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Posted 31 July 2019

How To Conduct A PPC Audit In 10 Easy Steps

How To Conduct A PPC Audit In 10 Easy Steps 1

More than 64% of people click on Google Ads when they are searching for a product or service online.

This offers up a ton of potential for attracting new customers. If you’re using pay-per-click ads, are you getting the most out of them? No, really. When was the last time you took a close look at not just how much you’re spending but also where you might be able to extract more value?

PPC Audit

A pay-per-click audit, also known as a PPC audit, can help you ensure that you are maximizing your paid advertising budget. Not only can it help you avoid waste, it can also put a spotlight on the areas you’re getting great results with so that you can ramp up efforts in that area and make the most of successful ads and campaigns.

In the early days of PPC ads, Google and others would offer free coupons for $50 or $100 and let webmasters and marketing managers play with ads. You could throw some ads out there and see if anything took off. Before long, if things went well, you’d be spending real money on ads.

Rather than throwing money at ads blindly and measuring them, there are a lot of things you can do to be more strategic and minimize ad waste. Ad waste isn’t just wasting money on a particular ad click or number of impressions — it can also be a wasted opportunity when your ad gets in front of someone who is ready to buy. You want to make the most of that opportunity.

When Did You Last Look Closely at Your PPC Ads?

Even if you do a bunch of keyword research and take time implementing your PPC strategy, paid advertising in any form shouldn’t be seen as a set-it-and-forget-it scenario. Things can change quickly, and you could suddenly be bleeding money on an ineffective campaign that was previously doing well. Conversely, you could also be losing out on an opportunity that’s paying off because you’re not paying close enough attention to up the budget.

Regularly reviewing and adjusting your campaign, budget, goals, ads and other facets of this search engine marketing strategy is vital. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you do a PPC audit:

10 Easy Steps to Follow for a PPC Audit

  1. Look at Your Goals: Have they changed since you last looked at your ad account? Are your ads aligned with your sales goals for specific product pushes? Are you targeting all the best geographical areas and all your services or products? Are you doing enough to foster relationship-building so that you continue to market to people who buy from you?
  2. Assess Your Budget: You want to look at your overall advertising budget as well as at individual bids. What’s your conversion rate and how effective is your current bidding strategy? What about setting budget per device? Are you keeping in mind all the ways your target customers are viewing your ads? Is it time to increase your budget on your effective ads? Is it time to refocus ad budget that’s not generating any income to another area?
  3. Check Conversion Rates: Are your existing ads truly effective? The breakdown by geography and by network are important in ensuring conversion rate optimization. Look at areas you can boost existing success with as well as strategies to improve conversion rate on under-performing ads.
  4. Look for Waste: Are you still running old holiday campaigns or campaigns with coupon codes that are no longer active? Are you excluding your own IP addresses to minimize waste? Are any of your ads out of alignment with today’s goals?
  5. Check Those Keywords: Are you targeting enough keywords? What about negative keywords to minimize waste? What’s the on-page SEO like for your landing pages to augment your efforts?
  6. Look at Keyword Quality Scores: Keyword scores aren’t evergreen. Keeping an eye on them can help with your overall success.
  7. Examine Your Keyword Groups: Are your existing groups in need of an update? Are they too large or should you narrow the list? Are you leveraging ad extensions?
  8. Split Testing: Audits can’t always be instant. Split testing can take time and should be done regularly. Two ad variances in each ad group is a good way to benchmark. If you’ve inherited an ad campaign someone else put together, have a close look to ensure ads are compelling, typo-free and, in addition to split testing your own ads, look at your competition, too.
  9. Dig into Landing Page Analytics: Is your layout following best practices for user experience, conversion rate optimization as well as landing page optimization? Headings, images, calls-to-action, making use of the URL for keyword optimization? Is it time to tweak your copy or do some more split testing with effective ad copy?
  10. Make a Plan and Schedule Your Next Audit: Whether you do a self-audit and make your own plan or decide it’s time to get help with PPC advertising, regularly doing a PPC audit will help you maximize your budget and your marketing reach.

If you’re looking to find out why your PPC ads aren’t converting or trying to figure out a way to get more ROI with your PPC campaigns, contact DUBUB Marketing Agency today at 1-877-636-7739 or online to schedule a PPC audit that will give you the answers you’ve been wanting and a plan to help you fix your problems.

