4 innovative tools for driving increased sales

In the world of business, the art of selling is the only art that matters. And yet it’s by far the hardest skill to master.

The challenge in this practice lies in the obvious simplicity; everyone needs customers to succeed. That simplicity is greatly misleading, however, as this is anything but easy.

We see this all across the world of business; there’s a huge predominance of ineffective sales efforts. For example, 44 percent of salespeople fail to follow up with prospects after a single contact.

That’s not how a brand gains a loyal following.

Fortunately, business owners don’t have to rely solely on apathetic sales reps, or even their own infallible minds. Technology is here to help.

In today’s world, entrepreneurs can employ a variety of tactics such as social selling and PPC advertising.

But most brands still need to go beyond these routine practices to generate leads and sales. What is needed is powerful tools and platforms that help businesses get the required cash flow to remain successful.

If you’re in the market for some new sales tools, then keep reading. Here are four innovative tools to generate more sales, today.

1. Meme Video

One of the most prolific ways of generating leads comes in the form of digital marketing campaigns that incorporate a variety of compelling elements like adverts, assorted forms of content, e-mails, and other popular lead and sales drivers.

What can be rather challenging, however, is managing these creatives in a streamlined and effective way that enables a business to understand the impact a campaign is producing.

That’s where Meme Video comes into play.

Meme Video is an innovative self-service solution to managing marketing materials such as video content, display ads, social media shares, and a variety of other video-based elements.

Meme Video’s ad network leverages proprietary software and machine learning technology to deliver powerful video advertising campaigns to relevant audiences by allowing brands to tailor crucial demographic information such as gender, age, economic status, and other personal details.

Additionally, Meme Video gives users the option to customize campaign specifics such as platforms, verticals and various other elements.

Outside of campaign management, Meme Video provides access to a robust set of competitive analysis features that enables brands to uncover rival advertising strategies as a way of topping competitor efforts.

And, of course, no such platform would be complete without a hearty set of analytics features. Meme Video supplies users with live reporting features so that a campaign can be monitored and adjusted in real-time.

The platform’s analytics set also includes benchmark reports, comparison charts, recommendations, customizable dashboards and many other valuable features.

2. Engage

One of the single biggest components to making a sale is having an engaged prospect. Without engagement, you can almost guarantee that they won’t become a customer.

To help engage potential clients and customers, Engage offers a way to interact with website visitors in real-time via an HTML5, browser-based interface.

Through this interface, sales representatives can connect with Web-based visitors from a central location via live text, audio, or video chat.

Through this platform, sales people can track conversations, monitor performance analytics, and manage their online status.

While live chat technology may not exactly be innovative, what makes Engage special is that the platform provides sales reps with the ability to personalize consumer experiences via its re-engagement technology.

This service enables the same agent that a visitor talked to on a previous visit to be tapped again; an important feature for relationship development. No matter if the last conversation took place two hours or two months ago, this element delivers important personalization to the sales process.

Additionally, Engage allows business owners to employ various engagement widgets on the company website. For instance, visitors can select a representative they feel they would be most comfortable speaking with for a list of live team members.

The last helpful feature is this: Engage works across desktops, tablets, and Smartphones, meaning that your brand will never miss a sales opportunity.

3. FollowUp.cc

As mentioned earlier, nearly half of all sales reps only follow up with prospects once. That kind of behavior leaves a lot of money and potential loyalty on the table.

Since this is the reality of many sales departments, your company may want to consider employing a service like FollowUp.cc.

This platform is essential for any business busy chasing leads and forming relationships.

FollowUp.cc connects directly to your Gmail account and provides you with a plethora of prospect information and email-related abilities.

This tools tracks e-mail opens, automatically sends follow up e-mails when you don’t receive a response, enables users to send e-mails at a later time or date, and can create e-mail reminders easily and intuitively.

Each time an e-mail is opened, users are presented with the contact’s info, any reminders attached to them, and any data the tool could pull from online sources such as company information. To set a reminder, simply BCC using a time or date such as Monday@followup.cc or 1week@followup.cc.

Additionally, users can manage all of their reminders via Google calendar, which makes for a seamless and integrated experience.

4. Promo by Slidely

This is one of my favorite tools right now not only because of the incredible boom in video content (which makes video creation a necessity) but because of the simplicity this platform touts.

Promo capitalizes on the fact that 64 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video by making video ad creation the simplest it’s ever been.

The most novice of marketers and video producers can create stunning video ads with Promo’s simplistic yet effective editing features. Plus, there is no need for original creative assets; this service houses around two million high-quality video footage clips, thanks to its partnership with Getty Images. These clips are all easily searchable by various categories and subcategories.

Promo also features tons of licensed music so that advertisers can create the perfect ambiance for their videos.

The type of professional grade adverts that come out of the Promo platform are magnificent at driving sales for a brand.

You are only as effective as the tools you employ. If you know your business well, you can easily identify where the gaps are in performance. Whatever it is you see as necessary for success, there’s a tool for that. You just have to know where to look.

Which of these tools is your favorite? Have you tried any of them before and if so, what was your experience?

4 SEM tactics that produce fast results

Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches daily. That breaks down to 40,000 searches per second or 1.2 trillion queries per year.

What might be more astonishing than these figures is that capturing a fraction of this traffic with various search marketing practices is incredibly challenging; with this many searches taking place every day, you’d think there would be enough to go around.

The key to effectively driving users to your business’ webpage lies in deploying effective SEO and SEM techniques that will help your business outrank competitors on Google and other search engines.

While most are still under the impression that SEM encompasses SEO, over the past several years, the term has evolved, now strictly revolving around boosting visibility in the SERPs via paid advertising techniques.

