100+ Best Tips to Increase Blog Reach in 2019
In the SEO world increasing website traffic and blog reach is not an easy task. This blog covers the 100+ key success factors and tips to get potential customers to visit your website and Increase Blog Reach.
In online business this is commonly referred to as “traffic” and can be divided into three main groups with different logic outlooks:
1. Paid search traffic
2. Organic search traffic
3. Other (not search) traffic
We will start with the first group, Paid search traffic!
What is Paid search traffic?
If you are looking for the answer to a question, what do you do? You google it! If the question you ask yourself connects to a potential purchase of a product or a service, then you are a potential buyer for an e-commerce site.
Let’s say you have heard it is possible to design and order a tailor-made shirt online at a much lower price than by ordering locally in person from a tailor. You would probably google something like “tailor-made shirts”, “tailor fit shirts,” “tailored shirts,” or something similar. This is what Google will then show:
There are about two million web pages that refer to “tailor-made shirts,” but the only ones that count are the ones that show up on Google’s first page = the Top10 results.
The reason for this is that >90% of all people who search do not visit the second page (positions 11+) on Google. That’s why all the companies try to get (and stay) on the first page of Google search results.
However, the “Top10” phrase is not fully correct, since it only refers to the Organic search results. Above and to the right of the organic search results, Google shows the Paid search results, meaning paid ads in a similar format as the organic search results constructed within the Google AdWords program.
This Paid Search traffic is often referred to as “Search Engine Marketing” (SEM) while the techniques to rank high in the organic (not paid) search are referred to as “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO.)
Paid Search traffic actually stands for 96% of Google’s income and is used by 1.2 million website owners worldwide. The services are so popular among business owners, because:
You can measure the results of every penny When properly done, it’s inexpensive No entry barriers (with as low as a $1 budget) and gain customers the first day
It basically works like this:
1. Go to PPC Online Advertising to Reach Your Marketing Goals and create an account.
2. Start a new campaign and decide which demographic parameters to target (e.g., which city/country, mobile/pad/computers.)
3. Decide which keywords such as “tailor-made shirts” and “tailored shirts” you want to target.
4. Decide how the ad (meaning the “inorganic search result”) should look when somebody searches for your chosen keywords.
5. Decide a maximum cost per click (e.g., $0.10) you are willing to pay for each click on the ad.
6. Decide the maximum daily budget (e.g., $10/day) you are willing to pay for the campaign.
How often and in which position your ad will show depend on two main things:
1. The quality score of a chosen keyword. This is a scale of 1-10 of how relevant your website is in relation to the chosen keyword. For example, if you have chosen the keyword “tailor-made shirts,” but the ad is directed to a website which is selling dog food, your quality score will be low (further discussed later.)
2. Your maximum cost per click. Your bid, meaning how much you are willing to pay for each click on your ad and from there, the click directs the visitor to your website.
Google AdWords works like an online auction. Every time somebody places a search query, Google ranks all websites that have placed a bid on this keyword. Assuming that all quality scores are the same, the one who has placed the highest bid will be listed at the top of the inorganic search results.
But in case one bidder has a much higher quality score, he can still rank higher even while paying less for a click.
The above section was a very brief description of Search Engine Marketing fundamentals. Once you learn how to use Google AdWords effectively, you will be able to generate inexpensive, well targeted and fully measurable traffic. However, if you do it randomly, you can easily “burn” big budgets, attracting inappropriate traffic that will not bring you any income.
The remaining part of this blog will cover the most important pitfalls and best practices of how to effectively manage and optimize your benefits in relation to cost and time from paid search traffic.
If you are not familiar with Google AdWords at all, I strongly recommend that you spend approximately one hour studying the “How it works” section at PPC Online Advertising to Reach Your Marketing Goals (which is superb!) This way you will benefit much more from the remaining part of this blog.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 1:
Keyword knowledge is king
Paid search traffic is the quickest way to generate “hot traffic” to your website. “Hot traffic” means visitors who are actually looking for what you are selling. The opposite of “hot traffic” is “cold traffic,” meaning visitors that click on your ad (which you will pay for) but once they arrive on your website, they will not generate any income for you.
Bidding for the keyword “Online” or “Online with” would cost a lot of money per click since you would compete with everyone bidding for combinations of “Online+.”
This would also generate a lot of cold traffic (many irrelevant clicks.)
. Consequently, this would turn into a high cost (or at least quick depletion of your daily AdWords’ budget) without much income.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 2:
Use “niche” rather than broad keywords
Ok, this sounds simple, but how do I figure out which are my best niche keywords?
To be successful in using Paid search traffic, you need to maximize the hot traffic while minimizing the cold traffic, and the first step to master this is to really, profoundly understand what keywords potential customers (= hot traffic) are using, or not using.
The most effective way to do this effectively is to generate a long list of keyword combinations and then to analyze them both from “market size” (how often the keyword is searched for) and “competition” (how many others bid on the keyword and what they are willing to pay.) I recommend a simple three-step approach to generate your first list of qualitative keywords:
1. Brainstorm and write down keywords by “thinking like your potential customer.”
2. Run this first list of keywords in the Keyword planner tool which is available via your Google AdWords’ account. (It takes less than 10 minutes to start an account.) The tool will both generate ideas for similar keywords (to add to the list) as well as give a real insight into market size and competition.
3. Search each keyword in Google to see who else is bidding for these keywords and who is ranking high organically.
While applying the third point of this analysis, you will get a good feeling around what really are relevant keywords for you and who are your potential competitors and not. In a smaller scale, it is available free of charge.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 3:
Benchmark competitors’ keywords
It is not so important that you nail all the keywords to 100% from the start. The point is to start with a few keywords and then update the list based on the knowledge you get from running the campaigns. Google will even give you suggestions on which keywords to add to your campaign as they are running.