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Posted 30 July 2019

The Top 6 Benefits Of Hiring A Digital Marketing Agency

The Top 6 Benefits Of Hiring A Digital Marketing Agency 2

If you’re at the point where you’re thinking about contacting and working with a digital marketing agency but you’re just not sure if the cost is worth it, we’re glad you’re here. It’s not an easy decision to spend a portion of your budget on an agency – we get that!

It’s a great idea to look at the benefits of hiring an agency versus the cost to help you make your decision. Here are our top 6 of those advantages.

The top 6 benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency

On the fence about working with a digital marketing agency? Here are some awesome advantages of choosing to move forward with it.

1. You’re always on top of the latest trends

If you’ve ever tried to follow the trends, search algorithm updates, and new tactics & strategies in digital marketing, you know how constantly it changes. Unless your career is in digital marketing, you’re probably just not going to be on top of it all. It takes time that you just don’t have!

Plus, there are so many different aspects of digital marketing. Social media, email marketing, SEO, video, content, paid ads…the list of strategies is long, and you can’t possibly follow what’s trending in all of them.

Enter the digital agency.

It’s an agency’s job and lifeblood to stay on top of trends. If we don’t know about and do the latest and greatest in each channel of digital marketing, we’re not going to be the best at our jobs or retain our clients. So, part of our time is spent learning and growing along with the industry.

So, working with a (good) digital agency means you’ve got someone informing you about the latest and greatest, and employing it in your unique strategy.

2. You get reliability & accountability

A great agency is going to be both reliable and accountable.

Reliability means you can call up your strategist and have a chat about what’s going on with your numbers or ask about updating your current strategy. It means you hear back from your agency swiftly, you trust and rely on them to know about and use the best strategies, and you just get the general feeling that they’re there for you.

On the accountability side, you’ve got someone who’s accountable for your digital marketing strategy and the numbers behind it. If you’re losing steam in organic search, for instance, it’s your agency that has the answer as to why it’s happening. If a paid ad fails to bring in the customers you thought it would, your agency is accountable.

3. Your internal marketing team is extended

You’ve got your own internal marketing team, but adding a digital marketing agency is like extending it – big time. Especially if you’re a small or medium-sized business, you’re probably not going to hire your own social media specialist, your own paid ads person, your own SEO specialist…that’s not sustainable. Instead, hiring an agency puts all those people on your team.

4. Your focus stays on growth

Having a digital agency as a partner means you can focus on all the most important aspects of growing your business. Sure, that includes awesome digital marketing, but you can take a lot of that off your shoulders when there’s a team of reliable, accountable experts doing what needs to be done.

Focus on growing, not on day-to-day digital marketing.

5. You get advanced insights from advanced tools

There are some pretty amazing tools out there that help digital marketers gain incredibly important insights about your customers, your search visibility, and your overall performance on the web.

The bad news for you is, they can get pretty expensive.

By the time you pick out a tool to monitor your search engine visibility, you’re already throwing too much into tools and you need another one to schedule your social media posts, and yet another one to monitor your online reputation.

Digital agencies often have their own budget for these important tools, and will be able to give you insights from them without you having to purchase the use of them. These tools can really make or break your ability to market the most effectively.

6. You gain objectivity

Your business is your baby. Whether you’ve built it all up from an idea, bought it from your dad, or came into it by chance, you’re…well…close to it. You make all the big decisions, watch over all the goings on, and generally keep the business running smoothly.

That can make it really hard to step back and look at your marketing with fresh eyes.

An agency, however, is just learning about your business and taking a look at it from an outsider’s point of view: an objective point of view.

While sometimes it can be hard to let go of the reins and let an agency do what’s best for your business, it’s really in your best interest to let an expert take a look at your marketing from a new, totally objective point of view.

Wrapping it Up

The potential advantages of working with an agency are pretty big ones. To recap, our top 6 advantages are:

  • You’re always on top of the latest digital marketing trends.
  • You get reliability and accountability in your marketing.
  • Your own internal marketing team is extended, without doing the hiring.
  • Your focus can stay on growing your business.
  • You gain advanced insights from advanced tools (without having to pay for all of them).
  • You gain an objective outlook on your business and your marketing strategies.

To make the decision about working with an agency, you’ll want to set up some meetings with them and find one that fits with your business’s culture.

