SEO is a popular online marketing strategy, and therefore, competitive, but I’m consistently amazed at how many business owners and marketers opt not to engage in an SEO strategy because of its perceived limitations or drawbacks.
One of the biggest misperceptions is that SEO is expensive, and it’s driven by the fact that some agencies have higher-level packages that cost tens of thousands of dollars per month.
Yes, SEO can be expensive for hyper-competitive, national-scale businesses, but that doesn’t mean it’s unaffordable for the average business owner.
In fact, there are dozens of simple strategies you can execute yourself, for free, to better optimise your site for search engines. These are just some of the major ones:
1. Find better keywords
Optimise for keywords that are closer to your niche and have fewer competitors. Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Tool in AdWords are free tools that should give you all the data you need. For help, see this article.
2. Delete duplicate content
Google Search Console will display any instances of duplicate content it finds on your site. Usually, these are the result of canonicity errors (not plagiarism), but you still need to correct this to keep your site in good standing.
3. Fix 404 errors
These errors are like dead ends, and nobody likes dead ends. Again, refer to Google Search Console for help, and set up 301 redirects where necessary to close the gaps here.
4. Write a unique title tag for every page
Every page should have a title tag, of under 70 characters, that describes the page, features the desired keyword and is unique from every other title tag on your website. For a more comprehensive guide on on-site optimisation, see this article.
5. Write a compelling meta description for every page
Every page should also have a meta description, under 160 characters, that more elaborately describes the page. The meta description probably doesn’t play much of a role in your actual page rankings, but it certainly affects click-through rates.
There’s evidence that click-through rates affect rankings, though, so ensure that your meta descriptions are unique, concise and compelling.
6. Clean up your URL structure
Your URLs should have a breadcrumbs trail and feature readable indicators of the content on the page, such as the page title. Avoid using numbers or random strings of text in your URLs.
7. Update your blog often
More content, as long as it’s valuable to readers, is never a bad thing. Google recently released an algorithm update that seems to favour fresh content, so keeping your blog updated is more beneficial than ever before.
8. Include H1, H2, H3, etc. headers in your content
Your content should be logically divided into subsections, with headlines and sub-heads. These need to be marked with html tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to help Google process and understand the intent and organisation of your content.
9. Add internal links
Linking together the relevant pages of your site is good for user experience, and helps Google better understand relationships between pages on your site. If your site is on WordPress, there are plugins that can automatically help, such as SEO Auto links.
10. Optimise your images
Your images should be optimised for SEO too, and that task is relatively simple – title them appropriately, add descriptive alt tags and keep them in the proper format.
11. Reference authoritative outside sources
Google pays attention to what you link to in an article. Citing authoritative sources to back up your claims will make your content more credible and trustworthy to Google as well as to your readers.
12. Include social media integrations
Every article on your site should be accompanied by social share icons; social shares serve as indirect ranking signals, giving you the opportunity to earn more inbound links, which pass authority back to your site.
13. Optimise your website loading speed
This can be as simple or as complicated as you make it; there are several ways to make a site faster, such as reducing image sizes, adding a caching plugin, switching hosting providers and deleting unnecessary plugins.
14. Optimise for mobile devices
The majority of Google search now occurs on mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t display attractively for mobile users, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic. Also, Google will not display your website prominently in mobile search results if your website isn’t mobile-optimised.
15. Earn some links
As a consistent strategy, link-building demands heavy investment, but if you’re just getting started, you can earn some links by:
- Getting active enough in your community to earn media coverage
- Publishing an opinion about a controversial topic you’re qualified to write about
- Reaching out to a publication in your industry to secure a guest posting opportunity.
These days, there are really only three viable strategies for link building; this article covers them.
16. Remove bad links
Use Google Search Console to download a list of links to your website. Then, evaluate your link profile and identify “bad” links from low-authority sources. Remove them manually or through an email request to the webmaster.
17. Syndicate your content
You’re writing lots of great content, but what are you doing with it? Take a moment to syndicate your content through social media channels, which increases the likelihood that it will earn rank-boosting links to your site.
