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How to Build A Website that Generates Leads

How to Build A Website that Generates Leads written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In today’s day and age, every business owner knows they must have an online presence to be competitive. But not everyone understands how to optimize that online presence. Your website is the heart of your business’s online existence, so ensuring that it’s designed to maximize lead generation is critical to securing long-term success for your company

How do you create a website that is easily found, catches a prospect’s eye, and keeps them around long enough to decide to give your product or service a try? Let’s take a deeper look at how to build a website that generates leads.

Make it Easy to Find

The obvious first place to start is in designing a site that is easy to find. You’re not going to generate any leads from a site that is in hiding.

The first step here is making sure that your domain name makes sense for your business. If you’re not able to secure your first choice, what are your alternatives? Pick a domain name is memorable, easy to spell, and is something prospects and clients will be able to easily associate with your company.

From there, you’ll want to keep track of how people are finding your site in order to understand which social channels are driving traffic and who’s talking about you online. You can then use that information to be more strategic about where you place your marketing efforts in order to drive traffic to your site.

And you mustn’t forget about SEO in this discussion. If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of Google results, you’re missing out on catching the eyes of a lot of prospects. Keyword research is a critical part of ensuring that your business is actually being found by people who are in the market for the goods and services you offer.

You’ll also want to undertake an SEO audit of your website to make sure that your current content isn’t hurting your search rankings. Screaming Frog offers services that allow you to check your website’s current SEO status: find broken links and crawl errors, analyze how existing pages rank for SEO terms, check site speed, and more.

Give Visitors a Way to Reach Out

When a visitor comes to your site and they like what they see, you want to be sure that you’re providing them with a clear, easy way to get more information from your business. Getting strategic about where and how you ask for information from prospects can help you to generate even more leads from your existing site.

The first step is to put forms on the pages that get the most traffic. Make sure that these forms ask for as little information as possible and that they auto-populate; bogging prospects down with a million questions is a surefire way to scare them off.

You’ll also want to be sure that the forms you create make sense in the context of the other information on a given page. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, don’t put a form offering a free white paper on website design on a page that’s about print work that you’ve done.

You should also provide users with as many ways to contact you as possible. Make your phone number and email address easy to find, and consider incorporating a chat function into your site’s design. No one wants to have to go on a search mission across all of your website just to find a way to ask you a simple question.

Build a Variety of Landing Pages

Creating highly specialized landing pages is one of the keys to generating more promising leads. In fact, research from HubSpot has shown that business with 30 or more landing pages on their website generate seven times more leads than those websites that only have one to five landing pages.

The best landing pages are those that keep it simple. Depending on where the traffic is coming from, you can create a specific messaging that speaks to that particular subset of your prospect population. Make sure that your succinctly outline the problem your business can solve, and that there’s a clear way for prospects to reach out—a call to action button or a simple form—and leave it at that.

Landing pages that are cluttered with too much information or that do not clearly demonstrate your company’s value proposition can leave prospects feeling confused and returning to their Google search to consider one of your competitors. If you’d like to see some examples from a variety of industries, HubSpot has some great ones here.

Create an Eye-Catching Homepage with a Clear CTA

While each of your specific landing pages should have tailored messaging and calls to action, you’ll also want to be sure that your homepage has a general call to action that serves as a catch-all for anyone who might want to learn more about your business.

This CTA shouldn’t be for a specific product or service; after all, this is the page on your website that the general population is most likely to see first, so you don’t want to single out only one of your numerous offerings on this page. Instead, give visitors the chance to learn more about your business. A CTA that asks prospects to subscribe to your newsletter or try your service for free are great ways to catch the attention of the widest swath of visitors possible.

Once you get to know these prospects better and have a deeper sense of where their specific interests lie, then you can begin to target them with more specific offers through email marketing and audience segmentation.

Use Content to Generate Leads

Having a website that’s filled with rich, valuable information is what will keep prospects on your site and entice them to come back for more. This means that your website needs to go beyond answering the basic question of how your business can solve a prospect’s problem. It must provide in-depth content on the topic that establishes your business as an authoritative voice in your industry, and provides prospects with the assurance that yours is the team for the job.

Creating valuable content and sharing that content regularly on your site is a critical part of the lead generation process. In order to do so, you need to establish a content strategy. I have advocated in the past for a strategy that organizes your content thematically. If you pick a different area of interest each month and offer a deep dive into related topics on your blog, you’re creating value for your prospects and continuing to offer interesting content regularly that will keep them coming back.

Once your blog has become a go-to source of information for your prospects, you can target them with offers for related white papers or your newsletter that’s dedicated to a relevant topic. This helps to move these prospects further down the marketing hourglass, as you begin to establish your brand as one that they know, like, and trust.

A poorly designed website will do nothing to generate leads for your business. When you begin to think strategically about all of the elements of your website—from SEO and keyword search to blog content and calls to action—you can build a website that is fully optimized to generate leads for your business.

5 Steps to Small Business Search Engine Optimization

5 Steps to Small Business Search Engine Optimization written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I conducted. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for the steps necessary for small business SEO.

If you’re looking for a highly technical post on search engine optimization (SEO), this is not the content for you, and honestly, that’s because I don’t believe SEO is that technical (unless you have an e-commerce site, in which case it can be). There are elements you have to understand, but you mainly have to apply the right tactics on a consistent basis.

So, without further ado, here are the five steps that I would recommend for small businesses as they dive into their SEO efforts.

1. Strategy First

Back in the day, people would get a website built, they’d get somebody to put content in the website, and then they’d find somebody to “SEO the site,” but you can’t approach SEO that way today because every aspect of your total online presence is so highly integrated (see image below), that you really have to think about all of the components at the same time.

small business seo strategy

This is why I put such a strong emphasis on focusing on strategy first.

When focusing on your strategy, start by developing a list of problems that your target audience is experiencing that you can help them solve. Conduct keyword research around this list of core themes and identify the top five or so topics that you’ll produce content around. So, instead of writing about your products and services, you’ll write about, in detail, the problems your audience is facing and how to fix them.

Content is such a big part of SEO these days. You must create content that your audience will want to read and find useful, which allows you to make a connection to the solutions that you sell. That’s how you think strategically about search engine optimization.

The key is to hone in on four or five core topics and start producing content around those. Your website structure and content need to revolve around these few themes which will make your content development easier and more focused.

To develop these themes, I brainstorm a bunch of topics, and then there are a few tools I use to narrow them down:

Google Keyword Planner

This is a free tool from Google that is a part of Google Ads and is often used by advertisers to figure out what search terms and keywords they should bid on, but it’s also a great tool for giving you data on what search terms are being searched for.

