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A well-designed landing page can greatly increase conversions for your PPC or email marketing campaigns.
Rather than directing visitors from those sources to your general website (where they may have a hard time finding what they’re looking for), you can direct them to a specifically designed landing page that steers them in exactly the right direction.
Creating effective landing pages isn’t the same as crafting a successful website or email newsletter. There are certain guidelines you should adhere to in order to maximize your page’s success.
Here is what you need to know to create an effective landing page.
Landing pages, like any other part of your online marketing strategy, need goals. Without concrete, specific goals, there’s no way to create an effective page. Your goal should be clear before you begin designing your page.
For example, your page might be designed to encourage:
You also need specific expectations for your landing page, on which to gauge its success. These expectations can be based on previous experience, anecdotal evidence, or simply wishful thinking.
It’s helpful to have a specific number to compare your actual results with. This could be the total number of conversions, or the number of people who make it past your landing page, or some other number, based on your own goals.
Once you know what your goal for the page is, you need to come up with a clear call to action. This is possibly the single most important part of any landing page.
Your call to action should be specifically tied to your goal and should be supported by everything else on your page, from headline and body copy to images and overall layout.
The Backpack landing page has a very clear call to action, though they opt to first direct visitors to more information about their plans and pricing, rather than going straight for the signup.
Your copy should be clear and concise. It should be persuasive, too. Landing pages are not the place to show off your creativity, unless that creativity is clear, concise, and persuasive. Leave the creative turns-of-phrase for your blog.
It’s pretty safe to assume that most of the people who visit your page are already interested in what you have to say, because they’ve likely clicked through from a PPC ad or email. But just because they’re interested when they arrive doesn’t mean they’ll stay interested if you don’t get to the point.
Every single sentence and word on your landing page should serve a purpose, and that purpose should be to support your call to action. If it doesn’t do that, cut it. Be ruthless in editing your copy. Tell your visitors what they want to know in as few words as possible, and get them to respond to your call to action as quickly as possible.
The VideoWizard example has a simple design with clear copy that has definite goals.
If your page includes a form, make sure it’s only asking for the most vital information. If you’re trying to get visitors to sign up for an email newsletter, make sure you’re just asking them for their email address. Anything more than that decreases the chances that they’ll finish and submit the form.
If you’re asking them to make a purchase, keep it simple. Just ask for the vitals: billing and shipping information, plus a confirmation screen before placing their order. Wait to ask them for additional information until after their order has been placed.
This form only asks for name and email address, neither of which are likely to deter sign-ups.
This form, on the other hand, has too many fields. Do they really need a phone number and company name? And wouldn’t it make more sense to just ask for a name in one field, rather than two?
The major difference between your normal website and your landing pages is your landing pages shouldn’t include the usual site navigation. Instead, the only clickable links should be your call to action, and possibly a link to more information for those who are undecided.
Linking your logo to your regular home page can also be a good idea.
This example shows just the vital links, without a ton of extraneous navigation.
Forget about links to everything else. All they do is clutter up the page and increase the likelihood that your visitors will abandon your landing page (and ultimately, your site) without converting.
Your landing page should still echo the design of your regular website, though, to reinforce your branding. This can be done through the graphics, general look and feel, or your color scheme and font choices.
This is important for branding and lets users know they are on the right page.
There are some questions about whether it’s better to use a single page for your landing page that requires scrolling, or if visitors respond better to a series of short pages (sometimes referred to as a “mini-site”).
Mini sites generally have multiple pages with short content that funnel visitors from one step to the next along the conversion process. This has the advantage of getting users in the habit of moving from one page to the next, which can help get them in the right psychological frame of mind to convert.
The downside to mini sites is that they work best for conversion funnels that need a lot of content.
Landing pages, on the other hand, are perfectly suited to shorter content. They also only have to load once, which can be a big consideration for companies targeting people in rural areas or developing nations, where bandwidth and connection speeds could be an issue.
The downside is a lot of content can get overwhelming and can come across as spammy if not well-designed.
The CameraPlus page is quite long, with all the information you need about the app. (The image above is split, as the entire page would be several thousand pixels long.)
Compare this page, which barely fills a single screen, and uses multiple steps to gather information.
While there’s a lot of debate as to the importance of “the fold” in web design, landing pages are one area where the fold is crucial. Make sure that your call to action is located near the top of the page, where someone can click it without having to scroll.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your visitors won’t scroll down the page to read more information. Hopefully, at least some percentage of your visitors will be ready to buy as soon as they arrive on your landing page, either because the email or link that brought them there already persuaded them, or because it’s not their first time visiting the page.
Putting a call to action right near the top of the page makes things easier on these visitors. (Plus, it can increase your conversion rates.)
The most important navigation elements are located just above the fold, with the call to action well above the fold.
The signup button is well above the fold here, too.
That doesn’t mean you should neglect those users who scroll. Make sure calls to action appear at regular intervals on your page, tied into the page’s copy.
This becomes more and more important as your pages get longer. Make sure that your users have to do minimal scrolling once they decide to convert.
FreshBooks includes links to a free trial or tour throughout their landing page.
Your landing pages should use only one or, at most, two images. You want to avoid visual clutter on the page, or anything that detracts from the message and call to action.
Larger font sizes are also a good idea to keep visitor’s eyes focuses on what matters and reduce eye strain. Just don’t go overboard and put everything in a headline-size font.
The ideal line length for copy readability is 39 characters, so size your font (and column width) accordingly.
The typography becomes a major part of the visuals of this landing page, minimizing the need for graphics.
Studies show that centered, single-column landing pages convert best. Yet, there are still plenty of marketers out there who are opting for two-column designs.
Make sure that you test single-column versions against any two-column versions prior to committing to a design.
This is a great example of a centered page that makes great use of the available space.
If your page is tied to an email campaign or PPC campaign, make sure the landing page echoes the look and feel of the ad or email.
If the designs of the two are wildly different, your visitors may wonder if they’ve ended up in the right place. The easiest way to do this is to carry over fonts, images, and colors from your campaign to your landing page. This is especially important for paid ads, as it can increase your quality score.
If you don’t want to have to use a web designer for your landing pages, there are options for creating great pages without any technical knowledge.
Unbounce is one of the easiest to use and lets you create landing pages without any IT experience. They have best-practices templates available that you can customize (or design your own page entirely from scratch), and flexible pricing (including a free plan for sites with limited traffic). Unbounce also integrates with Google Analytics for tracking your traffic, and Qualaroo for gathering user input.
Creating effective landing pages isn’t a one-size-fits-all project. What works for one site might not work so well for another. Finding the most effective page design is a matter of trial and error.
It’s important to test the different versions of your landing page (called A/B testing)to find the one that works the best for your particular situation. Without doing so, you might be leaving a lot of potential conversions on the table.
A few features to consider testing include:
Just remember to test each variant one at a time — if you change five different elements, you won’t know which impacted conversions.
A well-designed landing page can greatly increase conversions for your PPC or email marketing campaigns. Here’s how to do it.
Without concrete, specific goals, there’s no way to create an effective page. Your goal should be clear before you begin designing your page.
Your call to action should be specifically tied to your goal, and should be supported by everything else on your landing page, from headline and body copy to images and overall layout.
Landing pages are not the place to show off your creativity, unless that creativity is clear, concise, and persuasive. Leave the creative turns-of-phrase for your blog.
If your landing page includes a form, make sure it’s only asking for the most vital information.
Your landing pages shouldn’t have your usual site navigation. Instead, the only clickable links should be your call to action, and possibly a link to more information for those who are undecided.
Your landing page should still echo the design of your regular website, though, to reinforce your branding.
Make sure that your call to action is located near the top of the page, where someone can click it without having to scroll.
Your landing pages should use only one or, at most, two images. You want to avoid visual clutter on the page, or anything that detracts from the message and call to action.
Studies show centered, single-column landing pages convert best, so test that version first.
If your landing page is tied to an email campaign, make sure that the landing page echoes the look and feel of the email.
You don’t need a masters in computer science to design a landing page. Instead, use tools like Unbounce to create great looking landing pages.
Creating effective landing pages isn’t a one-size-fits-all project. What works for one site might not work so well for another. Finding the most effective page design is a matter of trial and error.