These tactics alone won’t guarantee you a top ranking for a competitive keyword, nor are they suitable to manage a campaign in the long term, but they will give you a strong boost and a good foundation to build an ongoing strategy. Building a full campaign from scratch takes time, effort and patience – and you’ll probably run into hurdles.
In addition, money is the substitute to addressing these problems – it spares you the time and effort of doing the work yourself, and connects you with experts right away. But even then, you’ll be paying for a return. Remember: This isn’t an expense, it’s an investment.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Know Whether Your Social Media Strategy Is Working?
Most business owners and marketers by now know that social media provides a huge opportunity for growing a business.
It’s a fact that the strategies provided in the above article might not necessarily work for everyone, however, another fact is that social media gives us the ability to build an audience, high quality traffic to our website, engagement with potential customers and lastly, but most importantly, it allows us to drive more sales.
The sad thing is that only 43% of marketers measure their digital marketing return on investment (ROI), and the main reason for this is because it can get quite tricky to measure the success of a strategy if you are not sure what to look for.
Similar to billboards and radio ads, social media is not a linear marketing channel. Yes, you can set up the necessary tracking scripts to show money in vs money out if your business revolves online, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that if your business has a physical footprint.
So, How Do You Measure the Success of Your Social Media Strategy?
1. Fan and Followers Growth
Because social media is not a linear line, we do have to include some “vanity” metrics into our reporting.
The main reason for this is because before someone becomes a customer, they first have to discover your brand and understand what you are all about.
Believe it or not, it’s never a bad idea to build your own audience on a channel like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or YouTube.
Yes, organic reach on these platforms are declining, but there is still a huge amount of value in building an audience.
For one, it helps you lower your cost per mile over time. On Facebook, small to medium sized pages can still get up to 10% reach.
This means if you have a 1000 followers on your business page, posting something will get approx. 100 people to see it free of charge, given if the quality of the post is good enough of course.
On Instagram some business pages are reporting a 30% reach!
So, the first thing that you should actively be tracking is your fan growth. Not necessarily your overall growth, but most importantly you’re your total amount of new fans per week.
Also make sure you are measuring the difference between organic and paid growth, as this will give you an indication on whether your paid strategy is actually working.
For those looking for some advanced tips and tricks to grow your Instagram business account, make sure to read our article on How to Grow Your Instagram Account for Free.
Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing
After discovering your business, the next step would be to get these prospects to engage. By measuring your overall engagement rate you will get a clear indication on whether you are building a quality audience.
An average engagement rate on a platform like Instagram would be around 2-5%. This means that if you have 10k followers on Instagram, approx. 200-500 of them should be engaging with your content.
On Facebook the engagement rate will be a lot less, but it’s essential to measure your engagement rate so that you can get an idea on whether your audience is engaged with your brand or not.
If they are, then it becomes a lot easier to turn them into new and long-term customers.
3. Traffic to Your Website
Using Google Analytics (GA) you can track how whether people are actually taking the time to learn more about your business.
GA can help you dissect between organic, referral, email, social media traffic. Ideally you want to see an increase in social media traffic if you are spending money on social media.
Also, ensure to measure the bounce rate and time on site of your social media traffic as this is usually a strong indicator on whether you are reaching the right people on these networks.
Lastly, by using UTM links you can actually measure what social channels are driving the most traffic. The reason I would advise using a tracking link is because GA isn’t usually that accurate when it comes to differentiating between Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, etc.
By using a tracking link you will just be gathering more accurate data.
4. Repeat Visitors
Again similar to a billboard and radio ad, it’s about putting your brand in front of people all the time. This is why tracking repeat visitors, as well as where they are coming from is so important.
If someone has visited your site for a second, or third time in a period of a month, then it’s a good chance that he or she might convert into a customer once pay day arrives or once you launch that promo you’ve been thinking about.
