Incredibly, there are still plenty of talented real estate teams that haven’t taken advantage of inbound marketing. Many still rely on the same marketing tactics that have served for years. It’s understandable, but these aren’t enough to separate yourself from your competition these days.

This is going to sound biased, but hear us out: inbound marketing strategies are particularly effective for real estate professionals. This is an industry where there is lots of competition for prospective customers in the form of print ads, billboards, signs and postcards.

Let’s just say that there is a lot of “hope” involved when it comes to using these outbound marketing tactics.

Instead of hoping your open house postcard lands in the right hands, wouldn’t you rather know that you’re delivering your message to right audience? Not only is this more efficient for your marketing budget, but you’ll also convert more leads into clients!

Let’s take a look at 5 of the best inbound marketing strategies for real estate agents…

Home sold thanks to real estate agents inbound marketing tactics

1) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Are you familiar with search engine optimization (otherwise known as SEO)? It involves distinct processes and strategies designed to make your website highly visible for targeted keywords in search engines like Google and Bing.

Not only will this get you a lot more organic traffic, but if you’ve targeted the right keywords, your website will receive more qualified traffic. This qualified traffic consists of individuals who will be much more likely to become leads and eventually clients!

Have you tried running some ads using Google Adwords before? It’s true that search engine marketing tactics can get you in front of potential clients right away. However, it can be very costly. Plus once you stop paying for these ads, your online presence returns to zero.

Benefits of SEO for Real Estate Agents

SEO should be considered an investment. Depending on your budget, it could take a few months to start seeing significant results. If you stick with it, this is an investment that can pay massive dividends in the form of high-quality traffic to your website and listings.

Is this investment worth it when there are massive third-party real estate websites like Zillow and Realtor.com? These properties do own a good bit of real estate in the search results. However, we guarantee you that SEO is worth the investment.

Purchasing a new house still comes down to personal interactions between the real estate agent and prospective home buyer. Most clients will end up on your site to learn more about you, your business and background. If your site isn’t optimized, it’ll be harder to find and likely harder to use.

Where should you start? Learn about local SEO best practices for real estate agents.

2) Leveraging Foundational Content

Talk to any inbound marketer and they’re going to talk about content. Believe us, it’s for a good reason. Great content will draw people to your website and keep them coming back for more.

Simply put, it’s a must!

So what do we mean by foundational content? As a real estate professional, you have an advantage that can be leveraged to great effect in your inbound marketing. We’re referring to your property listings and related raw data obtained from property owners and databases.

This is your foundational content and it’s the primary reason that potential clients will seek you out to begin with. Acquiring new listings and closing transactions means that things are constantly changing and new content is readily available.

Ensure Your Content is Engaging

Your target audience is looking for information about listed properties in your geographic territory. They want to learn about asking prices, the neighborhood and local area.

Make sure that your content is presented in a very “user friendly” way. This means smaller blocks of text, high quality images and an intuitive navigation interface.

Example of user friendly content layout for real estate listing

Photo courtesy of Colorlib

Using Smaller blocks of text doesn’t mean leaving out any information. In fact, detailed information is a significant plus as it gives searchers the ability to learn as much as they want to about a given real estate listing.

Pair this information with a streamlined, aesthetically pleasing site layout, and your users will be very pleased indeed!

3) Blogging Consistently

Did you know businesses that blog receive 97% more links to their website compared to those that don’t? Blogging consistently also means more leads! In addition to your foundational content, a blog that answers your target audience’s questions and provides real value is one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies for real estate companies.

In the past, real estate agents relied solely on bringing their knowledge and expertise to their negotiations with clients. Combined with well placed signs and good word of mouth, this was enough to dominate your desired territory.

Blog to Build Trust and Authority

Now, more prospects expect to get an inside look at real estate companies and their agents before choosing to work with someone. Maintaining a blog and developing your site’s content is an excellent way to elevate yourself above your competitors!

In addition to providing insight about you and your team, blogging consistently helps establish your agency as an authority and builds trust with site visitors. Compared to interruptive outbound marketing tactics, it’s easy to see why this tactic can convert more leads into clients.

Did we miss something? Oh yeah! Blogging in combination with other inbound marketing tactics will improve your online visibility. In an industry that bombards leads with marketing messages, this means you’ll be found when people are actually searching for answers!

4) Social Media Marketing

Social media! It’s a big topic of discussion and for good reason. It allows companies to interact and spread their influence to people who they would have never otherwise been able to reach.

A comprehensive social media marketing strategy can help build your personal brand and/or your company’s brand. Combined with other inbound marketing strategies, you can now take advantage of a variety of channels to connect with your target audience.

Unfortunately, we often see businesses take the wrong approach to social media. Perhaps they have set up a profile, but they post very infrequently. Some may post frequently, but it’s too promotional for anyone to become invested. Others may have built a profile on a social platform that isn’t appropriate for their business.

People aren’t necessarily looking to buy something when they are using Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. They’re looking to see what their friends are up to and connect with others. That being said, an interesting article in their feed can easily grab their attention.

Developing an Online Community Using Social Media

To grow your influence on social media, you need to present yourself as a hub of engaging and worthwhile information. Share content that answers the questions of your target audience. This should include your own content, as well as curated content. Encourage conversations about new listings and be responsive when people ask questions.

Snapshot showing real estate agency with a great social media marketing strategy

Photo courtesy of The Agency

A well nurtured community can be converted into more qualified leads and eventually clients. They’ll also be more likely to personally recommend you to others.

There are A LOT of social media platforms available nowadays and it can be tempting to try them all. However, you should pick a core group of social media platforms and focus on those (at least to start out with). Building an online community around your real estate agency takes a lot of time and consistent effort.

It’s extremely easy to stretch yourself too thin– especially if you don’t have a designated person managing your social profiles full time. In a future post, we are going to delve deeper into specific social media marketing strategies that real estate companies can employ.

5) Email Marketing Tactics

Personal referrals are still a very effective way for realtors to build their client list. Well, inbound marketing doesn’t stop after you’ve attracted a few qualified leads to your website. Email marketing is one of the best ways to convert qualified leads and delight existing customers.

Here’s our recommendation: create an email newsletter that you send out to your client list once a month. This is an excellent way to engage the new additions to your list and keep your agency’s name on the mind of past customers. Even if previous customers aren’t in the market to buy or sell a home, it’s a great way to generate more personal referrals.

If you take the steps to ensure that your newsletters provide valuable information, you’ll find that people in your list will share it with others. In fact, consistently engaging newsletters can help you develop an extremely valuable and loyal community of subscribers.

(Click here if you’d like to learn more about email marketing.)

Conclusion

We want you to know that the purpose of this post was to provide an intro to inbound marketing tactics that can benefit real estate agents. There’s a lot more you can do if you choose to make a long-term commitment to inbound marketing.

Again, we stress “long-term” because you aren’t going to see a significant change right away.

This is a reason why many businesses don’t stick with these tactics– an unfortunate decision as inbound marketing provides a significantly better ROI compared to traditional marketing methods.

At Arclight Interactive, we want you to get the most out of your marketing budget! Want to stay ahead of the curve? It’s time to stop relying on outdated methods. We guarantee that investing in inbound marketing will earn you significant results.

If you have any other questions about inbound marketing tactics and tips, be sure to fill out our contact form or leave a comment below.