One very important outcome from the above approach is that you will conclude which are your most strategic keywords. In other words, this process will provide the keywords that can generate the most traffic to your website. These strategic keywords you also want to target in the Organic search
When you have tested your keywords for a few weeks, each search term can be further optimized by using “match types.” Here is the example from Google AdWords’ support pages that visualize:
Increase Blog Reach Tip 4:
Use “match types” to avoid cold traffic
If you sell several products or services in different categories and maybe in different markets, you will quickly end up with thousands of keywords to target. The only way to manage this is to evaluate and apply a logical campaign structure.
Google AdWords basically has five levels of structure:
1. Account level - the Highest level where you have unique log-in details and billing information.
2. Campaign level - First grouping where you set a daily budget such as $10/day; geographic targeting (e.g., “UK + USA” or “50 km radius around Paris”) and language targeting, for example, English speaking users only.
Here you also choose if the campaign shall be active only for the search network or also for display network
3. Ad group level - An ad group contains one or more ads and a set of related keywords. Typically you would group all the ads and keywords in this ad group on one product or service.
4. Ad level - The advertisement that shows when somebody searches for your chosen keywords. Typically you start with one ad per ad group before testing more variants.
5. Keyword level - The lowest level where you might end up with thousands of keywords after accumulating all running ads. Note that the same keyword can appear in different ads.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 5:
Carefully evaluate the best campaign structure
Find more tips about how to effectively structure your account via AdWords’ support pages. The key success factor is to really think this through and adapt what is most logical for your specific market and product, before launching thousands of keywords.
Optimize the ad design
When managing your keywords effectively, you enable your ads to show up with the right search queries for the right audience. The next step is to make that audience click on your ad (given that they are potential customers = hot traffic) and come to your landing page where they can make a conversion, which means generate income for you.
The key question is: How to write the optimal text ad?
The answer: You don’t need to know how!
You can apply a simple “trial and error” technique called A/B-tests. Since Google AdWords enables you to have several ads connected to the same Ad Group you can:
1. Make two ads with different features (which would be split 50/50) for the users who see the ad.
2. Then you can compare which ad has the highest performance, for example, measured as the CTR = “Click-through rate” or in other words, how many times the ad was clicked in relation to how often it was displayed.)
Increase Blog Reach Tip 6:
Use A/B test to optimize the ad appearance
Note that it is key to have a hypothesis of what to test and to test one feature at a time. (In the example above, we tested only the headline.)
If you test too many changes in the ad at the same time, you will not know which component is connected with what improvement. Once you pick a winner in your first test, you can go on to test another thing and keep iterating until you have optimized to the max.
How you design your ad will not only have an effect on the CTR (click-through rate,) but it might also affect the quality score. Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant the ad is in relation to the chosen keywords and landing page.
As discussed previously, having a higher quality score is very attractive as it typically leads to a lower cost per click and better ad positions. Quality score can be improved by three main drivers:
1. Improved CTR - Which the A/B test above will achieve. A high CTR tells Google that the users are interested in your ad (since they click on it) and hence, it is relevant and deserves a higher score.
2. Keyword consistency in the ad text - Having the same keyword in the ad text that you have chosen for the ad group shows Google that the keyword is relevant for you and hence deserves a higher score.
3. Keyword consistency on the landing page - If the keyword in the ad text also appears frequently on your landing page, this shows Google that the users are being sent to the “right place” and hence deserve a higher score.
Just note that point 2 and 3 above calls for a “trade-off” since the implication of optimizing them fully means you should have an endless number of ad groups and landing pages (one for each niche keyword.) This is not a viable strategy from the operations’ point of view and hence needs to be balanced.
The success factor is to conclude what your most strategic keywords are and then use specific ads and landing pages for each strategic keyword.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 7:
Create separate ads and landing pages for each strategic keyword
How many landing pages you use and how you connect them via links are also key success factors for Organic search traffic. In the next blog, this will be discussed in detail.
Click through rate (CTR) does not tell the whole story. It merely shows how much traffic comes to your site in relation to how often your ad is shown. It does not tell whether this traffic actually converts into an income for you.
The good news is that this can easily be tracked! Insert a few lines of code provided by Google AdWords on your landing pages, and you will be able to see which traffic actually converted, (e.g., made blogging, purchased a product or anything similar.)
This enables you to follow up with some useful metrics (per ad, ad group, keyword, etc.)
Click conversion rate = What is the percentage of clicks that actually generates a conversion
Cost/ conversation = Total ad cost divided by the number of conversions
Return on Marketing = Generated income/ total ad cost
By focusing on conversion rates, not only clicks, you get the full picture and can compare how much money you actually spend to generate each sale.
Let’s go through a small exercise to exemplify this:
Let’s say you are selling a product online for $30.
Your direct cost to buy or produce for this product is $12.
This means that for each sale of this product, you get a “gross margin” of 30 - 12 = $18.
You use Google AdWords to get traffic to the site where you sell this product and your average cost per click (CPC) is $0.10. (It does not sound like much, right?)
Competition gets harder and you raise the bid to $0.20, still not so much?
But if only 1% of the users that click on your ad actually complete the desired action, your cost per conversion would go from (0,10/ 0,01 = ) $10 to (0,20/0,01=) $20 per conversion.
Since your gross margin per product is $18, the conclusion is that instead of making 18 - 10 = $8 per conversion, you are now losing 18 - 20 = -$2 per conversion.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 8:
Track and focus on conversions (not only clicks)
By reversing the example above, you can also calculate your maximum cost per click:
Your gross margin per product is $18.
Now, the maximum cost per conversion you could accept is $18. (Otherwise, the sale will be negative.)
Your conversion rate is 1% (meaning that 1 out of 100 clicks actually buys your product.)
This means that your maximum cost per click is 18 x 0.01 = $0.18.
Note that this is the maximum. Ideally, you want to spend much less so you can get the healthiest margins on each conversion to cover your other costs.
One way to improve the conversion rate is to use ad extensions to guide the user and lead him closer to the desired action. There are five main types of ad extensions:
1. Sitelink extensions - Show additional links to subpages of your website which the user can click directly on, such as “Our products,” “How it works,” and “Contact us.”
