15 different offers you can start using today


Unconditional offers have (almost) no strings attached and are fantastic for building a mailing list and lead generation. But don’t get too excited as these kinds of offers generally bring in unqualified leads.

  • Free Report
  • Free Consultation
  • Free Trial (or Free Sample)
  • With Conditional offers a person has to do something before they receive the offer.
  • Discount Offer: End of year sales, Closing down sale, Introductory specials.
  • Bundle Offer: Buy 2 Get 1 Free
  • Referral Offer: Refer a friend and receive a ….
  • Deferred Offer: Buy now pay later
  • Games Offer: Get your scratch card and WIN
  • Free Gift Offer: Every purchase receives a …. Valued at $ ….
  • Piggy Backing: Buy our product and get product from another business
  • Contest Offer: Tell us in 25 words or less and WIN
  • Rewards Offer: Earn loyalty points on every purchase
  • Membership Offer: Join our members club for special offers, competitions
  • Low Cost Event: Get your ticket to an exclusive event/seminar
  • No Risk Offer: Money back guarantee or a ‘no questions’ exchange

Make sure your marketing offer doesn’t take a chunk out of your credibility or jilt your market position. And don’t let it leave you out of pocket!

What are your thoughts on discounting? Do you do it or leave it alone? What other offers do you use instead? Come on now, leave a comment and share it with us.

How Marketing Funnels Work

If you’ve spent any time learning about marketing analytics, you’ve probably come across the term “funnels.” If you’re curious about what they are and how they can help, this post is for you.

What Are Funnels?

You undoubtedly want visitors on your website to take certain actions. Maybe you want them to make a purchase, sign up, or fill out a form. When someone does something you want them to do, it’s known as a conversion. The visitor converts from browsing to taking the action you want them to take.

A funnel is the set of steps a visitor needs to go through before they can reach the conversion.

Think about the Amazon purchase funnel. There are a few steps a visitor has to go through before they can purchase a product. Here’s how it looks:

  • They have to visit Amazon.com
  • They have to view a product
  • They have to add a product to the cart
  • They have to purchase

There are additional steps/actions that can be taken in between each of these steps, but they do not matter in the purchase funnel. For example, a visitor may view Amazon’s About page, Contact page, and Careers page, but we don’t need to count these in the funnel because they aren’t necessary steps.

Why is the set of steps to conversion called a “funnel”? Because at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take the first step. Then, as the people continue along and take the next steps, some of them drop out, and the size of the crowd thins or narrows. (And even further along in the process, your sales team gets involved to help close the deal.)

The top of the funnel is where everyone goes in (visiting your site). Only the most interested buyers will move further down your funnel.

So when you hear people say “widen the funnel,” you now know what they are referring to. They want to cast a larger net by advertising to new audiences, increasing their brand awareness, adding inbound marketing, etc. in order to drive more people to their site, thus widening their funnel. The more people there are in a funnel, the wider it is.

You aren’t limited to using your funnel strictly for signing up and/or purchasing. You can put funnels all over your website to see how visitors move through a specific website flow.

You may want to track newsletter signup (Viewing newsletter signup form > Submitting form > Confirming email) or a simple page conversion (Viewing a signup page > Submitting signup). Figure out what your goals are and what you want visitors to do on your site, and you can create a funnel for it.

Once you have the data, you’ll be able to see where roadblocks are and optimize your funnel. Let’s dig a little deeper into that.

Why Funnels Are Beneficial

With a funnel report, you can see where you are losing customers.

Let’s take your average SaaS business as an example. Here’s how a funnel may look for them:

  • Visited site
  • Signed up for a trial
  • Used product
  • Upgraded to paying

Do people have to use the product before paying? They don’t, but it’s a good idea to track it so you can see if it’s a roadblock for them.

Here’s how that funnel would look in the Kissmetrics Funnel Report:


A Funnel in Real Life

Funnels occur everyday with consumers. Let’s look at the funnel process for a retail store and see the corresponding steps in an e-commerce store. We’ll be tracking a purchase funnel.

The E-commerce store has the fortune of being able to see a funnel. If they use Kissmetrics, they’ll see the exact number of people that move through the funnel, and where and when they drop off in the purchase process.

Okay, so now we have an understanding of what a funnel is and why it helps. Let’s take a look at two products that offer funnels – Google Analytics and Kissmetrics.

Understanding Impressions in digital marketing

Definition: Impressions are when an advertisement or any other form of digital media renders on a user’s screen. Impressions are not action-based and are merely defined by a user potentially seeing the advertisement, making CPM campaigns ideal for businesses intent on spreading brand awareness.