In addition to monthly search volume and competition, Google Keyword Planner also gives you a suggested bid for the term, and while you aren’t using this for advertising purposes per se, it can help you see which word may generate more conversions or sales because people are willing to pay more for it in their advertising, which is a good clue it could be a good word for you to target with your content. Decent volume and a higher suggested bid could be good indicators that those are good themes you should go after.

Keywordtool.io

This tool gives you questions that people are asking which often show high intent (questions are great for voice search SEO as well).

Answer the Public

When you type in a search term, this site will give you a bunch of variations and questions people are asking related to that term.

Google Auto-Complete

If you just start typing a keyword into the search box on Google, it will start to suggest what terms they think you’re after or related common searches (there are also related searches at the bottom of the search page). These related terms are often ones that have high volume.

google related terms

Keywords Everywhere (Chrome Extension)

When you type in a search term in Google, this extension will provide a sidebar on the right side of search engine results pages that shows you related keywords and other things that people have been searching for, as well as volume and cost per click.

Once you have the handful of themes that you’d like to move forward with, I’d recommend creating what I call hub pages that have a lot of related links driving back to them, including block posts related content that you produce over a year or so. From a structural standpoint, I’d make these hub pages prominent tabs on your main site navigation (more on the hub content later).

2. Google My Business

Once your strategy is in place, you have to essentially bow down to Google, especially if you’re a local business. For local businesses, Google My Business has become one of your most important search engine optimization assets.

Google My Business is also how you get into Google Maps that show up above the organic listings. To determine who shows up in this 3-pack, Google factors in the proximity of where you currently are, but it also factors in if your Google My Business listing is properly optimized. To optimize your listing:

  • Make sure it’s claimed
  • Make sure there aren’t any duplicates of the listing
  • Add a specific and relevant category
  • Include your company’s name, address, local phone number, and website (these should match the information on your website)
  • Add photos and videos
  • Add positive reviews (these are a huge ranking factor on their own) – Be sure to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative.
  • Publish Google Posts

To be effective with your SEO, small businesses need to not only take advantage of Google My Business, but the entire Google Universe as well, including Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads, because they all integrate together to help you get the results you desire.

3. On-site ranking factors

If you’re trying to optimize a page for a keyword phrase, you get to set the:

  • URL of the page
  • Page title (meta)
  • Header tags – H1 and H2
  • Alt image attribute
  • Page content

Take a look at these elements on the page you’re reading now – you’ll see SEO tips and strategies for small business in a number of places because that’s what this page is optimized for.

So, include the keyword in those areas! Now, this is not to say you should keyword stuff because you shouldn’t. You still want to write for humans, but be sure to take the opportunity to get your most important keywords in these areas. The page title, meta description, and URL also influence the snippet that shows up in search engine results pages (meta description isn’t an actual ranking factor, but it is a click-through factor, kind of like an ad for somebody to click).

I use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, which is a free plugin that helps me optimize this metadata. I highly recommend using it!

To supplement these on page efforts, you must control your Google Search Console as well. This is where you tell Google what’s on your website. To do this effectively:

  • Claim and verify your profile
  • Add your sitemap
  • Check your messages
  • Integrate it with Google Analytics

4. Content Hubs

I spoke about this briefly earlier in the post but thought I’d dive a little deeper. Content is no longer just a tactic; it’s like the air that’s necessary for your marketing efforts, which is why these hubs are so important because this content becomes such an important asset over time.

If you were working with an HVAC contractor, for example, this is what a hub page (Guide to Air Conditioning Repair) with its various sections may look like:

small business content marketing

On these pages, you’d include links to all of the content you’re writing about these topics as well curated content from other websites that are related, creating a link building structure that shows Google all of this content is related. It essentially shows Google that you have useful content for your audience. Remember, the guide itself will be in your main site navigation.

If you create 4-5 hub pages over the course of the year and just keep building upon them, they will be huge assets for your business.

Here’ an example of a hub page we’ve put together for Duct Tape Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.

5. Off-site ranking factors

These are things that you do have some control over, but they’re not on your website (although typically point back to your site). These are other factors that tell Google what your site’s about, what people think about it, that it’s important, etc.

Clean data

Make sure all listing and directories are accurate across the web. This is especially important if your business has moved. Your data needs to be consistent. There are a few tools that can help to ensure your data is clean including Yext and MozLocal (both offer free scans to see where you stand and can help you fix them).

Links from other sites

If people link to posts on your site (a backlink), this tells Google that people think you have great content on your site. It acts as a popularity vote. Good places to look to add links to your site include:

  • Alumni sites
  • Strategic partners and suppliers
  • Local events
  • Media
  • Chamber of Commerce

Reviews

When people write about your business and type in what a business does well, Google recognizes this. The following are areas to add reviews:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Industry-related review sites

Social signals

When people talk about you on social media, Google pays attention to those mentions.

Domain authority

You have less to do with this, but it’s a huge ranking factor. This factors in how many links back to your site are from important sites, how long the domain has been around, and so on.

To recap the information above, you must have a plan; you must take advantage of the Googleverse, you must optimize and pay attention to on and off page ranking factors, and you need to build content hubs.

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to Small Business SEO.

Small Business Guide to the Google Universe

Small Business Guide to the Google Universe written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I conducted. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for how to use Google for small businesses.

While Google has a lot of different products and services, to me, the following are what truly make up Google’s Small Business Universe for marketers and small business owners:

These are all great tools to help you grow your small business, so I thought I’d dive into each of them to give you a better understanding of how to use them and how they can benefit you.

Google My Business

This tool is critical for local businesses. This is one of the top ways, if not the way, businesses are getting found in their local community, which is why I spend so much time talking and writing about this topic.

Google My Business

Google My Business and the 3-Pack (above) show up when a person does a search for a term that is clearly for a local business. Getting your business to show up in the maps listing, as seen above, is extremely important and a good goal to achieve for local businesses today. There are a lot of factors that go into this, but the first one to focus on is ensuring your Google My Business listing is accurate and well-optimized. To optimize the listing:

  • Claim the listing
  • Make sure you don’t have any duplicate listings (this is rather common with the various iterations this tool went through)
  • Select a specific category for your business (avoid being too general)
  • Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) match the NAP on your website
  • Add images and videos
  • Put efforts together to help your business increase positive reviews on the listing (reviews are a huge ranking factor)

In addition to the tactics above, there are some things you can do on an ongoing basis to increase your chances of being found in the 3-Pack.

