Are You Paying for Traffic You Might Get for Free?

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As a consumer, free is the best price. As a marketer, free traffic is the best kind of traffic.

We spend millions of dollars to get people to come to our website with the hopes that some of them will turn into paying customers. But often, the people that get to our website via other channels (free channels, for the most part) are “higher quality” leads.

They come in through organic search results, or links from social media, or directly based on the recommendation of a friend or colleague. And because they took the impetus, they are often highly motivated.

Sometimes, if we take the time to look, we end up spending our money to get some of these folks to come to our website, even though they would have come on their own otherwise. And while that might not necessarily make them less likely to convert, it does cost us money that we’d be better off saving, or investing elsewhere.

Where Are You Spending Money Unnecessarily?

The most common place we encounter this problem is on search engines, where companies spend money to target certain keyword phrases, with the goal of getting searchers to click on an ad at the top of the SERP.

What most marketers fail to do is take their organic search rankings into account when deciding how to spend their money. For example, if you are already showing up in the first organic position on Google, do you really need to spend the money it takes to display your ad there?

We know the value of the top position on Google. And if you’re already successful at winning traffic on that keyword, why spend any money at all?

But Google is not the only place this happens. Companies spend countless ad dollars on banners, social media, billboards, television and radio that gets wasted on people who have already made their decision to purchase from you or not. In some of the more traditional channels, this is hard to avoid. But online, it’s not.

Gain a Deeper Understanding of Your Traffic

The key to spending your money intelligently is to treat your marketing efforts more strategically. Each channel, each source, each campaign or effort or idea is just one part of the larger plan. Instead of putting them in siloes and assigning them to different teams, we must bring our teams together and approach the roles and responsibilities more holistically.

SEM and SEO must be on the same page, so they don’t duplicate efforts and cancel each other out. Sales and marketing need to come together to make sure they’re not stepping on each other’s toes and sending the consumer mixed messages. The email team, or the social media team, should not be targeting introductory offers to existing customers.

Stop spending money advertising to people you don’t need to. If you can figure out how to do that, you will suddenly free up a ton of cash you can put toward more effective means. And you will make your boss very happy.

Creative Ways to Increase Your Company’s Visibility - Guest Post

The following is a guest post from Ivan Serrano. Ivan is a journalist living comfortably in San Francisco, California. Ivan's niche is in social media, business and marketing. When he's not typing up another masterpiece, he'll likely be off practicing his photography or losing his voice yelling at the television whilst watching his favorite sports.

It’s not enough for your business to offer high-quality products or excellent services — people also have to know that your company exists. If you want to nab customers who might otherwise fall into the hands of your competitors, it’s essential that you find ways to stand out from the pack.

You’ll also have to make sure you’re making clever use of current technology such as social media and mobile apps. More than 40% of the total population rely on multiple devices to stay connected with individuals and brands that are important to them, so your marketing efforts will have to reflect the technology of the moment.

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Striking the right balance between consumer psychology and technical savvy can be difficult for even the most experienced marketers, so here are some strategies you can use to start off on the right foot. Use your own blend of the following tactics to ensure that your marketing efforts will be unique and allow you to establish a distinctive voice for your brand:

Blogging 101: How to Create Content that Doesn’t Suck

Everyone in the ecommerce space understands that blogging is important, but too many business owners treat it like a chore instead of an exciting opportunity to engage with potential customers. Remember: when you blog, you’re always communicating something about what your brand is — and who it’s for. That being the case, you need to avoid boring or pedantic content like the plague. After all, nobody wants to associate themselves with a voice that seems drony and dispassionate.

You should already have a pretty good idea of who your ideal customer is, so take that concept to the next level: imagine how they talk, what they’re interested in, and how their sense of humor works. Then use that information to inform the content you write for your blog. Should your posts be stylish and quietly sophisticated, or quirky, sassy and outrageous? Are they for customers who are serious about solving important problems in their industries, or for fun-loving individuals who count on your products to spice up their lives?