Landing pages are website pages designed with one goal in mind — conversions. Following the tips above will help you create a powerful page that drives users towards your business.
Just make sure to keep it simple. This is because landing pages have very specific goals and shouldn’t include any extraneous information that might distract your visitors and prevent them from converting.
Are you considering creating a landing page? What is your landing page goal?
There are a lot of misconceptions about online reputation management. Some people think it’s just social media monitoring, while others believe it has something to do with public relations, and still others have no idea the impact it can have on sales.
In this guide, I’ll explain the role of online reputation management in today’s digital age, explain why it matters, and outline 10 tips for improving and protecting your brand’s online image.
Just a few years ago, the internet was very different. Companies didn’t engage customers, they just sold (or tried to sell) to a passive audience People could not express their voice in a powerful way, and the overall communication landscape was very “top down.”
The situation has radically changed. Today, websites are no longer static brochures. User-generated content is a must. And regular interactions on social networks are vital to any business success.
No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you, including prospects, customers, clients, and their friends. They are tweeting about your latest product, leaving a comment on your blog, posting a Facebook update about their customer experience, and much more.
If you think you can skimp on reputation management, or if you think you can make it without taking into account people’s voices, opinions, and reviews, think again.
One of the most important business commandments is “Be transparent.” Opening up to criticism and feedback seems beneficial for companies that embrace this new communication mode with their audience.
What does being “transparent” mean? Here are some examples:
Easier said than done! Most small and medium sized companies do not invest much on communication, and they struggle with this concept. As a result, their efforts usually are incorrect or inconsistent.
Being transparent is risky. But in the long run, not being transparent is riskier.
Being open does not come without a price. If you and your brand accept feedback, customer opinions, and so on, you also must be ready to face them promptly.
Consider these scenarios:
These are just a few reasons you need to have a proper online reputation management plan in action before embarking on a transparency journey.
Here are three famous cases of reputation management failure in the digital era:
The lesson here? Pay attention to your online reputation and respond–kindly–to poor reviews. Don’t let your ego get in the way of being professional. Remember, you aren’t just responding to the person who left a review, you are showing everyone else online who your brand is.
What are people saying about you? Good online reputation management is not just reacting well to what people say about you, your brand, or your products and services, but also about whether to react at all and, if so, when.
Sometimes a reaction is not necessary, and sometimes a reaction that is too late can cost you millions.
A proactive approach to the matter consists of monitoring your public reputation regularly, and not just when you come to know about a specific event to deal with.
How do you do this? By using social media monitoring tools that keep an ear on what people are saying about your brand.
Social media monitoring allows companies to gather public online content (from blog posts to tweets, from online reviews to Facebook updates), process it, and see whether something negative or positive is being said affecting their reputation.
Social media monitoring can be both DIY (Google Alert is an example of a free web monitoring tool accessible to anyone) and professional, depending on the size of the business involved.
In the online reputation management scenario, companies should be aware of two types of harmful content. One is represented by complaints on social networks. They need to be addressed properly, but unless your company has serious problems, they do not pose a real challenge to your business.
The other is what I define as “online reputation bombs,” which affect your reputation and sales long term and can severely damage a business. They are very powerful because, unlike social network content, they are prominent in search engine results.
What if someone Googles your brand name and finds defamatory content? Let’s see what they are:
What do you do if your business is the victim of a smear campaign?
The first thing most companies wonder is “Can we call the cops?” I get it; being unfairly targeted feels illegal. But in most cases, online comments are not a legal matter.
Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Everyone has the right to express their voice about your brand. There are, however, certain boundaries that need to be respected. Some of the negative content online actually is illegal. Why?
How do you react to all of this? How do you defend yourself or your company from this kind of illegal behavior?
Depending on the scope of the problem, several paths can be pursued in order to restore your online reputation:
These strategies are only required in the most extreme cases. Most businesses can manage their online reputation by following these 10 tips.
Calling it “online reputation” really is redundant. Your online reputation is your reputation. In the digital era, nothing protects your brand from criticism. This is good from a freedom of speech perspective; bad if your company has been defamed and attacked.
To help you stay on top of your reputation, here are ten practical tips that sum up what we have covered in this guide. The world of brand reputation will change in the coming years, but following these simple tips will help you keep your name.
Trust is a perishable asset and it is hard to gain. Working to build respect work is more important than any other online reputation management commandment.
After years of hiding critics, McDonald’s publicly forced egg suppliers to raise hens’ living standards according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals request.
Being transparent about shows you care about your customers and are willing to make changes when things go wrong.
In addition to all the reasons to monitor your online reputation, social media monitoring also can increase sales. These days, lots of people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they evaluate whether or not they should buy from you. Showing you are responsive makes your brand look reliable.
In case of a customer complaint via Twitter, for example, a prompt and simple “Thanks for making us aware of the problem. We are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible.” is better than a late reply with more information.
In 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed on Obama healthcare reform, which caused a controversy among WF customers. Two days later, the company published a written statement recognizing there were “many opinions on this issue, including inside our own company” and invited people to share their opinion about the article and health care changes. They didn’t just ignore it and hope it would go away; they addressed the issue head-on.
Responding to negative feedback shows you care and are working hard to fix any issues.
First impressions count, and we do judge many books by their cover. If the words “scam” and “rip off” are associated with your brand, then that is something you should worry about.
A strong SEO strategy is your best defense against negative press, reviews, and false reports.
Criticism can be the chance to learn more about your audience and craft a better message in the future. Motrin’s controversial “baby-wearing moms” commercial sparked a lot of criticism. It did not come from competitors or illegitimate attackers, but from people in Motrin’s target audience who felt offended by their promotional content.
If the online responses to your brand are legitimate, it might be time to reconsider your marketing strategy or responses.
Sometimes we simply have to fight illegal behavior. In 2009, Domino’s Pizza employees who posted disgusting videos of themselves playing with food were fired and arrested. Another example is people who post false information on the internet. Sometimes, if you don’t sue them, they might do it again.
CORRECTION: @jmbergoglio is not the account of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Our apologies.
— Boston.com News (@BostonDotCom) March 13, 2013
Sony certainly learned a reputation management lesson back in 2005. The company placed copy protection (XCD) on its CDs which created computer vulnerabilities that malware could exploit. Instead of being upfront about their mistake, Sony stonewalled criticism and lost millions in class-action lawsuits.
If you’ve made a misstep, own up to it and take action to fix the issue.
If your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you have the choice to request help from a professional. Working with an online marketing company or reputation management firm may be your only resort.
Time needed: 5 minutes.
Here are 10 tips to protect your online reputation management
Building and maintaining trust in your business can protect you from online smear campaigns.
Share the good — and the bad– about your company to build trust.
You can’t protect your reputation if you don’t know what people are saying.
A prompt “Thanks for making us aware of the problem. We are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible.” is better than a late reply with more information.
Don’t ignore criticism, responding quickly shows you care about your customers.
If the words “scam” or “ripoff” are associated with your brand, it is time to take action. A strong SEO strategy can protect your brand by pushing down negative feedback.
Criticism can be the chance to learn more about your audience and craft a better message in the future.
Sometimes, if you don’t sue or push back against detractors, they might do it again.
If you’ve made a misstep, own up to it and take action to fix the issue.
If your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you have the choice to request help from a professional.
Managing your online reputation starts with listening to what your customers have to say and finding ways to connect with them. Replying to online criticism is crucial and building an SEO strategy is crucial, but it might not be enough to protect your brand from smear campaigns. In those cases, it might be time to get professional help.
What do you do to protect your online reputation?
If you’ve spent any time learning about marketing analytics, you’ve probably come across the term “funnels.” What exactly are marketing funnels and why do they matter?
Marketing funnels are a useful tool to help you visualize the path customers take from first finding out about your brand to converting. Understanding them provides useful insight into why some customers convert — and some don’t.
A marketing funnel is a visual representation of the steps a visitor takes from first finding out about your brand until they convert. The most common type of marketing funnel is four steps:
The action can vary based on customer and industry — maybe you want them to make a purchase, sign up, or fill out a form. When someone does something you want them to do, it’s known as a conversion. The visitor converts from browsing to taking the action you want them to take.
