10 Tips for Taming SurveyMonkey
Surveys can be an excellent way to generate media opportunities and gather data to support your key messages. One of the most popular sites to use for creating surveys is SurveyMonkey. In order to produce the results you want, execution is key. However, if you’ve never used this tool before, it can be tricky. Below is a checklist of best practices for creating and promoting a survey for your PR or marketing program—this is no time to monkey around!
- Plan, plan, plan. The most important thing to do when planning a survey is to determine what your main objective is and to formulate the right questions in order to reach your ideal outcome.
- Think like your audience. When writing your survey, be sure that the questions and answers make sense and are easy to understand. You want respondents to be able to navigate through your survey without any hiccups caused by unclear wording.
- Spice things up. Use different types of questions to keep your survey interesting and your respondents engaged, i.e. multiple choice, ranking and open ended.
- Control V. You can manually type in each question and answer, or you can copy and paste into the text boxes. The latter can be a huge time saver if you already have approved text.
- Concise is nice. Make sure every question you ask gives information that will help you accomplish your main objective. Survey fatigue begins to set in after about 20 questions. Answer quality will decrease after that, so be mindful of the time commitment you’re expecting from your respondents.
- Be logical. Your survey may include multiple paths based on how respondents answer certain questions. This will require you to use the “page logic” and/or “skip logic” features. Page logic allows you to jump from a question on one page to a new question on a different page. Skip logic allows you to skip from a question on a page to a different question on the same page. Use these wisely to give respondents a more personalized experience.
- Practice makes perfect. You should have several people run through the test version of your survey multiple times, taking each path, in order to check for any malfunctions, errors, or mistakes in the logic.
- Pick your poison. Will you purchase respondents or use an existing list to deploy the survey?
- Leverage SurveyMonkey list(s)
- SurveyMonkey offers incentives to the people on their lists and handles the distribution of your survey for you.
- Email the link
- You can create a custom list or use an existing list to mail out the survey link with instructions.
- Post the link on social media
- You can easily share a link to the survey on social media platforms with a message asking your followers to complete it.
- Leverage SurveyMonkey list(s)
- Responsible for responses. If you purchase a SurveyMonkey list, you will need to specify the number of responses you need. The survey will automatically close when the desired number of responses has been reached. There is a required minimum of at least 50 responses.
- It’s all about results. You will be able to view the results several ways.
- Question Summaries – This gives you a breakdown of every answer for every question. The information is presented in a bar graph with percentages, as well as in a chart with physical numbers and percentages. This is the easiest to read and most helpful option for analyzing the results of your survey.
- Data Trends – This utilizes bar graphs to portray any trends that may have occurred within each question.
- Individual Responses – This allows you to view each completed survey, one by one, to see how every respondent answered each question.
- Excel Export – This gives you the option of downloading an Excel spreadsheet with all of the results by clicking “Export All.”
With SurveyMonkey, you can develop, distribute and analyze your survey to provide reporters with important statistics and proof points. Getting reporters to cover your survey results requires effective execution and promotion. Remember these 10 tips and get started on your survey today!
Have you ever been told you that you weren’t creative?
Maybe it was an art teacher you had in 6th grade who shook her head in pity when she reviewed your work, or a classmate who made fun, or possibly even an old boss who told you, “stick to your day job.” Whatever it was, being told we aren’t creative can scar us for life. It instills the kind of fear that makes us hesitant to do anything outside the box or raise our hand when we have an idea (even a great one!).
A lot of us have stories like that, which is why companies and individuals often assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of those “creative types.” But in their book Creative Confidence, authors David Kelley, IDEO founder and Stanford d.School creator, and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and author of The Art of Innovation, show that each and every one of us is creative.
Myth: Being creative is a fixed trait you are born with, like having brown or blue eyes. It is a rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few.
Fact: We are all creative. Creative Confidence is like a muscle—it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience. Creativity comes into play whenever you have the opportunity to generate new ideas, solutions or approaches, and it is one of our most precious resources.
