Thanks for dropping by and welcome to our social media marketing guide, a complete guide to social media marketing, optimization, planning and growth. 26 full chapters to give you the insight needed to rock on social media. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner to social media marketing or a seasoned veteran, this social media guide is useful to all levels. It’s no secret that social media has become a major influencer for thousands of businesses all around the world. Nearly all of the big brands are active on social media. Countless companies are growing on social media, not only in terms of followers and fans, but also in sales. Social media brings an opportunity for us all and it’s up to you to develop a social media marketing plan that will accomplish your goals.
You may be a social media guru or perhaps you’re new to social media marketing, but winning on social media takes a lot of work. While some companies work social platforms with ease, I guarantee you some smart minds were behind their planning and approach. There’s a lot that goes into the planning, approach and tactics of successful campaigns. Today, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about social media. Our social media marketing guide covers a wealth of experience that you’ll be able to implement into your own strategies and planning.
Social Media Marketing Guide – Table Of Contents
1. What Is Social Media 2. Social Media And Your Business 3. Social Media Now And The Future 4. Social Media Helps You Build Relationships 5. Using Social Media To Start Your Brand 6. Social Media Integration 7. The Value Of Social Media 8. Building Engagements, Interaction And Comments 9. Start Engaging Your Audience 10. Customer Service And Social Media 11. Empower Your Social Media Marketing Team 12. Learn What Your Audience Wants And Needs 13. What Types Of Social Media Content Do I Need 14. Setting Goals For Your Social Media Marketing Campaigns 15. Which Social Media Platforms Should I Invest In 16. Human Resources And Social Media 17. Social Media Content And Sharing 18. Social Media Platforms To Jump Start Your Social Sharing 19. Connecting With Others In The Industry 20. Social Media Keywords And #Hashtags 21. Consistent Branding And How Your Brand Is Portrayed 22. Earning Trust Through Social Media 23. Data And Analytics On Social Media 24. Social Media ROI 25. Social Media And SEO Often Work As One 26. Learn, Adapt And Be Patient To Grow Your Social Media Channels
Truckers Logic uses Facebook to engage the company’s audience. They use a creative method of funny pictures related to trucking that has their post reaching thousands.
What Is Social Media? (1)
Social media offers users the opportunity to communicate and engage one another online. Social media websites have been around since the early days of the internet. However, over the past 5 years, we’ve seen a spike in social media traffic and activity. Through social media, we’re able to connect and have conversations with other users from around the world. It gives us a direct line to world, just like the world wide web.
Today, social media platforms have become powerhouses and major influencers on how we conduct daily business. Can social media help you grow your business? Without a question, it can. Learning how to use social media to market your business is the key and this SMM guide covers everything you need to know.
In the beginning, there were social media platforms available, but the first powerhouse in this area was Facebook. Today, Facebook is the most popular social media platform online. Over 1.44 billion users globally. Others soon followed as social media gained momentum, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, Instagram, Vines and so on. Billions of people use social media and many use it every day. On average in the United States alone, users average 40 minutes on Facebook a day.
At Hale Associations, we use SEO Profiler and Google Analytics to report how our social media marketing efforts help bring traffic to our landing pages.
Social Media And Your Business (2)
Why should I promote my business online? How much time should I invest in social media? Will social media work for small business? I’ll answer those questions now, Yes, Yes and Yes!!! Social media hasn’t even begun to peak. Companies have been using social media marketing for years now and with great success. It’s time to bring your company into the mix, it doesn’t matter if you know social media now or not. By the end of this social media marketing guide, you’ll have the knowledge to be successful with your social media marketing campaigns.
Social media brings opportunity for your business, but also a responsibility. This is especially true for SEOs and social media marketers. With the opportunity to share content to potentially thousands, you have a responsibility to uphold the brand you work for or your own brand. You have to think about how the message you want customers to know. You have to consider how you’ll engage with others, how you will respond to comments, both positive and negative.
I like to point new users to Susan Gunelius’ article 10 Laws Of Social Media. Very helpful article, one that has been shared over 15,000 times. But to Susan’s credit, these social media laws are super important. Every one of them are centered around success on social media, all of them relevant today. The biggest element that I take away from this is patience. You can’t expect to be a social media success overnight, it doesn’t happen that way. It takes a commitment, a dedication, but ultimately knowing what you’re doing.
Looking for some quick tips to promote your business on social media. April Joyner, an Inc. senior writer, gives you 30 tips in her article entitled 30 Tips For Using Social Media In Your Business. I love this article by April because these are not your “normal” tips for using social media for your business. The point to take away, social media is a great way to grow your business.
Social Media Now And The Future (3)
What are the trends of social media marketing? Is social media going to last for years to come? Is it worth the investment? While we’ve seen incredible growth in social media over the last few years, the growth is only the beginning. Nearly all of the major social media platforms are growing at good rates. Once smaller social platforms are also gaining traction and this just means more opportunity for us all.
If anyone knows social media all around, it’s Jeff Bullas. I connected with Jeff on Twitter and become an instant fan. Jeff has achieved some great things in his career and still does today. Check out his 33 must-know stats regarding social media. Once you grasp the unbelievable stats associated with social media, it becomes crystal clear that social media marketing is a huge opportunity for all businesses.
One of the greatest resources a business can have is people. Be genuine and make the effort to grow both business and personal relationships via social media.
Social Media Helps You Build Relationships (4)
One of the greatest benefits of social media is the audiences that can be reached, the engagement and connections that can be made. The greatest tip that I can give you is to take the time to make authentic relationships. Be genuine about connecting with others, responding to comments and building your social platforms. A lot of people get caught up in growing your followers, some even consider paying for them. What good does 10,000 followers do you if they don’t interact and engage on your page? Your focus should be authentic relationships and not growing your social numbers. If you make genuine connections via social media, your numbers will grow naturally.
Anyone that reads our blogs and guides, knows me personally, you’ve likely heard what I’m about to say. When I first began my career online, I didn’t take the time to build authentic relationships. I viewed everyone as the competition and boy was I wrong. It was a big mistake on my part, especially those of us that are in SEO, SEM, SMM, online marketing, PR and so on. I was a few years in before I made a genuine effort and when I think about it today, I can’t believe I was so one-sided. It’s a very simple rule to follow, if you make that effort, your social platforms will grow with targeted traffic, not just any users from paying for followers.
Social media has become a major part of branding companies. Your customers are online, they are on social media platforms and more people are connecting with their favorite brands. Social media is a great way to build these relationships with your customers. It gives your brand a whole new level of customer service. It allows you to reach out to your audience for feedback. There’s so many values when it comes to social media and every company, small business and everyone in between should be invested in social media.
Using Social Media To Start Your Brand (5)
A lot of experts agree that social media shouldn’t be used to start your brand. They refer to it as common mistake that small businesses do all the time. I don’t suggest using social media to start your brand. Instead, social media should be used to take your business to the next level. Can a brand use social media alone and be successful? Not likely, but it happens. I know that. However, if you’re in this situation, you should put focus on building your website first. The reason I suggest this is because there’s a trust factor to the online buying experience. If you don’t have that trust, it can turn away potential buyers that would have purchased if the brand was more credible. Rather, it’s important that you solidify your brand through a company website or blog first before you attempt social media.
Developing multiple marketing channels for your business is a proven strategy that works. As seen above in this example by Make Extra Paper, there’s a wide range of marketing channels you can include social media marketing with.
Social Media Integration (6)
When you have a solid foundation for your brand, the key is integrating social media into your full-scale marketing plans. You want to make sure that your social media marketing efforts are in relation to the marketing and advertising that your brand does now. It should be a full part of your plan. There’s no right and wrong time. If your brand has a solid foundation, take it to the next level. If your brand doesn’t have that solid foundation, hold up on the social media. And when I say foundation, I’m mainly referring to the brand’s website.
By including social media into your full-scale marketing and advertising, your brand should see growth throughout your company’s departments. This is another reason I suggest waiting until you have all your departments running and in order. This is because social media will benefit them all. Customer service can respond on a personal level and quicker than ever before. Your advertising can have more reach and potential. You will be able to connect with new users that find your brand worthy through social outlets. Sales can increase as you build genuine relationships with your target audience.
Value can vary when it comes to social media marketing. In this example, Brand Watch gives us a look at some of the value SMM can add to your business.
The Value Of Social Media (7)
This is a common question we always here as social media marketers, “what’s the value of social media?” If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Of course, it depends on how you value your own social media efforts. While I’m trying to refrain from getting into social media ROI until later, the value of social media can translate to a number of different things, impacting different areas of your business.
Loyalty goes a long way in the branding and the buying process. We know that when a customer is loyal, they are often repeat buyers. Repeat buyers mean more sales. The value of brand loyalty is priceless. These types of relationships are what keeps customers coming back to you. But how can you build brand loyalty? You need customers to do it and that’s the reason we call for a full marketing plan in all departments to build a customer base. And again, social media marketing is your golden ticket.
Published Author and Life Mentor Robin Rice uses video marketing to engage her audience. Anytime you can create 64 comments on one post, you’re certainly doing something right.
