A complete guide for Digital Marketing

Today, we’re going to talk about why digital marketing is important in today’s world. We’re also going to talk about what is digital marketing, and the types of digital marketing channels that are out there. Then we’re going to talk about the customer lifecycle in digital marketing. So what does it take to get somebody from point A to point Z, through digital marketing? And so those are the topics we’re going to cover. So hope you enjoy yourself while you’re learning, and let’s get right to it.

Let’s start talking about why digital marketing is important. Everybody, every marketer is using digital marketing for his or her business. Now, digital marketing’s become more popular than traditional marketing. Over the past few decades, digital marketing has evolved at a rapid pace. These days, a lot of people spend most of their time on the internet.” So what happens on the internet every 60 seconds? Well, a lot happens every 60 seconds.

According to social media today, there’s a lot of snaps, there’s a lot of clicks, there’s a lot of text, there’s a lot of videos watched, there’s a lot of pictures being taken. There is a lot of voice-activated activity going on, a lot of tweets, emails, swipes. There’s a lot going on here in 60 seconds. So there’s a lot of activity on the internet. A lot. And so the one gentleman says, “Hey, can you also mention a few differences between digital and traditional marketing systems?” And then the expert responds, “Of course. I can certainly clarify a few differences between digital and traditional.” And so he goes on to say what the differences are between traditional and digital elements. Look at that.

In traditional marketing, we’re talking about print, radio, billboard, newspaper, TV, anything that’s not on your mobile or laptop. So we know, with traditional marketing, reach is limited. With digital marketing, reach is maximum. And what we mean by that is, hey, when you print something, you’re printing it for X amount of people. If you’re trying to promote an event and you basically create a thousand flyers, okay, you figure it’s going to a thousand people, maybe they’ll share it. So you’re looking at about 2000 people maybe, just to be generous. Well, digital marketing, we’ll promote an event, we can promote it to a whole lot of people, depending on the platform. So 2000 is nothing when you’re targeting an audience on Facebook or Google search. Traditional marketing, non-versatile, and with digital marketing and very versatile.

With digital marketing, you’re running display banners. You have 468 by 60. 200 by 200. 250 by 250. 300 by 300. I mean, the list goes on and on, the types of different display sizes, not to mention text ads, not to mention video or multimedia. So there’s a lot you can do to get your message out there. With traditional, it’s always delayed communication. So if you’re trying to get that TV spot, there might not be a spot open until one in the morning. Well, with digital marketing, there is no hours. You can certainly get your point out there and have people see it instantaneously.

With traditional marketing, there’s a lack of real-time results. I mean, this seems like it’s obvious, but digital marketing, that’s one of the biggest benefits. Instant, real-time results. Instant. Nowadays, going to analytics, you can look at real-time reporting. So we could see real-time results. Traditional marketing can be very costly. I mean, if you’re not only doing postcards and printing postcards, but you have to mail those postcards. So there are postage fees. Where, with digital marketing, it’s very, very, very cost-efficient. I mean you could pick and choose who you want to target when you want to target, where you want to target, what you want to target. And if you’re doing a search, you can put your bidding in place, you can put your hours in place, you can really control how much you actually spend.

This is biggest advantage to digital marketing. Not only do you get real-time results, but you can control costs, and then obviously optimize, based on the amount of cost you’re spending, based on those real-time results. With traditional marketing, it’s difficult to reach a target audience. With digital marketing, it’s easy to reach a target audience. I mean, I don’t want to bash traditional marketing too much. I mean, if you’re going to put a TV ad in place, you’re going to do it on a TV show that tends to gear more towards your target audience. But that doesn’t guarantee anything. Here, we can simply go to Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, and just pick and choose specifically who we want to target when we want to target them. So it just becomes a lot easier to reach a targeted audience on a digital marketing platform.

With digital, you have easy to measure and optimize campaigns. And what we really mean by that is, because you get instant time results because you can control cost because you can reach your target audience more easily, all those are the result of, okay, you can measure and optimize. Based on what our audience is seeing and how much they’re spending to see it, we can quickly make adjustments in order to optimize the campaign for better performance. So that’s generally, what that means, that’s a culmination of pretty much everything that we’ve listed as a benefit for digital marketing.

Now, why digital marketing’s been answered, with all the benefits that it carries, let’s talk about what is digital marketing. So you know that you want to do digital marketing. So how do we go about that? What is it exactly? Well, let’s just define it. Digital marketing is just the act of promoting a company’s product, or an individual’s product or service with the help of a device or technology. And so, obviously, when we talk about the device, we’re talking about maybe a laptop, we’re talking about a mobile device. And when we talk about technology, it could be an app, it could be a cloud-based platform, it could be a piece of software. So a lot going on, on the digital side, in terms of variations and what you can do.

But that’s, in a nutshell, what digital marketing is. You’re really just using technology to promote your product or service. So we know, because of the benefits in digital marketing, you can promote your campaign on different platforms. So all those benefits we mentioned about instant, real-time results, cost efficiency, optimizing campaigns, you could do that on search, you could do it on social, via email, on mobile apps, etc.