Impressions In Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has made impression tracking significantly more quantitative than offline advertising. For example, a billboard owner has no concrete way of estimating the number of impressions his platform grants advertisers. Impression-based online campaigns, on the other hand, can measure impressions concretely, and are generally sold in terms of cost-per-thousand (CPM) impressions.

Impression tracking is a common metric for measuring the performance of most types of online marketing campaigns, including:

  • Pay-per-click impressions, measured against actual clicks
  • Number of times a meme appears on social media
  • On-site views of internal calls-to-action
  • Access of graphic materials through third-party sites, such as Pinterest or Google Image Search

Impressions generally come in two forms: served and viewable.

Served Impressions

The current standard for tracking online impressions is based on served content: whenever a marketing-related file is accessed and transmitted that activity counts as an impression. This is extremely easy to track as it relies on pure server data to count the impressions.

Counting impressions based on served content still has the ‘billboard’ problem, in that it’s difficult to tell how much impact the content had without deeper data analysis. Also, in some cases files can be accessed without being viewable by the consumer.

As a result, e-commerce businesses purchasing impression-based advertising such as display ads have urged the adoption of more accurate systems for measuring impressions. The new viewable impressions standard seeks to address this need.

Viewable Impressions

The viewable impressions method uses data gathered from a user’s device to refine the impression count by excluding cases where, in all likelihood, the content was not seen.

Viewable impression tracking can identify user behaviors which prevent ad viewing, including:

  • Ad-blocking software
  • Screen resolutions too small for the ad to appear onscreen.
  • Users scrolling down before the requested ad has loaded.
  • Broken plug-ins preventing content display.
  • Mobile incompatibilities such as desktop-only websites.
  • Minimized browser windows.
  • User movement between different applications.
  • Pages loaded in background tabs then never accessed.
  • Non-user interference, like malware cloaking ads

The benefits of viewable impression tracking are twofold. First, a company receives more accurate information on the number of actual impressions made. Secondly, the data collected is highly actionable and suggests improvements which can ensure greater rates of content delivery.

Click-Through Rate (CTR): Understanding Click-Through Rate for PPC


In Internet marketing, CTR stands for click-through rate: a metric that measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per number of impressions.

Achieving a high click-through rate is essential to your PPC success, because it directly affects both your Quality Score and how much you pay every time someone clicks your search ad. Are your click-through rates holding you back, or are they high enough?

In this CTR tutorial, you’ll learn:

  • Exactly how click-through rate (CTR) is calculated.
  • Why CTR is important to your pay-per-click marketing account.
  • What constitutes a good click-through rate for AdWords PPC, and how you can get one.

So What Is Click-Through Rate, Anyway?


PPC click-through rate is the rate at which your PPC ads are clicked. This number is the percentage of people who view your ad (impressions) and then actually go on to click the ad (clicks). The formula for CTR looks like this:


(Total Clicks on Ad) / (Total Impressions) = Click Through Rate

Generally, you can view your click-thru rate within the dashboard of your PPC account. A high CTR means that a high percentage of people who see your ad click it.


Why Do Click-Through Rates Matter?

Click-through rate is important to your account because it directly effects your Quality Score.

Google AdWords and other search marketing platforms offer pricing discounts for ads that offer high relevance (read: make searchers happy). One means for doing this is to offer higher Quality Scores to ads with high AdWords click-through rates:

  • High click-through rates lead to high Quality Scores.
  • High Quality Scores allow you to improve or maintain ad position for lower costs.

Additionally, if you are advertising on relevant queries, achieving a high click-through rate means that you are driving the highest possible number of people to your offering.

What’s A “Good” Click-Through Rate?

This is a hotly debated topic: what is a good click-through rate?

From a purely statistical standpoint, it depends. Take a look at Yahoo’s answer to the “what’s a good click-through rate” question:

The honest answer to the question is, “It depends.” Click-through rates are naturally going to vary from campaign to campaign, and even from keyword to keyword. Everything involved in the way your ad is displayed plays a part, from your ad copy to the ad’s ranking on the results page.

So while you want to have a “high” click-through rate, there’s really no magic number. Average click-through rate will vary by industry, and your expected CTR depends on your ad’s position, among other factors.

Below you’ll find benchmarks for average click-through rate in AdWords across 20 common industries.

Generally speaking, as we mentioned above, you want as high a click-through rate as possible.

Except when you don’t.