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The Olympics are in full swing and we have been loving the action so far! Even if you’re not traditionally much of a sports fan, you have to admit that there is something compelling about the spirit behind the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In honor of the Olympics, we wanted to offer up something that we hope you’ll find intriguing. Did you know that the Olympic Games can teach you quite a few things about inbound marketing? Really!

Just like with Pokemon GO, you’d be surprised by what you can learn when you’re willing to look at something in a different way. Still with us? Good! Let’s get started…

Olympic athletes can teach valuable inbound marketing lessons

1) Hone Your Skills for Success

For Olympians or any professional athlete, much of their lives is spent honing their skills. Think about the 400 meter freestyle for Olympic swimmers. Katie Ledecky of the U.S. won a gold medal with her time of 3 minutes 56 seconds. How much time do you think she spent training to get ready for that moment?

Ask any serious athlete–even the ones born with incredible levels of talent–and they’ll tell you it’s that extra effort and time put into honing their skills that makes the biggest difference.

In order to execute an inbound marketing campaign successfully, you need to hone your skills. An inbound marketer needs to have a firm grasp on everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to social media marketing and content marketing.

Can you write compelling copy? Do you have any knowledge of HTML or CSS? These are all important elements in any modern digital marketing campaign. This is also an industry that is constantly evolving and marketers who aren’t putting in the extra hours to hone their skills won’t ever be able to compete in the long run.

2) Make a Plan and Stick to It

Olympians consistently dazzle us with unreal displays of athleticism performed on the grandest of stages. That doesn’t mean they don’t feel the immense pressure that rests on their shoulders. However, they’ve trained their minds to overcome these thoughts and remain laser-focused on their goals.

Olympians work with their coaches and trainers to develop a plan of action, which is something that they can fall back on during moments of self-doubt or crises. This allows them to tune out the distractions and the millions of eyes that are watching and waiting on bated breath to see what happens next…

Similarly, if you launch headlong into an inbound marketing campaign without a sound strategy or established goals, things can easily fall apart once the pressure is turned up. You need to establish those key benchmarks before you start.

With a coherent plan in place, you and your team have something to fall back on when serious challenges arise.

What happens when your client starts getting worried and feels uncertain about your campaign? If you’ve developed a plan and have established goals, you can provide impactful updates that show how things are progressing. It makes a huge difference!

3) Leverage Your Strengths

Have you seen the new Reese’s commercial featuring Lyndsey Vonn? It’s a great ad that shows the two-time gold medalist failing spectacularly at a number of summer olympic sports. Their tag line is “Do Summer Like a Winter Olympian” and it’s definitely worth a watch!

This commercial makes us think about the value of leveraging your strengths. It’s something that is just as important for Olympic athletes as it is inbound marketers. Why? As we mentioned before, inbound marketers are required to wear a lot of hats. Over time, you’ll discover the areas where you and/or your team are more talented.

We aren’t saying that you should limit yourself when it comes to the work you do for your company or your clients. However, you should know how to leverage your strengths in order to ensure your campaign is as successful as possible. Does your team have more skills in social media marketing? Then develop your inbound marketing strategy so it’s geared around a heftier push on social media.

Getting new clients can be tough and this can make it hard to say no or to make serious adjustments to what they ask you to do. It’s not uncommon for a client to have a strong opinion about how they’ve marketed themselves in the past. But remember, you are the expert and they have come to you to help them market their business online. This is an important lesson and one that will help you achieve greater success in the long run.

Remember Lyndsey struggling to shoot an arrow? Now watch her tear it up on the slopes!

Play to your strengths!! Even if it’s tough at first, the results will be solid gold.

4) Be Consistent

In a 2012 interview, 1996 Olympic decathlon champion Dan O’Brien was asked what he thought was one of the deciding factors behind the athletes that achieved the most success.

He responded, “Consistency will win out in the long run, always.”

As O’Brien’s career progressed, he found that maintaining a high level of consistency in his events was the biggest factor in prolonging his career. Sure, an athlete can rely on power and agility for some memorable wins, but that won’t last. Dan O’Brien was able to take home gold thanks to consistency in his performances.

Circles representing the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

When it comes to inbound marketing, consistency and persistence are huge factors in predicting long term success. Do you want to develop a good following around your blog? Sure, you’re going to have to create compelling content, but that alone won’t get you where you want to go. You’ll need to consistently post content and promote that content in order to build up a lucrative following.

Do you want to use SEO or social media to generate leads for your business? We can’t stress enough how important it is to stay consistent. We see many businesses that start to make steps in the right direction (publishing new blog posts or sharing good content on their social media platforms) then let things drop off way too quickly. And then that puts them off investing in inbound marketing moving forward.

Inbound marketing is a technique that can drive an incredible ROI for your business or your clients. If you can’t maintain a certain level of consistency, you won’t be able to achieve the success you are after.

5) Assess Your Performance and Build on It for the Future

As I was writing this post, I tuned in to watch the Women’s Volleyball Semifinals featuring the U.S. vs. Brazil. Now, if you watched the last two Summer Olympic Games, odds are you became pretty familiar with Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. They formed arguably the best women’s volleyball team in history with 3 Gold Medals in a row.

Misty has since retired from the sport, but Kerri is still in the game and killing it. Coming into the semifinals, she had never lost an Olympic match, so I was feeling pretty cocky about our chances.

In a heartbreaking turn of events, I witnessed Kerri’s first loss in a match that showed just how brilliant the Brazilian team could be. As they say, every great story must come to an end…

When it comes to Olympic competitions like this, all the preparation and talent in the world isn’t always going to be enough to bring home the gold. That being said, this loss offers an incredible opportunity for our Volleyball team to grow. Kerri and her teammate April Ross will work with their coaches and trainers to evaluate where things went wrong and how they can improve for the future.

Tracking the Performance of Your Inbound Marketing Channels

With every new campaign, you are going to face a range of challenges, setbacks and disappointments. Inbound marketing often involves a lot of experimentation, especially when you are starting out.

This is why A/B testing your ads and landing pages is so important. You might find that a certain ad (one you and your team were really excited about) didn’t elicit a significant response from your target audience. You may even find that you’ve been marketing to the wrong target audience all along. Discoveries like these are disappointing, but they also offer an opportunity to assess your results and make significant improvements.

The same goes for every aspect of a successful inbound marketing campaign. What content has worked the best for your website? What hasn’t? Have you achieved the goals you set for your campaign?

If you’re aren’t meticulously assessing the performance of your inbound channels, you won’t be able to take significant steps in the right direction. Even an unsuccessful campaign can provide incredibly valuable information moving forward.

6) Value Your Team

Research has shown that Olympic athletes face a significantly greater challenge in individual competitions compared to the team events. There are many reasons for this, but the simple truth is that team members can help alleviate that intense pressure of competition and help push each individual to be their best.

Gymnastics teamwork during the Olympic games

Teamwork also plays a critical role when it comes to executing a successful inbound marketing. No matter how difficult a project undertaking is, you can achieve those goals if you maintain consistent communication with the key stakeholders and support the members of your team!

Conclusion

In short, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio have been fantastic! The inspiration and feeling of awe that comes from watching athletes of this caliber is truly beyond compare. They can also teach us some valuable lessons as inbound marketers.

