If I gave you $1 to spend in your business, where would it go?
Your first instinct might be to invest in Facebook ads, or maybe to sock it away and save for the latest marketing software.
But the highest return on investment (ROI) might come from a surprising source: your email marketing.
The Data & Marketing Association said that in 2015, for each $1 spent on email marketing, companies made $38 in return.
That’s a 3,800% ROI!
If you want to achieve this result (and who wouldn’t?), you need to figure out if your emails and campaigns are ACTUALLY driving business-building results.
To do that, you need to pay attention to four email marketing metrics. Yes, just four.
These email metrics are UNIVERSAL and will help you measure the success of your emails so you can create effective email marketing campaigns no matter…
Today, I’m sharing…
Let’s get right to it!
So why only four metrics?
Each of these metrics corresponds with a specific, high-leverage part of your email.
If performance dips, reviewing which of these numbers changed can help you understand EXACTLY what happened and HOW to fix it.
The four metrics are…
Let’s dig into each of these and go over what they are and how you’ll use them in your own email marketing.
First off, we have Deliverability, also known as delivery rate, which is calculated by dividing Delivered Emails by Sent Emails.
Deliverability tells you what percentage of emails sent actually make it to the inbox. In other words, it clues you into how likely people are to GET your email.
In general, deliverability gives you a sense of how well your emails pass the “spam test” for Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Gmail and Yahoo.
If your emails don’t use flagged words and are well received by your audience, your deliverability should be quite high. A healthy deliverability percentage should be in the upper 90th percentile.
Be sure to pay attention to emails with low deliverability. This is a great way to identify language that ESPs don’t like, such as…
The next metric is one most people are familiar with…
Your email’s Open Rate tells you how likely people are to READ your email and is determined by dividing Unique Opens by Received Emails.
This measures the frequency with which your emails are opened, and thus read.
Open rate is one of the easiest metrics to affect, making it a well-known metric that is a frequent blog topic, including for us.
Open rate describes how well your subject line encourages your email list to actually take the time to read your email.
Since you’ve got roughly 30 characters to catch someone’s eye with a subject line, punchy copy can be the difference between 700 and 7,000 people reading your email.
You should use open rate as a barometer of how well your messaging resonates with your target audience.
The third metric is arguably the most crucial because it most closely correlates with sales…
Click-through Rate tells you how likely your audience is to ENGAGE with your email, which means it indicates the likelihood that someone will click on a link within your email.
The formula to calculate click-through rate is the number of Unique Clicks divided by the number of Unique Opens.
Click-through rate is so important because it measures whether or not people are actually taking the desired actions with your emails.
Clicks in an email are what drive…
A low click-through rate usually indicates that your email copy is falling flat and is a sign of a weak or unclear call-to-action (CTA).
An easy fix to improve click-through rate is to avoid over-selling your products or services through email and instead focus on getting people to click your link.
The email body’s only job is to sell the click.
Trying to sell your product in there as well means you’ll come up with subpar performance every time.
The last metric is one almost no one thinks about but may give you the most insight into how your email list feels about you and your email strategy.
Disengagement Rate tells you how likely people are to HATE your email.
This can be computed by adding Spam Complaints to Unsubscribes and dividing the sum by Unique Opens.
Your emails will always drive some people away – you can’t please everyone and trying to will leave your business stuck in neutral.
However, you do need to make sure that the vast majority of readers on your list like what you have to say.
That’s why you want to make sure you keep an eye on your disengagement.
With disengagement rate, you can pinpoint messaging that doesn’t work, and cut that out of your toolbox.
You absolutely must keep your average disengagement rate below 0.15% for your emails, or you’ll start to see your deliverability drop.
You’ve got your four metrics, as well as the basic uses for each of them! Now that you know what you should be tracking, let’s talk about how to actually make that happen.
Not all emails you send are the same – and the distinction is key when it comes to measuring our four metrics.
There are two different categories of email, but this distinction has nothing to do with the content of the emails. Instead, these categories describe how emails are delivered to customers.
The two categories are broadcast emails and automated emails.
Let’s start with…
Broadcast emails are manually set up, scheduled, and sent out of your email marketing software to many people at once.
These are mass communication emails, closer to a piece of mail you get from your favorite clothing store with a 20% off coupon, like this one from Old Navy with the subject line, “SNAGGED IT: $12 SHORTS”:
And from a metrics perspective, broadcast emails are easy to evaluate; since all the emails are sent at the same time, data about these emails is reported in aggregate.