Related: The Seven Rules Of Social Media
5. And Finally, Sales
If you’re an online business, then it’s a lot easier to measure your ROI from channels like Facebook and Instagram, as by having a Facebook Pixel installed on your website you will be able to track how many purchases have come from your social media ads.
This will give you a clear indication of money in vs money out.
However, if you are a physical store it might be a bit more tricky. Facebook launch offline conversions a few years ago and has been approving on the functionality of the feature.
By using Facebook offline event tracking you can request your customer to provide his or her email address and if you import that into Facebook it can identify whether or not that customer has seen one of your social media ads.
Now, that doesn’t always mean the person became a customer because of your advertising, but at least it’s a metric that can help you sleep better at night knowing your ad potentially had impact on an in-store sale.
WordPress Vs The World: Building A Website In 2019
Building a website on your own can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With CMS platforms like WordPress available for free, anyone can design their own website.
Just How Did WordPress Capture 60% Of The Web?
To the everyday person, WordPress may be well-known as an online platform where anybody can set up a quick site and create a personal blog about their hobby. However, for many, many businesses worldwide, this leading Content Management System (CMS) is actually the foundation of their entire web presence and the back-end editor of their website and landing pages.
WordPress emerged about 15 years ago, amidst the rapid growth of the World Wide Web, and has quickly become a solid favourite of website builders, both amateur and pro. But why? WordPress’s popularity has, in a large part, been thanks to its strong and active community of followers and users. WordPress is user-shaped with hundreds of developers worldwide contributing continuously by imagining, building and supporting thousands of themes and plugins for the CMS platform that keep it constantly evolving into a better version of itself.
Just How Popular Is WordPress And Why?
According to web survey organisation W3Tech, WordPress runs a little over 32% of all websites on the Internet. That’s nearly a third of the entire web! Once narrowed down to only sites that are run using a CMS, the numbers translate to WordPress having nearly 60% of the pie. Aside from nurturing a growing community of user-generated plugins and themes, what else contributed to WordPress’s success?
Who doesn’t like a freebie?
The answer is “nobody”, and that’s why WordPress’s most crucial drawing card is that it’s accessible for free. It’s easy to download and offers an open source code, so you can make changes to tailor your website in the ways that you need.
WordPress is accessible and easy-to-use, with a wealth of features to choose from. You don’t need to be a professional coder or web developer to design a website with WordPress. In many ways, WordPress has cut out the middleman and provided an opportunity for any and everybody to try their hands at web design.
Innovative Plugins & Themes
The ability to mix and match features and looks is among the key components of WordPress’s consistent growth. With plugins, you can customise your website’s features with additional software. With the various themes that are added daily, you get to choose a style for your website that goes with your business look.
When its not WordPress, it’s…
WordPress may own 60% of CMS-based websites, but who is ruling the rest of the coop? There are a variety of other CMS options to consider for building a website, and often these options are catered specifically to the type of website you’re looking to build. There’s:
- Wix – an incredibly simple and user-friendly website building platform that’s probably best known for “not having as much to offer as WordPress”. This might sound like a negative, but for many first-timers building a website, this is actually a much better alternative to what can sometimes be a bit of a complicated WordPress back-end.
- Shopify – toting itself as the preferred CMS option for anyone wanting to build an online store, Shopify is purposeful, directed and won’t disappoint. The platform is secure and reliable and opens itself up quite well to a multitude of marketing techniques to drive business to the store.
- Weebly – works well for small-scale entrepreneurs, helping them to build websites and even facilitate e-commerce. It’s a simple drag-and-drop platform that is inexpensive and intuitive. However, it lacks the community support of other platforms like WordPress.
So get experimenting and pick a platform. Once you’ve found what works for you, website building on your own is really about experimentation, trial and error and some late nights in the glow of a laptop screen.
5 Ways You Can Turn Your Instagram Account Into A Revenue-Generating Machine
Instagram is slowly transitioning into what will soon be a fully functioning ecommerce platform. Are you jumping in?
