out of each piece of content they create and generating great SEO results with less heavy lifting.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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What to Pay Attention to in Google Search Console

What to Pay Attention to in Google Search Console written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Are you using Google Search Console for your business? If not, now is the time to verify your domain so that you can dive into the mountains of useful data available to you through Console’s reports.

Because there is a lot of valuable data to sort through, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re new to the platform. Don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through all the most important reports, filters, and numbers to pay attention to.

Search Analytics Report

You should get things started with the Search Analytics Report. This will give you valuable information about how your site performs in Google searches. You can slice and dice this data in a number of different ways, but these are the most important elements to consider.

Impressions

Impressions measures how many times your site came up in a search result. Now, there are no qualifiers on this number—Google will count any appearance as an impression, even if your site was on the tenth page of SERPs and likely wasn’t actually seen by the searcher.

Still, this number can give you a general sense of how broad an audience your site is reaching, and it can help you set realistic goals as you try to get noticed by more people.

Clicks

Clicks represent the number of times someone clicked on your website from the Google SERPs. This number can be a bit of a misnomer because Google doesn’t tell you about all of your clicks—they’re vague about why this is, but cite some privacy concerns. However, like with impressions, clicks can give you a general sense of interest in your website coming through search results.

Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. This number can help give you a sense of how relevant your pages are for certain search terms. A high CTR means that the title and description for your page are grabbing the attention of searchers. But don’t stress if you have a low CTR; because some impressions are for searches where you were on page 10 of results, this number is not always indicative of a poorly optimized meta description.

Position

Position is all about where your page ranks in search results. Each page of Google’s organic results has 10 links, so if your position number is 10 or lower, that means your website is displaying on the first page of search results.

Search Query Report

The Search Analytics Report can help you understand how your site stacks up against competitors on results pages. The Search Query Report, on the other hand, helps you see how people are finding your site in the first place.

This report is valuable because it tells you the real-world terms, questions, and phrases that your pages are ranking for. Sometimes there are some real surprises in here, and knowing what customers are actually keying into Google can help you refine your SEO and even tweak your products and services to better address their real needs.

Go Landing Page by Landing Page

One of the major benefits of Google Search Console is that it allows you to break all of this data out by individual landing pages. You can see what search terms are ranking for each individual page, which is hugely valuable.

If you have a low CTR for a given page, it might mean a few things. Either your title and meta description aren’t compelling, your SEO is off and you’re ranking for a term that doesn’t really make sense for the query, or the term is general (and therefore competitive) and you need to find a better way to stand out.

On the flip side, a high CTR can tell you that you’ve struck gold. Maybe this isn’t a term you thought would speak to customers, but something about it is obviously resonating and getting results. Once you see the term that the landing page is ranking for, what else can you do to make the content on that page even more relevant to that search term? And are there ways to tailor other pages on your website to speak more directly to the intent behind this term?

Find and Fix Errors

The mobile usability and crawl reports on Google Search Console are also helpful for identifying issues with your website and making it more user-friendly.

Mobile usability allows you to see which pages on your site don’t perform well on mobile. Maybe elements are jumbled or the type is too small; whatever the case, the site is not well suited to smaller devices. Once you know that, you can make a fix (which is important, because the majority of searches today start on mobile devices).

The crawl report allows you to understand what Google sees when it crawls your website. Google crawls websites to learn what the site is about, and the information that they find on their crawl affects how you rank in their results. If your site is difficult to crawl, you could be falling behind on rankings even if your website content looks great to the human eye. Use this report to make your site as appealing as possible to the Google computers that are indexing websites to give your site the best shot at ranking well.

Google Search Console is one of the most powerful tools available to small business owners. Unfortunately, some are unaware of its benefits or are intimidated by the wealth of data it provides. However, when you know which reports to run and which numbers to look out for, it can completely transform your approach to SEO and marketing.

5 Steps to Effective Keyword Research

5 Steps to Effective Keyword Research written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

If you want to rank well in search results, you have to undertake keyword research. This is the process of researching the search terms that users actually enter into search engines.

The way that you think about the solution your business offers might be different from the way a prospect thinks about their problem they’re looking to solve. This disconnect can lead you down the wrong keyword path and keep you from finding the most interested prospects.

That’s why keyword research is so critical. It gives you real-world knowledge, which empowers you to show up in the right searches. Not sure where to start? Here are my five steps to effective keyword research.

