A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Advertising

Last year, internet advertising surpassed newspaper advertising spending for the first time. Advertisers spent $5.1 billion on social media advertising in 2013 and this figure is expected to exceed $14 billion by 2018. In the third quarter of 2014, Facebook brought in $2.96 billion in advertising revenue, 66 percent of which came from mobile ads. Twitter generated 85% of its total revenue from mobile advertising in the same quarter, representing about $320 million.

Still not convinced of the value of social ads?

On Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1x higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads. Meanwhile, Promoted Tweets have shown average engagement rates of 1-3 percent—much higher than traditional banner ads. It’s no wonder that by June of this year, nearly 80% of US marketers were using promoted Tweets.

Social media advertising isn’t just a buzzword anymore. It’s a real, tangible driver of leads and sales, and marketing departments are increasing their social ad spend across the board in response. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are filled with hundreds of millions of consumers. Why wouldn’t you take advantage?

To help you make use of these valuable new advertising tools, here is our beginner’s guide to social media advertising.

General Tips for Social Media Advertising

Earlier this year, Hootsuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes put together six ways to use social media ads to grow your business. Here are his tips for social media advertising:

1. Use free social media to beta-test your paid social ads

You’re likely already sending out multiple Tweets, Facebook Posts and LinkedIn Updates every day. Some of these messages will resonate with followers; others won’t. Track which ones are being clicked, shared and commented on. These high-performing messages make the best candidates for native social ads.

2. Take advantage of targeting features

One of the major issues with traditional ads is inefficiency. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media advertising platforms offer very effective targetting capabilities to address that problem. From targeting social media managers on LinkedIn to Game of Thrones fans on Facebook, take advantage of this very useful targeting for more efficiency in advertising.

3. Rotate ads frequently

One of the biggest issues advertisers deal with on Facebook is ad fatigue. This means, when people start to see your ad too many times, they get bored of it and stop clicking. Unfortunately, when your click through rate starts to drop Facebook penalizes you, driving up your cost per click (CPC), and making likes, comments, and click throughs more expensive. This affects both acquisition and engagement campaigns. A best practice that we use at HootSuite in order to combat this, is to rotate our ads every 3 to 5 days to keep our content fresh and engaging.

4. Use small samples to A/B test your social ads

One of the great virtues of social ads is instant feedback. You can gauge the effectiveness of a sponsored post in minutes, and follow up with advanced analytics reports. With all this available data, you should be sending out several “test” ads to small audiences, tracking the results, and then pushing winning ads to larger groups. It’s cheaper and more effective.

5. Understand how ads are sold

Different networks sell ads in different ways. On Twitter, companies pay on an engagement basis. Facebook and LinkedIn offer the option of paying per impression. It’s critical to design Tweets and Posts accordingly. For example, since we pay Twitter each time users click on our ads, it’s important that people be genuinely interested in the content on the other side. The goal here is to drive genuine prospects to our site, not merely to attract views.

6. Design your ads with smartphones in mind.

Social media is consumed overwhelmingly on mobile devices. Twitter users spend 86 percent of their time on the service on mobile. Facebook users aren’t far behind at 68 percent. This means most social media ads are being viewed on mobile devices, as well. As a result, messages have to be optimized for viewing on small mobile screens. While this may seem like a pain, Twitter recently unveiled a feature enabling paid Tweets to be targeted by zip code, so it’s also a huge advantage.

These six tips can be explored in more detail in the original post.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Ad Example

Ad types

Facebook has one of the more complex social advertising platforms, with a whole array of targeting options. (That’s why we decided to build Hootsuite Ads.) There are numerous categories that every ad can fall under. The main categories are based on objective. They are:

Page Post Engagement

Promote well-performing posts

Page Likes

Get Likes for your page and grow your audience

Clicks to website

Get people to visit your website. 

Website conversions

Promote specific conversions for your website.

Video Views

Create ads that increase views on a video 

App Installs

Get people to install your mobile or desktop app 

App Engagement

Get people to use your desktop app

Offer Claims

Create offers for people to claim in your store

Event Responses

Increase event attendance

Several of these ad types might fall under the category of boosted posts, or content that you’ve posted organically that you then choose to promote. We’ve written about Facebook’s boosted posts in more detail here.

One you choose the ad type, you also need to decide on placement. Your options are in the Facebook News Feed, the Facebook mobile News Feed or the Facebook right hand column. 

Audience and targeting

Like Twitter, on Facebook you can target audiences based on location, language, age and other common demographics. For many people, Facebook is far more valuable when it comes to targeting people by interest. Facebook let’s you choose from a remarkably large list of interests so you can target, for example, who love Aviation or people who love snack foods (or both, if you’re selling plane-shaped chips). Additionally, Facebook let’s you target people based on behaviours, like their purchasing behaviours and charitable donations. This offers real opportunity to find the audience that matches your ideal prospects.

Pricing

It’s extremely difficult to pin down an average cost for Facebook ads, since it will vary drastically between businesses and ad types. Some sources report Facebook ads averaging around 25 cents for every 1,000 impressions while others point to it being over six or seven dollars. Again, the key is to test your ads in various formats to find out which is most cost effective for you.

With Facebook you have the choice of using a cost per click (CPC) bid, or a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) bid. The former is a great choice to start off with but if your ad is performing very well, the CPM model may be cheaper since those impressions will come easier. Either way you will only pay for the impressions you receive.

How to buy

The buying process for Facebook ads might seem long at 6 steps, but it’s quite fluid, as almost all of your actions take place on one screen. 

Step 1: Choose your campaign objective

Pick from among the ad types described above. Once you do, you’ll be prompted to choose which Facebook page you’ll be promoting and to name your campaign. 

Social media advertising - Facebook ad objective

Social media advertising - Facebook ad type

Step 2: Create your ad account

If you haven’t already, you’ll be forced to enter your information to create an ad account, including currency and time zone.

 Social media advertising - Facebook ad account

Step 3: Target your ad

Facebook calls this choosing your ad set. Essentially you need to choose from all the targeting options and segment the audience of your ads. Facebook informs you if your choices make the ad’s potential reach very broad or very specific. 

Social media advertising - Facebook ad targeting

Step 4: Set your budget

How much do you want to spend per day and on what schedule?

Social media advertising - Facebook ad budget

Step 5: Build your ad

Add the images and text you want to use in your ad, and then choose the placement (news feed, mobile news feed or right column).