In the world of public relations, we must be creative every day. How do we create news for a client when they have no news? How do we transform something mundane into something interesting? How can we get our clients into the conversations they want to be in and into the headlines of the publications their buyers read?
Here at Zer0 to 5ive, we may not all be painters, musicians, or culinary mavens (although some of us are pretty darned good in the kitchen), but experienced public relations professionals know that what we do is not an exact science—PR is an art form. What works in one situation may not work in another, and what worked last year (frustratingly) may not work this year. It takes practice, trial and error, which is why people outside our field often struggle to understand what we do. Many chalk it up to magic, spin, or just being naturally persuasive. Although a little salesmanship may come into play, being creative in PR is a skill that we all have developed through hard work, many rejections and lots and lots of practice.
The next time you need to “find” your creative confidence, look to these tips offered by Tom and David Kelley in their book:
- Choose creativity: The first step is to decide you want to be creative.
- Think like a traveler: Like a visitor to a foreign land, try turning fresh eyes on your surroundings, no matter how mundane or familiar. Expose yourself to new ideas, experiences and approaches.
- Engage relaxed attention: Flashes of insight often come when your mind is relaxed and not focused on completing a specific task, allowing the mind to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
- Empathize with your end user: You come up with more innovative ideas when you better understand the needs and context of the people you are creating solutions for.
- Do observations in the field: If you observe others the same way an anthropologist would, you might discover new opportunities hidden in plain sight.
- Ask questions, starting with why: A series of “why” questions can brush past surface details and get to the heart of the matter. For example, if you ask someone why they are still using a fading technology (think flip phones), the answers might have more to do with psychology than practicality.
- Reframe challenges: Sometimes, the first step toward a great solution is to reframe the question. Starting from a different point of view can help you get to the essence of the problem.
- Build a creative support network: Creativity can flow more easily and be more fun when you have others to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of.
A little creative confidence can go a long way. You just need to remember that everyone has the innate potential to be creative. If you keep flexing the muscles of your imagination, you can be as creative as Picasso, no matter what your 6th grade teacher said!
Video as a Rising Social Medium
According to Cisco, video will account for 69% of all consumer traffic by 2017. Both current statistics and trend predictions like this one indicate video’s rapid rise as a social medium. It’s clear that marketers need to include it in their content strategy in order to provide maximum exposure for their businesses.
What Does Video Bring to a Content Marketing Strategy?
- Maximized engagement
- Cross-device targeting
- Brand authenticity and communication on a human level
- Cross-promotion with digital marketing initiatives
Even Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Leverage Video Marketing
One of the factors fueling video’s growing popularity is the decrease in production costs. With the advent of video cameras on mobile phones and desktops, wearable cameras like GoPros, and single-camera, documentary-style footage, great videos can be made at a fraction of budgets deemed necessary just 5 years ago.
With a lowered barrier to entry, video isn’t just for enterprise businesses with enterprise budgets. In fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that over 1.5 million small businesses posted video on Facebook in the month of September alone in 2015.
When the opportunity for relevant video content presents itself, companies of all sizes should seize it. Here’s an example of how Zer0 to 5ive recently helped a client take advantage of such an opportunity to create a compelling video series.
Carnegie Mellon University: The Spotlight Series
Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science (CMU SCS) wished to showcase their innovative programs and visionary research to attract the world’s top undergraduates, graduates and faculty. CMU SCS faculty is teaching the next generation of computer scientists, working with industry leaders, developing new forms of AI, and building care-giving robots to best learn how to help people in need. In highlighting these impressive endeavors, the Spotlight Series was born.
Tips on How to Promote and Cross-Promote Video Content
After post-production, how can a marketer best promote and cross-promote video content online? Author Andrew Macarthy provides the following tips in his bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.