That’s what we mean by with the help of digital devices and technology. Well, these digital devices and technology come in the form of search engines and emails and mobile apps, et cetera. So when we want to go and promote our product or service, using a campaign, we have different options. So there are different types of digital marketing channels that we could choose from. And let’s just go through that list of digital marketing channels. And the first one is what I consider the king of them all, and that’s SEO. So SEO stands for search engine optimization. There’s search engine marketing, there’s email marketing, affiliate marketing, social, content, mobile, and then we can get into subsets of each of these digital marketing channels. But really, we’ll start with SEO because that’s the king. And to me, that’s basically increasing the quality and quantity of relevant, organic traffic on the search engines, including Google.

Dependent on where you’re located, in the U.S. market, Google has a large market share. So you want your pages on your website to be found and clicked on organically. And so that means if somebody types in a keyword, you want that relevant page to show up first on Google, so somebody can click on that link. And we know that millions of people, specifically in the U.S., but worldwide, use search on a daily basis. So if you’re ranking for those relevant keywords, you can imagine how much traffic you can get. So that’s SEO. And here’s an example. So you type in online shopping. Well, you could see the first listing here is a paid search ad. I’m going to get to that in a minute. The second, organically, is Amazon. So online shopping, you think maybe Walmart, you think maybe Alibaba, or you’re thinking probably Amazon. So no surprise, Amazon’s ranking for the keyword, online shopping. And so if somebody clicked on their listing, that’s traffic for Amazon.

Let’s move on to search engine marketing, known as SEM, or pay-per-click, or cost-per-click, or PPC, or CPC, or sponsored search, or Google Ads. I mean, there’s a lot of different names synonymous with SCM. So search engine marketing is really just using paid ads on search engines. Just as we saw the previous example, if you want to be found for a keyword, you don’t have to worry about organic if you’re willing to pay for it. You just bid on that keyword, and voila, you have the opportunity to appear number one in the search results, at the top of the page, for that keyword. Now, when somebody clicks on it, you have to pay Google, if it’s Google you’re advertising on. But that’s the beauty of search engine marketing. You can bid on keywords and appear at the top of the search results for that keyword.

Example here. If you go back to online shopping, well, MyUS.com is bidding on that keyword, online shopping. So they’re actually appearing above Amazon’s organic listing, but that’s what they want to do. They want to be found for that keyword. So if they’re not ranking for it organically, well, they’re bidding on it. And if somebody happened to click on that listing, then MyUS.com is going to pay Google something, depending on what the cost per click is. And so that could be anywhere from one penny to $100. It depends. It depends on the keyword. It depends on who else is bidding on the keyword. It depends on the location. It depends on the time of day. It depends on the quality score. There’s a lot of factors involved in regarding what you pay. However, the benefit of SEM is visibility and getting traffic to your website for keywords you’re not found for. So that’s why SCM is such a popular choice for a lot of companies.

Let’s talk about digital marketing. That’s a traditional type of digital marketing channel. It’s been around a long time. We all send emails on a daily basis and we probably all receive emails on a daily basis. Just it’s an effective way to capture leads and convert them to customers because with the email you can personalize your emails and you could send your emails to a segmented audience. So if you have emails from females who are 35 years of age to 44, that live in, say, the southern part of the United States, you can segment that and send them an email and cater that email directly to that audience. And of course, you can put some nice call to action in there. You could design it really snazzy, and you could track it, just like you can any other digital marketing channel. So email’s a very effective way to really reach a target audience, because everybody, for the most part, has a functioning email account.

Basically, here’s an example of an email that could go out. If you’re selling a product and the product’s promotion is about to end, well, get that email out to your target audience. Let them know that, “Hey, you have until tonight to purchase a product. And if you purchase it, you’re going to get 30% off.” And you can put the coupon code right in there with a nice call to action, and you can measure how many people click on that email, go to that webpage, and purchase the product, using that coupon code. So that’s an example of email marketing.

We have affiliate marketing. So affiliate marketing is an effective way for digital marketers to basically create a sales force of people. So basically, what you’re doing is you’re getting merchants to promote your products and services, and you using, usually, a third party broker like Commission Junction, or CJ.com, as an example, to introduce you, the person selling the product, the merchant, with the affiliate. So that affiliate could likely be a merchant him or himself. And they can basically be a good partner of yours by publishing your product or service on their website so that they can sell in order to get commissions. So it’s all based on a commission. So you, basically, are going to use a third party affiliate like CJ, get all these affiliates to work for you. They’re going to promote your product or service. If they do sell your product or service, you’re going to pay them a commission. That’s more or less how it works with affiliate marketing.

And with affiliate marketing, to me, it’s a good way to really promote your product or service, and you can pick and choose the affiliates or the publishers of whom you want to work with. So here’s an example of affiliate marketing at work. You basically see a banner. Basically, you could see you earn up to 12% advertising fees with a trusted e-commerce leader. So if somebody clicked on that and purchased, for example, or joined, you could pay out that commission.