Here’s an example of a broadcast email report we would get out of our email client, Maropost.
You can see three of our four metrics are automatically generated…
And while the platform doesn’t actively provide Disengagement rate, it can be easily calculated from the formula provided earlier.
Automated emails, on the other hand, act more like a personal letter.
They are customized to the individual recipient, usually containing more details about a customer and their interests.
These emails are sent out based on actions customers have taken – they can be triggered to send when customers do things like…
Here’s an example of an automated email from Paragon Apparel with the subject line, “Did you see something you liked?” after visiting one of their product pages:
While the higher personalization means these emails typically perform better than broadcasts, they are also more difficult to track and evaluate because data isn’t always automatically aggregated for these and reporting is provided at a contact level.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
This granular reporting makes it hard to see the big picture and evaluate performance because you have to compare hundreds or thousands of individual reports.
But you need to track BOTH of these kinds of emails if you want to level up your email marketing.
To level up your email marketing, you MUST track it…
We’ve covered why tracking broadcast emails is actually quite easy, meaning your only job with broadcasts is to put the metrics into your email marketing data warehouse (more on this later).
But tracking automated emails, or broadcast emails without proper reporting, is much trickier.
Since tracking isn’t happening within the platform, we have to look to other solutions to get our answers…
If you want fast and easy tracking and don’t mind spending a little money, there are two great solutions from which to choose.
Email on Acid is the more robust of the two options, with click tracking included in the service.
Unfortunately, neither piece of software reports on deliverability, but even so, these are the fastest and easiest way to get the bulk of your analysis up and running.
You can use event tracking in Google Analytics to report on email opens, meaning you’ll have your email performance data right there alongside your website information.
This great article from Dyn walks through how to set this tracking up step-by-step.
To track clicks, we’ll turn to Bitly, friend of social media managers everywhere because of its ability to shorten links.
Of course, email marketers can use it to track link clicks as well as shorten links.
Create a Bitly for every link you include in your email – the Bitly platform walks you through how to do this when you sign up for your free account.
By doing this, you’ll be able to compare total clicks, as tracked in Bitly, to total opens, as tracked in Google Analytics, giving you click-through rate.
And you can compare opens to emails sent, which should be easy to pull out of any email platform.
Deliverability and disengagement won’t be possible, but you’ll have WAY MORE insight than most with this information.
Now that you know how to track all the information, we need to discuss how you’re going to store all of it, and how this will help you avoid a mistake many marketers make…
(NOTE: Want a plan for truly effortless automated email marketing? Check out DigitalMarketer’s Email Marketing Mastery — on sale for 90% off! Generate at least 200% more sales and conversions from the list you already have… even if it’s tiny! Learn more now and take advantage of this sale!)
When your email platform provides all of the metrics for analysis in a neat package, it’s easy to conclude that all your work is done – just check individual email metrics and move on to the next thing.
This is a HUGE trap (that many people fall into) when it comes to email marketing because it feels efficient at the time.
To build a sustainable, long-term email strategy, you need to take any data you get in your business and hold it yourself.
There are two key reasons this is critical.
The first is that platforms come and go.
Your business will grow and its needs will change over time, meaning that a migration is almost assuredly in your future. Storing data externally makes it easy to be prepared when the time comes.
Take us for example…
Since 2011, DigitalMarketer has leveraged FOUR different email platforms.
If I wanted to compare a campaign we ran in 2011 or 2012 to one we ran today, or just see what the year-over-year trend in open rate was, I’d be out of luck without our platform-agnostic historical data.
Keeping all your information in one place, ideally one that lends itself to data modeling, helps you turn your data into a decision-making tool.
A simple chart looking at dates and deliverability can help you track how we’ll you’re maintaining compliance over time and whether or not you need to adjust your messaging.
The other important reason is that having a unified place where all this data lives makes it much easier to analyze and evaluate big chunks of data. You can track trends over time, by category or content of email.
Clearly, it’s important to have somewhere you can track these four metrics and the emails they represent that…
…but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated, as we’ll talk about next.
The fancy term for this external storage is a “data warehouse,” but it can be as simple and low-tech as a spreadsheet.
Here’s what the data warehouse DigitalMarketer uses looks like:
You can grab a copy of the tracking sheet DigitalMarketer uses here.
Just visit that link, then click File > Make a Copy, and you’ll have one you can edit added to your Google Drive!