Building Engagement, Interaction And Comments (8)
You can’t expect social media to be an instant success for your company. But with effort and persistence, you’ll find that building engagement and interaction on your social media platforms is vital to social media success. The value in responding to customer inquiries is priceless. As a consumer, we want our voice to be heard. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new startup company or you’re the owner of a brand such as Coca-Cola, you need to have the ability to respond to your customers. Social media allows us to do so and in a matter of seconds. So responding to your customers in a timely manner is important.
It’s one thing to build likes, followers and fans, it’s another to build engagement, interaction and comments. You’ll quickly find that it’s much harder to build this engagement. Going back to what we learned earlier in the guide, it takes a genuine effort. People know when you’re being genuine, so always be invested in your customer’s needs.
Engagement allows you to be a thought leader in your industry. Being a thought leader for your brand is highly valued as it can lead to customer growth, new partnerships and new opportunities. The end goal is building trust. The trust factor is a part of the buying experience. If someone doesn’t know you or don’t trust you, it’s going to be tough to make the sale. We all have a starting place in business. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for decades or today is your first day, ALWAYS take the time to engage with your audience.
You want others to see the engagement on your website. Think about both SEO and SMM, user metrics are important. When engagement is high, your audience stays longer. This increases the opportunity to sell your products, sell your services. It gives you the chance to show your level of expertise because this is what many look for, so become an influential expert in your industry. If potential customers visit a website or social platform that has no engagement, they’re likely to go elsewhere.
On our social media platforms for Hale Associations, we invite users to comment by asking questions, a technique that we know works. In fact, as you’ll see below, there’s a number of ways to engage your followers and get to join to join the conversation.
Start Engaging Your Audience (9)
There’s a number of different elements that we can define as “value” when it comes to your social media marketing efforts. On Facebook, this can be likes, shares and comments. On LinkedIn, this could be connecting with a top expert in your industry. On Twitter, it could be a retweet. There’s so many creative ways that you can interact with your audience. And the more genuine and authentic you are, the better results you likely see from your efforts.
Once you start seeing your engagement increase, continue to build the bond between you and the consumer. We all appreciate being called out for a good deed, right? We all enjoy good surprises and being appreciated. If you can personalize your engagement, the better the results you’ll likely see. When you first begin building your social platforms, take the time to invite your contacts to interact with your page. If others see the engagement, they’ll be more likely to leave comments. Getting the conversation started is the toughest part.
Remember, you don’t want to build relationships that only last a few minutes. Your goal should be long-term relationships. Here’s why. For one, when you first begin engaging others, customers are not going to have deep meaningful relationships with you or the brand. These take time to develop, I keep pointing back to genuine relationships. Customers appreciate a brand that takes the time to help them, answer questions, list to their concerns. The more you engage with them, the better.
Social Media Today gives us great insight to how social media relates to customer service. The stats don’t lie, social media is providing a better method of customer service.
Customer Service And Social Media (10)
Why should we use social media as an avenue of customer service? What a great question. I get the “we have a 1-888 number for that” a lot. Without your customers, where would you be? Where would your business be? I’m sure you’ve heard the statement,”the customer is always right.” It wasn’t meant to say the customer is always right, but rather that the customer is the most important element of your business. If you can give your customers pure gold, you do it.
So, if you can add another line of communications and customer service to your audience, you do it! Simple as that. You should put the highest value on your customers an you should care about their happiness. You should want your customers to have a great experience. This can work two ways. If you give your customers a great experience, some will tell others. Word by mouth referrals are always great for business. But in the same token, bad customer service can get others talking as well.
Customer service can give you the opportunity to make bad experiences better. Face it, mistakes happen. From the bottom to the top. Some customers will understand this, others won’t. But there’s a power in the fact that a company is trying to right a wrong. If you’re ignored, it doesn’t seem fair. Not every customer will reach out to you, but when they do, you have to be there to provide great customer service. Think about what we’ve been stressing the whole time, build engagement, build interaction, build connections. Great customer service can never be undervalued.
Top Spot Internet Marketing tells us that 40 percent of consumers in the path to purchase use social media during the decision to buy process. That’s a huge jump and why your business needs to be active on social platforms.
Empower Your Social Media Marketing Team (11)
If you have a social media marketing team for your business or a social media marketer, you need to empower them with the proper resources, tools and experience needed to help you properly market on social media platforms. There’s a ton of self-help guides like the one you’re reading online. Take the time to bookmark this guide so your team can learn the correct way to promote your business on social media.
There’s a wide range of social media software out there to help you with your efforts on social media. If you can make your life easier on social media, do it. The biggest element that your team could be faced with is time. Social media marketing is time consuming, much more than people think. If you want to make an impact on social media, it will take a genuine effort and time. If your staff can learn one thing, let it be this. Don’t concentrate on the marketing, concentrate on the engagement.
If you have staff that have social media accounts, you can utilize them for your own social media marketing efforts. If you can give them the proper experience and resources, it can make an impact. Having your staff available to interact with customers and providing customer support is a beneficial advantage. Engagementis so critical to social media marketing success.
Social media marketing should be a team effort, but budget and time limits may only allow you to have one person promoting on your social platforms. There’s nothing wrong with this, but social media should be a complete team effort. If you do have a team available, ask your staff if they are available to spend an hour or two a week promoting the business via social media. While you may have multiple users promoting your business, it’s important to note that keeping a similar tone in your branding efforts is important. Terminology in your marketing can be played with and tested as needed. But the overall tone should be the same across all your marketing platforms.
If you’re flying solo with the company’s social media marketing, you should consider which social media platforms will work best for your company. We’ll talk about this in more detail later in our social media guide. For now, you don’t want to spread yourself thin. If you have to, you could take the time and promote on various social platforms until you have enough data to test which sites are working and which are not.
In this example, Saavy Panda shows us the customer buying cycle. You can use this as guide to see how your social media marketing efforts relate to the buying process.
Learn What Your Audience Wants And Needs (12)
You know the importance of engagement, I’ve brought it up multiple times in this social media marketing guide. Of course, this is going to be dependent on the type of market and niche you work in. See, you have to give your audience some type of value to keep them coming back. It’s one thing to get them there, it’s another to keep them coming back for more. This is why the social accounts you decide to promote on will need to be updated daily to give you the maximum reach.
I’m a big fan of A/B testing and if you’re running social media marketing campaigns or marketing campaigns elsewhere, you need to know the results of your efforts. If you don’t have it tracking yet, you have to get Google Analytics. This will allow you to track the results of your marketing campaigns, no matter what channel you choose to promote on. Take the time to learn how Google Analytics works. You shouldn’t rely on just one marketing channel anyway. But more importantly, you need to know the results.
A/B testing allows you to see how users are engaging with your content. User metrics are critical to the growth and development of your business, social media or not. You need to learn what types of content work best for your audience. There’s a wide range of social media analytic tools out there to use.
Constant Contact shows us some of the most popular social media platforms and different types of content that are used to market on the specific social outlets.
What Type Of Social Media Content Do I Need (13)
Your social media content will be the vital source for taking customers from your social media account to where ever you need to take them. Not an easy transition by any stretch of the imagination. Your social media content often falls within 4 categories, described as;
Question And Answer – This type of social media content is designed to engage your audience and to build relationships with others. When customers have a question, they want an answer as soon as possible. This type of content allows you to address the concerns of your customers. By providing this high level of customer support, you help your customers feel that you care about their needs. This is a big plus in the mind of your customers.
Learn And Development – We all enjoy learning about new tools and resources that make life easier. This could be personal use or for workflow. This type of social media content is designed to give your customers solutions. This is an awesome way to increase engagement on your social media accounts. Personally, I love marketing tools and resources that I can use myself to build engagement, leads, conversions and sales. So will your customers.
Discovery And Exploring – It’s human nature to want to be the best at what you do. We’re always looking for new creative ways to use a service or product. And when we find something cool, what do we do? We tell others, especially when it’s something cool, new and exciting. So this social media content is used to thrive engagement and thought leadership.
Solutions To Problems – Technically, this category can fall in line with the others, but I wanted to give it a spot on the list because there’s no greater power than being able to solve someone’s issue. It’s supply and demand, which thrives business. Creating the type of social media content that gets comments, shares and builds community.
Rasha Proctor explains how you can implement your social media marketing goals in this visual. Every business has goals that need to be met via social media.
Setting Goals For Your Social Media Marketing Campaigns (14)
If you’re going to invest the time, money and effort into your social media marketing campaigns, you need to make sure that you’re setting goals. So take the time to write your business plan/case for SMM. Here’s some important questions to ask while you stage your planning.
What are your goals for social media marketing?
What is your cost of achieving those goals?
What type of resources will you need?
What are the problems you’ll solve?
How will customers respond to your content?
What type of social media management technology do you use?
When writing your business case, you should take a safe approach. The important metric is keeping your data accurate. Use your first campaigns as case studies. Find what works and track the results. A/B testing different marketing channels and different content. If you have to, this can be shared with the higher ups in your company. Setting goals for your social marketing will give you benchmarks to achieve. This can also give you a general idea of ROI.
Snyder Group Inc. portrays 6 of the largest social media communities online and metrics that make each one unique. It will be up to your business to decide which social media platforms make the most sense.