We hope you’re enjoying the games and that this post helped you look at inbound marketing in a fresh new light! If you have any questions for us, please be sure to fill out our contact form or leave a comment below.

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Depending on your age, you might remember the phenomenon that was Pokémon during the early 2000s. Well the addictive pocket monsters have returned in the form of an augmented reality app called Pokémon GO! As a digital marketer, Pokémon GO has sparked more than just a nostalgic interest in me. It can actually teach us a lot about the art of inbound marketing.

To be fair, the Pokémon franchise never really went away. However, it hasn’t been this popular in years. The “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” fever has taken the world by storm (again)!

Wait! What Exactly is Pokémon GO?

Before I dive headfirst into this inbound marketing lesson, I want to provide a brief overview of Pokémon GO for any readers who aren’t millennials. If you’ve already been roaming your neighborhood looking for rare catches and Pokestops, then you can skip this section.

Charizard rendered in Pokemon GO

You really haven’t heard of Pokémon GO??

Pokémon GO is a mobile smartphone app that was released by Niantic, Inc earlier this month. It’s based on the extremely popular series created by Nintendo that has spawned games, cartoon shows and movies.

The app is free to download and play, and it provides a virtual reality experience for players. What this means is that while you’re walking around your neighborhood, you can hold up your phone and see the Pokémon right there in front of you. The developers of this app have made great use of your smartphone’s camera and GPS.

Pokémon GO is inherently social too! Have you noticed groups of people roaming your local park with their phones in hand? Hordes of people have been teaming up to find and catch Pokémon and get some more exercise while they’re at it.

But that’s not why I want to talk about Pokémon GO today. As an inbound marketer, I see a great way to use this pocket monster phenomenon to teach you a few things about inbound marketing.

For a Reward, People Will Jump Through a Hoop (Within Reason)

In our modern world, most people don’t have to rely on walking to get to where they want to go. Given the choice, most wouldn’t choose to walk if they could drive.

We’ve become an increasingly more sedentary culture overall.

One of the expressed desires from developer Niantic was to build a game that encouraged more gamers to be active. As Niantic’s product marketing lead, Archit Bhargava, puts it, their mission is to “build technology that enables adventures on foot.”

Pokémon GO has succeeded in getting more people off their butts and spending time outside. How? They are rewarded with the ability to capture more Pokémon.

After downloading the app, a new trainer will have the opportunity to capture a Pokémon in the near vicinity, as well as test out some of the other mechanics of the game. This gets the hooks in, but soon they’ll find that they need to adventure out into the real world to capture additional Pokémon.

Given the massive success of the app, it would seem that many players are more than willing to put up with some additional walking in order to catch more Pokémon.

This is a valuable lesson that you can apply to your own business. With the right incentive, your target audience will be willing and even happy to take the desired action.

In order to get more people to provide their contact information when they visit your website, you need to know your target audience really well and understand the types of things that they want. With the right type of lead magnet, you’ll create a powerful incentive that will convert more site visitors into leads.

I recommend that you take the time to consider exactly what your desired customers care about. This would be a good time to develop some buyer personas for your business if you haven’t already. Once you know your perfect customer inside and out, it won’t be difficult to develop content that you know will appeal to them. It’s obvious that Niantic knew exactly what would appeal to their target market.

Leveraging A Brand’s Community to Generate Interest in a New Product

Have you seen others posting on social media about their experience with Pokémon GO? Plenty of news feeds have been populated with stories ranging from people finding unexpected things on their search for rare Pokémon to clever videos like this one from the City of Miami Police Department:

The point is Niantic took advantage of Pokémon’s solid community to amplify their message and get the word out both prior to and after they launched Pokémon GO.

This proved extremely successful as buzz was generated amongst the millions of people who were fans in their childhood. The growth of social media also meant that a whole new generation of players were introduced to the franchise.

If you have developed a healthy online community around your brand, you can leverage that to generate interest prior to the launch of new products or services. If done right, fans of your business may then continue to spread the word post-launch.

Chances are you probably don’t have an online community that is as extensive as Pokémon’s. That isn’t a problem,  because you can gain significant benefits by generating buzz on social media about a new product.

On top of that, building your online community is a fundamental aspect of any effective inbound marketing campaign. Eventually this can become a crazy effective lead-generating machine for your business. Click here for some great tips to help you get started!

Small Victories Pile Up in Pokémon Go and Inbound Marketing

If you start playing Pokémon Go, you’ll soon realize that there are Rattatas and Digletts everywhere! You’re going to see A LOT of these common Pokémon types (they’ll probably be standing around in your own home).

You’ll get tired of these Pokémon types quickly, but a wise trainer will still catch them when the opportunity strikes. Why? It’s because these captures earn them points and they can evolve (level up) these Pokémon faster.

Rattata a common Pokemon in Pokemon GO

You will run from my army of rattatas!!!

As an inbound marketer, this really resonates with me. Starting out, the work is tedious and unrewarding. If you’re doing inbound marketing for your business, you’re probably trying your hand at content marketing. It may not feel like you’re generating much, but each blog post you write or infographic you create will add up (if you stay consistent in your efforts).

If you’re marketing your content the right way, you’ll slowly but surely earn more points with your target audience and that will lead to a greater reach for your business and brand. Just be sure that each blog post you write has been properly optimized for search.

Reward Your Fans and Reap the Benefits

Pokémon is a massively influential franchise that affected an entire generation. I still remember collecting the cards with my little brother and watching the TV series. We invested plenty of our (and our parents’) money and time into these little pocket monsters and their world.

When Pokémon GO was announced (and that it would be available for free!), it caused widespread pandemonium. Fans couldn’t wait for a new way to interact with this world, and they were rewarded for it.

This should serve as a valuable experience for any business owner and marketer. When developing a new product or service, don’t forget about your loyal customer base. This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s not uncommon for businesses to market their new product in a way specifically designed to bring in new customers.

Prior or current customers should not be overlooked. In fact, when they are properly nurtured, these customers will make repeat purchases and become advocates for your brand. We may live in a digital age, but word of mouth is more powerful than ever!

If that doesn’t sway you, think about this: it costs businesses roughly 7x more to bring in a new customer than to retain an existing one. Reward your loyal customer base!

Use the “Foot-in-the-Door” Technique to Hook Your Target Audience

There was clear reasoning behind Niantic’s decision to make Pokémon GO a free-to-play app. They understood that their core demographic would be comprised of Millennials: a group who are willing to take extra steps if it means that they don’t have to pay for anything.

The genius here is that their team understood this would lead to more revenue in the long-run compared to a paid app. Why? Because they opened their game up to a much larger player base.

Once a player has become hooked on the mechanics, Niantic can market paid “extras” specifically to them. These are special in-game perks that can give them a leg up over their friends and other local trainers.

Within a week of it’s launch, Pokémon GO was already generating $1.6 million in daily revenue!

This type of marketing tactic is grounded in a psychological concept known as “foot-in-the-door” technique. Essentially this means that it’s easier to get someone to agree to a larger request after they’ve agreed to a smaller one.

There is no significant barrier to playing the game since it is free to download. If it hooks a player, then it’s only another small step to make an in-app purchase to get a leg up over a rival.