This sheet will make it EASY to track BOTH broadcast and automated emails and get you started with your very own data warehouse.
Tracking broadcast emails is self-explanatory – you just plug the performance for each individual email into each row.
For automated emails, you’ll want to add an update to the sheet every time you get 100 new clicks on each email. That way, you’ll have enough data to give you representative performance metrics.
Now that you know your metrics and your tracking and organizing them, there’s one step left.
Figuring out how your emails stack up can be very tricky.
The biggest question I get from people about their email marketing metrics is, “How do I know if my results are good or bad?” Followed by, “What kind of performance do you see at DigitalMarketer?”
Unfortunately, that’s not too useful.
…won’t help YOU decide how YOU’RE doing.
You need to look closer to home.
Thankfully, there are two great resources to help you define what success looks like.
The first resource is other people in your industry.
If you’re a law firm, knowing how email marketing generally performs for other businesses offering legal services will give you a great benchmark for what success should look like.
This data will be more FAR MORE useful than the law firm comparing itself to a clothing store.
The same goes for all industries – if you know the general habits of people in your audience, you can evaluate your results.
So, how do you go about this?
Luckily, Mailchimp has created the best resource ever for taking a peek into your peers’ email marketing metrics.
This resource provides averaged email performance data for 46 different industries, ranging from Arts and Artists all the way to Vitamin supplements.
And because Mailchimp sends over 10 billion emails a month, the information is extremely representative of behavior patterns.
Here’s a look at some of that data:
The other resource you should use to evaluate your performance is your own data…
Looking at past performance is one of the best ways to get a sense of where your email marketing program is at the moment.
To turn your historical data into something usable, you need to compile it.
This can be done pretty easily – generate averages for your four-metrics looking at the past…
…to see what direction performance is trending and to come up with benchmarks to compare current performance to.
Whether or not your email marketing is where you want it to be today, the only way to start improving it is to understand where you are at the moment.
Leveraging these two different sets of data will give you reasonable expectations and help you understand how your email marketing shapes up.
In addition to the details on how to improve individual metrics, making your audience more or less specific is the next best way to improve performance.
To beat your baseline, try experimenting with a smaller list, targeted by topics you know they’re interested in.
And experimenting with the email’s subject line and body copy is a great way to boost performance.
Focus on improving one metric at a time – that way you can figure out what’s causing the lift.
What’s next, you might ask?
Now that you’ve got the basics of tracking and using your email marketing metrics, you can take it one step further by leveraging your broadcast emails to improve your automated emails.
Once you have a good sense of what exceptional performance looks like, you can cherry-pick your best broadcast emails and turn them into automated emails.
That way, every time you send a broadcast, you’re also working in your email marketing laboratory – testing and improving your campaigns!
And by keeping a close eye on these four metrics, you can figure out how to create and maintain effective email marketing campaigns.
(NOTE: Want a plan for truly effortless automated email marketing? Check out DigitalMarketer’s Email Marketing Mastery — on sale for 90% off! Generate at least 200% more sales and conversions from the list you already have… even if it’s tiny! Learn more now and take advantage of this sale!)Read More
Earlier today, we announced that Adobe has been recognized as the only leader in the recently published report The Forrester Wave™: Digital Intelligence Platforms, Q2 2017—the only vendor whose current offering, strategy and market presence scored high enough across 26 evaluation criteria to earn the title of “Leader” in the report.
The “Leader” designation is a familiar position for Adobe. Adobe pioneered the Marketing Cloud category and has had an uninterrupted tenure as a leader in this category since its inception. With the expansion of the roles and requirements placed on marketers, Adobe unveiled Adobe Experience Cloud, a comprehensive set of cloud services designed to give enterprises everything they need to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Core to any solution designed to facilitate the creation, delivery and optimization of personalized experiences is a purpose-built platform—capable of aggregating, interpreting and taking action on digital intelligence. Adobe Experience Cloud running on the Adobe Cloud Platform excels in this space. Emerging as the leader among Digital Intelligence Platform Vendors in this latest report underscores Adobe’s leadership position when it comes to helping brands deliver exceptional and personalized customer experiences at massive scale.
What is a Digital Intelligence Platform?
According to this latest Forrester report, companies are pushing for digital intelligence platforms to help them “unify the understanding of customer digital interactions and to deliver consistent, continually improving experiences.” These requirements have long been the goals and objectives of digital marketing. Today, every division within a company needs this holistic view of the customer and the ability to act on insight provided.