Which Social Media Platforms Should I Invest In (15)
Here’s another area where businesses can fail. What social media platforms should I invest in? Which are the best social media platforms to market my business on? Valid questions. Many people think they can promote on any social media platform. That’s true, but the results have to be there. Just because you can promote on any social platform doesn’t make it right to do so. But why?
Most of us have a specific target audience that we must reach. In a lot of cases, compared to the overall market, that niche is very small. It takes a specific customer to buy your product, what ever that may be. The point to take away, one social platform may be better to promote on when compared to another. There’s no questions that Facebook can work for most companies. But no other social platform compares to Facebook, not even close. So Facebook is a given, but the others are not.
Your business will have to figure out which social channels are worth investing on and which to avoid. The last thing you want to do is commit (X) amount of hours every week to see no results. Don’t get this confused with the process of build your social media foundation, it takes a little time to see results. It’s important to note that you need to be active on these platforms also. Followers and fans will expect your routine, so have a schedule. This way, they know when to come to your page to see new content.
As for which social media platforms are the best to use to reach your target audience, that’s going to be dependant on your business. If you don’t know, find out. Run multiple marketing campaigns to see which brings results. You can never go wrong A/B testing. Note that. This also depends on what you’re trying to accomplish on social media because this varies. While the end goal will always be sales, it doesn’t mean that leads are not worth their weight in gold. Many companies use social media as a funnel to get emails, opt-ins and so forth.
Statista shows us that social media plays a vital role in Human Resources, especially in the B2B communities.
Human Resources And Social Media (16)
What role does social media play in human resources? Employee engagement is one of the big factors, allowing your employees to interact with one another, as well as the business. This goes back to what you read earlier in this social media marketing guide. You want to teach all of your staff how to utilize social media for the business. Give them the proper training, share this guide with them. Having your team employed with the experience and knowledge to effectively promote your business on social media is priceless. And with the whole team involved, each will only need a few minutes. (Depending on the size of your business of course…. but you get the point.
Your HR department can also find new applicants for your business. And I love this idea. While being able to visit social profiles can give you a glimpse of the personality of new recruits, it also allows you to connect with them personally. That’s it, personally. How many job applicant processes are outdated and boring? Too many. By recruting new job prospects online, you’ll be able to connect with applicants in a personal manner. And if the skills require online experience, you can get a great glimpse at potential candidates.
When you think of social media platforms, most think about open networks, but there is exceptions. Some social communities were specifically designed for companies. Social media accounts used for organizations are perfect for the Human Resource department. Most of these platforms have great social tools that not only help HR, but help the whole business. Being able to control and monitor your businesses’ inside social media efforts from one dashboard is a big benefit. Here’s some websites to consider;
We know through case studies that social media signals for specific pages play a role in SEO and how a page ranks. To Google, social signals are more trustworthy than backlinks. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a higher SEO ranking factor because backlinks are still the priority.
Social Media Content And Sharing (17)
There’s a mass range of great content ideas that deserve a position in your content bank or your scheduled content. We’ll shortly go over the different types of social media content. Your social media content is crucial to your success on social accounts. If you fail to deliver the right target audience for your business, you’re going to fail. If you fail to engage your audience and connect with them, your business will fail. So the content you share is a vital piece of the puzzle.
When it comes to social media content, what’s the best approach? For starters and I always say this, “humanize the content you share.” What type of social media content doesn’t get shared? Simple, it’s content that sounds automated. It’s social content that constantly promotes services and products. You might as well post BUY! BUY! BUY! If you constantly push your services and products when building your social pages, you’ll fail. It’s not maybe you fail…, you will fail. Think about it, If all of your content is pushing services or products on your followers, likely they want respond. This is why your social media content should be carefully planned in advance.
Every social media marketing account should have a set plan in place. There’s a number of benefits to planning your social media marketing in advance compared to posting freewill. Let’s take a look at those benefits;
Scheduled post help you hit peak hours for maximum performance
Pre-planning will save you time
Allows you to experiment and track performance results
I’ve been a big fan of Viral Content Buzz since day one. VCB will help your content get shared via social media. You can make some great relationships along the way also.
Social Sharing Platforms To Jump Start Your Social Media Sharing (18)
To get your social media sharing campaigns jump started, you can use websites like Viral Content Buzz. I’ve been using VCB for several years now. Viral Content Buzz allows you to earn points by sharing the content of others. When you gain enough points, you can submit your own social media campaigns and the results are quick. The great thing about VCB is the fact that it has dozens of topics, so it appeals to all markets.
Viral Content Buzz is also a great place to meet influencers via social media. And this helps you build your network, resources and businesses. Take the time to connect with others that share the same common interest as you. Daily Blog Tips. a must visit for anyone, shares some great advice on connecting with bloggers. Writer Ali Luke had this to say, “Whether they’re brand new, well established, or A-listers, fellow bloggers are an invaluable source of support.“
If you take the time to share the content of others, you will see some of them share your content. However, this is not the most effective method. Rather, you should concentrate on building a genuine relationship with them first before you ever consider asking them for anything.We have a lot to learn from other. Together, we can accomplish great things. But you have to be genuine, so important. And if you do, you’ll see that connecting with others will be more effective.
Scoop It is another option for you. You can share content here for free, but you can get more features with a paid account. Mosaic HUB is a new option that I have found. Great for marketing professionals to connect, some what like LinkedIn. Get Social is another sharing community with free and paid features. The more you put your business out there, the more opportunities you create to be found. Give yourself every advantage. Especially those of you that have startup businesses.
Hubspot shows us which industries lead in social sharing. This is relevant because you want to make meaningful relationships with leaders in your industry.
Connecting With Others In Your Industry (19)
Relevancy is so critical in social media marketing and SEO. Don’t make the same mistake I did early in my marketing career. I never took the time to make genuine relationships with those in my industry. It was a HUGE mistake. If you want to be a thought leader in the industry and want to have success via social media, make an effort to connect with those in your industry. On top of that, the customers you target are going to be the same as the accounts you connect with. If you choose to cross promote or work with other social influencers, it can benefit both parties.
Take the time to research influencers in your market. You can use #hashtags to find others that may share similar interest as yourself. Hashtags are a whole new subject we’ll get into later, but use them in the social platform’s search field. Use an appropriate hashtag, find your connections , connect with them and begin building your relationships.
Not everyone is going to be open to connecting to you.The reasons can vary. Some are just way too busy, others may have social media managers operating the channels, others may have most of their social media marketing effort automated. Don’t expect quick replies, but do be persistent, but patient. The best advice I can give you, please don’t ask for something in your opening message. I know I hate it, nothing looks so automated. Connect with them first, get to know them. Interact with their social pages first. You have a higher chance of a response this way compared to jumping right in for the kill.
Business 2 Community shows us that #Hashtags can be used for a variety of different purposes.
Social Media Keywords And #Hashtags (20)
If you have paid attention to the world we live in now, hashtags can be found nearly everywhere. #Hashtags work in a variety of different ways. Most commonly on social media and company branding. Hashtags are found throughout social media communities, you can how find them being used on all the major social channels of the world. But what does it all mean? What makes the #hashtag relevant?
Hashtags are used in social media marketing to define specific post and help users that search via the hashtag find relative topics they’ve searched for. For example, if we wanted to share this social media marketing guide on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Instagram, we may use hashtags such as #SocialMedia#SocialMediaMarketing or #SocialMediaMarketingGuide All of these hashtags are relative to our social media marketing guide. By doing so, we stand a good chance of being found when others search for these keywords via social search engines.
Hashtags also help us find relevant content, we can use hashtags to find any type of content that we may need. This is a great resource for researchers, writers, marketers or anyone looking to capture breaking news. Companies have even took hashtags to a whole new level with company branding. #PutACanOnIt and #Shareacoke are two great examples of top brands cashing in with hashtags. Just like users know to use Google, the same can be said about social media search engines. I expect social search engines to get better and return even more results than now.
Consistent Branding And How Your Business Is Portrayed (21)
When it comes to proper branding of your business, there’s a lot of different factors that have to be considered. One of the most important elements is brand consistency. As we dig deeper, this can also refer to numerous elements also. From day one, you should be adding brand value. Some examples include earning trust, a great reputation, a leader in the industry or excellent customer service. Companies are always reviewed in these areas and if you miss on your branding, it can put a kink in your customer buying process.
Most companies start with branding rules, branding guidelines, what ever terminology you wish to use. In short, this is a list of rules that revolve around the brand. One simple but important brand rule would likely be color schemes and font in marketing, perhaps also including the logo. These rules keep your brand consistent on a global level, that’s the point of having them. It doesn’t matter if these instructions or guidelines are for social media marketing or content marketing, the brand should carry the same principles throughout all levels of the company.
So, how does consistent branding translate to social media marketing? On social media platforms, we share a variety of different content types. While this content may not be direct branding, anything you share will always carry the brand name. Therefore, everything that is published is branding. Some of you may be promoting on 3, 4, 5 different social media channels daily. While the best practice would be to use the same content on all channels, not all companies follow this route. But if you do, the goal is to make sure you’re following branding rules and staying consistent across all social platforms.