When Higher Click-Through Rates Are Actually Bad For Business

If a keyword isn’t pertinent to your business or isn’t going to generate sales, leads, branding gains, etc. then a high click-through rate for that term is actually bad for business. The reasoning for this is fairly clear:

  • You’re paying for every click.
  • A lot of clicks generate a lot of ad spend.
  • Some times you’re generating clicks on keywords that are priced too high, and won’t turn a profit even if they convert.
  • Irrelevant terms and clicks are just spending money without bringing in additional business.

So you don’t always want higher click-through rates: what you want are high CTRs on keywords that are:

  • Relevant – Have to do with your ad text, your landing page, and your offering.
  • Affordable – Keywords that aren’t going to be profit-prohibitive.

So, in a nut shell, a good CTR means first targeting the right words, then getting as many people as you can to click on those ads.

Achieving Strong Click-Through Rates For Your Ads

Achieving strong click-through rates in PPC, then, depends on:

  • Targeted keywords to bid on.
  • Cost-efficient clicks.
  • Tools and methodology for closely integrating keywords with ad text and landing pages.
  • The ability to quickly and efficiently segment keyword groups to generate closer targeting.

Remember, the higher your click-through rate, the better your Quality Scores will likely be, and high Quality Scores are one of the single best predictors of success in PPC.

About the Google Display Network



The Google Display Network can help you reach people while they’re browsing their favorite websites, showing a friend a YouTube video, checking their Gmail account, or using mobile devices and apps.

How it works

The Google Display Network is designed to help you find the right audience. Its targeting options let you strategically show your message to potential customers at the right place and the right time. Here are some examples of how you can approach targeting:

Find new customers or engage your existing customers using audiences. Similar audiences and in-market audiences allow you to target people who are most likely to be interested in your products, helping you find new prospective customers. You can also use data, like remarketing lists, to help you re-engage people who previously visited your site.

Drive more conversions using automation. Automated targeting helps you get more conversions by finding high-performing audiences based on your existing audiences and landing page. By automatically optimizing over time, AdWords can learn which audiences work for you. Automated bidding automatically adjusts your bid to help you meet your return on investment. Smart display campaigns combine the best of automated targeting, bidding, and creatives to maximize your conversions on AdWords.

Move people with images

Display is your chance to engage users with appealing ad formats. Here are some of the ad types you can run on the Display Network:

  • Responsive ads. Creating ads on the Google Display Network is partially automated with responsive ads. To create them, simply enter your ad text, then add your images and logo. (You can also use our library of images at no cost.) Both new and advanced users benefit from responsive ads because they show as “native” ads, and blend into the font and feel of the publisher’s site.
  • Uploaded image ads. For more control, you can create and upload ads. You can upload ads as images in different sizes or HTML5.
  • Engagement ads. Run engaging image and video ads on YouTube and across the Display Network.
  • Gmail ads. Show expandable ads on the top tabs of people’s inboxes.

When ads show

While the Search Network can reach people when they’re already searching for specific good or services, the Display Network can help you capture someone’s attention earlier in the buying cycle. You can put your ads in front of people before they start searching for what you offer, which can be key for your overall advertising strategy. You can also remind people of what they’re interested in, as in the case of remarketing to people who’ve previously visited your site or app.

Measure your results

AdWords lets you measure how well you’re meeting your goals. See which webpages run your ads, which ads deliver the most clicks, and which sites give you the most value for the lowest cost.

Plan ahead 

Changes in the Display Network can take 12-24 hours to apply and may not show right away. Keep this in mind while creating a new campaign or making changes to an existing campaign. You may want to set up your campaign a few days before the launch and set the start date in the future.




Online ads are sold under a few basic pricing models. The most popular ones are CPM and CPC. And the never-ending question is “Which one to use?”. Before answering that question, you need to understand the difference. If you’re looking for what differentiates CMPs vs CPCs, you’ve come to the right place.

First, definitions:

In an ad buy, there are two basic cost units:

  1. CPM = Cost per “mille,” or 1,000 impressions
  2. CPC = Cost per click

Good to know, but why would I choose one over the other?

CPM is best used for driving awareness and brand engagement. It’s the way to go when you’re trying to build brand visibility. You can be more specific with what types of pages you target – for instance, if your business is “Sandy’s Sailing,” your ads will tend to come up on sites advertising anything ocean-travel oriented — sailing vacations, tropical travel, fishing gear, etc.

The main thing to understand is that you buy 1,000 impressions for however much your advertising partner charges, and 1,000 ads will appear across the web.