Tips for Facebook
- Because videos auto-play on silent, hook viewers with a striking visual within the first 3 seconds
- Upload SRT caption files with your video to broadcast your message even while muted
- Keep your video to approximately 30 seconds for optimum viewer engagement
- Upload video to Facebook natively, as opposed to sharing it from YouTube, in order to increase reach
- Via the Video tab, organize your videos into playlists, tag people, and add descriptive labels
Tips for YouTube
- Keep your video to approximately 3 minutes for optimum viewer engagement
- Include keywords at the front of your video title and branding at the end
- Tag your video with keywords and keyword phrases in quotations
- Take advantage of YouTube’s interactive cards, the evolution of annotations
- If you have a series of videos, add all of them to a dedicated playlist so they run continuously and indicate the series name in the title of each video
Tips for Cross-Promotion
- Embed video in blog posts
- Embed a YouTube Subscribe channel widget on your website, which is also a way to advertise your video content and YouTube activity
- Tweet about your video with relevant hashtags, making sure to include “Video:” before the title
- Comment on other videos your audience is watching to increase your brand awareness
Now may be a great time for you to start considering video if you haven’t already. The benefits will continue to grow as demand rapidly increases, so why not take the leap now? You can start small and build up to a more robust content plan as your skills improve and as you get feedback from your prospects and customers.
We’re all guilty of jumping on the bandwagon once or twice in our lives (maybe more?), whether it was pairing socks with your Birkenstocks, bleaching your hair so you could be more like Eminem, or jumping into Snapchat without a clue. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s what it is to be human. In business though, joining the latest trend without considering all of the elements and possible effects can be costly or, even worse, damage your brand.
In the book 500 Social Media Marketing Tips, author Andrew Macarthy discusses the one big mistake that many businesses make with social media: joining social media sites just because everyone else is doing so. When businesses join these sites without understanding what they are doing or why, it can lead to unrealistic goal-setting, poor results, wasted time and squandered resources.
To avoid such consequences, here are five key considerations your business should make before using social media:
- Decide which social networks suit your brand: The social media sites that work best for your business will be those where your target audience already hangs out. For example, if you are a B2B company, your target audience will most likely be present on LinkedIn and Twitter, as opposed to platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.
- Define and evaluate your goals: Before posting content on your social media platforms, identify the goals you would like to reach using the SMART technique. With this method, you will determine the Specific goals you want to reach, as well as how your goals are Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time specific.
- Shape your content strategy: Before you begin your social media marketing, take the time to perform an audit, identifying your audience along with what problems you can help solve, what questions you can answer, what type of content they prefer (i.e. text, photo, graphics, video) and when they are most likely to be around to see it. You should also use this time to determine what your competition is doing on social media.
- Plan content in advance: Developing a social media content calendar allows you to plan your social media for weeks and even months in advance. For example, you can plan to promote blog posts on Monday, ask your audience questions on Tuesdays, share relevant infographics on Wednesdays, etc. Planning ahead will also allow you to incorporate relevant holidays, awareness days, and important company events and milestones. However, be sure to leave room for spontaneous posts too.
- Understand that social media requires a lot of time: In order for social media marketing to be successful, it will require a significant investment of time over the long haul. Typically, at least 12-15 hours per week should be spent planning, creating, and scheduling content, as well as measuring results and engaging customers. Hence the importance of selecting your platforms wisely and not spreading yourself too thin!
These five considerations will help you begin to understand what kind of approach to social media works for your business. Whether you need to boost brand recognition, connect with new customers or increase traffic to your website, social media can be a cost-effective way to achieve your goals. Although it takes a lot of time and effort, social media can be well worth it when it’s done right.
By Maggie Markert
I hate to be the bearer of bad, awful news, but there isn’t a patented formula for successful content marketing. No matter how much we all wish that every post we publish would set the web on fire, rarely does that ever happen. More often than not, it feels like a cruel game of attrition trying to find the right topic, angle and frequency.