Pokemon GO's hook is a great inbound marketing tactic

Pokemon GO can make you feel like a real life trainer…

With inbound marketing, you can use this “foot-in-the-door” technique to hook your target demographic! Using these inbound marketing fundamentals allows you to develop a relationship with potential customers and build an online community around your business.

You can educate leads about the benefits of using your products and services, and make sure they know why it would decrease their quality of life if they missed out.

Providing engaging demos, samples or free trials are great ways to hook leads. Remember that you should aim for quality over quantity here. That hands-on experience with your product or service should provide a level of benefit that leaves them wanting more when their trial comes to a close. This is a powerful feeling that can be more compelling than the rationale to save money.

Conclusion

Pokémon GO has been out for less than a month, but it has already achieved a mind-blowing level of success. Hopefully, this success has shown you just how effective inbound marketing can be.

Here are some key takeaways from this post:

  • Niantic knew how to implement the right incentives to get their target audience to take the actions they desired.
  • Niantic leveraged Pokémon’s online community to generate buzz around Pokémon GO prior to launch.
  • The new app has great appeal for loyal fans and low barriers for first-time players.
  • Pokémon GO utilizes the “foot-in-the-door” technique to hook their target audience.

Each of these are representative of inbound marketing strategies that you can use to great effect for your own business. Want to know more? Drop me a message in the form below.

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As a small business owner, you may have grown your operation on the back of traditional marketing strategies like cold calling, email blasts and local promotions to get the word out about your services. These tactics can be effective, but they also tend to be costly. That’s where inbound marketing can really help change how you grow your business operation.

When we discuss inbound marketing tactics with business owners, they’re often concerned about the costs involved in changing their core marketing strategies. This is a reasonable concern. However, it’s one that stems from an outbound marketing methodology.

ROI from Outbound Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

The average cost of using traditional outbound marketing channels like running an ad on the radio, TV or in a local newspaper are significantly more expensive than inbound marketing channels.

On top of that, it’s not easy to calculate your ROI from these outbound marketing channels. You may be able to serve up your ads to your target customer base, but you aren’t reaching them at a point where they are likely to take a desired action.

Investing in inbound marketing can and will provide a fantastic ROI for your business! Sure, the initial investment isn’t going to be cheap, but it really shouldn’t be. The businesses that are getting fantastic ROI’s from inbound marketing tactics have realized that cutting corners won’t cut it.

They’ve invested in a great looking website and found a quality agency to run their social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. In contrast to traditional outbound marketing channels, you can easily track and analyze every aspect of your inbound marketing campaign.

This way, you won’t be wasting your marketing budget on channels that aren’t actually pulling in leads for your business. The effectiveness of this approach is so significant that businesses using inbound marketing have found it costs around 60% less per qualified lead compared to outbound marketing!

Pretty impressive right?

Small business owner happy about her inbound marketing ROI

We understand that you might not be ready to hire an inbound marketing agency just yet. However, we’ve compiled seven inbound marketing tactics that can and will change your business for the better!

These are all possible to do on your own if you’re ready to get started right away.

1) Identify 1-2 Keywords to Optimize Your Site Around

Search engine optimization plays a critical role in any inbound marketing campaign. If you are familiar with SEO, then you’ve likely heard about keyword research. This is the practice of identifying keywords that are relevant to your business, so that you can incorporate these throughout your website and start gaining relevant traffic.

Keep in mind that the best practice for keywords has changed. You obviously don’t want to stuff keywords into your content, but you do want to build content that is tailored to longtail keywords relevant to your business and industry.

When starting out, we recommend that you identify a core group of longtail keywords to focus on. Many sites try to rank too many keywords. The odds that you will rank well for all of these is pretty low (depending on your industry). We’ve found that it’s much more effective to optimize your website for a smaller grouping of high value keywords.

Once you’ve identified these prime targets, you can start creating pages that specifically target the keywords. A great example is LessAccounting, a company that provides accounting software for small businesses and is competing with big brands like Quickbooks.

LessAccounting ranks higher well for relative keywords in their industry

They’ve done a great job honing in on their keyword focus and now rank above huge sites like Entrepeneur.com for queries like “accounting tips for small business owners.”

2) Create a Lead Magnet for Your Website

How likely are you to sign up for a website’s newsletter or to create a profile if they were to ask you straight away on their website? Odds are that you wouldn’t be very interested. Now, what if they were asking for your email in exchange for an E book that shows you how to create a successful Facebook marketing campaign in your industry? That sounds a little more enticing, right?

These free resources and guides are known as lead magnets and can be extremely valuable for your business. Not only can it help capture a lot more leads, but it can also drive a ton of qualified traffic to your website and helps build trust with visitors.

Here are some great lead magnet examples you should check out for inspiration.

Be sure that your lead magnet make sense for your website and business. It should be specific and speak to your target audience.

3) Create More Compelling Calls-to-Action (CTA)

You’ve put a lot of work to drive more traffic to your site, but what’s happening when visitors get there? Are they making the desired actions? If you’re website can’t convert, you’ve got a serious problem.

Unfortunately, this is something that many small business website haven’t gotten right– implementing a compelling call-to-action (CTA).

Snapshot of a great call-to-action on a small business website

Have you invested a lot of time in developing your website’s blog? Then your CTA should make it easy it easy for interested visitors to subscribe. Perhaps you have a landing page that includes a form for capturing contact information from leads.

A great CTA can make a world of difference in bridging the gap from site visitor to customer/subscriber/loyal brand fan. A crappy CTA, on the other hand, may confuse the visitors you drive to this page and lead to significant dropoff.

Click here for some tips on how you can improve your calls-to-action.

4) Implement an Email Pop-Up on Your Site

Odds are you have had at least one bad experience with popups on the internet. Frankly, they can be really annoying. So it may come as a surprise that this is an important inbound marketing tactic for your small business.

Fortunately, email opt-in pop-ups can be implemented in a way that doesn’t ruin the user’s experience and ultimately builds your email list.

This list of potential leads can become extremely valuable for your business. A great email opt-in can quickly build up your email list when combined with the other inbound marketing tactics listed in this post. Here’s a fantastic tutorial from Mailchimp on how to setup a successful opt-in pop-up on your website using their form builder.

If you’re using WordPress for your website, here’s a list of additional plugins that you can use to build your email list.

5) Start an Email Marketing Campaign

Once you’ve built up a solid email list, then it’s time to start your first email marketing campaign. This is an excellent way to keep customers and potential leads up-to-date about things you’re doing, upcoming sales and events. It’s also one of the best ways to nurture the type of relationship that turns leads into raving fans of your business.

Woman waits for an email from her favorite brand

Now, you might be wondering how much time it’s going to take to actually run an email marketing campaign and how you’ll be able to fit that into your busy schedule. This is why you’ll want to pick a great email service provider. They’ll allow you to upload your list of email subscribers and send automated emails to all of them.

Here are the email service providers we recommend trying out:

  • Mailchimp
  • Constant Contact
  • AWeber
  • GetResponse
  • Campaign Monitor
  • IContact

From timing to optimizing your messaging, there are a lot of best practices to familiarize yourself with. Remember, the emails should come off as personal and helpful, rather than spammy or aggressive. Email marketing should not be used as an easy way to simply pitch to potential clients. This will quickly disinterest them or even frustrate them.

Want to learn more about this inbound marketing tactic? Click here.