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Posted 29 July 2019

Pros And Cons Of Hiring A Marketing Agency

Pros And Cons Of Hiring A Marketing Agency 3

Having a whole team of people taking care of your brand may seem appealing, especially as it gives you the opportunity to focus your attention elsewhere. However, this luxury comes at a price – most marketing agencies charge a hefty fee for their services. This could end up costing you more than handling your marketing on your own or hiring a freelancer to do it for you.

So, what are the pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency? In this article, we will be going over the biggest benefits and the possible disadvantages of having an agency handle your company’s marketing.

The Pros

Advertising agency revenue has been growing steadily for most of the last decade. This attests to the fact that more and more executives are looking for marketing agencies to help them promote their business.

They must be onto something, right? Let’s start with the pros of hiring a marketing agency.

#1: Creative Minds

Creativity is at the top of any discussion on the pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency. Most marketing agencies have creative directors with a lot of experience when it comes to creating marketing campaigns. Under those creative directors, there are whole teams of talented copywriters, designers, and animators waiting to showcase their creativity. These people can take a simple business concept, such as selling products and turn it into an advertising masterpiece, a website, or billboard that provokes thought and admiration.

Even if you think of yourself as a creative person, your advertising talents can hardly be compared to those of experts with multiple years of experience in the industry. Chances are you won’t be able to create a memorable campaign on your own. And just one of those campaigns is enough to put your business on the industry map for years to come. You can always check the Cannes Festival of Creativity to see what creative minds are capable of.

#2: Areas of Expertise

A full-service marketing agency has whole departments dedicated to different aspects of marketing. At the head of these departments, you will find senior managers with years of experience. Whether you need a new website, a TV commercial, or social media management, your agency can provide you with all these services.

This is very important, as omnichannel marketing allows you to cast a wider net and reach a broader audience. Managing all aspects of your brand helps you create a stable and distinct brand image.

Agencies also have quite a few different experts on staff outside of marketing. Need a pro designer to spruce up that old sales presentation? There’s a designer for that. What about that tired website? Work with the agency’s development team to bring it up to modern standards. This is one of the magical parts about agencies. The cost of hiring one or two people can net you so much more skills at your disposal.

#3: New, Different Ideas

Being in your business for a long period, you can start revolving around the same ideas all the time. Your campaigns start to look alike, and you keep using the same words to describe things. You keep trying to come up with new creative ideas but it starts getting more and more difficult. This is completely expected. After all, we all have our own writing styles and ways of thinking, and there is a limit to how long you can produce quality content when trying to promote the same thing all the time.

However, a marketing agency can bring fresh ideas to the table and rejuvenate your marketing campaigns. New people will be able to look at your company from different perspectives and give your business a new life.

Additionally, more people always think better than one person. Agencies often hold brainstorming sessions, where multiple people exchange opinions to try and come up with the best solution. These sessions often produce some amazing campaigns that wouldn’t be possible with a single person sitting in front of a laptop, trying to think of a perfect idea.

#4: More Time for You

Hiring a marketing agency allows you to focus your attention on other things. Rather than monitoring Google analytics every day and hunting for freelancers to design your social media posts, you can concentrate on macromanagement. This is vital to your business growth. You need to let go of the idea that you have to be involved in all aspects of your company.

Instead, let your agency take care of your marketing activities, and focus on the big picture – perfecting and growing your business.

The Cons

Hiring a marketing agency may not be so beneficial for all businesses. We’ve covered the pros, but there are pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of hiring a marketing agency.

#1: The Expenses

A marketing agency is also a business. This means it has its own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that need covering. To do this, it has to set a price for its services. However, most agencies are transparent about their prices, and their invoices are very clear and honest. They may also be willing to make compromises regarding their fee structure, so you may end up paying less than you expected.

That being said, an agency will almost never provide a service for free. Even after a year of cooperation, if you need them to produce an extra Facebook post, they will likely charge you for it. Out of all the pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency, the cost is the most likely deal-breaker if you can’t justify or afford it.

#2: Lack of Industry Experience

Some agencies have only worked in a small number of industries. If you come from a niche industry, there is a chance some marketing firms know nothing about your field. Have this in mind when looking for an agency. Look at their previous work and make sure that they have worked with clients from your field before.

