NO Budget for Ads? You Can Still Improve Website Traffic!

NO Budget for Ads? You Can Still Improve Website Traffic!

In January 2018, there were over 1.8 billion websites in the entire world. Yup, that’s how HUGE the worldwide web has become. This is why for a lot of people, it makes sense for them to pay for ads, especially if these ads help them make their pages pop out from a sea of other sites.

But ads aren’t always part of the budget. Especially if you’re a small start-up, you can probably think of a million other things you can use your money for.

The good news is, you can still build a decent website traffic without having to rely on ads.
Here are a few things to pay attention to.

Content

Length
500 to 600 words would do the trick, but it also helps to vary the length and format and go for that 1,600-word piece or a 2,500-word article every now and then.

Format
A healthy mix of evergreen content and news would be great in hooking in the audiences. Evergreen content would mean having the audience’s attention over a longer period of time, while news pieces would be perfect for that sudden surge of interest.

Lists, how-tos and infographics are among the most powerful types of content you can use. You can do some guest posting as well to widen your audience base.

Headlines
Make sure your headlines are click-worthy. Some of the most effective formats are:

Ones that start with numbers
Ones that ask a question
Case studies

Development and Testing

Responsive format
Decades ago, people expected pretty much the same format from every page they visited. But now, things are a whole lot different. Laptops, smartphones, tablets – name it, people go online on it. This means that content would have to be adjusted depending on screen size, resolution, etc.

Speed
Page speed is crucial. A single second in delay can actually cause you to lose 7% of your conversions. 10 seconds into a page that has not fully loaded yet, and people will automatically leave the page.
Factors that affect page speed are redirects, image optimization, server response time, content distribution network used, among others.

Design
Nowadays, design is not just about how pretty a page looks. Functionality is also affected by the way things are designed. A poorly-designed page, for example, may be tough for users to navigate. There may also be elements that should be highlighted, like call-to-action buttons that are not given enough emphasis.

Marketing and Social Media

LinkedIn
It’s a given that you’ll be using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but LinkedIn should definitely be part of your list. With professionals, entrepreneurs and corporate giants all networking through the platform, it’s the best place to make yourself known as an influencer in your field.

Email Marketing
It’s one of the oldest tactics in the book, but just because you have new platforms to take advantage of doesn’t mean that you can skip it. 67% of millennials in the US check their emails using their mobile gadgets regularly, so you may want to consider that number when strategizing for your email campaign.

Engagement

Comments
One of the things that makes social media an effective platform is the fact that people can leave comments on your posts, and you can comment right back. It’s the perfect opportunity for you not only to hear what your audiences think and feel, but also to acknowledge and answer each comment in a timely manner.

Contests
Contests are now easier to host with the number of digital platforms at your fingertips. You can do photo contests, video contests, sharing challenges, and a lot more.

Forums
A community forum is a great way to get like-minded people together. It’s also the perfect place for people to ask questions and get answers not only from you, but also from people who have the same interests as them.

Webinars
Having a regular webinar (probably a monthly one) is a great way to teach people a thing or two about what you do. It could be a tutorial or a step-by-step for a process, or maybe an informational class about a relevant topic.

Start examining your strategies and find ways to incorporate these factors into your existing plans. There just might be a few things you’re missing out on that could make all the difference.

How to Create High-Conversion Multi-Step Forms

How to Create High-Conversion Multi-Step Forms

If conversion is a recurring problem for you and you have a form or two that you ask end users to fill out, better check if the two are related. More often than not, users abandon a page when they find a step too time-consuming and complicated. This is what pulls down your conversion rates.
This is where multi-step forms come in.

Multi-Step Forms vs Single-Step Forms

What makes a person abandon a page?

Although there’s always a small chance that they had to do something more important or got called away from the screen somehow, most of the time, they abandon a page because:

It looks time-consuming.

It looks complicated.

A lot of cases of page abandonment happens on forms. Obviously, you don’t want your forms to meet either of those criteria.

Multi-step forms make the process less complicated and more bearable by splitting an entire form into smaller, easier-to-digest chunks.

Let’s say your signup process involves a potential user’s personal information, shipping details, and payment details. Instead of having all three spread out from top to bottom on a single page, you can have a single page for each step.

Converting the usual lengthy single-step form into a multi-step form can increase conversions by around 59.2%.
But that doesn’t mean that you need a multi-step form each and every time.

Let’s say all you need are your users’ contact information. In this case, there’s no need to split the form into several pages. A single step is all you need to complete the process.