CPC is best used to drive conversions, whether these are website visits or sales. When a shopper has visited online sites for sailing, your ad for sailing trips from Miami to Aruba could be displayed to them, showing them a product or package they’re likely to be interested in.

When the visitor then clicks on the ad, they’re taken directly to your site and you pay for the cost of that click. If a sale occurs, then your tiny investment will have been a valuable one.

They both sound great, depending on campaign goals. Are there any drawbacks?

CPM is designed to build brand awareness. Which is good, but the main downside to CPM is that you may not get a single click to your website. The problem is that you pay full price for the campaign, regardless of performance. Often times, you pay for impressions that no one sees. Ouch.

CPC on the other hand is the best way to drive performance (revenue) or a particular sort of action (e.g. visits to the website, vacation package purchases, brochure downloads, etc.).  With CPC there are less impressions, but the ads are a lot more tailored and targeted, and you only pay when a user clicks on those ads.

Anyone who clicks is very interested in what your ad has for sale. Therefore, you get full transparency on when someone clicks on your ad, and you’re only paying for that click – which equals performance. A tech partner that charges on a CPC pricing structure will eat the cost of any ad that isn’t clicked on, so the risk is on the tech partner, and not the advertiser.

Where can a CPC pricing model be best applied?

Either CPM or CPC can be valuable, but if you’re looking for conversions or acquisitions, a CPC pricing model is probably your best bet. You pay only when shoppers engage with your campaigns, and, as a result, you maximize your ROI.

CPC for Performance-Based Campaigns

With CPC, you only pay when your ad is clicked, meaning it’s in your best interest to invest in ads that attract viewers. A skilled technology partner can help you leverage your creative and product feeds so that the right message is delivered to the right audience at the right time. When these elements are fully optimized, your CPC campaign can drive results that’ll have you swimming in profits

Your real ranking on Google


If you’ve invested your time and money creating a website, then there is a good chance that you have also come up with an SEO strategy for that site This means you’ve researched keywords for each page and have optimized all the pages for those keywords and for the audience who you hope will visit your site. This is all well and good, but how do you know if all your work is actually working?

Finding out where your site is ranking in a search engine like Google seems like a good place to start, but as simple as that may sound, the reality is that this can be extremely time consuming and difficult.

Google Prohibits Programs From Checking Ranks

If you do a search on Google asking how to check your search position in Google, you’ll find a lot of sites that offer this service. These services are misleading at best. Many of them are flat-out incorrect and some service can even put you in violation of Google’s terms of service (which is never a good idea if you want to remain in their good graces and on their site).

If you read the Google webmaster guidelines you’ll see:

“Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.”

In my experience, trying several of the tools advertised for checking search rank proved that they don’t work anyway. Some have been blocked by Google because the tool sent too many automated queries, while others that appear to work produced incorrect and inconsistent results.

In one case, we wanted to see where the tool said a site we manage ranked when searching for the site’s name. When we did the search in Google ourselves, the site was the top-ranking result; however, when we tried it in the ranking tool, it said that the site did not rank even in the top 100 search results! That’s some crazy discrepancy.

Checking to See If SEO Is Working

If Google doesn’t allow programs to go through the search results for you, how can you find out whether your SEO efforts are working?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Go through the search engine results manually. This is, obviously, the most tedious way to discover where your page is showing up in a search. It won’t be 100% reliable, as different Google servers can deliver different results (which is why you should do so using an “incognito search”). But it does work, and Google allows this type of access. It’s just time consuming and not at all exciting.
  • Use your analytics software.Using Web analytics software should tell you the URL that your customers were on before they made it to your page. This is the referrer and any that come from Google should have the page number they were on when they found your page.
  • Go through your server log files. As long as your web server logs are in the combined log format or some other format that includes the referrer information, you can see what pages people come from to get to your page. Any results from Google will tell you where your page showed up in their search.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools. If you go into the “search queries” section of Google Webmaster tools for your site, you will see all the keywords that people used to find your site. When you click on the keyword you’re interested in, Webmaster tools will include the position in the search results.

Figuring Out Site Rankings for a New Site

All of the suggestions above (except going through the results manually) rely on someone finding your page via search and clicking through from Google, but if your page is showing up at rank 95, chances are most people never get that far.

For new pages, and indeed for most SEO work, you should focus on what is working rather than your arbitrary rank in a search engine.

Think about what your goal is with SEO. Making it to the first page of Google is an admirable goal, but the actual reason you want to get onto the first page of Google is because more page views impact your website revenue. So, focus less on the ranking by itself and more on getting more page views in more ways than just site ranking.

