How to Get Started with Instagram Ads

Imagine trying to sell Instagram to a venture capitalist back in 2010. “You see, the biggest problem with Facebook and MySpace is that there are too many words. Our social network will be almost entirely pictures. I know, I know, but get this: People will be able to make their pictures look like crappy Polaroids from the 70s and 80s! AND we’ll do it all on mobile, so people can download these pictures at blistering 2G and 3G speeds!”

It seems like a tough pitch, right? Only a few forward-looking folks knew that visual content was the wave of the future. As mobile speeds increased and phones got smarter, Instagram became a major player in the social media world.

These days, Instagram has a massive amount of potential for marketers of every stripe. 90% of Instagram’s 500 million monthly users are under 35. These millennials and Gen-Zers have plenty of buying power, and the platform has taken pains to introduce and develop marketing-friendly features.

If your brand isn’t on Instagram yet, there’s a good possibility it should be. Brands as diverse as GE and Donna Karan are seeing great results. If you can create arresting visual content for your brand, you’re good to go.

Here’s what you need to know to get started on Instagram.

#1: Create an Instagram Account

Before you start posting your own ads, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the platform. Create a Business Profile account and begin building your audience with engaging content.

Make sure to follow plenty of similar companies to see what the competition is up to, and add a few who aren’t in your vertical but have ideas worth borrowing.

#2: Build an Organic Audience with Great Content

If your brand lends itself to high-fashion photos or dynamic product shots, you don’t need to think too hard about your content strategy. For the rest of us, think of the platform as a place to provide an authentic look into your company’s culture.

Use photos and video to take followers behind the scenes at your company. Introduce employees and show them at work. Give viewers a tour of your headquarters. Take them with you to corporate events.

Instagram supports videos up to 60 seconds long, which is just enough time for a quick how-to or a few words of advice. Keep it non-promotional and valuable, and you can start to grow an organic audience.

Even though Instagram is a visual platform, don’t worry about having the most polished, professional-looking visuals. You’re better off actually using the tools Instagram provides to create authentic-looking images that match the platform’s look and feel.

#3: Connect Your Instagram Account to Facebook Business Manager

Facebook owns Instagram, so you will be posting your ads through Facebook’s Business Manager. That means the basic process for creating Instagram ads should be familiar to anyone who has run campaigns on Facebook.

There are two options for creating ads: Ads Manager and Power Editor. Ads Manager is the simpler of the two, but has plenty of functionality for those just starting out. The platform will walk you through the process of choosing an objective, audience, and adding creative.

#4: Create Ads: It’s Hip to Be Square

There are three types of ads you can create:

  1. Single Photo: A single photo, oddly enough.
  2. Photo Carousel: Up to 5 photos that viewers can swipe through
  3. Video: Up to 60 seconds of video.

Start with the single photo option for your first few campaigns. They’re the simplest to create, but you still have a good chance of seeing results with a strong visual.

Once you have a little experience, try out the photo carousel. See how you can use the format to tell a simple story. Give people a reason to swipe to the next photo.

If you have the setup to create beautiful, compelling video content, it’s worth trying out video ads. These ads tend to have the highest engagement of the three types. Use video to tell a story as visually as possible. As with Facebook, your video should make sense with the sound off.

You can choose ads that run in Instagram’s native square format, landscape, or vertical. Square ads actually give you more screen real estate than landscape ads, so it’s a good idea to stick with that classic square. Use these technical specifications to make sure your ad will look its best.

#5: Use Hashtags Sparingly

Hashtags help Instagram sort and display photos-think of them like the category tags in your blog. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. You’re likely to see people who make full use of all 30. Resist the urge to follow in their footsteps.

Hashtags work best when you keep them relevant and use no more than five per post. Other users can add more tags when they share your content. So start with minimal descriptive tags and let the community decide what else is relevant. And ignore that 2200 character limit-stick to around 125  characters for your captions.

#6: Tailor Content for Specific Goals

If your goal is to raise awareness and grow your audience, look to content that is already performing well with your organic audience. Put a little budget behind content that is proven to engage, and it’s more likely to enjoy success and help bring in more followers.

For lead gen goals, use visuals that contain a clear call to action. HubSpot did extensive testing on Instagram ad types for their Complete Guide to Instagram Advertising (gated). They discovered-however counterintuitively-that the highest CTR for their lead gen ads came from visuals that looked more like ads than native content. So for your gated content offer, don’t go with a cute kitten picture or an inspirational quote. Offer a preview of the content and make it clear what you want your reader to do.

#Blessed #Success #LovingInstagramMarketing

Instagram may seem like a hard nut to crack, especially if you’re not in an industry known for strong visuals. In reality, though, if you’re successful on Facebook, you can make it on Instagram. Tell a compelling story, provide value for your audience, and they’ll click through.

From more from our team, follow us at TopRankMarketing. Is your brand rocking it on Instagram? If so, tell us how in the comments.