Think about the Amazon purchase funnel. There are several steps a visitor has to go through before they can purchase a product. Here’s how it looks:
There are additional steps/actions that can be taken in between each of these steps, but they don’t matter in the marketing funnel unless they contribute to the final action. For example, a visitor may view Amazon’s Careers page, but we don’t need to count these in the funnel because they aren’t necessary steps.
Why is the set of steps to conversion called a “funnel”? Because at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take the first step.
As the people continue along and take the next steps, some of them drop out, and the size of the crowd thins or narrows. (Even further along in the process, your sales team gets involved to help close the deal.)
Losing customers might sound like a bad thing — but it’s not. The truth is, not everyone in your funnel will convert. The top of the funnel is where everyone goes in (visiting your site or viewing a marketing campaign). Only the most interested buyers will move further down your funnel.
So when you hear people say “widen the funnel,” you now know what they are referring to.
They want to cast a larger net by advertising to new audiences, increasing their brand awareness, or adding inbound marketing to drive more people to their site, thus widening their funnel. The more people there are in a funnel, the wider it is.
In this article, we’re focusing on marketing funnels, that is funnels that start with some sort of marketing campaign. That might be a PPC ad, content marketing campaign, white paper download, video ad, social media ad, or even an IRL ad. The point is the first step in the funnel is a marketing campaign of some sort.
Other types of funnels you might hear about include:
Despite the different names, these all track the same exact thing — the steps a prospective customer takes to conversion. (Sometimes they are even called conversion funnels!)
You aren’t limited to using a marketing funnel strictly for signing up and/or purchasing. You can put funnels all over your website to see how visitors move through a specific website flow.
You may want to track newsletter signup (Viewing newsletter signup form > Submitting form > Confirming email) or a simple page conversion (Viewing a signup page > Submitting signup).
Figure out what your goals are and what you want visitors to do on your site, and you can create a funnel for it.
Once you have the data, you’ll be able to see where roadblocks are and optimize your funnel. Let’s dig a little deeper into that.
Marketing funnels provide access to data, called a marketing funnel report, which lets you can see where you are losing customers. This is sometimes called a “leaky” funnel because it allows customers you want to keep to escape the funnel.
Let’s take your average SaaS business as an example. Here’s how a funnel may look for them:
Do people have to use the product before paying? They don’t, but it’s a good idea to track it so you can see if it’s a roadblock.
For example, if you are losing a lot of conversions after the trial stage, you might need to update your onboarding process so people understand how to use the tool or even adjust the top of your funnel so you aren’t attracting people outside of your target audience.
Let’s look at a funnel process for a retail store and see the corresponding steps in an e-commerce store. We’ll be tracking a purchase funnel.
The e-commerce store has the fortune of being able to see a funnel because they can track clicks, time on page, and other metrics. Their marketing would look something like this:
Okay, so now we have an understanding of what a funnel is and why it helps. Let’s take a look at a product that offers funnels – Google Analytics.
Google Analytics offers funnels, and I’ve written extensively about it in the past. This is an incredibly simple way to track the path prospects take before they convert. Sign in, then head to Admin > Goals > +New Goal > Choose a Goal to create a Google Analytics goal.
Here are a couple of things you’ll need to know when creating funnels in Google Analytics:
Overall, if you are just getting started with marketing funnels, Google Analytics is a solid place to start. Learn how to set up a conversion funnel in Google Analytics.
A marketing funnel is a visual representation of the steps a visitor takes from first finding out about your brand until they convert.
Video marketing funnels
Lead magnet funnels
Home page funnels
Marketing funnels provide access to data, called a marketing funnel report, which lets you can see where you are losing customers.
Visited site > Signed up for a trial > Used product > Upgraded to paying customers
Sign in, then head to Admin > Goals > +New Goal > Choose a Goal to create a Google Analytics goal.
We’ve covered just about everything you need to know about marketing funnels. Here’s a quick recap:
Have you created a marketing funnel in Google Analytics? What did you learn?
Your brand has the power to reach millions of people around the world, and it only takes a few minutes to do. The power of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is incredible, with a huge reach and the ability to target specific audiences.
How can you make the most of it?
Investing in PPC can bring a great return for your business (it’s thought paid advertising returns $2 for every $1 invested), but it’s also an easy way to lose money if you don’t approach it in the right way.
To help make sure you’re getting your PPC right, here’s my introduction to pay-per-click marketing.
Pay-per-click is a common advertising model in internet marketing. It allows advertisers to place ads on search engines, social media platforms, and third-party websites, paying a fee whenever the ad is clicked.
Generating over $134 billion in ad revenue, Google is the largest provider of PPC services. Its platform, Google Ads, is often the first stop for people beginning PPC marketing.
Whenever you invest in advertising, you want to know how much it’s going to cost you. With PPC, this is a little complicated.
Online advertising isn’t like taking out an ad in a magazine, where you pay a fee and you get a full-cover page. Instead, with PPC, you pay when you get results (someone clicking your ad).
However, with offline advertising, you tend to pay a set fee regardless of the results you achieve. With PPC, you’ve got more control over how much each truly engaged consumer costs you.
This plays out through an auction system. Unlike a traditional auction, though, there isn’t one product with one winner—you’re bidding on how high up and how often your ad could be visible. “Losing” the auction doesn’t necessarily mean you get no PPC space—it means you get less.
Whenever a user searches for a certain keyword, say “PPC Marketing,” Google looks through its list of advertisers for this word and initiates an auction between them. A Google algorithm then chooses ads based on each advertiser’s maximum bid and the quality score of each ad.
The big takeaway from this is that it’s not just about how much you bid. The quality of your ad plays a huge part as well.
That said, if your max bid isn’t realistic, then your ads aren’t going to be shown often enough to be worthwhile. Different keywords have different average costs per click, and this should inform your bidding strategy.
Like any form of marketing, pay-per-click advertising has its pros and cons. Ideally, your company will use PPC as part of a complete digital marketing strategy, so you maximize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
PPC isn’t a replacement for organic SEO. The two should complement each other, with organic work taking a good amount of your focus because those clicks are free.
Starting your first PPC marketing campaign may feel surprisingly simple—you could do it in just six steps. Remember, ad quality plays a large part in your campaign’s success, so make sure you take your time and focus on each step.
How much do you want to spend on your pay-per-click marketing?
To begin with, you need to set an initial budget to allow you to test the waters. As a rough guide, you can look at some industry benchmarks to understand how much you’re likely to pay for each conversion.
Once you have an overall budget in mind, daily and lifetime spend caps for your campaigns.
This is an important part of creating a PPC campaign because your budget will greatly impact your ads’ success rates. Google Ads gives you good tools to help with this, and it’s worth following Google’s recommendations because its algorithms are designed to maximize your return.
You’ll be able to see an estimate of how many clicks your budget is likely to get you. From there, you can work out your potential return on investment based on your anticipated conversion rate.
If your budget doesn’t allow you to get meaningful results, it might be worth looking at some alternative marketing methods.
Different businesses will have different goals for their pay-per-click campaigns.
For example, if you’re doing a pre-launch for a start-up, your goal might be to drive traffic to the site and create awareness. If you’re selling a product, your main goal may be conversions.
The goals you set will have a big impact on your marketing campaign because each goal has a different value. A click isn’t as valuable as a lead or a conversion, and your cost-per-click should reflect this.
Setting up your campaign with the right goals allows you to better target the correct audience and accurately measure your return on investment. You’re paying for the click, not what the customer does afterward, when you use PPC—the click costs the same whether they purchase or not.
Consider who you want to click your ad and what actions you want them to take. When you understand this, optimize your entire campaign to encourage people to take those actions, which should bring down your costs.
Another element to think about with PPC is what type of campaign you’re going to run. There are lots of options here, each giving you flexibility over how you reach your target audience:
All these options give you the tools you need to target specific audiences. You need to find out where your audience hangs out and what they respond to. This will change depending on the buyer personas you’re trying to reach.
You don’t have to commit to one particular type of ad, and many businesses find a mix of different ad formats works best for them. However, it’s important to keep your eye on your ROI for each ad type so you can tweak your strategy accordingly.
Keywords are one of the main tools you’ll use to target your audience, and your keyword research can make or break your campaign.
While you probably have a reasonable idea of how your customers search for your products or services, you need to narrow them down to those that result in people taking action.