How to Make Your Multi-Step Form a Conversion Magnet

So you’ve decided that your process requires a multi-step form instead of a single-step one. How can you make sure people don’t abandon it just the same?

Here are a few tips that could help you out:

Show the user’s progress.

Have you heard of the endowed progress effect? This concept states that any representation or semblance of progress motivates a person to complete any task faster. This is a concept that can be effective in multi-step forms.
A simple progress bar on top of each step can show the user how much progress they’ve made and how much further they have to go until they reach the end. You could also make it as simple as a huge sign that says “Step 2 of 3”.

Don’t have too many steps or too many questions.

Yes, each step is now easier to digest. But that shouldn’t be mistaken as a go signal to go crazy. Limit each step to a few fields for them to fill out. Limit the number of steps as well. Having a more than ideal number of steps and questions defeats the purpose of a multi-step form.

How do you know that you have everything you need? Ask yourself – does removing a certain question or step change the entire process? If an item has no such impact, then it probably doesn’t belong there.

Give examples for fields that require a specific format.

There are instances where the blanks require a specific format for the system to accept an answer. In stating birthdays, for example, some forms may require you to write the month in full, while some would require you to write its 2-digit numeric counterpart.

In cases like these, always have an example for the user. You can have a question mark beside the blank that would show the proper format when the user hovers over it, or you can have it fully visible below the blank in italics. This prevents errors that would lengthen the process.

Make the questions straightforward.

For fields that require a user’s name or mobile number, it’s definitely easy enough for people to understand what’s required of them. But for other questions that do not have answers as straightforward as this, make sure that you lay it out in a way that’s not too complicated.

On a feedback form, for example, instead of asking, “Did you enjoy the experience?” you can ask the user to rate the service from 1 to 5 instead, with boxes provided for them to tick off.

Offer added value after the form is completed.

People love getting something extra for doing something. You might say that completing a checkout form on an e-commerce site gives users the satisfaction of knowing that the product they ordered will be on their doorstep soon. But wouldn’t it be a lot better if they got a discount for their next purchase, or perhaps, free extended warranty?
Anything extra that the person completing the form did not pay for does not only give them a bigger motivation to complete the form to the end, it also shows them that you care about their loyalty.

Now, are you ready to get started on those forms? Just keep those steps above in mind and start seeing those conversions soar higher.

Building Customer Loyalty? Effective Communication is the Key

Building Customer Loyalty? Effective Communication is the Key

One thing often neglected by business owners also proves to be the one thing that can make or break your customers’ loyalty – COMMUNICATION.

The good news is, in this digitized business environment, effective and timely communication is something you can easily take care of.

Here are a few ways you can promote effective communication across the different digital marketing and distribution channels you use.

Make your voice consistent.

Every brand has a voice.
If your audience includes younger people who are deep into trends, you don’t use a scholarly tone – you try to keep up with their lingo and apply it to your content.
If you’re going after a serious finance-centric crowd, you make sure you keep your tone professional and use the right terminologies.

Your brand’s voice shows people how authentic you are as a brand.

The fact that 57% of consumers think that less than half of the brands they are familiar with does not produce authentic-sounding content opens up a lot of opportunities for you. You can probably imagine what happens if you’re part of the authentic bunch.

Speak your target audience’s language not only in your own website, but in social media marketing channels, emails, and other similar platforms as well. Keep it consistent to solidify your overall brand personality.

Monitor comments closely.

I’ve got to admit, I can’t blame business owners who cringe at the thought of looking at user and customer comments, simply because it’s so easy for a business’s reputation to get ruined with a single negative feedback.
But just think about the possibilities.

When customers leave great feedback, the best thing you can do is show them that you appreciate their business.
Now, when people leave negative comments on your social media marketing channels and all other pages, just breathe in, breathe out, and reply gracefully. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to make things better. If their comment seems vague, ask them for specifics so that you can also create specific action plans to address their concerns.

Not only will this approach allow you to earn the respect of everyone who sees the exchange, it also opens up the possibility that a disgruntled customer realizes you deserve a second chance.

Responding in a timely manner earns you plus points because this means you are all ears to whatever consumers have to say, regardless if it’s a bad or good comment. 84% of consumers expect businesses to respond to them in 24 hours, but this may also depend on the platform you’re using. For example, Twitter users would rather have you respond to them in a day.

Use live chat.

You know what ticks a lot of customers off?
Waiting.