2. Location extensions - Show a pin with Google maps where your business is located (especially useful with local mobile searches with a plan to visit you physically.)
3. Call extensions - Enable the user to click a button to give you a phone call directly.
4. App extensions - Show mobile and tablet users a link below your ad text that sends them directly to the app store to download your app (if that is what you are selling.)
5. Rating and review extensions - Show the users what quantitative (e.g., 4.5/5) or qualitative testimonials are available such as “great experience, I will be back” from current and previous customers.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 9:
Use ad extensions to facilitate conversions
Different ad extensions obviously work best for different types of business models and situations, but most likely at least one of the above will be attractive for you to experiment with.
Successful bidding strategies
The goal of using Google AdWords is to maximize the net profit by generating as much “hot traffic” as possible with as little advertising cost and time management as possible.
This trade-off can, to a big extent, be affected by external factors, such as bid competition of different search terms, user behavior (if somebody searches for the term or not) and changes made by Google. But there are also several factors you can influence by applying a solid bid strategy and thereby, avoid costly mistakes.
One of the most common pitfalls in my experience is when people who are new to AdWords start using both Search and Display network marketing. “Display network” means your ad will show up on various websites that are affiliated with Google AdSense that have a completely different logic.
Using combined Search and Display targeting is the default setting in Google AdWords, so you need to actively choose “Search Network only” for each campaign to avoid the described issue.
So what is the problem with Display network marketing? The problem is that if you are not using very specific techniques, the Display network will most likely eat up all your daily marketing budget and stop your ads from showing up for real potential customers who search for your services on Google.
The reason is that there are lots of scam sites being created solely to drive people to click on Google AdSense links. Further on, if you do actually get a real potential customer to click on a display network ad, they are probably “less hot” than somebody who actively searches for your product or service on Google and you would hence want to pay less per click.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 10:
Focus on real Search traffic - avoid Display network marketing in the start-up
Just note that I only recommend you to avoid Display network in the start-up, meaning the first few months when you optimize your Paid search traffic. Once you have this under control, you can experiment with Display Ads in a very cautious way.
A great feature in Google AdWords (both for Search and Display marketing) is Remarketing campaigns. This means that you make targeted ads to people who have already visited your website and “window shopped.” If you can get them back in the store, they are probably more likely to convert than the average visitors.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 11:
Experiment with Remarketing campaigns
Technically, Remarketing campaigns work just like conversion tracking. You add short snippets of codes on your landing pages, and Google will then know if somebody who searches for your chosen keywords has been on your site before.
You can then reach this specific target group with additional keywords, adjusted bids (affecting the position and CTR) and decide to activate the display network only for these users (avoiding the typical pitfalls of Display networks.) You can also adjust the ad design and write a specific message (e.g., special promotions/ “Call to actions”) that is only visible to them.
There are many blogs online that explain the mechanics and techniques of remarketing in more detail. For further reading, please see the footnote.
Besides optimizing the financial effect of using Google AdWords, you also have your own time and effort to consider. One of the best developments available by Google, in my opinion, is the “automatic rules” function. Basically, there are five main automatic rules you can activate:
1. Change daily budget when…
2. Pause campaigns when…
3. Enable campaigns when…
4. Send email when…
5. Create the rule for ad groups, keywords or ads
Personally, I have had great success in the creation of specific rules regarding the bid for each keyword. By tracking the actual cost per conversion, not only cost per click, I discovered that a viable bidding strategy for Online School is to be in the third position of the inorganic search result.
The reason for not being in the top 1 or 2 is that you then tend to get many clicks from people who don’t read the ad so carefully (cold traffic!). At the same time, if you are on place 5-10, you get much fewer clicks since people go to another site before reading your ad. And if you are not on the first page at all, you typically don’t get any traffic at all.
You cannot force Google to place you in the position you want to be. You can only influence the platform’s decision by how much you bid (max CPC,) and this changes all the time (since other advertisers are bidding for the same keywords.)
It would, hence, take constant updates of your bids if you want to optimize and stay in position 3 (or any other performance metric) for each keyword. But by using the following automated rules, the system will handle this automatically:
The logic behind these rules is:
1. The first rule increases the bid for each keyword that has dropped to a position below 5.
2. The second rule decreases the bid for each keyword that has a better position than 3.
How much to increase/decrease the bids calls for some experimentation. It is also wise to set a cap (maximum bid) you are willing to pay (based on your break-even cost per conversion) and hence, keywords that are too expensive at the moment will automatically not show.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 12:
Put on the Autopilot bidding per keyword to save lots of time
Whether you apply the Autopilot based on position or any other metric (e.g., average CPC) depends on your business model, and it needs to be analyzed. Either way, placing your bid choices on autopilot is a great way to daily optimize your campaigns that do not need your constant attention.
Remember what we discussed earlier of how to conclude your maximum CPC based on what gross margin you get from each sale. By applying your maximum CPC in autopilot mode, you don’t need to worry so much about exceeding your daily budget.
It is instead better to put a high daily budget and let the maximum CPC for each keyword set the cap. This way you don’t risk losing any potential customers since your ads stop showing once your daily budget is reached.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 13:
Release the budget once the business case is proven
Going beyond AdWords
Google has >80% market share among search engines. Therefore, I have so far discussed only the opportunities that Google provides. But once you have ongoing campaigns successfully running on Google, it is time to also consider other search engines.
The good news is that the second largest search engine Microsoft’s Bing and the third largest search engine Yahoo have joined forces and enable you to advertise on both via one platform: Bing Ads.
The even better news is that Bing/Yahoo have realized that they will never be number one and therefore have applied a very pragmatic strategy to get at least some piece of the cake: automated incorporation of your Google AdWords account into Bing Ads!
Increase Blog Reach Tip 14:
Automatically transfer your Google campaign to Bing/Yahoo
Google AdWords and Bing Ads are not corresponding 100%, but still, you can sync both systems at least 90% automatically! This means that you can start up a Bing Ads account and have all your Google ads showing on Bing/Yahoo directly.