A big part of this is understanding user intent. For example, who is more likely to make a purchase: someone searching “what is SEO?” or someone searching for “best keyword research tool?”
It’s probably the second one because of where that search fits into the buyer’s journey. Where people are in the buyer journey dictates how likely they are to make a purchase, so the keywords you choose need to reflect which stage you’re targeting.
Keywords that attract people who are further along in the buying process will generally cost you more, but they’re also more likely to lead to conversions.
Most platforms give you different bidding options based on your goals. With Google Ads, this allows you to optimize for:
Google will automatically bid on your behalf so it can optimize for your desired goal, but you still have some control over your bid. If you optimize to maximize clicks, for example, you can set a maximum bid. If you maximize for conversions, you can set a target cost per action.
It’s important to remember Google is there to help you get the most out of your ad spend. The algorithms are finely tuned to achieve this. It’s often wise to use Google’s recommendations, especially when starting out.
Getting people to click your ads is only a small part of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s what happens when people land on your page that’s key.
No matter what your goals are, you need unique, engaging landing pages to achieve them.
Your landing pages need to offer a good user experience and be relevant to the ad the user clicked. People want quick access to the information they’re looking for, and if your landing page isn’t relevant to their keywords, they won’t hesitate to click back to Google.
In short, your PPC landing pages need to be optimized and A/B tested to make sure you’re getting the most out of them.
Pay-per-click advertising is an amazing way to reach a highly-targeted audience quickly. Through platforms such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and many more, you can set up paid ads in seconds. Once approved, they could be seen by tens of thousands of people, depending on your budget.
While reaching your target audience is vitally important in marketing, the most important thing is what you do when you have people’s attention. This is why you need to give your paid campaigns the care and attention they need or find a company to do it for you.
When you find the right balance with PPC and have your ads perfectly optimized, it can bring you an excellent return on investment and become a vital part of your digital marketing weaponry.
Is pay-per-click advertising a great earner for your business?
Running a blog is a lot of work.
You have to continually feed it new content, keep up with WordPress updates, maintain your hosting account, moderate comments, respond to readers…dozens, maybe even hundreds, of little tasks. On top of all that, there’s promoting and monetizing your blog, which is even more work.
It’s hard for anyone to manage, and the larger your blog grows, the worse the situation becomes. That’s why it’s good to prepare in advance for blogging eventualities you might face.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the questions you should ask yourself is “should I outsource my blog?”
If so, there’s a few ways to do this.
You could split up the work with guest posts, staff bloggers, or outsource your blog completely. The method you select will depend on a couple of things.
When you blog, you need to build trust, bonds, and relationships with your readers. They grow to know you and like you, and they can’t wait to read your next post.
There’s a downfall to this though: your readership may want content only from you. They may be turned off if you step back and start outsourcing your blog posts.
What will happen to your blog if you outsource your blogging? It depends.
If a blogger like Dooce or Naomi Dunford decided to outsource their blog, their readers would probably revolt. Their personalities are such a large part of the blog that it would be hard to get their readers to accept anyone else.
If your blog is already big and established, and you have thousands of loyal readers, it could be tough to outsource your blog. There’s a good chance you’ll lose some readers if you hire staff or start adding guest posters.
Fans will read their work politely, but it’s really you they want. It will take time, a good plan, and weathering rumbles from readers until they accept it.
No one likes change, but eventually, things will settle down. They’ll hang in there, especially if you’re still publishing quality content, are active with posting now and again, and if you hire a blogger whose style and tone match your brand personality. Make sure the blogger also provides similar-quality advice, info, or entertainment as you’ve been giving.
Of course, all of that only matters if you have an audience. What if you’re just getting started?
The truth is it’s a lot easier. You can build your blog around posting awesome content, rather than one particular personality. It won’t matter where the content comes from; as long as it’s awesome, your readers will be happy. That leaves the door open for you to hire other writers.
You can’t hire just anyone to write for your blog. You need to find a writer who fits with your business brand, its mission, and the level of knowledge your blog provides. Of course, this writer also has to be able to fit in with your goals and get results.
Here are some questions to think about before bringing someone on:
(Note that I didn’t mention, “How much do they cost?” We’ll get to that in a bit.)
First, though, recognize that outsourcing writing comes down to basically trusting someone with your business reputation. You’re not just shoving off a task; you’re giving someone permission to represent you and your business.
This means the person you hired needs to be able to maintain your credibility (or enhance it), please your readers and get them talking, and generally make your life better and easier by freeing up your time and becoming an asset to your blog.
Good writers don’t work for free, but they don’t always want just money, either.
Some ask for marketing exposure. Others want a link to their blog, republication rights, or a barter arrangement.
Before hiring someone, decide what you bring to the table. Can you send them traffic? Build their credibility? Improve their search engine rankings? Recommend their products and services to your readers?
You need to have something to offer in exchange for a writer’s work (and you’ll need more than $10 and a link), so figure out what you’re prepared to give in return for what the blogger brings to you.
In general, the more you give, the more you get.
Pay $10 for a blog post without offering anything else in exchange, and you’ll probably get a bad headline, sloppy grammar, and ordinary ideas, none of which would do much to build your blog.
At the other end of the spectrum, some bloggers will do everything for you, including editing, polishing, getting photos, and promoting your post to generate traffic. You’ll pay a lot more, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per post, but you’ll be getting a lot more for the money, too.
Ghostwriters write on your behalf and you present the work as your own. The President uses ghostwriters for his speeches; nothing wrong with that.
It’s controversial, however, especially when it comes to blogging. Some feel it’s dishonest.
Others feel that there’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to help write and share your knowledge with your audience. There’s no rule that says you must slave over writing posts if you absolutely can’t stand it, don’t have the time, or just don’t want to.
Here’s another argument: if your writing skills aren’t up to snuff, you might be potentially damaging your credibility and sales.
People with average writing skills often hire ghostwriters who turn their notes, audio files, thoughts, and outlines into great posts. You’re using the same knowledge; someone else is just doing the writing. Often, it’s the knowledge that your readers care about, not who puts it into words.
Ghostwriting may be a great option for you if you don’t like to spend time writing, can’t write well, aren’t seeing the results you want, or want time to develop other areas of your business.
Every time you make a change in your business, there’s always the risk it might not have been the best decision.
Let’s say you hire a writer, work with a few guest posters, or decide to hire a ghostwriter. After a couple of months, you realize that you’re not getting the results you wanted; maybe traffic is down or your audience has shifted or sales have dropped.
Don’t freak out. It happens. All you need to do is adjust. Unless you’ve completely trashed your business reputation, you can always change your content and blogging strategy.
You can go back to blogging yourself, hire a new writer with a different personality, get a ghostwriter to write more posts for you; whatever works.
As we’ve demonstrated in this article, if you’re wondering “should I outsource my blog,” the answer is: it depends.
No matter what you decide about outsourcing your blogging, you’re never stuck and committed forever. A blog is just a marketing tool that you can play with and test, adapt to your needs, and measure for effectiveness as you go along, just like any other form of marketing.
If you’re nervous to start or shift your blogging strategy, reach out to us for a consultation. We are here to help you find success with your blog and content marketing in general.
The post Should I Outsource My Blog? 5 Questions to Help You Decide appeared first on Neil Patel.
Conversion rate optimization isn’t an easy game to play, especially if you’re the new kid on the block. One of the best ways to improve CRO is by A/B testing features on your website.
The real challenge with CRO is in knowing how to start and what to test. This post covers the latter.
There is one thing to keep in mind: testing every random aspect of your website can be counter-productive. You can blow time and money on software, workers, and consultants, testing things that won’t increase your website revenue enough to justify the tests.
So before you dive in, make sure to think about what your goals are.
Then, take a look at the following tests and see which ones make sense for your specific business. If so, ahead and run it. If not, try another one.
Typography is proven to affect conversions in a major way, but casually testing each Google font won’t get you anywhere. There are a few aspects of typography you need to test first before getting specific with typefaces.
Serif typefaces are accented with various widths for each line in a character and contain flourishes (for example, Times New Roman). Sans serif typefaces are just the opposite, plain with a consistent width (like Arial).
I suggest using sans serif, but interestingly, Georgia (a serif typeface) is by far the most popular typeface on the web.