In this report, Forrester clarifies that “the habit of piecemeal purchasing of digital analytics and optimization technologies in isolation for use by different teams (e.g., marketing, product management, and customer support) stymies attempts to track and keep up with the customer at scale across all digital touchpoints. Enterprises and their vendors are now starting the move toward consolidated technology platforms…”
What are the key pillars of a Digital Intelligence platform?
1. Digital data management technologies
2. Digital analytics technologies
3. Digital engagement optimization technologies
The Forrester Digital Intelligence architecture comprises 15 technology capabilities across these three pillars. These include: data warehousing and tag management (digital data management); application analytics, cross-channel attribution, digital performance management, interaction analytics, IoT analytics, predictive analytics, social analytics, spatial analytics, voice-of-the-customer, and web analytics (digital analytics management); and behavioral targeting, online testing, and recommendations (digital engagement optimization).
In this evaluation of Digital Intelligence platform vendors, vendors were given a series of scores for their ability to integrate and deliver customer value across 26 evaluation criteria, which ultimately graded the strength of their current offering, the strength of their strategy, and their market presence. In the end, Adobe emerged with the highest score for current offering and strategy, and tied for the highest score for market presence. In fact, Adobe received the highest scores possible in nine categories, including cross-channel attribution, social analytics, web analytics, behavioral targeting, online testing, tag management, partner ecosystem, digital intelligence revenue and number of enterprise customers—which we believe is a testament to the robust digital intelligence capabilities provided by Adobe Experience Cloud solutions.
Here’s what Forrester had to say about Adobe specifically:
“Adobe continues to have strength and depth in digital intelligence, primarily for optimizing customer experiences and engagement, all within the framework of its marketing cloud platform in a marketing and eCommerce context. … Looking forward, the vendor aims to continue to entice and extend its customer base through partnerships with Microsoft Azure (to strengthen its appeal to enterprise sales teams) and Adobe Sensei (to focus its AI efforts on scaling customer experiences).”
We’re thrilled to receive the recognition and see it as further validation for our strategy of enabling our customers with Adobe Experience Cloud and the Adobe Cloud Platform to become experience businesses. Adobe has long maintained that data without intelligence is merely history. Data with intelligence is the fuel that drives excellent experiences.
Download the full report from our website HERE.Read More
I feel SEO has a reputation for being meticulous and painstaking.
And perhaps that’s true to a certain extent.
The initial phases of an SEO campaign can, in fact, be grueling.
There’s on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and—everyone’s favorite—technical SEO.
So, yeah, it can be kind of a pain.
But here’s the thing.
There is a multitude of “quick fix” SEO tactics that take hardly any time.
Many can be completed within 30 minutes.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that any specific technique will bring about massive results on its own.
But when done in conjunction with one another, they can have a significant impact and give your overall SEO campaign a nice boost.
So let’s get right down to it.
Here are 18 SEO tactics that will take you no longer than 30 minutes each.
Local SEO is important, especially if you’re a brick-and-mortar business.
If you’ve been skimping on this aspect of SEO, you’ll want to spend a few minutes setting up an account on Google My Business.
This allows you to edit the info on your business, verify contact info, add images, monitor reviews, and more.
This can give you a huge advantage over competitors who fail to capitalize on this powerful resource.
Already have a profile on Google My Business?
Why not spend some time sprucing it up and making sure that everything is “just right?”
Here are a few specific things you can do:
I love Google Search Console!
If you’re not using it, you’re leaving money on the table and not getting the most from your SEO campaign.
Here’s a screenshot explaining exactly what Google Search Console is:
Although there is a wide array of features, here are some specific things you can do to improve your SEO:
I recommend reading this post from Quick Sprout to learn how to use Google Search Console like a boss.
I’m sure you know just how critical site speed is.
Even a one-second delay can have an adverse impact.
If you’re not sure what your website’s speed is, you can check it with Pingdom’s Website Speed Test.
It only takes a few seconds, and it will provide you with details on what you can do to speed it up.
Here’s the info I got when I did a speed test for Quick Sprout:
I think it’s safe to say that smartphones aren’t just a fad.
In fact, many experts labeled 2016 as “the tipping point” for mobile search, when it finally eclipsed desktop search.
Research found that the average American spent 87 hours browsing on their smartphone in August 2016.
