These are trying times. Everyone is in the same boat and everyone is looking for ways to cope. A lot of us have started working from home but the disruption in a routine sometimes means a disruption in workflow and workload. If you’re looking for ways to use this time productively, consider taking steps to up your digital marketing ‘game’. We’ve got just the thing!
Use this time to…
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We’ve created a matrix that can serve as a checklist for things you can do to improve your online marketing efforts in SEO, Social Media, Web, Content, and Paid Ads.
Use this post as a guide as you work through your card. Maybe these are things you can dole out to your team, or they might give you an opportunity to learn some new skills or dig a little deeper into a particular field.
- Social Media
- Paid Ads
Build an SEO audit process
Everyone and their mother uses Google to find what they’re looking for. If your website isn’t optimized for search engines to find it, it won’t display it to people, even if it has exactly what they’re looking for.
These are the big picture stops you’ll tackle:
- Check for big issues: Things like Google indexing a lot of your pages instead of just one or your images or other elements being too large.
- Uncover easy-to-fix on-site problems. Things like a well-crafted title tag, a custom meta description, only one H1 tag per page, and that subheaders (H2, H3, etc.) are used correctly.
- Analyze organic search traffic. Run a few reports in Google Analytics to ensure that your site is performing well and make sure that you’re using high-volume keywords.
- Backlink analysis. Other people sending traffic to your site is already good news for you but it also tells Google that your page has content that other people want other people to see. This analysis gives you an idea of how much this is happening but also helps you fix broken links so that other people following links to your page aren’t disappointed.
- Content audit and content gap analysis. You want to know who your “content competitors” are and what content or keywords they’re using that you’re not.
An “SEO audit” sounds like a daunting task but it’s worth the time investment to show up on Google to potential customers.
Conduct SEO competitor analysis
If you’re looking at where you fall in a list of Google search results, you can look at all of the sites above you not as hurdles but as opportunities to learn and get better results by identifying what they’re doing right & wrong.
These are the steps that you’re going to take throughout your analysis:
- Identify your SEO competitors
- Evaluate keyword difficulty
- Look for new keyword opportunities
- Analyze on-page optimization and on-site content
- Dig into competitor backlink profiles
- Examine site structure
- Learn how competitors are leveraging social media
- Try to track competitor ad spend
One of the best ways to rank higher in search engine results is if they see that other people/websites are linking back to your content. If other people are sending traffic to your website, there’s a good chance that a lot of other people should see your content because it will bring them value, too. That’s where link building comes in.
A link building campaign is a process of actively trying to increase links to your website using assets like content & news to products & services.
At the heart of any link building campaign is the asset that you’re going to use in order to attract and earn links. This can also be known as the “hook” that will make people care about what you have to offer and will entice them to link to you. Assets will vary from business to business and you need to identify which assets your business has that will be of interest to others and can be used in link building.
Before you determine what hook you’re going to use to attract people, you need to know who those people are and what will interest them. The worst thing you can do is take your latest blog post and spam 500 blogs & websites, asking them to share your content. It’s important that you identify sites that would be genuinely interested in what you have to offer and whose followers would be genuinely interested as well. A good place to start is to think about the sites that you’re genuinely interested in, then move to others like them.
You also want to keep in mind that while it would be great to get a plug from a big blog with a lot of influence, consider the smaller creators as well. The big ones get a ton of requests and yours may never get seen but smaller creators will be easier to contact and you can work with them so that this is mutually beneficial.
There is a lot more to this process but we’d like to remind you to keep in mind that you’re going to be dealing with and asking favours from real people. Don’t be a spammer and be kind to them, especially if they say no.
If you’re looking for more information, read our guide.
Identify content that can increase rankings
There are so many books, blogs, tools, and plugins that can give you tips & tricks to improve your content for SEO. Too many to summarize here. The one thing that we will recommend is to have a look at the content you’ve already published and update or refresh however you can.
If you blog about social media or digital marketing, you know how quickly information can change. Look back through old posts, especially ones that are already doing well, and see where they need to be updated. Add new features that have been added to a platform, update screenshots or walkthroughs, or use the most recent statistics and data available.