Here are some things you can do to track a new page and see if your SEO efforts are working:

  1. First, make sure your site and new page have been indexed by Google. The easiest way to do this is to type “site:your URL” (e.g site:www.lifewire.com) into the Google search. If your site has lots of pages, it may still be hard to find the new one. In that case, use Advanced Search and change the date range to when you last updated the page. If the page still doesn’t show up, then wait a few days and try again.
  2. Once you know your page has been indexed, start watching your analytics on that page. You’ll soon be able to track what keywords people used that turned up your page. This will help you optimize it further.
  3. Remember that it can take several weeks for a page to show up in the search engines and get page views, so don’t give up. Keep checking periodically. If you don’t see results after 90 days, then consider doing more promotion or optimization on your page.

What is A/B Testing?



A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. You compare two web pages by showing the two variants (let’s call them A and B) to similar visitors at the same time. The one that gives a better conversion rate, wins!

All websites on the web have a goal – a reason for them to exist

  • eCommerce websites want visitors buying products
  • SaaS web apps want visitors signing up for a trial and converting to paid visitors
  • News and media websites want readers to click on ads or sign up for paid subscriptions

Every business website wants visitors converting from just visitors to something else. The rate at which a website is able to do this is its “conversion rate”. Measuring the performance of a variation (A or B) means measuring the rate at which it converts visitors to goal achievers.

Why Should You A/B Test?

A/B testing allows you to make more out of your existing traffic. While the cost of acquiring paid traffic can be huge, the cost of increasing your conversions is minimal. To compare, a Small Business Plan of Visual Website Optimizer starts at $49. That’s the cost of 5 to 10 Google Adwords clicks. The Return On Investment of A/B testing can be massive, as even small changes on a landing page or website can result in significant increases in leads generated, sales and revenue.

What Can You Test?

Almost anything on your website that affects visitor behavior can be A/B tested.

  1. Headlines
  2. Sub headlines
  3. Paragraph Text
  4. Testimonials
  5. Call to Action text
  6. Call to Action Button
  7. Links
  8. Images
  9. Content near the fold
  10. Social proof
  11. Media mentions
  12. Awards and badges

Advanced tests can include pricing structures, sales promotions, free trial lengths, navigation and UX experiences, free or paid delivery, and more.

A/B Testing and SEO

Google cleared the air on the SEO implications of A/B testing in their blog post titled “ Website Testing And Google Search “. The important bits from that post are:

No Cloaking

Cloaking – showing one set of content to humans, and a different set to Googlebot – is against our Webmaster Guidelines, whether you’re running a test or not. Make sure that you’re not deciding whether to serve the test, or which content variant to serve, based on user-agent. An example of this would be always serving the original content when you see the user-agent “Googlebot.” Remember that infringing our Guidelines can get your site demoted or removed from Google search results – probably not the desired outcome of your test.

Use 302s, not 301s.

If you’re running an A/B test that redirects users from the original URL to a variation URL, use a 302 (temporary) redirect, not a 301 (permanent) redirect. This tells search engines that this redirect is temporary – it will only be in place as long as you’re running the experiment – and that they should keep the original URL in their index rather than replacing it with the target of the redirect (the test page). JavaScript-based redirects are also fine.

Only run the experiment as long as necessary

The amount of time required for a reliable test will vary depending on factors like your conversion rates, and how much traffic your website gets; a good testing tool should tell you when you’ve gathered enough data to draw a reliable conclusion. Once you’ve concluded the test, you should update your site with the desired content variation(s) and remove all elements of the test as soon as possible, such as alternate URLs or testing scripts and markup.

A/B Testing Process

The correct way to run an A/B testing experiment is to follow a scientific process. It includes the following steps:

  1. Study your Website Data: Use a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics, and find the problem areas in your conversion funnel. For example, you can identify the pages with the highest bounce rate. Let’s say, your homepage has an unusually high bounce rate.
  2. Observe User Behavior: Utilize visitor behavior analysis tools such as Heatmaps, Visitor Recordings, Form Analysis and On-page Surveys, and find what is stopping the visitors from converting. For example, “The CTA button is not prominent on the home page.”
  3. Construct a Hypothesis: Per the insights from visitor behavior analysis tools, build a hypothesis aimed at increasing conversions. For example, “Increasing the size of the CTA button will make it more prominent and will increase conversions.”
  4. Test your Hypothesis: Create a variation per your hypothesis, and A/B test it against the original page. For example, “A/B test your original home page against a version that has a larger CTA button.” Calculate the test duration with respect to the number of your monthly visitors, current conversion rate, and the expected change in the conversion rate. (Use our Bayesian Calculator here.)
  5. Analyze Test Data and Draw Conclusions: Analyze the A/B test results, and see which variation delivered the highest conversions. If there is a clear winner among the variations, go ahead with its implementation. If the test remains inconclusive, go back to step number three and rework your hypothesis.
  6. Report results to all concerned: Let others in Marketing, IT, and UI/UX know of the test results and the insights generated.

