This may be of some interest.
Even if you don’t know what an API is, you’ve undoubtedly interacted with one.
Today, we take connectivity between technology largely for granted. For instance, we don’t question when we use OpenTable to make a reservation at a nearby restaurant.
Alternatively, if you use Kayak.com to book flights, you’ve probably never wondered, Wait a minute … how does Kayak know JetBlue has an open seat in 27A?
Ultimately, any time you need applications to communicate with one another, you need an API, or application programming interface.
Here, we’re going to explore what an API is, and why you’d need to use one. Even if you’re not a programmer and don’t need to know extensive technical jargon, you should still understand the basics, since nowadays, integrations between technology are often critical components of anyone’s job.
What is an API?
At its most basic definition, an API lets one piece of software talk to another piece of software.
To understand an API in action, let’s consider a real-life example — HubSpot’s integration with Typeform. Typeform, a tool that supplies mobile-ready quizzes, contact forms, and signup forms, needs to integrate with HubSpot’s Forms API to to interact with the forms tool and seamlessly send submissions from Typeform forms into the HubSpot CRM.
To do this, Typeform’s API and HubSpot’s API need to talk. An integration can act as a translator, ensuring each API’s information is correctly translated for the other application — in this case, the integration may ensure that Typeform form fields are correctly mapped to the corresponding HubSpot fields.
Isaac Takushi, a HubSpot Developer Support Specialist, explains — “You can think of APIs and the ‘endpoints’ they comprise as access points for different information. Each API endpoint may only have one specific job. When combined, however, different endpoints can support powerful, multifaceted integrations.”
Kayak.com, for instance, needs some API to communicate with JetBlue’s systems. When you search “Boston to Charlotte” in Kayak, JetBlue’s booking API will essentially receive this request from Kayak, pull up information related to that request, and send it back. However, Kayak will need its own API or code to understand and act on the information the JetBlue API returned.
To use an API, you’ll want to check out the API’s documentation for access requirements. For instance, HubSpot’s Contacts API requires authentication:
Once you have access requirements, you can use a tool like Postman or Runscope to manually interact with an API. These third-party tools, or “REST clients,” allow you to make one-off requests to API endpoints without coding. They’re great for getting a feel for what your backend systems may do automatically. Check out this resource on how to make your very first API request with Postman.
If you’re not quite ready to jump in on the deep end with a REST client, try punching the following into your browser:
This is a public API endpoint from the free REST Countries service. Specifically, we’re using the “Name” endpoint, which accepts country names as search queries. A successful search will return potential country matches, along with key information about each nation. In this case, we’re searching for countries with names that contain the word “united.”
You should see following block of JSON data returned:
Congratulations! You just made an API request from your browser!
The endpoint returned raw data (formatted in JSON) on countries with “united” in the name.
It may not look pretty, but remember that APIs are designed for applications, which don’t require the styling humans expect on an HTML web page. While you can easily Google “countries that begin with ‘united’,” applications cannot. They might have to rely on services like REST Countries to look up that information.
If you’re unsure whether you should use your in-house developers to create APIs or look externally, check out First vs. Third-Party APIs: What You Need to Know.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Whether pop-culture, local or global news, work, or the brands I use and wear, Twitter is a powerful social networking tool and search engine in which I can typically find the latest information about virtually any topic. This also includes updates from the companies and businesses I care about.
Businesses, like HubSpot, are able to market on Twitter to engage users and followers, increase brand awareness, boost conversions, and more (we’ll discuss the “more” shortly). Twitter makes it easy to distribute content. And, there are over 326 million average monthly Twitter users globally for you to share that content with.
The thought of reaching hundreds of millions of leads through a free social media platform sounds intriguing, right? But how do you actually ensure you’re generating fantastic content those people will want to interact with?
In this guide, we’ll answer that question along with some others including what a Twitter marketing strategy is, how you can use Twitter for your business, and what tips and tricks you can implement to help you improve your marketing efforts on the platform.
Let’s get started.
What is a Twitter marketing strategy?
A Twitter marketing strategy is a plan centered around creating, publishing, and distributing content for your buyer personas, audience, and followers through the social media platform. The goal of this type of strategy is to attract new followers and leads, boost conversions, improve brand recognition, and increase sales.
Creating a Twitter marketing strategy will require you to follow the same steps you would if you were creating any other social media marketing strategy.
- Research your buyer personas and audience
- Create unique and engaging content
- Organize a schedule for your posts
- Analyze your impact and results
So, you might be wondering what makes Twitter unique. Why would you want to actually invest the time in creating a profile and content for the platform?
What makes Twitter unique?
Twitter is a great marketing tool for a number of reasons. The platform …
… is free to use.
… allows you to share and promote branded content in seconds.
… expands your reach.
… allows you to provide quick customer service and support.
… works as a search engine tool for you to search for your competitors and their marketing content to see which tactics they’re using.
… can be used as a search engine tool for prospects to find and learn about your company.
… allows you to converse with your followers, share the latest updates about your company, and address your audience.
Now that we’ve reviewed what a Twitter marketing strategy is and what makes the platform unique, let’s cover the ways in which you can use Twitter for your business. These tips will help you boost conversions, create lasting relationships with your followers, and improve your brand awareness.