If you haven’t done so already, take the time to run a mobile-friendly test.
This will let you know what shape your site is in and what steps you need to take (if any) to resolve any issues.
Here’s the scenario.
You’ve been blogging for awhile, maybe several years.
Back in the day, you didn’t pay all that much attention to the URL structure of your blog posts.
As a result, they look something like this:
It’s fair to say this isn’t going to do your SEO any favors, and it’s going to make it unnecessarily difficult for search engine robots to decipher the meaning of your content.
To make your site more SEO-friendly, go back and improve these URLs so they look more like this:
I’ll be honest.
Coming up with epic titles for blog posts can be a little tricky at times.
Maybe in the past, you ended up settling for less than stellar titles.
A good way to make use of 30 minutes is to look over your posts to identify any titles that could use improvement.
One helpful resource for streamlining this process is Title-Generator.com.
Simply enter your main keywords, and it will generate 700 potential titles with one click.
Here’s what happened when I entered “content marketing:”
Here’s a little hack I learned from Brian Dean of Backlinko.
It’s simple but genius.
Enter a keyword in Google, and check out the ads that pop up.
Then look for awesome copy that you could potentially use for titles or tags.
Here’s the example Brian uses.
He searches for “glass water bottles” and comes up with these ads:
From there, he comes up with these phrases:
So, why is this so smart? Just think about it.
The phrases used in ads like these are the result of extensive A/B testing, so you know they get clicks and conversions.
You can save yourself an immense amount of time and energy by incorporating the phrases you find in ads.
Dead or broken links can be a real buzzkill.
Not only can they be disruptive to your website’s visitors, but they also won’t do your SEO any favors.
But you can quickly identify any of these links with the Online Broken Link Checker:
Just type in your site’s URL, and it’ll do the work for you in seconds.
Then go back, and make any necessary repairs.
In an article on NeilPatel.com, I mention that I wrote a blog post every day for five years and amassed hundreds of posts.
But I made one major mistake. I never linked to any of my relevant articles!
Fortunately, I eventually figured out that I could greatly improve my SEO by simply linking new articles to relevant older ones.
If you made the same mistake with your older content that I did with mine, I highly recommend taking a bit of time to set up some internal links.
Even a 30-minute session should leave your SEO in much better shape than before.
You can learn more about this process by reading this article.
If you’re unfamiliar with Alltop, it’s basically a blog directory where you can find some of the world’s best content in one convenient location.
Here’s what pops up when I enter “content marketing:”
Not bad, huh?
What you want to do is spend some time looking for potential link prospects.
Search for relevant blogs in your industry to see if there are any bloggers with whom you could build relationships.
You can use the same process with BuzzSumo.
Just enter your search phrase, and you’ll get a list of results.
Here’s what I get with “content marketing:”
From there, click on “View Sharers” on any articles that interest you.
You’ll then see a list of people who shared that article.
These can all be potential people with whom you may want to form relationships, which could eventually translate into link-building/guest-blogging opportunities.
I’m sure you know that having content ranking below the first page of SERPs is essentially worthless.
Here’s what I mean:
If a post is ranked say #42, it might as well be ranked #20,000,000.
Here is how to improve that.
Identify a few of your posts ranked on the second or third pages of Google.
These have obviously gained some level of traction but need a little boost to get onto page one.
To get that boost, set up some internal links pointing to them.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get them “over the hump” and onto prime search engine real estate.
This might be an old school tactic, but it can still prove to be quite fruitful.
It involves finding two A+ industry blogs you were previously unaware of.
Once you find them, leave a couple of awesome comments with a link pointing back to your site.
On top of this, I recommend subscribing and following some of their best writers on Twitter with the hopes of eventually building relationships.
I feel a lot of marketers totally discount Bing.
And I get it.
It’s like comparing David to Goliath in terms of search engine market share.
But pump the brakes.
Bing still receives a decent percent of overall searches.
In fact, a 2016 article from Search Engine Journal reported:
Bing’s share of the search market grew more than Google’s this past April. To be exact, Bing’s market share rose by 0.2 percent while Google’s dropped by 0.2 percent.
Google’s total share of the US desktop search market has dipped below its previous 64 percent to 63.8 percent. Microsoft’s share of desktop search is now sitting at 21.6 percent.
Will Bing be overthrowing Google any time soon? Probably not.
But there’s still SEO juice to be had by claiming your Bing listing.
Sign up for Bing Places to claim, complete, and verify your listing.