When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left
Let’s take a step back and simplify what content marketing is. Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi explains in his thought-provoking book, Epic Content Marketing, that there are four primary ways to communicate with your audience:
While the latter two options are perfectly viable for any business, it’s the first two that Pulizzi deems absolutely critical to audience engagement. And what differentiates content marketing (1 and 2) from traditional marketing (3 and 4) is how valuable the audience perceives the content to be. After all, 70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than ads, according to Demand Metric. Moreover, the combination of information and entertainment is where content marketing really has the potential to shine, and nothing proves that more than one of the most beloved children’s television shows of all time.
Hitting the public airwaves in November 1969, Sesame Street captured the minds and imaginations of kids everywhere with its unique blend of puppets, vocabulary, math and science. More than four decades later and the series is still going strong, having enriched the lives of over 77 million Americans in the process. So what’s the key to this show’s success?
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Children want to learn. They want to grow. They want to explore. But until Sesame Street came along, no one was willing to gamble on a program that tried to teach kids through a TV screen.
Research at the time showed that young children didn’t have the attention span to follow an hour-long lesson, so the show’s creators decided to try something different. They used educational goals to shape the content and then chopped up the format to create a faster, more engaging pace tailored to their audience. Standalone, curriculum-based segments were interspersed with fun sketches and animations, keeping kids tuned in not only from beginning to end, but also episode after episode.
Of course, that’s not to say the show was flawless right off the bat. Continuous research was needed to hone in on the ideal characters, most effective segments and best overall structure. The series underwent countless adjustments until it reached its stride. For example, do you remember Professor Hastings? Exactly! He got the axe during the first season because he was found to be too dull in comparison to his energetic cohorts, and the show was better for it.
And when new studies came to light decades after the debut, showing that children were more capable of following stories than originally believed, the Street began to incorporate evolving narratives to captivate a different generation. It never stopped evolving.
From Muppets to Marketing
You may be thinking, what do a bunch of fuzzy puppets have to do with my business’s content marketing plan? Well, let’s look at what Sesame Street is really doing here. Yes, they’re teaching children. Yes, they’re pleasing parents. But they’re also selling tons of merchandise. If you look at it through this lens, the show is actually the ultimate form of content marketing.
In Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi defines the practice as “the marketing and business process for creating and distributing content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Tickle Me Elmo would gleefully agree!
Understandably, very few businesses are in position to launch a wildly popular television series, but Sesame Street is sunny day inspiration at its best. The show’s constant experimentation to find the perfect mixture of education and entertainment is something all content marketers should strive to emulate. Only by understanding what your audience needs and delivering it in a compelling way can you begin to cultivate a loyal group of consumers.
Now, I can’t tell you how to get to Sesame Street, but I can help you follow their lead. Here are some things to think about as you develop your content marketing plan:
- Figure out what your audience wants to know. Kids love stories and naturally want to learn how to read, so Sesame Street enlisted a lovable cast of characters to teach those lessons. It’s up to you to figure out the curriculum that clicks with your audience.
- Choose the right media. Obviously, children are more likely to watch a colorful show than page through a lengthy case study, but every audience has its preferred content format. You need to find out where your prospects turn to first when they want to acquire new knowledge.
- Balance the information with the entertainment. Should your content marketing be a profound Big Bird production or an all-out Cookie Monster extravaganza? Maybe the tone needs to be dialed in somewhere between the two. Only your audience can decide.
- Research. Readjust. Repeat. Track your KPIs constantly to see what’s working and what isn’t. Oscar isn’t as grouchy as he used to be. Snuffleupagus is no longer a hallucination. Your content will need to change over time to keep up with your audience’s shifting preferences, so don’t be afraid to deviate from your original plan.
Keep these guidelines in mind every time you create new content and you’ll be well on your way to where the air is sweet.
This blog post was brought to you by the numbers 0, 2 and 5.
By Justin Schorah / email@example.com
Whether you are redesigning your company’s website, developing event collateral, or implementing a PR program, an outside agency can be your most valuable resource. However, it’s critical that you, as the client, guide them on the path to success and stay involved so that your agency gets the direction they need to really shine, and you get the results you want. Here are some tips to maximize your agency relationship.