Social media advertising - Facebook ad build

Step 6: Review and place your order

Review your ad campaign and then place your order. Facebook reviews all ads that get submitted before approving them and sending them out into the world. 

How to advertise on Facebook via Hootsuite

If all that sounds like a bit much, Hootsuite Ads offers a simple way to boost your Facebook posts in just two clicks. Similar to Facebook boost posts, using Hootsuite Ads allows you to increase the reach of top performing posts.

To advertise on Facebook via Hootsuite, first you need a Hootsuite account; if you don’t already have one sign up here: Sign up for Hootsuite. After you’ve created your account and set it up, look for the Ads section in your dashboard.

Step 1: Choose a goal for your post

Hootsuite Ads allows you to advertise on Facebook

Set up business goals to reach 1 of 4 key business objectives:

  • Reach
  • Followers
  • Engagement
  • Traffic

Step 2: Choose one of the suggested posts to promote

Hootsuite Ads allows you to advertise on Facebook

Hootsuite Ads scans all your organic Page Posts to find the best Post to promote. By analyzing what’s already connecting with your audience, Ads will recommend the content that gives you the best bang for your buck. Click “promote” and Hootsuite Ads will suggest who to target, when the ad should run, and how much you should spend.

Twitter Advertising

Twitter ad example

Ad types

There are three different kinds of Twitter Ads: Promoted AccountsPromoted Trends, and Promoted Tweets.

  • Promoted Tweets are messages that will appear directly in the timelines of the Twitter users you targeted and at a specific time you have bid on.
  • A Promoted Account is an ad that invites targeted Twitter users to follow your brand – attracting more of the right followers to your brand faster.
  • Trending topics on Twitter are the most talked about subjects on the social network, appearing on the left side of the page. Promoted Trends allow you to put your story at the top of that list for 24-hours.

Your Twitter ad campaigns will also be categorized by objective. Twitter ads can have Tweet engagement, website clicks or conversions, app installs or app engagement, video views, follower growth, and Twitter lead collection as possible objectives. Your choice will depend on what you hope to achieve with your ads, your audience and your budget, since some of these objectives will drain your budget faster than others (engagement is far easier to achieve than app installs).

Audience and targeting

Twitter is one of the social ad platforms that allows you to target your ads to specific groups of people. Like most platforms, Twitter allows you to target based on location, gender, languages, interests and device. You can also upload specific lists of people (your email list for example) to target with ads.

But Twitter targeting is especially valuable if you’re looking to target people based on their networks. Basically, if you have a coffee shop in Vancouver, the strength of Twitter ads is that you can target audiences already following rival coffee shops in the city. You can also target people who are similar to your follower base, which is a great way to find your target audience.

Pricing

The cost of Twitter ads depends really on the ad type. Promoted Tweets and accounts might cost you anywhere from 50 cents to 10 dollars or more per engagement (video view, link click, follow, etc.) based on how targeted your ad is. Promoted Trends on the other hand have been reported to cost $200,000 a day.

The key here is testing your ads. Run a few short campaigns with a small budget to find out which objective is right for your audience and your budget. Twitter only charges you when a user completes the action set out in your campaign objective anyways, so all of these campaigns will provide some value. Good advice for advertisers is to look at what other advertisers are bidding for similar ads, which is information Twitter provides anyways.

How to buy

Once you sign into the Twitter ads platform (and insert your payment information), actually buying Twitter ads is a simple six-step process.

Step 1: Start a new ad campaign

You will have to name your campaign, choose your funding source and customize your start and end dates before anything else.

Social media advertising - Twitter build ad campaign

Step 2: Choose ad objective

The next step towards building you ad is choosing a campaign objective. Simply select an option from Twitter’s list.

Social media advertising - Twitter ad types

Step 3: Target your ad

Choose from among Twitter’s targeting options. They provide an estimated audience size to help guide you.

Social media advertising - Twitter targeting

Step 4: Build your ad

Build your ad by adding copy, and any images and video.

Social media advertising - Twitter build your ad

Step 5: Set your budget

You can set daily maximum as well as total campaign budgets. Twitter stops showing your ads once your budget has been reached, so that you don’t have to manually end campaigns to avoid being charged.

Social media advertising - Twitter ad budgeting

Step 6: Place your bid and start advertising

Purchasing Twitter ads works on a bidding system. You set your bid for how much you’re willing to spend for a specific  user action (website visit, retweet, etc.). Others will be placing competitive bids, but the most you’ll pay is one cent more than the next highest bid. Once you win your bid, your ads will immediately go into play. They’ll continue until your budget runs out.

LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn Ads

Ad types 

There are three main types of LinkedIn Ads.

Premium Display Ads

Allow you to share content with a targeted audience through display ads 

Email Marketing via Sponsored InMail

Deliver sponsored content directly to LinkedIn user inboxes

Direct Sponsored Updates

Your updates will appear in the LinkedIn timelines of your target audience

Audience and targeting

LinkedIn targeting, not unlike the social network itself, is very good for employee and company specific targeting. You can specify who you want to see the ad based on the industry they work in, their position and seniority (maybe you’re sharing a white paper for managers?), where they work, how big their employer is (think of a post targeting enterprises, not SMBs), and beyond. As a result, LinkedIn is extremely effective for B2B marketing and job-related advertising.

If the audience you choose is too big or too small it might not perform well, so test audience targeting with several ads to hone in on the right one for you. 

Pricing

Like Facebook, LinkedIn lets you choose whether to pay based on the cost-per-click (CPC) model, or pay by every 1,000 impressions (CPM). LinkedIn has set a minimum budget of $10/day for users of their ad platform however. There are also minimum bids for CPC text ads ($2.00/click) and CPM text ads ($2.00/1,000 impressions). Sponsored Update minimum bids will vary based on the audience you choose.

With these minimum bids, it’s important that you seriously consider your objective when building out LinkedIn ads. These ads should be very business-focused, as Facebook and Twitter provide much cheaper alternatives for content marketing. Test a few LinkedIn ads and see whether the price is worth it for your business.

How to buy

Step 1: Create a new campaign

There’s a Business Services tab on the top right of your LinkedIn homepage. Hover over it and choose advertise. If you’re a new advertiser, click Get started. If you’ve advertised before, click Manage and you’ll be taken to your Campaign Manager. Once there click Create new campaign in the upper right.