Your First A/B Test

Starting conversion optimization with Visual Website Optimizer is incredibly easy. Essentially, it is just four simple steps.

  1. Include the Visual Website Optimizer code snippet in your website

Including the code snippet means we are now ready to run the tests you create on your website. For further ease, we have plugins for WordPress , Drupal and Joomla that make the process hassle free.

  1. Create variations using the WYSIWYG Visual Editor

Load your website in the Visual Editor and create any changes using the simple point-and-click interface. Advanced users can even make CSS and JS code changes.

  1. Choose your goals

All A/B tests have goals whose conversion rate you want to increase. These goals can be straight forward (clicks on links, visits page) or could use advanced custom conversion code.

  1. Start and track your test

And that’s it, your test is ready to go live. Reporting is real-time so you can start seeing reports as soon as visitors arrive on a live test.

Your SEO Checklist: 4 Steps to Optimizing Your Website

The goal of search engine optimization is to have the search engine spiders not only find your site and pages but also specifically rank the page relevance so that it appears at the top of the search engine results. The process of optimization is not a one-time process but requires maintenance, tuning, and continuous testing and monitoring.

Below is a broad four-step process for a strategy for search engine optimization. Use this as your top-level checklist.

Step 1: Target Market Business Analysis

  • Website analysis. Analysis of meta sets/keywords, visible text and code to deter­mine how well you’re positioned for search engines. For example, how much code do you have on a page compared to text?
  • Competitive analysis. Examination of content keywords and present engine rank­ings of competitive websites to determine an effective engine positioning strategy. Pick the top five results in the Google listing results to begin this process. Expand as necessary. Use tools such as Semrush.com and Keywordspy.com.
  • Initial keyword nomination. Development of a prioritized list of targeted search terms related to your customer base and market segment. Begin with this: What would you type into a search engine to find your business website or page? Then, ask your customers!

Step 2: Keyword Research and Development

  • Keyword analysis. From nomination, further identify a targeted list of key­words and phrases. Review competitive lists and other pertinent industry sources. Use your preliminary list to determine an indicative number of recent search engine queries and how many websites are competing for each key­word. Prioritize keywords and phrases, plurals, singulars and misspellings. (If search users commonly misspell a keyword, you should identify and use it). Please note that Google will try to correct the term when searching, so use this with care.
  • Baseline ranking assessment. You need to understand where you are now in order to accurately assess your future rankings. Keep a simple Excel sheet to start the process. Check weekly to begin. As you get more comfortable, check every 30 to 45 days. You should see improvements in website traffic, a key indicator of progress for your keywords. Some optimizers will say that rankings are dead. Yes, traffic and conversions are more important, but we use rankings as an indicator.
  • Goals and Objectives. Clearly define your objectives in advance so you can truly measure your ROI from any programs you implement. Start simple, but don’t skip this step. Example: You may decide to increase website traffic from a current baseline of 100 visitors a day to 200 visitors over the next 30 days. Or you may want to improve your current conversion rate of one percent to two in a specified period. You may begin with top-level, aggregate numbers, but you must drill down into specific pages that can improve products, services, and business sales.

Step 3: Content Optimization and Submission

  • Create page titles. Keyword-based titles help establish page theme and direction for your keywords.
  • Create meta tags. Meta description tags can influence click-throughs but aren’t directly used for rankings. (Google doesn’t use the keywords tag any­more.)
  • Place strategic search phrases on pages. Integrate selected keywords into your website source code and existing content on designated pages. Make sure to apply a sug­gested guideline of one to three keywords/phrases per content page and add more pages to complete the list. Ensure that related words are used as a natural inclu­sion of your keywords. It helps the search engines quickly determine what the page is about. A natural approach to this works best. In the past, 100 to 300 words on a page was recommended. Many tests show that pages with 800 to 2,000 words can outperform shorter ones. In the end, the users, the marketplace, content and links will determine the popularity and ranking numbers.
  • Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing. Make it easier for search engines to index your website. Create both XML and HTML versions. An HTML version is the first step. XML sitemaps can easily be submitted via Google and Bing webmaster tools.
  • Submit website to directories (limited use). Professional search marketers don’t sub­mit the URL to the major search engines, but it’s possible to do so. A better and faster way is to get links back to your site naturally. Links get your site indexed by the search engines. However, you should submit your URL to directories such as Yahoo! (paid), Business.com (paid) and DMOZ (free). Some may choose to include AdSense (google.com/adsense) scripts on a new site to get their Google Media bot to visit. It will likely get your pages indexed quickly.