One of the key differences between SEO and SEM is that the optimization route is a slow-going but powerful process, whereas SEM is more capable of providing quick bursts of business.

If your brand needs some fast-moving SEM strategies, look no further.

Here are four SEM tactics that drive quick results.

1. Adopt AMP

In the era of 4G Internet, no mobile user on Earth wants to sit around and wait for a website to load. In fact, 40 percent of mobile surfers will wait no more than three seconds for a website to load; after that, they are on to another site; probably one of your competitors. Moreover, a two second delay can impact bounce rates by a whopping 103 percent.

This is significant information when you take into account that more than 50 percent of all searches take place on mobile devices.

What makes these revelations even more frightening is that the average U.S. retail website takes almost a full five seconds to load.

When we put this information in the context of paid search advertising, the scene can be pretty disheartening. You’re spending your business’ money, hoping for a return on your investment, but slow load times send users fleeing from your landing page without converting.

This means that solving your load speed problem is vital; and Google has just the solution: Accelerated Mobile Pages.

By leveraging AMP for your ad’s landing pages, brands can provide users with a faster (and therefore better) experience; Wired did this very thing and saw a 25 percent CTR increase.

Additionally, the lower a brand’s bounce rate, the more benefit it adds to its organic placement in the SERPs.

Accelerated Mobile Pages are a powerful means to driving fast results.

2. Leverage Call Extensions

Extensions are powerful AdWords addons that enable brands to include more information in their adverts without taking away space from their limited character counts.

Speaking directly to call extensions (see what I did there?), these expansions make it possible for mobile search users to contact a brand directly through the advert by placing a company’s phone number in the headline or having a call button next to the ad.

This effectively eliminates a step in the conversion process and helps brands to see more immediate results from their ad campaigns.

Additionally, if you are promoting an application, you can accomplish a similar goal by having users download the offering directly from the SERPs.

3. Ensure Proper Relevance and Intent

A great way to aggravate potential customers (not to mention Google) is to send search users to a landing page that seemingly has little to do with your advert’s promises.

This happens quite often which, in turn, sends prospects in search of more suitable info, and lowers your ad’s quality score.

The key to avoiding this type of blunder is to ensure that the keywords your campaign is targeting matches the assurance made in your ad copy.

For instance, if you are targeting users searching for “great deals on Converse shoes,” don’t send them to an article about Converse; send them to a sales page featuring this type of footwear.

If you want to drive fast results, the keywords you bid on need to clearly display intent to purchase, download, or drive whatever goal you are aiming to achieve.

That means that if you are selling Converse shoes, you don’t want to target keywords like “shoes” or “Converse,” but terms like “discount Converse shoes,” “Converse shoes for sale,” and similar phrases.

4. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Here’s the thing: The word “free” is a total eye-catcher.

Previous studies have shown that terms like “free” and “discount” are able to drive higher click-through rates than ads that don’t feature such words. If you want to drive clicks fast, this is the way to do it.

It’s also important to keep in mind that “free” doesn’t need to be expensive. This could be a “buy one get one free offer” on certain items, a free consultation, a free eBook download, or similar offering.

If giving away something for free isn’t your style, you may want to consider highlighting any deals or discounts you are running, instead of merely displaying the price of an item.

When running a Product ad, displaying prices only reminds the customer that they will be spending their money. Discounts, however, show potential buyers that they can get a great deal; if they act quickly.

The prospect of saving money is something that many consumers can’t pass up. This is a great way to drive traffic to your website and receive a quick influx of sales.

Search engine marketing may be difficult, but it surely isn’t impossible. The key to attaining results in an expedient manner is simply understanding user pain points and desires and incorporating those elements into your campaign.

Using these tips, you should be able to target users who are looking to act now, drive them to quick-loading landing pages using compelling offers, or even get them to convert directly from the SERPs.

Results don’t get any faster than that.

Which of these tips are your favorite? Do you think that SEM is better for your business than SEO?

Linkedin trends you need to know and use

You’re on the top social media networks. You’ve got spots eked out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

That’s enough. Right?

No – you’re forgetting something.

You need to be posting and sharing on LinkedIn, too. Here’s why:

  • LinkedIn has more than half a billion users, according to Fortune – and it’s steadily growing.
  • Hundreds of millions of users are active every month.
  • It’s the ultimate social network to grab B2B leads. About 50 percent of B2B buyers use the platform before making final purchasing decisions, according to HootSuite.

To get the most out of this unique platform, though, you have to stay on top of trends. You have to know how to post, what to post, and when to do it.

Easier said than done, right? Don’t worry – we’ve combed through the trends for you and laid it all out.

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6 LinkedIn Trends and How to Use Them in Content Marketing Right Now

Here are some of the top LinkedIn trends (according to data BuzzSumo collected and Content Marketing Institute [CMI] analyzed). We’ll show you how to post to take advantage of them with content marketing.

1. There’s No Posting Over-Saturation (Yet)

So far, there are no signs that the amount of content posted on LinkedIn is more than users can handle or keep up with.

When this does happen, CMI calls it “content shock.” Posts suffer because there’s less interaction due to content overload.

With content shock nowhere in sight, you can take advantage and post more content on the network. You’ll still have a good chance your followers will both see and notice your posts, which can shoot it to the top for engagement.

No content fatigue, to see, here.

2. B2B Link-Sharing Is Going Strong

When it comes to B2B content, LinkedIn is where you should share it.

Recently, users have been sharing these types of posts far more than they have on Twitter or Facebook. In particular, BuzzSumo noted that shares for topics like SEO marketing and leadership were higher on LinkedIn.

Follow suit for good results.

3. Long-Form, Original Content Is Shared More

If you do publish original content on LinkedIn, make it long-form.