Step 2: Choose your ad type 

Name your campaign hoose from among company updates (picked from existing posts and will appear on your page) and direct sponsored content (which will appear in people’s home feeds). It will provide an ad preview for you. 

Social media advertising - LinkedIn ad type

Step 3: Build your ad (if it’s direct sponsored content) 

Social media advertising - LinkedIn Ad Build

Step 4: Choose your target audience 

Choose your target audience by industry, company size, job title, tc. 

Social media advertising - LinkedIn ad targeting

Step 5: Budgeting

Set your daily budget and your bid, which will be a choice between paying for clicks or impressions. Then save your changes. 

Social media advertising - LinkedIn ad budget

Step 6: Launch your campaign 

If you’ve never built an ad before, finish by entering your payment information. Then review your ‘order’ and launch your campaign.

StumbleUpon Advertising

StumbleUpon Ad Example

Ad types

An unsung hero of social media advertising, StumbleUpon is a very simple and website and social ad platform. There are no ad types per say, because whatever webpage you submit is in and of itself the ad. The page will appear the same, but with a ‘sponsored’ border. Purchasing the ad guarantees a certain amount of pageviews from StumbleUpon users.

All StumbleUpon ads inherently have pageviews as a goal, but the main objective of the ad is entirely dependent on the page you provide. If the call to action on your page is for an app download, then app downloads might be the objective of your ad. But all you’re paying for is pageviews, with no guaranteed of any lead generation or follow-through from your viewers.

Audience and targeting 

StumbleUpon doesn’t have the most advanced targeting because it doesn’t gather that much information from its users. You can target based on age, gender, location, device and interests. In this case, your best bet is almost surely to target based on interest since most StumbleUpon users designated the content topics that they want to be exposed to.

Pricing

When using StumbleUpon ads you’re charged for every visit to your webpage. When creating you ad, the builder will recommend a price of between 10 and 50 cents per visitor. The price recommended will depend on how targeted your audience is. You can actually adjust the recommended price, but if you do your ad will receive less priority in their system, which could ultimately impact its success.

How to buy

Step 1: Create an advertising account

All they need is your email address and a password. 

Step 2: Add your URL

Again, you don’t actually create an ad for StumbleUpon, which can be a big time saver for businesses. All you do is input the URL of a webpage you’re hoping to drive traffic to 

Social media advertising - StumbleUpon Create Campaign

Step 3: Set your target audience and budget

Choose your target audience or let StumbleUpon optimize the audience for you.

Social media advertising - StumbleUpon Targeting

Step 4: Set your daily budget 

Then set your daily budget and choose your serving priority (what priority do you want your ad to appear as people Stumble).

Social media advertising - StumbleUpon Budget

Step 5: Submit your ad

StumbleUpon reviews ads submitted by new advertisers. This process usually takes a few hours. Once approved, your ad will go live.

Other

Instagram Advertising

Instagram ads are quite new, and as of yet there is only one type: an image that will appear in non-follower feeds with a sponsored icon on the top right corner. These ads are also only available to selected brands with an existing following as Instagram irons out their ad platform.

With its mobile focus, visual appeal and young audience, you can bet brands will jump on Instagram ads as soon as they become widely available. In the meantime, here’s a more detailed primer on Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Ads. 

Pinterest Advertising

Pinterest still hasn’t launched its ad platform, but several brands are in the midst of beta testing it. Essentially Pinterest Ads will consist of Promoted Pins, content you choose to promote that will appear high within search results. You’ll only pay for the Promoted Pins when a viewer clicks through to your site.

If Pinterest ads sound interesting to you, there’s a waitlist you can join.

Crush Your Competitors! 4 Steps to Analyzing Your Competition’s Inbound Marketing Efforts so You Can Win

Google loves brands We understand you’re a nice person.

You want the best for everyone and their families. You love kitties and long walks on the beach. But when it comes to business and inbound marketing, you want to win. You want to crush your competitors. Don’t worry, so do we.

But how do you do it?

One of the most pivotal aspects is proper research and analysis. You have to see where the target is. After all, you can’t win anything if you don’t have a clear idea of what needs to be done.

However, where do you start? What are the key features to look out for? How does one identify certain practices and marketing techniques of competitors? What are the right questions to ask?

All of these questions will be provided in the following 4 steps to analyzing your competitors inbound marketing efforts.

Step 1: Analyze their website

In analysing your competitor’s website, you require a list of questions that need to be answered which we took the liberty to compose. If anything, answering the questions below will make you more in tune with what the targeted audience expects and what unique ideas they haven’t been introduced to yet.

Is the site conversion focussed?
Has your competition included CTA’s that are laser focussed? Do they make sense and how convincing are their arguments? Are forms used to acquire lead information in exchange for valuable content? Do inbound links lead back to CTA’s and landing pages? Most importantly, does the page project features and details that encourage conversion?

If so, it’s likely that most leads feel the same way. Leads are always interested in 2 things:

  1. Does you content provide solution for their problems or needs?
  2. Can YOU, the business, provide a product or service that takes care of these problems and needs?

When you provide the information required and if you make conversions exceptionally simple with effective CTA’s and landing pages for your leads, they will most certainly convert without an issue.

Is the site mobile responsive?
In 2013, more than 37% of internet users utilized mobile devices. That’s a huge amount of potential leads just waiting to be converted. More and more sites are adapting to mobile responsive designs and this has proven to be an extremely lucrative decision.

Is your competitors site mobile responsive? Does it look just as appealing on a mobile device as it would on a desktop? Is it adaptive to different devices?

Last but not least, establish one more important detail – whether or not you’re capable of making a smooth purchase from their landing page without any hassle at all.

Is the site SEO optimized?
Search Engine Optimization doesn’t just apply to an algorithm but to overall performance. Is the code clean or does it contain unnecessary html? How fast is the site’s load time? Is there a keyword strategy in place? Are such keywords being used appropriately? Are inbound links being used appropriately?

Though we are in an era that dictates the use of remarkable content, ignoring SEO is not a practice we encourage. With both remarkable content and SEO working hand in hand, you can build a website that ranks well on search engines and converts better with leads.

How is the site visually?
The manner in which you present content is just as important as the content you provide.

Does the site look attractive? Are the color tones complementary? Does the site have a uniquely designed template? Is it focussed around Brand promotion? Is the design powerful enough to promote the Brand and USP? Is it powered by HTML5? Does it contain interactive features and pop ups? Is it easy to navigate?