Step 4: Continuous Testing and Measuring


  • Test and measure. Analyze search engine rankings and web traffic to determine the effectiveness of the programs you’ve implemented, including assessment of individual keyword performance. Test the results of changes, and keep changes tracked in an Excel spreadsheet, or whatever you’re comfortable with.
  • Maintenance. Ongoing addition and modification of keywords and website con­tent are necessary to continually improve search engine rankings so growth doesn’t stall or decline from neglect. You also want to review your link strategy and ensure that your inbound and outbound links are relevant to your business. A blog can provide you the necessary structure and ease of content addition that you need. Your hosting company can typically help you with the setup/installation of a blog.

How to create content that generates engagement

It’s absolutely critical that brands achieve relevance. One of the primary methods for accomplishing relevance is to create relevant content.

Unfortunately, an aura of mystery surrounds the concept of relevance. It’s misunderstood as a stylistic thing, flair, or something that some writers “just have.” In reality, relevance is more scientific and systematic. You can create relevant content by understanding what relevance is and developing a process to achieve it.

The major upside of relevance is that you can accomplish major ranking uptick by creating relevant content. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start with a customer persona

There’s no such thing as content that will be relevant to everyone. Relevance is completely audience-dependent.

Part of the reason why relevance seems mysterious is because it is often viewed as a static entity – something that you can attain or achieve. In reality, relevance is a dynamic force. It is born in the identity of the user and responded to in the content of the marketer.

Relevance is more of a conversation than it is about cool design, a trendy logo, a stylistic flair, or the right colors.

That’s why you need to create a buyer persona or a customer persona. You need to understand your users before you can ever hope to be relevant to them.

Here is an example of a customer persona.

The persona can be as detailed as you want, complete with pictures or a snazzy design.

A persona should capture the basic essence of who is buying your product, and why they’re buying it.

The fact that they may drive a Honda Accord or have a blond 5-year-old nephew is not important by itself. The important things are the motivations and problems that the customer is experiencing.

Only by understanding who the customer is can you address her problems, her questions, her concerns, her interests, and enter into her world. Relevance begins with knowing.

If you’re lucky, you already have a persona somewhere buried deep within your marketing materials. If you don’t have a persona, create one. It will be well worth your time.

  1. Understand user intent

Yes, I have to insert a boring SEO point here. I’m doing so not because I’m obsessed with SEO, but because I’m aware that search intent is the starting point for successful SEO.

Many SEOs and marketers think that the first thing they need to do when starting “SEO” is to make a list of keywords.

This is a mistake.

How are you going to come up with this list of keywords? You don’t simply pull them out of thin air. You strategize your keyword list by intuiting your user’s intent. You come up with that user intent by knowing your users – the persona described in Step 1.

Don’t put the relevant content cart before the horse.

User intent is the horse – the drive behind keywords. Here’s the definition:

The user intent of a keyword is the goal of the user typing the search query, and it typically falls into three categories: Do something, know something, or go somewhere. In fact, there’s often more than one intent per query.

Thankfully, there is a predefined set of three main things that a user searches:

  • Do something – commercial queries: “Buy a lawn mower online”
  • Know something – informational queries: “2015 gas lawnmower customer reviews”
  • Go somewhere – navigational queries: “Craftsman website”

As you develop your keywords through research and analysis, you must pay close attention to the nature of the queries – their intent. That way, you can understand what your users want, and how to create relevant content for them.

  1. Create a list of keywords

Remember, relevance is all about the userIf you’re going to get the user to click and engage with your copy, you need to use the right words/queries.

You’ll have to do a little SEO – not anything advanced or voodooish, but the basic idea of using the right words in the right places.

Here’s how Search Engine Land explains it:

Just use common sense. Think about the words you want a page to be found for, the words you feel are relevant from your keyword research. Then use them naturally on the page.

SEO is really about user experience. It’s delivering the right content for the right users, and making sure that they have a positive and rewarding experience.

Yes, you’ll need keywords.