This will enable you to reach approximately 10% more audience which will vary according to market shares per country and will enable lower bids for the same positions (because of less competition) hence, lower cost per conversion compared to Google.
Even though Google today has over 80% market share, this has not always been the case, and it has varied a lot among different markets. For example, Yahoo has traditionally had a much bigger market share in the USA than in Europe. Emerging markets, like Russia and China, have alternative search engines challenging Google domestically.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 15:
Stay up to date with search market shares and trends while you grow
This means that it makes sense to stay up-to-date with search engine trends and market shares while you grow, i.e., with new markets. It can also be worth it to investigate the position of the local yellow pages’ companies in your specific market.
As a general rule, the more “local” your business is, the more interesting it can be to use search engine marketing from yellow pages companies.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 16:
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of making your landing pages appear high in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). To be successful, you must appear on the first page (top 10) for your most valuable keywords.
Unlike Paid search traffic, Organic search traffic requires long-term work and is very sensitive to changes in Google’s algorithms.
So, what decides how high your site will rank in Google’s organic search result? Google’s algorithm is a well-kept secret, and their team constantly updates it, which can have a big impact (positive or negative) on how much organic search traffic your website receives.
What we do know is that the algorithm considers over 200 factors in the ranking, but we don’t know exactly which they are and how they are valued and interdependent. But in a simplified way, you can say that your position on Google is an equation with three components:
Google organic position = Page authority x Keyword relevance x Site Performance
These three components and the best practices to optimize them are discussed in detail in the remaining part of this blog. However, there is one more “ingredient” in this equation: clickability. Once you appear in the Top10 organic search, you have completed 75% of your work. The rest is about making results “clickable” by users.
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Increase Blog Reach Tip 17:
Page Authority - How to get quality links to your website
One of the reasons that Google has been so successful in matching search queries with the most relevant content is that they, from the early days, have traced and ranked how websites are linking to each other.
Page Rank is a metric named after Google’s founder Larry Page which measures the “general importance” of a website. It is mainly based on how many other websites are linking to your website. It also looks at the importance of the page that contains the link.
Pages with higher Page Rank have more weight in “voting” with their links than pages with lower Page Rank. It also looks at the number of outgoing links on the page “giving the vote.”
The value from the votes is then shared equally by all outgoing links. This makes sense because people tend to link to relevant content. Therefore, websites with more links to them are usually better.
Page Rank is measured on a scale of 0-10. New websites start with page rank 0 and then the more than other websites start linking to it, the higher the page rank rises.
However, this is a logarithmic scale meaning that it is much harder to go from rank 6 to 7, compared to going from rank 2 to 3. You can check what Page Rank you're and your competitors’ websites have by using one of many free tools available online.
Page Rank was an extremely important factor in the early days of search engine optimization, but during the last years, it has faded in importance.
This is due to the fact that page rank was fairly easy to manipulate by building up the number of sites linking to each other (so-called link farms.) Over the years Google has made continuous updates in the search algorithm to include other factors affecting the ranking.
Google still publishes the Page Rank for all websites, but it is only updated around twice per year. This paved the ground for another more advanced ranking factor, called Page Authority, which is provided by SEO Software, Tools & Resources for Smarter Marketing.
Moz scores the page authority of each website on a 100-point, logarithmic scale. Meaning that it is easier to grow your score from 10 to 20 than it is to grow from 70 to 80. Besides ranking each website, it also gives a score of the top domain, called Domain Authority.
Unlike Page Rank, the Page Authority provided by Moz is regularly updated, and it includes additional factors that give a better indication of the “general importance” of your website for Google.
The Page Authority algorithm is recalibrated every time Google makes updates in its search algorithm, with the aim to provide the best possible indication of how well a given webpage is likely to rank in Google’s search results at any point of time.
The Page Authority and domain authority of any given website can be checked at Moz's Link Building Research Tool. You can also install it as a toolbar directly in your web browser: MozBar.
So how can you increase your Page Authority? Since Google is constantly changing its algorithm, the Page Authority algorithm is also constantly updated. However, in a simplified form, there are five main categories to consider:
1. Quantity and quality of incoming links - Basically the same as Page Rank.
2. The diversity of incoming links - It is better to have a few links from many different sites than it is to have a large number of incoming links from a few sites. Hence, the number of linking domains is more important than the absolute number of links.
3. Quantity and quality of outgoing links - Concerns how trustworthy you are in using your link voting. Linking to authority sites has a positive effect while linking to spam domains can be devastating.
4. Trustworthiness of your domain - Older domains are considered more trustworthy than new ones. The type of incoming links to your domain is also important.
For example, links from universities and government are considered more trustworthy, while links from spam sites have a negative impact. Another factor is the trustworthiness of other domains registered in your name.
5. Traffic measures - Including a number of returning visitors, number of page views per visitor, time spent on the page and the user bounce rate and how consistent the traffic is over time.
The most important factor is to have trustworthy websites linking to you. Note that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to links.
If you could get one website with a high Page Authority (e.g., 70) to link to your site while not linking to many other sites, this would be worth much more than hundreds of links from sites with low Page Authority and many outgoing links.
So how to get quality links? First of all, there are many websites with high Page Authority where you can be in control of putting a link to your website. Most obvious ones are company pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
There are also many niche platforms with similar logic. For example, Online School has supported Loans that change lives for a long time. (Kiva is a micro-loans platform for small entrepreneurs in developing countries.) A positive side effect of this is that we have an ongoing link to our team site from there.
Another thing to consider is if you might have additional websites within your network? For instance, maybe you or some of your friends have blogs or their own websites where you can place a link?
Or maybe it is worthwhile to create a separate website which will be easier to get PR links to? You can then transfer most of the Page Authority from this website to your main website (by only having outgoing links to this).