6) Work on Developing Your Online Brand

One of the best aspects of inbound marketing is that it can help you develop a great online brand for your business. There’s a lot of competition out there and people will use search engines and social media to learn more about a given company. If you’ve developed a good social following and invested in your website, this can easily separate you from your competitors.

Offering a great resource on your website and ranking well for related keywords will help position your business as a leader in your niche. Combine that with an effective social media marketing strategy and you’ll see your online brand grow!

Using inbound marketing to build your online brand will require a focused and multi-faceted approach. With clearly defined buyer personas, you can tailor your social messaging and content marketing to speak to the them. That will establish your business as a go-to resource amongst your target audience.

7) Use Social Media to Engage with Your Target Audience

Have you created social media profiles for your business? If you’ve picked the right social media channels to invest in, you can use them to interact with your target audience.

Quick disclaimer: social media shouldn’t be viewed as your primary source of conversions. Your optimized website and a genuine email marketing campaign will generate more. However, social media is still a critical aspect of your inbound marketing campaign.

Example of a social interaction from a brand

Building up your business’ presence on these social channels won’t be enough. You’ll want to find ways to engage with your followers– it’s called social media for a reason!

Wondering where to start? Just try asking questions and be sure to respond when followers ask you questions. Your social channel isn’t meant to be another one-way street where you promote things about your business. Be present and receptive!

Some of the most successful brands online take this a step further by constantly monitoring for any mention of their name. This gives them an instant way to join in on conversations and engage with people that have shown an interest in them. Interacting with interested social media users does a lot to personalize the brand and set it apart from their competitors.

Conclusion

As you can see, each of these inbound marketing tactics compliment each other. Plus, they can be applied to any business website regardless of the industry.

While these seven tactics can achieve a lot for your business, there are many other inbound marketing tactics that small businesses can use to great effect. If you have questions about how to get started, please leave a comment below or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to help!

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Have you heard someone using the term “growth hacking” lately? It’s become a popular buzzword for marketers and techies, but should it mean anything to you as a small business owner? Yes, it should– and here’s how growth hacking can help your small business!

“Growth hacking” was a term conceived by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis is an influential angel investor and startup advisor who has achieved success as a marketer in his own right. In Silicon Valley, he’s frequently sought out by new startup founders thanks to his tremendous track record.

Ellis was able to take the strategies, mindsets and tactics he had learned from working with startups to help grow his own company.

Growth hacking potential represented by a tree

Eventually, he started looking for someone who could come in and take over for him. He wanted to develop a complete system that could run successfully, even if he wasn’t at the reins.

This proved to be harder than he thought. While sifting through a stack of impressive marketing resumes, he realized that he wanted to find someone who knew how to GROW a company (not just market it).

Thus the term “growth hacking” was born!

So… What is Growth Hacking?

Compared to more traditional forms of marketing or even inbound marketing, someone specializing in growth hacking only has one thing on their mind: GROWTH!

This is their all-consuming mission and creative growth hackers are always on the lookout for new ways to achieve it.

What does growth entail?

  • More visibility
  • More subscribers
  • More customers
  • Increased revenue

Growth hackers can’t just focus on one specific tactic to achieve these goals. They must leverage a variety of tools to achieve the adoption and engagement needed to truly grow. This can’t be done without a sound strategy in place.

When working with a new start-up, a growth hacker will focus on the processes that the company has in place. Some things may need to be streamlined while others may be disrupted and changed completely. This ability to completely transform a company is the reason why good growth hackers are so valuable.

This is all great, but as a small business owner you’re probably thinking, I don’t have the budget to hire on a growth hacker. Luckily, you don’t have to! We’re going to show you several growth hacking tactics that you can use for your small business. On top of that, these are viable strategies you can employ even on the strictest of marketing budgets.

How Can I Apply Growth Hacking Principles to My Business?

Do you have a signup form on your website? This is a great way to collect contact information from engaged users on your site. A common growth hacking tactic that has skyrocketed several companies is incentivizing sign ups.

Sign up form that incentivizes users

Unfortunately, many small businesses stick a sign up form on their site without really considering how they can encourage more visitors to complete the form. Site owners do it just because they know it’s something that websites are supposed to have. If you want to think like a growth hacker, then you need to take a closer look at the sign-up process you have in place.

What can you do to incentivize visitors to complete your online form? This post has some great tips that will help!

Listen to Your Fans!

Does your small business have a presence on social media? You should! The average consumer is an empowered one thanks to the plethora of information available online. If they can’t find your company on Facebook or Twitter, it can be perceived as a red flag.

Growth hackers also use social media to interact with potential customers online. Why? They are seeking feedback on their brand and yes, sometimes that feedback can be negative. Growth hackers don’t shy away from criticism; in fact they often find it extremely valuable. This feedback can be used to adjust your efforts and offerings to better match your target demographic.

You can also gain valuable feedback from visitors through your website. You might want to run an online survey or invest some time reaching out to fans through your available social channels. Do you maintain a brick and mortar location for your small business? Than you can gain some great feedback from customers in person too!

Here are 2 strategies to consider:

  1. Make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your website. Keep track of what pages and elements that users seem to enjoy on your website. Make small adjustments to better serve your users. This can also help you improve your content marketing strategy and search engine optimization (SEO).
  2. Using a reward-like a discount or special coupon, you can incentivize online visitors to leave their opinion about your current marketing efforts and offerings.

As a small business owner, time is a very valuable commodity and you might not be able to invest it in all of these growth marketing channels. We recommend focusing your efforts on a single channel to start out. Whether it’s garnering engagement through social media or email marketing, pick something that you know or feel comfortable working on.

Show Off Your Reviews

People are heavily influenced by online reviews when it comes to making a final purchasing decision. A study conducted by BrightLocal found that 79% of consumers view online reviews in the same light as a personal recommendation. That’s really significant!!

Kids react to positive online reviews about a local small business

With a growth hacking mindset, you can take things a step further and share your positive online reviews with more users through your active social media channels. Yelp lets you connect your profile with Facebook pretty easily. This will mean that all of your future Yelp reviews will also be posted to your Facebook page.

If you’re struggling to get online reviews, check out our guide to generating more reviews for your business.

Leverage Calls-to-Action (CTAs) to Drive Engagement

Want users and customers to take a certain action on your website or social media page? Then you need to ask them. Including a well thought out and obvious CTA is the single most important element on any sign up page you create for your brand. If your call-to-action doesn’t stand, then your landing page is basically useless.

How can you call more attention to your CTA? Use bigger fonts, contrasting colors and prominent placement to make sure it stands out!

You can also use CTA phrasing like “comment,” “share” and “please retweet” to garner more engagement and growth through social platforms. Just take care that your calls-to-action match the voice and tone your brand has developed.

Conclusion

Remember that these are by no means the only growth hacking strategies that work for small businesses. Do you have some different hacks that have worked for you? Be sure to share your favorite growth hacking strategies in the comments below!

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Have you heard the claim that “SEO is Dead?” If you believe this or you think that search engine optimization (SEO) just can’t help your business, please keep reading!

Think about it this way: as long as people are using search engines to find and learn about local businesses, SEO should play a critical role in your marketing strategy. Your competitors are undoubtedly looking to invest in SEO this year and we’ve put together 20 reasons why you should too.

