Online marketing can seem like a convoluted topic when you’re used to more traditional forms of advertising.
We’ll admit, it probably doesn’t help that we use so many acronyms such as PPC, SEO and CRO. It makes online marketing seem endlessly complicated, when, in reality, there are simple steps you can take to streamline your campaign and appeal to both your customers and the search engines.
The tools listed here are free and generate actionable, useful insights to help you market any business more effectively. You can also use and install them quickly, making for faster ongoing work and easy to access stats.
1. Install Yoast WordPress SEO Plug-in
Yoast is any content marketer’s bread and butter, and we install it on all of our blogs during the development phase. Yoast allows you to craft Meta Descriptions, determine your focus keyword and craft your own Facebook and Google Plus descriptions. This ensures that if people share your content across social media, you’re getting the information and promotion out there that you want.
Even brands such as Boots don’t always get to grips with a good Meta Description, putting them at risk of having their products passed up for competitors who list the price and features.
Yoast is also ideal if your technical SEO knowledge is more theoretical than actionable, as it allows you to 301 redirect and add a canonical URL if you wish.
2. Understanding ad value quickly: Google Analytics – focusing on referrals
We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve been tempted to renew an advert or paid business listing because we’ve been told that it has generated a generous number of clicks to a site. Sometimes the results being claimed don’t match up with sales one bit.
Knowing what advertising/link sources generate the most traffic to your site allows you to focus on the most profitable opportunities and capitalise accordingly.
On your Google Analytics dashboard, head to: acquisition > all traffic > referrals
It isn’t uncommon to see a few odd links here (for example from a forum or two), but a quick sift through should quickly unearth the links you have placed on other sites. This can be incredibly insightful, and will show you what sites (and content) are working for you.
Discontinue any pricey ongoing advertisements or listings that aren’t working for you and look to capitalise on opportunities that are driving relevant traffic. This may be a semi-regular post on a particular industry website, or perhaps an upgraded listing on an industry directory.
Need tracking code for an advert? GA Config will do all of the hard work for you by taking you through the entire process. Depending on your technical skills, you may need a developer to help you implement this.
Don’t waste time chasing KPI’s when you don’t need to, referrals will help you make those quick decisions when ad calls are coming in thick and fast.
3. SEO Toolbar plug-in and outreaching your content
When speaking to business owners who don’t have the budget for online marketing, I suggest that each month they should ideally be creating a valuable, insightful piece of content to be placed on a top industry site. Think quality over quantity here – a single piece on a great quality site is always going to be better (and more sustainable) than posting on every half-relevant directory.
Business owners shouldn’t underestimate what they have to offer either – there’s always an angle. Comment on topical subjects within your industry and offer your expertise to consumers. In return for your fresh content, most editors will be happy to let you link back to your site and briefly describe your business as part of your author biography.
If the idea of pitching out is daunting, this helpful guide from the E Word will help you structure your pitch. Incidentally, this post (from 2010) is still generating traffic, demonstrating how important really useful content can be.
Naturally, you might have a good idea of where you want to be. Perhaps referrals have shown you that a post from your electronic business works really well on a particular industry site.
However, if you need more direction, the Moz SEO Toolbar plug-in for Chrome and Firefox allows you to gain insights into how valuable a site is for hosting your content and promoting your site.
Take a look at the Domain Authority (DA) and social activity to get a quick overview. Ideally, a site with a DA over 50 is best, however in some niche industries good sites aren’t necessarily that high, so don’t let this put you off if you know it’s a site with good levels of engagement.
Bit.ly is considerably more than just a URL shortening tool. If you’ve just posted some content, company news or offers on social media then Bit.ly is a really simple way to see how it’s initially performing via click-throughs.
It’s ideal if you’re working on something really current or contentious and need instant updates into how many people are engaging. Launch events are a particularly good example.
Once you’ve logged in Bit.ly is incredibly simple to use. Just click on the shortened link you want to monitor and wait for real-time click-through stats.
If you ensure you’re logged in every time you shorten a link, over time you can start to identify patterns too. Arrange content types into bundles and see what’s performing best for you at what times of the day.
5. Test if your website can be displayed correctly on mobile devices
We sampled a small section of industries late last year and found that mobile searches had dramatically increased between November 2013 and November 2014. Mobile searches in the property sector we sampled had increased by 552%.
Of course before going in for a site overhaul you’re going to want to know how this could potentially impact on your traffic.
To check the number of site visits coming from mobile, use the audience > mobile feature in your Google Analytics account. Compare this to figures from the previous year(s) to get a realistic representation of how much your audience’s habits have changed.
If your bounce rate is high (compare this to your desktop bounce rate) then there’s a good chance mobile users aren’t finding what they need.
To get an idea of how user-friendly your mobile site is, Google’s mobile friendly test will unearth specific problems and lead you to helpful resources based on the platform your site is built on. While a confident web developer will need to implement any changes, determining the number of visits you could be getting via mobile is a quick and simple research task.
By Victoria Browne, copywriter and social campaigns manager at Fluid Creativity.
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