Let’s turn our attention to social media marketing. So social media marketing, I would say it’s fairly new. I mean, if I think about it, we’re in 2019 and I remember talking about Facebook back in 2006. So you’re talking about 13, 14, 15 years of social media. It’s definitely evolved over the years. But the concept remains the same. It involves creating different types of content, depending on the platform. So you could be on Pinterest or Instagram and be dealing with photos, or you could be on Twitter, tweeting out certain characters up to a limit. So it really depends on the social media platform that really drives the type of content you’re going to promote. But we know social media can be effective because people use social media. I mean, Facebook is one of the more popular platforms, and if you want to get your product or service out there, you could certainly pay to have an ad on Facebook, or you could just post your content organically. That’s the beauty of social.

Most of your social platforms, like LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram, they all have a paid form of advertising that you can use to promote your product or service. Or you can go the organic route, and post content organically in hopes of driving traffic back to your website. So with social, you do have two options here. But social is interesting because there’re a lot of different social media platforms out there. It really depends on your product or service. So an example of social media marketing, especially on Facebook. With Facebook, you got mobile and desktop, and you obviously have the opportunity to post something organically and have that liked, or commented on, or shared. Or you could post an ad and get that liked, commented, or shared, or clicked and have people go back to your website, and fulfill the goal of what you want them to do.

Moving on to content marketing. So content marketing is really an effective way of really distributing valuable content online. And when we talk about content marketing, we’re talking about different types of assets. So it could be simply texting in the form of a blog post, or it could be a video, or it could be an infographic, or it could be an image. There are lots of ways to create content these days, especially in digital marketing. And the great thing about content marketing is you’re writing content for a targeted audience. So if you’re trying to target an audience on, say, Instagram, then you know who your audience is and you know what the type of content you’re going to post on there. So it could be in the form of a video, or infographic, or just a graphic.

And so that’s the beauty of content marketing, really putting yourself out there, and depending on the platform, putting yourself out there with various types of content. So for example, if we look at YouTube, you could see this video here about digital marketing certified associates. Well, hey, you don’t need to always write the content. You can produce the content in the form of a video and post it on YouTube. This is a form of content marketing. So that’s content marketing.

And then let’s talk about mobile marketing. So content marketing, again, different types. But if we go now to mobile marketing, you can kind of segue from content to mobile because the only difference here is, with mobile, it’s strictly on a mobile phone. It’s not desktop. So mobile marketing is really a strategy on its own that helps you, the company, promoting your product or service, to reach your target audience through a mobile device. And that includes tablets.

And how you could do that is via messaging. You could do it via email, or you could do it via an app. So you have different ways of getting your content out there to people. So as an example, you can use basically SMS, or instant messaging via mobile devices to promote your product or service. Here’s another example of mobile marketing via app install. And so you can even compound that by running a, say, Google ad as an example. And running your Google ad on, say, just mobile. You could do a bit adjustment, just for mobile. And the goal could be app installs. And you could even do a mobile or app extension. So there are lots of ways to really promote your app, or your product, or your service via mobile marketing.

Let’s talk about customer lifecycle. So we know why we want to do digital marketing. We know what the digital marketing channels are because we just talked about them, from SEO, to social, to affiliate, to mobile, to content, to SCM. You have a lot of different digital marketing channels at your disposal. So now, how do we go ahead and approach our customers? So that’s what we’re going to talk about first.

We’re going to talk about different stages of the customer lifecycle. And the first one is the awareness stage. So we need to get our customers aware of what we’re selling and what we’re promoting. So the awareness stage is really what product does your brand offer. That’s a question we want to get out there and we want to answer. Why does a customer need your product? That’s a question we want to answer with digital marketing. What solution does your product provide? That’s an answer to a question we want to make sure people understand. So these are questions that we want to be able to answer in the form of digital marketing, whether that be mobile or content. So getting our information out there, that answers these essential questions. And if we could do that, then somebody is going to become aware of our product or service.

What product does our brand offer? Why does the customer need it, and what solution does it provide? Those are some key questions that people tend to ask themselves when they look at a brand. And when they look at a product, “Hey, do I really need this? Is it going to help me in my life? And who is selling this? I mean, who is this brand?” I mean, those are just things that run through people’s minds intuitively, that with the right messaging, the right channel, the right type of asset, the right targeted audience, you can quickly make somebody aware of your brand’s product or service.

In this stage, it’s how potential customers discover your brand with the help of these different marketing channels. So in the awareness stage, content is key. So, to me, if we have a website, we need a blog, because if somebody does come to our blog from, say, organic search, SEO, then we can write about that product or service via the blog and talk to our customer, talk directly to our targeted audience through that blog. And if we’re not ranking organically, we can use paid search to promote it because a paid search on Google, for example, basically we can be right at the top of their search results. And so somebody can actually see it when they do a search because we know millions of people use the search on a daily basis.

You could do social media marketing. So you can publish that product or service on Facebook, while you’re building your community. And you can use affiliate marketing to help get the word out by using cj.com, as an example. Build up a sales force of people, these publishers that are going to put your product or service out there. So to me, in the awareness stage, these are the digital marketing channels you could focus on.