This can be especially helpful if you’re a local brick-and-mortar business.
Do you post any videos on your website?
If so, you may be missing out on a golden opportunity.
What I mean is that you’re probably failing to extract all the SEO potential from your videos.
And this all boils down to descriptions.
Rather than writing a brief description like this:
Brian Dean recommends leaving a 200+ word description like this:
Not only will this help you improve your ranking in YouTube, but it can also improve your ranking in SERPs.
And it really doesn’t take that long.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by stating the obvious fact that long-form content ranks better than, say, a typical 500-word post.
You already know that.
But here’s a nice little trick you can do with thin content.
Look for a shorter post, under 1,000 words, that’s pretty good but never lived up to its full potential.
Then spend 30 minutes “beefing it up” by adding more content, charts, graphs, visuals, etc. until it’s bona fide long-form content.
For more on this, check out this post from NeilPatel.com.
Finally, it’s time to tap into your inner James Bond.
By this, I mean “spying” on a few of your key competitors.
Just go to SEMrush and type in their URL.
Within seconds, you can find info on their:
This will provide you with valuable intel that can guide your SEO campaign and enable you to be more effective.
SEO doesn’t have to be back-breaking, mind-numbing work.
In fact, there is a plethora of smaller SEO tasks you can easily complete in 30 minutes.
The ones I’ve outlined in this article will help you step up your SEO without an insane amount of effort.
And when you do several (five or more), it can potentially lead to a major breakthrough.
Do you have any other quick and easy SEO tactics up your sleeve?
Posted by randfish
Even if you know — deep down in your heart of hearts — how important SEO is, it’s hard to prioritize when you have less than 3 hours a month to devote to it. But there’s still a way to include the bare minimum, even if you run on a tight schedule. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers a minimum viable SEO strategy to give those with limited time a plan going forward.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, Minimum Viable SEO. So if you only have a few minutes in a month, in a week to do some SEO, and I know many of you are professional SEOs, but you work with lots of folks, like content creators, clients, web developers, who have very, very limited time, what I want to try and do is provide a path for you of “do this if you have no other time in the week to do your SEO.”
So let’s say here’s my calendar. It’s February, so 28 days. Start of the month, you have an hour to give me, sometime in the first week of the month. It doesn’t have to be, but that’s a great way to go. At the start of each week, I’m going to ask for 10 minutes just to do a little bit of planning, and then each time you publish content, a very, very small amount of time, just 3 minutes.
I know it sounds hard to believe, but you can get a fair amount of solid SEO work. Especially if you’re in an industry that is not hyper-competitive or if you’re going after the right kinds of keywords, that aren’t super competitive, you can really make a difference. If you’re building up a lot of content over months and years, just following this simple protocol can really take your SEO to the next level.
So, all right, let’s say we’re at the start of our month. We have our hour. I want you to do one of two things, and this is going to be based on if you’re technical SEO, meaning if your website is using WordPress and it’s pretty much nicely crawlable, maybe you’ve signed up for Google Search Console, you don’t see a lot of errors, there’s not a lot of issues, you haven’t created a bunch of technical data on your website in the past, great, fine, then you’re going to be focused on keywords and content. A keyword to content map, which is something we’ve discussed here on Whiteboard Friday — I’d urge you to check that video out if you haven’t yet — but I’m going to make an MVP version, a very, very small version that can help a little bit.
That spreadsheet, I just want a spreadsheet with a few things in it, three things really. The most valuable keywords, so just the most valuable keywords that you know you’re targeting or that you care about right now for your business. You think that people are searching for these keywords. Maybe you’ve done a little bit of keyword research. It could be for free, through Google’s AdWords tool, or you could pay for something like Keyword Explorer for Moz, but, really, just 50 to 100 keywords in there.
I want the current rank and whatever SERP features appear. You could even trim this down to just your current ranking and the top search SERP feature, so if it has a featured snippet, or if it has videos, or if it shows maps or news, whatever that is, tweets.
Then I want the URL that’s targeting it. Or if you have no URL targeting it yet, you haven’t yet created a piece of content that targets this keyword, put a little, “Okay, that’s a ‘needs to be created.’ I need this before I can start targeting this keyword and trying to rank for it.”
You’re going to update this weekly. You can do that totally manually. Fifty keywords, you can look them up in an hour. You can check the rankings. You can see where you’re going. That’s fine. It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt, but it can totally be done. Or you could use a tool, Moz Pro, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Searchmetrics. There are all sorts of tools out there that’ll track rankings and show you which features appear and whether your URLs are in there or not.