That’s a problem that live chat solves.
Before making a purchase, before you can get people to sign up for anything, and before you can convince people to side with you, they’ll have a lot of questions – lots of them.

Through live chat, potential and current customers can get answers in real-time. In fact, 79% of people say that they prefer live chat as a means to communicate with brands for this very reason.

Know where your audiences are.

Here’s one common mistake that some businesses commit – trying to balance a number of different platforms and channels all at once.
Yes, we understand that
you want to reach as many audiences as possible. However, if this distracts you from the task of providing timely communication with your audiences, then it defeats the purpose of even using these channels in the first place.

Do a thorough check on where most of your audiences are. If 90% of your customers are on Facebook, it wouldn’t make sense to pour time and effort into 5 other platforms where a few potential customers are, especially if you don’t have the manpower or budget to do it.

Communication has always been a challenge in a lot of industries, especially between brands and consumers. Aren’t you thankful you’re in an era where technology makes everything a lot easier for you? Take advantage of this fact and show customers that it’s not just profits you’re after, but real connections and relationships with them.

Social Media Marketing Done Right: How to Get Sponsored on Instagram

Social Media Marketing Done Right: How to Get Sponsored on Instagram

Welcome to a social media-centric world where people are always on the hunt for all things Instagrammable.

Did you know that 40% of consumers aged 33 and below wouldn’t even travel to places that do not have great Instagram potential?

Knowing this, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you want to become an Instagram influencer. Can you imagine being paid an average of $300 per post? And if you make it to the big leagues, you can even make 5 figures and up for each post. Now, that’s the dream!

The great news is, you don’t have to be a Hollywood star or a recording artist to get paid to post on Instagram. All it takes is the right strategy, and you can get paid for what you do best, just like the celebrities.

Here are the first things you’d have to take care of to pave the way for Instagram sponsorship.

Define who you are as a brand

FOCUS – that’s one word that can help you win the Instagram race.
Although you may be interested in a wide array of topics, it’s important to find a niche you’re going to concentrate on. Would you like to feature food in your feed? Are you looking at highlighting exercise routines and overall fitness? Maybe you want each post to talk about the latest fashion trends.

Choosing a specific niche allows you to define who you are as a brand. From there, you can also choose a specific theme or style to further solidify your brand’s look. Will you use flat lays on every image? Are you looking to use a specific filter all the time?

All these can help brands figure out if your look matches their needs.

A single look allows people to eventually know what’s yours even without looking at the brand name. If you have other social media profiles and a website, make sure the overall feel will be consistent all throughout.

Know who your audience is

In your eagerness to focus on your branding, make sure you don’t forget who you’re supposed to be talking to. Your chosen niche may be a personal preference because of where your interests and knowledge lie. But when it comes to style and approach, it’s important to know what your audiences want to see.

This is why it’s important not to rely solely on trends. A certain audience may appreciate filters on your images, but another one may want a more real and unfiltered look at whatever you’re posting.

This is also extremely important when pitching to brands, as your audience should match theirs as well.

Be consistently visible

You can’t just post whenever inspiration strikes. Visibility matters a lot, especially on a platform like Instagram where a single post can easily drown underneath the posts of everyone else.

According to CoSchedule, the right frequency should be around 1 to 2 posts a day. One post should be in the morning at around 8-9AM, while the 2nd one should be around 2PM. However, you should still consider your audience’s specific browsing habits. If you know what specific time they’re online, then use that to your advantage.

Use hashtags, geotags, and brand tagging

Even regular Instagram users know how critical the use of hashtags and geotags are. Although you may use up to 30 hashtags in a single post, that’s definitely overdoing it. According to TrackMaven, 9 hashtags should be enough to give your post the boost that it needs.
Why are hashtags important?

Well, think of your hashtags as keywords. When your target audience looks for anything relevant to your content, they can use the hashtags to zoom in on all posts that match their query – including your post.

Geotags, on the other hand, filter posts the same way hashtags do – but based on location. This proves to be extremely helpful if you’re targeting an audience specific to a region.
And, of course, it is also important to tag the brands that are relevant to your post. Regardless if they’re not yet paying you, the best way to get a brand to notice you is to literally tap them on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I’m here, and I’m posting about you.”

Put your contact information on your bio

You’ve done everything right, and the brands are starting to take notice. What’s the next thing they’re gonna do? Why, reach out to you, of course!