It is important to note that an overcrowded design can be detrimental to a business. A sidebar packed with unnecessary widgets will distract leads from the CTA’s, a color palette choice that doesn’t blend into the design scares away leads and a poorly designed site will destroy your reputation as a professional online business.

Step 2: Analyze their content strategy (and quality)

Without a doubt, content is the building block to a well-built business website. If you have any plans of destroying the competition, you need to analyze their content strategy in-depth.

In saying that, identify the following:

  • When do they publish content? Back track a bit, don’t just visit the very first page of a website and expect to get an accurate analysis. In order to really understand a content strategy, one must immerse themselves from the very beginning. Browse through your competitor’s sitemap and take a look at different months. On which days were content published? What time during the day? What is the minimum time gap between articles? Understanding your competitor’s content schedule equips you with enough knowledge to set up a content schedule that is superior and much more anticipated by audiences compared to your competitors.
  • How often is content published? Are you familiar with the term information overload? At times, even too much information can have a negative impact on your content campaign which is why analyzing competitors with a successful system equips you with an understanding of how much content is preferred by your targeted audience. You can find a total number of content published on the sitemap or sidebar of the website.
  • What form of content? This is a very important aspect to content. The type of content you present to the audience you desire needs to be the best form of information. If you were to target a graphic design group, articles that are long worded and full of jargon would simply scare off your leads. Keeping that in mind, what form of content is being presented to your competitor’s audience and which form is most appreciated? Visit different pages and observe the social engagement. Which has the highest amount of engagement and interaction? Identify the form of content that works and design a content plan that utilizes this insight.
  • What is the standard length of written content? This entire section is dependent on whether you’ve figured out how often a website publishes content. Some sites publish multiple times a day whereas others only publish content once a week. With a good understanding of the frequency of published content, you can establish whether you need to construct long-form written content once a week or small doses of 400 word articles.
  • What features make such content popular? From spending time on your competitor’s blog, what are the deductions you’ve made?
    1. Do the articles follow a series like system or are they based on broad keyword?
    2. Do you find that review articles make up most of the content published or in-depth researched instructional article?
    3. Does it contain a lot of visual medium?
    4. Is there interactive plugins infused within articles?
    5. What tone is used in their writing?
    6. Is it simple to read or really witty and humorous?

By answering these questions, you not only discover what audiences like to read but just how qualitative such content is and how this impacts acceptance from an audience.

Step 3: Analyze their SEO

SEO is a constantly developing phenomenon, which is why we present our clients with an improved system referred to as SEO 2.0. No matter what niche you find yourself in, the kind of leads you want or the ranking you desire, without proper SEO techniques you’re leaving the fate of your website to chance.

One terrific way of getting ahead of your competition is by implementing smarter SEO strategies. If you were to find the positive and negative aspects to your competitors SEO, you create the opportunity of outranking them through the use of SEO 2.0. The following is a list of SEO factors you ought to have your eye on:

  1. Title and Description
  2. Keyword Frequency
  3. Meta Keywords
  4. Internal Page Analysis
  5. Headings: H1 + H2 + H3 + H4 + H5
  6. Inbound and External Linking
  7. Backlinks
  8. Images and Videos
  9. Google Authorship
  10. Website Branding

At this point, it’s preferable to use an SEO analysis tool, there’s some exceptionally free services you can check out: lipperhey.com and woorank.com (limited to 1 free analysis a week).

Unfortunately, not even this is enough. You need to find out the core information to your competitors SEO strategy.

Take a look at their backlinks. Do they possess a high quantity of pr1 – pr2 links or low amount of high quality pr4- pr6 backlinks? Knowing the difference is pivotal, sometimes all it takes is a handful of really high PR links to outrank a website built on low quality, tier 1 & 2 links.

How old is their website? Is their domain name purchased for years in advance? Do they utilize Guest Posting techniques to build traffic and authority?

Having the answers to these questions will most definitely aid you in outranking your competitors in the future.

Step 4: Analyze their lead generation efforts

Last but not least, this step is focussed on determining your competitors lead generation efforts and the results yielded. You can do this by getting a clear idea of:

  • How many landing pages are visible on the site
  • Are they giving away Free Content? If so, what?
  • Do they have ad campaigns running?
  • How effective is their Message?
  • How effectively placed are their CTA’s?
  • Who is the targeted persona and is content presented specifically for them?

If you have any plans of making money, building a clientele online or simply turning visitors into leads that make purchases, you need to understand how such persona react to certain triggers.

Once again, use the questions above to establish the efforts your competitors make in order to be successful. Don’t just observe, make notes and answer such question.

Concluding Remarks

Dive into the structure of your competitors efforts. Establish triggers that work and those that don’t, develop techniques that outshine your competitors and only then will you have a plan that is achievable.

Remember, planning is a huge contributing factor to succeeding online. If you know who you’re up against and how to beat such competition, making a bang online will be just a step away.

3 Things Google Demands From Your Website With the Panda Update (and what to do about it) 1

Search engines are changing rapidly.

The fundamental ways in which they work have expanded and are now including more and different data then ever before.

For example, Google made an unprecedented change of how they evaluate and index websites when they rolled out the first Panda Update in February of 2011. Since then, they have made over 25 changes to the legendary algorithm.

The goal of the Google Panda update involves the filtering of low quality or duplicate pages that are deemed “not useful” to users.

Google’s number one goal with the Panda update (along with all other algorithm changes) is obvious: they want their search engine to not only bring up relevant results, but they want their search engine to be intuitive enough to bring up the best results possible for users.

In other words…

They want their user’s search experience to be a good one. Would so many people be using Google if all they did was bring up horrible and useless sites as answers to your questions and problems? This is exactly why several search engines that were moderately popular in early years of 2000 went down – their search results offered nothing but trash sites with no value.

So as marketers, how do we make sure we are staying in front of the curve so we can keep our businesses in front of searchers?

Below are the 4 things Google is demanding out of websites with recommendations on what you should do about it. The good news? It’s simple: it’s all about the user.

1. High quality, original content (and lots of it)

Google wants you to deliver high quality content. How do we know this? Because that’s what they say.

Our site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find “high-quality” sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. The recent “Panda” change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality.

So how do we know if what we’re producing is high quality or not? Google has laid out specific guidelines/questions to assess your own website so it matches up with their content quality demands.