How do you come up with these keywords? Ask:

  • What are you selling? What is the nature of your business? Create a list of keywords that describe your product (navigational and commercial queries).
  • What problem is the target customer experiencing or what solution does the customer want? Create a list of keywords that describe that problem and solution (informational queries).

As you develop this list, be aware that there are different types of keywords. The ones that will generate the best traffic are long-tail specific keywords as described by HubSpot:

Broad keywords are called head terms. Unless you’re Apple, Amazon, or Wikipedia, you’ll have a tough time ranking for these terms. Instead, use long-tail keywords:

  1. Do SEO

Now, it’s time to put these keywords into play on your website. I used the heading “Do SEO,” which sounds elementary. Allow me to be specific.

Any successful optimization involves putting the right keywords in the right places. Each page on your website should be targeting a specific keyword. Your home page should be targeting the most important keywords. All the supporting pages on your website should target the supporting keywords.

Here is how to use your keyword:

  • Use a variation of the keyword in the page title.
  • Use a variation of the keyword in the H1 header.
  • Use a variation of the keyword in the content itself.
  • Use a variation of the keyword in any image alt tags.

Those are the four most essential elements of on-page SEO. If you use your keyword or some semantic variant, then you’ve “done SEO.”

How does this play into relevance?

Simple. Remember, the users are looking for some thing; they have an intent when they search. They type a query that matches that intent. If your website is successful at targeting that keyword, then you will rank in their query.

You have to “do SEO” to be relevant. What good is your website if it’s not relevant enough to rank in the search engines? You have to be relevant not just for users but for search engines too.

  1. Put keywords in your meta description

The meta description is a bit of code in your web page header that displays in the search engine result pages, and tells users what the page is all about.

Meta descriptions don’t directly boost SEO. They speak to the user. If a user searches “top lawn mower reviews,” it sees a list of results with meta descriptions for each site.

What makes a user click on a result? There are several things:

  • Relevance of the title
  • Relevance of the website URL
  • Relevance of the meta description

If the meta description is relevant, it probably contains one of the keywords or phrases that the user seeks. If it doesn’t contain the keyword itself, then it should at least describe the nature of the keyword.

Here’s an example of how these several meta descriptions accomplish the goal of relevance:

  1. Write meta descriptions in a sizzling hot style

Not only should the meta descriptions contain a keyword or related word, but they should have great style.

Remember, when you write a meta description, you’re not trying to game the search engine; you’re inviting the searcher to check out your website.

This is where the rubber of relevance meets the road. Style does play a part in relevance. If you can use the limited space in your meta description to nail the searcher’s problem, match her intent, and score her interest, you’ve won.

As an example, let’s say that a user is looking for a way to share her videos with friends. She types in “online video sharing.”

What does she see? This meta description. It entices her to click because it tells her how the link will help solve her need and precisely matches her intent. Plus, it contains a call to action.

  1. Create a compelling summary or objective statement

When the users click from the search engine results page to your site page, the first thing they see needs to establish relevance.

Stylistically, the best way to show relevance is through a big fat headline. State the page’s objective in a few quick keywords or lines. This is where you bring the whole idea of the page into focus.

It doesn’t matter whether the page is a blog, an evergreen content page, or even your home page. You can accomplish relevance instantly by creating a summary headline.

To carry on the Shutterfly example, notice how it shapes the page – a powerful and brief headline:

  1. Solve a problem

Now to bring the page directly to bear on the user’s interest, what kind of content should you create?

The idea here is simple. Solve a problem.

Find out what condition or problem the user is experiencing, and solve it. That’s what great content marketing does: It assesses the user’s need and creates a solution.

And that’s how and why it becomes relevant.

The user’s problems become fodder for your keyword focus, and then for your content marketing strategy. As you solve users’ problems, you’ll become good not just at ranking in the SERPs but also in dominating – creating content that is laser-focused on users.

Users will love the content because it solves their problems … because it’s relevant.

  1. Make sure it is timely

Relevance has a chronological angle, too. You can’t expect to be relevant just by trying. You must ensure that your content matches current events, whatever those may be in your niche.

There are two angles to establishing relevancy with timely content:

  • Use your blog and social media strategy to post about and write about current events.
  • Use your website’s content pages to create evergreen-style content. Content can’t always be timely, but it can be timeless.
  1. Make the content as long as it needs to be

Relevant content is also comprehensive. You’re solving a problem, remember. Create solutions that meet a need, no matter how long that might be.

I’ve created content that is the length of a novel – 50,000 words. Some of my content is less than 140 characters. My goal is for all of it to be relevant.