It’s also essential to make sure that you’re blogging for different stages of the buyer funnel. 47% of buyers report viewing between three and five separate pieces of content from a given brand prior to engaging with a sales representative. What does that mean? Simple: in addition to posts that raise awareness of your products and the problems they solve, make sure you’re publishing content that deepens a potential customer’s awareness of how you can solve their needs and eventually convinces them to make a purchase. Then go one better: make posts that offer troubleshooting advice for customers who have already bought your products, so they’ll be more likely to remain satisfied with them and recommend them to friends, family, or colleagues.

Create an Influencer Army

We’ve just covered the importance of word of mouth, so don’t rely on your blogging to drive the hype machine alone. 70% of all millennial consumers report being influenced by their peers when they decide whether or not to purchase a product, so look for bloggers who fit into your target audience and reach out to them. Offer them free samples, exposure on your blog (if it’s large enough), and other incentives to get them writing about what you offer. A single kind word from an ostensibly unaffiliated influencer can be worth boatloads of simple self-promotion.

Incentives Aren’t Just for Influencers

Influencers love receiving deals and freebies, but you know who loves those perks even more? Potential customers — especially those who might struggle to afford your products and services otherwise. Offering scholarship opportunities to students can be an excellent way to raise brand awareness amongst potential buyers in their late teens and twenties, but it can also earn you the respect and admiration of their families and help you secure loyal customers for life.

Crack the Viral Code

Human interest stories tend to be much more shareable than advertisements, so don’t just write stories about how wonderful your products and services are. Try to write at least a few pieces in the style of news items each time you’re about to release a new product or offer a new service, and include real-life details of how your work has helped customers in the past.

Here are a few tips you can use to lend more credibility to your voice when creating news-style content:

  • Avoid a first-person voice (i.e. “my company” or “our products”). Use third-person so that it sounds like someone from outside your company has taken an active interest in your work.

  • Keep your tone neutral — don’t explicitly hype up the work you do, just explain how it helped someone solve a problem they were having. Trust that your audience will be smart enough to make the connection.

  • Publish in sources that aren’t directly connected to your blog. Medium’s content guidelines make it a fairly easy place to publish, as long as your writing appears credible and neutral. Buzzfeed is also a viable option for content creators who have mastered the “listicle” format.

Once you’ve made high-value content, make sure it includes backlinks to your landing page so that the people who read it will have an easy, natural way to engage with your brand. Then make sure you share the piece on social media through targeted ads so that it reaches as many of its intended readers as possible.

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Final Thoughts: Do What the Other Company Can’t — or Won’t Do

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when trying to distinguish your business from the pack is to embrace what makes you different. Don’t try to mimic the tone of successful competitors in your writing; they’re already nailing that approach. Don’t design your packaging to look like the boxes used by the leading brand in your field; make something that doesn’t already exist. Creativity is all about knowing when to take risks, and there’s nothing riskier than being yourself. Crucially though, there’s also nothing more rewarding.

How to Get More People to Link to Your Site

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The more people that link to your site, the more authority you have on the web. Inbound links carry with them a lot of benefit…

  • Higher domain authority raises your likelihood of ranking nearer to the top of search results for relevant keyword phrases

  • Higher page authority for the pages being linked to raises the chances of high value pages showing up on page one

  • Links from websites and articles with lots of traffic could send some of that traffic through to your website

But acquiring those inbound links requires some amount of effort on your part. Though it would be great to expect to achieve success in this area organically, for most of us, it’s not so simple.

So what can you do to get more inbound links?

1. Improve the Quality of Your Content

Nobody wants to link to crappy content. Misspellings and typos, poorly written articles, ugly layouts and visual style, can all impact the perceived quality of content on your website. When given the option of linking to a page with better writing, clearer explanations, and more appealing design, any author or publisher will choose that over the garbage on offer over on your website. By improving the overall quality of your content, you make it more likely that people will link out to it.

2. Fill a Gap in the Marketplace

Do you have the ability to add value in a way that nobody else does? Perhaps you have a level of expertise that is worth sharing, or a fresh take on an old debate or problem? The web is chock full of content, but most of it is not what we would consider unique. If you can create something that is truly new and interesting, people will have no choice but to link to it.