As you begin using Twitter for your business, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure you reach your target audience. Depending on your goals, company size, and industry, you may or may not choose to work through each of the following steps (or you may have already completed some of them), so tailor them to your needs.
1. Customize and brand your profile.
When someone looks at your company’s Twitter profile, you want them to automatically know it’s yours. Meaning you should customize and brand your Twitter profile with your logo, colors, and any other recognizable and memorable details you want to incorporate. There are a few locations in which you can customize your profile.
- Handle: Your Twitter handle is your username (for example, our handle is @hubspot) — this should include your company’s name so your followers, customers, and fans can easily search and find you on the platform. You create your Twitter handle when you sign up for an account.
- Header: The header on your Twitter profile is your background image. You might choose to create a unique image for your header, use your logo, or another branded image.
- Profile picture: Your Twitter profile picture represents your company’s every move, interaction, post, and tweet on the platform. It’s the image that sits above your bio and might include a picture of your logo, company’s initials, or CEO.
- Bio: A Twitter bio provides everyone who visits your profile with a brief synopsis of what they’re about to see in 160 characters or less. It might include your mission statement, a blurb about what your company does, or something humorous and engaging.
- Website URL: Beneath your profile picture and bio, there’s a location where you can include your URL to direct traffic straight to your website.
- Birthday: In the same location as your URL, you can insert your company’s birthday — or the day when the company was founded — so your audience gets to know your business on a more personal level.
2. Create Twitter Lists.
A Twitter List — which any user has the ability to create and view — is an organized group of Twitter accounts you’ve selected and put together in specific categories. For example, at HubSpot, lists include Leadership Experts, Top Marketing Experts, Top Business Podcasters, and more. When you open a Twitter List, you only see tweets posted by the accounts on the list.
Twitter Lists are great if you want to follow only specific accounts. You might segment your lists into groups such as business inspiration, competitors, and target audience so you’re able to easily review their posts, interactions, and content.
You can schedule and host a Twitter chat to engage your followers, discuss a topic, create a sense of community, and ask your audience for their opinions or input on something you’re working on.
To host a Twitter Chat (or TweetChat), you’ll need to choose a topic, set a time and date for the chat to occur, and create a hashtag for the chat. You can share this information with your followers in a tweet, on your website, in your Twitter bio, and wherever else you choose.
Everyone who wants to participate in the Twitter Chat should then be able to view all responses, questions, and comments regarding your topic of choice by searching your unique hashtag, as well as sharing their own comments and thoughts by adding the hashtag to their tweets.
Twitter Chats promote interaction and engagement on your profile and get people talking about your brand. It also creates a more personal experience between your audience members and your business.
4. Advertise on Twitter.
Advertising through Twitter is a great way to reach your audience. This will make your tweets easily discoverable by thousands of people, helping you increase your influence and following. You can do this through promoted tweets or Twitter Ads.
Promoted tweets make your tweets appear in the Twitter streams or Twitter search results of specific users. This is a great option for anyone looking to get more people on a specific webpage. Your business will pay a monthly fee as long as you’re promoting a tweet.
Twitter will put your promoted tweets in a daily campaign targeting the type of audience you want to reach as previously indicated in your settings. All Twitter users have the ability to interact and engage with Twitter Ads the same way they would with your organic content.
Twitter Ads is a great option if you’re using different types of tweets to achieve one goal for your business. It’s ideal if you’re looking to grow your base of followers and brand awareness significantly through the platform.
Your business can decide between different objectives when it comes to your Twitter ads including app installs, video views, and website conversions, as well as audience targeting for your campaigns. This decision will impact the price you’ll need to pay to run your ad.
5. Drive traffic to your website.
Twitter can help you direct traffic to your website — there are a number of ways to include your website’s URL on your profile as well as add links to your web pages and blogs in your tweets. Here are some ways you can use the platform to direct traffic to your website to help you increase your conversions and sales.
- Add your website URL beneath your bio on your Twitter profile.
- Incorporate links to your website in your tweets.
- Retweet any content that includes direct links to your website and/ or blogs other people have shared.
- Embed tweets on your website with a Twitter Timeline.
- Set up Twitter Ads to drive users to a specific landing page on your site.
6. Use Twitter Moments.
Twitter Moments are collections of tweets about a specific topic or event. They’re like a “best of” collection of tweets regarding your topic of choice. For example, Twitter’s Moments section includes “Today”, “News”, “Entertainment”, and “Fun.”
You can also create your own section of Moments for your followers to view on your profile.
You might organize your Twitter Moments into groups of tweets to help you market your business’ events and campaigns or related industry news. They also help with your marketing tactics by providing your business with an engaging way to promote the discussion of specific topics and/ or events that matter to your company to help you share your brand image with audience members.
7. Get verified on Twitter.
You might choose to apply to get your Twitter profile verified depending on the size of your company and your industry. Twitter states they typically only accept requests for account verification if you’re in “music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.” If Twitter accepts your application and verifies your profile, a badge with a blue checkmark inside of it will appear next to your handle. This symbolizes an authentic account.
Being verified prevents your audience members from following and being confused by impersonator accounts or accounts with similar content, usernames, and handles to yours. A verified account also makes your business look more legitimate and trustworthy.