Work with your agency and all major internal stakeholders to outline the deliverables and qualities of those deliverables. Get specific about what measurable objectives you can expect from your agency. Share examples of other brands, websites or articles with your agency for review so they better understand what success looks like to you. An outline of your goals will serve as the guiding framework for the project, and will be a helpful resource as the project evolves.
Collaborate & Communicate
Perhaps the reason you hired an agency in the first place is because you are just too busy with other priorities. In that case, delegate oversight and day-to-day communication to an internal partner that you trust! Your agency will need information and feedback that only an internal resource and industry expert can provide. From proposal to kickoff to execution – stakeholder input is key to making sure that the project is successful and drives results. Like with any other business partnership, collaboration and consistent communication from both agency and client is key.
Be Direct and Specific
Be as specific as possible when giving feedback throughout the project lifecycle, but particularly at the beginning of a project. Not sure what you need or what you are looking for exactly? That’s completely okay! Your agency should have experience and be able to make recommendations. During the process, be specific about what you like or don’t like. Communication and iteration are critical to achieving the very best results, so don’t hesitate to ask for another option or to see something presented in a different way.
Trust the Experts
Set a tone of trust. As much as your agency team needs and wants your input, remember that they are the experts in their field and fully understand best practices and strategies to achieve the best results for you. Trust your agency to do what they do best – to produce creative, compelling and effective work. If you’ve been engaged from the beginning, then the collaboration should be apparent. In the case where you think the results are off base or the team has missed the mark in some way, there’s no harm in a targeted course correct. You and your agency are a team!
Whatever your role, your agency relationship can be a secret weapon. Armed with the right information, agencies can be a strategic partner that brings significant value to the relationship.
By Lizzie Beggs
Your client is about to make a big announcement or wants to promote the company’s latest campaign. You know what that means…time to plan another media tour. The question is, how do you make the most of the time and effort that goes into setting up a tour?
Below are some tips you can use to help your client look like a rock star.
- Time it Right – Give yourself four to six weeks to pitch the media. You need time to draft your pitch, research the appropriate media contacts, conduct the outreach and follow up. It’s rare that you’ll get responses on the first round of pitching. Getting answers from the media can take some persistence.The time of year is also important to consider. You can’t book your client on a national talk show in the summer since they are on re-runs. Are you trying to book a guest during sweeps? Will you be competing with the holidays? An election? Make sure you are aware of the date(s) that you’re selecting so you can be sure to get the most open schedule possible.
- Hone in on Your Targets – If you are planning a media tour in NYC, the types of media available to pitch can seem limitless. Try to hone in on what your dream day of interviews for your client would look like, and go from there. Who is the audience you are trying to reach? Are they more accessible by radio, TV, Internet or traditional print media? You’ll probably find it will be a mixture. Quality is more important than quantity when building your media list. Make sure you’re approaching the right contact.
- Plan – I always add a schedule tab to my media list where I keep track of confirmed and tentative interview dates and times. This allows me to see at a glance what the day(s) are looking like in real time. Don’t schedule interviews too close together. This prevents stress if the first interview of the day runs late, eating into and delaying the rest of they day’s interviews. This is especially important when working with broadcast for live TV or radio. Ask your media contact how long they estimate the interview taking, if you need to arrive early and for any special instructions when you arrive.
- Put Pen to Paper – Before every media tour, draft a briefing book, which should include every possible detail. Items for the briefing book include: the schedule at-a-glance, a one-pager for each interview with media outlet info, contact info (including cell phone), sample interview questions, social media handles and key messages. Don’t forget to include details of accommodations and transportation as well. Share the book with your client as soon as possible so he/she can prepare as well.
- Be Flexible – You have your briefing book in hand and your schedule confirmed. You’re all set, right? Not exactly. Be prepared for change as the media tour will never follow the schedule exactly as you’ve laid it out. Without fail, your client will miss their train, an interview will run over or any number of things will happen. Don’t panic. Remember, you’re prepared with all your contacts’ cell phone numbers. A quick call can get you back on track.