Most users don’t publish articles of more than 1,000 words. But, the content that’s shared most often is always at least 1,000 words long, and can be as long as 3,000 words.

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This is a big opportunity for you to stand out with your posts and get the engagement you need. Just make sure to hit the sweet spot of 1,000 – 3,000 words.

4. You Don’t Need Images

When you post content on LinkedIn, don’t feel pressured to litter your articles with images and graphics.

CMI did a review of long-form posts on the platform that were successful. None of them included images besides a post banner at the top.

This frees you up to go with text-heavy posts, but make sure they’re structured and organized well. Use headlines, sub-headers, bullet-points, and lists so they’re readable.

5. Professional, Practical Topics Are Tops

If you want your LinkedIn content to perform well, stick to proven topics for the network.

According to BuzzSumo, the most popular posts have been how-to guides. Other topics that enticed: practical advice about professional issues, experience-driven learning experiences, and personal posts centered on the world of work.

For your content, there are lots of different ways to take advantage of popular topics. You could post about challenges you overcame on the job, key takeaways from an important conference, or your experience climbing the corporate ladder.

These are just a few ideas. Anything under the umbrella of what CMI calls “the five P’s” will work. For reference, they steer you toward these types of posts:

  • Professional – They’re all about the working life.
  • Practical – They’re helpful and useful.
  • Personal – They’re framed as stories, not lists of facts.
  • Portray a path to change – They’re illuminating and show how you can achieve positive change or improve in some way.
  • Point toward peak experiences – They tell readers how you reached a career-oriented pinnacle, no matter the scale of the endeavor.

6. You Don’t Have to Be a LinkedIn Influencer to Win Engagement

LinkedIn regularly designates many of its top users and posters as “LinkedIn Influencers.” These elite people get an official stamp next to their name and lots of exposure on main pages of the site.

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For scope, the people at the very top of this group include names like Bill Gates and Richard Branson.

However, those of us on the lower rungs of influence don’t have to worry. The stuff you post can win plenty of engagement without any fancy status attached to your name.

In fact, according to CMI, influencers only wrote six percent of the 10,000 top posts in the last five years.

This means you have as good a chance as anybody to do well on LinkedIn, which can spell great gains for your content marketing.

Use LinkedIn Trends to Your Advantage for Content Marketing Success

LinkedIn has steadily climbed the ranks to become one of the most powerful social networks for content marketing. The content you post there has the potential to soar, but only if you understand how to do it to best advantage.

Take note of the trends listed here and post accordingly. This social network is ripe for your content marketing efforts and could help you take root in your industry.

8 tips to lower your site load time

Speed is a necessity in today’s online world.

Outside of SEO optimization, speed is a critical component to driving sales. A research report from the Aberdeen Groupuncovered that a mere one-second delay in load times resulted in 11 percent less page views, a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction and seven percent fewer conversions.

Moreover, retail giant Amazon found that every 100 milliseconds  it takes its site to load resulted in a one percent decrease in revenue.

While both stats are fairly old, it’s safe to say that Internet users have not grown more tolerant of slow loading sites. No matter how you cut it, if your site isn’t fast, consumers will find one that is.

Because of the demands that customers put on today’s online businesses, brands must do everything in their power to drop load times and increase conversions.

If you’re afraid that your website load times are costing you cash, check out these eight ways to create a faster website that is more likely to convert.

1. Optimize Your Images

More than half of all Google searches are now conducted on mobile devices. Fifty-three percent of those users will abandon a site that doesn’t load within three seconds.

While images make your site look appealing, they can be hell on load times because these account for the largest portion of a page’s downloadable byte space.

This makes image optimization a downright necessity. The best way to optimize your images is to ensure proper sizing and format is applied. Your goal is to retain the quality of the image while minimizing its size as much as possible.

Webmasters can achieve this by leveraging WordPress plugins like Smush Image Compression and Optimization.

2. Minimize HTTP Requests

Yahoo once reported that nearly 80 percent of a site’s load time is spent downloading the page’s components; images, scripts, CCS files, stylesheets, and other features. Before each can be acquired, however, an HTTP request must be made.

Basically, this means that the more any given webpage has going on, the longer it will take to load.

You can help to boost your site’s speed by cutting down on the number of on-screen elements, and combining various stylesheets, JavaScript libraries, etc.; this will effectively reduce the number of HTTP requests that are made.

3. Commission Compression

Anytime a site employs lots of high-quality content, its file sizes are going to be rather large and will slow download times.

For this reason, compressing webpages through zip is a necessary means for reducing load times.

Optimizing your site via compression is an easy way to save on bandwidth and speed up your website.

4. Please Mind Your Plugins

Plugins are an extremely popular method for adding additional functionality to webpages. While there is no limit on the number of plugins you can leverage, using too many can harm your site’s speed.

Many bloggers leverage Facebook or Twitter plugins to highlight their social feed directly from their website. While this is great for increasing social followings, it’s rather unnecessary as the same thing can be accomplished via coding.

In fact, Facebook’s developer page provides this code for site owners to leverage; a hassle-free way to speed up your site.

5. Keep Coding Agile

While we are on the topic of coding, it is vital to keep your HTML, JavaScript, and CSS code base as light as possible by compacting it into as few files as you can. This goes back to the HTTP request issue.

For example, if your site has three JavaScript files, it is vital to consolidate these into one so that only one HTTP request will be made. This is a legitimately effective way to cut down load times.

6. Leverage Caching

Caching is a fantastic way to speed up your site. This method temporarily stores webpages to reduce bandwidth and boost your site’s performance.

Using this technique, when a returning consumer arrives on your site, they will be served a cached version of the webpage; unless it has been altered or updated since the last cache.