Although Instagram allows users to send direct messages to each other, that’s just not the proper way to negotiate a sponsorship deal. Leaving an email address or a website would be the best way to make it easier for potential sponsors to contact you directly.

Now, start putting these steps into motion and start paving the way for Instagram stardom!

How to Build an Irresistible Customer Referral Program

How to Build an Irresistible Customer Referral Program

If there’s one powerful tool that business owners often forget (especially in the middle of their digital marketing frenzy), it’s gotta be word of mouth.

In a study by Nielsen, they found out that 92% of consumers listen to recommendations made by their family and friends.

That’s an amazing number!

So how can you take advantage of word of mouth?

You need a strong push that will make your customers feel the need to refer your products and services to their peers.

The solution? A customer referral program.

The AMA Journal of Marketing published a study that says referred customers actually bring in profit margins that are higher by 25% compared to other customers.

If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what else will.

Here’s how you can create an effective customer referral program:

1.Set your goals.

Think about what you want to accomplish. Are you hoping for better sales? What about a wider reach in specific locations? Do you want to retain first-time customers?
With these goals laid out in front of you, it’s easier to figure out your next steps.

2.List potential sources.

Where will these referrals come from?

Your current customer pool. Past customers that didn’t come back. People who’ve been considering your products or services, but have not really made that purchasing decision just yet. Even your vendors can be potential sources of referrals. The possibilities are endless!

3.Shortlist your strongest contacts.

You probably have a lot of people on your list, so let’s cut that down to a shorter list.

Think about people who would refer you even without an incentive. These are your strongest contacts. These could be people who’ve been loyal to your brand, or vendors who you’ve come to trust. They could also be industry insiders.

Note that we’re not discounting contacts who would possibly ask for an incentive (we’ll discuss that later on). We’re just segregating your contact list into different categories so that we can plan a more strategic approach.

4.Plan your incentives.

Before you start computing how much cash you’re gonna give out, look at this study from the University of Chicago first. It says that non-cash incentives are actually 24% more effective in getting the results you want compared to non-cash incentives!

What kind of non-cash incentives can you give out?

Airbnb gives a $20 credit for every successful referral. Dropbox gives you more storage when you refer friends. Be creative! There are more non-cash incentives you can give out that you think.

5.Find ways to alert customers.

Now, let’s find ways to spread the word.

Of course, some platforms are a given – social media marketing, newsletters, blogs, and even email signatures and calls to action.
It’s also important to prepare something that would detail the entire incentive program. Prepare scripts for your customer service associates to follow. Create a referral kit that people could use to share information about your business, products and services to their friends. This kit could contain ebooks, case studies, posters, videos, etc.

You could also have a solid landing page where people can give details about their referrals. If you have a different system for your referral program, then make sure you have detailed information that people can easily understand.

6.Track your progress.

This part is probably the most crucial step in the process.

Having a solid tracking system will show you whether your strategies are bringing in the results that you need. If you feel that you’re not going towards the right direction, then it would be easier to tweak the process along the way.

More importantly, you need to track every referral (who referred them, when they were referred, etc.) simply because you gave a promise to your contacts, and proper tracking is the best way to see if your promises are being fulfilled for every result they deliver.

7.Show appreciation.

Sure, you already gave them an incentive. But more often than not, a simple word of gratitude is more important than any incentive in the world.
Always thank referrers for their contribution. Remember – they’re also part of your team!

Are you ready to get started?

4 Critical PPC Elements Your Digital Marketing Consultant Should Be Using

4 Critical PPC Elements Your Digital Marketing Consultant Should Be Using

It isn’t surprising to see that some marketers still doubt the power of PPC marketing. After all, there are a lot of other digital marketing formats that are not only more popular, but have also proven to be more effective.

Well, guess what. You’re actually missing out on a lot of opportunities!

PPC campaigns can bring not only more traffic, but also more conversions into your site – you just have to know how to do it right.

Here are 4 things every PPC campaign needs to give you the results that you need.

Keyword Research

Anything related to a search being done requires keywords. But how do you choose the right ones out of the hundreds of variations that you can choose from?

Any digital marketing consultant will tell you that keyword research is a critical element in any kind of campaign, even more so when it comes to PPC. You see, it’s not just about using relevant keywords. It’s also about gauging how many people look for certain keywords in specific localities, and looking at what keywords would have the most decent competitive density.

Competitor Research

It’s not enough to just look at your own strategies; it’s also important to look at the way your competitors do things.
For each strength that the competition has, you need to have an action plan that counters it. And for every weakness they show, you have to be ready to take advantage of it.