Okay, this is our keyword to content map. If you have that hour, but you know you have technical issues on the site, I’m going to urge you, before you focus on keywords and content, to make sure your technical SEO, your crawl is set. That means, step one, just a basic, simple crawl analysis. So for free, you can use Google Search Console. It will show you, most of the time with relative accuracy, big important errors like 404s and 500s and things that Google thought we’re duplicate content and that kind of stuff.
If you want to pay, you can get a little bit more advanced features and some better filters and sorting and more frequency and those kinds of things. Moz Pro is fine for that. Screaming Frog is good, OnPage.org. All of these are popular in the SEO field.
Step two, you don’t need to worry about every single crawl issue. I just want you to worry about the most severe, most important ones with your one hour. Those are things like 404s and 500s, which can really cause a lot of problems, duplicate content, where you potentially need to use a rel=canonical or a 301 redirect, broken links, where you just go in and fix the broken link to something that’s not broken, missing or bad titles, title elements that are particularly long or include misspellings or that just don’t exist, bad, very bad to have a page on the web with no title, and thin content or no crawlable content. Those are really the worst of the bunch. There’s a number more that you could take care of. But if you only have that limited time, take care of this. If you’ve already done this, then we can move on here.
Finally, last thing, but not the least, every time you publish a piece of content, I’m going to ask for just three minutes of your time, and that is going to be around this minimum viable pre-publish checklist.
So does the content have a keyword target? Yes, no, maybe? If it doesn’t, you’re going to need to go and refer over to your keyword content list and make sure that it does. So if you’re publishing something, I’m assuming you’re not publishing a tremendous amount of content, but a little bit. Make sure everyone has a keyword target. Make sure, if you can, that it’s targeting two to three additional keywords, related keywords. So let’s say I’m going after something like Faberge eggs. I probably also want to target Carl Faberge, or I want to target Faberge eggs museums, or I want to target Faberge eggs replicas, so these other terms and phrases that people are likely searching for that could have the same or similar keyword intent, that could live on the same page, that kind of thing.
Is that keyword in the title, the main one you’re targeting? Do you have a compelling meta description? Is your content doing a good job of truly answering the searchers’ queries? So if they’ve searched for this thing, are you serving up the content they need?
Then, have you used related topics? You can get those from places like the MozBar or MarketMuse or SEO Zone or Moz Pro. Related topics are essentially the words and phrases that you should also be using in addition to your keyword to indicate to the search engines, “Hey, this is really about this topic.” We’ve seen some nice bumps from that.
You’re doing this every time you publish content. It only takes three minutes.
And the last thing, at the start of the week, I’m also asking you for these 10 minutes to do one or two actions. I just want you to plan one or two actions at the start of the week to bump your SEO. It could include some publication stuff. But let’s assume you’re just doing these three minutes every time you do that.
At the start of the week, the last thing you’re doing is just choosing one of these, maybe two. I don’t need more. I want you to do something like link outreach. Reach out to a couple of high-potential targets. Maybe you use like a LinkedIn or SecTool to figure out people who are linking to two of your competitors. Or reach out to partners, to friends, do some content contributions, just a little thing to get one or two links. Or maybe create some content that’s targeting a missed keyword. When you do that, of course, you go through your pre-publish checklist.
Maybe you are upgrading some content that’s already ranking, like number 5 through 20. That’s where there’s a lot of opportunity for a high-value keyword to get bumped up. You could just do little things, like make sure that it’s serving all of these items, try and get it a featured snippet, identify content that might be old, that needs a refresh, that’s not serving the searcher intent as well because the information in there is old.
Or you could try contributing some offsite content. That could be to places like YouTube, maybe you’ve seen videos show up for something, guest posts, a forum where you contribute, answers some questions on Quora, contribute something to LinkedIn or Medium, just something to get your brand, your content, and hopefully a link out there to a different audience than what’s already coming to your site.
You do these things, right, you start the month with an hour. Every time you publish content, you put in 3 minutes, and at the start of the week, you put in 10 minutes to do a couple pieces of planning, this will take you a long way. Look, SEO professionals are going to do a lot more than this, for sure. But this can be a great start, a great way to get that SEO kicked off, to have a minimum viable SEO plan.
I look forward to your thoughts. And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
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