Google Posts

  • Respond to all reviews (both positive and negative) – Be sure to turn on notifications so that you are alerted when a new review has been posted so that you can respond promptly.
  • Use Google Posts – This is one of the newer features within the Google My Business listing and typically speaking, if Google really starts to pay attention to something, I’d recommend you spend time on it as well as it could imply that it will influence search rankings. This is one of those things. This new feature allows you to essentially showcase mini blog posts within the Google My Business listing that can be educational or promotional. It’s another area to really showcase your business.
  • Another thing to check frequently is making sure nobody is suggesting inaccurate edits to your listing, which people have the ability to do by clicking the Suggest an Edit feature in the public listing.
  • With the new messaging feature on mobile devices, people can actually text you now from the Google My Business listing (your number will never show publicly). This can be a great tool for businesses who are appointment-focused or need to respond to messages quickly.
  • You have the ability to set up your website as a tracking URL (UTM code) in the edit screen of your listing (it will still show as your URL when it’s public-facing). This allows you to clearly see where your marketing efforts are having an impact, where people are coming from, and so on. If you don’t create a tracking URL, and just put in your web address, all of that traffic in Google Analytics will say it came from Direct traffic and won’t segment out that it was from your listing, which I think is important information to have. By adding the UTM code, it will filter under the Organic traffic bucket, which is where it really belongs.

Google Search Console

This is another free tool that has actually been around for a while (formerly Webmaster Tools) and is one of the most important tools for you to use for your SEO efforts. Google has spent a lot of time in recent years to improve it which to me, is a sign it’s not going away anytime soon and is a significant tool for you to use.

This tool is your best source of data about where your traffic is coming from, how pages are ranking, and what people are searching for that actually lead them to your website (we used to be able to get that information in Google Analytics but are no longer able to).

They are currently in the process of releasing a new version of the tool, so right now you’ll spend a bit of time going back and forth between the old version and new, which isn’t a huge deal with how it’s set up, but it’s something to be aware of.

To set everything up, go to Google Search Console and:

  • Claim and verify your website (I’d recommend choosing the Google Analytics option in the instructions to do this)
  • Add your sitemap (if you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool to submit a sitemap)
  • Check your messages – This is where Google will communicate with you about your website and any issues you’re experiencing (it may take a couple of days for the messages to populate). Google will actually be able to point out page crawl errors, HTML improvements, penalties, and if you’ve been hacked. It will also tell you how to fix all of these issues.
  • Integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics (this will help you track goals and conversions). In Google Analytics, click Admin and then Property settings, you’ll see Search Console and it will give you the ability to add a Search Console.
  • Wait a few days (depending on your site, it may take some time for Google to crawl your site and gather the information needed).

This tool is also a great place to track the performance of your content and pages. You can:

  • Find keyword search rankings
  • Compare performance over time
  • Check out click through rate
  • Spot ranking opportunities
  • Find conversion opportunities

Google Ads

Google has recently changed the name from Google AdWords to Google Ads, and I think there are a couple of reasons why:

  • It’s more comprehensive than it used to be (it’s so much more than keywords now)
  • Advertising is now more about intent
  • Machine learning behavior and bots will dictate how advertising rolls out

How to Link Google Ads to Google Analytics

Link Google Ads and Analytics

The screenshot above is located in Google Analytics. Click Admin and scroll over to Property, where you’ll see AdWords linking (you can do this from Google Ads as well). I recommend integrating these tools because you want to know where your traffic is coming from and if it’s converting. It’s a great way to track your goals and get granular with your marketing.

New features in Google Ads

  • Local Ads (new campaign type)
    • Access by going to New Campaign
    • Local Campaign is focused on small local business and make it as easy as possible to run a campaign across various properties in the Google Universe
    • As a side note, see where it makes sense because it’ll be an easy way to spend all of your money at once.
  • Responsive Search Ad (new ad type)
    • Google does A/B testing for you and you’re able to input up to 15 headlines, 300 characters and 4 descriptions in the pool where they’ll mix up all the combinations (including extensions) and test on your behalf (leading to roughly 40K+ possible combinations) so that you know the ads give you the greatest opportunity for click-through rates.
    • These ads will essentially take over page one of Google (which is great for advertisers) and is something marketers should pay attention to.
    • These ads are currently in beta and aren’t showing up for everybody just yet (best practices aren’t currently in place in this beta phase either)
  • Local Service Ads from Google
    • This feature has been around for awhile but it is something that has been expanding rapidly. It is focused on a handful of home service businesses and if you’re one of these businesses, you need to be paying attention to these placements because they are dominating page one.
    • Reviews, proximity, responsiveness and how well your ad profile is optimized will contribute to your prominence in this space.
    • These ads are set up as cost per lead based on search term.
    • You have the ability to do search term and geotargeting.

To sign up for Local Service Ads:

  • Go to google.com/adwords/local-services-ads
  • Download the app
  • Create a profile
  • Get Google Guaranteed (employee background checks)
  • Set a monthly budget in Google Ads
  • Respond quickly
  • Focus on reviews

Local Service Ads

If I had to name a few key takeaways from this post, they would be:

  • Google My Business is a must for local businesses.
  • Google Search Console provides the best SEO data.
  • It’s important to connect Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
  • You must pay attention to ads.

There you have it! Have you started to explore these areas of Google? If not, I highly recommend doing so.

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to SEO.

Voice Search: What Small Business Owner’s and Marketers Need to Know

Voice Search: What Small Business Owner’s and Marketers Need to Know written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Voice Search

An increasing number of people are turning to search devices, but not necessarily search engines per se. We have laptops and our phones, and then, of course, we’ve got these Alexa and Google Home devices. These are how people are actually now executing searches. Not all of it is direction-based (“Google, find a salon nearby). A lot of it is going to be assistant-based. It’s going to be playing our music. It’s going be turning our lights off. The sky’s the limit.

As marketers, we need to start embracing this idea of search using voice. Research says 50% of searches will be voice-based by 2020.

So are we in “panic mode” time? I don’t know if that’s the case, but we certainly are at “pay attention mode” time, even for the smallest of businesses.

In fact, for local businesses, this is coming faster than you might have realized or understood, and it may be more important for these businesses to pay attention to voice search more than any other business now. According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be locally-based than text.

Yes, a lot of those searches have to do with looking for directions or trying to find a good place to do “X”. They’re not necessarily doing full-on research, say to hire an attorney or to hire a plumber necessarily, but a lot of transaction-based searches and location-based searches are happening through voice search in the local market.

According to Bright Local, 53% of people use voice search to find information on local businesses. Many say they use voice search daily (particularly on a smart speaker).

Smart speakers have clearly taken off in the past couple of years, with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa dominating the marketplace. Google has really moved into the spotlight with their speakers this year because it’s so tightly integrated into search to begin with.