In the beginning of your professional relationship with a marketing agency, they will need more guidance and monitoring. However, as time goes by, they will learn more about your business and industry. Eventually, you will be able to lean on them for all of your marketing activities.

#3: Different Clients, Different Priorities

While you are focused solely on your business, your marketing agency has a lot of different clients. Recent studies show that SEO specialists in large agencies personally handle as many as 17 accounts. Some of them may pay for more services than you, which means they get more attention and enjoy a higher priority status. This can sometimes lead to project deadlines being pushed.

However, a good agency will always set realistic deadlines and manage their priorities. No client should feel less important than another. If you’re thinking about hiring a marketing agency, ask their account managers how many clients they handle. This should give you a good idea about their workload.

The Bottom Line

Consider these pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency before making the final decision. If you feel like your business can benefit from new ideas and dedicated experts, start your search and find the perfect agency for you. If you are still unsure about the expenses, have in mind that most agencies can offer you short-term trial contracts. This way, you can see if you like their work and whether it brings you any measurable results.

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Posted 26 July 2019

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 4

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of agile marketing.

It’s a trending topic that’s picking up steam as marketing teams look for ways to produce better work more quickly in response to rapidly changing markets.

But, odds are you might not know exactly what the term means.

You might not even be sure if you’re implementing it right now or not.

However, those who are using it intentionally right now report being 252% more likely to be successful.

And with this brief guide, you can get started seeing those benefits right now.

What follows isn’t a by-the-book agile approach. But, it does lay out an easy-to-follow adaptation that will get you organized and on track to succeed.

Why should marketers care about agile content marketing?

In short, because it works to help teams work better. Remember the statistic that agile marketing teams are 252% more likely to report being successful? That’s certainly not an insignificant number.

Not everyone is enjoying those benefits (yet), though.

A quarter of all respondents in that same survey were not using agile at all. An additional 37% couldn’t tell you if they were agile or not.

This tells us a couple of things:

  • Marketers are confused about agile as a concept. And some understand it differently (either as lower-case agile in reference to being nimble, or upper-case A in reference to following Agile principles by the book).
  • But, there are benefits for those who act now. The data shows agile marketers consider their work more successful. Why not get on board now, while you can get the greatest competitive edge?

Improving your processes from the bottom up is one of the best ways to make everything else your marketing team does better.

Okay, so what exactly is agile content marketing?

Let’s start with understanding two basic concepts: agile and scrum.

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 5

To keep it brief, agile is a project management methodology for producing higher quality work in less time. It achieves this by streamlining workflows, organizing processes, and facilitating more effective collaboration.

Scrum is the actual framework used to implement agile processes within a team. Here’s a fast visual overview illustrating how it works:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 6

Getting the team together

Cross-functional teams are at the core of the agile approach.

These are teams that include members from different disciplines (writing, design, analytics, development, etc.) that will work together as a unit.

This keeps the team working together more closely than a project starting with one team, then being handed off to the next, and so on down the line until it’s completed.

In corporate speak, this might be called “breaking down silos.” That’s an accurate description, but what you’re really doing is removing barriers between people.

While constructing cross-functional teams can be a deep and involved process, the easiest way to get started is to bring everyone together into one project management tool and have them involved in collaborating on projects together from the very beginning.

Determining who needs to be on the team may vary depending on the needs of the project (meaning you don’t necessarily need to move people onto new teams on a permanent basis).

Plan your work in sprints

In agile, work starts with a sprint planning meeting. The goal of this meeting is to plan all the tasks, projects, and campaigns the team will tackle in the future.

Those ideas are then planned out into sprints, which is a two to four-week timeframe within which a project (or phase of a project) will be completed. This gives your work clear parameters for when things need to be done and deadlines that need to be abided by.

The document they’re planned in is called your sprint backlog, which is used to visualize future project and campaign ideas your team will complete.

That’s how it all works at a high level.

Now, with content marketing, you might have projects that don’t necessarily need to be planned this in-depth (for example, writing a blog post in most cases will take significantly less than two weeks).

But, for larger projects in your strategy (like ebooks, research reports, multi-channel campaigns, and so forth), this process can work extremely effectively. Here’s a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of this process:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 7

An easy way to build a sprint backlog is to create a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 8

How you build this is less important than making sure it’s kept somewhere easily accessible for your team (Google Sheets, Excel Online, or any other cloud-based platform should work great).