Any gap in your competitor’s strategy allows you to come up with keywords and campaigns of your own that will help you take the lead. SEMrush actually has a tool that provides Gap Analysis reports. You can also check what keywords your competitors are using, which ones are working out for them, and which keywords they haven’t used yet.

Ad Groups, Keyword Planning, and Landing Pages

The two previous steps should have given you a solid list of keywords to use for your campaign. Now, it’s time to plan where to use them and how to use them.
You can use a keyword tool that has the ability to organize your keywords per ad group. This is also the perfect time to add a few negative keywords so that your own ad groups do not end up competing with each other. Do an audit on your landing pages to make sure that no problems are encountered when visitors start clicking on your ads.

Competitor Tracking

You may feel that the competitor research you did at the start was enough – it isn’t. Just as you are tracking your own progress, you should be tracking your competitor’s too. You have to remain updated about any tweaks they might be making, as well as any changes in their results.

Remember that because you took your competitor’s data into account when you formulated your strategies, the smallest change on their end could affect your results, too.

Don’t worry – there are a number of tools out there that could help you gain more insight into each of these elements. The important thing is knowing how to use them.

More often than not, having a digital marketing consultant on your side would be the best way to maximize the results that these elements bring. You may feel that you’re doing okay now; but with an expert on your side, you could reach targets that you never even thought of setting before.

Common Google Ads Mistakes That Could Be Draining Your Resources

Common Google Ads Mistakes That Could Be Draining Your Resources 

There’s no doubt about it. Google Ads have changed the internet advertising game for so many businesses and brands.
But despite the success a lot of people have from it, we can’t say that everybody’s getting all aces.

Some have tried Google AdWords in an effort to boost their digital marketing campaigns, but did not get the results they were expecting.
Some may have seen a little spike in their performance in terms of sales and lead generation, but are hoping to see more.

Some may also feel like they’ve nailed it, but could actually have more opportunities if only they knew how to maximize the actions they’re already doing.

Well, it’s about time you learned about common mistakes people commit when they launch Google Ad campaigns. This way, you can do some self-assessment and find that a-ha moment that will make you realize why you aren’t getting the results you can potentially have.

Mistake No. 1

Leaving the default settings that include Google search partners and the Google Display Network.
When you create a Google Ad campaign, there are default settings that automatically include the Search Network and the Display Network.
Though this may seem like a good idea to someone who’s just starting out on Google Ads, this could be a terrible mistake, and here’s why.

Let’s say your goal is lead generation. The Display Network is actually notorious for giving low conversion rates. This means that you might be pulling up your cost per acquisition without bringing in any clicks.

As for the Search Network, your ads will only appear on Google and its search partners – nowhere else. This means you could be passing up on some opportunities.

Selecting both at the same time will also land your ads on relevant pages, but will not really appear on active searches that include your keywords – another money-wasting act.

Mistake No. 2

Failing to grow your negative keywords list.
Keywords ensure that your content shows up according to relevance. Negative keywords do the exact opposite.
Let’s say you add the word “global” as a negative keyword. This means that when people do a search that has “global” in it, your content won’t show up in the results.
Why is this important?
It ensures that your content does not show up in unrelated searches that may have used a few keywords that you utilize. If you only offer local shipping services, for example, and you use the keyword “shipping service”, your content would show up even if people are looking for global shipping services.
Start with around 50 to 100 negative keywords. As you find out more about your target audience’s searches, you can keep refining and adding more to the list.

Mistake No. 3

Having no conversion actions.
Here’s a question for you – how do you figure out if you’re getting any returns if you don’t have anything in place to compute it?
Well, that’s the exact thing you’re doing if you don’t have any conversion actions in place.
No matter how many ads with relevant keywords you set up, having no conversion actions will only waste your time and resources.
Conversion actions include form submissions, newsletter sign-ups, click-to-calls, and other calls to action. Make sure your ads are optimized for these actions.

Here are other mistakes you might be committing in setting up and running your Google Ads:

Poor keyword research

Sticking to a single ad instead of having varied ads depending on your needs

Failing to add extensions

Ignoring local and regional trends

Failing to use Google Ads’ “Experiment” feature

Google Ads is a nifty tool, but failing to make the most out of it could be a drain on your resource. Instead of just experimenting on your own and trusting your gut on what to do next, talk to an expert and see what kind of results you can actually gain from using the tool right.