How people use voice search for local businesses

So, what are the things people search for? How do they use voice search for local businesses today? Making restaurant reservations receive the highest use, by far. Additionally, people are using it to find sales and offers from local businesses, as well as to find out which products a local business has in stock. In a nutshell, it consists of a lot of very product transaction-based searches.

What local businesses should do about voice search

Google My Business

If you’re a local business, you need to get really good at some of the things that Google has been telling us about for search anyway, such as optimizing your Google My Business listing. It’s now just become more important so you must embrace it and optimize it. Google is clearly showing signs that they’re not kidding this time. They are investing a lot of time and energy into Google My Business and continue to add features, which I think businesses need to be paying attention to. I’d recommend taking advantage of every new feature they offer, including Google Posts, Messaging, the new description, and product and service offerings. Don’t forget to add photos and videos as well.

Bottom line? Make sure the listing is claimed, accurate, and complete.

Featured Snippet

Have you ever done a search for something and see a full description at the top of the page? This is what people are starting to call position zero or the featured snippet.

position zero

What I believe Google is trying to do is get you to stay on the page. Why ever leave the search results if they can give you most of the answer they think you’re after? The featured snippet is what around 70% of voice searches bring up today. Google Maps results are also big for voice search results.

To get this coveted spot, start doing some brainstorming. Find some low intent terms that don’ have a featured snippet today and write an answer-based or list-based blog post that clearly gets at the intent of what those low intent search terms might be. You might want to take a look at Answer the Public to find questions or related phrases. A lot of times you can create content that more specifically addresses the search term or at least what the intent of a search term is.

Site speed and security

This has never been more important. If your site doesn’t load, you’re never going to show up in voice search results because that’s a bad experience.

According to my friend Brian Dean from Backlinko, 70.4% of Google Home result pages were secured with an HTTPS or SSL certificate. We need to all go to HTTPS, or have secure websites. At some point in 2018, you’re going to start seeing search results that indicate that a site is not secure.

As you can see, reputation matters more than ever. There’s a lot of indication that search results are not going to show up for companies with low ratings for voice search. Local media mentions are probably underrated, so make sure you pay attention to them and social signals as well (even though Google denies it, I believe that it does in fact matter). 

Google Assistant

Google Assistant, which is really part of the Google Home piece, is really going to start doing things. They have a new tool that they’ve announced that’s been getting a lot of hype called Duplex, where you can say, “Hey Google, find me a hairdresser near me and make me an appointment for 2:00 on next Wednesday,” and it is actually going to make the phone call and interact in an artificial intelligence-way with whoever answers the phone.

You’re going to see more of that coming and for a lot of businesses, particularly appointment-based businesses like restaurants and hair salons, the staff are going to need to get those phone calls and it clearly is going to sound like Google. They’re going to need to understand what it is and how to respond to it. 

You’re also going to start seeing smart displays. Televisions today are going to have built-in Google Assistant available more and more where somebody can just be sitting there and tell Google to order them a pizza right from their television without getting up.

As I said, this is not panic time. This is the time to start preparing. Be realistic about it and see if voice search applies to your business at this point. You’re not going to go out there and dominate for voice search in a competitive industry, but I will tell you one thing: Even if you think that they are evil, pure evil, you need to get one of these smart speakers like an Alexa, or a Google Home so that you can understand a little bit about how they work, and what kind of search results they return. 

What is your business currently doing for voice search?

How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

As we are all aware at this point, voice recognition technology is continuing to get better and better, in fact, it is now believed to be 95% accurate. As users, we’re adapting to this new voice revolution rather quickly (almost 1/4 of mobile search queries are voice search), yet marketers and SEO specialists seem to be lagging behind a bit when it comes to optimizing for this new way to search.

If you’re in the marketing world, it’s time you start paying attention to voice search optimization to help you show up in search results via this method.

While optimizing for voice search requires slightly different tactics than the search engine optimization techniques we’re used to, they can benefit your website as a whole, regardless of how a person is searching for you, so implementing these best practices is really a win-win.

Aim for the Featured Snippet

Position zero, or Google’s featured snippet, is now the most coveted spot in search engine results pages for many reasons, but becoming the top result for voice search is now one of them.

A featured snippet is meant to be a quick answer to a question (as shown in the screenshot below), which is typically what people are looking for when they are using voice search.

voice search optimization

If you are able to land this spot in results pages, you’ll be more likely to be the result found in voice search results. According to a survey by Backlinko, 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet.

With the featured snippet, simple answers (such as asking a celebrity’s age) are answered directly as they are facts. For more expert/opinion-based posts, search engines will pull content from websites they think are the best fit to answer the question.

Helpful tips to get to that desired spot include:

  • Knowing and addressing your audience’s intent
  • Doing your keyword research
  • Creating high-quality content that answers questions
  • Implementing SEO best practices
  • Focusing on easy-to-follow formatting

At the end of the day, aiming for the Featured Snippet should be a top priority regardless of how people search, but it can really give you an extra boost with voice search.

Optimize for certain types of keywords

As most people in the marketing world know, when it comes to SEO, keywords are, well, key. They are at the core of your content strategy and help you identify and respond to audience intent.

When it comes to voice search, you need to think about keywords and SEO a bit differently as these search queries tend to be a bit longer than type-based search. Because of this, you really need to put an emphasis on long-tail keywords.

Additionally, when people use voice search, they’re typically more conversational than when they type terms into a search box. Be sure to create content around conversational phrases. Having an FAQ page on a site or Q&A related blog posts can be easy for search engines to pull from since questions typically come across as being more conversational. I like using Answer the Public to find questions related to search terms I’m trying to rank for. I definitely encourage you to check it out!

When it comes to SEO, I don’t really condone shortcuts as SEO should be looked at as a marathon, not a sprint, however, research is showing that there are some common trigger words that may help with voice search that you could add to your target keyword phrases to help you get found through voice search. These terms include, but are not limited to:

  • Buy
  • Get
  • Find
  • Top rated
  • Closest

Granted, don’t include these in all of your content, but you may want to consider sprinkling them in here and there.

Understand schema markup

If you’re asking yourself what schema markup is, I highly recommend starting your research (and don’t be deterred by code, this is important stuff!). Not only does it bode well for search optimization in general, it may also be one of the most important factors to ranking for voice search.

In a nutshell, schema markup helps search engines understand the content on a page. By including it on your website, you make it very clear what that page is all about, making it easy for search engines to scan.

Invest in mobile optimization

For SEO in general right now, it is imperative that your website is mobile-friendly. Google primarily cares about user experience and are now pulling the experience on mobile devices over a desktop for SEO. I’d recommend moving to a responsive design and ensuring mobile site speed is quick to avoid penalty.