3. User Generated Content

When you get other people involved in the development of your content, you create a different incentive for links. Now the people who have contributed have reason to tell their networks and friends. This creates a type of word of mouth virality that most static content you create yourself won’t have.

4. Develop an Outreach List

One of the most underrated ways to attract new links is to simply ask for them. But before you can start, you need to know who to ask.

An outreach list is a list of bloggers, writers, reporters, websites, publishers, etc. that write about things related to your business. This is a list of people that you want to develop a relationship with, in hopes that they will write about your business, or link to content that you yourself have published.

5. Actively Seek Links

When you are reaching out to the people on your outreach list, you want to be explicit about why. You have developed something that you think they would be interested in. You think their readers would be interested in it. Writers are looking for things to write about, and so want to showcase the value on offer to them.

6. Deploy a Press Strategy

Make news. Do something newsworthy. I’m not talking about publicity stunts here, but I do mean that you should create an intentional strategy that gets the press interested in your business. Celebrity endorsements, live events, major business deals, customer successes, etc. are all ways to build a little hype around your brand. News articles offer potential high-quality links.

7. Know Your SEO

A not so dirty secret is that pages that already rank higher in search results are more likely to attract more links. That’s because people will often use search to find the resources they use when developing their content. And they are more likely to find content that already has a high ranking. So in addition to everything written above, it is important to have a solid SEO strategy that consistently drives your site up toward the top of the rankings. The higher you go, the more likely some publisher is to find you on their own.

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Search Keywords

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Whether we are talking about paid search or organic SEO efforts, not all keywords should be treated equally.

If we apply the 80/20 Rule, which states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, to your search keywords, we assume that 80% of all traffic to your website will come from just 20% of your keywords.

In truth, if your company is like the majority of others, the ratio is a bit more dramatic – closer to 90/10.

Prove It

At this point, some of you will not believe me. Others will have already heard this before.

Regardless of how you feel about the numbers provided above, it is important that you find out the truth for your business. And there are a number of tools available to help you do just that.

First, you can go to the person responsible for your SEO and PPC. Those may be two different people. They may be people outside of your company. Regardless, the tools that they use to track and optimize their efforts will have all the information necessary to judge what percentage of all the keywords they’re targeting bring in the majority of search traffic.

For those of you who are doing this for yourself, you can use Google Ads or Google Analytics reports to find the true ratio for your company. Look at the last 30 or 90 days and export a full list of the keywords that brought in traffic. Sort it from highest to lowest and then simply do the math.

How many keywords, out of all the ones searched, does it take to get to 80% of all traffic?

Why Does it Matter?

Now that you have proved to yourself, and your boss, that the majority of search traffic is coming in to your website on a limited number of total keywords, it’s time to let that inform your decision making.

A lot of efforts are focused on keyword expansion. And while this strategy is not misguided unto itself, the numbers above should suggest to us that this is not always the wisest initial option. The much bigger impact can be made by focusing your efforts on the keywords with the highest traffic.

You can capture even more traffic from those keywords – or acquire the traffic more efficiently – in a number of different ways.

  1. Why pay for the traffic if you can get it for free? If you know which keywords you’re spending the most money on in paid search, you should start targeting those keywords in your SEO efforts. If you can turn paid traffic into organic traffic, you save money that you can put toward other uses.
     
  2. Find out who is outbidding you. It’s likely your competitors are driving traffic from those very same keywords. But if you know who they are and what they are doing, you can compete and win a higher percentage of total search traffic.
     
  3. Rise up the first page. You may already be getting organic clicks to your site from high volume keywords if you are on page one. But that doesn’t mean your work is done. With each position you rise toward the coveted top spot, the percentage of total search traffic goes up almost exponentially. So don’t settle for page one, aim for position one.

What if Traffic isn’t the Point?

Traffic isn’t always the point. In fact, unless you are a publisher that derives their income from ad impressions, traffic is rarely ever the point.

Your aim is something else. Conversions.