8. Focus on building your follower count.
Needless to say, the more Twitter followers you have, the more people there are looking at and interacting with your content. You’ll have a better chance to improve brand awareness and direct more traffic to your website when you build your follower count on Twitter.
There are a number of ways you can increase your follower count on Twitter — here are some to get you started:
- Ensure your content is shareable.
- Use unique hashtags.
- Create engaging content (giveaways, contests, questions, surveys).
- Enlist the help of Twitter (social media) influencers.
- Include links to your Twitter profile on your website.
- Interact with your current followers and retweet their content so they’re more likely to do the same for you.
Now that we’ve reviewed how to use Twitter for business, let’s cover some tips and tricks you can apply to your profile to improve your marketing efforts on the platform.
The following Twitter marketing tips are universal, meaning they’re applicable to any type of business, in every industry..
1. Use keyword targeting in your Twitter Ads.
Keyword targeting on Twitter is component of Twitter Ads. Keyword targeting allows you to engage Twitter users through the different words and phrases you’ve included in your content and they’ve searched for on the platform. This means you’re able to reach your target audience at the exact time your business, content, and services are most relevant to them.
On Twitter, there are two types of keyword targeting you can use including search and timeline.
Search Keyword Targeting
Search keyword targeting allows you to make your tweets show up for users who are searching for the topics that you determined relate to your business. For example, if you sell gluten free cookies, you can target users searching for tweets about baking, cookies, gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease.
Timeline Keyword Targeting
Timeline keyword targeting allows you to act on users’ specific feelings, thoughts, actions, and emotions they’ve tweeted about. For example, if you’re a running gear company, you might target keywords and phrases users tweet about such as, “running a race”, “race day tips”, or “training for a marathon”.
2. Implement hashtags.
Did you know tweets with hashtags receive two-times as much engagement as tweets without them?
Adding hashtags to your tweets is a great way to expand your influence on Twitter. However, there are some guidelines you’ll want to stick to when using hashtags to ensure that you reach the largest number of people possible.
- Create a hashtag that’s unique to your business so your followers and target audience can easily find you and your content.
- Create relevant and memorable hashtags for other groups of tweets such as ones related to a specific campaign you’re running.
- Use Twitter Analytics to review your most successful hashtags so you can ensure their use in future tweets.
- Don’t overuse hashtags — this may feel and look spammy to your audience (not to mention it isn’t aesthetically pleasing). Also, tweets with more than two hashtags see a 17% decrease in engagement than those with one or two hashtags.
3. Organize a content sharing schedule.
As you grow your base of followers, you’ll need to post on a regular basis to ensure they stay engaged with your business and content. Not only do you want to tweet regularly, but you also want to tweet at the right times of the day. Here are some details about the best times (on average) for businesses to share their Twitter content:
- Between 8–10 AM and 6–9 PM (in correlation with commuter schedules) on weekdays
- Around noon or between 5–6 PM on any day of the week
- For B2C companies, the best days to tweet are weekends
- For B2B companies, the best days to tweet are weekdays
In terms of how often you should post your content on Twitter, there’s no real rule — it’s more about ensuring the content you’re sharing has a purpose and meaning. You can also review Twitter Analytics to take a deep dive into what your engagement looks like on the days you post more or less content to determine what’s working well for your specific audience.
Once you’ve determined when and how often you’re going to post your content, you can enlist the help of a social media management tool. This will allow you to both create your tweets and schedule them in advance so you can focus on other tasks you have to complete.
- Sprout Social provides you with a range of features to help you reach your target audience and buyer personas through Twitter including platform analytics, engagement tools, scheduling capabilities, and details about the type of content your audience wants.
- Twitter Analytics allows you to analyze your tweets, understand which content is helping your business grow, and learn about your followers.
- HubSpot has a social tool which allows you to schedule posts in advance, connect directly with your audience, and understand how your Twitter interactions are helping your business’ bottom line.
4. Create a Twitter campaign.
Social media marketing campaigns of any kind are a great way to reach your audience, drive sales, and increase your website traffic. You can create a social media marketing campaign specifically for Twitter to target users and increase your base of followers all while raising your brand awareness through the platform.
To create a Twitter marketing campaign, you’ll want to follow the same steps you would with any type of social media marketing campaign.
- Research your competition
- Determine how you’ll appeal to your target audience
- Choose the type of content you’ll create
- Share and promote your content
- Analyze your results
5. Write a strong profile bio.
Writing a strong and memorable bio for your Twitter profile is crucial. This is because your Twitter bio is the first thing a profile visitor will read about your company — it’s your written introduction and should briefly explain what visitors can expect from your page and content. You only have 160 characters to do this, so choose your words wisely to ensure your bio successfully represents your brand and reflects who you are as a company.
6. Use images and videos.
When possible, try to include quality videos and photos in your tweets. It’s been proven that tweets with images outperform tweets strictly made of text. Photos and images provide an eye-catching and engaging element in your content as Twitter users scroll through their feeds. Videos are proven to actually outperform tweets with images as well. In fact, tweets with videos are likely to get an average of six times the amount of engagement than tweets without them.