Since so many voice searches are done via mobile device it’s essential you are optimized to help get found in mobile results.

Focus on content

While this may seem like a no-brainer at this point in the SEO game, there are a few specific tips that you should pay attention to specifically when it comes to voice search:

  • Ensure your content is simple and easy to read
  • Aim to write long-form content (roughly 2,000 words) as that’s typically what Google pulls from for voice search
  • Answer your audience’s questions and solve their problems with your content
  • Write/speak naturally in your content (this goes back to people using conversational phrases when using voice search)
  • Share your content on social media regularly, as those tend to perform better with voice search

Stick with SEO basics

Lastly, don’t forget about the basics of SEO. The more you follow those best practices, the more Google will reward you. Just because there are new aspects to consider doesn’t mean you should forget about the existing elements.

  • Be sure to optimize on-page elements with relevant keywords including URL, page title, header tags, alt text, meta description, and within the copy itself.
  • Build a backlink and review strategy.
  • Ensure your site is secure.
  • Focus on page speed (according to Backlinko, the average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page).

I say this all the time but it never seems to be enough: build out your total online presence. Create the best user experience you can and you’ll see the benefits roll in.

Quick Fixes to Turn Your SEO Around

Quick Fixes to Turn Your SEO Around written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Let me be clear, SEO is absolutely a marathon, not a sprint. To do it well, it takes a lot of time and effort and needs to be a continuous practice.

With that being said, there are a few low-hanging fruit items that you can address first that can help turn your SEO efforts around (or kick them off) quickly.

Interested in what I’m talking about? Read on.

Focus on keywords with intent

With the way people search online these days, the key to SEO is understanding your user’s intent. What problems, questions, or goals do they have?

Did you know that if you’re already ranking on the first page of Google, providing the best answers within your content to questions your audience is searching for can potentially land you a featured snippet in search engine results pages? That’s huge!

People may express problems in ways that turn into key phrases, so content today has to be customer-focused.  To discover your customer’s intent, look at emails that you’ve sent. Talk to your sales or service reps. What questions are they answering?

I also find that tools such as Keywordtool.io and Answer the Public are extremely useful because they turn up actual questions people ask about specific terms, which is one of the best ways to find intent in a search phrase.

In addition to intent-based keywords, looks at the keywords your competitors are using as well and brainstorm ways to target those in order to compete in search rankings.

Use these target keywords within your content to help get found online.

Find and fix broken links

No matter how great your website is, broken links happen. External website URLs changes, pages get taken down, the list goes on. While it’s common, having broken links on your website can have a negative impact on SEO (404 errors are a big issue). It all ties back to Google wanting to provide their users with the best customer experience possible.

If you find a broken link on your website, either remove it or update it to the current link (or swap it out with an even better, more current one).

There are numerous tools you can use to identify these links without having to manually go through each page on your site. One of the tools I highly recommend using is Google Webmaster Tools. With it, you can not only identify broken links, but you can also see how your site looks from Google’s perspective.

Moving forward, if you decided to change any URLs on your site or remove any pages, be sure to set up redirects that drive to an existing page to avoid getting penalized.

Develop a backlink strategy

Link building is the new networking and is essential for your SEO efforts.

When I talk to business owners I often hear that link building is one of their biggest challenges, so they don’t always put a lot of effort into it because it can become burdensome and frustrating for them. Trust me, it doesn’t have to be that way.

They key is to create amazing content (this ties back into your keyword research strategy as well). By creating linkable assets, such as videos, how-to guides, infographics, and podcasts, you’ll be able to attract backlinks from other sites that want to link to that content. Share this content on your social platforms, via email, and with your strategic partners to help them spread the word with their networks.

In addition to creating this amazing content on your site, consider:

  • Being a guest on a podcast – check out the numerous benefits of this tactic here
  • Guest blogging on a credible site
  • Leveraging partnerships – Consider writing testimonials for your partners and include a link back to your site in the review.
  • Networking in person – Build those relationships!
  • Getting added to citations and directories

Don’t forget to add internal links throughout your site either. This can also help boost your SEO and it’s within your control.

At the end of the day, reputable backlinks will help to keep your site relevant in search engines.

Focus on the basics

It’s always good to go back to the basics and focus on your on-page SEO. Here are some tactics to keep in mind:

  • Include your target keyword or keyword phrase in your page title, meta description, H1 tags, URL, and organically within your page (don’t keyword stuff)
  • Ensure the page title is less than 65 characters and that the meta description is between 50 and 300 (this limit was increased this year)
  • Add internal and external links to your pages and posts
  • Label the image alt text with the topic you’re writing about

Additionally, do a review of your blog posts and optimize past content. See what links are dated and update them. Do your keyword research and see if there are newer and better keywords to target for the posts. Swap out old CTAs and replace with new ones. Keep your content current and show Google you’re staying active. It will benefit your SEO efforts.

Lastly, do a crawl of your site to ensure there isn’t any duplicate content. While this may sound like a no-brainer, after you’ve been developing content for awhile, it can be difficult to pinpoint what you’ve already written about (it could have been created years ago!). While writing about the same topic is OK, just make sure the content itself is unique from page to page or post to post.

That’s it for today! What low-hanging fruits have you grabbed onto that have produced good results for your business?

The Most Effective SEO Tactics of 2018 Thus Far

The Most Effective SEO Tactics of 2018 Thus Far written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

We’re almost halfway through the year (what?!), which makes it a good time to start taking a look at what’s working as it relates to your SEO efforts so that you can plan accordingly moving forward. We’ve seen a lot of people increase their SEO budgets this year, which isn’t surprising, as it’s a significant piece of your marketing puzzle.

Here are the SEO tactics that seem to be working thus far.

Master keyword research

The importance of keyword research hasn’t changed over the years, but how we approach them has.

Your keyword strategy is the driver behind your content efforts (and in turn, your SEO efforts). Keywords should be used to identify user intent and search behavior.

Focusing your content on long-tail keywords gives you a better chance to match the intent of the person searching for you.

I’ve been using my keyword research to help me identify content hub themes every month.

Content hubs are fully foundational pages that have tremendous amounts of value about what the theme is, with blogs and other resources that people can click through to for further information.

I not only have internal pages driving back to this one hub page, I also include links to external, high-quality content on the page that can also be linked back to the hub page.

With so many pages driving to one another, you’ll start to gain a lot of trust and authority from Google, which will help your SEO efforts.

Think about the context of your content

As many marketers know at this point, Google’s primary job is to provide people with an excellent user experience, and because of this, they want to make sure their users get the best possible content provided to them based on the search criteria they’re looking for.