Try both varieties to see which works best for your website.
As per a WDD infographic, sans serifs are best for the web, and serifs for print.
For your blog, your long-form copy, and most of the text on your website, always go with black (dark) text on a white (light) background. It’s a traditional color scheme our eyes are accustomed to.
For your calls to action and other smaller, more impactful text elements, however, test each of the basic eight colors (or whatever colors fit with your design). Always remember this principle: what stands out gets clicked.
Tahoma tends to be the most legible at 10 px, Verdana and Courier at 12, and Arial at 14 px.
Whatever typeface you choose, make sure that you test the differences in user engagement and click-throughs according to the size of the font. These days, as mobile traffic increases, larger tends to work better — but not always.
Finally, we get to the most tedious typography test – typefaces. Take this one with a grain of salt. Don’t test each of the 700+ Google fonts available. Doing so would be very counter-productive. Only test a few of the major ones that harmonize with your design.
When testing these, you’ll also want to go with an A/B/C/D/etc. test. This will let you test multiple typefaces at a time.
Your call to action (CTA) is the most influential element on your landing page. Period.
As such, it requires a substantial amount of experimentation. Here are a few of the main call to action “ingredients” you need to test.
Too often, web designers put the call to action button in the middle of the landing page above the fold, and just leave it there, because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do.
But did you know that locating your CTA below the fold could increase your conversion rate by 304 percent? Don’t take anything for granted: test above the fold, below the fold, in the middle/left/right of the page, and relationship to text elements.
Color is a biggie in most CRO tests. Many have read this post on HubSpot about how a red CTA button beat a green one with a 21 percent increase in conversions. But a similar test in the Content Verve post (linked to in test #5 above) detailed how a green “add to cart” button got 35.81 percent more sales for an e-commerce store than a blue one.
A contrasting color that is distinct and stands out from the other elements on the page seems to work best. Experiment to see what works for your CTA. Don’t rely on other people’s tests to pick a color.
As the most crucial copy on your landing page, your call-to-action button text needs to be tested heavily. Try out various lengths, pronouns, power words, and action verbs.
Back when the 2007 U.S. election campaigns were in progress, Obama raised an extra $60 million just by changing his CTA button text from “Sign Up” to “Learn More.”
Yes, that’s a 60 million dollar test.
Don’t miss out on those potential returns.
This section encompasses more than just what price you set for your product/software. You also have to think about free trials and money back guarantees.
To allow prospects to try products (and yes, product demos are important), vendors usually offer at least one of three models: a very basic freemium product with limited features that can be used forever, a time-sensitive free trial that allows users to experience all the bells and whistles, and a time-sensitive money back guarantee.
Changing from a freemium software model to a 14-day free trial increased Acuity Scheduling’s paid signups by over 268 percent. Try each model to see which works best for your business.
If a time-sensitive free trial is what works for your website, then how long should that free trial be? 7 days? 14, 21, 30? Test it!
This post on Sixteen Ventures mentions how shortening a 30-day free trial to 14 days proved to be a profitable choice for a SaaS company.
Depending on your particular niche, the results may vary. As you can see below, for Crazy Egg, a 14-day free trial is the sweet spot.
Don’t forget to experiment with your pricing plans. Not only should you try out different prices for plans (should your price be $x9 or $x7?), but you also should play around with the features of each to make your higher-ticket plans convert better.
Oh, and don’t forget: decoy pricing models are the bomb. By offering a much higher price before a mid-tier option, users are likely to spend more without realizing why.
The art of persuasion through words on a page – copywriting – is another essential part of a landing page. Great copywriting is never great on the very first draft; it requires careful testing to ensure maximum impact.
From a philosophical point of view, short-form copy should work better than its longer rival. After all, humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t a set-in-stone rule. For example, testing on Crazy Egg found that long-form copy produced 7.6 percent more leads (and better-quality ones as well). On the other side of the spectrum, a Scandinavian gym chain got 11 percent more conversions with shorter copy.
The takeaway? TEST to discover what works for your business.
Video copy is both difficult and expensive to create; hence, the general preference for text-based copywriting. But could you be missing out on potential conversions by failing to test video copy? Maybe so.
Depending on the size and capital of your business, you’ll have to decide whether a video sales page is worth it (and don’t forget text and video combinations).
This video landing page helped Six Pack Ab Exercises improve conversions by 46.15%. What could a video do for your business?
As with typefaces, testing hundreds of different versions of your text-based copy, each with only a small change from its predecessor, can be a fruitless waste of time and money.
So, while you should continually edit and experiment with your copy, remember to look at the bigger picture. Don’t get hung up on every other word.
The following are various A/B tests that don’t fit in any of the above categories. They fall under sales funnels, website design/structure, and more.
Multiple-column landing pages definitely look a whole lot cooler than those with single columns.
But in CRO, coolness doesn’t count.
In fact, a SaaS company increased its conversion rate by 680.6 percent when it changed its two-column pricing page to a single-column page.
Your landing page background (a solid color, pattern, or image) has a very consequential subliminal effect on your readers. If you haven’t tested different background varieties yet, you’re leaving money on the table.
Spreadshirt tested their homepage images and increased clicks by 606 percent and sales by 11 percent.
Your navigational menu’s presentation affects how and if you can get visitors to your money pages (your pricing page, contact form, etc.).
Test the number of links, the color of the menu, its position, etc.
Trying to get visitors to click links from your blog post to your money page? Test the link color.
The presentation of your internal links isn’t something that most people associate with CRO right off the bat. But when you think about it, internal link color really can have a huge impact on the number of visitors that get into your sales funnel.
Take Beamax, for example, which increased link CTR by 53.13 percent by changing their link color to red from the standard blue.
If your objective is to get contact/quote requests from your website, then the format of your contact form is critical to your conversion rate.
Test the number of fields (bare minimum is usually best) and the types of fields (checkbox vs. drop-down) to elicit more form submissions.
We changed the number of contact form fields from 4 to 3 for a 26% boost in conversions.
Case study after case study has proven that single-step checkouts will almost always convert significantly better than multi-page checkouts. If you’ve never considered a single-step checkout before, it’s time to test one.
Sometimes it’s not the most obvious A/B tests that drive the most growth. Instead, it can be the unconventional tests, the ones you would have never thought would make an impact, that prove to be the most valuable. Other times, doing less can actually drive more conversions than constantly testing.
The A/B tests above should serve as a starting point. Once you see what changes impact conversions, you’ll have a better understanding of what drives your audience.
Have you had success with A/B testing your website? What change made the most difference?
The complex digital media landscape changes every day, and this year is no exception.
Having advanced social media tips at your disposal certainly has its perks, but finding a no-nonsense list can be pretty challenging.
That’s where I come in.
Since we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, let’s dive in with our first category and get you solving your digital marketing struggles, one platform at a time.
One of the most popular digital media marketing tools, Facebook Ads is a cost-effective way to market your business. Access to a massive audience and the ability to tailor your audience make Facebook Ads useful in just about any digital marketing campaign.
With that in mind, choosing how you engage with Facebook Ads can significantly impact how well your campaign performs. For example, are you running traditional ads or boosting previous posts?
Are you targeting general demographics or building your custom audiences? The most impactful Facebook Ads take time to develop, so monitor your experiments and test different techniques regularly.
Validation is a priority in social media marketing, but Facebook’s capacity for customization and experimentation makes validation particularly important. With hundreds of unique audiences, formats, and content styles available to you, proving each component’s value reinforces the integrity of your campaign.
When you reverse engineer an effective marketing strategy, you can easily disassemble and reassemble your marketing campaign. Take the time to determine the traits that make up your ideal audience. Where are they located? How old are they? What do they do for fun?
As you identify audiences that respond to your brand, you can save those specific groups. This social media tip is especially useful when you’re promoting future content or retargeting that audience.
As I’m pointing out social media tips for Facebook, I have to explain the value of using ads to retarget warm leads.
Imagine you ran a Facebook Ad on the value of hiking boots. It was presented to a cold lead, so they never ended up clicking on your link. For most marketers, that’s the end of the marketing journey.