If you’re company doesn’t have integration among the social channels, you’re likely missing out on the benefits of content integration. Use social media management software to ensure that your social media content is published at the same time and published on all your social platforms. Social media integration is crucial to any brand, the message should be similar, the target audience should be similar. *Depending on the business of course) Bottom line, customers trust a consistent brand more and this is some of the value you build with social media integration.
Bright Local gives us some great insight to how reviews play a role in customers trusting a business.
Earning Trust Through Social Media (22)
Speaking of trust, do you purchase from companies you don’t trust? Likely not, right? But what’s the trust factor? A runned-down website? No social media channels? Years between last published content? Bad reviews? The point to grasp, there’s a lot of different factors that can turn a customer away and that’s the last thing you want. So the GOAL for all brands isz to earn TRUST from their target audience, and this is through all marketing channels, online and offline.
Back to Bright Local and the great visual resource above, reviews play a big role in the buying process, social media or not. I wanted to mention reviews because customers can leave reviews on Facebook, Google+, Yelp and other social platforms. Customers that don’t know your brand will likely look you up before they even consider doing business with you. Great reviews can help while bad reviews can be damaging. You ALWAYS need to be aware of what your customers are saying. If a customer has a bad experience, make it better for them.
What have we talked about the most in this social marketing guide? HINT: ENGAGEMENT. Engagement drives success, loyalty, trust, relationships and connections through social media. This is why I always suggest the “human approach.” You have to be real with the connections you make, especially a start-up business or a relatively new business that has little online presence.
Building relationships via social media is just like building relationships offline. The concept is the same and we tend to forget that as we’re caught up in the digital world. We expect it to be that way perhaps, I’m not quite sure. I think we complicate the process and while it does take effort, it’s just like making friends and relationships in your town, city, ect. Don’t complicate it.
SEO Profiler allows us to track traffic from social media that land on our website pages. We can also see how traffic from specific social media platforms interact with our pages with this software.
Data And Analytics On Social Media (23)
Now that you have the inside intel on promoting content through social media, you’ll need a way to monitor the data, analytics and results taking place through your efforts. Google Analytics is likely one of the most used analytic tools and for good reason. If you’re using Google Analytics, get it right away, the insights are priceless and so is Google Analytics, (FREE).
With your Facebook marketing campaigns, you get useful insights to the pages you manage from Facebook itself. Other social platforms are not as advanced. so you’ll need some type of software or tool to get valuable data and insights to analyze.
Pictured above, this is one of the tools that we use here at Hale Associations. SEO Profiler has a wide range of insights for your social media marketing. Above, you can see that we can track users that come from social media, how many page views occurred, how long our social traffic averages on our website and the number of goals that were completed (if any). These social media marketing insights allow us to see how our audience responds to our content and how that relates to traffic to our website. It also tracks the exact pages, which is extremely useful for landing pages.
SEO Profiler also allows us to track engagement of most major social media platforms as seen above.
As you can see above in the visual, the example is looking at interaction on our Facebook page. We’re able to track likes, shares, clicks and comments. If we see a spike, we can go back to that day’s publication to know which content type gave us results. Very useful insights.
You’ll need software and tools to track your results from social media marketing. These results serve another purpose, determining your social media marketing ROI.
Social Media ROI (24)
Even with the best social media marketing tools and software by your side, determining your social media ROI can be difficult. Social media ROI, it’s a term that marketers hate discussing and a term that clients often ask. Face it, your clients want to know what results their investment for social media marketing is bringing. And the better you can explain it with results, the better off everyone is.
How can I determine social media marketing ROI? First, you have to give every action a value. Easier said than done. So let me give you a good example. Customer A clicks on a post from your Facebook page and travels to a landing page where a purchase it made for $20. From this sale, your profit margin is 75 percent, so you take home $15. This is the ROI for that action. It’s easy to determine because it’s priced and you know your profit margins.
Now, what happens if you get someone to subscribe to your free email list? This list is important to your business, you use it twice a month with your email marketing campaigns. But that’s converted traffic. For now, all it’s a free email signup. Because this action is not a paid action, you’ll have to determine the value for email subscribers. The same can be said about a new social media follower, app downloads or visits to your website. All of these have some type of value to your business. You should assign a value for each for better tracking and understanding.
For more insight, check out this informative infographic by My Marketing Cafe.
There’s a lot of ways that social media marketing can bring value. Your business has to determine what those values are. Make no mistake, social media marketing takes time. You can’t expert to have a superstar Facebook page in a month or two. It takes a genuine effort and proper understanding to master social networking.
Barn Raisers shows the cycle of how social media supports SEO. The two feed off each other in many ways.
Social Media And SEO Often Work As One (25)
You’ve likely heard of SEO before, also search engine optimization. The two relate in many ways. With SEO, you use targeted keywords to drive in organic traffic. With social media, you do the same using hashtags to categorize your social media post and content. Just as a website has SEO value, domain authority, your social media accounts have this also. You can add SEO value to your social media accounts with backlinks and other SEO tactics.
Your website content should always have social media sharing buttons. In SEO, we know that social media shares adds value to a page and the keywords attached to that page. The more social shares any given page has, that page will have added SEO value. While the SEO value is minimal, every piece of value you can gain is important.
Major search engines can pull up your content on your social media platforms. You want users to be able to find these platforms. You want them to have the ability to follow you on social media. Think about adding ways to connect to your social platforms on your website. Brand mentions also have SEO weight. The more your brand is discussed, the better. So SEO and social media marketing cross a lot and integrate. Learn more ways that SEO and Social Media work together.
An awesome visual by Viz Wiz on Blogspot (Google) showing growth of users on the top social media platforms.
Learn, Adapt And Be Patient To Grow Your Social Media Channels (26)
I know I’ve covered a lot of different topics. Over 8,000+ words of content in our social media marketing guide. Remember, you can always save it as a bookmark. And we thank you for taking the time to visit us and read our guides.
I know some of you may be at different levels with your business. Some of you likely have aged social platforms while others may just be now building their social network. But we’re always LEARNING. You can never learn enough. Don’t get comfortable in your ways, you should always be willing to try new things. Social media basics will always be the same, but few give out their best kept secrets. So you have to be willing to try new things and experiment in your social media marketing efforts. A/B testing, case studies, stand behind your data and analysis.
Growing your social media platforms takes time and patience. But if you take the time to learn the social media marketing strategies I’ve listed and you get your resources in place, you will have the opportunity to be successful on social media.
Make sure you take the time to research successful social platforms in your industry and market. This is a great way to see what’s working with them. You also learn by doing this and it can inspire creativity in-house as well. The learning process is important because knowledge is power. This is especially true for those of you that offer social media marketing services.
Social media influence is just now getting started. New social platforms are always rising and falling. All of this equals opportunity on your end.
If your business operates in the local area, within a state, county, city, town or community, then local SEO is something you should invest in. Local SEO has several benefits when compared to national or global SEO needs. One important example is competition, something in the SEO world we know a lot about. When you compete with brands on a national or international level, the competition is often high. When you compete locally, there’s less competition which means less businesses trying to rank for the same keywords as you.
Local search engine optimization doesn’t mean the path to success is any easier, but for most, it will be. Point to note, if you’re in a large city such as New York or Los Angeles, you may find out that you have just as much competition. The results of your search engine optimization strategies will depend on a wide range of circumstances, which we’ll get into later. But for now, I want to focus on teach you what you need to know in our local SEO guide.
Unless you’re looking to hire local SEO services, it’s going to be your responsibility to plan and put your local SEO plan into action. By now, you should know the basics of SEO. If you don’t, you need to learn the fundamentals first. Check out our SEO Guide.
First, if you don’t have a website, you have to get one. Subdomains don’t cut it and a website is an affordable investment.Build your website in minutes.
(1.) Keyword Research
You need local SEO because you want your business to appear when potential customers are searching for your services or products. The very first order of business is choosing keywords. A keyword is any word. We offer local SEO services, so that term is a keyword for us. Since we want to appear when users search for local SEO services, we want to make sure we have a page on our website about local SEO services. And guess what, you’re reading it.
Some keywords that you need to rank for are going to be directly related to your services or products. That is if you want to sell it. So some keywords are going to automatically fall in your lap. You want to perform keyword research so you know which keywords you’ll try to rank for. To research keywords, you’ll need to visit Google Keyword Planner.
(2.) Google Keyword Planner
You’ll be able to use Google Keyword Planner to find useful keyword and phrases to rank your keywords. You will need a Google account to access it. You have two options when you land on the page.
Search for new keywords
Get search volume data
If you don’t know what keywords you’ll be using, then go to the top option. This will help you come up with keyword ideas. If you know the type of keywords you want to use, then you can go to the bottom option to look at the data of keywords, which will tell you the monthly search volume of keywords, competition level and how much the keyword cost if you were running paid ads with Google.
(3.) Searching For Keyword Ideas
The first option will allow you to search for keyword ideas. In our example, we’re using local SEO. We then filled in our website URL and chose our product category. You’ll see other options below this, most of them are for running paid Google ads. However, you do want to make sure the country is correct, which it is for the sake of this example.