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

How to Get Started with Instagram Ads |

The post How to Get Started with Instagram Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Online Marketing News: Generational Video, Facebook Ups the Volume and Hiring an SEO

Infographic: How Gens X, Y and Z Consume Video Content

A new infographic shows how content consumers across generations interact with video content — unsurprisingly, Gen Z consumes video at a higher frequency than their Gen Y and Gen X counterparts, but the platform and preferred format data may surprise you. AdWeek

Facebook Videos Will Now Play With the Sound on by Default

In contrast with a decision made last year to keep the sound from auto-playing on videos in the News Feed, Facebook has opted to turn the automatic sound back on for videos after rumored pressure from advertisers. User groups have reviewed this favorably, but there is also the option to disable auto-play with sound in your individual settings. AdAge

How to Hire an SEO [Video]

Hiring a good SEO is a daunting task for many — but Google’s Maile Ohye is here to help with some useful tips. First and foremost, SEO isn’t black magic. She also points out that an SEO is only as good as the site they have to work with in terms of credibility and content. Google Webmasters

The Impact of Email List Segmentation on Engagement

Personalizing content in your emails by segmentation works, according to a new study from MailChimp. The study saw open rates increase by 14% where segmentation was used, and a whopping 101% increase in click through rate. MarketingProfs

Google Asked to Remove Over a Million Websites for Copyright Infringement

Google’s Transparency Report showed that the search engine recently hit a major milestone – they’ve been asked to remove one million domains from their search results and two billion individual URLs. Some of these are due to copyright infringement or illegal content, but others are due to personal preference of the reporting user. For the latter, Google has the option to deny the request. Search Engine Journal

Get Ready for Pinners to Search Outside the Box

On February 8th, Pinterest announced Pinterest Lens (in Beta): “Pinterest Lens uses people’s mobile cameras to search for ideas using objects they see out in the real world. Just point Lens at a pair of shoes, and tap to see related styles.” Pinterest

Facebook’s Rolling Out a New Job Posting Option for Pages

Social Media Today reports: “This week, Facebook has confirmed that this new functionality is being rolled out to all business Pages, starting with North American-based organizations […] the workflow is fairly straightforward – when you want to advertise an open position, you click on the ‘Create Job’ option, which will be added to the new Page post options buttons.” Social Media Today

Mobile makes up 21 pct. of online spending in Q4, as digital commerce reaches $109 billion

ComScore released their 2016 eCommerce spending figures, and the results are in – consumers spent 21% ($22.7 Billion) of total online revenue (109.3 Billion) on mobile. Online revenue still didn’t overtake retail during the holiday season, but there’s always next year. Marketing Land

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news! In the meantime, keep the conversation going on Twitter @toprank or drop a note in the comments.

The post Online Marketing News: Generational Video, Facebook Ups the Volume and Hiring an SEO appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Does Your Website Pass the Mobile Test?

It is hard to argue that the adoption of mobile devices hasn’t exploded with popularity. Most searches are being performed on mobile devices, with more searches expected to continue on mobile.

Mobile is not only important for organic performance but for conversions from all types of traffic including email and paid channels. It is important to understand your mobile traffic to focus on the channels that convert the most on those devices. For some websites, mobile devices might bring in the majority of your traffic but the conversions might not be as high as desktop searches, because of less focus on the mobile experience.

Today, most websites are built with a responsive design to help make it mobile friendly, but that doesn’t mean marketers should stop there. Instead, marketers should optimize the entire mobile experience to enhance conversions and overall performance. To help you out, we built a list of actionable tips to make sure your site is mobile friendly from three categories: SEO for mobile devices, mobile content, and mobile conversions.

Mobile SEO Tactics

#1 – Choosing the right mobile website setup

When choosing your website setup, make sure you understand what mobile design you want. There are three main types of mobile sites including:

  • Responsive design
  • Dynamic site
  • Mobile only site (

Google recommends using a responsive design for your website to help make sure it is mobile friendly, but any option works when done correctly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Analyze your audience to understand what the best option is for your site. Not all sites need to have a responsive design, considering a mobile only site can be tailored to your mobile audience easier in some cases.


#2 – Test your site for mobile friendliness

There are multiple ways to test if your site is mobile friendly including the Google Usability Test, Google Search Console report, and Chrome Developer tools. Use multiple tools to be sure that your mobile site is rendering correctly instead of assuming that your site is mobile friendly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use the Chrome Developer Tools to get a better idea of how your website looks like on certain devices by selecting the “inspect” element. Then in the bottom left-hand corner, select the button that looks like a mobile device (see below).

The screenshot below shows the look on a mobile device. You can choose between a responsive site by pixel size or actual mobile phones by selecting the drop down at the top of the screen.


#3 – Optimize your metadata

Mobile SERPs (search engine results page) have less real estate for organic listings than desktop SERPs. It is important to understand the search landscape and SERP space available to market yourself over your competitors.