How to Make Instagram a Critical Part of Your Social Media Marketing Strategies

How to Make Instagram a Critical Part of Your Social Media Marketing Strategies 

If you don’t know Instagram, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under in the past few years. But hands down, it has become the go-to social media platform for anything image-centric.
Every social media specialist knows that Instagram is the place to go especially if you have a fairly younger audience. Out of over 1 billion users, 60% of those in the US are under 30 years old.

It’s also good to know that over 80% are from outside the US. So if you want to reach a more global audience, it’s starting to look like a pretty good investment.

Here are a few tips for those who want to make Instagram an integral part of their social media marketing strategy:

Use hashtags

On Instagram, posts that have at least one hashtag gets 12.6% better engagement than all other posts without it. This alone describes how important this symbol is for Instagram users.
Here’s the tricky part. Your hashtags can’t be too specific or too unique because nobody would probably be searching for it. You can’t make them too general either, because your content will just drown in a sea of similar other posts.
Research also shows that posts with 9 hashtags seem to get the best engagement. Going for hashtags with around 21 characters would be best, too.

Spread the word

As with all other social media platforms, you can’t survive on Instagram if you use it on its own. It’s always best to cross-promote your Instagram posts not only on your Facebook account, but on marketing emails, blogs, and landing pages, too.

Run a contest

Instagram users are always excited to participate in contests, which is awesome if you need to increase brand awareness. In fact, contests on Instagram can get 3.5 times more likes compared to regular posts. It also receives up to 64 times more comments!
This would be even better if you incorporate unique hashtags for contest entries.

Use emojis

If there are some of you who still find emojis as immature and inappropriate, you evidently have not discovered what wonders they can do for your engagement. 56% of profiles on Instagram actively use emojis, and in the last year alone, emoji usage increased by 19%.
Emojis make every post more engaging and inviting. Even when responding to your follower’s comments, adding emojis makes every interaction seem friendlier and more personal.

Post videos

Instagram may be image-centric, but the rising demand for video content has not gone unnoticed. This is why from the initial 15-second limit to video content using the platform, Instagram has increased the allowed timeframe to 60 seconds. And if you’ve been dabbling in video marketing, you know for a fact that you can do a lot in those 60 seconds.
Does it work? Well, photos may be getting more likes on Instagram. But videos get twice as much comments.

Have perfect timing

People don’t stay awake and online 24/7. This is why you need to have perfect timing when posting content on Instagram.
You’ll also notice that the platform is more fast-paced. Post something now and it will have a dozen other posts on top of it on your followers’ feeds in a matter of seconds.
Find out more about your target audience and see when they’re most active. Usually, Sundays show the lowest engagement. Weekdays are usually better. Posting at around 9PM would often show a higher number of interactions. A lot of users are also scrolling about at around 8AM.

Feature faces, not just things

Although you’d probably want to show images of your products, your followers will always look for a face to relate your brand to. In fact, Instagram posts that have faces in it usually gets 38% more likes. So squeeze in a facial shot or two every so often.

Without a doubt, Instagram can open up a load of opportunities for your brand. Apply these tips above, then let us know what results you see on your social media marketing.

Google Made an Algorithm Change! Is My Content Marketing Going Down the Drain?

Google Made an Algorithm Change! Is My Content Marketing Going Down the Drain? 

Here’s the trickiest part about content marketing and Google – the way Google works is about as unpredictable as an accident or a natural calamity.

No one really knows for sure how Google thinks or when they make algorithm changes. But one thing’s for sure – because people (aka YOUR audience) are perpetually changing, Google would have to change regularly as well. After all, we’re all in the business of trying to adapt to how consumers think.

But first things first – what are Google algorithms?

Algorithms are a set of guidelines that dictate how anything is going to work.

Google algorithms dictate how search results are filtered. It’s an entire system that serves as a gatekeeper telling you whether your content is worthy of page 1 or not.

Knowing what these algorithms are for is simple enough. But understanding how they work, especially with Google’s penchant for vagueness, is an entirely different story.

The 200 Elements that Google Considers

Yes, you read that right. There are over 200 factors that Google considers before it can decide whether your piece should go on top of the search results, or if it should even be considered as a result at all.
This alone tells you how complicated SEO really is. It’s not something you’ll dismiss as something you can learn in one sitting as you watch a YouTube tutorial. It’s something that, more often than not, is best left to experts that really know what they’re doing.

These elements are categorized under these groups:

1.Backlinks (total number of pages, age of the domains where the backlinks come from, etc.)