As you can see, Google Keyword Planner brought back a wide range of results for our keyword “local SEO.” Since we want to target and rank local SEO, we’ll be able to use more keywords that we may want to consider adding to this article or using at a later date.
Above, we’re able to see the groupings of keywords. Local SEO brought back 50 results and those keywords have a total of 5,080 searches a month. We see the level of competition is medium. You see local SEO highlighted in blue, so we’re going to click on it to see our results.
(4) Local SEO Keyword Results
In this image, we’re able to see the top searches for our keyword “local SEO.” We see that local SEO services has the most traffic at 1,600 searches. All results are based on a monthly period or 30 days. We see that the competition level is high and to pay for this keyword, we’d have to pay $20.60 per click. The actual cost will vary, but usually it’s within a few dollars. Here’s the thing, can you afford to pay to pay $20 per click? That’s $100 for just 5 visits, $200 for 10 visits.
If you have a great converting landing page, it could work. It would depend on how much that customer is worth to your business. Take Hale Associations for example. If we were to use paid advertising and we targeted local SEO as a keyword, how could we value each customer? Our local SEO services start at $250 a month. We always use the base cost for this. So we’re trying to determine if it would be worth targeting this local SEO as a keyword. If we convert 1 out of every 5 visits, we’d have a conversion rate of 20 percent. We pay $100 and we make $250. Now, that would be worth it. However, if we only convert 1 out of every 15 visits, we’d lose money.
We’re estimating paid advertising ROI. Now, if you have reoccurring monthly services, then you can take the early loss. But what guarantees a customer will pay for another month of services? You don’t know unless you have a contract. Then, you could evaluate what that customer is worth. It’s much easier with products. If you’re selling a book at $10 and you’re paying $1.00 per visit, you know you need a 50 percent conversion rate to make $5 per customer.
(5) What Local Keywords Should I Target?
Now, let me jump back to choosing local keywords to target. There’s 3 important things you need to make sure of when you target local keywords to use with your organic SEO.
And choosing the actual keyword itself
Now, local keywords will often have lower search volumes than some of the main keywords you may want to rank for. I’ll again look at our own company and the keyword “local SEO services.” Local SEO services has a search volume of 1,600 a month. If just look up SEO, we see a search volume over 90,000.
Nearly all local keyword terms will follow this same role. Not always, but most of the time. Keywords with higher search volumes usually have higher competition. Why does competition matter when trying to rank a keyword? Simple, what they do affects you. What anyone does affects you when they target the same keywords as you. In the example above, we see 2 other keywords we may want to rank for and even these secondary keywords have more volume than local SEO services.
Now, let’s look at an actual example. Let’s say you offer sales training and you live in Atlanta. “Atlanta Sales Training” could be a potential local keyword. So could “Sales Training.” While I would suggest you focus on both, which keyword is going to do you better? If you only offer services in Atlanta, then it would be Atlanta sales training. When we see the search volume per month, we only see 30 searches a month. Here’s why I wanted to use this example. You’re going to see keywords with search volumes this low. Should I focus on a local keyword with low search volume? Yes you should. For one, these are only estimates from Google. Rarely are keywords accurate.
If you use Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can track exactly how many people come through your website via search engines using a specific keyword. I’ve seen keywords that have search volume counts of 10 bring in 40-50 people. So remember that when you’re researching your local keywords. And this will lead me to what you need to do next.
(6) Mapping Out Your Local Keywords
Once you know which local keywords you will target, you need to map them out prior. Practical Ecommerce shows us in the example above exactly how this can be done. You need to get an Excel sheet (just like above) or a Word doc would do. Map out all of your keywords. Here’s a very important tip, “you only need one page to rank for a keyword.” Each main local keyword should have its own home. You can add secondary keywords to your pages, but the best SEO strategy to use is one keyword, one page. This way, you don’t have your content fighting with other pages.
Now, if you’re a local business, you may have only a little content to map out right now, but you still need to get it done. This will become your master copy. My business was once local, now it’s international. I really hope you have big dreams of going national, even international. If you do, then you’re going to need to rely on this content map. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying local or not, this comes in handy and all of your content should be kept in order.
Using the reference both, we see that Practical Ecommerce has mapped out a page, URL and 3 keywords per page. One keyword is a primary keyword, which is the right method. One page, one keyword. Then we see secondary keywords. We see individual keyword search volumes and secondary keywords, as well as the totals for all keywords together.
(7) Keywords That Your Customers Use
This is vital. All of your keyword selections should not solely be based on traffic volume. Rather, you need to make an effort to speak the language of your customers. Find out what they use to find someone like you.
What do customers search for when looking for your products and services?
What problems do your customers have?
How can you help customers solve the problems they have?
You’ll find great opportunities if you can include keywords and keyword phrases that your customers use. Google Keyword Planner is awesome, but you’ll find that if you want to find keywords that are not targeted by everyone, you’ need to search deeper. You need to dig into buyer personas to really understand your target audience and their needs.
(8) Common SEO Mistakes
After nearly a decade of evaluating thousands of websites for SEO, one of the most common mistakes I see is content targeting the same main keywords over and over again. If you’re using the same keywords over and over again in your content titles, you’re going to have your own content fighting one another for rankings. Don’t want that. All you need is one page, one article to rank a keyword. This is another reason to map out your content and keywords.
Another common SEO mistake I see is 200-300 word articles, Here’s the thing, if you’re looking for local SEO services, then you feel your SEO is not what it could be, right? Perhaps you’re a startup business or your website has no value. Due to this, you’re against all odds and you don’t have the SEO value to rank short content. If you cover a topic or subject, make your content great. Here’s how you can build high quality content that ranks in Google.
If you write high quality content, users will be more likely to share your content. Many of the biggest companies in the world depend on content marketing to drive leads and business. Does content marketing work for local SEO? Of course it does. Just make sure you write high quality content and you’re targeting keywords that have traffic.
What about targeting the wrong keywords? You bet, another huge SEO mistake that can cost your business before it ever gets off the ground. If you target the wrong keywords for SEO, you will fail. At best, you’ll hang around and won’t grow. Make sure you read my guide on choosing the right keywords for your business.
(9) Google Business
One key local SEO benefit is going to be Google Business. This should be one of the first steps you take. You want to be in the good graces of Google from day one on. Google is your best friend, so be good to her. She can also be your worst enemy. Abide by her rules and most of you will enjoy success. Head over to Google Business and get signed up. You’ll be submitting your business information. You need a physical address because Google will send you a postcard with a code. You will have 30 days to confirm the postcard. Use the code you received, login and confirm your Google business page. This is a must for everyone, local SEO or not.
(10) Local Citations
Local citations are important for local SEO. While there’s thousands of local citation platforms online, not all of them are good for your business. We haven’t talked much about backlinks. No matter what type of SEO you do, you best believe backlinks are a major role. In fact, backlinks are the top Google SEO ranking factor. When you discuss backlinks, you begin getting into a lot of technical SEO. You start hearing about domain authority and link values. It’s a complicated subject if you don’t know SEO.
None the less, most local citation websites allow you to build a link back to your website. This backlink is important. All backlinks are important, however, the value of that link can differ greatly.
There’s nothing more powerful for on-site SEO than writing high quality content for your website. Just to clarify, on-site SEO refers to tactics, techniques and strategies applied to your own website. Off-site SEO refers to those same elements done off-site, such as link building, marketing, social media or PR. Look, millions of articles go published every day. If you don’t put your heart into your writing from day one, you won’t get anywhere in today’s SEO minded world.
Your content needs to be useful, entertaining, easy to read and actionable. Take this article for example. While I offer my expertise in this article, I give you actionable steps to take to help improve the visibility of your website in Google. So I’m giving you value. Great value I may add 🙂
But you want your content to be the best it can be. Plus, let’s say you’re a doctor with your own practice, you want to be considered a thought leader in your industry. You want to build trust with your audience.
I know some topics of content can be “boring,” hard to cover. But you can think of creative ways to write content. Use creative, unique, attention grabbing titles. Experiment using different techniques and track the results. You can always use platforms like BuzzSumo to see what types of content are popular at this moment.
(12) Content Marketing
Once you have your content published and ready to promote, you’ll need to get it out there to spread the world. Perhaps you have a new product or service, or just trying to grow your local business. In my content marketing guide, I discuss everything you need to know about promoting your content and finding your target audience.
There’s several reasons why content marketing is going to be important for your business. For one, content refers to many different things, not just articles you write.
Many of us hear content and automatically think articles. Think outside the box, use different content strategies. Be unique, use different messages and test, test and test. Start a YouTube channel for your business and introduce videos. Start a newsletter to build your email list. Try podcast and see if your audience responds. I always try everything once because you never know what will stick. Make sure you’re tracking your results, time, effort and investment. See what any given content strategy achieves and if it does good, do it again. If it don’t, come back to it later or get rid of it.
Content is everywhere and there’s always someone looking for it. It could be a service or product. If you have powerful content that adds value to someone’s life, there will always be interest. You just have to follow this local SEO guide and get the process going.