TopRank Marketing tip: Keep your title tags shorter and more concise to avoid your title tags being cut off in the SERP. It is best practice to keep your title tags under, at least, 70 characters for your title tags.


#4 – Optimize for mobile keywords

Have you ever conducted a search with a “near me” signifier attached to it? Near me searches are increasing and doubled in 2015 for all types of users, but especially for mobile users. Mobile keywords can also include more voice queries that people conduct with their phones.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make sure you conduct keyword research for mobile users and target mobile keywords. The search intent of a keyword query can vary based on the device people use so optimizing for all types of keywords will help increase your visibility.


#5 – Content for mobile devices

There are multiple types of content that should be considered when creating content for mobile users and your audience. Most marketers are already considering the type of content to write for their website on the attract, engage, convert model, but there sometimes is a lack of focus on mobile consumption habits. Mobile consumption habits can change depending on the industry, so it is important to consider how your audience interacts with your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: If you are are sending email campaigns, consider your audience’s mobile consumption habits. Most emails are consumed on mobile devices (see below). Create all your content that you are promoting via your email or social media channels to be mobile friendly.


Image via:


#6 – Geotargeting on your mobile app

If you have a larger audience that uses your mobile app, you might want to consider geotargeting the users when they are close to a storefront, event, or at a specific location. Geotargeting is a great way to encourage action from your audience when they are located in the right areas at the right time.

TopRank Marketing tip: Consider using different imagery and messaging for users in different locations when they are using your app or website. Also, consider sending notifications to mobile app users to entice action when they are at a physical location.


Mobile Content Creation

#1 – Consider the content length and types

Consider the length and type of content you are creating for your audience, both on mobile and desktop. As we already covered, there typically is a difference in search intent for users on mobile devices compared to desktop computers. With that in mind, you need to be customer-focused and analyze where your audience is within the funnel for your content assets.

TopRank Marketing tip: Develop audience personas to understand the way your audience searches online. Personas can be a powerful tool when creating content for your website.


#2 – Make sure to communicate the value quickly

It is important to communicate your value clearly and quickly to mobile users. Often, banners sometimes push the value proportion below the fold, which may increase the amount of bounces on the page and confuse users where they are on your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: Reduce the amount of unnecessary space or elements on your mobile device to only include what is needed. Less is often more when you are dealing with the limited amount of space on a mobile device.


#3 – App optimization

Mobile websites are a must for your online strategy, but apps can provide even a better user experience. Not all companies need to develop and create a mobile app, but for the ones that do, you need to optimize those experiences. Apps should be tailored to solving the user’s problem or creating an unique experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Optimize your app for the user experience to solve your audience’s problem. After you create your app, make sure you optimize your App store listing to increase your visibility on other channels.


#4 – QR codes

QR codes are another solid tactic to add to the dedicated mobile experience. When used correctly, you can push users directly to a location easily with QR codes on psychical flyers or other traditional marketing materials.

TopRank Marketing tip: Test using QR codes on physical marketing materials to push people to a section online with their mobile phones that offers an experience dedicated to them.


#5 – SMS messaging

SMS messaging is a way to help you get in front of more of your audience via messaging apps. SMS messaging can be a powerful tool to send notifications to your audience that opted in to encourage specific actions or enhance customer experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your messages personal to help encourage action. Also, make sure to include a clear CTA within the message to see the most value out of your campaign.


Mobile Conversions

#1 – Manually audit your layout on your responsive design

Your site might not be mobile friendly even though it might have a responsive design. A responsive site is typically better than a non-mobile site but sometimes issues can still arise. Some issues we typically see are videos not formatted to the correct screen size, the layout pushes the content below the fold, or the font size is too small.

There could be a vast majority of other issues with a responsive design, so make sure you optimize the layout of each page type.

TopRank Marketing tip: Look at what screen size is being utilized the most on your website within Google Analytics. Navigate in your Google Analytics dashboard to go to Audience ? Mobile ? Overview ? Screen Size to quickly analyze what screen size to optimize for first.


#2 – Consider your thumb reach

Make sure you consider the thumb reach to encourage action on your mobile design. Making your users reach and work out their thumb can create friction and a low-quality user experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your CTAs within a thumbs reach to improve conversions. Also, consider using sticky headers to help mobile users navigate quickly through your site.


#3 – Site speed

Site speed has become more important as a ranking factor for search engines, and rightly so. A fast loading site helps provide a solid user experience and can help increase the crawl rate of the site by search engines. All marketers should be focusing on site speed as a priority item. Below are some tools to test your site speed:

TopRank Marketing tip: Test your mobile site with multiple different tools to get a holistic view on site speed aspects. Prioritize the site speed items to get the most ROI from the work instead of optimizing for every site speed item.


#4 – Image optimization

Similarly to site speed, optimizing images will help site speed and user experience. A responsive site often uses the same image that is not probably sized for each device screen.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use different image sizes that can be used at different viewports to pull in images that are the correct size for the device.