That’s all that’s essential if you want to keep things simple (and keeping things simple, at least at first, is advisable).

Running easy sprint planning meetings

Once you have a general idea of what your project will be, gather the team together for a sprint planning meeting.

At DUBUB Marketing Agency, these are called team huddle meetings—the terminology matters less than the intent and the outcome. What follows is a slight variation on traditional sprint planning.

The goal of this meeting is to determine the following things about the project:

  • Project summary: A working title or basic description is sufficient.
  • What work needs to be completed? Discuss with the team what steps they’d need to take to execute their portion of the project.
  • How much effort will it take? One way to approach this is to “T-shirt size your projects” (meaning labeling tasks as S, M, L, or XL, relative to how long each will take).
  • How much time will each task take? If you’re already estimating time for projects, this will be easy. If not, MindTools has a great guide to get you started.

Keep everything from this meeting documented by creating a slide that looks something like this:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 9

Visualizing sprints and projects on a marketing calendar

Mapping all your projects on a content marketing calendar is a smart idea.

They make it easy for everyone on the team to see when things are due and which work is coming up next.

Apps and software-based solutions work best for creating calendars. If you aren’t ready to jump into a paid solution just yet, though, you can build one with a spreadsheet.

To make this simple, you can borrow this Microsoft Excel content calendar template (either download a copy or click File > Make a Copy to create an editable version).

Once you open the template, you’ll see a master tab for mapping out content:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 10

For each month, you’ll create a list of projects with the following information:

  • Content Type: Blog post, video, ebook, etc.
  • Publish Date: When you expect the content to be published.
  • Team Member: Who owns each piece?

Then, at the bottom, you’ll see tabs for each month throughout the year:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 11

Within each of these tabs, you’ll find social media promotion calendars for distributing that content (feel free to edit columns and rows to match your chosen channels and tactics):

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 12

Would everyone please stand up …

As you work through your sprints, host standup meetings each day.

These are short meetings that should take 15 minutes or less where the team shares what they worked on yesterday, what they’ll work on today, and what’s stopping from making progress.

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 13

To run these meetings the right way, get everyone together in the same room.

Then, have everyone take turns answering those three questions. Everyone should be standing up too (since these meetings are meant to be quick, there’s no need to get too comfortable).

It’s advisable to have your scrum master document what each team member shares. Consider creating a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

How To Make Agile Content Marketing Simple 14

If the team has further action items to discuss, they should do so immediately afterward to get roadblocks resolved and keep the project moving forward. This way, you can keep your meetings brief, while keeping everyone productively in the loop.

Going retro

Once the sprint is over, hold a retrospective meeting. These are 30-minute meetings to talk about what went well, what didn’t, and what you intend to do to improve in the future.

To make these meetings useful, it’s important to act on the team’s thoughts and feedback.

Otherwise, all that discussion is going to disappear into the ether once everyone leaves the room, and your time will have effectively been wasted.

Assign someone to take notes (using a note-taking app like Evernote or something else that can be shared with the team). If you have a conference with a TV, share those notes on-screen where everyone can see them.

Next time you plan a sprint, review your retro notes and be disciplined in applying suggestions for improvement. In this way, feedback from your own team can be recycled into a renewable force for continued improvement.

It’s all about iterating on data

Ultimately, that’s what makes agile work to make marketing better.

Sure, it takes effort and dedication to make it work. Fortunately, even starting with small changes can make a big difference.

And the payoff if you stick with it? Making your team 252% more likely to succeed.

Here’s to bettering your marketing, one small (agile) step at a time.

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Posted 24 July 2019

How To Improve Your Google Rankings: 9 Steps To Rank Higher Fast Using Analytics

How To Improve Your Google Rankings: 9 Steps To Rank Higher Fast Using Analytics 15

SEO is slow. It can take years to build up the authority of a domain and the rankings of pages. Search engine optimization is the slowest form of marketing I know. It really is.

But there’s one big shortcut.

This post is a step-by-step guide to improving your Google rankings quickly. It’s the only fast SEO tactic that I know of. If you’ve never done it before, there may be huge opportunities to improve your Google rankings. The key is in your Analytics.