(13) Social Media Marketing
There’s no better way to connect with locals than on social media. For one, nearly everyone has at least one social media profile. Facebook along has over 1 billion users. And when it comes to top tier social media platforms, none are bigger than Facebook. If you haven’t yet, go to Facebook and create a Facebook business page for your business. I know some of you may know how to use Facebook to market your business, others may not know. There’s a learning curve to learning Facebook marketing, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to learn.
Facebook can be a major platform for your business. Most people have a Facebook account. But Facebook is only one of hundreds of top tier social media platforms with big audiences. You can use Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and many others to drive traffic to your business.
In my social media marketing guide, I explain how to figure out which social platforms to use based on your business and industry. Be sure to check it out if you want to learn more.
Social media has come a long way in recent years and now social media signals influence SEO. So you want to have social sharing buttons on your website. Make sure you also have your social media accounts on your site for easy access. You want to build an audience, so offer value relative to your business.
I have to bring it up. I’ve been a SEO for 10 years. Let me offer some words of advice here, SEO is only part of the battle. I’m referring to local SEO, international SEO, national SEO, however you want to cook it. If you have traffic to your website, you should be converting that traffic into sales. Period. If you’re not, you need to look at your conversion strategy.
You need strong call to actions on your website. Take Tru Conversion for example. When visitors come to your website, you want them to do something. This is known as your CTA (call-to-action). It could be a call us button, buy now button, learn more or a sign up. Take our popup for reference. Since we added this to our website, conversions are up 73 percent. Most websites will offer the user something of value to get them to take action. SEO can’t help someone to take action, but you can.
One of my favorite conversion plugins for WordPress is Bloom. It’s affordable, well worth the investment. It allows you to create popups and other conversion forms. Learn about conversions, try different conversion methods and keep improving your systems.
(15) Should I Use Paid Advertising With SEO?
While local SEO can be very effective for your business, it still takes time. SEO is a long-term solution. So you may want to consider other methods to drive traffic to your business. One of those methods is known as paid advertising. It can be used now to drive traffic to your business. I always suggest it if you’re a startup business or your SEO value is very low. Wait Ricky, what’s paid advertising? Paid advertising is exactly as described, you pay for advertising. Now, I’m not referring to having banners on a platform, although you could. Rather, I’m referring to PPC or pay-per-click marketing. You have a lot of options with PPC, but only a few top-tier options that I suggest you should consider. I use 3 specific platforms. Google, Facebook and Bing/Yahoo. (Bing and Yahoo joined each other to compete with Google.)
(16) Google Advertising
From my experience, Google works great. I’m comparing it with Yahoo/Bing Network. I’m referring to paid search marketing. So we’re talking about the search network. This type of paid Google advertising allows you to target specific keywords. You display a paid text ad in Google’s search engine. Just like the example I discussed above when we targeted local SEO. There’s a few different things you have to make sure of before you can have success with Google’s paid advertising (search only.)
You have to target the right keywords
You need to have great ad copies
Your ad, keywords and website must be relative
Detailed data prompts to pinpoint target customers
And you have to A/B test everything
If you expect to throw an ad up and get the results you want, you’re fooling yourself. It can take time before you see success with Google paid advertising. You often to have to make consistent changes to keywords, ads and your landing pages until they convert at a high level and the ROI is positive.
(17) Bing/Yahoo Advertising
Just like Google, you can pay for Bing/Yahoo advertising to appear in their search engines. I don’t want to unfairly judge Bing and Yahoo, but when compared with Google advertising, I think the Bing/Yahoo network is less quality. From my experience, I’ve seen better results with Google.
(18) Facebook Advertising (Paid)
Just like with Google advertising, you can drive business to your website with paid Facebook ads. I’ve been a part of hundreds of Facebook advertising campaigns over the years and it can be very successful. Facebook advertising is cheaper than Google, Bing and Yahoo (in most cases).
(19) Local SEO Success
I know there’s a lot to cover in this local SEO guide. Be sure to bookmark it so you can return to it later. Please do comment, I love hearing your thoughts and suggestions. If you found it useful, please take the time to share it with someone that needs help.
A lot of people get the idea that local SEO is easier and quicker. That’s just not the case, local SEO takes the same dedication and effort as national or international SEO. Sure, it’s a lot easier targeting a local audience compared to a national or world wide audience, right? We;;, depends on how you view it. With local SEO, your opportunities are less and you really have to reach a specific audience, often a small one at that.
While common sense and data do suggest local SEO results are more achievable, you still have to put in the effort. So don’t think you have it made on easy street, you’ll end up landing straight on bum bum.
In all seriousness, follow the steps in this guide and you’ll do just fine.
(20) Be Consistent With NAP Listings
Lastly, you want your NAP to be accurate and consistent.
NAP refers to your business name, business address and business phone number.
When you’re doing your local citations, make sure you keep your NAP the same. Using different addresses and numbers will confuse Google and your local SEO rankings won’t be strong as it could be.
Due to this, you want to make sure you always keep login details for citations and listings.
2018 Google SEO updates once again changed the face of SEO as many of them were major core update we saw from Google. We saw several SEO updates in 2018, this guide will be in compliant with that fact and what we’re seeing for SEO in 2019.
Where do we begin? Local SEO saw a huge update, known as “Possum,” that was reported to include 64 percent of SERPs.
For 2019, we know mobile is going to be big. Last year, mobile took over desktop to become the the most used devices for using Google search.
it’s the perfect time to release my new top Google SEO ranking factors for 2019. SEO in 2018 saw a lot of changes, 2019 is going to likely see more changes as voice recognition and artificial intelligence become a bigger part of search engine optimization.
Before I start discussing the top Google SEO ranking factors list, let’s talk about my go-to SEO tools.
Google Analytics is great, some of the free SEO software programs are ok at best. You can take out an engine without the right tools, the same for SEO. My favorite, Ahrefs. You won’t find a better SEO tool.
1. Backlinks Are Still A High SEO Ranking Factor
Your top SEO ranking factor is no other than the most important SEO ranking factor, backlinks. Off-site that is. While backlinks are enough to nearly rank the most competitive keywords in the world, there is some important elements you need to know before you get backlink happy.
Relativity is still important, look at Moz’s domain authority as a guide to who you link to and receive links from. Forget pagerank, you do know PR is dead, right? Even though Google pagerank is flat lined, it still can be used as an indicator to quality websites. But you have to evaluate it and look at the link metrics to determine if the site is high quality.
How Can A Website With 123 Referring Domains Outrank Your 256 Referring Domains?
How many articles have you read that told you go to build more backlinks to outrank your competition? Ever wonder why site A is ranking higher than site B with 50 percent less backlinks? Remember, link building has changed, Google has changed, quit thinking quantity and start thinking quality.
How many of you are building backlinks to your ranking URL as soon as it drops 2 spots? You think,”oh boy, she’s dropping down, got to get some authority links pointing to her.” And then you do and it drops even more, right? Sound familiar? It’s not about quantity anymore, it’s all about quality and relative backlinks.
So if you have a dropping keyword, wait it out. Start focusing on pointing backlinks elsewhere. If you’re using Ahrefs or SEM Rush, I know you’ve seen global keywords increasing though out your backlink campaign. If you’re building backlinks and they look un-natural, you’re going to see keywords continue to fall. Focus your efforts elsewhere.
2. CTR Is A Major Google SEO Ranking Factor
CTR, also known as click-through-rate, is also an important Google SEO ranking factor. Case point, how did you find this article? Most of us knew CTR had SEO influence, but to what extent? CTR is a major ranking factor. Look at your top ranking keywords in Google Webmaster, just like we did above. We rank high (first page) for the search terms above. When we look at the CTR, 4 of our top SEO keywords have click-through-rates above 20 percent. That’s a good mark.
Now, if you look at yours, you’ll see the pattern I’m talking about. Higher CTRs usually represent higher keyword rankings. Think about your on-page SEO, the page’s design, content flow, all of these elements are important to SEO. While we don’t rank number one, we do rank number 5 on the first page. And to be with the likes of Backlinko, Moz and SEM Rush, that’s pretty good. Especially when you consider our own web metrics compared to those. Point? What I’m telling you works!
3. You Better Be Mobile Friendly
As I mentioned earlier in this guide, mobile is the top used device for searching Google. Mobile has been trending for several years.
Google has repeatedly told us that mobile is a part of the SEO ranking equation and we’re seeing it evolve right in front of our eyes. If your website and web properties are not mobile friendly, your site can have problems ranking high.
Make sure you site is mobile friendly.
The good news for WordPress users, most of the new themes (and older) are mobile friendly. Google Search Console now has a section focused on this very issue. so we know it’s important to Google. If you don’t have Search Console, make sure you get it so you can check that. Plus, there’s many more data points you can use for your SEO inside.
4. Relevancy Has Become A Major SEO Ranking Factor
Your backlinks can work magic but you need relevant links, not quantities of them. I use Ahrefs.com (by far the best software for analyzing backlinks) to determine keyword phrases that myself and other websites use. I’ll list a few hundred websites and begin outreach to see what type of opportunities I can come up with.
So you need to target websites in your niche, websites that are focusing on the same content topics as you. Use your backlink tools to determine the key link metrics that will determine who you target. Again, pagerank is dead, but you can use it to find authority sites. Look at domain authority, URL ratings, Domain ratings and Alexa rank.