Gone are the days that you can just skim over a given topic. Today, you must take a deep dive into what you’re trying to cover so that a user can get all of the information they’re looking for in one place.

I’ve seen people say your post needs to be 2,000 words to be effective, however, I say use as many words as necessary to get your point across thoroughly. What’s worse than not hitting 2,000 words, is rambling on about nothing for the last 1,000 of those words. Think quality over quantity.

Focus on link-building

When I talk to marketers I often hear that one of their biggest challenges is link building, and because of this, putting a strong effort towards it is often put on the backburner, but this is a big problem.

Although rules and tactics have changed over the years, the heart of SEO still revolves around content and links. Without great content, you’ll never get links, so if you’re looking for a place to get started, create that amazing content. By creating linkable assets, you’ll be able to attract backlinks from other sites that want to link to that content.

Now, don’t forget internal links either. Linking to other content on your site can also help boost your SEO and it’s a low hanging fruit to grab onto.

Improve CTR

What you find on Google’s search engine results pages has changed over the years with different types of ads, answer boxes, and so on (that’s as of today, who knows what will show up tomorrow).

With so many places to click through to, it’s no wonder that click-through rates (CTR) on SERPs has declined for companies over the past few years.

So, how do you avoid this? Master the art of developing CTAs and copy that scream to be clicked on. This applies to ad copy as well as copy that shows up in your organic posts (such as the copy that can be found in your page titles and meta descriptions).

Optimize for mobile

Have you heard of Google’s mobile-first index? It’s exactly how it sounds. Google is now ranking search results based only on the mobile version of the page as opposed to taking both mobile and desktop versions into consideration. This makes sense from a customer experience standpoint as the majority of Google searches are done on a mobile device these days.

This is not good news for people who have put the majority of their time and effort towards desktop functionality.

Moral of the story is if your website isn’t mobile optimized, you’re going to take a hit when it comes to SEO. Some people think they can get by with their website being technically mobile friendly, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfectly optimized. Keep your visitors’ experience in mind and make sure the mobile version provides the best one possible. It will increase your odds to get found on search.

Use video and other visual elements

According to Cisco, online video will make up 80% of all online traffic by 2021. That number is startling, but does it really surprise you? It’s hard to ignore video, this medium can be so engaging!

So, while us marketers have been talking about video for years now, it’s time to really get serious about it.

Seems like a foreign concept? Start with YouTube! Not only is it easy to use and embed on your site, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and it’s owned by Google, which, from an SEO standpoint is a major plus (have you started seeing YouTub videos appear in Google Image search yet?).

In addition to video, be sure to include relevant and intriguing images on your site to help break up the written content on a page. Check your image file size to make sure it isn’t too large as that could slow down your site speed (a red flag for Google).

Be a guest on a podcast

I talked about this topic earlier this year but believe in the power of it, so I thought I’d revisit the topic, although you don’t commonly hear about it as a best practice for SEO. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll receive by being a guest on a podcast:

  • Access to a highly engaged audience
  • Easier than writing guest blog posts
  • You’ll establish real emotional connections
  • It becomes a highly shareable piece of content
  • You’ll gain credibility
  • Potential for online reviews

Combine the points above and you’ll create a recipe for SEO success.

Keep things fresh

Google wants to see that your site is active. In lieu of constantly posting new content, figure out ways to re-purpose existing content as well as ways to update that content. This can really help your SEO efforts without always having to reinvent the wheel.

Seems like a lot? It is, but don’t forget you have the ability to outsource these tactics to a specialist if you don’t think they can get done in-house.

Are you implementing the tactics mentioned above? What are you struggling with the most? What tactics are you seeing success with?

The Value of Discoverable, Shareable, and Useful Content

The Value of Discoverable, Shareable, and Useful Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Creating Useful Content

There’s no way around it, there are a lot of marketing channels today. I’m counting eighteen as of now (which can obviously change very quickly).

When I started my business we had six or seven ways to reach our prospects and customers. A lot has changed.

One of the things that I think is important to understand, first off, is that you don’t have to play in every channel. That’s one of the things that causes a lot of stress with a lot of business owners and marketers today.

What you do have to do is get very good at playing in the right channels, and additionally getting very good at integrating those channels (or at least understanding how they support each other).

That’s a challenge for a lot of people. We look at social media, content, SEO, and PR, and we think that they’re all separate tactics out there doing separate jobs.

When you look at them together, and actually intentionally think about how they can support each other, you amplify the effect, or the impact, of each.

In this post, we’re going to focus on three of these channels: content, social media, and SEO.

While those are separate channels, content is air for marketing today. It really powers every step in the customer journey and is one of the most essential marketing channels out there.

In fact, it probably is not really even fair to consider it a channel anymore, because it’s like the gasoline that goes in the car. You really have to have it no matter what kind of car you have.

I want you to think these channels, and make sure the content you produce in each is discoverable, shareable and ultimately useful.

Discoverability

Discoverability is often seen as an SEO play, and frankly, that’s what it is, but content drives SEO today. There are many search terms that are competitive, so everybody is out there competing for the search terms that they want.

People try to rank by doing effective keyword research, using targeted messaging, and knowing a lot about their users. It’s a good idea to develop a sense of intent as well in order to implement on-page SEO best practices.

While this all helps to make your content discoverable, you have to start with a content strategy that says “yes, we want people to find that, but that’s not where we want them to stop.”

Shareability

Once the content is discovered, the degree that it is shared will determine how widely it is distributed. By thinking about shareability of content, you’re multiplying the impact of search engine results because shares are going to draw links and other important SEO signals. They are going to increase your audience, which is going to draw more people. 

If we build our content with the idea that we can get a higher share rate, one of the benefits to that is that you actually don’t have to produce a ton of content.

If you produce content that is focused on:

  • How to do something
  • Why to do something
  • Lists
  • Great headlines
  • Great calls to action in the content
  • Using impactful images
  • Mobile usage

Then you can build your SEO-optimized content and make it much more shareable.

Shareable content is going to evolve your social media. This is one of the best ways to think about your content in the social media space. Making your content shareable will help expand the reach of people outside of your immediate network.  

Useful content

As I said in the beginning, I think the ultimate measure of success of any SEO plan is the degree to which people who discover and share your content, also find that content useful enough to quote, bookmark, link to, and consume deeply.

This idea of linking your content together to make it even more useful is an important part of trust building in the journey. If people have a problem, they go out and search for a problem, not for your solution.

They may not associate what you offer with their problem, but they’re trying to get a problem solved.