#5 – Form Optimization

Congratulations! Someone has decided to start filling out a form on your site. That is a great goal to accomplish, but nothing is more disappointing than losing that user after they choose to abandon the form. Optimizing your forms for mobile users is a great way to increase conversions.

TopRank Marketing tip: Adjust the type of the keyboard for mobile users to use the right one for the form fields. For example, use the keyword field to show numbers for phone number fields and a different keyboard for email fields.


Your Optimized Mobile Experience

Above are some actionable tactics that you might want to optimize for your mobile website. There are even more areas and opportunities to optimize on your mobile website than listed above. If you’d like to find out if your website passes the mobile test, contact us today to receive a mobile optimization audit.

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

Does Your Website Pass the Mobile Test? |

The post Does Your Website Pass the Mobile Test? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Influence and The Mighty Impact of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone is influential about something and if you want to be the “best answer” for that thing, then you should really read Mark Schaefer’s new book, Known. Today I’m sharing a very rare thing: a guest post. To celebrate the recent launch of Known, Mark has put together this preview for you.

For the past two years I’ve been obsessed with answering a single question: Can anybody become known in the world today?

Why would I be obsessed with something like that? Because I’ve come to realize that so many of our professional and personal goals have become tied to this idea. What about you? What do you want to do next in your life?

Do you dream of writing a book or beginning a speaking career?

Do you want to be recognized as a thought leader or influencer in your industry?

Do you want more doors to open on sales calls?

Do you want to receive an invitation for a board or university appointment?

As my friends talked to me about dreams like these, I realized I kept saying, “Well, to achieve that, you have to become known in your industry.” But how? Can anybody do it?

I’ve been on a journey to find out. I’ve done research, read everything I could get my hands on, and interviewed about 100 people who are “known” in their fields.

I should clarify that being known is not the same as being famous. It’s not about having millions of fans and red carpet appearances. Being known is about approaching your web presence with an intent that creates the proper authority, reputation, and audience to realize your potential and achieve your goals … whatever they might be.

I talked to people who are regarded as thought leaders in education, real estate, retail, construction, business, medicine, finance, fashion, music, art, and many more. I talked to people in Africa, Asia, Brazil, Canada, Australia, America, Mexico, Europe, and the Middle East. And I’ve written a new book about this called KNOWN.

This is what I found. Every person, in every field, in every country did exactly the same four things to become known:

  • They found a distinctive sustainable interest (which is different from a “passion”).
  • They found an un-contested space to publish content.
  • The created excellent content consistently, for years.
  • They worked tirelessly to nurture an audience big enough to matter.

One of the things I learned is that the road to becoming known is a long one. These people worked hard for two years or more before they started to realize their goals. Well, most of them did. There were a few exceptions. The people who were on the fast-track to becoming known effectively developed relationships with influencers who could help them connect, amplify their work and build an actionable audience.

For example, Aaron Lee, a blogger who lives on a peninsula in Malaysia built meaningful connections with influencers by finding problems he could solve for them and providing free content. Within just one year he transformed himself from unemployed marketer to a recognized fashion blogger.

Shawn Van Dyke had a struggling construction business and a ton of medical bills to pay. He rocketed to fame in his industry by providing free consulting advice to industry leaders. In about a year, he was already being invited to speak at national conferences and had built a rapidly-growing online business.

And Sarah Mason? Well, she won the heart of at least one influencer with cookies.

A few years ago, Sarah commented on one of my blog posts and told me she was struggling with a question. I noticed that she was showing up on my blog frequently and was trying to make an authentic attempt to connect with me. Rather than answer her in a reply comment, I thought it would be more effective to call her and help her through the complex issue in person. By having a constant presence on my blog and by sharing my content, Sarah had earned my attention. She was working to turn a weak relational link – typical of social media connections – into a real business relationship.

Through our phone discussion, I learned we had similar interests and marketing viewpoints. I also admired the work she was doing on her website. I suggested to her that there could be ways we could work together in the future.

A few days after our call, I received a package in the mail with homemade chocolate chip cookies as a “thank you” for my help. I was so moved by this thoughtful gesture that I provided her with a few small design jobs, and then bigger jobs, and oh yes … Sarah is the person who designed the interior and cover of my new book! That’s the mighty, mighty power of the cookie.

Over the years Sarah and I have collaborated in countless ways. She has become a great collaborator and friend and I have helped her attract new business from connections all over the world.

None of these success stories started with a “pitch.” Influencers are caring, feeling people, not “targets.” Connect to them as friends, be patient. As Shawn Van Dyke told me, “serve your audience with arms wide open, not a hand outstretched.”

Effective influence marketing is not just a personal branding shortcut, it’s an indispensable marketing strategy for many companies today. But whether you’re working for a corporate titan or you dream of being the next YouTube star, influence marketing begins with the human touch – kindness, generosity … and even home-made cookies.


Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and has written six books including KNOWN. There is also a workbook that accompanies KNOWN with exercises and bonus content. 