Videos and images are a great way to show your audience your product line or how to use an item you sell as well as make your content feel more personal. Plus, images and videos in tweets are proven to help you increase your engagement — and who wouldn’t want that?
7. Interact with your followers.
Remembering to engage with your followers as your business grows and Twitter follower count increases is crucial. This will help you create experiences for your followers and audience members that feel personal and keep them coming back to your profile all while fostering a sense of brand loyalty. For example, if someone retweets your post or comments on your tweet, you can “Like” that person’s interaction or even tweet back to them with a response.
8. Share media mentions.
If your business is mentioned in the media, share the article, video, URL, or image on Twitter. It’ll make your business feel more legitimate to anyone checking out your profile as well as show prospective followers how many other people already know about your company and are enjoying your products and services.
This is an exciting way to broadcast your success to your audience. It also provides you with a way to incorporate backlinks in your tweets which, when clicked, take your audience members to the original source of the mention. Meaning you’ll also drive traffic to the website of the media outlet that mentioned you, likely boosting their follower count and/ or brand recognition. This could potentially help you become mentioned, shared, or featured in one of their pieces of content again in the future.
9. Keep an eye on your competitors’ Twitter accounts.
Twitter is a great way to keep an eye on your competitors’ marketing efforts. You can follow them or simply search them to see what they’re posting. You can also view basic details about their engagement such as their number of retweets, comments, and responses. This is a simple way to see some of the Twitter marketing strategies your competitors are implementing and whether or not they’re working.
10. Focus on followers’ interests and needs when creating content.
If you want to reach your audience members and ensure your content resonates with them, you’ll need to focus on their interests and needs— whether that’s in relation to the way you share content, what you share, or how you present it.
When you meet the needs of your target audience and buyer personas, they’ll be more likely to continue to follow and interact with your company. As you study your buyer personas and target audience, you’ll be able to determine the type of content they’re likely looking for you to share. Additionally, you can always tweet questions, send out surveys, ask for feedback, or even create a Twitter Chat to get more ideas about the type of content your audience is looking for from your business and Twitter profile.
11. Promote your events.
Twitter is a great way to promote your business’ events. Similar to the way you might for a Twitter campaign, you can create a unique hashtag for various events (such as launch parties, giveaways, and contests) or schedule a variety of tweets (using one of your social media management tools) to promote any special occasion your company is hosting. This way, audience members — whether or not they’re your followers — will have the opportunity to learn about your event and get all of the details they need to sign up, be in attendance, or participate.
12. Check your direct messages regularly.
Like other social media platforms, Twitter provides users with a Direct Message inbox where they can contact you in a private message regarding any questions, concerns, or comments they have. So, be sure to check your inbox regularly as this can contribute to the type of customer service and support your business is known for, as well as the type of care you provide your followers and customers.
13. Keep track of your analytics.
With all of the work you’re putting into your business’ Twitter marketing, you’ll want to ensure your efforts are successful in reaching your goals whether they’re related to directing more traffic to your website, increasing conversions, or improving brand awareness.
You can determine your Twitter marketing success in these areas (and many more) by analyzing your work. To do this, you’ll want to consider which metrics matter to you and then determine how you’re going to track them.
Which Metrics to Track on Twitter
Due to every business being unique and having different goals, you might not be interested in tracking all of the following Twitter metrics (or you might be looking to track additional metrics). However, we’ve compiled the following list of possible metrics for you to consider to get you started.
- Engagement: Look at the number of retweets, follows, replies, favorites, and click-throughs your tweets get (including all hashtags and links they include).
- Impressions: Review the number of times your tweets appeared on one of your audience members’ timelines (whether or not they’re actually following you).
- Hashtags: Look at which of your hashtags are being used most frequently by your audience and followers.
- Top tweets: Review your tweets with the most engagement.
- Contributors: Keep up with the level of success each of your contributors — the people you give admin access to on your account — are having with their tweets so you can implement some of their tactics more regularly or remove them completely.
How to Track Twitter Analytics
There are a number of social media management tools, such as Sprout Social, HubSpot, and Hootsuite, with analytics features automatically built in. This is convenient for those of you who were already planning on choosing a management tool to assist with the scheduling of your posts. However, one of the most common analytics tools for Twitter is the one created specifically for the platform: Twitter Analytics.
Twitter Analytics helps you understand how your content impacts your audience and the ways in which your activity on the platform can help you grow your business. The tool is free, accessible to all users, and includes information about your Twitter engagement rate, impressions, tweet activity, and information about your followers.
Depending on your business’ needs, you have the ability to incorporate Twitter Ads (if you pay for the option) data in Twitter Analytics as well. Lastly, there are a number of other third-party resources and apps you can download and use along with Twitter Analytics to take a deeper look at specific types of data such as detailed hashtag performance information or how other Twitter handles in your industry are doing.
Start Marketing on Twitter
Twitter is a powerful marketing tool and social media platform any business can take advantage of. It has the ability to help you direct more traffic to your website, improve brand awareness, engage your audience, create personal relationships with your followers and customers, boost conversions, and increase your sales. So, consider the Twitter for business tactics as well as the marketing tips and tricks mentioned above and get started sharing content on Twitter to help you grow your business today.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Posted by randfish
Can you learn SEO in an hour? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, at least when it comes to the fundamentals!