The goal is to find a keyphrase that you’re already ranking for, but not ranking that high. If you can find these phrases, you can find the corresponding page. If you can find the page that’s ranking, you can better optimize it for the phrase and watch the rank jump.

Make sense? Here’s the summary again, then we’ll go into detail.

  • Find the phrases for which you almost rank high.
  • Find the page in Google search results. Confirm the ranking.
  • Next, improve the page by better indicating the relevance for the phrase.
  • Check back and see if it worked.

It’s very fast. There is no need to research keyphrases since Analytics will give us the phrase. No need to check competition, because it’s already ranking in Google. That’s why this is the fastest way to increase Google rankings with the smallest possible effort.

The entire process will take you five to ten minutes. Sound good?

1. Take a look at the “Queries” report

First, let’s find the phrases that you’re almost ranking high for. It’s in Google Analytics in this report: Acquisition > Search Console > Queries.

Note: if you aren’t able to access this report, you probably haven’t connected your Search Console account to Google Analytics.

This report shows:

  • all the phrases you rank for
  • the number of times you’ve appeared in Google (impressions)
  • the number of times your pages have been visited from these phrases (clicks)
  • how high you rank for the phrase (average position).
How To Improve Your Google Rankings: 9 Steps To Rank Higher Fast Using Analytics 16

Note: this report shows data for only the last three months and shows no data for the last two days. Set your date range to cover three full months to get as much data as possible.

2. Set an advanced filter

We’re looking for phrases that already rank in Google, but could use improvement. We need to use an Advanced Filter to find just the phrases for which we rank high, but not too high.

Here’s what that filter looks like.

How To Improve Your Google Rankings: 9 Steps To Rank Higher Fast Using Analytics 17

The idea is that a page that ranks greater than 10 is high on page two. This assumes that there are 10 organic search listings on page one, which really isn’t the case, but it’s close enough for us to make this work.

In other words, this filtered report asks Google Analytics this question: “What phrases do I rank for on page two?”

Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? Page two of Google.

No one wants to rank on page two, but the good news is, high on page two is almost page one. You’re right below a tipping point. This is low hanging fruit!

3. Sort the report by rankings

Click the column header “Average Position” to sort the report. Actually, you’ll have to click it twice so you can see the 11s at the top.

ProTip! Make an Analytics “Shortcut”

Save your filtered, sorted Queries report as a shortcut. This will make it easier to get to next time. Just click the “Shortcut” link above the report, name it and click OK. Now the report will be available anytime in the left side navigation of Google Analytics.

4. Dig through this list, find phrases and confirm the rankings

You’ll quickly notice that this report shows some strange phrases. Things that seem irrelevant. Don’t worry about them. Every site ranks for unrelated phrases. Just ignore them and keep looking.

This report may also show phrases that include your brand name. Skip past those too. Search engine optimization is about ranking and getting traffic from non-branded phrases.

Ideally, you’ll find some buyer-related keyphrases. Remember, there are two kinds of keywords…

  • Question Marks
  • Phrases entered by people who are researching a problem, without yet knowing how they want to solve it.
  • Example: “why does cold water hurt my teeth?”
  • Dollar Signs
  • Phrases entered by people who know how they want to solve their problem and are looking for a presumed solution. They are often ready to spend money.
  • Example: “emergency dentist chicago”

The money (as in, the leads) are in the buyer-related phrases!

Find a few? Great. Let’s move on.

5. Confirm your rankings

Start searching for the phrases in Google to confirm your rankings. Now you’ll notice that the “average position” really isn’t the same as rankings. Sometimes, you’ll see yourself ranking higher than the report suggests. Other times, you won’t see your site at all.

There are a lot of reasons for the discrepancies.

  • Your site may have more than one page that ranks for the phrase.
  • Your site may rank in image search results.
  • Your site may rank differently today than the average ranking across the date range in the report.
  • Your search results may be personalized for you based on your location, browsing history, etc.

You can avoid that last issue by doing a few things before you search: logging out of Google, using “private” or “incognito” settings in your browser, using a browser you don’t usually use, using a proxy server to connect to Google or using Google’s Ad Preview tool.

Note: Really, there is no such thing as an entirely neutral search. That’s why A/B testing for Google rankings is impossible. There are actually many versions of Google out there! So don’t worry too much about trying to be anonymous.

Don’t expect the data to be accurate. You’re just looking for clues.