Now, I will say one thing about display ads. The display is part of search engine marketing. You could use a display because you can reach a large number of people. So even though it’s listed here, low priority, in the awareness stage, display ads mean that if you go on Google’s Display Network, you could pick and choose your sites, your demographics, keywords, topics, and audience. You could focus on all those different demographics to really attract a large number of people. So low priority, but it’s probably also good to focus on, in the awareness stage. So content marketing, you must create high-quality content that people are searching for. Without content, it’s hard to get found. And so to me, this is where the blog comes in. SEO, take that content, get it optimized. SCM, if we’re not ranking organically, we can make sure we’re at the top of the paid search results, or the search results for a particular keyword we want to be found for.

Now that we’ve got the word out via all these different marketing channels, there’s that consideration stage. So people are aware of us, now they’re considering us, and that’s kind of the next stage in the process. So a few essential questions to address on the consideration stage. Hey, what features make your product valuable to others, and how will I increase customer engagement towards my product? So those are answers to questions you want to ask. What features make your product valuable? You want to basically separate yourself from the competition. Basically that’s what you’re trying to answer.

If you’re promoting your product or service on paid search and other people are bidding on the same keyword, how are you going to stand out? And then how will I increase customer engagement towards my product? So for example, if you’re on Facebook, and you’re trying to get people over to your site to purchase your product, then how are you going to improve that engagement? You’ve got to create something really snazzy, or really it’s going to be attention-grabbing, or something that’s going to get them to become aware of it, that’s going to separate your posts from all the other posts that are in somebody’s Facebook newsfeed.

You really have to work hard to really convince somebody, to get their consideration towards your product or service. So in this stage, your customer considers your product, so help them understand how your product is valuable. To me, email works really well here, because if you have a targeted audience, this gives you the opportunity to really answer those questions in that particular channel. Email. You could support that with a promotion. And display. I think the display is a good option here too because even though people are trying to become aware, you can really hone in and really get them to take that next step.

With display, you can even do remarketing. So if somebody’s been to your site because they’re aware of your product, they’re curious, you can cookie them and remarket to them via the display. So display, to me, is a good channel to use here. So you have email, mobile display, SCM, these are all good channels to use on the consideration stage, especially on search, because if somebody’s looking for something and they’re aware of your brand, then you have the good opportunity to get them to click on your ad, especially if you’re offering a promotion, and get them to convert.

The goal here is to increase our engagement. So people are aware, we’re moving them further along the funnel. With email marketing, we have the opportunity to promote the product by sending an email directly to our audience. So with this stage, plan your campaigns around welcoming emails, newsletters, we can talk about product descriptions, ad ratings, and reviews in the email. We really just want to encourage people to purchase the product. We’re trying to sway them over. So email is a good source to allow us to do that. So with mobile marketing, we can promote the products by sending relevant messages to our target audience. Display. Again, retargeting, because we can retarget an audience that has been to our website, already did some research about our brand, our product, or service, and now we’re going to reach back out to them, to sway them.

Remember, we want to encourage customers to buy a product by creating detailed articles about the product. That always helps. And that’s content. We want to opt for a customer testimonial. That helps sway people. And add some guest blogging. We can have ambassadors blog on our behalf, or we can go out and blog on somebody else’s site. So blogging works both ways. It’s ways of showing yourself and telling people, “Hey, we know you’re looking for this product. Here’s why you want to choose us.”

Moving on from the consideration to the purchase stage. So they’re aware of you, they’re considering you, and now we’re on to the purchase stage. So the questions we want to really make sure we address here, are how are my prices compared to my competitors, and is my brand more credible than others? So they’re considering you, but that price point. And it may not even be the price. It could be the shipping, for example. The price could be good, but the shipping cost could be high. So you really want to do some due diligence and research on what your competitors are doing.

Credibility. That goes back to the consideration stage and testimonials. You want to make sure you have reviews and testimonials to really elevate what you’re trying to tell customers, and that is, “Hey, I have a good brand. I have a good product. I have good service. Come buy my stuff. Come buy my product and service.” But you really need to support that claim. You just can’t go out and say it. And so supporting that comes in the form of what other people say. And that could be reviewed. That could comment on a social media platform. It could be starring on, say, Yelp, or Google My Business. Make sure you do your due diligence and make sure you get people to review you or provide testimonials, because people are going to do their due diligence before they purchase, especially if it’s on Google My Business, or Yelp, or TripAdvisor, or whatever it is you’re trying to sell. They’re going to be able to see those reviews.

And so do your due diligence to get the reviews. And if it is a negative review, hey, that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. You’re going to get them. That’s the world we live in. Just make sure you show your upper hand and respond, even to the negative as well as the positive reviews that you get. That actually bodes well to some people because, hey, it shows that I made a mistake and you’re willing to correct it. And so people actually see that. That could be the tipping point to getting them to purchase. Say, look, hey, this brand really cares because they’re really responding to people. They’re not ignoring negativity. Just those small things that can get people to change their minds.

Now with the purchase stage, according to Econsultancy, 83% of the online audience requires encouragement to complete a purchase. Encouragement. What does that mean? Well, it could mean providing a promo, giving them that extra incentive. If you don’t offer a promo, consider it, especially in the email. In the example we looked at earlier, sending out an email means that if the promo’s going to end at midnight, send that email out and tell people they have until midnight. And if they purchase today, you’ll even increase it to 20%. And email’s a good channel for that. Mobile can reach a lot of people through SMS. Social media, reaching people instantaneously. And then, really, with the purchase stage, it gives prospects and offers to help them make that purchase.