With this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we’re kicking off something special: a six-part series of roughly ten-minute-long videos designed to deliver core SEO concepts efficiently and effectively. It’s our hope that this will serve as a helpful resource for a wide range of people:
- Beginner SEOs looking to get acquainted with the field concisely & comprehensively
- Clients, bosses, and stakeholders who would benefit from an enhanced understanding of your work
- New team members who need quick and easy onboarding
- Colleagues with SEO-adjacent roles, such as web developers and software engineers
Today we’ll be covering Part 1: SEO Strategy with the man who wrote the original guide on SEO, our friend Rand. Settle in, and stay tuned next Friday for our second video covering keyword research!
Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special edition of the Whiteboard Friday series. I’m Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, and I’m here with you today because I’m going to deliver a one-hour guide to SEO, front and back, so that you can learn in just an hour the fundamentals of the practice and be smarter at choosing a great SEO firm to work with, hiring SEO people.
A handy SEO resource for your clients, team, and colleagues
If you are already in SEO, you might pick up some tips and tactics that you didn’t otherwise know or hadn’t previously considered. I want to ask those of you who are sort of intermediate level and advanced level SEOs — and I know there are many of you who have historically watched me on Whiteboard Friday and I really appreciate that — to give this video a chance even though it is at the beginner level, because my hope is that it will be valuable to you to send to your clients, your potential customers, people who join your team and work with you, developers or software engineers or web devs who you are working with and whose help you need but you want them to understand the fundamentals of SEO.
If those are the people that you’re talking to, excellent. This series is for you. We’re going to begin with SEO strategy. That is our first part. Then we’ll get into things like keyword research and technical SEO and link building and all of that good stuff as well.
The essentials: What is SEO, and what does it do?
So first off, SEO is search engine optimization. It is essentially the practice of influencing or being able to control some of the results that Google shows when someone types in or speaks a query to their system.
I say Google. You can influence other search engines, like Bing and DuckDuckGo and Yahoo and Seznam if you’re in the Czech Republic or Baidu. But we are primarily focused on Google because Google has more than a 90% market share in the United States and, in fact, in North America and South America, in most of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East with a few exceptions.
Start with business goals
So SEO is a tactic. It’s a way to control things. It is not a business goal. No one forms a new company or sits down with their division and says, “Okay, we need to rank for all of these keywords.” Instead what you should be saying, what hopefully is happening in your teams is, “We have these business goals.”
Example: “Grow our online soccer jersey sales to a web-savvy, custom heavy audience.”
Let’s say we’re an online e-commerce shop and we sell customized soccer jerseys, well, football for those of you outside of the United States. So we want to grow our online soccer jersey sales. Great, that is a true business goal. We’re trying to build a bigger audience. We want to sell more of these jerseys. In order to do that, we have marketing goals that we want to achieve, things like we want to build brand awareness.
Next, marketing goals
Build brand awareness
We want more people to know who we are, to have heard of our particular brand, because people who have heard of us are going to be more likely to buy from us. The first time you hear about someone, very unlikely to buy. The seventh time you’ve heard about someone, much more likely to buy from them. So that is a good marketing goal, and SEO can help with that. We’ll talk about that in a sec.
Grow top-of-funnel traffic
You might want to grow top-of-funnel traffic. We want more people coming to the site overall so that we can do a better job of figuring out who is the right audience for us and converting some of those people, retargeting some of those people, capturing emails from some of those people, all those good things.
Attract ready-to-buy fans
We want to attract ready-to-buy fans, people who are chomping at the bit to buy our soccer jerseys, customize them and get them shipped.
SEO, as a strategy, is essentially a set of tactics, things that you will do in the SEO world to rank for different keywords in the search engines or control and influence what already ranks in there so that you can achieve your marketing goals so that you can achieve your business goals.
Don’t get this backwards. Don’t start from a place of SEO. Especially if you are an SEO specialist or a practitioner or you’re joining a consulting firm, you should always have an excellent idea of what these are and why the SEO tactics that you are undertaking fit into them. If you don’t, you should be asking those questions before you begin any SEO work.
Otherwise you’re going to accomplish things and do things that don’t have the impact or don’t tie directly to the impact that the business owners care about, and that’s going to mean probably you won’t get picked up for another contract or you won’t accomplish the goals that mean you’re valuable to the team or you do things that people don’t necessarily need and want in the business and therefore you are seen as a less valuable part of it.
Finally, move into SEO strategy
But if you’re accomplishing things that can clearly tie to these, the opposite. People will really value what you do.
Rank for low-demand, high-conversion keywords
So SEO can do things like rank for low demand, things that don’t have a lot of searches per month but they are high conversion likely keywords, keywords like “I am looking for a customized Seattle Sounders soccer jersey that’s in the away colors.” Well, there’s not a lot of search demand for that exact phrase. But if you’re searching for it, you’re very likely to convert.
Earn traffic from high-demand, low-competition, less commerce-focused keywords
You could try and earn traffic from high-demand, low competition keywords that are less focused directly on e-commerce. So it could be things like “Seattle Sounders news” or “Seattle Sounders stats” or a comparison of “Portland Timbers versus Seattle Sounders.” These are two soccer or football clubs in the Pacific Northwest.