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

Influence and The Mighty Impact of Chocolate Chip Cookies |

The post Influence and The Mighty Impact of Chocolate Chip Cookies appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Showing Some Love: 7 Sweet B2C Valentine’s Day Marketing Examples

While Valentine’s Day has been traditionally known as the day couples honor their love and affection for one another, it’s turned into the fourth-largest shopping day of the year with attached and unattached consumers making holiday purchases for the special people in their lives.

As a result, smart B2C brands and marketers are upping their Valentine’s Day marketing game by getting creative to tap into new audiences, boost awareness and drive sales.

With that said and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, below we share some clever, sweet and endearing Valentine’s Day marketing examples from B2C brands.

#1 – M&M’s

Chocolate is arguably one of the top go-to Valentine’s Day gift items. But with probably thousands of options to choose from, candy makers face some stiff competition.

In this short and sweet Facebook video, M&M’s has a simple message for all: Share your love this Valentine’s Day by sharing some M&M’s. While M&M’s is a household name, they took advantage of native video and social advertising to create something eye-catching and capitalize on the V-Day holiday.

#2 – CVS Pharmacy

If you’re a “Parks & Recreation” fan, then you probably already know about Galentine’s Day. If you’re not familiar, Galentine’s Day-celebrated on Feb. 13-is all about celebrating the love between lady friends.

In this adorable promoted tweet, CVS pharmacy is evoking precious childhood memories when many of us girls loved playing dress up.

CVS Valentine's Day Marketing

#3 –

In an attempt to share a little joy, inspiration and love around Valentine’s Day-as well as encourage invited their customers and social media followers to share their love stories for a chance to win a special, love-themed PANDORA charm.

Dubbed the “Share Your Love Story” contest, people shared touching stories about their significant other, best friends and special family bonds such as that between a mother and a daughter.

BeCharming Valentine's Day Marketing

#4 – Maserati North America

Maserati is certainly taking advantage of the Valentine’s Day holiday to associate their high-end luxury line of vehicles with the beauty, devotion and excitement that love can bring. These tweets featuring loving phrases and eye-catching images are simple yet powerful.

Maserati Valentine's Day Marketing

Maserati V-Day Marketing

Maserati Valentine's Marketing

#5 – Bath & Body Works

Email marketing is one of the top-converting channels for many brands. However, many consumers get several promotional emails from their favorite brands each day-which means subject lines need to stand out to get the click and kick-start a potential sale.

For me, this email from Bath & Body Works is a fantastic example. The subject line reads: “Sweet-NOTHINGS for tomorrow? Don’t panic! Get $10 off!” It uses a cute play on a loving phrase, signals that there is still time to buy something great and there’s an incentive.

Bath & Body Works Valentine's Day Marketing

#6 – Uncommon Goods

Consumers are more self-directed than ever before, often turning to search engines to guide their research and find quick answers.  As a result, combining SEO with content that meets search intent and creates a great user-experience is key.

Uncommon Goods hit the nail on the head this Valentine’s Day season, creating a Valentine’s Day Gift Guide driven by SEO-ranking them high in search results for the phrase “Valentine’s Day Gifts”-and helpful content that’s easy to consume and peruse.

Uncommon Goods Valentine's Day Marketing

#7 – Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is transforming their long-time “America runs on Dunkin’” slogan to “Love Runs on Dunkin’” this Valentine’s Day. It’s #DunkinLoveContest on Instagram asks fans to share how their donut chain is part of their relationship-whether it be big or small.

Dunkin' Donuts Valentine's Day Marketing

And that’s not all. While contest submissions are being gathered on Instagram, the company is promoting it across its social media channels with messaging tailored that unique audience.

As another facet of the company’s Valentine’s Day campaign, they’re also plugging their heart-shaped donuts and holiday drinks through delectable looking photos and how-to videos, and they’ve also launched a stickers and V-Day card builder app.

What unique, creative or sentimental Valentine’s Day marketing has caught your eye? Tell us in the comments section.

Disclosure: is a TopRank Marketing client.

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

Showing Some Love: 7 Sweet B2C Valentine’s Day Marketing Examples |

The post Showing Some Love: 7 Sweet B2C Valentine’s Day Marketing Examples appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The Key To Unlocking the ROI of Enterprise Influencer Marketing

Unlock Influencer Marketing ROI

Influencer marketing gained substantial attention and momentum amongst marketers in 2016. Judging by the start of this year, it will be an even hotter topic in 2017. But for all the potential of adding influence to the marketing mix, there are also significant challenges.

With pure pay-to-play and one-off campaign practices distracting marketers from finding the true value of influencer relationships, misconceptions remain.

To bring clarity to the hype, our content marketing agency, TopRank Marketing, along with influencer relationship management software company Traackr, teamed up to investigate how the practice of influencer marketing is evolving within leading enterprises around the world. We surveyed 102 brand strategists and marketers from companies that include American Express, 3M, and Microsoft. We also commissioned Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, to analyze the data and outline what’s working with current influencer marketing practices, what’s failing, and, most importantly, to predict their evolution.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

The result is the report “Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.”