So you have plenty of channels to choose from. In fact, most of these channels, the only one, really, that doesn’t fit the instantaneous mode, is SEO. But you can really focus on affiliate, even though that’s a low priority here. You can really coordinate with your publishers, especially those publishers that have proven their worth and have sold your products in the past. Get them to help promote it and incentivize their audience.

Let’s move on from the purchase to the post-purchase stage. So this is after somebody purchases. So some essential questions we want to be able to address here. So what additional product could my customer buy. Now that they’re my customer, what else could I sell them? Without being too pushy, could, if they buy a coat, will a hat work, or a pair of gloves, or a blouse? You want to be able to not push a product on our customer but think about how you can complement that purchaser’s or customer’s product.

And then how to improve the customer buying experience. So again, this goes back to what we just said about reviews. Get somebody to offer a review. And if they don’t give you a full complement of five stars, they only give you three and a half stars, then you know what? That’s great feedback because then you can learn from that. And then the other question is will the customer refer us to others, and if so, why? So that’s definitely something you want to be able to address in the post-purchase stage. So let’s take a look here.

With the post-purchasing stage, to me, email’s at the top of this list because if somebody purchases something, you could send a nice thank you for an email. Because if they purchase, they are giving you their email in return, because you’re likely going to be sending them the receipt via email. So email, to me, is a nice channel. Send them a nice message. Even social media. You can thank your community for supporting you in this recent campaign that you ran. Even throw in an extra five or 10% on a future purchase as a thank you. And that’s easily done on social media. You could even post a blog promoting the success of a product, and then offering a promotion. So there’s a lot of things you could be doing here on the post-purchasing stage. So to me, even looking at content again, you could even put a survey together. You could even put a survey together for your affiliates. You could even post a poll on Facebook. So it’s just working in with these different channels to get some feedback about your product and service.

With email, mobile, you’re going to engage customers with follow-up emails, or customer care content. With mobile, if you have somebody’s mobile number, hey, text them. A simple thank you goes a long way. You could say, “Hey, look, if you’re satisfied, let us know. Give us a call.” You can even, in the mobile text message, you can put a link to a survey. Send emails to active subscribers, give rewards for customer feedback.

If somebody does provide feedback, give them an extra 10% off. You want to be able to reward loyalty. Loyalty comes in the form of a partnership. If you’re giving somebody discounts and you have a good product or service, then they’re going to recognize that. They’re going to say, “Hey, look, I really like this product, and they’re giving me 10%. I’m going to go out and purchase from these guys again.” So give those discounts to those active customers.

On the affiliate network, give referral opportunities to your customers. So if it’s an affiliate publisher, hey, if they’re getting people to your site, reward them. Or if it’s an email and you put a forward to a friend, get an extra 10% off. It doesn’t hurt because you’re incentivizing people to help you sell your product. So with social, display and content, use those banner ads, or use that content that you display on social, or the blog you’re going to write to give customers advice in order to maximize the value of their purchase.

Again, you can use these platforms to also enhance what they purchased. So, hey, you just purchased this product. Thank you very much. Did you know you could do this, this and this with it? And so that’s the idea of a post-purchase stage, is to maximize these channels to be able to answer those essential questions about what else could they purchase. How do I get these people to become loyal customers? So with the post-purchase stage, if a customer has bought a pair of sports shoes, for example, running shoes, you can recommend cross-product sales or cross-sale. It could be a pair of shorts, or a water bottle, or an accessory, with an exclusive discount. So that’s another example of what you can do in the post-purchase stage.

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SEO Checklist How to Get More Organic Traffic (Step-by-Step)

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about a detailed SEO checklist that helped us grow organic traffic to our blog from 50,000 monthly search visits to over 230,000.

The first thing you should do is create a sitemap. Sitemaps tell search engines of where to find important content on your site so they can easily crawl and index your pages. Here’s what the site map for our blog looks like, which was created automatically with the Yoast SEO plugin. Now, if you don’t use WordPress or prefer not to use Yoast, there are tons of free site map generators you can find from all over the web. The next thing to check for is a robots.txt file. A robots.txt file is important because it gives instructions to search engines on where they can and cannot go on your site. For example, you may not want them to crawl certain pages or directories like a cart for an eCommerce store or RSS feeds, so you’d add that to your robots.txt file. If you’re unsure if you have a robots.txt file, just go to yourdomain.com/robots.txt. If you see a plain text file like this, then you’re good to go. If you see anything else, then Google “Robots.txt generator” and create one.

The last couple of things you should do is set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Google Analytics can give you insightful data on how your visitors interact with your website. For example, analyzing bounce rates and time on page can give you an idea of user experience and engagement. Google Search Console, on the other hand, is a must-have tool for all webmasters. You can track your performance in search and see the keywords that you’re ranking for.