1) SEO is an Investment Not a Cost

We’ve spoken with many business owners who are hesitant about search engine optimization. Their initial reaction is understandable. Business owners are bombarded with plenty of quick fix marketing solutions and several have sunk a lot of money into tactics that just don’t work.

They’ve come to look at marketing as just another cost. Online marketing seems to be talked about a lot, but maybe your experience so far hasn’t been so great. If that’s the way you’re approaching search engine optimization, we’re asking you to look at it in a different light. SEO is an investment and one that can earn your business a very high return.

Business owners perceive SEO as an Unnecessary cost

Does your website rank for the keywords that convert for your business niche? Are you ranking on the first page? Those who aren’t should know that they are missing out on a significant number of qualified leads every day.

By investing in search engine optimization for your website, you could start ranking prominently on the first page for your desired keywords. Thus, a relatively modest investment in SEO can yield a massive return for your business in 2016.

2) SEO Spotlights Your Best Employee

Who do you think is the best salesman for your business? It’s your website!!

Who else is out there twenty four seven promoting the services and products that you might offer? Who else does exactly what you ask it to do, without ever deviating from your instructions? You guessed it: your website! Far too many local businesses have failed to utilize this incredibly valuable asset to its full potential.

Just setting up a functioning website is not enough in today’s world. Search engine optimization helps ensure that more qualified visitors get to see and experience it. Good web design is also vital, but we can talk about that another time.

3) SEO is an Essential Piece of the Marketing Puzzle

Search engine optimization is an inbound marketing strategy, but it won’t help you achieve all of your marketing goals on its own. Your SEO strategy should be combined with social media, digital marketing and other methods that can help build your online brand, attract and convert more qualified leads.

With the right marketing mix, it’s now possible to grow your business faster than ever before. The modern business owner shouldn’t have to decide between SEO and PPC marketing. Instead, you need to decide how these can be integrated into your marketing plan in order to best serve your overall strategy.

As experts in inbound marketing strategies like SEO, it’s our responsibility to educate our clients and help them avoid possible pitfalls. We also do this for people who aren’t our clients through our blog. If you decide not to invest in professional SEO services, you’ll at least have an overall idea of how it works and why it’s important.

Truth be told, we hope you don’t go that route. Search engine optimization is an extremely effective method of marketing your website and brand to the best possible customers. It deserves a prominent place in your marketing mix in 2016.

4) SEO Provides an Incredible ROI

Many of our clients are tentative when we tell them that SEO is a long term effort. In fact, it’s should just be looked at as an ongoing effort. It can take time to see results, but SEO can lead to a dramatic increase in revenue for your company without having to dramatically increase your marketing costs. This can allow you to scale more quickly and increase your profits over time.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a different marketing approach that provides a better ROI than SEO. An optimized website can convert more and more leads at smaller and smaller incremental costs.

5) Reach Customers at a Critical Stage in the Buyer’s Process

When someone wants to learn more about a company or a service, where do they turn? To search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. That dream customer you’re looking for is surfing the web for information. He or she is looking for social affirmation of your business’s validity on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Company reaches more customers online through SEO

SEO can have a massive impact on this research and buying cycle. It allows you to position your website strategically and attract users who are further along in their buyer’s journey. You won’t be able to achieve that unless your website ranks well for the most critical and relevant keyword phrases.

6) SEO is Priced to Match Your Budget

For agencies like ours that offer SEO services, pricing can be a challenge. Why? Because it comes down to a serious discussion surrounding your budget.

Every SEO campaign is unique and needs to be customized to meet the client’s needs. That means that the cost for SEO services varies. You’ve probably come across some agencies offering base SEO packages, but we wouldn’t recommend using them. The best agencies will want to have a discussion with you so that they can understand your goals and the potential roadblocks that need to be overcome.

A good agency will work with you to match the budget that you have for marketing. However, you should temper your expectations. It takes a lot of work on an ongoing basis to optimize your website, so you should not expect really impressive results if you’re allocating a really small budget.

If you’re still unsure whether you can afford the investment, we can provide you with a SEO pre-analysis. It’s affordable and will provide you with a breakdown of how much it will take to get your website optimized.

7) A SEO Friendly WordPress Site Isn’t Enough

You may be thinking “I have a wordpress site that has a mobile friendly and well designed theme, why do I need to invest in SEO?” First off, it’s great that you are using a quality CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress! That already puts you a few steps ahead, but that isn’t enough.

Search engines are looking to serve up amazing content to users!

We may not know all the specifics, but Google currently has over 200 unique ranking factors that impact how your website ranks in the SERPs. The code that your site is built on only makes up a fraction of those ranking factors. WordPress and other CMS platforms really help, but you’ll need more if you want to take the cake!

Content is king— have you heard that one before? It’s for a good reason. Luckily, using a CMS makes it that much easier to add great content to your site and make sure that it is optimized for success.

8) SEO Should Be Built into Your Website’s DNA

We’ve talked with our fair share of business owners who are hesitant to spend even more money after investing in a fresh and expensive website. We understand, but search engines need additional help to fully understand your business and the services that you provide.

The truth is that SEO should be included from the ground up and built into the very core of your website. Many believe that they can spend a lot of money on a fancy website and then layer some SEO on top of that for the win. We’re telling you right now that this approach will lead to disappointment and frustration.

In 2016, your SEO strategy will have an impact on everything from your website structure to your overall web design. Don’t worry though, because agencies like ours can still help you achieve success with SEO.

9) SEO Makes Sure Your Website is Labeled Properly

How many people do you think would walk in your door if you didn’t have your business properly labeled? Not many– and the ones that do probably aren’t the customers you are looking for. This seems like a no brainer, but that is the equivalent of not making sure your title tags and meta descriptions are optimized for your website.

This optimized URL reflects the blog post title

There are A LOT of businesses that are making this mistake and there are still plenty of business owners who will be leaving money on the table this year. Don’t make this all too common SEO mistake! Invest in search engine optimization, rather than trying to sell products in an unmarked store.

10) SEO Allows You to Harness the Power of Social Media

Have you already created a Facebook or Twitter page for your business? Then you should know that these pages can and should be optimized for search engines just like your website. That combined with a social strategy that shares relevant content and engages a fan base can drastically improve the success of your website.

You should consider working with an inbound marketing agency to ensure that your social media strategy is built with this in mind. Otherwise, you may be discouraged by the results you get from maintaining a social presence for your business.

11) SEO Helps You Establish a Great Online Brand

When we say “facial tissue,” how many of you thought about Kleenex? That is the power of branding. SEO is a powerful tool that can be used to build a lasting online brand for your company.

Sites that rank at the top for search results gain trust and credibility from users. Eventually, people will come to associate your brand with a certain niche or service. That is a HUGE win for any business and well worth the investment in SEO.

We can tie this back to our last point about optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions. These can be used in a very effective way that not only entices people to click through to your site but also strengthens your brand and communicates a consistent marketing message.

You’re working hard to build a credible business that offers quality services. Unfortunately, that credibility can be damaged when customers can’t find your website online. Just to be clear, if you’re on page 2, most will not ever find your website.

A website that ranks highly for your desired keywords means that you will get more visitors. This leads to more people who are familiar with this business and more sales. Over time, this creates more fans who tell their friends about you.

An effective SEO strategy can help create a group of engaged “raving fans” for your business!