- Show Off – You did the work, now show it off! A great wrap-up report is something you can prepare in advance and have ready to add in last-minute details. Plan to send within a day after the tour is complete. Make sure to include the number of interviews secured, interviewer and outlet, impressions and any social media activity. Also include any clips that have been published and the anticipated dates for those that are pending.
Conducting a media tour is no easy task. You’ll undoubtedly spend more time planning and logistics than you ever thought possible. If you plan well enough though, it will all be worth it when you get great results for your client!
During a recent conference, I spent seven hours with local entrepreneurs, marketers, and PR professionals sharing first-hand experiences around marketing challenges and how they solved them. One of the main topics was digital trends and what we, as content producers, should know.
One speaker who really stood out for me was the charismatic Wil Reynolds, Founder and Director of Strategy at SEER Interactive, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC, and Analytics.
Wil challenged the group to to ask themselves if they were working on marketing “outputs” or “outcomes.”
What did he mean?
We all get so caught up on making sure we are meeting certain bars or KPIs in terms of numbers and metrics – how many articles did we get mentioned in? How many media impressions did we secure? Did we get more clicks than last month? How many page views did we get? How many more followers?
These are all metrics that PR and digital marketing professionals are expected to report against, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; and when our numbers are where they are supposed to be, it’s easy to think “hey, we are doing what we are supposed to do, and all is good.”
But at the end of the day, how do all of these metrics translate to customers and sales?
What so many of us forget to do is close the loop on our PR and marketing efforts. Did those extra followers lead to a new prospect? Did the articles you secured get placed in the publications that your customers read? Has our new messaging come across in our media placements? In other words, did all of our efforts result in actually “moving the needle” against our goals?
Wil continued, “In our business, we need to think like a child and ask “why” at least five times to everything we do, to get to the root of the problem. If we don’t know WHY we are doing something, or have any way to measure its effectiveness, then we are just going through the motions and wasting precious time, money and resources.”
So, as you look at your marketing mix, be critical. Don’t just “do”. Ask yourself why are we doing this and how is it going to translate into meeting our business objectives? That’s how you deliver more strategic outcomes, not simply outputs.
By Colleen Martin, Director
A review of social media-pro Guy Kawasaki’s book, “The Art of Social Media”
Sure, you’re engaging in social media efforts for your clients, but are they reaching the right people? Did they make any impact?
If you are already implementing, or are planning to implement, a social media campaign, Guy Kawasaki is a name you need to know. Formerly an advisor at Google and Chief Evangelist at Apple, Guy is an authority on all things social media.
In his book, “The Art of Social Media”, Guy outlines best practices and tips that all circle back to the main focus: Are you earning the right to promote?
What does that mean? It’s easy to share your latest news article or link to your event, but what does that offer your audience? That’s right: little or nothing. It’s too promotional.
Guy uses the example of NPR. Every day of the year, NPR offers commercial-free, quality news, which provides a true value to its listeners. It’s for that reason, a few days per year, they are able to run a pledge drive. NPR has earned the right to promote the drive with 363 days of uninterrupted, respected content.
“The Art of Social Media” uncovers various ways to make sure that you are continuing to provide new, and useful content.
One example is using curation and aggregation services – many of them are free and can provide a wealth of articles and the latest studies to share. Examples that Guy provided include: Alltop, Buffer, Feedly, Google Scholar, LinkedIn, NPR, and Reddit.In addition to these tools, it can be helpful to set up Google alerts on key terms: competitors, industry hot topics, etc. This way, you receive up-to-the-minute information that is worth sharing.
Once you have the content, the next step is to share. There are best practices in how to craft posts for the various channels.
- Be brief: Posts on Google+ and Facebook should be 2-3 sentences and Twitter has a limit of 140 characters, but 100 characters is really the best practice.