Find a page that ranks for a phrase, but not too high? Great. Let’s keep going!

6. Check to see how the phrase is used on the page

Now we want to see how well the page was optimized for the phrase. Does the phrase appear on the page in the right places? Was the page indicating relevance?

It’s possible that the phrase hardly appeared on the page at all. It’s possible the ranking was completely accidental.

If so, you now have an opportunity to indicate the relevance and improve the rankings with very little effort. Here’s how to check:

While viewing the page, search for the phrase (using control+F or command+F on a Mac) just like you would inside a Word document.

  • Does the phrase appear on the page?
  • Does it appear all together, or is it broken up?
  • Where does it appear? In the title, header and body text?
  • How many times is it used in each location?

If the phrase isn’t in the title, header and body text, then this page wasn’t really optimized. The Google rankings were accidental.

Find that the page isn’t well optimized? Great! But first…

Warning: Before you proceed, check to make sure that this page isn’t already ranking for other phrases. It’s possible to indicate the relevance for one phrase and hurt the relevance for another phrase.

To make sure you don’t de-optimize it, go back to your Queries report and look for other phrases the page might rank for. Search for these phrases in Google. Or just enter the page address into SEMrush. This will tell you all the phrases the page ranks for and how high. That’s great data!

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If the page already ranks for another phrase, check the volume in the Google Keyword Planner. Is the phrase more popular? Is it a more relevant phrase that may bring more targeted traffic?

If either answer is yes, don’t hurt the relevance for this phrase. Go back to the beginning and start again, or proceed to the next step using the better phrase.

7. Improve the page and indicate the relevance for the phrase

Search engine optimization is all about indicating relevance. We indicate relevance using on-page SEO best practices, which we’ll summarize here.

  • Use the keyphrase once in the page title
  • This is the <title> tag, which appears in the code, but not on the page itself. It does show up in the browser tab and it’s often the clickable link in Google search results. If your site is in WordPress, the titles may be managed within a plugin such as Yoast.
  • Ideally, the target phrase appears at the beginning of the title and words of the phrase are kept together, with no words breaking it up.
  • Use the keyphrase once in the header
  • This is the <h1> tag, which is generally the headline on the page.
  • Use the phrase several times in the body text
  • There is no magic number for keyword frequency, but high ranking pages tend to be long, with 1500 – 2000 words. Remember, Google is a research tool built by library scientists. Google loves text!
  • If your page is 1500 words, it’s likely that four to six instances of the phrase feels natural. If the page is short, don’t try too hard to fluff it up by adding length. But make sure the phrase appears at least once, all together as a “bonded” keyphrase.

ProTip: Use Semantic Keyword Research

Search engines are really more about topics, meaning, and intent, rather than words and phrases. As Google gets smarter, they pay more attention to “semantics” rather than a string of letters.

So smart search optimizers are paying attention to the broader meaning of their pages and indicating relevance by using other, semantic keyword phrases in their content.

To find which words and phrases are semantically linked to the phrase you’re targeting, look for clues at the bottom of a search results page.

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Find anything? Ask yourself if it makes sense to work those phrases into your page. If so, work one or two of these into the body text.

8. Improve the quality!

Relevance is all within the context of quality. So here is the ultimate SEO trick…

If you want to increase your Google rankings, your goal is to make the best page on the internet for that topic. Don’t try to trick a robot. Do try to help people find the information they’re looking for.

Look for ways to make the page great. Add detail. Add examples. Add links to other great pages. Add graphics. Add a video. Don’t just add keywords. It’s all about the reader. Make it a better page in any way you can.

9. Wait a few days and check your rankings

How’d we do? Ranking a bit higher? If you don’t see a change within a week, you probably aren’t going to see a change at all.

In my experience, a few small changes can have a big impact on rankings, especially if the page wasn’t well optimized to begin with.

The total time to find a phrase and update the page usually takes less than 10 minutes. And the results are often visible within a few days. Here’s an example of an email I received a week after going through these steps with a client…

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It’s the fastest way to improve your rankings and it works really well. The only downside is that there are only so many opportunities in this report. Eventually, you’ll have eaten all of the low hanging fruit.

That’s why it’s called SEO…

It’s called search engine optimization because it involves iterative improvements over time. It’s not something you do once. Repeat this tactic every few months!

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