Lucky for you, you can advertise to those same audience members in a few days with a retargeting ad designed to take full advantage of your previous content. If you’re retargeting using video ads, you can even set your ads to only retarget users that watched at least 50 percent of your hiking boots video. This approach lets you pre-qualify prospects before you’ve spent a dollar on them.
Now that you understand the power of retargeting on Facebook, let’s take it a step further and discuss link retargeting.
If you’ve never heard of link retargeting, here’s what you need to know: Link retargeting lets you add Facebook retargeting pixels to your short link whenever you share curated content. Why does this matter? Essentially, anyone who clicks on your content can then be retargeted with relevant ads.
Whether someone clicked on reviews, industry news, or media coverage related to your brand, you’ll be able to retarget them. This works even if the link leads to a third-party website! This lets you leverage your content curation and expand your retargeting ad reach while still offering genuine value.
Instagram saves were introduced as both an expansion of the user experience and an alternative to the traditional “like” feature. The idea behind saved content is that users can actively save certain pieces of content to come back to later.
As saves become a larger part of the Instagram algorithm, one of my social media tips is to find creative ways to make a repeat visit to your content worthwhile.
Traditionally a visual-first community, Instagram travel content creators have found success with the mini-blog format. By creating a second, deeper experience for users, these content creators have been able to pack more value into a single piece of content.
When brands create content for Instagram, they tend to focus on producing original images. Although having fantastic, high-quality pictures is valuable, there are plenty of other content styles to choose from.
Brands can choose to create engaging videos or GIFs to connect with their audience. Everything from memes to micro-blogs can increase retention time, which leads to greater exposure and growth within your social media channel. As far as social media tips are concerned, it’s in your best interest to experiment with a variety of different content styles.
IGTV is fascinating, mostly because it showcases the growth Instagram has had over the years. From pictures to full-blown video productions, Instagram has empowered brands with some incredible marketing tools.
By creating long-form video series, you can live stream events, host Q&As, create tutorials, share reviews, or even host your own live talk show!
Tools like IGTV let you experiment with your content style while connecting with audiences in a powerful, meaningful way. If you’ve wondered how you can expand your content offering, IGTV is worth considering.
Possibly one of the most undervalued resources in digital marketing, micro-influencers can make a massive difference in your campaigns’ effectiveness.
When brands imagine an endorsement or a brand ambassador, they tend to imagine celebrities and industry leaders. Those are definitely great aspirations, but there’s just one problem: Most brands simply don’t have the resources to secure celebrities.
That’s where micro-influencers come in. Don’t get me wrong, Instagram Ads are absolutely worth using. However, there’s just no substitute for a micro-influencer with a loyal fanbase in the thousands. You could end up with access to a much higher quality audience with fewer bot accounts and ghost followers.
Like any social media platform, LinkedIn puts a premium on the connections between users. This might sound strange considering that it’s typically seen as a networking space for employees and employers.
However, the last thing you want to do as a brand is disappear into the sea of business pages. On LinkedIn, developing your relationship with your audience is crucial. That’s why regularly posting updates and content has become a priority for brands on LinkedIn.
Building that audience connection goes further than posting updates. Consider setting up introductions, messaging users, or publishing weekly blog posts. There are lots of inexpensive ways to engage your audience on this platform.
As far as social media tips go, experimenting with paid ads usually makes perfect sense. You’re leveraging the reach of social media with a targeted marketing tool.
When it comes to LinkedIn, the rules change a bit. For starters, LinkedIn Ads are notoriously expensive. They also come with low click-through rates (which is usually attributed to the idea that there are fewer leads, but they’re higher quality).
Still, the issue is bigger than budgeting. The reality of LinkedIn Ads is that unless you’re going after a very particular crowd, you can find much cheaper PPC (pay-per-click) ads on a variety of other platforms.
Test ads on LinkedIn and another platform at the same time. Determine your CPC (cost per click), reach, and conversion rate to make sure LinkedIn Ads are a good investment for your business.
Traditional sales language and tactics are not your friends on LinkedIn.
Trying to brute force your way into being an industry leader simply doesn’t work. Instead, refocus your attempts on building relationships with your audience and selling your brand, not your product.
Users are going to scan through your content in less than a second if it’s not immediately valuable to them. Instead of taking the typical hard-sell approach, you should prioritize honest communication with users above all.
Videos and other multimedia content do exceptionally well on LinkedIn when handled properly. Ideally, the content should start by teaching your audience how to solve their problem in an immediate, tangible way.
Beyond that, as a brand with loads of expertise, you also have the ability to establish yourself as a thought leader by using the right content and helping users address deeper issues in your industry.
Post videos, infographics, or whatever valuable piece of content you can think of. Experiment, test, and discover what truly works.
Twitter is constantly changing. As the conversations develop over time, it can feel impossible to follow every new update. My social media tip is to focus on social listening and determine where your brand stands on the latest relevant issue.
Not only should you strive to understand what your audience thinks, but you should also take the time to become part of the conversation in real time. The last thing you want is to be left out of meaningful conversations with both previous and current users.
Your brand voice on Twitter matters quite a bit. Authenticity and brevity are essential to your brand’s relatability, so take the time to clarify exactly what your brand voice is.
Are you casual? Are you funny? Are you instructional? Identify your strongest options and start experimenting.
Polls are interesting because they accomplish two goals at once. The first goal is user-generated content (UGC). Not only that, but polls also help you increase your engagement with minimal effort on your end.
If that’s not enough reason for you, keep in mind you can make these polls for whatever you want. Try out different landing pages, or test different offers. The choice is entirely up to you.
There are a few different types of Twitter Ads (Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends), but for this list of social media tips, we’re just going to focus on the value of Twitter Ads.
Like most social media marketing tools, you’re paying for performance here. One of the most valuable aspects of this platform is that you can start to create specific social media ads based on what’s happening in the world. This gives your ads a sense of urgency and authenticity that you can’t find anywhere else.
Much like LinkedIn, Pinterest is a fantastic place to connect with a specific audience. If your market research shows that your audience is populating Pinterest, you can have a compelling experience ready for them.
Once your audience is proven to be a good match, you can use images, make them interactive, and tweak your Pinterest Ads for brevity.
For those unfamiliar with this, Rich Pins are essentially a way for users to collect more Pins without having to think about it.
There are a few different types of Rich Pins:
The point is simple. Create content tailored to your specific audience and continue to develop that relationship over time.
Mobile is massive on platforms like Pinterest, so you can make a few safe assumptions about the user experience. For starters, it’s unlikely that they’ll use desktop computers when checking content.
To properly optimize for mobile, you’ll want to set up vertical images in a rectangular shape. Set those images to have a 2:3 ratio to fill the mobile screen, and just like that, your Pinterest account is ready for the modern age.
When you think of Pinterest, the term “‘search engine” may not jump to mind. On the other hand, when you consider how easy it is to look up just about anything on the platform, it’s no surprise that it’s become such a useful search engine for others.
My final social media tip is that when you’re on this social media platform, take the time to focus on the keyword viability of the words you’re using.
Navigating social media marketing can be just as confusing as it is stressful. If you’re struggling with elevating your marketing campaigns and need some social media tips, don’t worry. You’re certainly not alone in this.
When using Facebook, make sure to properly validate your audience and use link retargeting regularly. With Instagram, take advantage of their diverse content formats and build something unique.
Use LinkedIn to build a relationship with other users and are actually willing to chat with them.
Twitter lets you stay updated, and it’s time you started updating your audience regularly. Use Pinterest when you want a mobile ads experience with a focus on keywords.
No matter which platform you use, know that by listening to these social media tips, taking control of your marketing campaign, and thinking critically about what works and what doesn’t, you’re one step closer to digital marketing mastery.
Which platform would you like to see covered next? Let me know in the comments below!
The post Beyond the Basics: 20 Fresh Social Media Tips for 2021 appeared first on Neil Patel.
One of the latest evolutions in SEO is called schema markup. This new form of optimization is one of the most powerful but least-utilized forms of SEO available today. Once you grasp the concept and method of schema markup, you can boost your website in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
My goal in this article is to show you exactly how to get started using schema markup for your website.
Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you place on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about.
Here’s an example of a local business that has markup on its event schedule page. The SERP entry looks like this:
The schema markup told the SERP to display a schedule of upcoming hotel events. That, for the user, is exceptionally helpful.