Increase Blog Reach Tip 18:
Post your URL on websites you have direct access to
Thousands of “Open directories” websites exist where you can insert a link to your website manually. Although it is an easy way to get many links, these links tend to have very low value since there are so many outgoing links sharing the “voting.” You also need to consider there is a fine line between an “open directory” and a “link farm.”
We don’t know which websites have been blacklisted by Google but for sure you will come across a few if you use this technique widely. Hence this technique shall either be avoided or only used on websites you are sure to be trustworthy.
Another medium where you can manually insert links is in the comment fields on blogs and forums. This has so far not been considered by Google as something which shall be punished. However, you will most likely be banned by the blog or forum moderators and get a negative impact of your brand if you just push your website without adding any relevant content to the discussion.
The above techniques are all examples of where you can be in control of manually creating links to your website The next level of link generation is to take an active approach in exchanging links with other websites. You start by creating a long list of websites which have both high value (high page rank but low outgoing links) and high probability to get a link from.
One of the best tips to evaluate the “probability” is to check who is linking to your competitors. For example, try the help of Moz's Link Building Research Tool. You then contact the website asking to exchange links. If you have had a website up and running for some time, I am sure you have received an e-mail at some point from a webmaster of another site asking to trade links?
Increase Blog Reach Tip 19:
Actively manage a Link exchange program
Just note there is a fine balance to “manipulate” your incoming links. During recent years Google has created many refinements in their algorithm which affect how high they rank different websites.
One example is that Google now rates how related the content is on the website that links to you is to your content. This means that it is OK to conduct some link exchanges and get links from forums and directories if the sites where the links come from are trustworthy and have relevant content for your website.
Another update in Google’s algorithm is that they today look for and punish websites with “unnatural link patterns.” I had a tough experience with Online School regarding this. Just over a few days, our organic search traffic from Google dropped 30%.
This update downgraded some of the links we got and instead favored competition. Hence, a few of our most strategic keywords dropped below Top10 which had a 30% impact on total organic traffic.
Before the Google update, I had worked actively with tip 15 and tip 16 above. To optimize the values of each link I had used anchor texts (the “clickable” text in the link) which corresponded to our strategic keywords.
For example, almost all links to our top domain had the anchor text “Online camp” while a link to the landing page for Online Camp Algarve had the anchor text “Online camp Algarve.”
The update in Google’s algorithm started to look for what they call “unnatural link patterns”, to be able to discover websites that had manipulated (too much) to gain their incoming links.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 20:
Make sure you have a natural link pattern
The key success factors to ensure you have a natural link pattern are:
1. Don’t use the same anchor text repeatedly - Google looks for anchor text variety
2. Avoid pointing links to only one of your own pages, for example, only to your top domain
3. Don’t trade links with low ranking websites, or even worse - “link farms”
4. Make sure the majority of your links come from websites with content that relates to yours
5. Build links slowly over time - as this looks more natural
6. Surround the links with text (e.g., “check out this Online camp for more info”)
Concerning the first point (to have varied anchor texts) you shall strive to have an even distribution (10-20% share) of the seven anchor text categories below:
Exact match -The anchor text is exactly the same as your strategic keyword
Phrase match - The anchor text includes your keyword plus other words
Brand Name - The anchor text is your brand or domain name
Keyword Branded - The anchor text combines your brand name and keywords such as “blog Online camp
Branded - The anchor text includes your brand name, plus some other words, but not your keywords.
Other - The anchor text includes some random text and/or some other keywords, but not your main keyword.
URL - The anchor text is just your website URL
Today the SEO community discusses “white hat” vs. “black hat” techniques, where black hat refers to overdoing link exchange, building up link farms, overstuffing links and websites with keywords. The common view is that the days of “black hat” are over and instead website owners need to focus on “white hat” techniques, meaning building fresh quality content and working with PR.
The core concept of “white hat” is to get your website mentioned in articles, blogs and in other online media. This can happen by itself.
The most effective technique is hence to work proactively with PR, either on your own or by engaging a PR-agency. This is often referred to as content marketing and is based on three main tactics you (or your agency) can apply:
1. Create your own articles and blogs related to your business - When the content you write can answer questions that people are looking for you will surely get natural links from other blogs and websites.
2. Engage bloggers to write about you - Or offer to write a guest blog at their website (with a link to you) which must be a “win-win.” Possibly cover the same topics as suggested in the first point, but the content is published on an external site and the link to your website is in the text.
3. Position yourself as an expert in your niche - One great free resource is HARO, Help a reporter out, where you can register as a subject matter expert and be automatically contacted when a reporter is looking for expertise you possess. You can also go one step further and use a PR-agency to write articles about, you which are then offered to a magazine as a freelance article.
Here is a Top 10 example of topics for articles and blogs.
In-depth advice connected with your offering - Additional travel tips when visiting Japan
“How-to” guides - How Online can train their skills even when there are no waves
. Interviews with a celebrity in your niche - Interviews with the Online coach of the national team
Test pilot - Online on an artificial wave in the desert of Dubai
Common “mistakes to be avoided” - Why many Engineers fail to develop their Online skills
News summary - Online news highlights of 2015
Historic event - How the first Online board was invented
Statistics - How many shark attacks on Online occur each year
Case studies - How a student association learned how to Online and party during spring break
Clarifications - Glossary of terms being used in Online and what they actually mean
Note that all of the above topics can be explored fairly easy by yourself if you just make some background check and start building a network in your niche. Neither do they require that you visit different industry events nor that you will be the first one to report on the subject?
Just be sure that you write unique content and just don’t “copy-paste” texts from other websites, as this kind of duplicate content is downgraded by Google.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 21:
Work proactively with PR, to get the most valuable links
Besides producing “text content” in articles and blogs, you can also create more advanced content that will be engaging for people to interact with. For example:
1. Launch a competition
2. Create a free tool, game or plug-in for download
3. Make a quiz or voting poll
4. Create smart Infographics
5. Make a Funny video
All the above can be perceived as valuable to many people and could trigger natural links and social media mentions.
There are many free tools available where you can track how your brand name and website are being mentioned (with and without proper links) on websites and in social media. Test some tools such as Google Alerts or Media Monitoring For Marketers | Influencer Marketing Platform.