By allowing browser caching, repeat visitors will have a much faster (and more satisfying) experience.

7. Ditch Ads that Don’t Convert

Another element that often slows down websites is too much affiliate code or too many display ads.

Since the click-through rate for banner ads hangs at around 0.01 percent, these likely aren’t serving your site or its visitors. Go through your site’s promotional portals and eliminate any that are failing to garner attention or drive goals.

8. Check Out a CDN

A CDN – or Content Delivery Network – is a network of servers that can deliver your site’s files (CSS, images, and JavaScript) through Web servers that are physically closer to the end-user’s location. The closer the server, the faster the load time.

Business owners can employ various CDN services like CloudflareFastly, or a variety of others for a nice boost in load times.

The goal of your website is likely to drive revenue. To do that, you need a sizable amount of traffic. The slower your site is, the higher the bounce rate, the lower it sinks in the SERPs, and the less traffic you have.

Take your site’s load times seriously because it can be a major deterrent for today’s users. While certain features may seem like an appealing addition, if they slow your site, no one will ever see them.

Leverage the eight tactics outlined above and you are likely to have a lightning fast website capable of driving conversions.

Which of these tips surprised you the most? What other ways do you employ for speedier load times?

4 powerful new Adwords interface features

In a recent roundup of how 2017 has changed PPC, we dipped our toes into the waters of the new AdWords interface. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into this revamped UI.

The new interface – which has been slowly getting released over the past year – is in use by millions of advertisers, yet there are still hoards who have yet to get their hands on it. According to Google, “the new AdWords experience” will be available to everyone by the end of the year.

The new interface, while challenging to adjust to, hosts a slew of new features that are well worth the temporary discomfort.

Let’s go ahead and get familiarized with some of the new components now so that you will have some decent footing come December.

Here are the four best features of the new AdWords interface.

1. The Overview Dashboard

This update is impossible to miss; and it’s fantastic.

Here, users can gain a quick, readable synopsis of your account and campaign’s health metrics. Additionally, the dashboard provides a variety of insights, all displayed in a visually compelling and digestible manner.

The top of the dashboard supply’s users with a sizable graph displaying clicks, impressions, average CPC and cost over a given timeframe; although, metrics can be swapped out for others.

Below this, users will find four additional widgets:

  • Biggest Changes: Displays campaigns that saw the highest degree of change for a chosen time frame and metric.
  • Campaigns: Shows a list of your top performing campaigns, along with vital metrics like cost and clicks.
  • Devices: An appealing breakdown of clicks, cost, and conversion for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
  • Day & Hour: A heatmap showing how ads perform across different days of the week and hours of a day.

If the visual appeal and streamlined nature of the dashboard wasn’t enough, it also dynamically changes to display more relevant information based on the areas of your account that you visit.

2. Promotion Extensions

Extensions are a powerful piece of the AdWords puzzle. These enable advertisers to pack extra information into their adverts that can be quite effective at driving conversions.

While the new promotion extensions are still in beta, users who have access to the new interface can access this element via the “Ads & Extensions” tab.

Promotion extensions provide advertisers with the means to showcase a sale on their website, saving precious character space.

Additionally, this extension adds a tag icon next to the sale information, amplifying its ability to draw attention and traffic.

3. Extension Previews and Filters

While we’re on the topic of extensions, another useful addon from the new interface is the extension preview. This feature gives advertisers the ability to see a rough version of what their ads will look like with different extensions enabled.

In addition to this awesomeness, Google also employed an extension filter that allows AdWords users to curate the extensions they want to see in the drop-down menu. It is also possible to sort them by account, ad group, or campaign as well.

The combination of these two features makes the ad creation process much more effective and streamlined than the past iteration of the AdWords interface.

4. Additional Demographic Options

Part of how Facebook’s ad platform became a serious threat to Google’s revenue stream was due to its powerful targeting options.

It took the search engine longer than most are cool with to wise up, but back in 2016, Google did finally add demographic targeting features for gender and age.

With the new AdWords interface, the big G doubles its demographic targeting options by adding the ability to refine campaigns by household income and parental status; the latter used to only be available to display advertisers.

Parental status is a game-changer for many industries including baby and children’s brands. This also opens avenues for all sorts of companies during the holiday and back to school shopping seasons.

Household income enables advertisers to drive additional sales by serving up relevant adverts based on pricing. In many cases, this can significantly impact the number of conversions a brand is able to attain.

Under Construction

While these changes certainly are welcomed, it’s not all peaches and cream with the new interface.

As it stands, the new AdWords experience isn’t complete yet. Many of the components from the old interface have yet to be integrated with the new version. This means that advertisers might have to temporarily switch back to the old interface to manage price extensions or display remarketing audiences.

Outside of these examples, there is still a sizable list of features that Google needs to integrate into the new UI for the experience to be complete. But suffice to say, they’re working on it, and this new feature set is extremely valuable. Hang in there until the end of the year at most, and these UIs will merge for all.

The new AdWords interface breathes new life into a decrepit platform that severely needed the update. Even in its unfinished state, the new experience shows promise far beyond what the old version could produce.

When the completed version has reached the totality of AdWords users, rest assured that all the new features and streamlined workflows will bring about an AdWords renaissance.

Do you already have access to the new AdWords interface? What feature(s) do you find most promising/exciting?

4 audience traits keyword research reveals

Keyword research is typically done as a means of identifying the verbiage a certain audience is using to track down various products, services, content and other offerings.

Many have considered keyword research to be a dying practice ever since Google’s Hummingbird came to town.

While this algorithm certainly did change how people look at keywords and phrases, many remain unaware of the various ways in which keyword research can be a wise teacher that provides deep insights into your audience.