Now, any advanced SEO knows that you don’t need all of your backlinks to be from niche relative websites. While the content needs to be related, the website theme does not. That’s right, a high authority baking site can link to a site about clothes, as long as the content in that page is relevant.
5. Social Media Shares And Signals Can Ride Your Keyword To The Top
Social media can be one of the most powerful SEO resources you have (when the activity is there). I’ve had (5) client pages that went viral on social media and everyone of their main keywords ranked in the top 3 first page. Each one went viral on Facebook, that matters. We saw good movement on Twitter also, so keep that in mind also.
We all know content is important for SEO. Sure, a top tier ranking factor. But as it pertains to social media, people don’t share boring content. You may be in a boring niche, per “online rules.” Not many people going to care about installing the JLX mechanical toilet seat, right? So if you want social shares to weigh in on your SEO (and it does now) you’ll have to get creative with your content.
Update 1/27/2016 – I’m seeing less and less social media influence directly increasing keywords. However, if an article gets enough shares, it still has the ability to pull first page. That doesn’t mean it’s safe there. When the traffic and signals die off, so will your keyword rankings. So if you see that big boost, get over to the article and get prepared to do your SEO. Naturally, this page can gain natural backlinks due to the exposure. But if it doesn’t, time to play SEO doctor.
SEO Expert Tip for boring niches: Try infographics, they work great for social shares and backlinks (win-win).
6. Give The Pages You Want To Rank High A Makeover And Update
In SEO, you can underestimate the value of a good looking website that is user friendly. A lot of so-called SEOs and webmasters take “fresh content” the wrong way. While you think you may need to publish new content daily, that’s not the fresh content you want. Rather, you need to revamp the content you already have published.
SEO Expert Tip on revamping content: ALWAYS map out your content. Nothing worse than having to go through hundreds of articles, cleaning them up, ect. Before you write ANYTHING, get it mapped out.
Design and speed matter. Not only for SEO, but for conversions, lead generation, sales and everything in between. Content can become outdated in as little as a few weeks. If you haven’t yet, go back through your best pages and make some edits.
And quit writing for SEO. Google’s system can pick up on your over-optimized SEO content. Google wants you to think about the user, not SEO. While I’m not telling you to forget using keywords, but add your metadata and links.
7. Speaking Of Speed, Boy Does It Matter
Didn’t someone one say, “speed kills?” Well, in your SEO, the same can be said. Except you want your loading times fast as possible. Less code, more content. Google really stepped this up in 2015, as well as mobile friendly needs. Designs, graphics and images are great, images are good for SEO. However, it can bite you in the ass if it’s slowing your site down.
Keep your images as progressive jpeg. Keep them in the same format size. Content management system users, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, plugins and extensions can kill your load times. The more you add, the slower you go in most cases.
This is something you’ll hear me preach over and over and over some more. SEO Site evaluations are often in my workflow and I don’t know how many times I get into content and see the same keywords being used in articles. You only need one URL to rank a keyword. If your content is in this nature, your own pages are likely fighting one another. I don’t know that I should list it as this, but man if I don’t see it a lot.
Here’s your strategy moving forward, one page, one main focus keyword. It works. Works great. You don’t need 20 articles targeting the same keyword. Now, you may list other secondary keywords to the topic. You want this to open up your internal linking strategies.
9. User Metrics Are Playing A Bigger Role Than Ever
Many of us saw this coming with Google’s algorithm changes in 2015. User metrics and user engagement is becoming a main stream SEO ranking factor and look for it to grow in 2016. Your content is everything. The topics you cover, the personality in your writing, the average time users spend on a page, genuine comments, social shares, all of these can influence the keyword rankings on any given page.
Point back to writing great content, the type of content that gets people to talk, share, interact and engage. Political topics are always great, if you have a political site, news site, government blog. Religion is another. Somehow, someway, your content has to make it happen if you want to rank first page for your keywords.
10. Since Content Is King And We’re Already Talking About it
I can’t write about SEO ranking factors without mentioning content. On-site SEO ranking factors, your content is the most important. Let me put this out there “like it is,” your content needs to be great. Too many articles are being published every day for mediocre content to rank or go viral. Out of everything you do in SEO, high quality content should be your main goal.
When you write high quality content, users find it useful. They become engaged. They talk about it, they share it. In return, this builds natural backlinks. The “natural cycle of SEO” begins to come full circle. Spread your wings and fly high kinda of stuff. In all seriousness, this is what you’e looking for.
Here’s how you evaluate your content. When you’re done, read it and ask yourself, “is this the best article online for the topic.” If your answer is no, “make it to be the best article online for the subject.” Period.
11. Go Make Some Bromance And Get You Some Friends
What the hell? Yeah, I about erased that. But I have a point. I’ve been doing SEO for over 9 years. I still don’t have enough online friends in my industry. Do you know how valuable friends are when you need a backlink, guest post, a web favor? Damn near priceless. We’re all shooting at the same cow, just a different black spot. Bad analogy, sure. But we all have common goals and we can help one another achieve success.
I’m always open to new business relationships, new friendships and you should be too. Don’t view everyone as the competition as I did early in my career. I didn’t have no friends back them and having an awesome resource list is a nice go-to when you need a favor.
All I’m saying, be open to it. Quit being stuck up. (LOL)
12. Keyword Domains Are Worth Their Weight In Gold
How many times have you read about keywords in domains don’t matter? What bullshit! Don’t believe that, they matter. Anytime you can add a keyword specific in your domain, you have at it. It matters, always has.
Keyword specific domains are worth their weight in gold. And you can find them all the time, likely cheaper than what you think. I hit GoDaddy Auctions up all the time. And for those of you looking to achieve long-lasting first page rankings (everybody), finding a keyword specific domain with some age is like winning the lottery.
Don’t redirect it though, build it up. Give it some authority and grow it. It has more value to your network this way. If you ask, “well Ricky, that will get you in trouble.” Tell it to WebMD whom at least has a few hundred of these. Literally.
13. Traffic Is Becoming A More Important Google SEO Ranking Factor
16 days into January and our team is noticing that clients with traffic are ranking better across the board. 21 total and all 21 have seen increased Google SEO rankings. Luck of the draw? No, I really doubt it. We know that user metrics count as a SEO ranking factor. Over the last few years, Google has been valuing user metrics higher we feel. But traffic really never fell into this class, at least not as a very valued indicator. But with what I’ve seen over the first two weeks in 2016, there’s no question that it’s playing a role and maybe one higher valued than we previously imagined. Popularity drives traffic anyway, so that makes sense.
If you had some high SEO rankings in Google prior with little traffic, you may have noticed your keyword rankings falling. From our client base, I’m afraid I can’t call that for sure because I’ve seen mixed results. Adding to that is the fact that most of our clients that have low traffic are start-up websites, so we couldn’t get clear indications. But there’s no question that traffic is very valued in Google’s eyes and maybe more now than ever before. If you’re struggling to get traffic, check out these online traffic resources.
14. Anchor Text Diversity Has A New Value In SEO
Anyone stuck on page 2 of Google? I know, it bites. But have you been seeing it a lot more? Two of my latest SEO case studies did just this. It was a strategy that I’ve been using for some time. After initial analysis and a full workup, I feared over-optimization of anchor text was to blame. It was not PBNs, only relative websites. It had some natural data backlinks, a few local citations. Trust flow and domain authority for both were good. Both over 20.
These anchor text SEO values just recently changed, not even a few weeks ago. I think Google is now fully evaluating anchor text and root words. It may be different link types, branded URLs, naked URLs. We typically see this from exact match keyword URLs. You will always have an issue with that, sites linking using your domain name. That’s one of the rare downfalls of a main keyword in the URL.
Now, back to my point. You need to make sure your backlink profile isn’t over-optimized. Long-tail keywords shouldn’t be used as anchor text a lot, only a time or two. (Every situation is different). Let’s look at a quick example.
West Virginia SEO Services
SEO Services West Virginia
SEO Service WV
Logan WV SEO Services
We see different anchor text in this example, but we see the same root words. SEO, West Virginia, SEO Services. Natural or not, we see the same root words appearing. Most people think this is ok because the root keywords are different. From what I’m seeing, this can be viewed as being over-optimized. So what do you do?
West Virginia SEO
search engine optimization wv
search marketing logan
The answer is diversify. Notice that the anchor text is all unique, root words are unique and it looks more natural. I see this being a growing trend. You have to be careful with your anchor text in 2017 or you’re going to be on the outside looking in. Go do some research, pull up some keywords from 11th place, 12th place. Check out their backlink profile and look at their anchors. Granted, there’s a lot more things that can cause you to be stuck on the second page of Google, but this is one of them.
Perhaps Google is just adding more value to this part of the SEO equation. I’m fine with that too, but we’re seeing more focus on anchor text and we already know Google pays a lot of attention to anchors anyway.
15. Video Is Blowing Up And Google Knows It
There’s no question that video plays a role in SEO. The question, how much?