While there are a lot of ways to approach keyword research, there are certain fundamentals that I think every page should follow. The first being to find a primary keyword target for your page. Every blog post we create has one main primary target. Just look at any of our titles and you can tell right away which keywords we’re targeting. “Long-Tail Keywords: The ‘Secret’ to Getting TONS of Search Traffic,” “YouTube SEO: How to Rank Your Videos From Start to Finish.” To find the right primary keyword, you’ll need a keyword research tool. For example, by searching for “SEO tips” in Ahrefs keywords explorer, you’ll see things like keyword difficulty score, search volume, as well as various SEO metrics on the top-10 ranking pages for the keyword.

Now, the second thing you’ll want to do is assess search intent. Search intent means the reason behind the search query, and Google is good at helping you do this. Just search for the primary keyword phrase you want to rank for, then look at the top-ranking results. To assess search intent, you’ll want to look at the types of pages that are ranking and the format they’re using. As you can see here, the types of pages that are ranking for the keyword “SEO checklist” are blog posts. As for the format, they mostly seem like a hybrid between list posts and tutorials, which you can infer by the titles.

Now, if you were to create a product page selling an SEO checklist, then you probably won’t rank because you won’t be matching search intent. Once you have search intent down, you’ll want to look at related queries to your topic. The first place you can look at is Google’s autocomplete. Just type your primary keyword in the Google search bar and take note of other relevant search queries. Two other places to look are in the “People also ask” box in the search results as well as the related searches at the bottom of the page. In this case, queries and questions related to the side effects of apple cider vinegar show up in both places, so this is something we would want to include in our post.

To find even more related queries and questions people are asking, you can check the search suggestions and questions report in Ahrefs keywords explorer. Across these two reports, you’ll find over 28,000 keyword ideas along with keyword metrics like keyword difficulty, search volume and more. If you’ve done all of these checkpoints, then you should have a strong idea of what your content should be about and the questions you should address throughout your post.

The next step is to find the relevant keywords and subtopics for your posts. In our study of three-million searches, we found that, on average, the top-ranking page also ranks for nearly a thousand other relevant keywords in the top-10. One of the main ingredients to ranking high for numerous keywords are links, but an equally important part is content. Fortunately, you can find subtopics to cover by looking at the keywords that the top-ranking pages are already ranking for, then make sure you cover those points on your page. To do this, go to Ahrefs keywords explorer and enter your primary keyword target. Now, scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll see the top-10 ranking pages. The main column you want to look at here is keywords. This one seems to be getting a lot of search traffic. They rank for a ton of keywords and the page is relevant to the one I’m creating. Let’s click on the number under the organic keywords column to see which keywords they rank for.

To keep things super relevant, let’s set a position filter to only show keywords that rank in positions one through five. Some interesting sub-topics to cover here might be the benefits of apple cider vinegar. We might want to talk about organic versus nonorganic products. And something even more fascinating to me is the part of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, which is a branded product. Then there’s an attribute here with mother, which is a health term often used with apple cider vinegar that I would have otherwise never thought of on my own. Sprinkle some of these terms in sheer content, use other parts as subtopics and do your best to cover the topic using data.

The last thing on the keyword research and analysis side is to assess your chances of ranking in Google. To understand your chances of ranking, you need SEO metrics of the top-ranking pages. Otherwise, you’ll just be guessing. As a very general estimate, you can use the keyword difficulty scores in keywords explorer to get a very rough sense of that, but I wouldn’t recommend relying on it alone.

So, here’s what the final section of our keyword research checklist should look like. The first point here is to use short, yet descriptive URLs. We studied two-million keywords and found that pages with shorter URLs rank better than those with long URLs. Now, while there’s a clear correlation, it doesn’t mean causation. A simple way to choose your URL is to set it as your primary keyword target. For example, a blog post on 75 actionable SEO tips could be domain.com/seotips. It’s short and anyone can tell from the URL what the topic is on.

Next, ensure you have a compelling title tag and meta-description. Old SEO advice will tell you to include your target keyword in your title and meta-description, but our data shows that exact match keywords in the title and description do not correlate with the ranking position. So, should you use your keyword in your title and description? The answer is, it depends. The most important thing about the title is that it entices a click. After all, clicks translate into traffic, but if you find that you’re stuffing the keyword for the sake of inclusion, then I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

The next thing you should do is add relevant internal and external resources. In the same on-page SEO correlation study, we found web pages that link out to high DR external resources rank higher than those that don’t. Second, you should add internal links from relevant pages to your new post. A quick way to find these pages is to go to Google and search for something like “Site:yourdomain.com” and then add a keyword related to your topic. You’ll then see all posts from your domain that include your keyword. Just visit these pages and add internal links to relevant anchor text. A nice little bonus tip would be to pair the search results with Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar. Look at the URL rating to identify relevant pages that will likely have the greatest impact on your new post. In general, the higher the number, the more authoritative the page.

When you do this properly, you can pass link equity to your new page and possibly increase the speed that Google discovers your page. And that about does it for the on-page SEO checklist section. Here it is in all its glory, so take a screenshot and let’s move onto the next section, which is all about content.

Choosing a topic with high search traffic potential and doing some basic on-page SEO is important, but all of your efforts will be in vain if your content isn’t up to par. Here are a few things you can add to your to-do list when creating your content. The first thing is to write an engaging introduction. The purpose of the intro is to let your readers know they’re in the right place and that your page will solve the reason for them being there. Fail to do so, and your readers will be gone fast.