Just remember to have an “online” perspective on your PR activities. It is not enough that your company is being mentioned in the article or blog; your target is to get a link (with suitable anchor text!) to your website.
If you are mentioned in an article without a link, it still has some value of brand recognition for the people reading the article. It is also some help for your SEO since Google will associate your brand name with relevant content and trustworthiness; however, it would be much more beneficial for you if there also is a link to your website.
If there is no link, it can be worth it to contact the article author and ask if they will include a link to your website. Accomplish this to increase the value and make more sense for the article readers. Besides receiving links to your website, it has during recent years also become important to get “social endorsements” to rank high on search engines.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 22:
Use social endorsement buttons
In a similar way, your ranking for a specific user can also be influenced by “local factors.” If you have listed the address of your store locations properly on Google My Business, you will rank higher for somebody in close geographic distance to your physical location.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 23:
Use local search ranking factors (listing correct store locations, etc.)
It can also affect the appearance and hence the “clickability” of your search result by showing a Google map with your location directly in the search result.
In summary, having many qualitative incoming links and social endorsements will improve your general ranking. But even if your competitors have higher general page authority, you can still outrank them for specific keywords, if you have better keyword relevance on that specific landing page.
Keyword relevance refers to how common a certain keyword is on your dedicated landing page. When the keyword a user is searching for occurs in logically important places on the landing page, this tells Google that the website is relevant for this keyword and, as a result, will rank it higher.
1. Your search for “sports shoes” in Google
2. There are company X and company Y in the search results
3. Company X used the phrase “sports shoes” 5 times on their landing page
4. Company Y used it 3 times
5. Which company has higher “Keyword Relevance?”
The obvious answer is company X (5 times vs. Y: 3 times). But what if Company Y used the search term in more “logically important” places, like in the headline or in the domain name? This would actually enable higher keyword relevance than company X (assuming that the keyword only occurred in the normal text here.)
Not that a “keyword” can consist of many different words. It can even be a whole sentence like: “The best running shoes for winter.” Actually, “key phrase” is a better term to describe this, but “keyword” is what is most commonly used in the SEO industry.
Keywords can be divided into three main groups, based on how specific they are:
1. Obsolete keywords - Keywords that are too general to optimize a landing page. The competition is too high and even if you would rank high, it would not generate much “hot traffic” since there are so many different needs behind the phrase. Example of this kind of keywords is “Online,” “Online,” and “online japan.”
2. Main keywords - Keywords that are specific enough to drive “hot traffic”, but still general enough to drive high search volumes. For example: “Online camp,” “Online camp Japan,” “Online school,” “Online school Japan.”
3. Long tail keywords - Keywords which are very specific and hence have less competition in the ranking, but also lower search volumes. For example “best Online school for women in Japan.”
Each landing page shall be targeted for one main keyword such as “Online campJapan.” If you try to get the landing page optimized for more keywords, i.e., “accommodationJapan” and “travelJapan,” Google will be confused and you will rather end up with low rankings (not Top10) for too many keywords.
Besides your main keyword, it is beneficial to also optimize each landing page for 3-7 additional long tail keywords, which are naturally clustered with the main keyword. For example, when doing research for the launch of this blog, I concluded to start building five landing pages with the following set-up:
Here is a Top10 guide to optimizing the keyword relevance of each landing page:
1. The domain name of each landing page shall be short, readable and include the main keyword. Example: Online CampJapan () target “Online camp Japan”
2. Unique title text including the main keyword for each landing page
3. The unique meta description for each landing page (does not need to include the keyword)
4. Unique main headline <h1> including the main keyword for each landing page
5. Sub-headlines <h2> including the main keyword or long tail keywords
6. Internal links shall be text (not pictures) and include the main keyword or long tail keywords
7. The keywords occur in <alt-tags> on pictures
8. The keywords occur in the file name of pictures
9. The keywords occur many times in the text, but not too frequently so it is considered as “spammy” by Google
10. Use also synonyms and variations of the keyword order such as “Morocco Online camps” instead of “Online campJapan” to not look “over-optimized” from Google’s perspective
Increase Blog Reach Tip 24:
Optimize keyword position density per landing page
Just note that there is a fine trade-off between creating a website with high keyword relevance vs. creating a “keyword spammed” site. If Google determines your site to be of the second type, it will have a very bad influence on your rankings, so be careful, test and iterate.
Another important factor is that Google discredits duplicate content. This means that if you have many landing pages with the same page titles, text, meta descriptions and such, but you only change selected keywords, Google will be suspicious and consider it as “spammy.”
Increase Blog Reach Tip 25:
Avoid duplicate content
It is therefore of great importance that you have as much unique text and pictures on each landing page as possible. Of course, there may be a trade-off between usability and site structure. But it can still be worth it to not use the same generic content on several pages unless they are adding value to the sales funnel.
This also means that you need to choose the most strategic keywords in your organic search effort since it will be very hard to build and manage hundreds of landing pages with totally unique content.
This is the same logic tip 6 - to create separate ads and landing pages for each strategic keyword. In this blog (Organic traffic) we motivate it by choosing the keywords we can get the most “free of charge” traffic for and therefore is worth the effort to create unique content for.
As an example, the landing page structure on Online School is based on the structure:
“Online camp <camp-name>”, for example, “Online campJapan” or “Online camp Mexico”.
There is no unique landing page which has “Online holidayJapan” or “learns to OnlineJapan” as the main keyword since it would be too much effort to create a unique structure (without duplicate data) for these secondary keywords.
This is based on the conclusion that “Online camp” is a more strategic keyword than “Online holiday” and “learn to Online,” based on market size and competition,
The term “Online schoolJapan” (along with the same logic for the remaining 24 Online camps) looks more interesting. Maybe it would be worth the effort to build unique landing pages for it? On the other hand, it can still be targeted as a long tail keyword for the landing page for “Online campJapan” and via paid search traffic.