Your videos need to be targeting the same keywords and appropriate variations. Make sure you’re including videos in your content. Now, that can depend on your content format or the SEO plan for any given page, but video is going to give you the upper edge for sure.
Live video plays a big role too, especially when you can get some awesome engagement on that video. Live video hasn’t been around that long, so I’m still running test and gathering data. I have seen live videos with great engagement benefit a content piece targeting specific keywords.
Then again, I’ve seen them not move the needle too. For marketing purposes alone, I’d highly suggest it and if you can get those videos in your content, more power to you.
SEO In 2018
SEO is always changing. My SEO ranking factors don’t come from others, they come from my own experiences and case studies. Some of you may know these all, others may not. I do suggest that you be different, try new things. Google doesn’t tell you everything and why would you believe them anyway?
Do your own case studies and document it. You’d be surprised at what works and what doesn’t. There’s thought to be over 200 ranking factors for SEO. I say much more because Google is complex. We only know a small percentage of what really counts.
I’m sure 2018 in SEO will bring new documented changes. I do wish us all high rankings. Of course, mine a little higher than yours.
Join the conversation. One of the things I enjoy about my job is meeting new people. So I welcome your thoughts, ideas, questions, suggestions. So I hope you’ll leave me a comment. Thanks for taking the time to read our article, I hope it has helped you and you can start applying these tactics to your own domain.
A good or bad user experience can make or break your app.
We live in a world where users are digital natives that expect apps to be intuitive to use and smart enough to predict what they are looking for.
Having a great user experience makes it so much easier to acquire users and keep them happy.
Not convinced? Let’s look at some statistics that back it up:
In 10 years, a $10,000 investment in design-centric companies would have yielded returns 228% greater than the same investment in the S&P (Source) ESPN.com revenues jumped 35% after they listened to their community and incorporated suggestions into their homepage redesign (Source) Infinite scrolling can lower your bounce rate. Time.com’s bounce rate dropped 15 percentage points after they adopted continuous scroll (Source)
In this article, we’ll cover what user experience is and how to create an app with a great user experience.
Let’s jump straight in.
What is user experience?
User experience (UX) is the summation of how people feel when they use your product or service.
It is a multidisciplinary field that marries technology, business and design. Great user experience comes through when experts in each of these areas – business people, designers and engineers – work together effectively.
The diagram below illustrates the relationship between technology, business and design:
User experience, especially for mobile and web apps, is a relatively nascent field when compared against the entire history of technology development.
As such, things evolve very quickly. While core design principles are timeless, staying up to date with the latest UX trends and patterns is important to create good user experience.
What is the process of user experience design?
Now that we know what user experience is, how can you create an app with a great user experience?
There is no simple answer to this question. Great user experience comes from having an effective, organized and repeated process of understanding users needs and wants.
Generally speaking, the design process involves identifying patterns amidst seeming chaos, finding concepts and focusing them down into a design. Very much like the diagram below:
The UX design process can be broken down into five stages: research, information architecture, prototype, user test and iterate. Let’s go through each of the stages briefly.
Stage 1: Research
The research process starts out with understanding the problem you’re trying to solve as well as the people that you are solving the problem for. This stage is most easily neglected, but it is extremely important to the success of a project.
During the design phase, the main deliverables are:
Identifying customer personas. These are profiles of your archetypal users. These are the people you should speak to during the research phase and user testing. Creating user stories. User stories help teams articulate the motivation for users to take different actions in your app. User stories should be created as a sentence in the form of “As a [user], I want to [action] so that [motivation]”. Creating user scenarios. User scenarios put you into the shoes of your users by giving you a real-world example of how a user story might come to play. User scenarios help you feel for your user by describing an actual environment where the user might need to perform a task. Creating user flows. User flows are the result of user stories and scenarios, where you sketch out the path that users take through the product. This could take the form of an actual screen flow or simply a line that depicts how users navigate your app.
Stage 2: Information architecture
Now that you have understood your users’ needs and wants, the next step is to get business people, designers and developers on the same page in terms of what the app should do.
Information architecture lays out and organizes the structure for your app. It allows us to understand where we are as users, and where the information we want is in relation to our position.
The goal of information architecture is to understand the different modules within your app, how they relate to each other and the data that they will generate and consume.
During the information architecture phase, the main deliverables are:
Sitemaps. A diagram that maps out the relationships between modules in your app. It could come in the form of a tree or a linear flow diagram.
Stage 3: Prototype
Once you have your sitemaps laid out, you are ready to prototype.
There are many techniques (e.g. crazy 8s, storyboarding and super votes) that can help your team to brainstorm and agree on the best version for different modules in an app.
During the prototype phase, the main deliverables are:
Wireframes. A wireframe is a unified vision of a product, focusing on structure, functionality and usability rather than visual identity. Most of the wireframes we do these days are low-fidelity interactive wireframes, which means users can click and interact with them.
Stage 4: User test
Now that you have your wireframes or clickable prototypes, the next step is to get it in front of people. You’ll realize things rarely go according to plan once you put your ideas in front of real users.
At this stage of user testing, you have already understood your users’ goals and you are looking to test the usability of an application and measure how effective it is at helping users reach their goals.
During the user testing stage, the main deliverables are:
Usability test plan. Summarizes the background, goals and methods for testing. This includes number of users to test with and whether the test will be conducted remotely or in person. User testing script. The script provides guidance, structure and consistency for the person who is administering the user test. It also helps the team to agree on what and how things should be tested. Usability reports. After a test is conducted, user feedback is consolidated in a usability report. This report is used to iterate and refine the prototype.
Stage 5: Iterate
Armed with the results from your user test, you now have tangible feedback that you can use to refine your prototype. It is a good idea to test each iteration of your prototype with users.
The design process is a continuous process of prototyping, getting feedback, implementing over and over again.
That’s a wrap! Hope this article has been useful in helping you to understand the basics of what user experience is, why it is important and the process for coming up with great user experience.
Justin Yek is a cofounder of Altitude Labs, a full-service app design and development agency that specializes in data driven design and personalization.
When web designers work on a website, it could be daunting. But the actual challenge is not actually taking care of the aesthetics but perfecting the need for a user-friendly design that actually converts. The problem with most web designers is that they fail to solve the user’s needs, and instead just design websites with their personal fancies in mind. The bad thing is users don’t think the way they think.
Let’s talk about the most common mistakes of website designers.
(1) Unorganized Content Layout
Content is what drives traffic to a website. The structure or layout of the content will lead to success or failure. Users usually just scan through information, and they only pick out the interesting points. Therefore, an organized layout is vital in attracting more users. Sadly, some designers don’t mind about the layout of the content. They just simply put a block of texts on the webpage without using headings, sub-headings, paragraphs, bullets, etc.
It’s important to use appropriate title for each web page so that users can easily follow them. Some web designers even forget naming web pages.
(2) Poor Readability
One of the most crucial elements of web design is its readability. The interface design of a website will initially grab the user’s attention. Unfortunately, there are two common mistakes web designers make in creating the interface design:
Bad color scheme
The first thing users notice about a website is its color scheme—before product and content. Some designers don’t have an eye in choosing color schemes. Some mistakes they make are: using overly timid colors, using overly saturated colors, and using too many colors. The most frequent color blunders committed by new designers, as well as experienced designers is color clashes. Color clashes often appear between the background and the foreground.
Bad font choices
Users read the website’s content to grasp some helpful information. But some websites have the most bizarre font sizes and styles that make reading a pain. A poor font choice can have a negative effect not just on your website but on your company’s reputation.
To improve your user’s site experience, check out suggested web design color schemes. A good place to start is Adobe Kuler. For your content, using Sans Serif typeface and other easy-to-read scripts are recommended.
(3) Inconsistent Interface Design
Some designers have excessive creativity. They take things to another level by using different designs for every web page. They have loads of ideas that they want to put in one website. But this is just confusing to the users. No matter how attractive the designs are, the inconsistent look of a website is just not appropriate.
Using a standard template for every page will keep the whole website simple and not confusing.
(4) Heavy to load website
Some designers design a website that’s heavy to load. And this is due to excessive images/animations. What a huge turn off it is when users are greeted by too much images and animations, plus the website takes too long to load due to this inefficient web design approach. Excessive usage of Ads also contributes to a slow load time.
Distracting images, animations, and Ads will only make your users leave your website. These elements should be minimized and should be used appropriately.
(5) Missing Search Box
Designers sometimes forget that a website is like an archive of information. Whether it’s a company website or a blog, a search box is essential. Visitors are likely to be looking for some information that’s hidden within the website. A good web design includes a search box that is easy to find. A neat and simple search box on top, or on the side, is an effective tool that will enable site visitors to easily search for information.
Take a look at your web design strategy right now and avoid these common web design mistakes. A professionally made website is your best tool in gaining more customers and establishing your company’s credibility. When building a new website or improving an existing website, make sure to understand how users think. Website designers should keep websites simple yet attractive. The most important thing when you design a website, above all else, is usability.
Christian Jude Cuyos is an enthusiast, who transforms complicated ideas into more suitable and valuable to readers. He thrives on challenges, particularly those that expand the company’s reach. together with ConvertBetter, an expert of online marketing company and web designers helps him be a professional marketer.