If they go to your website make sure you address their problem and give them an entire guide for how to solve it. Link together eight or ten pages, or at least associate all of your related content to a topic in a way that you’ve packaged it to make it easy to consume.

That’s the content that people not only love to share, but they love to link and bring other people to it as well.

It’s the kind of content that is going to make your SEO more effective, and make your content more discoverable because Google sees the signals that are being sent to that content.

It’s the kind of content that is ultimately going to lead people to buy your products and services, because you’ve addressed their problem, and made it easy for them to consume the content. You built trust signals, which is going to help you show up on page one of Google, which is huge. 

You’re giving somebody a reason to dig in on their own, and discover that what you sell is going to actually solve their problem.

That’s how you have to think about content.

There are a couple of metrics that I love to look at when I’m trying to analyze somebody’s content. I use tools, like Ahrefs, to see the number of keyword phrases driving traffic to page one.

I also like to use a tool called BuzzSumo. One of the things that it will do is dive into your content from a social media standpoint and will answer questions like:

  • How much sharing is going on?
  • What kind of content gets shared the most?
  • Who’s linking to it?
  • Who’s Tweeting it?
  • What is the length and format of the content?

It really breaks down all the sharing activity that goes on in your content.

I love to look at that kind of shared data because in many cases it will clearly point to your best content that’s being shared. Most of the time, that’s longer content that is more in depth, and that people find very useful. 

The value of your organic traffic is also a tremendous metric to really allow you to see how you’re stacking up.

Typically, what happens is your content becomes more discoverable because it was useful. It’s more shareable because it was useful. So it’s like this vicious, positive cycle that ends up making your traffic and visits worth so much more.

How to Create A Mobile Website That Gets Found By Google

How to Create A Mobile Website That Gets Found By Google written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Here’s the thing, as a society, we’re constantly on the go and Google has adapted to this sort of lifestyle. Because of this, in order for your website to succeed to it’s fullest capacity today, it needs to work well on mobile devices.

Just because it’s ranking well on a desktop does not mean the same results will translate over to search results on your phone. It has never been more important for you to have a mobile-friendly website.

There are a plethora of additional factors you need to keep in mind when it comes to mobile optimization that I’m not going to include in this post, but in order to get started, you need to lay the foundation of the website, which I plan to help do for you with the information below.

The three options for mobile website configuration

When it comes to getting found by Google on mobile devices, there are really only three ways to set up your site for mobile. I should warn you, I’ve listed the three below in the order of the one I least recommend to most recommend, so be sure to keep reading to find out my top recommendation.

Separate URLs

With this configuration, you have the desktop version of your site as well as a mobile version of your site. Your site will detect the type of device a user is using and will direct them to the best URL for that device.

The thing is, this type of setup is rather time intensive and difficult to manage for numerous reasons, one of them being that these mobile websites have a lot of SEO issues (which kind of defeats the purposes of trying to build a site that will get found by Google).

Dynamic Serving

With this setup, all of your content is on the same URL, but every user sees different code depending on the device they’re using. This is better than the option above, but it’s not without its own problems (for example, it often mixes up the two versions). Plus, as we all know, technology is always changing, and if a new device gets invented, guess what? You’ll need to create content for that new device.

Responsive design

Ding, ding, ding! Here’s is the one I recommend you go with. With this configuration, your page’s content and layout respond to each user depending on their device (without the need to separate URLs or use different code). This is definitely best practice these days.

Plus, it’s SEO friendly (Google even recommends this method), so if for no other reason, I’d say go this route for that alone.

Mobile landing page best practices

At the end of the day, the goals of your marketing efforts are likely to get people to convert, so you must ensure your landing pages are as efficient as possible to do just that. Keep the following in mind when you put them together:

  • Make them responsive (hopefully, you paid attention to the last section of the post)
  • Avoid adding images with large file sizes as this will impact load time (more information on the importance of site speed below)
  • Add your call to action above the fold – In fact, include the majority of the important information near the top of the page as well.
  • Get to the point. Make it clear what problems you’re solving and what your visitor will get in return.
  • Keep PDF formatting in mind. If you have somebody download, say, a content upgrade, like a guide that’s in a PDF format, remember, those don’t always format well on phones. Consider including mobile-appropriate formats instead.
  • Make buttons “thumb friendly” – Don’t make them too small or out of place; your thumb needs to be able to navigate the screen.

Why speed matters

Site speed has historically been a ranking factor for search engine results pages, but it’s moving closer and closer towards the spotlight. At the end of the day, Google wants to provide users with the best experience possible, and let’s face it, nothing is more annoying than when a site loads slowly.

Not to scare you, but Google actually recommends that your mobile site loads under a second. This is definitely easier said than done, but it’s a good goal to strive for.

I’d recommend checking out Google PageSpeed Insights to see how quickly your site loads on mobile devices. It will also give you recommendations on what to change to help your site load more smoothly.

Some of the recommendations may include:

  • Compress your images – reducing file size can help speed up load times
  • Cache your site
  • Load above the fold content first
  • Cut down on redirects

To make sure everything is functioning properly, it’s important to implement Google Analytics on your site so that you can track performance. Wherever you see any shortcomings, be sure to address them promptly.

As you can see, the good news is that as intimidating as it may sound, it really isn’t that difficult to create a mobile website these days. The hard part is simply getting started.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to check in throughout the rest of the month as I’ll be writing more about the topic of mobile optimization, including mobile content, mobile campaigns, and mobile email. Stay tuned!

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

How long ago did you search for your brand name? I assume you think your Google search reputation is pretty OK?

Well, let me tell you: Searching just for the company name isn’t enough. Imagine someone searching for [your-company-name scam] or [your-product-name alternative]. Don’t you want to make sure your site ranks #1 for those queries?

People are researching companies using online search more and more:

  • Less than 30% of customers want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while over 60% use a search engine to learn more about it. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to choosing a specific platform to work with. (Google, 2014)
  • 7 in 10 Internet users search online for information about others, including managers they are going to work with, companies they are going to buy from, etc. (source)

It’s highly important to rank #1 for search queries that contain your brand name because those are people who already know your brand: They are most likely to engage and buy. Don’t lose those customers!

1. Identify Those Brand-Driven Questions

The first step is to identify all possible search queries that your company name can come up in. If you own a fairly well-known company, you can simply treat your brand name as a core term and use your favorite keyword research platform to generate a list of keyword suggestions containing that core term.

If you own a startup that is just entering the market, there may be not many people searching for your company yet. In this case, keyword research tools won’t help much because they only catch pretty high-volume search phrases.

A workaround to this is to take a more established competitor’s name and run keyword research tools for it.