Here are some facts about schema markup:
The content on your website gets indexed and returned in search results. Obviously. But with schema markup, some of that content gets indexed and returned in a different way.
How? Because the markup tells the search engine what that content means. For example, let’s say the word “Neil Patel” appears in an article. The search engine sees this, and produces a SERP entry with “Neil Patel.”
However, if I put the right schema markup around the name “Neil Patel,” I’ve just told that search engine that “Neil Patel” is the author of the article, not just a couple of random words. The search engine then provides results that display better information for the user who was searching for “Neil Patel.”
Schema.org explains it this way:
Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means — “Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.
You don’t need to learn any new coding skills. Web pages with markup still use HTML. The only difference is adding bits of schema.org vocabulary to HTML Microdata.
It’s not too often that competitors come together to help each other, but Schema.org is exactly that kind of inter-industry collaboration. What you have, then, is an agreed-upon set of code markers that tells the major search engines what to do with the data on your website.
When a website has schema markup in place, users can see in the SERPs what a website is all about, where they are, what they do, how much stuff costs, plus plenty of other stuff. Some people have taken to calling schema markup “your virtual business card.”
This is a user-focused improvement. Search engines exist for users to gain the information they need. Schema markup does exactly that.
Schema markup helps your website rank better for all kinds of content types. There is data markup for a ton of different types of data, including:
There are hundreds of markup types—from toy stores to medical dose schedules. If you have any type of data on your website, there’s a good chance that it will have an associated itemscope and itemtype.
Websites that use schema markup will rank better in the SERPs than companies without markup. One study determined that websites with markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPs than those without schema markup. While it’s not totally clear that this higher result is due to the markup alone, there is obviously some correlation.
Right now, one-third of Google’s search results incorporate rich snippets, which includes schema markup. However, according to recent research, less than one-third of websites use schema markup.
In other words, there are millions of websites missing out on a huge source of SEO potential. If you use schema markup, you’ll automatically have a leg up on the majority of your competition.
Now, let’s talk about how to use schema markup. Your goal is to rank better, look better, and do better in the SERPs and in front of users.
Schema markup will help you. With your website in hand, follow these steps.
There are several options listed. This list is not exhaustive. For the sample below, I’m going to use “Articles” since it’s one of the most common types of content.
If you only have HTML, you can paste that instead. Then, click “Start Tagging.”
The page will load in the markup tool and provide you with the workspace for the next phase of markup—tagging items. You’ll see your web page in the left pane, and the data items in the right pane.
Since this piece of content is an article, I’m going to highlight the name of the article in order to add “Name” markup. When I finish highlighting, I select “Name” from the tooltip.
When I select “Name,” the tool adds it to “Data Items” in the right pane.
Use the list of data items as a guide, and highlight the other items in your article to add them to the markup list. You probably won’t be able to tag every item in the list. Just add what you can.
Once you’ve finished, click “Create HTML.”
In the following page, you will see the HTML of your page with the relevant microdata inserted in the spots that you selected.
Next, you will go into your CMS (or source code if you’re not using a CMS) and add the highlighted snippets in the appropriate spots. Find the yellow markers on the scrollbar to find the schema markup code.
A simple alternative is to download the automatically-generated HTML file, and copy/paste it into your CMS or source code.
When you click “Finish,” you will be presented with a series of “Next Steps.”
Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to find out what your page will look like with the added markup.
Instead of analyzing a published web page, I’m going to analyze the code that the tool generated for me, and which I downloaded.
Once the code is pasted, I click “preview.” The testing tool shows me what the article will look like in Google search results:
In addition, I can inspect every markup element that I added.
If necessary, I can edit the HTML directly in the testing tool in order to update the schema and preview results again.
The purpose of this article was to get you started in the world of schema markup. It’s a big world.
The next few tips will show you how to dive even deeper, and gain even richer results from schema.
Schema.org provides a list of the most common types of schema markup. You can visit the Organization of Schemas page to see this list. Check out the types that are best suited to your business.
As I mentioned previously, there is a myriad of markup types. To get the full list, visit The Type Hierarchy. This master list provides most of the markup types that are available.
Schema.org’s instructions explain clearly, “the more content you mark up, the better.” When you start understanding the vast array of item types, you begin to see just how much there is on your web page that you can mark up.
Keep in mind the disclaimer, however: “You should mark up only the content that is visible to people who visit the web page and not content in hidden div’s or other hidden page elements.”
As simple as schema markup is to implement, it’s surprising how few businesses and websites have taken advantage of it.
Schema markup is one of those SEO techniques that will probably be with us for a long time. Now is the time to learn and implement the relevant microdata to improve your search results. Doing so right away will put you ahead of the curve, giving you a leg up on the competition.
How do you use schema markup for your company’s website?
Case studies go beyond simple testimonials by providing real-life examples of how your brand satisfied your customer’s needs and helped them accomplish their goals.
An in-depth case study helps you highlight your successes in a way that will help your ideal potential customer become your next customer. They help you show rather than tell prospective customers how you can help them reach their goals.
But, creating a solid case study can be a challenge. Today, I’ll provide actionable tips to help you write a case study, provide background information, and identify key metrics that will help your case study drive conversions.
Do you know who your ideal customer is? If it’s someone in the education industry, then make your case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, then make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers.
The goal is to ensure that your case study will show prospective customers that you are:
Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post. Most of of these posts are geared toward average readers.
But when you come across a post designed specifically for your needs (such as online marketing for the healthcare industry), you are more likely to understand and apply the information.
The same goes with case studies – people who read about results in their industry will feel like the same approach will work for them.
Storytelling is a powerful marketing strategy. A great case study will allow someone to really get to know the customer in the case study including:
But don’t stop a month or two out. Follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your solutions continue to provide long term benefits.
This gives readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results.
No one likes to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Case studies, like blog posts, should be scannable and easy to read.
Be sure to use good content formatting elements as you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website, including:
In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim) find the most important parts of your case study and get a great impression about what your business could do for them.
Consider adding multi-media elements in addition to written content, such as videos, PDFs, and images to mix it up and make the content more engaging.
Have you ever read case studies where a business states they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits?
Avoid using broad statements by using clear, direct numbers. This makes your case study more believable and helps build trust in your brand.
You want your case study to be as precise as possible. Instead of saying you doubled their traffic, provide specific, accurate numbers and (if possible) real proof in the form of charts, graphs, or analytics data.
Remember that not everyone is as familiar with analtyics technology as you are, so highlight the most importnat pieces of data and provide context to why it matters.
This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help.
Plus having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making your case study that much more powerful.
So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result.
Don’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, say something like, ” A three-month social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five-month of link building campaign led to an increase in rankings, plus brand exposure led to these results.”
Don’t worry about giving away your secrets — the goal is to establish your brand as an industry leader and you need to show you know your stuff.
Case studies do not have to be fit into a story form every time. Try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them.
Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.
Infographics, webinars, and even podcasts can also be used to highlight case studies. Don’t get stuck in the same old text-only format — get creative and see what type of content your users respond to.
Here’s a case study example from Venngage that uses a brochure-style case study to highlight how Vortex was able to grow conversion. (Notice the results section that highlights specific gains.)
While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study. So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:
The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. This means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.
Case studies can also be embeded in other types of content — such as an ebook, how-to blog post, or resource guide.
What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever read them? Be sure that your case studies are organized and easy to find.
Here’s a few examples of good case studies that are easy to find — and therefore, much more powerful.
AWS provides case studies right on their homepage. They also make it easy to look for an-industry specific case study in manufacturing, financial services, fitness, and more.
Drupal provides case studies right in their hero image. Users considering using their solution don’t have to look far at all to see how other brands are finding success with Drupal.
A great case study starts with case study research. Ask your customers to fill out a short form that highlights how you helped them reach their goals — be sure to ask for specific results.
Explain how the case study will help them by increasing brand awareness and link opportunities. Remember, a highly effective case study helps both you and your client build trust and reach a wider audience.
Have any case study best practice tips or examples of case studies you have enjoyed? Please share them in the comments!
The post 8 Tips For Creating a More Effective Case Study – With Examples appeared first on Neil Patel.
Suddenly you notice that none of your social media activity seems to be showing up at all. It’s like you don’t even exist on the site… Weird!