If you want to step into Google’s mindset, here are a few of the the questions which will provide some guidance on how Google wants you to look at your content moving forward:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

…more here

If you answered appropriately to these questions, you have quality content.

What to do about it:

Our top recommendation for Panda-proofing your website against future updates is to get started producing quality content on a regular basis.

We highly recommend putting together a real content marketing plan and posting great cotent at least once a week.

2. Quality website design that provides a great user experience

How could Google ever know if your website is designed well or not?

It’s a question I asked too.

Google has added website performance as a core metric with how they reward websites in the SERPs. Specifically, they have started analyzing the bounce rate, average time on site, and average pages visited per session through collecting analytics and browser (Google Chrome) data. This gives them a good idea if people find your website to be engaging.

If you have a great design, people will stay longer and engage more. It’s that simple.

No more tricks! Google now knows which sites are proving a great user experience and which ones aren’t.

What to do about it:

Throwing together a site cheaply isn’t the solution. You need a website design to really work for users. Effective messaging that accurately communicates your company’s value is extremely important.

Start imagining every user visiting your site as a person you want to impress. The way they interact with your site can literally make or break your ability to rank well.

Ps. If you are still working on developing an eye for design, we recommend checking out this blog post.

3. Social media presence and ‘buzz’

You need to be on social media and your content needs to be shared on social media. The more the better.

Google is looking for signs that your website has something meaningful to add to the internet. Social media is a powerful tool to show real social proof that people are consuming and sharing your content.

There is been an intense debate over the last few years about how much social media affects the organic rankings. There have been some very significant tests done in the last 18 months showing a strong correlation between social engagement and top raking sites.

But it’s obvious that going forward social media indicators will play a very significant, and maybe even primary, role for determining content quality.

What to do about it:

Get on social media and start taking it seriously asap! Remember, the foundation of social media is content. The better content, the more shares.

A good way to see where the bar is in your industry is to take a good look at some of your top performing competitors. Take a look at how they have their Facebook and Twitter accounts configured. See how often they are posting their blog content to these profiles. This should give you a good idea on how you can improve you social efforts.

Conclusion

No more tricks!

No more tomfoolery.

No more artificial efforts.

It’s time to take a smarter approach to online marketing. The best advice we can give you in one sentence is to do everything with the user in mind. If you can get to this point, there is no question, you will start to see good things.

ps. If you need help, we know of a really good Inbound marketing agency…. (it’s us.)

Why Customer Service is One of the Best Marketing Tactics Ever

Why Customer Service is One of the Best Marketing Tactics Ever

When I was a small child, my mother took me to a local shoe store at the mall to buy me a pair of new shoes for my birthday. Due to a mistake on the part of the sales clerk, we were sent home with a pair of mismatched shoes. When we returned to the store, rather than apologize for the inconvenience, the clerk who made the error treated my mother rudely and acted as if she was inconveniencing him.
At that point my mother asked to speak to the manager.

Surprisingly, when the manager came from the back room, he too was surly and abusive. My mother proceeded to explain to him (very politely) that due to her poor treatment, she would never, ever shop at their store again. And furthermore, she would tell everyone she knew about their terrible customer service.

True to her word, my mother never entered that store again. There were times when I remember walking past and seeing a pair of shoes in their display window that I desperately wanted, but my mother would not relent. They never got another dime from her.

And at the time, my mother did, in fact, tell her friends about her poor treatment at the shoe store. But without the internet and social media, that word of mouth extended to only about 10 people. Fast forward 30 years. Imagine what she could have done to that store with a Facebook and Twitter account. People who have a bad experience with a company now have the ability to broadcast that experience to hundreds, even thousands, of people all over the world. And they do.

On the flip side, when a company treats its customers like gold, that gets around as well. How many times has a 5-star review on Yelp induced you to try a restaurant? And how much do you rely on the customer reviews you read on Amazon before you purchase from a particular company?

In our modern world of instant, worldwide communication, customer service, like content, has become king. And the way you treat your customers will determine whether your brand shines brightly above the rest or sinks sadly into obscurity. Here are four ways to encourage your clients or customers to sing your praises and promote your brand.

1. Be reliable. Famous film director Woody Allen is credited with saying, “80 percent of success is showing up.” Be where you say you will be. Do what you say you will do. Believe it or not, this impresses people. It makes them want to do business with you again and again.

2. Do the unexpected. Do a little extra for your customers. Throw in a small gift with their purchase. Take some extra time on a client’s project. Make sure the details are all perfect. Make their life a little easier. They will love you for it.

3. Don’t waste their time. Remember that your clients and customers have time constraints just like you do. Make sure you are being efficient and respectful of their time, or they will go elsewhere to someone who does.

4. Really listen. Understand what it is that your clients want and need from your product or service. Then provide them with a solution to their challenge or problem.

Make it a goal in the next year to deliver fantastic customer service to your clients and customers. Your happy customers will be the greatest ambassadors for your brand and will promote your product or service far better than you ever could on your own.

At Digital Flavor, customer service is king. We work closely with you to find solutions to your marketing challenges with our innovative inbound marketing programs. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you increase your customer base and grow your business.

The Ultimate Guide to Effective Anchor Text

Over the years there have been many changes to SEO tactics and best practices. One of the biggest changes in the last two years has been the use of anchor text.

Before the first Penguin update, there was the general mindset that links couldn’t hurt a website’s organic positioning. This gave SEO practitioners the opinion that they should get as many links as possible using the exact anchor text they are trying to go after.

As we all know, using the tactic of generating excessive amounts of over optimized links has had a very detrimental effect on a lot of websites.

After looking at all of the evidence over the last few years, it is my opinion that the radio of exact match anchor text is the main factor Google uses for determining unnatural linking profiles.

As most of you know, if Google determines you have an unnatural linking profile, they usually hand out a stiff penalty. Getting over one of these linking penalties can take months of very hard work to get lifted.

Our strong recommendation is to do things right! That way you never have to deal with an organic linking penalty.

We want to talk to you about a few different tactics you can use to make sure you are getting the most out of your anchor text. Following these principles should ensure you don’t get hit by the next Google update.

Use of Generic Terms as Anchor Text

After all of the big 2012 updates, people started to see that Google was looking for a more organic linking profile. This encouraged SEO practitioners to start building links with generic terms as the anchor text.

When we refer to “generic terms,” we are talking about using words like “click here”, “visit website”, and “read more” as the anchor text. The purpose of this tactic is obviously to skew the ratio of exact match terms in your linking profile. This is all in the hope of having a more natural looking set of inbound links.