- Be visual: Every post, no matter where it is, should contain “eye candy” in the form of a picture, graphic, or video. According to a Skyword study, views of a client’s content increased by 94% if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic.
- Be sly: Use key phrases that let readers know they are about to get useful and practical information (i.e. “How to rock___, Quick guide to ___, Essential steps to___)
- Be active: While this seems obvious, it’s one of the most important tools. Don’t be afraid to repost the same exact post a few times per day. According to Moz, the prime lifetime of an average Tweet is only 18 minutes! It’s much more likely that you’ll gain new followers, retweets, likes, etc. by posting the same content multiple times than it is you’ll lose any due to annoyance.
By Alyson Kurtiz, Strategist
As content marketing continues to drive many of today’s integrated marketing programs, perfecting writing skills for the various marketing channels has never been more critical. Copy for a brochure is not the same as copy for a press release, white paper or social media.
Copy development for a website has its own voice or tone. The great part about web copy is that it can be changed and adjusted on the fly and new messages and call to actions can be tested dynamically for each campaign or target audience. The hard part about web copy is that you need to think about the SEO implications of the text and how what is put on each page affects the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s “organic” (un-paid) search results.
SEO is an animal. It is dynamic, always evolving, and quite frankly one of the most technical and, as a result, more difficult aspects of digital marketing. SEO can also often be overlooked. This is often because the role of keeping up with the SEO best practices resides with many people from both technical teams and content developers. There are standard best practices today that, no matter who your audience is or the purpose of your site, should be applied if you are looking to attract visitors.
Off-page SEO: Linking & Content Marketing
Websites can be optimized through activity that does not even occur on your site. For example, links from third parties in media placements or links from partners can drive additional, credible traffic.
Additionally, third party content that results from a contributed article, a blog post on another site, a video or social media, could also drive traffic.
Research: Targets & Keywords
Compiling web copy can be a daunting task. However, what you say is just as important as how you say it.
As with every marketing channel, copy that is optimized for SEO takes into account the target audience or audiences. Identify the audience the pain point they are looking to solve and what unique benefits will drive interest in your product or service. These benefits and differentiators will inform calls to action that are effective and create engagement.
Traditional SEO copy writing focused on keywords. However, these are usually way too broad and have too much competition – the result: you’re lost.
Today, it is best to optimize keyphrases for long tail search queries in order to attract highly targeted traffic. This takes time and research to identify the most popular and common phrases.
In addition to keyword and keyphrase research, Google Adwords provides valuable ranking and insight into the popularity of terms, helping to formulate intelligent decisions on what phrases and words to incorporate on the web page copy.
Technical Aspects of SEO Copy
While dated, the Google SEO Starter guide is a great source of information for the development of optimized content.
This guide breaks down important best practices on how to:
• Create unique, accurate page titles
• Make use of the “description” meta tag
• Structure your URLs logically
• Write better anchor text
• Make use of image alts
Metadata still plays an indirect role in optimizing SEO copy. Metadata is the information within thetag code that doesn’t get displayed on a webpage, but is used by search engines. Metadata influences Google’s and Bing’s algorithms directly. However, user behavior such as click-through rate and dwell time does. Meta descriptions factor into which results a user clicks.
Additionally, as the copy of the webpage comes together, keep in mind that the main body of the text is the most important – not the sidebars, headers or call outs.
Composing Optimized Copy
With the keywords identified and the plan of attack outlined, it is time to start composing the text for the webpages.
For each page, target 2-3 keyphrases, include headers (with keyphrases incorporated), and give headers hierarchical structure. In the body of the copy, weave in keyphrases, synonyms and natural variants.
Check your work. There are plug-ins available to verify and confirm that best practices are intact, such as Yoast for WordPress. Yoast is installed during development, manages on-page SEO and publishes XML sitemaps for search engines to crawl.
Once your site is developed and ready to launch, run a pre-launch check to make sure everything is ready to launch.
Now you’re ready to be found!