Whether conversions mean leads, sales, donations, contacts, or anything else, you want traffic that takes action. And so instead of measuring which keywords lead to the most traffic, simply measure which keywords lead to the most conversions, using the same tools discussed earlier.

By gaining a deeper understanding of where your best traffic is coming from, you can refine your search efforts and spend your time on those activities that truly move the needle.

4 Actionable Tips to Boost Your Organic Search Traffic – Guest Post

The following is a guest post written by Raul Harman. Raul is editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can reach him on Twitter.

Nowadays, modern businesses compete for both market position and customers. With so many various companies competing for the same thing, it's very difficult to ensure your business can stand out from the others properly. The online world provides many opportunities for companies to make a name for themselves, but not every company is able to do so. The main reason is that businesses oftentimes choose the approach that's not best suited for them.

In that case, you're only wasting valuable time and resources on marketing and promotions without yielding any viable results. If you're uncertain on which approach to take, in order to outrun your competitors, remember that everyone uses a search engine, such as Google to find something online. Therefore, if you want your business to stand out, you need to focus on building your organic search traffic. In other words, you must become more visible and more accessible online. Here are a few easy tips to boost your organic search traffic.

Leverage SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a cost-effective marketing strategy that will boost your online visibility and organic web traffic. The purpose of SEO is to help your website appear on the first page of search results on search engines, such as Google. To achieve that you must rank for the right keywords that your audience most commonly uses in their online search. In addition, those keywords must be relevant to the products or services your business offers.

Appearing first on search results is perceived by consumers as a recommendation from search engines. If Google placed you on the first page it must mean your business is worthy enough to check out. SEO doesn't only make you more visible, but also improves the trustworthiness and credibility of your website. That means that you'll get much more organic traffic by having good ranking, than by investing in paid advertisement.

Optimize your website

SEO requires that you properly optimize your website, in order to rank well on search engines. However, that's not the only reason you should focus on website optimization. Consequently, you're optimizing your website for the customers and the organic search traffic as well. Customer experience on your website plays a major role in determining not only your ranking, but your reputation as well. If your website is fast, secure, easy to navigate, user friendly and responsive enough to meet customer expectations, you'll more likely to favor referrals and recommendations from your website visitors.

That means that if you give consumers what they need, they'll boost your organic traffic by recommending you to others. As an example, an easy way to achieve this is to make your website super fast. You can opt for a hosting solution, such as cPanel hosting. That way, you can make immediate improvements to your website speed on your own and without having to procure services from web developers or designers.

Guest post on reputable sources

Guest posting is an activity of sharing your content across various reputable sources, such as websites or blogs. The purpose of this activity is to build your authority and presence online, in order to position yourself as an industry expert. Not only that, but with guest posting you're also improving your exposure, allowing you to reach a broader audience. The more relevant and high-quality your content is, the more engagement you'll drive from different audiences.

What's more, you must target only the reputable sources to share your content with, because that way, you'll gain more relevant and more organic traffic for your website. Building your reputation and domain authority through guest posting allows you to stand out on the market. That way, more people will be willing to visit your website by reading the interesting content you've provided across various media channels.

Build your presence on social media

Social media platforms are the main hub for businesses these days. The main reason is that social media networks put you in direct contact with your target audience. That being said, there's no better way to gain organic search traffic than it is to generate leads on social media. This allows you to lead consumers to your website with little to no cost at all. The main reason is that you can build presence on social media organically, which means you don't really have to leverage paid ads if you don't wish to do so.

Engaging in conversations with your customers and sharing content with them allows you to build more personal relationships with your audience. Not only that, but you can launch social media marketing campaigns to build more awareness about your business. What's more, you can leverage social media influencers to ensure that your content and your promotions are more welcomed by the audience present on social media channels. The better your presence is, the more likelihood of people visiting your website or researching your business online.

When it comes to online exposure for businesses, organic traffic is the best way to get the recognition and attention you need. Organic traffic means that consumers are checking out your business because they want to and because you've managed to pique their interest. The more organic search traffic you have, the more chances your business has for outrunning competitors and ultimately more chances of reaching success.