Your ideal customers have questions and SEO can help get your content positioned to answer these questions when they start searching online.

12) Drive More Offline Sales with SEO

Still not sure if you should invest in SEO this year? What if we told you that this type of inbound marketing can help drive offline sales as well?

Think about it, most people are turning to the internet to research businesses before making a purchase. This online experience influences their decision, even if they decide to make that purchase in person at a store.

Woman announces the benefits of investing in SEO

(A WebVisible/Nielsen study in 2008 found that 86% of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses when planning to buy the products in person.)

We talk to many local businesses who say they have limited budgets for marketing and that’s why they are hesitant to invest in online marketing strategies like SEO. If you take only one thing away from this post, let it be this, “You cannot afford NOT to invest in SEO this year!”

There isn’t another form of marketing that can net you a better ROI, so why would you spend money on other forms of marketing and forgo investing in search engine optimization? If you have a limited marketing budget, we recommend allocating it to a method that will pay the most dividends in the long run– and that is search engine optimization.

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Blogger preparing to write her next postWhether you’re writing a blog post for business or pleasure, odds are that you’d like people to actually read it. Many bloggers poor their hearts and souls into their posts only to feel disappointed by the fact that their efforts don’t seem to bearing any fruit.

Here’s the unfortunate truth: that post that you have poured some serious thought into is just a drop in the bucket– a bucket that is getting significantly bigger every day. I’m talking about content overload and it’s a challenge that every aspiring blogger faces. I want you to get your post in front of as many eyes as possible and that’s why I highly recommend taking steps optimize your next blog post for search engines.

Since this is an extensive post, we decided to add some links that will take you to each section for your convenience:

  1. Keyword research for your blog posts
  2. Using keywords like a pro
  3. Tips for using headers and sub-headers
  4. Implementing optimized images
  5. Organizing blog content with categories and tags
  6. Building internal links with your blog posts
  7. Perks of using a responsive design for your blog
  8. Your content’s length does matter
  9. A great external linking strategy for your blog
  10. Making your blog post more shareable
  11. Tips for implementing an effective blogging schedule

Overcome the Challenge of Content Overload

There are more than 2 million new posts published each day (just look at how much content is churned out by BuzzFeed each day). There are lots of things scrambling for your readers attention nowadays. Taking advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) best practices is one of the best ways that you can elevate your post above the rest.

If you’re running a blog for your business, you probably don’t have the time to stay up on current SEO trends and major search engine algorithm updates. Unless you’re trying to become an SEO professional, this is where I would like to help you. Just keep these 11 SEO tips in mind when writing your next blog post and you should notice an improvement in its performance.

1) Keyword Research Provides a Solid Foundation


This a very, very important step that all too many people skip. As a business owner, you need to realize that people might use a variety of different terms or keywords to search for items or services that you provide. A business blog that is effectively optimized for search engines can help your site rank for valuable search queries related to your industry.

Luckily, there are are a variety of tools that can help you find the right keywords quickly. For this post, we’ll be focusing on one of the best to start out with.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner

One of the best tools for keyword research is Google Adwords Keyword Planner. It’s free to use– all you need is a Google account to get started. If that’s taken care of, you are going to head over to Google Adwords and click on the tools:

Finding the Keyword Planner Tool

Then click on Keyword Planner:

Get started using Google's Keyword Planner
You should have a basic idea of what type of topic you’d like to discuss in your next post, but the keyword planner will provide some valuable insights if not– this process just might take a bit longer.

Click on the “Search for new keywords…”

Click on search for new keywords field

And here is where you can start entering the topics you’re interested in writing about. Google will retrieve related keywords. Remember that this tool was developed for Adwords, so you’ll want to ignore the Ad group ideas tab. Click on the Keyword Ideas tab and you’ll see a list of related keywords.

List of keywords in the Google Keyword Planner

I recommend that you identify one or two long-tail phrases to focus on for each blog post. FYI – a long tail keyword is essentially a search phrase that includes at least one valuable keyword and is specific to your industry. Targeting for long tail keywords helps your site rank for more qualified traffic.

If you want a more in-depth guide to using Google Adwords Keyword Planner, check out this one from Hubspot.

This brings us to the next killer SEO tip for your blog post.

2) Don’t be a Chump — Here’s How You Use Keywords like a Pro


First things first– do not stuff keywords into your blog post! This is a practice that will tank your rankings. Here’s a great video from Matt Cutts (the Head of Google’s Webspam team) explaining keyword density:

If you followed the first tip, you should have 1-2 keyword phrases to focus on. I recommended finding long-tail keyword phrases as these can be used to target more qualified online traffic. I think too many business owners are focused on driving larger traffic numbers to their sites. Optimizing blog posts around long-tail keyword phrases may not yield those large, sexy traffic numbers, but it bring in the users who are more likely to convert.

Now let’s look at where you want to include your keyword terms:

Your Title

Implementing your focus keyword phrase into your header is a must! Just keep title length in mind, since Google will truncate anything over 70 characters. WordPress user? I recommend using a plugin like Yoast SEO. It provides a snippet preview of how your title will show up in the search engine results pages:

Creating an SEO title in Yoast's SEO Plugin

This way you can test out different versions of your title if need be. A good headline is an essential part of optimizing your post for search. Readers and search engines will use it to determine the relevancy of your content. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to leverage that valuable keyword phrase.

The Body

Obviously, you want to include your keywords in the body of the post, but you really don’t need to over think it. Keywords should be included in a natural, reader-friendly way. Before you start to overthink this, let me point out that this is why I stress conducting keyword research before starting your post.

That process allows you to narrow down your topic. You’ll probably find that you’re including your keyword phrases and good variations throughout your post naturally. However, I do recommend that you take some time to review after you finish writing the body of the post.

Your URL

Google and other search engines will read your URL to help classify the content in your blog post. That means it’s a good idea to include your keywords in your URL. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some bloggers go crazy with this. Here’s what I recommend– an optimized URL should reflect your post’s title. Remember that an optimized title includes your keyword phrase.

This optimized URL reflects the blog post title

Meta Description

The primary role of the meta description is to provide readers with enough information to get them to click through to your content. Be sure to include the main keyword phrase for your target audience here. Also keep this in mind– your meta descriptions should be written for readers not search engines. Create some compelling copy that includes your keywords (don’t stuff!) and a clever call-to-action (CTA).

Here’s an example:

Example of an effective meta description

Also, these are a few good CTA’s if you need some inspiration:

  • Learn more now
  • Click here
  • Get more details here
  • Find out how
  • Learn how it’s done here
  • Sign up today

Try to keep your meta descriptions between 100 and 156 characters in length. Exceeding that limit means that part of your description will be truncated in the search engine results page (SERPs). Yoast’s SEO plugin will show you how many characters you have left and a snippet preview of how it will look in the SERPs.

Testing better meta descriptions to improve your SEO

3) Split Up Your Content With Headers and Sub-headers


Headers and images (see the next tip) help break up large chunks of text and increase the readability of your blog posts. It doesn’t take much for a reader to click that back button, so you need to create engaging content and layouts for your posts. If someone is in a rush, they should be able to jump straight to the parts of the post they need using your headers.

Even if these readers skim most of the post, they will rank better if people can consistently find the answers they are looking for. Use your headings to point the way!