This article will highlight some of the most compelling findings from that research and what they mean to senior marketers.

The Influencer Marketing Conundrum

Our research found that 43% of companies surveyed are still experimenting with influencer marketing, and 28% involve influencers only at the campaign level. Incredibly, 57% are managing their entire influencer marketing programs manually. Many companies report small influencer budgets relative to the rest of the marketing mix, with only a 10% share of budget. Furthermore, 50% currently allocate less than $100,000 annually.

Influencer Marketing Budgets 2017

This data demonstrates an untapped potential for enterprise organizations, with influencer marketing still in the early stages of adoption and with low-level resource investment.

One-off, short-term, and transactional influencer programs are failing to deliver the opportunity inherent in “always-on” strategic programs that live beyond a single promotion. The report identifies this shortsighted view as a fundamental failure that hinders performance and prevents influencer marketing from becoming a strategic investment at the board level. By tapping strategic consulting resources and moving to an always-on program focus, enterprise organizations can develop and manage mutually beneficial relationships with influencers that can impact purchase decisions and activate multiple moments of truth across the entire customer journey.

Looking forward, the data indicates a readiness among senior executives for more strategic influencer relations programs. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of brand marketers rate influencer marketing as a strategic or highly strategic marketing category, while 83% of respondents cited “identifying and building one-on-one relationships with industry key influencers” as a top marketing priority.

A Promising Future for Influencer Marketing

CMOs have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about influencer marketing. Fifty-five percent of marketers surveyed said they plan to spend more on influencer marketing in the coming year; for those already investing more than $250,000 annually, this percentage jumps up to 67%. The number further increases to 77% for those using influencer marketing technology. While 24% of companies are currently running an always-on influencer program, many CMOs are missing out, with only 5% implementing integrated influencer activities across all functions.

Influencer Marketing Cross Functional

The report also shows that working with influencers is expanding within the enterprise. Half of all respondents stated that four or more departments are engaged in an integrated influencer practice, and 80% indicated more than three. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believe influencer marketing will be integrated into all marketing activities in three years, and almost half believe working with influencers will become a cross-functional discipline that will expand beyond marketing.

Influencer Marketing Role

In addition, the role of influence is now expanding to support new areas beyond marketing, including sales, support, and loyalty programs. The majority (94%) of marketers said they would like to explore how influence can improve brand advocacy, 92% want to use it to expand brand awareness, 88% want to reach new highly targeted audiences, 86% to want achieve increased share of voice, and 74% want to improve sales conversion.

Influencer Marketing Goals

Introducing Influence 2.0

In the report, Solis calls for a maturation of the practice to “Influence 2.0.” Only through an upgrade in its definition, justification, methodologies, and metrics can enterprises deliver on the promise of influencer programs to humanize the brand, he pointed out. A strategic and always-on approach to influence enables true customer-centricity by placing customer experience at the center of enterprise business strategy.

To help make influencer integration a reality, Solis mapped out a future vision and introduced a new business model that unifies the disparate organizational functions that encompass relationship-driven marketing activities, including brand, PR, AR, customer and employee advocacy, social media, and digital. In this model, influencers can play a role in each moment of truth in the customer journey through content, engagement, and community.

Solis also emphasizes that influencer marketing must be an investment priority in its own right, rather than an enhancement to existing advertising, paid endorsements, or PR programs.

Unlocking Influence 2.0

Drawing from the research and Altimeter’s analysis, evolving the role of influence in the enterprise requires a more human approach, with empathy and customer-centricity at its center. By engaging influencers in authentic, long-term relationships and creating value within the relationships between influencers and their communities, CMOs can impact sales, satisfaction, retention, and overall customer experience.

Evolving from a short-term, transactional approach to influencer engagement toward a more strategic and relationship-based strategy that values the mutual benefit of content means influencers, peers, intent, and experiences are aligned throughout the customer journey. Development of an integrated influencer marketing strategy with the right partner, along with a meaningful investment in a strategic technology platform the manages influencer relationships, is essential. With these strategic consulting and platform resources, ongoing programs and long-term relationships can be managed and scaled, cross-functional collaboration can be enabled, and impact before, during, and after transaction can be tracked and measured effectively.

A big thanks to Delphine Reynaud, Pierre-Loic Assayag and the Traackr team as well as Brian Solis for all the work that went into the research and analysis of this very important topic. We’re really just at the cusp of what influencer relationships can do to better attract, engage and persuade in our digital marketing and communications and this research helps give marketers confidence in a more strategic approach to influencer ROI.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

Download the Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing report here.

P.S. If you would like to dig even further into the topic of Influencer Marketing ROI, be sure to watch for the webinar Ann Handley of MarketingProfs and I are presenting later this month, February 28th: The No B.S. Guide to Influencer Marketing ROI. 