2.Brand signals (brand keyword searches, brand’s social media presence, brand mentions, etc.)

3.Domain (keyword appearance on domain name, domain registration length, etc.)

4.Off-site webspam (unnatural inflow of links, low-quality directory links, etc.)

5.On-site webspam (links to bad pages, redirects, distracting ads, etc.)

6.Page-level (keyword used on title tag, keyword used in description tag, etc.)

7.Site-level (contact information, valuable content, site architecture, etc.)

8.Special rules (user browsing history, geo targeting, safe search, etc.)

9.User interaction (organic click-throughs, bounce rates, repeat traffic, etc.)

It’s complicated, all right. But Google does that for a reason.

Remember that these searches are made FOR humans. They’re meant for consumers and users looking for answers to questions. You can’t run an effective search engine marketing campaign if you’re only looking at making money for your business. Otherwise, Google would be spouting spammy and salesy content that does not really bring any value to the user.

I Don’t Understand All Those Algorithm Factors. Is My Brand Doomed?

Nope, it’s not.

Neil Patel is one of the biggest digital marketers around, and even he shows major drops in traffic even if he makes no significant changes and remains awesome at what he does.

See that drop from February to April? There was a 25.18% drop in traffic, considering that there weren’t any seasonal factors to speak of, or any significant changes made to his website.

What does this tell us?

That it’s okay for your traffic to fluctuate and that you don’t need to overthink and panic about every single Google algorithm update.

Shocked?

Neil stands by his belief that he doesn’t need Google to tell him what to do – he depends on his followers to tell him that. Considering that he doesn’t really base his actions on Google’s algorithm changes, just look at how his numbers jumped from 2017 to 2018.

His traffic may have dipped in April of 2017, but he continued thinking about the kind of content that HIS AUDIENCE wants and needs. And in the long run, that approach made his numbers get better.

Take note that just because you shouldn’t be jumping to change something each time Google releases an algorithm doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about SEO. SEO makes the online world go round. Without it, all hell will break loose and there wouldn’t be any chance for valuable content to be found.

Simply put, long-term SEO success is the dream. Go for the steady (although possibly a bit slow) increase instead of the quick upward motion then zooming right back down in terms of traffic.

Here are a few ways for you to ensure success over the long-term.

Pruning and Cropping Your Content

Ideally, this should be done at least once a year.

Pruning and cropping means updating and improving your current content. Yes, you’ll definitely notice a drop in traffic right after a pruning and cropping session. But if you wait for the storm to pass, you’ll eventually triple your traffic slowly but surely.

How is this done?

List down every single URL on your website. There are tools like Screaming Frog that will ensure you don’t miss out on anything. Next, check each page’s traffic via Google Analytics. Then, check all the backlinks on every page, and lastly, check out each URL’s social shares.

Have all this information listed on a spreadsheet.

Now that you have a list, sort them into these 4 piles:

Optimize

They land under “optimize” if the page has value. This means that it’s getting decent traffic, backlinks and social shares. You can try updating the content, or add a few internal links to make it even more relevant.

Delete

As for pages that are the exact opposite of the pages you’ll want to optimize, the best way to deal with them is to delete them altogether. Pages that do not receive any traffic and have no backlinks and shares are only taking up space on your site. Just make sure that you fix any links that may be redirecting to this page.

Redirect

Sometimes, you’ll end up creating two pieces of content that are very similar to each other. In this case, just combine the content and redirect to the more popular URL. Make sure you readjust any links going into either page to make sure everyone lands on the right spot.

Do nothing

If the page is doing great and there are no other improvements to be made, leave it as is.
Note that if your blog or website has not been updated for years, then the pruning and cropping may take a long time. This is exactly why you should start making it a consistent effort.

Other Tips to Trigger Long-Term SEO Success

Although pruning and cropping would already work wonders on your long-term content marketing results, these additional tips would ensure that your results would go even further.

Target an international audience. Go for audiences with a high population and a high GDP.

Fix broken media files and links.

Use your Google Search Console to find errors that need to be fixed. If you’re unsure how to use it, you can hire a developer to do this for you.

Build your brand. Google is for people, and people follow their trusted brands.

Monitor your competition. Knowing their every move allows you to outsmart them at every turn.

To cut the long story short, don’t run around in a panic-stricken state each time Google makes an algorithm change. SEO is SEO. Although there are minor tweaks here and there, as long as you look at your own audience’s behavior and think about what’s best for them, you’ll end up with better numbers in the long-term. After all, that’s the exact point of search engine marketing – delivering content for the people.