Build content that attracts links and influencer engagement
Or you might be trying to do things like building content that attracts links and influencer engagement so that in the future you can rank for more competitive keywords. We’ll talk about that in a sec. SEO can do some amazing things, but there are also things that it cannot do.
What SEO can do:
If you put things in here, if you as an SEO pitch to your marketing team or your business owners that SEO can do things that it can’t, you’re going to be in trouble. So when we compose an SEO strategy, a set of tactics that tries to accomplish marketing goals that tie to business goals, SEO can do things like:
- Attract searchers that are seeking your content.
- Control how your brand is seen in search results when someone searches for your particular name.
- Nudge searchers toward queries by influencing what gets suggested in the auto suggest or by suggesting related searches or people also ask boxes.
Anything that shows up in the search results, nearly anything can be influenced by what we as SEOs can do.
What SEO cannot do:
Grow or create search demand on its own
But SEO cannot grow or create search demand by itself. So if someone says, “Hey, I want us to get more traffic for this specific keyword,” if you’re already ranking number one and you have some videos showing in the results and you’re also in the image results and you’ve got maybe a secondary page that links off to you from the results, you might say, “Hey, there’s just not more demand,” and SEO by itself can’t create that additional demand.
Build brand (by itself)
SEO also can’t build brand, at least not by itself. It can certainly be a helpful part of that structure. But if someone says, “Hey, I want us to be better known among this audience,”you can say, “Well, SEO can help a little, but it can’t build a brand on its own, and it certainly can’t build brand perception on its own.” People are going to go and visit your website. They’re going to go and experience, have an interaction with what you’ve created on the web. That is going to be far more of a brand builder, a brand indicator than just what appears in the search results. So SEO can’t do that alone.
Directly convert customers
It also can’t directly convert customers. A lot of the time what we find is that someone will do a great job of ranking, but when you actually reach the website, when visitors reach the website, they are unsatisfied by the search, which by the way is one of the reasons why this one-hour guide is going to include a section on searcher satisfaction.
When Google sees over time that searchers are unsatisfied by a result, they will push that result down in the rankings and find someone who does a great job of satisfying searchers, and they will rank them instead. So the website has to do this. It is part of SEO. It’s certainly part of the equation, but SEO can’t influence it or control it on its own.
Finally, last but not least, SEO cannot work overnight. It just won’t happen. SEO is a long-term investment. It is very different from paid search ads, PPC, also called SEM sometimes, buying from Google ads or from Bing ads and appearing in the sponsored results. That is a tactic where you can pour money in and optimize and get results out in 24 hours. SEO is more like a 24-month long process.
The SEO Growth Path
I’ve tried to show that here. The fundamental concept is when you have a new website, you need to earn these things — links and engagement and historical performance in the rankings.
As you earn those things, other people are linking to you from around the web, people are talking about you, people are engaging with your pages and your brand, people start searching for your brand specifically, people are clicking you more in the search results and then having good experiences on your website, as all those great things happen, you will grow your historical engagement and links and ranking factors, all these things that we sort of put into the bucket of the authority and influence of a website.
3–6 months: Begin to rank for things in the long tail of search demand
As that grows, you will be able to first, over time, this might be three to six months down here, you might be able to rank for a few keywords in the long tail of search demand.
6–9 months: Begin to rank for more and more competitive keywords
After six to nine months, if you’re very good at this, you may be able to rank for more and more competitive keywords.
12–18 months: Compete for tougher keywords
As you truly grow a brand that is well-known and well thought of on the internet and by search engines, 12 to 18 months in, maybe longer, you may be able to compete for tougher and tougher keywords. When I started the Moz website, back in the early days of Google, it took me years, literally two or three years before I was ranking for anything in Google, anything in the search engines, and that is because I had to first earn that brand equity, that trust, that relationship with the search engines, those links and that engagement.
Today this is more true than ever because Google is so good at estimating these things. All right. I look forward to hearing all about the amazing strategies and structures that you’ve got probably in the comments down below. I’m sure it will be a great thread. We’ll move on to the second part of our one-hour guide next time — keyword research. Take care.
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Posted by BritneyMuller
It’s finally here, for your review and feedback: Chapter 7 of the new Beginner’s Guide to SEO, the last chapter. We cap off the guide with advice on how to measure, prioritize, and execute on your SEO. And if you missed them, check out the drafts of our outline, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, and Chapter Six for your reading pleasure. As always, let us know what you think of Chapter 7 in the comments!
Set yourself up for success.
They say if you can measure something, you can improve it.
In SEO, it’s no different. Professional SEOs track everything from rankings and conversions to lost links and more to help prove the value of SEO. Measuring the impact of your work and ongoing refinement is critical to your SEO success, client retention, and perceived value.
It also helps you pivot your priorities when something isn’t working.
Start with the end in mind
While it’s common to have multiple goals (both macro and micro), establishing one specific primary end goal is essential.
The only way to know what a website’s primary end goal should be is to have a strong understanding of the website’s goals and/or client needs. Good client questions are not only helpful in strategically directing your efforts, but they also show that you care.
Client question examples:
- Can you give us a brief history of your company?
- What is the monetary value of a newly qualified lead?