Keeping your content as up to date as possible will be more valuable to your visitors and will make search engine algorithms happier.
Like a lot of other things we talk about in this post, you want to update your meta tags to ensure that they’re not doing you a disservice.
The meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a brief summary of a web page. Search engines often display the meta description in search results, which can influence click-through rates. Users browsing a list of Google search results will quickly scan these short descriptions to determine whether the link is worth clicking on at all.
A few things to keep in mind:
- While there is no character limit to these descriptions, Google usually cuts them off at 150 – 160 characters.
- These descriptions will not directly affect your SEO rankings but they will affect whether a user wants to click through to see more, so make sure that you grab their attention and don’t falsely advertise.
- If you don’t include a meta tag on your site at all, search engines and social media sites will often grab the first bit of text they can find to fill the gap. It’s best to add the meta yourself so that you can control what is displayed, even if it isn’t perfect.
Let’s be honest, a lot of people are half-assing their social media content, posting whatever and whenever. It’s fine to post content spur of the moment when something comes up but you need more of a strategy in order to get ahead.
Read our guide on how to create a social media content calendar.
Learn with Facebook Blueprint courses
A lot of companies and online services are offering free upgrades and reduced rates for their offerings but Facebook Blueprint courses are free all the time! As you might expect, a lot of their courses are focused on Facebook but they do offer general training and advice as well.
Top off your education by taking their certification exams. They’re not accredited but they are still very beneficial; these tests will reinforce what you’ve learned, they’re a way to prove to people (employers, clients, etc.) what you know, and knowing that there’s a test will likely keep you focused.
Facebook Blueprint offers eight certifications and 347 courses. Get learnin’!
It’s a great big world out there on the internet. Even if you pride yourself on your social media skills, there are some platforms that you haven’t explored as much as others. Some people judge new platforms like Snapchat or TikTok and others are worried about the time commitment (or time suck) that a new platform may be. We’ve all got a lot more downtime now than we did a month ago, so take advantage of it and start exploring.
Get in there and get your hands dirty. Set up an account, follow the top creators, get recommendations for accounts to follow from your friends & connections, and (we can’t stress this enough) create some content! Jump in with both feet, even if you’re not the person who usually creates social content. Exposing yourself to the platform by creating content is the best way to learn about it; you learn what’s possible, you learn what it takes, and you learn what people like.
If you’re new to Instagram, read our beginner’s guide.
Join a Facebook group
Forget your local classifieds or meme groups and dig a little deeper. The best place to start is one with general information & discussion around your area of interest, like digital or social media marketing.
Like we talked about before, you’ll get & give the most value by jumping in with both feet. Get involved in the conversation. Ask questions if you have any and answer questions when you can. Don’t be shy!
Ensure that your profile/page is complete
Social media pages are a lot of people’s first stopping points when they’re looking for a business online, so you want to ensure that you have your profile fleshed out as much as possible. We’ve all seen (and been annoyed by) business pages with incomplete information, so don’t be among them. Go through your profile and make sure that all of your information is filled out or up to date.
The profiles or pages on each platform are a little different but here are the main areas to cover:
- Profile photo: You want your brand to be instantly recognizable and for your pages to be recognized by that brand. Use your logo so that people can find and identify you as easily as possible.
- Cover photo: You can be a lot more liberal with this but it should still be very relevant to your business. Your storefront, a group photo of your staff, a graphic with your current sales, or a creative & unique way of sharing your contact info is a great place to start.
- Make sure you check the dimensions for the platform beforehand. Don’t create one graphic and assume it’ll work the same for all platforms. Each one is different and will show differently on desktop & mobile.
- Contact info & website
Read our blog post for some tips on making the most of your Instagram profile.
Set up e-commerce on your site
With most businesses having already been closed, the ones that have remained open have needed to find a way to adapt. Those that sell physical goods have implemented or ramped up their use of e-commerce so that they can continue to deliver their products even though customers can’t visit their stores. Everything from coffee, to handmade jewelry, to groceries are now able to be purchased online and delivered, all local.