Your post’s headings and subheadings are also a great place to include related keywords and phrases. Just don’t overdo it! Search engines will use your headings to identify the primary topic of your post.

H1s and H2s used in a blog post

I recommend using H2 tags and under to split up the body of the post. You’re post’s title will serve as the H1. As you can see in this post, I am using H2’s for each SEO tip. Some sections (see above) can be further split up using H3’s. Keep this type of hierarchy in mind when publishing your post.

4) Include Relevant Images and Make Sure They’re Optimized


Have you ever come across a long blog post that doesn’t include any images? It can feel quite daunting. Including relevant images in your post helps to break up bigger chunks of content and improve the post’s user experience.

Include keywords in your images alt text

 

Search engines will take note if you’re using images effectively in your posts, but there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Every image that you use on your site should have “alt text.” Think of it as a sentence that helps describe what your image is about. That’s how search engines will interpret the meaning of your image. Without the alt text, the search engine wont be able to accurately “view” the image. This is also another area where you can include related keywords for your blog post. Just make sure that they relate to your image.
  • Please use images that help support the content in your blog post. Pictures of puppies are great, but they’ll only serve as a distraction to readers if you’re post is about “Best Websites for Booking Your Next Vacation.”
  • Image size needs to be taken into consideration. Large image files can significantly slow down your site and harm your SEO. Each image that you use should be optimized for the web. If you use WordPress, the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin can make this process much easier.

5) Use Categories and Topic Tags Wisely to Organize Blog Content


Categories and topic tags allow you to organize your blog and improve user experience. With the right strategy, readers can easily navigate their favorite blogs and find the content they want. They also allow search engines to crawl your site more effectively and discover all of your content. If you’re creating new categories and tags without considering their placement in the larger picture, you could be harming your SEO.

Think of your blog like it’s a book:

  • Your categories are like chapters of the book. When readers see the titles of your categories (chapter), they should get a good idea of what topics you cover and how you organize your content.
  • Topic tags should be looked at like an index at the end of a book. This is a more in depth list of topics that are covered in the blog. If it’s included in this list, it should be a topic that is covered more than once in the blog.

You should find that your categories and topic tags include many of your most valuable keywords. However, you should take care not to create too many similar tags. if you have tags that only apply to one post, you take some time to consolidate your tags into a more concise list.

(Want to learn more about Category and Tag best practices? Check out this awesome article from the Elegant Themes Blog.)

6) Use Internal Links Like a Pro


You may have heard how important inbound links can be for growing your blog and ranking well in the SERPs. It’s most likely why you are working hard to improve the content on your site. Inbound links certainly are very important, but so to are internal links.

Linking internally to other pages can be used to improve user experience and can identify relevant and authoritative pages when search engines crawl your site. If you mention a previous post, you should link to it. Same thing goes for topics that you cover in more detail on other static pages in your website.

(Be sure to check out Kissmetrics’ Seven Commandments of Internal Linking for a more detailed guide to internal linking.)

7) Your Blog Should Utilize a Responsive Design


Did you hear about Mobilegeddon? This was how many chose to refer to Google’s mobile friendly update that was rolled out on April 21, 2015. This update was meant to penalize websites that were not mobile friendly.

When I say responsive design, I’m talking about a theme or website structure that will conform to fit screens for any device. Mobile is a big part of the game and you’re only shooting yourself in the foot if you’re blog isn’t mobile friendly.

You may be wondering why this user experience item is included in a list of SEO tips. As Google and other major search engines continue to improve their algorithms, one thing has become clear. They are trying to promote sites that provide a great user experience. Sites with an optimized UX have lower bounce rates and tend to be linked to more often. A design that works on desktops, tablets and smartphones is a MUST!

8) Length Does Matter


Any blog post that you write should have a minimum of 300 words and there are some marketers who have made super short posts work. For instance, Seth Godin is a very influential marketer who’s blog posts are very, very short:

Example of a blog that's very short

However, the data shows that a higher word count typically results in more web traffic. There are around 200 factors which affect where your content will rank in the SERPs, but it certainly seems like more content boosts your chances of claiming that coveted pole position.

This chart from SerpIQ’s study illustrates this point:

Snapshot from SerpIQ's content length study

Longer posts provide you with more room to use a variety of keywords related to your targeted blog topic. Google doesn’t just deliver exact match results for queries– it’s algorithm will identify pages that are semantically related to improve the results searchers get. The variety you’ve included in your post will help it perform better in the SERPs.

(Neil Patel delves a bit further into content length in this excellent post.)

9) Include Helpful External Links


You may know A LOT about your particular industry or niche, but there are others out there writing about similar topics. If you reference another blogger or particular article in your post, it’s a good idea to include a link to this resource. This is a good practice for several reasons:

  • It can benefit your readers– I have included a few external links in this post. These can be very helpful if you’d like to learn more about a specific SEO tactic covered here.
  • It’s good blogging etiquette– There are many blogs out there but it’s still a community. You don’t want to find yourself ostracized or earning a reputation for bad practices.
  • You might also earn a link back– This is pretty darn rare, but a link back from an authority blogger can provide a serious SEO boost!

Now, the last two SEO tips are more for your blog than your next blog post. However, they are very important nonetheless.

10) Make It Easy for Readers to Share Your Blog Post


Leveraging the power of social media is one of the best ways that a blogger can ramp up their traffic and engagement over time. I’ll cover this in more detail in a later post, but you should know that publishing your high-quality content is only the first step. It won’t guarantee any success on social platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Aside from sharing your posts on your own accounts, you can increase the number of shares your blog gets by integrating social sharing buttons around your content.

Good places for social share buttons in a blog post

WordPress bloggers have access to a number of excellent plugins that will add these sharing buttons to each post on your blog. Blogging Wizard has a really good list of social sharing plugins that I recommend checking out.

(Quick Tip: Content marketing studies suggest that the best places to put social media share buttons are above or to the left of your content.)

Do some research before choosing the plugin you want to use. Some can slow down your site, which will harm your SEO. This might be a feature you look into after you’ve developed your blog a bit and started growing an engaged audience.

11) Implement a Consistent Blogging Schedule and Stick to It


You’ll come across many articles with differing methodologies on how often you should publish in order to achieve your traffic goals. The truth is that many factors will determine how often you’ll be able to post and it’s important to not sacrifice content in order to meet unreasonable publishing schedules.

That being said, if you can maintain the quality, publishing more frequently will help increase online traffic to your blog. What do I recommend? Pick a blogging schedule that you can consistently stick to for the long run. Remember that search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build up your blog.

An online audience demands consistency from their bloggers. You could lose a lot of regular readers if you suddenly go from churning out 4-5 posts per month to only 1. Start off at a slow or manageable rate and steadily increase your publishing frequency as you improve your site’s SEO. It can be helpful to keep a content calendar so you can plan out your topics in advance.

Conclusion

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to implement Google Analytics on your site. If you are using WordPress for your website, this is easier to do than you might think. Here’s a great video guide from WPBeginner:

I can guarantee that integrating these SEO tactics into your blog writing process will help you reach your content marketing goals. Also bear in mind that these are foundational tips, so please stay tuned for more advice that’ll help you improve your SEO and inbound marketing efforts.

Do you think I missed anything in this post? Let me know in the comments!

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