One common pitfall regarding duplicate content is that your website can be accessed both with and without the www- prefix. The funny thing is that Google and other search engines then consider this as two different websites with the exact duplicate content! Therefore you shall decide which one is the master and use a “301 redirect link” from the second option.
Another way to handle this and other duplication errors that could occur (especially if your site has a search function for several dimensions) is to use what Google calls “canonical” tagging. This means that even if the same content could appear on several pages, you clearly markup which one is the “master page” that the specific content belongs to.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 26:
Use redirect or canonical links to make sure the right pages are indexed
The duplication pitfall together with high keyword competition have a big impact on how you set up your landing page structure. It is important that you avoid “keyword cannibalization,” meaning that you have more than one landing page that targets the same keyword. This confuses Google about which landing page is more important for the specific keyword and affects your rankings negatively.
It is also important to consider how deep the hierarchy you build the landing page structure on. Google will give you lower and lower ranking the further down in hierarchy from the top domain that the landing page occurs.
Hence a better structure we discovered for Online School is the following:
Level 2: Our 25 Online camps (http://aaa.com/our-Online-camps)
Level 3: Online Camp Lisbon (http://aaa.com/Online-camp/Lisbon)
Level 3: Online Camp Porto (http://aaa.com/Online-camp/Porto)
In this case, the most important landing pages are already on hierarchy level 3 and hence get a better ranking. The downside of this structure is that it is missing pages that optimize for the keywords “Online camps Europe” and “Online camps Portugal” which hence need to instead be targeted on separate landing pages without duplicating content or covering up with paid search traffic.
A good idea is to investigate your competitors and see what keywords they are targeting in what type of hierarchy. If you see competitors go too deep in their hierarchy, such could be an opportunity for you.
You can also affect part of the hierarchy with the way you use internal links, for example, the top domain link pointed directly to a very important product on hierarchy level 3.
The key idea is to base your landing page structure on keywords, meaning what people actually search for. It is tempting to just input the category names and product names that you have in your product portfolio, but if they are not the same keywords (or hierarchy) as people actually search for on Google, the keyword phrasing must be adapted.
Choose a landing page structure based on keyword relevance
But what about the keywords that your analysis shows are less important? Besides targeting them with Paid Search traffic, you can also create dedicated pages such as via your blog. With a blog, you can, for example, optimize each post for a keyword that you aren’t targeting with the main landing pages on your site.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 27:
Use your blog to target additional “long tail” keywords
Just note that there is no success to be found in writing blogs stuffed to the extreme with your targeted keyword. When writing for your blog, focus on developing great content on topics that people will want to read and share; this will drive the ranking up. If the blog post appears to “spammy,” Google could downgrade not only the blog post but your whole domain.
Also, consider that there are three different “objectives” to choose from when writing a blog post:
To get natural links
To capture potential customers searching for “niche keywords”
To use the blog post as endorsements to motivate customers to make a conversion
Besides your landing pages (which are always a target for one main keyword and 3-7 long tail keywords), you would typically have several other pages in your site hierarchy which you do not want to optimize. This can, for example, be in lower hierarchy pages such as in the “about us”-section such as company history or your payment process.
These pages need to exist from a usability point of view but not from a search engine point of view. The risk is that they include some of the keywords from your landing pages (cannibalization) and hence affect the ranking of these landing pages negatively (especially if they are on a lower hierarchy level.)
Increase Blog Reach Tip 28:
Actively manage what sites NOT to be indexed as well
The best way to handle this is to minimize internal links to “non-landing pages” and place the following meta tag into the <head> section of the page NOT to be indexed: <meta name=“robots” content=“noindex”>
Things to remember:
Understand what is the size of potential traffic for each keyword Understand how strong the competition is for each keyword
Conclude a site structure based on landing pages which each target 1 strategic keyword and 3-7 long tail keywords
Build and optimize keyword dense landing pages in this structure, avoiding duplicate content
Consider using blog posts to target additional keywords, which are not covered on any landing page
Keep in mind that there will always be a trade-off between user-friendliness and the keyword-driven website structure
Increase Blog Reach Tip 29:
The third main factor affecting how well you rank on Google and other search engines is the site performance. This means how easy and safe it is to access and use your website. The first hygienic factor is to make sure that there are no errors on the website and that you follow the very latest HTML standards.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 30:
Follow the latest HTML standards
This can be easily checked by logging into Google Webmaster Tools. This is free of charge tool that can give you many insights into how your website is being perceived by Google and if there are any issues to be addressed. If you have any issues you will get excellent guidance on how to restore them by following the instructions on Google support pages.
In the last few years, the graphic design and functionality of websites have become more advanced and sophisticated, which increases loading times. In order to address this issue, Google has started to discredit sites that have long loading times.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 31:
Monitor and improve the page speed
As a rule of thumb, page speed would be an issue if it takes more than 3 seconds for your website to load. There are many available free tools that help you measure and diagnose the potential issues with your site loading times (e.g., http://tools.pingdom.com.)
In that case, you should try to diagnose the root cause, which can be either of two main sources:
1. External - If the problem is with your web hotel’s capacity, you can either buy more server space or change web hotel.
2. Internal - The issue may be your website code. You can recode the HTML and CMS or reduce image and file sizes.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 32:
Enable high-security level
In July 2018, Google announced that they will place higher and higher weight on security in the organic ranking factor. Specifically, they mentioned that the implementation of basic encryption of the data using HTTPS (instead of HTTP) will affect ranking more and more.
Another factor of your site performance is that it is working well on different platforms, including smartphones and tablets with various screen sizes. This can have a big effect on your conversion rate for these devices.
However, the responsiveness of your website on different devices has also been included as a ranking factor by Google, meaning that if your website is not suitable for tablets and smartphones, it will affect your ranking in a negative way.
Google offers concrete tips about what should be changed to improve both the page speed and user-friendliness in mobile devices. Check out: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights.
So, you have been successful in optimizing the equation: Page Rank x Keyword Relevance x Site Performance.