E-commerce isn’t generally seen as an important investment for local retailers but recent events have proven that there is a lot of value in the technology and the service.
If you don’t currently have something set up on your site, it can be an easy thing to implement by setting up a store on Etsy (for certain types of products and businesses), a standalone Shopify site, or integrating e-commerce into your existing WordPress-based website using a plugin like WooCommerce.
The right solution for you may require some more research but it will be worth the investment; you can continue conducting business and your customers can get the things they need.
Review your Google Analytics goals
Google Analytics doesn’t tell you how your business is doing without some additional setup. You have to tell Google Analytics to keep track of what’s critical to your business and you do this by setting goals.
In Google Analytics, you have four ways to track goals:
- URL destination goals keep track of specific URLs, tracking each time someone visits that page. These are ideal for thank you pages and confirmation pages.
- Time goals track how many people stay on your site for a certain amount of time. Also, you can set the goal to track every visit that’s below a specific amount of time. This gets super useful for support sites that are trying to help customers answer their questions as fast as possible.
- Pages/visit is another easy goal type to set up and similar to visit duration goals. Instead of tracking how much time people spend on your site, this goal tracks the number of pages each visitor sees before they leave. Once again, it’s ideal for customer support sites.
- Event goals are a little bit more complicated because you have to set up the events. We prefer to use Google Tag Manager to handle this part. Any element that your visitors interact with can be tracked with events. Some examples of things that you can track are…
- External links
- Time spent watching videos
- Social media buttons
- Widget usage
If you’re looking for more information, read our guide.
Optimize site speed for mobile traffic
The first step is to see if your site is slow for mobile users, especially if you already think it isn’t. There is a myriad of factors that affect site speed & performance and your device might be on the right side of it while many others’ are not. Use a tool like Google’s Test My Site to see how your website stacks up.
If a problem is detected, you’ll see a message like “Your mobile page speed is 8.9 seconds on a 4G connection.” Now that you know, you can do something about it.
Here are some things you can try:
- If you don’t have one already, create a mobile-friendly (called “responsive”) version of your website. These are specifically designed for mobile devices and remove or resize elements to improve speed and user experience.
- Reduce the size and resolution of images. You don’t need large, high-res images on tiny screens. You will rarely ever need a photo larger than 2000 pixels wide. You can also add a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up access to those assets.
- Reduce the size of HTML, CSS, and JS files by using a minifying plugin. If you think of code files like word documents, four pages of text will load faster than eight.
- Have your pages load content “above the fold” first.
- Install and set up a caching plugin on your WordPress site. We like W3 Total Cache and Hummingbird.
- Ensure that gzip compression is being used on your web server
- Eliminate redirects. This happens when a user is looking for a page but the server must first hand them off from one version of the page to the next until it lands on the right one.
- example.com uses responsive web design, no redirects are needed = fast and optimal!
- example.com → m.example.com/home = multi-roundtrip penalty for mobile users.
- example.com → www.example.com → m.example.com = very slow mobile experience.
Solidify your brand standards
In the early days of your company or brand, nothing is set in stone. The logos, designs, colours, and messaging can all change. This can be a hard habit to break and it takes a lot of commitment to ink what these things are. Now’s the time to do it.
It’s not just about the look and feel of your brand, it’s also about how the brand “acts.” Things like the language & messaging you use in marketing materials, how & when you reply to comments or reviews, and the styles of graphics or images you might use.
The person/people who already do these things for your company may have a good handle on it but it’s a really good idea to put these things in writing. It can give you an opportunity to give them a hard look, see what’s working & what’s not, and it’ll give you a reference for the next person who comes in to communicate with the world on your behalf. You want everyone to be on the same page.
Conduct a competitor content analysis
You don’t always want to make your decisions based on what others are doing but taking a look at your competitors can give you ideas that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered. The idea isn’t to snoop so that you can copy what they’re doing but to be inspired by their work so that you can come up with your own.