1. Brainstorm on Your Own

Any good research project grounded in the scientific method, begins with listing out your hypotheses. Brainstorm a list of the words, terms, and questions you think people are searching for when they’re looking for your business or the type of solution you offer.

These may be terms that are related to what you do or sell, they may be based on your location, or they may be questions people could have about your area of expertise.

Let’s say you’re an electrician in the New York metropolitan area. What are the kinds of things people who need an electrician might search for? They might have a question like, “How do I install a hanging light fixture?” They might also search for your services more directly, using the phrase, “electrician near me.” Or maybe it’s something more specific to the kind of service you offer, such as, “same day service electrician NYC.”

Once you’ve come up with your own list, ask your team to do some thinking, too. They might have a different perspective that opens you up to terms you wouldn’t have hit upon on your own.

2. Let the Googling Begin!

Next, you want to open things up to the broader world. You can start getting a sense of how people actually search by going to Google and seeing how it auto-completes your terms.

Sometimes you find something interesting or unexpected. Going back to the electrician example, say you type “lighting installation” into Google. What you find as you begin to type in the search term is that two of the suggestions are about lighting inside cabinets. Perhaps you were thinking of that as more of a niche request, but it actually seems like a pretty popular search term. If this is a service you offer, maybe you want to think more deeply about trying to rank for that term.

You should also check what search terms you already rank for using Google Search Console. This will help you identify the terms that are working for you and how you can improve them further.

3. Narrow it Down

Now that you have a healthy list of potential terms, you want to create your short list. Ideally, these are approximately five foundational phrases and eight to ten long-tail phrases.

The foundational phrases speak to the heart of what your business does. These are the keywords that you want associated with your home page and with specific landing pages related to your most popular offerings or areas of expertise.

How you select the foundational keywords should be strategic. They can’t be too narrow (that’s what the long-tail keywords are for), but going too general means that it will be harder to rank for that term. Returning to the electrician example, “electrician” is likely too broad, but “electrician with expertise in kitchen appliance installation in NYC with quick turnaround time” is likely too narrow. Aiming for something in between the two, like “same day NYC electrician,” is best.

Long-tail keywords are about intent. The person who Googles “NYC electrician” likely has a different intent than the person who Googles “how to install recessed lighting.” With long-tail keywords, you want to target the second type of search, one with a clear intent and specific problem. These keywords will link up to detailed, related content you have on your website. In the above example, that might be a blog post or explainer video about the work involved and costs associated with installing overhead lighting.

4. Use Google’s Keyword Planner

Now that you have a list of 15 or so search terms, you want to run them through the Google Keyword Planner. This is a free tool that allows you to check the popularity of the keywords on your list, find new keywords you hadn’t thought of, and get bid estimates.

At this point in your process, nothing should be set in stone. You might find that one of the keywords on your list is highly competitive (and therefore costly), so it might be back to the drawing board. Alternatively, you might happen upon a great keyword you hadn’t thought of on your own—don’t hesitate to throw that into the mix.

The thing about keyword research is that it’s an ever-evolving process. Once you do select your final keywords, you should revisit your Google Search Console once a month to see how things are going. If you find that one of your keywords remains unsuccessful month-over-month, replace it with something else.

5. Aligning Your Keywords with Content

As I said earlier, these keywords are page specific. While you want to use your broadest keywords on your homepage, you can get more granular on the other pages of your website.

That being said, you want to make sure that the content on the page aligns with the keywords you’ve selected. For example, if you’re that electrician and you have the long-tail keyword “how to install recessed lighting” for one of your web pages, you better be sure there’s detailed information about recessed lighting front-and-center on that page! If someone clicks through a search result and finds information about appliance installation crowding out the top of the page, they’re going to be confused and frustrated. That’s not what they were looking for, so they’ll bounce right back to the SERP.

More broadly, you want to ensure that this content is the voice of your strategy. Yes, the keywords and content should line up, but the content should also speak to your larger strategic goals. If your business doesn’t make much money on installing recessed lighting and you’re trying to get away from offering those services, don’t include those keywords and content as a focus on your site, even if it is a popular search term. Or, if it is a popular search term, perhaps there’s a way for you to restructure your pricing and offerings to make that service more profitable for you so that you can meet the demand in the market.

As with all things in marketing, keyword research really about something much bigger than just picking out some search terms. An effective approach to the process will take your larger strategic goals into account and will help you to reach your broader business objectives. By being systematic about your keyword research approach, you can find the terms that give you the best shot at ranking with those prospects who are most in need of the products or services your business provides.