Chances are high that you have outperformed enough competitors to appear on Google’s first page (Top10). Congratulations!
However, it is not enough to be visible on Top10 organic search list; potential customers must also choose to click on your listing (and not a competitor’s) to actually come to your site and make a conversion. Hence, the fourth important factor to consider is “clickability”.
What makes you click on a search result? Using common sense, it shall be a clear title and description to confirm that the site contains what you are looking for.
However, there may be a trade-off between making a website “clickable” and optimizing it to rank high on Google. So, if you are “too strategic” when inserting your keywords (e.g., the title and meta description of the landing pages) this will make much more sense for the search engine, than for a human who prefers that which does not feel contrived.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 33:
Find the best trade-off between writing headline and intro for Robots vs. Real users
The good news is that Google also takes the click-through rate (CTR) into considerations in the rankings. This means that if you get many people to click on your listing, it will over time appear higher in the search result.
A best practice is to include a “unique selling point” (USP) in the meta description. Here are a few examples:
Travel insurance - Get a price quote in 30 seconds!
Design cufflinks - Free delivery worldwide!
Ergonomic pillows - 100% money back guarantee the first year!
Google also considers the “dwell time,” meaning how long time an average visitor spends on your site before going back to the search result. It is hence very important that you keep “the promise” you make in the search result.
One factor that has been sort of a revolution for “clickability” is rich snippets.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 34:
Study the search results below
Which one would you click on? The one with the pretty yellow stars, right?
“Rich snippets” was introduced by Google to help the search engine to better understand the components of your website. The technique can be applied to many different cases (events, recipes, people, etc.) but where I find it most useful for e-commerce is in tagging product reviews and product prices.
Tip 31: Use “rich snippets” to show your products directly in the search result
The content on your website can be easily tagged with rich snippets via Google Webmaster tools.
Synergize with other (non-search) traffic sources
In the first two blogs, we discussed the key success factors to get traffic from search engines, both paid and organic. In this blog, we will explore how to acquire traffic from sources other than search engines. This traffic is often called “referral traffic” and has dual benefits:
1. Generate direct “hot traffic” which may convert at your landing page.
2. Generate links that boost your page rank in organic search
Referral traffic can also help to build your status as a trustworthy company, but only if you keep the “off-site” data up to date. There are three main types of “non-search traffic sources”: Social Media traffic, Online Ads and “Offline” marketing.
Increase Blog Reach Tip 35:
START WITH FB ADS
Whether you have one Facebook fan or one million, you should always look to grow your online presence on the social media platform with ads. Understand that you will not sell your product or service to every fan on your list, or on your email list, but you need to use Facebook systems to continue prospecting.
Send your leads from Facebook to your website pages that explain your business and offer. Expand your reach with Facebook Like ads to introduce your business to potential buyers with a single click on the like button, and then over time, you will have the opportunity to continue posting organically to your new followers on Facebook.
Remember to lead with value and education in your Facebook Ads, and always run campaigns to create more likes for your page. Seriously, always have like campaigns running.
The “like” campaigns will help to search for additional interested prospective clients, so be sure to use your headline and graphics to explain the value for your potential clients to press the “like” button. You can run a various amount of ads in your like campaign tests, and just be sure to turn off campaigns that are not performing well.
A good performance for a like campaign will be the U.S. likes for under $.25 per like, and international English-speaking countries at under $.10 per like, with everyone else performing under $.05 per like. If your like campaigns are not performing at these numbers, continue testing new ads until you find the perfect ads for your business.
Then it is good to run ads to your fans and friends of fans with a very low or free offer they might be interested in. A low offer could be something for free, or a very low priced offer with a huge benefit.
Again, test to find out what is working for your business and try to scale the successes and learn from the failures. The more interested the people are in your offers, the more likely they will be to sign up to your email list and take further action with your business.
Use retargeting ads through Facebook to give a secondary offer, if the first offer was looked at but not signed up for. Keep this window narrow, as you do not want to be wasting money after 10 days if they have not taken action with your offers yet. After the sign-up to the first offer, start advertising your next offer in the sequence, perhaps a free workshop or another action that you want the prospect to take.
Note: at this point, it is a good idea to start qualifying leads with scorecards or questionnaires. You do not want to continue spending money in advertising and nurturing the lead if they are the wrong prospect for your business.
This is an excellent time to remind you that we have training on ScaleUP Academy where we show you exactly what is working right now in our business, and we have free workshops that you or your employees can attend online to learn how to master Facebook ads for your company.
I always ask new clients, “Which social media platform do you want to be the best at?”
Often I hear the response, “All of them. I want to have more followers than my competition.”
Although I love ambition, we need to find a place to start. And I recommend Facebook. Become the best at Facebook and all the other profiles can follow. This is not to say that you will not be posting anywhere else, no. Just focus your concentration mostly on Facebook to start, set up Facebook Ads for success and then move onto the next platform.
Why Facebook? Because Facebook has access to an extremely large audience and the ad network is very easy to master, once you know the expert secrets to master Facebook ads. You can find our strategies all at ScaleUP Academy. Also, Facebook is excellent for video, which can be a huge asset to your business in the future.
If you are not currently leveraging video in your business, you need to get started ASAP. The video is an excellent way to educate, inspire and sell to your potential buyers. We have people finding our videos every day and buying products from us, and you can set up the same systems for your company too.
Some businesses can find massive success through Facebook and YouTube, while Twitter and LinkedIn seem to be working better in other industries. Regardless of your business, take a look at what your competition is doing and identify opportunities to prospect for new leads through each platform.
Take massive action and test everything! Come up with new ideas and never rule out something just after testing once.
Fact is, I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising over the years, and I have learned what works and doesn’t work. However, sometimes I am surprised when I would think something is guaranteed to perform well, but somehow it fails.
After spending all this money, I am still just making educated guesses, and I am testing theories that I believe will work. You can do the same thing, and with time and experience, you will be able to become a master in advertising just like so many others across the world.