We definitely recommend staying away from this practice. Google actually put out a warning in 2010 about using generic terms as anchor text. Here is what they had to say.

google penalty

If this was Google’s message a few years ago, you can only assume they have gotten more strict in the past few updates.

What is The Current Ratio of Your Website’s Anchor Text

The first thing you need to do before trying to naturalize your Website’s inbound links is analyze the current anchor text profile. There are a few easy tools that will assist in getting this done right. We highly recommend using the Moz Open Site Explorer tool. Simply put your domain in the tool, and click search.

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After you have clicked on the search button, you will see several different tabs. Click on the “Anchor Text” link. That will show you the anchor text associated with your inbound links.

3

Doing an analysis of our current anchor text will help you determine what kind of links you need to build to naturalize your profile. We highly recommend getting started on these efforts before your website gets hit with a stiff penalty.

Proper Techniques for Diversifying Anchor Text Profile

There is a wide range of different variations you can use to help diversify your website’s anchor text.

The main thing you need focus on is the importance of writing high quality piece of content.

With that being the foundation of your external link building campaign, you can start to use some of these techniques to improve the ratio of exact match anchor text.

Company or Brand Name as Anchor Text

Using the company or brand name of a business is the easiest way to start diversifying a website’s anchor text.

If you think about it, any natural link profile will have a very large number of these kinds of links. We recommend building at least 30% of your inbound links to have the brand name as the anchor text.

URL as Anchor Text

A natural linking profile will have a large number of URL based anchor text. One thing to remember when using the URL is to include different variations. Below are a few examples:

  • www.digitalflavor.com
  • http://www.digitalflavor.com
  • digitalflavor.com

We recommend having at lease 20% of your inbound links using some form of the URL. Again, this is the ratio of most natural linking profiles.

4

Long-Tail Variation (Phrase Match)

A great way to get diversity in your backlink profile is to use many different long-tail variations of your keywords. Below are a few examples of this principle. You can see “inbound marketing” is the clear target keyword in all 3 examples. We have added the whole search phrase as the anchor text.

– Digital Flavor believes in cutting edge design & inbound marketing.

– Please visit our website for information about inbound marketing.

– We believe inbound marketing is the new solution to SEO.

We recommend having at least 15% of your inbound links using some form of phrase match as the anchor text.

Co-Citation or Co-Occurrence is the New Anchor Text

All of the above techniques play into Google’s new way of evaluating links and content. We call this new principle Co-Citation or Co-Occurrence.

The idea is that Google is looking at the keyword density, heading tags, and content around a link as it pertains to the relevancy of the piece of content. That means you can still pass on value about your target keyword without using it as the anchor text in a link. Below is an example of Co-Citation.

– Digital Flavor team members have a combined experience in online marketing of over 20 years. They have a strong believe that inbound marketing is the future of SEO. Please visit their website for a free inbound marketing analysis.

You can see that the link in this example is “visit their website.” Back in the old days of Google, this would be the only term that received any value with the link. However, with the advancements in Co-Occurrence, the surrounding terms like “inbound marketing” will pass relevancy through the link.

The Backbone to a Great Linking Profile

The days of creating junk content filled with exact match anchor text are quickly coming to an end. Even if you are really careful about how you use your anchor text, low quality link building revolves around trying to trick Google.

So what is the Solution?

You didn’t think we were going to end this post without telling you the solution to this whole predicament, did you? Real content marketing is the future of SEO.

Creating information that adds value to your community and answers questions is the sustainable way to generate high quality links. Having this as the backbone of your online marketing efforts will ensure you never have to deal with over optimization problems.

SEO Marketing The Digital Flavor Way: 8 Things We Will and Won’t Do

SEO marketing can be confusing.

You hear so many thing from so many people – all seemingly contradictory. How do you piece together this puzzle when every other day you hear or read something that contradicts the last piece of information you consumed?

This is why SEO in general has a bad name, and why SEO experts have an even worse one.

But a simple way to start filtering the information is to think in terms of white-hat and black-hat SEO. White-hat SEO is innocent and plays by the rules. Black-hat SEO is guilty of attempting to trick search engines and manipulate the results in ways that aren’t in anyone’s best interests (except their own).

You must understand that search engine’s don’t really like ‘SEO.’ They’re totally fine with you creating terrific content that deserves to rank for what people are searching for. In fact, that’s exactly what they want you to do. But what they don’t want you to do is use manipulative practices in an attempt to reverse engineer their algorithm.

But the fact is that most SEO practices are fundamentally attempting to manipulate what search engine’s offer people; which is access to the best most relevant information for what they search for.

So it’s useful to look at white-hat methods as long term, while black-hat methods are short-term (at best). Black-hat methods may work for a few months, but with every new Google update they are ‘catching’ and penalizing sites using these dirty tricks.

So as a legitimate business, with a long-term approach, you need legitimate SEO methods, with a long-term approach.

That’s exactly what we offer.

But specifically, here are 8 things we will and won’t do for your SEO campaign. As you read these, think in terms of white-hat and black-hat. We’re all about white-hat. Black-hat: not so much.

1WE WILL: create a smart keyword plan based on advanced research methods.

Keyword selection is fundamental to effective SEO. Choosing the wrong keywords could mean significant wasted effort and resources for your business. That’s why we put together a smart keyword plan based on advanced research methods with a long term approach.

2WE WON’T: haphazardly select keywords

We organize our keyword research into categories. These categories represent your significant business activities. Then we put together a list of keywords with each category. These keywords are sub segmented into “local and specific” and “national and broad.”

Now we have a master list to select from as the campaign progresses.

3WE WILL: create the content, and code, your website needs

Once we’ve established what keywords to target, it’s time to get busy making the appropriate website changes that will ensure search engines know what to consider ranking your site for. These changes start with creating optimized content, along with appropriate coding tweaks, based around your keyword selection.

We’ll handle all content and coding changes that need to happen for your website’s search engine success – and we’ll do it right.

4WE WON’T: use shady keyword stuffing methods

Years ago this was a big deal. SEO experts would slam a bunch of unwarranted keywords into a webpage in an attempt to manipulate search engines.

These days, they don’t do it so obvious but it does still happen. Ever see a random header word that doesn’t really make sense? That is keyword stuffing. We fit in your keywords perfectly and tactfully.