Even though you can use software to crawl websites and track phrases or words they use, this process is best done manually so that you can get a sense of how their content appeals to your emotions and intuition.
Before you analyze what content they have, you want to make note of where the content is that they have. What kinds of pages on their website house their content? Is everything about their company on their About page or is it broken up into sub-pages? Do they have a blog or a news section? Do they have a gallery or are images interspersed throughout the site?
Once you’ve determined where content lives, then you start to look at what:
- Quantity: How many blog posts have this competitor published? What about case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.? This will help you gauge whether you’re up against a formidable content arsenal that will require a giant content creation team to surpass or whether you’re at an equal stage (or further along!) than your competitor.
- Frequency: Do your competitors publish blog posts twice a week? Twice a day? What about how frequently they come out with a new ebook? Not everything will have a publish date on it but do your best to gauge their publishing frequency for each content asset type so you know how active their current content creation efforts are.
- Distribution: This is the item that does not need to be broken down by content asset type, but you certainly may if you find it helpful. Your aim here is to determine which topics are discussed in their content so you can find opportunities they aren’t capitalizing on and determine which topics they are trying to establish a strong thought leadership (and search engine) position for.
If you’re looking for other content ideas, read our guide on how to brainstorm blog topics.
Experiment using a new graphic design tool
Even for people who have a good eye for design, learning a new tool to make your ideas a reality can be daunting. You won’t learn how to use software like Photoshop in one day but you can learn how to use one tool at a time.
If the suite of Adobe products don’t suit your needs or aren’t in your budget, become a master of a simpler tool. By playing around with a tool like Canva, you’ll not only learn new tricks but you’ll also hone your eye and your ideas.
When you do learn a new tool or technology like this, you’ll be able to create things for yourself, you’ll start to be able to speak the language & convey your ideas to others, and you’ll develop more of an appreciation for the graphic design that you see others create.
Build new ad campaigns
It might surprise you that some companies have a “set it and forget it” approach to their ads. They created a few that have been working, they’re still working, so there’s no need to change anything. Right? Maybe.
Forget the fact that your company might have new offerings since the last time you created these ads, there might be changes or tweaks that can be made to the current ad sets that improve them even slightly. Even the best copywriters often make changes when they come back with fresh eyes.
For a lot of the same reasons that you should join a Facebook group related to your industry, you should also sign up for a relevant email newsletter. We’re all inundated with all different kinds of emails these days but if you’re setting out with the goal of learning more or tapping into news areas of the industry, these newsletters are a great way to have dedicated advice and insights sent to you that you can browse at your leisure.
You might follow industry news accounts or trends on social media but email newsletters should be given special attention because you can give them special attention; when you open a newsletter, you’re doing so intentionally and can focus on exactly what you set out to do… learn.
Don’t just learn from the headlines or the links that populate the email, either. Really pay attention to the language that’s used and the images they choose. Any reputable newsletter that you sign up for is still around because they’re doing something right. As you’re reading their emails, see if you can figure out what that is, then try to implement it into your own email marketing efforts.
Start Google Ads training
We talked before about doing training & certification through platforms like Facebook Blueprint but that doesn’t cover everything. Google has their own academy and a whole stack of Google Ads training and courses.
Try remarketing to warm audiences
If you’re not already remarketing to warm audiences, you need to. These are people who are already at least somewhat familiar with your brand and they’ll be easier to convert than audiences who have never seen, heard, or interacted with your company or content before.
These are people who have seen your content on social media, visited your website, or are even previous customers. Half the work is already done because these people already know you exist, you just have to remind them what you have to offer. You can do this by tailoring your targeting & messaging to suit the individuals and how they were introduced to you; you can deliver different ads to people who have shopped your online store and people who have seen your video on Facebook. A tailored experience usually means better results.
Facebook Pixels and website tags are bits of code that you install on your website that offers you convenience and control over your analytics. We talked before about different ways of tracking goals using Google Analytics and using tools like Google Tags Manager and Facebook Pixels are the best way to do it. You can consolidate your data and do a deep dive into your analytics for each of those pages.
For more information on tracking pixels, read our blog post.