Is it a bug? Every website suffers from them sometimes, and the interactive features can often be the first to go haywire. Server maintenance could also be the culprit.
But another possibility is that you might have been “shadowbanned” (previously called ghostbanned).
Accounts that are shadowbanned are put into a kind of invisible mode. In other words, they become a “shadow” that no one can see.
In this post, we’ll talk more about what exactly shadowbanning is, and how you can tell if it happened to you.
Shadowbanning is when your posts or activity don’t show up on a site, but you haven’t received an official ban or notification.
It’s a way to let spammers continue to spam without anyone else in the community (or outside of it) seeing what they do.
That way, other social media users don’t suffer from spam because they can’t see it. The spammer won’t immediately start to look for ways to get around the ban, because they don’t even realize they’ve been banned.
Now, all of this might sound a little odd or shady. Since many websites and apps deny that they shadowban, there’s no way to know for sure that it’s happened.
If you suspect a shadowban, a change in the website’s search or newsfeed algorithm might actually be to blame. And since the algorithms are the property of social media companies, it’s not in their best interest to reveal everything about them publicly.
Regardless of whether you’ve been penalized deliberately or accidentally, the effect is still the same… no one can see your posts.
There’s no way of getting a full list of sites that shadowban people, since the practice isn’t entirely out in the open.
Respondents to a survey called Posting Into the Void reported four general types of shadowbans:
Here’s how to tell if you’ve been shadowbanned on some popular social media sites:
Does Twitter actually shadowban people? Well, yes and no.
In a blog post, Twitter claimed that they don’t “deliberately make people’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it”, and they “certainly don’t shadowban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
However, they did say they “rank tweets and search results” to “address bad-faith actors”. Basically, if Twitter thinks you’re a spammer or a troll, its algorithm will penalize your content.
Twitter lists these as some of the factors they use to tell if you’re a “bad-faith actor” or not:
To avoid getting shadowbanned on Twitter, you should confirm your email address and upload a profile picture.
Don’t spam people and don’t be overly promotional. If you’re trying to sell a product or service and are posting too much, other users might block your content, causing a shadowban on your account.
You should also try to avoid trolling, getting into online arguments, or being too confrontational in your posts and comments. This can lead people to mute or block you.
There’s no way to tell for sure if you’ve been shadowbanned on Twitter. However, you could try using the site Shadowban.eu, which claims to be able to detect a shadowban.
How frustrating is it to work hard at building up an Instagram following, only to see that your posts suddenly aren’t showing up?
Like with Twitter, Instagram’s CEO has publicly claimed that “shadowbanning is not a thing”, but as with Twitter, that’s not entirely true.
While you personally might not be being shadowbanned, the algorithm could still be hiding your posts.
Instagram’s algorithm is designed to remove certain content. Namely, the algorithm penalizes content that Instagram considers “inappropriate”, even if the content doesn’t go against the app’s Community Guidelines.
Specifically, they mention sexually-suggestive content. According to their Community Guidelines, spammy content and content associated with illegal activity or violence is also a no-go.
Instagram prefers “photos or videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience”… so less family-friendly content may be at risk of a shadowban.
There’s no surefire way to tell if you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram, but there are sites that say they can test it. Triberr is one option.
Shadowbanning on Reddit is a bit different from shadowbanning on other social media sites. Up until 2015, Reddit openly shadowbanned users who broke the site’s rules by hiding their posts.
Reddit then announced that the shadowbanning system had been replaced with an account suspension system. Basically, some Reddit staff thought that the shadowban tool had been useful for dealing with bots, but that banning real human users without telling them what they did wrong was unfair.
However, the site appears to still occasionally be using shadowbans, with the r/ShadowBan subreddit still active.
According to their official content policy, Reddit may enforce their rules by “removal of privileges from, or adding restrictions to, accounts”, and also by “removal of content”, among other methods.
Of course, to avoid getting shadowbanned on Reddit, you’ll need to follow their rules. But one tricky thing about that is that the rules on Reddit actually depend on the subreddit you are submitting to.
You’ll want to read and comment a lot first before submitting your own links. Watch how people react to various types of submissions within a specific subreddit, and then act accordingly.
You can also check out this unofficial guide on how to avoid being shadowbanned. Some key points:
To find out if you’re shadowbanned on Reddit, make a post in the r/ShadowBan subreddit. A bot will respond to you, letting you know if you’re shadowbanned.
Even if you’re not, the bot will tell you which posts of yours have been removed recently (if any).
You could also use a third-party tool, like Am I Shadowbanned?
TikTok is a popular social network for sharing short videos. Unfortunately, you can get shadowbanned there too (kind of).
While there’s no official mention of the term “shadowban” in TikTok’s Community Guidelines, like other social media networks, TikTok uses algorithms to privilege certain content. If you get on the wrong side of the algorithm, fewer people might see the content you post.
To have more people see your content and avoid penalties, try to follow best practices for TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, and always follow the Community Guidelines.
Stay away from illegal material, violence, hate speech, spam, and other similar topics.
To check if you’ve been shadowbanned on TikTok, look at your pageviews and “For You” page statistics. You can also use a hashtag and see if your post shows up under that hashtag.
Facebook calls its content moderation policy “remove, reduce, and inform.”
Basically, content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards will be removed from the site, while other undesirable content (like misleading information) may be less visible on Facebook or have a warning label placed on it.
If Facebook is consistently “reducing” your content, that could be considered a type of shadowban.
The main thing you can do to trigger a shadowban on Facebook is to share links to fake or misleading information. Content on the site is checked by independent fact-checking organizations.
Facebook also penalizes links from websites that its algorithm considers clickbait. Low-authority websites without a lot of inbound and outbound links that generate a lot of clicks on Facebook may be considered clickbait.
Facebook groups where a lot of misleading links and clickbait are frequently shared may be shadowbanned.
If you’re worried your personal page, business page, or group might have been shadowbanned on Facebook, check for a change in engagement levels on your recent posts.
While people don’t often think about getting shadowbanned on LinkedIn, it’s possible for your content’s reach to be throttled there.
Like other social media sites, LinkedIn has Community Policies that all members need to follow to avoid problems.
Since LinkedIn is a professional site, its content policies are even stricter than other platforms. Not only should your content be safe, legal, and appropriate, it has to be professional as well.
Although LinkedIn is obviously a place for career growth and self-promotion, spamming people is still a no-go.
You’ll need to respect others’ privacy and intellectual property. You should also avoid harassment or unwanted romantic advances towards other members.
If you violate LinkedIn’s policies, they may “limit the visibility of certain content, or remove it entirely.”
That said, the LinkedIn algorithm is pretty complicated. Even if your content is perfectly professional and high-quality, it might still not be getting the reach you want.
Engagement and relevance are the top two factors to keep in mind when creating content for LinkedIn.
While it’s not exactly a social network, it’s definitely still a site where people go to learn and share content. Can you be shadowbanned from YouTube?
Well, YouTube shadowbanning has been in the news because of popular creator PewDiePie. According to his fans, the Swedish videogame YouTuber’s channel was penalized in YouTube search.
YouTube’s official response was that it doesn’t shadowban channels, but that some videos might be flagged and need to be reviewed before they show up in search.
In an interview with Polygon, they said they were “currently working on fixing the issue.”
Different social networks have their own opinions on what type of violations merit a shadowban. However, we can definitely see some general trends that are worth noting.
Adhere to these guidelines if you want to be safe from a shadowban:
You may not have any idea you are being shadowbanned. At least not at first… though over time, you may begin to suspect it.
What you should do to protect yourself is to be careful that what you post isn’t against the terms and conditions of the site or app. Also, try to avoid spamming content, starting fights with and trolling other users, or posting things that might be considered inappropriate.
A shadowban can be frustrating, especially if you don’t feel like you deserve one. Maybe you don’t agree with the social media algorithm about what is or isn’t inappropriate, or maybe you think you were having a constructive debate while the algorithm thinks you were being a troll.
However, hopefully the tips in this guide can help you avoid being shadowbanned in the future, so your content can get better engagement.
What other ways can help people know if they’ve been shadowbanned? Let us know in the comments.
The post How to Tell if You’re Shadowbanned on Social Media appeared first on Neil Patel.