People who are searching for offerings leverage specific words and phrases based on the outcome they wish to achieve. If business owners begin to shift their focus off the keywords themselves, and onto the motivating factors which spurred such a query, a goldmine of characteristics and desires can be uncovered.

This is the real information that you should be after. And once you have this data at your disposal, your brand can craft content that aims to be the answer the searcher is looking for; one of the most effective ways of driving traffic and conversions.

To help you read between the lines and understand the user data contained within keywords, here are four common audience attributes that keyword research reveals.

1. Who They Are

This one is the most obvious and most important of the bunch.

Depending on the type of person conducting the search, the verbiage they choose to leverage is likely to greatly vary.

For example, a college freshman is probably going to choose much different terminology than parents who might be searching for the same thing.

While your company might create buyer personas to help zero in on the ideal consumer types, keywords and phrases are much more concrete in helping to determine if you will be able to meet the needs of your audience.

For instance, if you come to find that the keyword you target is often connected with the word “infographic,” you then become cognizant that you need to be creating infographics that cater to that topic, otherwise, that traffic will be directed toward a competing site that is able to fulfill the searcher’s need.

While most keywords will remain the same across audience and demographics, what will frequently vary is the keyword qualifiers, or words that help to define the user’s intent; this is what helps to determine who your audience is.

2. How They Speak

You might have your industry’s lingo down pat, but that doesn’t mean you know the kind of lingo that your audience is slinging.

It’s very likely that your audience doesn’t have the same grasp of your sector’s language that those on the inside do. This means that there is a decent chance they are using variations on familiar terms or wholly different ones.

Keyword research helps to uncover these subtleties and gradations in verbiage that surround problems consumers have and solutions your business provides.

Searchers are only capable of leveraging the terminology that has made its way into their awareness. This means that by uncovering the words and phrases often used, you can create content that meets consumers on their level and makes your offerings that much more visible.

3. What They Are Interested In

Keyword research helps you to discover the interests of your audience and where these attractions collide with your brand’s offerings. Understanding this intersection can give rise to an abundance of content ideas that are geared toward driving high-quality, targeted traffic that is likely to convert in some way.

Be aware that you are doing more than just crafting and optimizing certain posts around specific phrases; you are digging through all your keyword data to establish any existing parallels or correlations that will help you to draft the most comprehensive and solution-oriented content on the Web.

This is the key to driving traffic: Giving the audience what they want in language that resonates and mirrors their current vernacular.

4. How to Meet Their Needs

As a business, you sell some sort of product or service. The problem, however, is that your offerings may be missing the mark on what consumers want or need.

For example, if you make an app that helps people connect with psychologists in their area, there is a great chance that users are hoping or expecting to find certain features present. If that function isn’t there, users are likely to seek out a similar application that does tout the features they are looking for.

Keyword research can help you identify and fill this need by including the desired components before losing out to rival brands. Moreover, the name of your product could change to assimilate with the terms that audiences are using for your offering; it’s a heck of a lot easier to change the name of your product than to retrain an entire audience to search differently.

Establishing exactly what your audience wants and needs is a prerequisite to gaining their patronage and loyalty. At the end of the day, these folks are out there looking for a solution. It’s up to you whether you are doing the homework necessary for your brand to become that solution; no matter if it’s physical products or digital content.

The knowledge gained from keyword research goes much deeper than what words to target. It provides a bevy of data on the people you are trying to understand more about. If you begin to view keyword research through this paradigm, your business will be more well equipped to deliver the types of content, products and services that reach the top of the SERPs.

Which one of these audience insights surprised you the most? What is your favorite keyword research tool?

Meta Tags in 2018: Why they are important in SEO

If you are interested in knowing more about SEO, there is no better way to start than with Meta tags. According to Wordstream: Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code.

In short, Meta tags are key components for all search engines that appear in the HTML code of a website page and tell search engines what your page is about.

Meta tags are added in the <head> section of an HTML web page and they are the “Legally” Hide Words on Your Pages for Search Engines.

Every platform has a different solution for adding Meta tags. WordPress, for example, has FREE plugins  to choose from. I personally recommend All in One SEO Packand Yoast SEO. Both are popular and the most used WordPress plugins of all time and you can choose either according to your needs.

Do Meta Tags matter for SEO in 2018?

Yes, they do, but not all  Meta tags can help you in 2018. In my experience, if you want to rank high in Google in 2018, then you also need to focus on high-quality content and user satisfaction. The main goal of this post is to explain which Meta tags are useful and which are unimportant. (See below: There are a few tags which we can call bad Meta tags and should simply be ignored).

“Meta Tags can affect the way that users see your site in the search results and whether or not they actually click through to your site.” John Mueller 2017

How to check meta tags on a site?

If you want to check the Meta tags for any page, just right-click anywhere on the page and select “View Page Source.” You can also use tools like SEMRush (specifically the SEMRush Audit Tool), and Screaming Frog to check the Meta tags on any site.

The Most Important Meta Tags For SEO in 2018

For any startup business or running website, I personally focus on the 8 major Meta tags which can improve the optimization of your site.

 I am sharing my opinions about them all below:

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description
  3. Canonical Tag
  4. Alternative text (Alt) Tag
  5. Robots meta tag
  6. Social Media Meta Tags (Open Graph and Twitter Cards)
  7. Header tags  
  8. Responsive Design Meta Tag

Title tag

A title tag is the very first HTML element that specifies your web page for search engines and to visitors. The Title element is supported all browsers including Chrome, Firefox Safari etc. 

Add your title tag in the <head> section of your site.

<head>

<title>This is a Title Sample</title>

</head>

Optimal length for the Title tag: Google typically shows 55-64 characters (Keep it under 60 characters) in the Title tag.