Note: a version of this article originally published on

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

The Key To Unlocking the ROI of Enterprise Influencer Marketing |

The post The Key To Unlocking the ROI of Enterprise Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Online Marketing News: Browsers to Buyers, Snapchat’s IPO and Data Studio Connector

How to Convert Mobile Browsers to Buyers [Infographic]

Even though mobile is booming — creating 60% of online traffic — we’re still only seeing 16% of conversions coming from mobile. Conversions from desktop are typically 50% greater than the few mobile conversions we do see. This infographic shows how to improve mobile conversions through data. MarketingProfs

8 Things Marketers Need to Know About Snapchat’s IPO

Last week, Snapchat filed their IPO, releasing more details about their business than ever before. For example, we now know that Snapchat has 158 million daily users, but growth is slowing and the majority of users are 18-34 years old, with use tapering after 25. Ad Age

Data Studio: Search Console Connector

Google announced Wednesday: “Search Console users can now build Data Studio reports to understand how their search traffic changes over time, where traffic is coming from, and what search queries are most likely to drive traffic to their sites. Users can also filter reports for mobile traffic to improve mobile targeting, and to analyze clickthrough rates for various organic search terms.” Google

Facebook Now Makes 84% of Its Advertising Revenue From Mobile

Facebook now makes 84% of their ad revenue from Mobile, which is a huge contrast from the 0% they reported in their initial IPO back in 2012. Facebook’s YOY revenue in the fourth quarter also grew by 53% — $8.63 billion — reporting $26.9 billion in revenue in 2016. AdWeek

Google AMP Adds Source Links, Ups Search

Google is now allowing publishers to share source links in their AMP service (accelerated mobile pages). Alex Fischer, a Google software engineer recently noted: “This feature allows users to use their browser’s native share functionality by long-tapping on the link that is displayed.” MediaPost

51% Haven’t Felt the Effects of Google’s Mobile Interstitials Penalty [POLL]

According to a recent poll from Search Engine Journal, 51% of marketers surveyed hadn’t felt the effects of Google’s intrusive interstitial penalty — yet. 6% said they had, and 43% said they weren’t sure. These numbers are bound to change shortly as Google conducts a fresh crawl. Search Engine Journal

Instagram’s web footprint surpassed Twitter’s in 2016

Last week, we learned that Twitter finally made an Instagram account. This week, we’re learning that Instagram’s web footprint — the number of site’s featuring Instagram’s posts or widgets — has surpassed Twitter. Instagram’s footprint expanded by 308% in 2016, compared to Twitter’s 36%. Marketing Land

Facebook Makes Several Silent Changes To Its Ads Manager

You may not have noticed, as Facebook hasn’t officially announced the changes, but they’ve made several quiet, rather large changes to their advertising platform. For example, they’ve tweaked their campaign objectives, allowed the use of animated GIFs in video ads, and allowed for date comparison. We are Social Media

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We will return next week with more online marketing news! If you have something to share or add, Tweet us at @toprank or leave a comment.

The post Online Marketing News: Browsers to Buyers, Snapchat’s IPO and Data Studio Connector appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Hot Content Marketing Topics From Top B2B Brands at #B2BMX

B2B Content 2 Conversion 2017

B2B Content 2 Conversion 2017

What makes B2B content marketing hotter than having a conference at a Scottsdale, Arizona resort in February?

How about tips from 10 top B2B brands and industry experts including senior executives from Forrester, Microsoft, Aptos, Lenovo, BrightFunnel, Oracle and Marketo.

In advance of the upcoming B2B Marketing Exchange conference coming up later this month, I reached out to other speakers for practical tips as a preview to their presentations. For fun, I also asked them what their favorite thing is about a February event in Arizona. I know, that’s kind of obvious but this willing group shared some interesting answers.

Real Marketing ROI:

“Sales are wonderful. Sales are important. Sales are the lifeblood of any business. But. Really, but. Sales are NOT the alpha and omega of how you demonstrate your worth as a marketer. Really. I can prove it. Please join me Tuesday morning as I walk you through six KPIs you probably haven’t thought of that can prove your dollars-and-cents, ROI worth to the CEO. The CFO, even. We’re not talking volume metrics like “likes,” but real, bottom line marketing value unrelated to selling more stuff (even if you still need to sell stuff).”

Presentation: B2B Content Metrics & KPIs You Can Take To The C-Suite

Best thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“I’m not the biggest hot weather fan, so you won’t get the expected response. It’s picking the brains of all the attendees, of course. I’m an analyst, so always researching. That, and the opportunity to grab a phosphate at my favorite soda fountain in the world, MacAlpines. After all the disruptive tech, it’s a visit to the 1940s!”

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb, Principal at Conglomotron


Busting ABM Myths:

“ABM. Account. Based. Marketing. It’s everywhere, everything, and totally awesome. At least that’s what several dozen vendors and agencies would have you think. However, 73% of B2B marketers we surveyed wouldn’t agree — they find ABM “confusing and applied too broadly”. And only 1 in 5 believe ABM actually aligns their marketing and sales better.  Join me Wednesday afternoon as I bust a few more ABM myths and talk about one of the biggest overlooked opportunities – using ABM to turn your existing customers into an authentic, active voice for your brand.”