Instagram has earned a rep as the place to go if you want to see pretty images of flowers, quotes and sunsets. And, for the most part, ecommerce companies have shied away from investing a lot of time in the platform, because, let’s be honest, that clever GIF you posted last week probably won’t drive a lot of web traffic, or bring you a huge spike in sales.
But Instagram has kept innovating, adding new features that make life easier and its own platform more interactive for users. And the result has been that the application’s value proposition for businesses has become clear – something that’s readily apparent in the platform’s recent blog post extolling its new and expanded shopping features.
Back in March of this year, Instagram announced probably the biggest game-changer to date for ecommerce brands: shoppable posts. So, while Instagram was, and is, a place where you can go for your daily dose of inspiration or motivation, it is slowly transitioning into what will soon be a fully functioning ecommerce platform.
And the brands that adapt to this the most quickly may well be able to turn their ordinary Instagram account into a beautiful, highly creative revenue-generating machine.
With Instagram’s new shoppable media feature, eligible businesses now have the ability to tag products in their posts, and send users from their feeds to the add-to-cart section of a website with just three clicks. It’s also pretty easy to become eligible if you, as head of that eligible business:
- Have the latest version of the Instagram app
- First make sure you have a business profile on Instagram
- Are an admin on a page or business manager account
- Have a product catalog associated with a shop on Facebook
- Sell physical goods and comply with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policies.
With the amount of content that’s vying for our attention every day, increasing traffic to your site and acquiring new customers is not as simple as making your account shoppable. The truth is, you need to make sure you have the infrastructure in place before you even begin to tag and sell products on Instagram.
Here are my top five tips for success.
1.Your content needs to be great
Getting people to pay attention to your content on Instagram can be tough – and having mediocre content in 2018 just isn’t going to cut it. For this reason, it’s critical to hire a part time photographer/editor who can help you make your images look crisp, on brand, and, most importantly, professional. Start to think of your Instagram as the new “Shop Now” page on your website.
2. Your captions are awesome
The caption of an Instagram post is often an afterthought. Whether humour, sincerity, or education is your thing, make sure the copy that accompanies your imagery is authentic, engaging and on-brand. Using language that will resonate with your target audience only heightens the probability of its members liking, commenting, sharing in the DMs or even clicking on the tag to purchase your product. When it comes to combining shoppable posts with a witty caption, see how Liza Koshy does this.
3. You’re using the best and most optimised hashtags
Researching the hashtags that your target customer is using on a daily basis will eventually pay huge dividends. It’s all about getting on that Instagram explore page and using the hashtags that your consumers love.
This also strengthens your chances of putting your posts right in front of your ideal audience. Use a mix of 20 to 30 hashtags per post and experiment to see which group of hashtags gives your posts optimum exposure. There are a ton of great apps out there, like Top Tags or Leetags, which tell you the hashtags that you should be using.
4. You’ve made your posts shoppable
It’s finally time to tag your products and make your feed shoppable. Tagging your products will allow viewers to tap the image, then tap the description, which will bring them straight to the add to cart section on your website. Click here to read in detail how you can do this.
But be sure not to get carried away; it’s not a good idea to make every one of your posts on Instagram product-oriented. In our experience, a good percentage of shoppable posts is only about 40 to 50 percent. Have a look at some of the brands that are killing it when it comes to shoppable posts, such as Byta, and Nordstrom, and follow their lead.
5. You’ve begun engaging with posts under those hashtags
Now that you’ve done all the hard work – making your feed look clean, crisp and cohesive; writing some amazing, on-brand captions; using the best hashtags; and making all posts that have a product, shoppable – it’s time to begin engaging by liking images under the hashtags that your bread and butter customers use on a daily basis.
For instance, if you’re selling sneakers, identify four to five community hashtags that sneaker lovers use, such as #sneakerhead, #solecollector, #instashoes, #newkicks or #igsneakercommuity, and then like and comment on 100 to 200 images underneath these hashtags every day. This will draw the organic traffic to your account that is needed to turn your fresh new Instagram feed into a lead- and revenue-generating machine.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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