Title tags are important for SEO and visitors and it shows up in the SERPs and in Browser Tabs.

Browser Tab Title Tag shown below for SEMrush post:

E.g. SERP Title Tag shown below:

According to MOZ: Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content

You cannot add more than one <title> element in your web page. w3schools

Key Points for writing a good title tag: 

  • Add “modifiers” to your title tag –
    How to |The current year | Review |Best | Tips | Top |Find | Buy | Easy
  • Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags
  • Add numbers to your title –
    9 Important HTML tags for your website to improve your SEO
  • Start your title tag with your main targeted keyword
  • Don’t stuff your keywords
  • Every page should have a unique title tag.

Meta description 

A Meta Description is an HTML element that summarizes your webpage. Search engines typically show the Meta description in search results below your Title tag. 

Code sample

<head>

  <meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description Sample. You can add up to 300 characters.”>

</head>

Google does not use the Meta description as a ranking signal but it still it has a massive effect on your page CTR, or clickthrough rate because it shows up in search results.

Optimal length for the Description tag: in December 2017, Google officially increases length of snippets in search results. Your Meta descriptions should be between 50–300 characters.

Google generated Description in Search Result

Key Points to writing a good Description tag:

  • Don’t overly focus on the number of characters because Google might pull description text from your content based on a user’s query.
  • Do not add duplicate Meta Descriptions
  • Add a clear Call-to-action (CTA) in your descriptions like Apply today, Check out, Contact us today etc. Check out  100 Call to Action Keywords for Marketing Campaigns.
  • Add targeted keywords in your descriptions
  • Strategically provide a solution to a problem 
  • Write for your users and encourage them to click with specific and relevant content 
  • Add any discounts or offers you have going on
  • Show empathy while writing your Meta Descriptions

 

Canonical Tag

The Canonical tag is an HTML link tag with the attribute “rel=canonical” and is used if you have a single page URL that has the same content as other multiple page URLS.

By implementing the Canonical tag in the code, we are telling search engines that this URL is the main page and to avoid indexing other duplicate page URLS.

A canonical tag Syntax:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/" />

Where should the canonical tag be used?

Multiple URLs: 

http://www.example.com 

https://www.example.com 

http://example.com 

http://example.com/index.php


To a search engine crawler the above URLs are considered to be 4 copies of the Home page. The canonical tag was created to fix this problem.

Session ID URLs

These are the automatic system generated URLS and commonly generated due to the tracking URLs, breadcrumb links and permalinks in CMS

http://example.com/properties/villa-331-luxury-rental?partnerID=18 

http://example.com/target.php?session_id=rj3ids98dhpa0mcf3jc89mq1t0 

Mobile URL – when using a special URL (m. example.com) for the mobile version of your website. 

SEMrush itself has 2 versions – one is a mobile version and the other a desktop version.
For the mobile and desktop versions SEMrush  is using the following canonical tag
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.semrush.com/” />

Alternative text (Alt) Tag  

Alt text is important for any images because search engines cannot read images, and you need to add proper Alt text to the images so that search engines can consider your images.

Syntax for Alt Text:

<img src=” http://example.com/xyz.jpg” alt=”xyz” />

In addition, the key points to consider while creating alt-tags for images:

  • Always use a proper description; never stuff your keywords in this tag.
  • All images should have informative filenames.
  • Alt text needs to be short, clear and to the point.
  • Always use the Original, Right type of image, as this is an essential step towards success.
  • Create an image sitemap
  • Use 50-55 characters (upto 16 words) in the alt text
  • Use an Optimal File Size without losing its quality for faster page loading speed

“Adding an alt tag is very easy to do and you should pretty much do it on all of your images. It helps your accessibility and it can help us understand what’s going on in your image.” Source

Robots Meta tag

The Robots Meta tag is an HTML tag that provides instructions to web crawlers either to index or not index web pages.

Meta robots tags have four main values for search engine crawlers:

FOLLOW –The search engine crawler will follow all the links in that webpage

INDEX –The search engine crawler will index the whole webpage

NOFOLLOW – The search engine crawler will NOT follow the page or any links on that webpage

NOINDEX – The search engine crawler will NOT index that webpage

Syntax

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”>  Means not to index or not to follow this webpage.

<meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow”> Means index and follow this webpage.


Note: The robots Meta tag should be placed in the <head> section of your webpage.

Social Media Meta Tags (Open Graph and Twitter Cards)

Open Graph Tags:
Open Graph Meta tags are designed to promote integration between Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and your website URLS that you shared on these platforms. 

Here is a sample of how Open Graph tags look like in standard HTML:

<meta property="og:type" content="article" /> 

<meta property=”og:title” content=”TITLE OF YOUR POST OR PAGE” />

<meta property=”og:description” content=”DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT” />

<meta property=”og:image” content=”LINK TO THE IMAGE FILE” />

<meta property=”og:url” content=”PERMALINK” />

<meta property="og:site_name" content="SITE NAME" />

Twitter Cards: 

Twitter cards work in a similar way to Open Graph except you add these special Meta tags only for Twitter. Twitter will use these tags to enhance the display of your page when shared on their platform. 

Here is a sample of How Twitter card look like in standard HTML:

<meta name="twitter:title" content="TITLE OF POST OR PAGE">

<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT”>

<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”LINK TO IMAGE”>

<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@USERNAME”>

<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@USERNAME">


Both these Social Media Meta Tags look like:

Head over to this post if you want to know everything about these tags

Header tags


Header tags are used for headings creation i.e. by using these we can apply font changes.

The heading elements are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 with H1 being the highest (or most important) level and H6 the least.