5WE WILL: build your domains authority in a natural and creative way

Search engine’s aren’t perfect. They use methods to make evaluations. Some methods work, some don’t. One method they use to determine a domain’s authority are external links. External links represent a vote of confidence. Your site needs these votes to ever be considered by search engines as legitimate and worthy.

Every situation is different, but we find creative and natural ways to get your site links. These links are natural and won’t hurt you with the next Google update.

6WE WON’T: use shady link building tactics

Want to get your domain slammed with a penalty? The easiest, and quickest way to make this happen is by using shady link building tactics.

These days, search engines are just smarter, and artificial links don’t work. Not only do they not work, they are likely to get your site saddled with a penalty. Fun stuff huh. This is why we developed link building tactics and partnerships that will give your site the authority it desperately needs, without being a potential problem down the road. Simply stated, our link building works.

7WE WILL: give you very specific progress and work-item reports

The reports we generate keep you in the loop and make it easy to explain what’s going on to other important people within your organization. Everyone will know that you have things handled and the budget being allocated is not being wasted.

Our reports detail both results, and and work item completion. We compare this with our set, mutually agreed upon, expectations and provide 100% transparency.

8WE WON’T: falsify, manipulate, or bastardize data or information

This is a shocker but we know from experience that many SEO providers cook the books. They manipulate the data they report to their customers, change around the completed work items, all in an attempt to keep you paying them for something that isn’t working.

Our SEO reporting is honest and transparent. We’re not about lying. We’re about honesty. We believe that Golden Rules Work.

This is SEO the Digital Flavor way. Of course, there is much I left out. I’d love to answer any questions you have though! Contact us and we’ll happily discuss details.

The Secret Of Simple Web Design

Everyone is attracted to things that are simple. Great design is simple. Great writing is simple.

Simplicity is king.

Apple has made a living creating simple, easy to use products. Now they are the most valuable company of all time.

But what is simple? Isn’t it just keeping things clear and concise?

Yep that’s exactly what simple is.

Simplicity is a complex task.

And here’s what simple isn’t:

  • unnecessary clutter
  • chaos
  • entropy “the lack of order or predictability; a gradual decline into disorder.”

So what is the root cause that manifests as unnecessary clutter/chaos/entropy?

Answer: lack of clarity.

When we lack clarity, we try to fill in the gaps. When we don’t have a limited scope, a clear thesis, or a concise objective the gaps are filled in with chaos, clutter, and entropy.

You have to know exactly what your message should be. When you have pinpointed this the unnecessary clutter isn’t an option. Your writing will become crisp and your design will become clean.

The Solution is… Simple.

Clearly define what your message is first, then set out to create.

  1. What is/are the end result(s) you’re after?
  2. What is the purpose/objective?
  3. What is the scope?

With these clearly defined your brain will become a servo-mechanism on a path towards a target, and it will automatically exclude the unnecessary.

Ps. If you need help getting a simple and effective website, we have a great solution. Inbound marketing website design is the future of web design and we’re here to help.

What Makes Great Web Design? 6 Ingredients and 6 Example Sites that Nail It

These days, having a company website is essential. It’s no longer a choice for most businesses whether they have an online presence or not. They simply can’t not be online.

Smart businesses understand that websites can be powerful.

They understand that a website can impact a prospect positively, negatively, or have no impact at all. So in other words a company’s website can be a huge asset to the business, neither an asset nor a liability, or a liability (it actually hurts you).

So what makes a website actually work? What makes a website do it’s marketing job effectively? What makes a website actually influence prospects to do what you want them to? What is great web design…?

Obviously there’s no perfect answer. But there are certain elements that we have identified as being paramount for creating a beautiful website that has maximum impact on visitors.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” —Steve Jobs

We must understand that web design goes far beyond how it looks. Web design is actually how a site works and the feel that it invokes within users. So with this expanded perspective here are 6 ingredients that are critical for an optimal website.

  1. Clean navigation that functions logically. The navigation is the first thing that people see. Obviously it’s important for it to feel pleasant and clean. In order to accomplish a clean navigation, it must be perfectly laid out logically leaving out any unnecessary elements and leaving the user feeling empowered, not confused.
  2. Beautiful typography. Typography is a big deal. A website that looks great always has beautiful type. Typography starts with font choices but goes far beyond this. Usage of color, sizing, line heights, paragraph margins and padding, all come into play. When someone nails all of these elements, you get a website that has a soothing and natural feel. You get messaging that stands out visually as well.
  3. White Space. Proper spacing is critical for a great site. In fact it may be the most important element. It’s the space that actually creates the impact and sets up the design and messaging to stand out. Without proper spacing, a site will turn to visual garbage really quick. Using consistent and logical spacing is critical.
  4. Logical Layout. This one is somewhat vague, but a site must be laid out logically. There must be a flow to it. A great design will take a prospect through a journey, yet a journey they can skip around through (skim). This is about synergy and presenting the right thing at the right time in the right way.
  5. Messaging that fits into the design. This one is often overlooked, but having messaging that fits within the design, and even having the messaging itself be considered part of the design is important. Design and messaging aren’t separate in reality! Actually, they are both simply part of the overall experience. Clearly they need to work in harmony. A great website incorporates messaging as part of the design.
  6. Design elements that communicate. The best design is as little design as possible. This is a foundational concept for beautifully designed sites. Everything within a great website will pack somewhat of a punch or at least be apart of the overall synergy of elements. Obviously you need imagery and design elements, but the key is to find ones that actually serve a purpose and ‘just fit.’

These are 6 ingredients for great design. Let’s take a look at 6 websites through this new filter of perception. Think about the 6 elements I mentioned above as you check out the sites. Pay close attention to how each site nails them all.

1) Nest.com 

Nest.com screams smart design. It’s a site I’ve been watching for a few years now. Everything on the site is logically laid out to perfection. It’s one of the best sales sites I’ve ever come across. From the product pages to the blog, everything on nest.com nails it.

Click here to check it out.
nest

2) Sendtoinc.com 

The word clean perfectly describes inc.com. From the flow of the site, what they say and when they say it, to the visual elements describing the software, sendtoinc.com is a superior designed site.

Click here to check it out.
nest

3) Nike.com 

Nike.com has an enormous amount of products and information, yet it doesn’t feel that way. Whatever team created this site deserves big time respect because the site is near perfect for what it is trying to do. How they fit everything within their navigation is brilliant. And throughout the site you get a perfect mix of information, products, and beautiful imagery.