As an example, if I were entering a market with a new online photo editor, I’d research Google search queries containing [canva] and then see which of those phrases can be applied to my own tool. Using a tool like Serpstat, here are brand-driven phrases that I got:

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

You can export the whole list into Excel to keep playing with its sorting and formatting options.

Pay attention to Google Suggest results!

One thing not to forget here is what people see when they start typing your brand name in Google’s Search because that impacts their searching behavior:

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

You can use a free tool called Bulk Suggest to generate all types of suggestions people see when typing your business name (or your competitor’s business name) in Google, Bing, Amazon or Youtube:

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

You can export those too and then merge with your keyword research spreadsheet.

Keep An Eye on Those Answer Boxes!

Another important thing to note while doing your keyword research is to keep an eye on those answer boxes Google features on top of search results. In many cases, even for branded search queries, a third-party website can be featured in the box stealing most of the clicks from the actual brand. Here’s an example: Look how Domino’s Pizza ranks #1 for its branded query [domino’s pizza prices], yet that first position is almost invisible due to someone else being featured as a quick answer for this brand:

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

These cases should be noted as highly important: Analyze those featured results and try to snap the featured position from them. Here’s a good guide on optimizing for featured snippets. Let it be your priority.

Search Google for every branded query you come up and make sure nothing like this is happening for your brand.

2. Organize Those Keywords

With so many keyword suggestions, it’s hard not to get lost in them.

I like Serpstat because it also helps in clustering those keyword lists that help optimize one page for a group of keywords instead of just one.

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

Clustering your keywords is your first step to getting those lists organized: You break your brand-driven queries into subtopics and sections and then figure out where each group should fall into.

You can use the same spreadsheet you got as an export from Serpstat to further organize your list. For example, your multiple labels for each keyword may be:

  • New / Old content: Should you create a new content to cover this keyword group or do you already have a page addressing it?
  • Informational / Commercial intent: Does the query reflect an informational intent or does it indicate that the user is ready to buy something for you? Your page should target the customer’s intent.
  • Type of content: If it is informational, what type of content should you create? It could be a blog post, an FAQ page, a commercial landing page or a blog post announcing something.

Make yourself a copy of this free spreadsheet to work on your brand-driven keyword lists:

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

3. Create On-Site Content

Your goal is to create enough content that answers all your (or your competitors’) customers’ questions. That’s the only possible way to rank for those queries but it will also keep your sales and customer support teams happy because (1) They will get fewer repetitive questions and (2) they will be able to refer customers to a solid resource on your own site whenever they get an already-covered question.

The third item in the above list of labels will help you determine the best plan as to where to cover a specific group of keywords. Chances are, you’ll want to create a separate section covering all types of questions your customers may have about your brand. Here’s a great list of WordPress themes that can help you create an FAQ section, a knowledge base, and a support forum.

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

4. Create Off-Site Content

Here’s one thing to note here: In most cases, your domain name will be able to take one position (maybe two if you are lucky) for each search query. But since these are all queries with your brand name, it’s very important that you rank for ALL of them and, if possible, “own” the top 5 rankings for as many of these as you can.

Imagine those users who scroll through a top result and click your competitor’s link talking about this topic and mentioning your brand? This is a lost customer who meant to come to YOU!

That being said, you need to go beyond hosting content on your own site. You need to optimize off-site assets to rank for many of those terms.

Here are a few ideas for you to try:

1. Use Linkedin “Showcase” Feature

Create Linkedin Showcase Pages for each of your products and services. These rank well and are easy and fast to put together!

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

2. Create lots of video walk-throughs and guides

YouTube videos well and also they get those Google rich snippets that attract clicks and work great for brand awareness building.

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

3. Put together a video course and put it up on Udemy and similar sites

Free video courses are a great way to build additional content assets which collect leads and get ranked in Google for your brand terms. If you decided to take step #2 above, you can also use those videos for the course!

5. Collect More Questions!

Don’t stop at collecting those search queries. Again, those are questions enough people type into the search box for them to be caught by keyword research tools and Google Suggest algorithm. But those are not ALL questions that may include your or your competitor’s brand.

Set up tools and processes that will allow you to monitor real-time questions and also research natural-language queries people use to talk to each other and your sales and support teams. Continue growing your on- and off-site knowledge bases as more questions come! This way you’ll always be one step ahead of your competitors, both in search and beyond.

Here are two ways you can do that:

5.1 Monitor Social Media to Develop More Content

Search your brand name and your competitors’ names on Twitter and use a social media management dashboard to monitor all of those search results within one dashboard. Cyfe is a great dashboard that allows you to create an unlimited amount of widgets for free.

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

As soon as you spot questions concerning your brand, answer it immediately on Twitter and pass over to your content team to cover it in more detail in your on-site knowledge base.

5.2 Collect Customers’ Questions from Your Teams Working with Them

Another way to monitor what actual people may be wondering about your brand right now is to talk to your sales and customer support teams. They deal with your customers on a daily basis answering tons of questions.

Encourage them to record all those questions for your marketing team to be able to monitor them regularly. Salesmate is a great solution because it gives you tools to record everything concerning any lead and distribute the information between the teams. It’s a very efficient way to record and organize any sales information, including those questions people ask over the phone or in the emails.

How to Rank Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

Your Cheatsheet for Ranking Well for Your Brand-Driven Queries in Google

I have put together all the steps and recommended tools for each step in this one-page cheatsheet you can download for free here.

Steps Tools
1. Identify brand-driven queries for your brand name or your competitor’s name or both Serpstat
1.1 Collect Google Suggest results for your brand name or your competitor’s name or both Bulk Suggest
1.2 Research whether there are “featured results” for your brand-driven results and if so, make it your priority to get featured there Google search
2. Group keywords by topic and organize them by intent and type of content you’ll create to address each of them Excel or Google Spreadsheets
3. Start working on content to target as many brand-driven queries as possible. Consider setting up an FAQ section or a support forum or both to build them up as more brand-driven queries are identified WordPress themes and plugins
4. Create off-site content assets that will allow you to hold more than just position #1 for brand-driven queries Linkedin, Youtube, Udemy, etc.
5.1 Monitor Twitter search for your brand and your competitor’s brand name to identify more customers’ questions to build content around Cyfe
5.2 Work with your sales and customer teams to identify even more questions actual customers ask regularly and add those to your content plan Salesmate

[Download this checklist as PDF here]

Have you been researching your brand-driven queries and building your content strategy around them? Please share your tools and tips!


About the Author

Jessy TroyJessy Troy is an experienced writer and freelance editor who runs Social Media Sun, an online magazine for social media managers. Follow her on Twitter as @JessyTroy

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