Low Email Click-Through Rates? Here’s the Secret of Digital Marketing Experts

Low Email Click-Through Rates? Here’s the Secret of Digital Marketing Experts 

You’ve probably heard other people say that email marketing doesn’t really work. And when you think about all those marketing emails going straight into your spam folder, you’d probably agree with them.

But then again, digital marketing gurus from Convince and Convert say that people spend 138% more on products marketed to them via email compared to those who discover products through other platforms.

Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that?

You see, email marketing isn’t just sending out emails – it’s about sending emails the right way, to the right people.
So let’s start with knowing how NOT to scare people away through your emails.

Your first sentence alone can make all the difference. It only takes a 10th of a second for people to form a first impression about you. Botch that opening, and you throw all chances of your email working out the window.

Here are opening sentences you should avoid at all costs when writing content for your email campaign:

    “Hi, my name is…”

    This line may have catapulted Eminem to superstar status, but it’s definitely not going to work for your emails.
    Guess what – your name appears not only on the “From” field, but on the signature as well. And this is not a college meet-and-greet; it’s an opportunity to show that you’re an authority in your field. And when it comes to digital marketing, authority is everything.
    Instead of wasting an entire line on your name, go straight to the point. Jump to a relevant statistic, or mention a fact that makes your recipient go, “Yup, this is meant for me.”

    “I’m from…” or “I work for…”

    The moment you start your email by saying who you work for or what company you’re from, they immediately put their walls up. They immediately see you as someone who’s out to sell them something.
    Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying that you can’t say who you work with or what you do in the entire email. I’m just suggesting that you do it naturally.

    Take a look at this example from HubSpot:

    See how natural that was? It actually felt like an acquaintance reaching out, and not an unknown salesman knocking on the door.
    What if you don’t have any connection with the recipient just yet?

    Then skip the company mention for now and leave it to the latter parts of the email. Find something else to capture the recipient’s attention, preferably something that addresses their pain points, or something that you know they are already interested in.

    “Did you know that…”

    Best practices in content marketing include the use of statistics and facts. Yes, data is always a great way to start your email. Unfortunately, this opening has been used by soooooo many marketers and salespeople before that it has become cheesy and highly predictable.

    So what’s the best way to create a sense of inclusivity (and hopefully some urgency) when you use statistics to open up your email content?

    Just say it.

    Instead of saying, “Did you know that email marketing can deliver an ROI of up to 4400%?” just say, “Email marketing can give you up to 4400% of ROI when done right.”
    If that feels too abrupt for you, then you can go ahead and personalize it a little. Say, “You may be at a point where you’re giving up on your email marketing altogether. But we have seen our clients get up to 4400% ROI on their campaigns, so now’s not the time to call it quits just yet.”

    “Congratulations!”

    Who doesn’t want to be congratulated on huge milestones? It definitely makes people feel good when people recognize them for a job well done. However, when it comes to email, the word “Congratulations” has been given a whole new meaning.
    “Congratulations, you have been chosen for a raffle that can give you up to $1M in prizes!”
    “Congratulations, you’re one of the chosen recipients to an amazing prize!”

    Sounds familiar?

    Yup, those are the usual opening lines to emails that usually end up on your spam folder. Now, some of them may be legit and could actually be sending you a genuine congratulatory message. But will you risk having your email lumped in with those form emails that recipients avoid like a plague?

    The same rule still applies here – just go straight to the point!

    Avoid your dilly-dallying. Instead of saying, “Congratulations on your new website!” you can say, “I saw your new website, congratulations on that! It looks like an exciting time for your company, considering the steps that you’re taking towards a more digitized platform.”

    “I hope you’re doing well…”

    You may think that this shows concern and creates a connection. But this is not your friend you’re writing to – it’s a potential client, follower, or partner.

    It’s also the same thing as opening a first date by saying, “How’s the weather?” It automatically tells your date that the evening is going to be boring.

    Skip the small talk. Jump straight to the core of your message. Always keep the do’s and don’ts of content marketing in mind. Remember that this is still content, but delivered in a more personal manner. Hit them right where it hurts right away so that they know that this is something that’s going to benefit them.

    Open smart, open strong. That’s one thing you have to remember each time you send out an email. With people all around the world opening dozens of emails each day, you don’t want to be the one that gets sent straight to the trash bin. You want to be the person whose emails they will always look forward to each and every time.