Here is an example of how we can use header tags taken from https://www.semrush.com/blog/9-tips-for-boosting-the-speed-of-your-shopify-website/ 

<h1> 9 Tips for Boosting the Speed of your Shopify Website </h1>

<p>Paragraph of content</p>

<p>another paragraph of content</p>

<h2>Performance Analysis</h2> 

<p>Paragraph of content</p>

<h3>Analyzes the Mobile and Desktop Performance with PageSpeed Insights</h3> 

Important Point to consider: Use as Many H1 Tags as You Want source

Responsive Design Meta Tag

The final important Meta tag is the responsive design Meta tag, which we call “Viewport Meta Element”. By using the viewport meta tag you can turn your web pages into responsive web pages on mobile browsers.

This viewport element is included in the head section of your web page.

Syntax

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,initial-scale=1">

If you want to learn more about responsive design Meta tags, head over to this nicely written post here

Note: Do not use this responsive Meta tag if your website pages are not designed to be responsive, as it will make the user experience worse.

There are few tags that we can call bad Meta tags and should simply be ignored:

  • Keywords tag- Google does not use the keywords Meta tag in web ranking Source
  • Revisit after – This HTML tag is a command to the robots to return to a page after a specific period. This tag is not followed by any major search engine and has no value in SEO. It isbetter to avoid this tag and leave it to the search engines to decide how to crawl your website. Syntax: <meta name=”revisit-after” content=”7 days” />
  • Expiration/date – This tag defines the expiration date of your page. Personally I would not recommend this. Just remove it.  Syntax: <meta http-equiv=”Expires” content=”Fri, 28 April 2018 23:59:59 GMT”>
  • Site verification- Just Ignore this. You can verify your site using Google search console and the Bing webmaster tool.
  • Copyright- Every site puts the copyright in their web page footer so why would you need a separate tag. A big No for this tag.
  • Distribution – The “distribution” value is supposedly used to control who can access the document, typically set to “global.” It’s inherently implied that if the page is open (not password-protected, like on an intranet) that it’s meant for the world. Go with it, and leave the tag off the page. Source
  • Generator – useless tag.
  • Cache control –This Tag allows web publishers to define how often a page is cached. Generally, these are not required; we can simply use the HTTP header instead of this HTML tag.
  • The ODP Robots Meta Tag – Google no longer follows this Meta tag. 


Google Stops Support for NOODP Robots Directive & Taking DMOZ Description –Source

  • Geo Meta Tags- Google does not use Geo Meta Tags to Rank Pages.


We don’t use geo meta tags at all for search, probably never have. Use hreflang + normal geotargeting – Source

So, these are the few HTML tags which we should consider or simply ignore. Now you can easily use the relevant HTML Meta tags intelligently. Don’t forget to comment below and share your views on HTML Tags. Thanks for reading.

How to choose keywords that really matter

Unlike PPC ads, organic traffic is the gift that keeps on giving. When you diminish your PPC budget, your traffic goes away. When it comes to SEO and content marketing, though, things are much better.

Sure, a website that’s updated infrequently won’t get you too far. But once you’ve gained a solid domain authority and created an editorial calendar that you stick to, the traffic is yours to have and to hold.

Evergreen content has, of course, the biggest ROI in terms of traffic, says this study. It turn out that only one-third of all the views a good blog post will get are generated in the first day (the publish date). The rest of them will come gradually, even over the course of more than one year.

So yes, we can get traffic with content marketing and SEO. But the most important question is not “how much traffic can we get?” It’s “what does this traffic bring us?”

If you’ve read my previous posts here, on Site Pro News, you already know that I advocate against vanity metrics. Who cares about having millions of page views if none of those visitors converts into a client?

For my agency, as well as for every client we work with on copywriting or strategy, we ignore such metrics and focus on what matters: revenue.

And, in SEO, there is no revenue without proper keyword research.

Let me explain:

One of the examples I’m most fond of is that of a client who contacted me after reading one of my articles here. The client needed SEO copywriting for a local business in a small town and wanted to optimize both content and blog posts for generic keywords (like ‘wedding dresses,’ for instance).

We quickly realized the client had little chance of competing with the big names in the industry (which is, obviously, not related to wedding dresses). So we proposed a locally-oriented strategy instead. We were to optimize for keywords like “ivory wedding dress Tampa,” “wedding dress boutique Tampa,” “custom-made wedding dresses Tampa” and so on.

The results appeared in a few short months. And by results I mean revenue, not just traffic.

Here are a few key lessons we can learn from this example:

User intent should be at the core of your keyword research

Before writing even a single word, you need to know to whom your copy should appeal. What type of customers are your targeting and in which phase of their buying cycle do you want to target them?

For instance, optimizing your content for ‘wedding dresses’ targets clients who still don’t know what they want. They might not even have a date set. But who doesn’t like looking at pretty dresses?

This strategy is excellent if you’re a big company in your field and you want to boost your brand awareness. If you already have enough sales and don’t need customers right now, then by all means, optimize for generic keywords.

On the other hand, a query like “ivory wedding dress Tampa” shows that the customers know what they want. They are very close to making a purchase; they are past the window shopping phase.

This type of keyword strategy is ideal if you want clients faster. You appeal to people that you no longer have to educate – they are savvy shoppers. All you have to do is convince them to choose you over your competitors.

Of course, highly targeted keywords won’t bring you as much traffic as generic ones. But they will bring you the right type of traffic.

This is why I always advise our clients to forget about search volume when choosing keywords. Our SEO writers are trained to look for business opportunities whenever they do keyword research for our clients. Fifty queries per month that you can easily direct to your website and convert into customers or (at least) leads are better than 1,000 queries that have no tangible ROI.