- What are your most profitable services/products (in order)?
Keep the following tips in mind while establishing a website’s primary goal, additional goals, and benchmarks:
Goal setting tips
- Measurable: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
- Be specific: Don’t let vague industry marketing jargon water down your goals.
- Share your goals: Studies have shown that writing down and sharing your goals with others boosts your chances of achieving them.
Now that you’ve set your primary goal, evaluate which additional metrics could help support your site in reaching its end goal. Measuring additional (applicable) benchmarks can help you keep a better pulse on current site health and progress.
How are people behaving once they reach your site? That’s the question that engagement metrics seek to answer. Some of the most popular metrics for measuring how people engage with your content include:
Conversion rate – The number of conversions (for a single desired action/goal) divided by the number of unique visits. A conversion rate can be applied to anything, from an email signup to a purchase to account creation. Knowing your conversion rate can help you gauge the return on investment (ROI) your website traffic might deliver.
In Google Analytics, you can set up goals to measure how well your site accomplishes its objectives. If your objective for a page is a form fill, you can set that up as a goal. When site visitors accomplish the task, you’ll be able to see it in your reports.
Time on page – How long did people spend on your page? If you have a 2,000-word blog post that visitors are only spending an average of 10 seconds on, the chances are slim that this content is being consumed (unless they’re a mega-speed reader). However, if a URL has a low time on page, that’s not necessarily bad either. Consider the intent of the page. For example, it’s normal for “Contact Us” pages to have a low average time on page.
Pages per visit – Was the goal of your page to keep readers engaged and take them to a next step? If so, then pages per visit can be a valuable engagement metric. If the goal of your page is independent of other pages on your site (ex: visitor came, got what they needed, then left), then low pages per visit are okay.
Bounce rate – “Bounced” sessions indicate that a searcher visited the page and left without browsing your site any further. Many people try to lower this metric because they believe it’s tied to website quality, but it actually tells us very little about a user’s experience. We’ve seen cases of bounce rate spiking for redesigned restaurant websites that are doing better than ever. Further investigation discovered that people were simply coming to find business hours, menus, or an address, then bouncing with the intention of visiting the restaurant in person. A better metric to gauge page/site quality is scroll depth.
Scroll depth – This measures how far visitors scroll down individual webpages. Are visitors reaching your important content? If not, test different ways of providing the most important content higher up on your page, such as multimedia, contact forms, and so on. Also consider the quality of your content. Are you omitting needless words? Is it enticing for the visitor to continue down the page? Scroll depth tracking can be set up in your Google Analytics.
Ranking is a valuable SEO metric, but measuring your site’s organic performance can’t stop there. The goal of showing up in search is to be chosen by searchers as the answer to their query. If you’re ranking but not getting any traffic, you have a problem.
But how do you even determine how much traffic your site is getting from search? One of the most precise ways to do this is with Google Analytics.
Using Google Analytics to uncover traffic insights
Google Analytics (GA) is bursting at the seams with data — so much so that it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a general guide to some of the traffic data you can glean from this free tool.
Isolate organic traffic – GA allows you to view traffic to your site by channel. This will mitigate any scares caused by changes to another channel (ex: total traffic dropped because a paid campaign was halted, but organic traffic remained steady).
Traffic to your site over time – GA allows you to view total sessions/users/pageviews to your site over a specified date range, as well as compare two separate ranges.
How many visits a particular page has received – Site Content reports in GA are great for evaluating the performance of a particular page — for example, how many unique visitors it received within a given date range.
Traffic from a specified campaign – You can use UTM (urchin tracking module) codes for better attribution. Designate the source, medium, and campaign, then append the codes to the end of your URLs. When people start clicking on your UTM-code links, that data will start to populate in GA’s “campaigns” report.
Click-through rate (CTR) – Your CTR from search results to a particular page (meaning the percent of people that clicked your page from search results) can provide insights on how well you’ve optimized your page title and meta description. You can find this data in Google Search Console, a free Google tool.
In addition, Google Tag Manager is a free tool that allows you to manage and deploy tracking pixels to your website without having to modify the code. This makes it much easier to track specific triggers or activity on a website.
Additional common SEO metrics
- Domain Authority & Page Authority (DA/PA) – Moz’s proprietary authority metrics provide powerful insights at a glance and are best used as benchmarks relative to your competitors’ Domain Authority and Page Authority.
- Keyword rankings – A website’s ranking position for desired keywords. This should also include SERP feature data, like featured snippets and People Also Ask boxes that you’re ranking for. Try to avoid vanity metrics, such as rankings for competitive keywords that are desirable but often too vague and don’t convert as well as longer-tail keywords.
- Number of backlinks – Total number of links pointing to your website or the number of unique linking root domains (meaning one per unique website, as websites often link out to other websites multiple times). While these are both common link metrics, we encourage you to look more closely at the quality of backlinks and linking root domains your site has.
How to track these metrics
There are lots of different tools available for keeping track of your site’s position in SERPs, site crawl health, SERP features, and link metrics, such as Moz Pro and STAT.
The Moz and STAT APIs (among other tools) can also be pulled into Google Sheets or other customizable dashboard platforms for clients and quick at-a-glance SEO check-ins. This also allows you to provide more refined views of only the metrics you care about.