Click here to check out the site.
nest

4) Infinum.co 

Infinum.co is a site I went to and thought ‘wow’ to myself. Everything about the site perfectly fits together for an experience that is fantastic. From the blog design to the unique navigation that incorporates their logo, infinum.co is a site that shines.

Click here to check it out.
nest

5) Automatic.com 

Very similar to nest.com, automatic.com is another fantastic site you should check out. From the videos, to the messaging, to the blog, it’s a site that way built right.

Click here to check it out.
nest

6) Learndot.com 

Learndot.com is another beautiful site with powerful messaging built into the design. The custom pages they’ve created are beautiful and perfectly describe what they have to offer.

Click here to check it out.
nest

Conclusion

Now you know what to look for within great design. Remember design is how something works! Not just how it looks. So start looking at websites through this new perspective. Also remember these 6 ingredients for great design:

  1. Clean navigation that functions logically.
  2. Beautiful typography.
  3. White Space.
  4. Logical Layout.
  5. Messaging that fits into the design.
  6. Design elements that communicate.

4 Principles for Creating Calls To Action That Work

Calls to action (CTAs) are an incredibly important tool for executing a proper inbound marketing campaign. An effective CTA will entice someone to give you their information, converting a visitor into a lead.

Let’s take a quick look at 4 basic principles of creating a winning CTA for your website.

Principle 1: Offer something relevant and helpful

Providing value is at the core of the inbound marketing method.

In order to have an effective call to action you must offer the visitor something that will be useful to them. Your offer should be picked very carefully and should be specific to the content on the page where it is placed. This ensures that you are offering your help or guidance at the most appropriate time.

Be sure to offer something that is really of value for the visitor. Think of things that will inform, educate or simplify a visitor’s decision making process. If you can inject your wisdom and knowledge into the visitors thought process you will naturally breed trust and authority with the user.

That means that when it’s time to go to the expert for help, they will come to you.

Principle 2: Make it stand out

When it comes to CTAs, bigger is better.

Don’t be afraid to make your CTAs large and noticeable. Most users today tend to scan through sites rather than read the whole thing, so it is important to make sure that nobody breezes by your call to action. After all, that is how you convert visitors into leads! Full page width CTAs are definitely acceptable and in many cases, preferred.

Aside from building CTAs that are large and in charge, you can also draw attention to your CTAs with bright colors, large fonts or high contrast design. Now, don’t go over the top and ruin your sites design, simplicity or branding.

That said, you should use design elements to make your CTA pop off the page and grab attention, without being overbearing or garish.

Principle 3: Use the right messaging

When creating CTA messaging be direct and be confident. The number one question you need to answer for the visitor is “What’s in it for me?” Be sure to clearly and concisely communicate the value that you are offering. The visitor should know exactly what they are going to get and exactly how it is going to help them before they enter their information.

Make sure you are using actionable words in your copy. Asking someone to download an ebook, learn about an issue, or discover a new product is much more effective than simply asking someone to enter their information, or receive updates.

It’s hard to believe such CTAs ever worked.

Principle 4: Test & Improve

As with most things in the marketing world, you need to try out different setups and see what will be the most effective.

CTAs should be A/B tested to make sure you are putting forward the best option possible.

Google Analytics can be a powerful tool to help you test your CTAs. In Google Analytics you should create a goal for your CTA. This will allow you to track conversions on your analytics account to see which versions are being most effective.

Google even has a tool for A/B testing CTAs on your site. Check this entry on the Google Analytics blog for more information.

Conclusion

Calls to action are important! Make the most effective calls to action by adhering to these 4 principles. If you need some help, don’t hesitate to contact us!

6 Little Changes that’ll Make A Big Difference For Your Company’s Online Lead Generation

Lead generation is one of the primary functions of your company’s website. When done well, producing and nurturing online leads can trigger transformational growth in companies.

Conversely, when little effort is given to ongoing lead generation companies can see their sales dry up, causing them to join the multitudes of businesses in the scrapheap of history.

Here are 6 changes that’ll make a big for your company’s lead generation efforts.

1. Have the Right Calls to Action

Effective calls to action are critical to the lead generation process. Calls to action are the portal for a visitor to convert to a lead. Calls to action should be brief, direct and compelling.

Use language that encourages learning and information gathering. Asking the visitor to ‘discover’ a product or ‘learn more’ about a topic that is important to them is a much more enticing call to action than asking them ‘sign up’ or ‘contact us’.

2. Place Your Calls to Action Strategically

Make sure your calls to action are placed on pages with content relevant to the offer and CTA. Analyze the visitor flow and pick a few targets for CTAs. Test to find out which locations are most effective. Always seek to streamline the visitors search for information with your offers and CTAs

Don’t be afraid to take up plenty of real estate. CTAs are meant to be seen and size, bold colors and large fonts can make a big difference in your conversion rate.

3. Create The Right Offer (Premium Content)

Creating a compelling offer is essential if you expect visitors to interact with you. Downloadable content gives the visitor a reason to trust you and gives you a chance to set yourself up as the authority.

Creating high quality ebooks, guides, white papers or other helpful tools will give your website the leverage it needs to win over visitors and convert them into leads.

4. Update Your Website Design/Landing Page

Web design can be a huge factor of influence in the decision making process of a visitor. A website with a modern, clean design and excellent user experience communicates experience and authority.

On the flip side, a dated, cheap looking or poorly functioning site can communicate ineptness, being behind the curve or being out of touch.

5. Create Strategic SEO Efforts

Having an effective SEO strategy will greatly increase your ability to generate leads.

An SEO strategy that works in concert with every aspect of your content marketing plan will ensure that you achieve the best results possible for your online search efforts. If your site is easy to find you will greatly increase the amount of leads you generate.

In depth keyword research and competition analysis will help you pick goals that you can accomplish in the near future while setting a course for long term results on more competitive terms.

6. Implement Lead Nurturing Software

Capturing a lead gets you closer to a conversion but you still need to take care of those leads to accomplish your goal.

Lead nurturing software such as Hubspot, Infusionsoft or Marketo enable companies to qualify, score and track leads. This allows them to ensure they are sending the right content, at the right frequency to maximize the opportunities for conversion.

Conclusion

If you have room for improvement in any of these areas make a plan now to get the changes made as soon as possible. If you would like to have a professional take a look at your specific site and circumstances request a free inbound marketing analysis.