Know your competitors

Before you start writing copy for a certain keyword, you should consider more than the Yoast green light. Yes, your WordPress plugin may say your on-page SEO is done correctly, but this doesn’t really matter if you’re up against Internet giants.

At my agency, we rely heavily on tools like BuzzSumo and Moz Explorer to find out what it takes to rank for certain keywords. Your research can start on BuzzSumo to find out which pages rank highest for the keywords you have in mind. Repeat the search in Moz Explorer to double-check your findings. Moz Explorer will also tell you how hard it is to rank for any given keyword.

However, please note that the ranking difficulty is a generic metric. It’s not specific to your website.

This is where another Moz tool comes into place – the Open Site Explorer. Type your website address to check your domain and page authority. Then do the same for the websites you want to outrank.

Do they have higher authority than you?

Then you will have to work harder to outrank them. This means more content, long form blog posts, impeccable technical SEO and a lot of content promotion.

The best part about this is, once again, that it is an investment that will keep on giving. The more long form, well-optimized content you add, the better your page and domain authority will get in time. And, consequently, you will rank higher in SERPs.

Make revenue-oriented calculations

Login to your Google Search Console, navigate to ‘Search Analytics’ (you’ll find it under ‘Search Traffic’) and select the 90 days time frame. Filter your branded results. If your company name is ‘Executive Puppies,’ filter all those that contain it.

Next, export your search terms. You will have a complete overview of the terms you rank for, your CTR and your ranking for each of them.

And now, for the hard part: take a look at those who could rank better. How much effort would it be involved in adding more content to certain articles or pages to help them rank higher?

Most importantly, what ROI will this effort have? Sure, you’ll get more clicks, but will you actually get sales if you rank higher for certain terms?

Make sure to not spread yourself too thin and only invest in those terms that are congruent with the user intent you need, the one that supports your business goals i.e. boost brand awareness or generate sales or leads.

Conclusions

No one doubts that content marketing and SEO yield results. But we should always avoid falling for vanity metrics. Organic traffic is great, but it should be your end goal only if your blog runs AdSense (and you get paid for views, not clicks).

Otherwise, keep in mind that your SEO and content marketing strategies should always be designed to support your business goals. Always go back to your buyer persona template and ask yourself how can you match the type of query they would enter in the search bar.

The future of search

SEO is one of the most fast-paced industries out there; constantly kept on our toes, it’s one of the reasons we love it so much. But thinking about what the future holds for the industry can be both exciting and a little frightening. Will artificial intelligence (AI) ultimately make search better or worse? Is the future SERPless? And what are the ramifications for SEOs? Plenty of questions and speculation abound.

In this article, we take a look at just a few of the key themes that come up when considering the future of search.

Artificial intelligence

Right now, AI seems to be all people can talk about, and it’s not going anywhere. In fact, it’s anticipated that AI will have a significant impact on all things marketing.

RankBrain

We have already been experiencing the effects of AI in search for some time, since Google released its RankBrain algorithm. In short, the aim of RankBrain is to help search engines acknowledge the context of the query, better understanding what the user actually wants and not just processing each individual word of the query. This is particularly important given the rise of voice search, which uses more natural language.

Data dreaming

AI is inherently linked with big data; it’s the data that enables AI to function and for machine learning to transform the way we search. Humans are only capable of processing a limited amount of data, which is where AI comes in –to do things that humans can’t, or are inherently bad at doing. This is where AI in search is heading, gradually replacing and improving on tasks that humans cannot complete (or at least complete to a high quality). We are looking to use the significant processing power of binary to our advantage.

We’ve already seen bots attempting to write content, and it was good enough to make it past the first round of screening for a national literary prize in Japan. While it’s not as good as something an experienced copywriter or journalist could manage, it’s just the beginning. In a few more years, bot-written content will probably be a very viable option for businesses looking to create content as part of an SEO campaign.

Bridging the human gap

AI will make the SEO process smoother, quicker and more automated, leaving humans to add the creative icing on the cake. We can try to give bots as much sentiment and emotional intelligence as possible but at the end of the day, they’re simply not human.

We’ve already seen some of the issues with the new algorithms. Take, for example, the proliferation of fake news across the web in recent times –  as smart as these algorithms are, bots still can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. That takes careful human judgement. As long as this is still the case, humans will remain an essential part of any marketing or SEO campaign.

What AI means for SEO

Whether we like it or not, AI will change the face of SEO over the next few years. There will always be concerns around campaigns led by AI and not humans – – from fears around spun content to an over-reliance on automated campaigns. But in a way, automation will only serve to make the campaigns more human.

AI is capable of crunching huge amounts of data and is constantly getting better at learning and understanding user intent. Combine this deep understanding of search users with big data and you’ve got a sure-fire way of creating a campaign that is hyper-targeted to the right audience, knowing exactly what they want and what they are looking for. In other words, a campaign that will really work.

What does this mean for search marketers?

The increasing use and sophistication of AI means we are going to see priorities change over the next few years, in terms of which tasks we dedicate the most time to. With the data-led tasks more likely to be automated, it will allow us to focus on the more creative aspects, as well as mediating the bot versus human conundrum.

We need to be prepared for the content creation process to change and for the prospect that not all blog content will be human-produced in future. This may be a cause for concern for some, but people will always want to read content written by humans so we don’t see this being an all-encompassing step. At the very least we will likely see content researchers replaced by our software counterparts.

Voice search

According to comScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Voice search is gaining in popularity at a rapid rate and its effect on search will be noticeable. According to Gartner, approximately 30% of all searches will be done without a screen at all by 2020 – in just 18 months’ time. Just imagine how this could change in 5–10 years. We could be looking at a SERPless future.

Thousand of business opportunities and marketing resourse and tips.