Start with something that resonates with the reader. Build trust or credibility and promise a solution to the user’s problem. Second, focus on readability. Let’s talk about readability in two categories. The first is visual comprehension. When a reader lands on your page, the first thing they’re going to process is how your page looks. And if they land on a big wall of text in 10-point font, they’ll likely get overwhelmed and leave. Instead, break your content into pieces by writing in short sentences and short paragraphs. Other visual assets you can add are images to separate paragraphs but don’t just throw in stock photos for the sake of faking visual appeal. Put some effort into creating or finding images that will enhance the reader’s experience. For example, on the CloudBooks blog, we often use graphs, charts, or screenshots that help illustrate a point or lighten the read.

These tips will help increase your chances of turning visitors into readers. Now, the other category in readability is reading comprehension. According to a study, 50% of the US population reads below an eighth-grader level, which means that if you’re writing at a higher level, you’re alienating half the population as well as non-native speakers. There’s a free tool called Hemingway Editor. Just paste your content in there and it’ll give you a readability score. If you’re the type to write academically and struggle to lower your readability score, a great tip you can use is to write as you speak. The last part of the content checklist is to ensure your content solves the reason for the searcher’s query. Great content is content that solves a user’s problem. For example, if you have a post on productivity tips, try and go beyond things like sleeplessness and hustle.

Someone searching for productivity tips probably wants practical and actionable information they can try right away. They want to know how they can measure whether their productivity levels are increasing. If your content solves their original problem and answers the questions that might come to mind as they’re reading, then you probably have some decent content.

When it comes to white-hat link building, you’ll have to pony up and do some email outreach. Now, outreach isn’t about begging for links. In the words of the late Eric Ward, “Links aren’t things. A link represents something somebody finds valuable. A link represents something someone wants to share. A link represents the human manifestation of a desire to let someone else know about something useful.” And there are a few strategies you can use to promote your valuable, shareworthy, and useful content.

The first thing you can do is look at who’s linking to the top-ranking pages for your target keyword. These will likely be the most relevant prospects seeing as they’ve already linked to a competing article on the same topic. The easiest way to find these people is to go to Ahrefs’ keywords explorer and enter your primary keyword. Next, scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll see the top-10 ranking pages along with their SEO metrics. The parts we want to pay attention to are the backlinks and referring domains column. If there are a decent number of referring domains, meaning unique websites linking to the page, then click on the number in the backlinks column to find out who’s linking to them. You can now skim through the backlink support and look for relevant prospects.

After you’ve depleted your list, expand your list of prospects using Content Explorer. Content Explorer has a database of over a billion pages along with its social and SEO metrics. You can start by entering your primary keyword, and I’ll also set the search type to a title search since a lot of people include their primary keyword in the title. Next, I’ll set a referring domain filter to only show pages that have at least 20 links from unique websites. Now, skim through the pages and if anything pops out to you, click on the number of the referring domain to see if the websites linking to the page are worth investigating further. If they are, then you can click on the carrot here, open the backlink support and add relevant prospects to your outreach list.

The final link building tactic that works well is guest posting. I’m not going to expand on this here, but check out our video on scaling guest posting, which will give you the full details on doing it successfully. Now, these three techniques are great to use for new and existing content, but there are a couple of other link building strategies that work more effectively if you do the prospecting beforehand, and these are the skyscraper technique and broken link building. Prospecting before you create content guarantees you’ll have a list of people to promote your new piece too. Again, I’ll leave links to full tutorials on these two strategies. Here’s your final link building checklist you should go through, take a screenshot and let’s move on to technical SEO.

At this point, you should have a solid SEO checklist you can rinse and repeat for each new page you create, but as you create more pages, there will likely be technical SEO issues that go unnoticed. So, I want to focus more on the domain level here to find and fix these issues. You can find these issues by running a crawl with a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Audit. The tool will then crawl your pages and search for over 100 predefined technical SEO issues. After the crawl is completed, you’ll see a list of issues we found on your site. Now, Site Audit is great for finding the issues on autopilot, but you’re still going to have to fix them. Let’s go through a few important ones you should fix.

The first is page speed. Slow loading pages are annoying for the user experience, and as a result, Google has said that page speed is a ranking factor. You can use tools like Pingdom, GTmetrix, or Google PageSpeed Insights to measure the speed of a single page. So, let’s go back to the Site Audit and click on the slow loading pages issue. Next, I’ll copy one of the URLs from our list and put it into PageSpeed Insights. And as you scroll through the list, you’ll get suggestions on what to fix and the time savings you can get by fixing it.

Next, we want to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Google has a mobile-friendly test tool you can use. Just enter the URL you want to investigate and they’ll tell you whether your page is mobile-friendly. Next, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t have any external or internal broken links. If someone clicks on a link and ends up on a broken page, then that’s a bad user experience. On top of that, you’ll want to fix these because linking to broken pages is a waste of link equity. If you’re linking to any broken pages, then you’ll be able to find that in Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool under “Page has links to a broken page.” Just click on the number of affected URLs and you’ll see a list of pages that are linking to broken pages as well as the broken pages that are being linked to.