Dashboard tools like Data Studio, Tableau, and PowerBI can also help to create interactive data visualizations.
Evaluating a site’s health with an SEO website audit
By having an understanding of certain aspects of your website — its current position in search, how searchers are interacting with it, how it’s performing, the quality of its content, its overall structure, and so on — you’ll be able to better uncover SEO opportunities. Leveraging the search engines’ own tools can help surface those opportunities, as well as potential issues:
- Google Search Console – If you haven’t already, sign up for a free Google Search Console (GSC) account and verify your website(s). GSC is full of actionable reports you can use to detect website errors, opportunities, and user engagement.
- Bing Webmaster Tools – Bing Webmaster Tools has similar functionality to GSC. Among other things, it shows you how your site is performing in Bing and opportunities for improvement.
- Lighthouse Audit – Google’s automated tool for measuring a website’s performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more. This data improves your understanding of how a website is performing. Gain specific speed and accessibility insights for a website here.
- PageSpeed Insights – Provides website performance insights using Lighthouse and Chrome User Experience Report data from real user measurement (RUM) when available.
- Structured Data Testing Tool – Validates that a website is using schema markup (structured data) properly.
- Mobile-Friendly Test – Evaluates how easily a user can navigate your website on a mobile device.
- Web.dev – Surfaces website improvement insights using Lighthouse and provides the ability to track progress over time.
- Tools for web devs and SEOs – Google often provides new tools for web developers and SEOs alike, so keep an eye on any new releases here.
While we don’t have room to cover every SEO audit check you should perform in this guide, we do offer an in-depth Technical SEO Site Audit course for more info. When auditing your site, keep the following in mind:
Crawlability: Are your primary web pages crawlable by search engines, or are you accidentally blocking Googlebot or Bingbot via your robots.txt file? Does the website have an accurate sitemap.xml file in place to help direct crawlers to your primary pages?
Indexed pages: Can your primary pages be found using Google? Doing a site:yoursite.com OR site:yoursite.com/specific-page check in Google can help answer this question. If you notice some are missing, check to make sure a meta robots=noindex tag isn’t excluding pages that should be indexed and found in search results.
Check page titles & meta descriptions: Do your titles and meta descriptions do a good job of summarizing the content of each page? How are their CTRs in search results, according to Google Search Console? Are they written in a way that entices searchers to click your result over the other ranking URLs? Which pages could be improved? Site-wide crawls are essential for discovering on-page and technical SEO opportunities.
Page speed: How does your website perform on mobile devices and in Lighthouse? Which images could be compressed to improve load time?
Content quality: How well does the current content of the website meet the target market’s needs? Is the content 10X better than other ranking websites’ content? If not, what could you do better? Think about things like richer content, multimedia, PDFs, guides, audio content, and more.
Pro tip: Website pruning!
Removing thin, old, low-quality, or rarely visited pages from your site can help improve your website’s perceived quality. Performing a content audit will help you discover these pruning opportunities. Three primary ways to prune pages include:
Keyword research and competitive website analysis (performing audits on your competitors’ websites) can also provide rich insights on opportunities for your own website.
- Which keywords are competitors ranking on page 1 for, but your website isn’t?
- Which keywords is your website ranking on page 1 for that also have a featured snippet? You might be able to provide better content and take over that snippet.
- Which websites link to more than one of your competitors, but not to your website?
Discovering website content and performance opportunities will help devise a more data-driven SEO plan of attack! Keep an ongoing list in order to prioritize your tasks effectively.
Prioritizing your SEO fixes
In order to prioritize SEO fixes effectively, it’s essential to first have specific, agreed-upon goals established between you and your client.
While there are a million different ways you could prioritize SEO, we suggest you rank them in terms of importance and urgency. Which fixes could provide the most ROI for a website and help support your agreed-upon goals?
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, developed a handy time management grid that can ease the burden of prioritization:
Putting out small, urgent SEO fires might feel most effective in the short term, but this often leads to neglecting non-urgent important fixes. The not urgent & important items are ultimately what often move the needle for a website’s SEO. Don’t put these off.
SEO planning & execution
“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.”
– Morris Chang
Much of your success depends on effectively mapping out and scheduling your SEO tasks. You can use free tools like Google Sheets to plan out your SEO execution (we have a free template here), but you can use whatever method works best for you. Some people prefer to schedule out their SEO tasks in their Google Calendar, in a kanban or scrum board, or in a daily planner.
Use what works for you and stick to it.
Measuring your progress along the way via the metrics mentioned above will help you monitor your effectiveness and allow you to pivot your SEO efforts when something isn’t working. Say, for example, you changed a primary page’s title and meta description, only to notice that the CTR for that page decreased. Perhaps you changed it to something too vague or strayed too far from the on-page topic — it might be good to try a different approach. Keeping an eye on drops in rankings, CTRs, organic traffic, and conversions can help you manage hiccups like this early, before they become a bigger problem.
Communication is essential for SEO client longevity
Many SEO fixes are implemented without being noticeable to a client (or user). This is why it’s essential to employ good communication skills around your SEO plan, the time frame in which you’re working, and your benchmark metrics, as well as frequent check-ins and reports.
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