Since every site will have different technical SEO issues, I recommend using a tool to help you identify these issues and then tackle them one by one.

How to avoid unpaid invoices and the best ways to deal with clients who pay you late

In today’s blog post, I’ll explain how to avoid unpaid invoices and the best ways to deal with clients who pay you late, or even worse, don’t pay you at all.

Unpaid invoices and late payments regularly plague freelancers, consultants, and small business owners. If this problem is hurting your business’s bottom line, you’ll be glad to know that there are some ways to deal with habitual late payers that really work. I’m going to cover five ways to handle those pesky unpaid invoices and late payments, proven to work by real small business owners like you.

1: Send your invoice to your client right away. One of the best ways to get paid right away by a client is to send your invoice immediately after providing the good or service that you’re charging for. Ryan Holden is the director of Progressive Heating and Air, an HVAC company based in San Diego, California. He says that he has seen a 70% reduction in overdue invoices by sending his invoices early. By sending your invoices right after you finish a job, you’re top of mind for the client and they don’t have a reason to forget you. Invoicing software also makes it easy to get your invoices to your clients ASAP and reduce the friction around payments. For example, CloudBooks lets you schedule and send recurring invoices to clients that you regularly work with. You can even send invoices on the go from their mobile app.

2: Let your clients pay you online. The easier you make it for your clients to pay you, the sooner you’ll see their payment hit your bank account. Matt Woodley, a freelance digital marketer based in San Francisco and founder of MoverFocus.com, has seen a 10% increase in on-time payments since he’s expanded payment options for clients. Now Matt’s clients can pay by credit card, bank transfer, or PayPal. Payment processors like CloudBooks will integrate with your invoicing and accounting software and let customers pay an invoice online.

3: Ask your clients for an upfront deposit. Even asking for a small deposit upfront gets your client psychologically and financially invested in the work that you’ve done for them. For example, if you’re doing a thousand dollar job for a client, consider asking for a 25% payment up front and the rest after you complete the job. Dylan Sprouse, the co-founder of eco-friendly transportation site, SprouseBros.com, says that asking for upfront payment along with some other strategies has resulted in 80% of their clients paying them on time. Sprouse says requesting a deposit is a good way to gauge the professionalism of a client before you even start working with them, and you’re already setting the tone that being paid for your goods or services is an important part of the professional relationship.

4: Offer early payment discounts and charge late fees as needed. Many small business owners have luck with offering early payment discounts to their clients. As the name suggests, this simply means offering a 3% or 4% discount on pricing when clients pay within a certain timeframe, such as within 10 days of receiving an invoice. Many budget-conscious clients will bite and pay you on time to earn the discounts and this is great for your cash flow. Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard, a mattress review site, says that about 40% of their customers take advantage of the early payment discounts, which gets them the cash sooner that they can then use for operating and other business expenses. On the flip side to early payment discounts, it can be a good idea to set and enforce late payment penalties. If the client’s known advance that you’ll charge, for example, 10% for an invoice that’s one week late and successively higher penalties for even later invoices, they’re more likely to get things in gear sooner.

5: Create a drip campaign for reminders. This is actually a tip from Brian Cairnes, CEO of ProStrategix Consulting. Drip campaigns are email marketing campaigns which automatically go out to customers on a set schedule. Normally, drip campaigns are used to nurture clients through a sales funnel, but Cairnes adopted the strategy for invoice payments. He ensures that email reminders to make a payment go out two days before the payment is due, the day that payment is due, and then plus two days, plus five days, plus seven days, plus 10 days, plus 14 days, and plus 21 days. After the invoice ages 28 days, it goes to collections with a penalty. Once payment is made, the client exits the drip campaign, and payment options are embedded in every email. According to Cairnes, this system decreases its late payments by 45% and collections by 72%. You can use email marketing software such as MailChimp to set up a branded drip campaign to your clients. Invoicing software also lets you send recurring email reminders.

6: To do homework on your clients. Doing a bit of research on a prospective client can go a long way towards reducing unpaid invoices in the future. Here are some tips for researching clients. First, look up their business credit report. Any business can look up the business credit report for another company and see how many accounts that the company currently has that are past due. Several overdue accounts should immediately send up a red flag. You should also ask other vendors. If you know that the business works with other vendors or fellow business owners, ask them if the client paid on time. And ask about their payment process. Before working with the client, ask about their payment process. If they have accounts payable department or dedicated staff for paying vendors, that’s a good sign.

7: Escalate the issue if needed. As a last resort, you can always escalate a late or unpaid invoice. This is most helpful when an invoice is overdue 90 days or more. You can retain a lawyer to write a demand letter on your behalf, which states that payment is due and that you’ll take legal action within a certain timeframe. Now, actually suing the client in court could be a waste of your time and resources, particularly for smaller invoices, but just sending a letter can incentivize many clients to pay. You can also hire a debt collector to chase down unpaid invoices. Just make sure that if things reach this point, don’t work with that client again.

Those are seven proven ways to deal with unpaid invoices and late payments. Following these strategies should help you improve your business’s cash flow.