Presentation: Customer Advocacy & Account-Based Strategies

Best thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“The Wurtz Farm Gourd Festival …because when I’m out of my gourd, I can always get a new one there.”

Laura Ramos

Laura Ramos, Vice President at Forrester


Analytics into Insight:

“Through tracking the influence of all your marketing and sales touches using a tool that enables multiple attribution models and looking at how each activity moves a segment of buyers through the funnel, you can have a more systematic approach to planning out the ideal customer journey. Basing all of your program decisions on analytics enables you to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time.”

Presentation: What To Say Next: How B2B Marketers Can Turn Analytics Into Actionable Buyer Insight

Favorite thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“My favorite thing about AZ during any time of year are the cacti! Cactus is my favorite plant and marketing is my favorite thing–so the B2B event is a win-win for me.”

Dayna Rothman

Dayna Rothman, VP of Marketing & Sales Development at BrightFunnel


Transformation to Customer Centric Marketing:

“In order to successfully implement new marketing tools and best practices, organizations need to win internal buy-in and drive adoption. Attend this session to learn how Oracle transformed its traditional marketing organization to Modern Marketing to coincide with the company’s shift to the cloud. During the session, you’ll discover how this enterprise software company changed its strategy, technology, training and processes that underpinned its transformation. You will also hear how marketing realigned itself with sales and changed its culture from product- to customer-centric.”

Presentation: New Approaches To Buyer Centric Marketing

Favorite thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“Conference in Arizona in February? Two words: #dryheat : )”

Kelvin Gee

Kelvin Gee, Senior Director of Modern Marketing Business Transformation at Oracle


No B.S. Marketing Truth:

“Not only is Jeff going to go into the neuroscience and psychology of how people make decisions and how you can influence them but also some cutting edge research on the customer journey every person is constantly on. He will cut the BS and marketing fluff we so often hear and give you practical ways to get started today.  Not every technology is right for your business and not every marketing team is mature enough to chase the next big thing. So come and get a dose of marketing truth, a better understanding of how important marketing really is, and leave a bit more customer centered than when you walked in.”

Presentation: Building A Customer-Centered Content Strategy

Best thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“- I might come back to Seattle a darker shade of off-white

– I get to have authentic horchata and tamales

– The incredible smell of creosote in the air, even better if it rains”

Jeff Marcoux

Jeff Marcoux, CMO Leader for Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft


Scalable Deal Enablement:

“When was the last time you sat in on a sales meeting as an observer, as a…fly on the wall? If it’s been more than a couple months, it’s probably been too long. Because odds are, you won’t like what you see when salespeople take control of your message. Too often, they take liberties with your message, butcher your brand and punish prospects with pitiful PowerPoint slides. Eighteen months ago, we decided to take tight control of our message throughout the evaluation stage, and the difference was remarkable. More deals moved more quickly, win rates increased and average selling prices spiked. Join me on Tuesday for an inside look at how we averted “Deal Death by PowerPoint” by designing –and refining – a repeatable, scalable deal enablement process.”

Presentation: How Deal Enablement Can Avert Messaging Breakdowns

Best thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“The best part about hosting a conference in Scottsdale in February? Driving past all the MLB Spring Training complexes on the way from the airport. Nothing says hope and renewal are around the corner like Spring Training (especially when the weather is 80 degrees and sunny every day!).”

Dave Bruno

Dave Bruno, Marketing Director at Aptos


Predictive Lead Gen + Intent Marketing:

“We need to leave our egos at the door. Our customers don’t care about us until they are ready. We need to stop pushing what we ‘think’ they want and wait for them to tell us what they care about.”

Presentation: Case Study: How Lenovo Delivers Results Through Predictive-Powered Lead Generation

Presentation: Get Over It…Your Customers Don’t Care About You: Lenovo’s Intent-Driven Digital Marketing

Best thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“The chance of snow being 0%.”

Michael Ballard

Mike Ballard Senior Manager, Digital Marketing at Lenovo


Make the Buyer the Hero:

“There’s always a story behind how your buyers get from problem to solution. The trick is in how you make the buyer the hero of the story and empower them to embrace change with your help. Personas can source the narrative that helps you do this really well.”

Presentation: How Buyer Personas Power Sustainable Stories That Turn Prospects Into Customers

Favorite thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“A short flight to a rockin party to kick off the year seeing old friends and new. And, of course, Mexican food!”

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, Principal Analyst at Marketing Interactions


Actionable ABM:

“Attend this fast-paced session to learn how to introduce and implement ABM into your overall marketing strategy. ABM can play nice with inbound and this session will illustrate how to create an actionable plan with scalable programs that drive real results.”

Presentation: Secret Sauce For Integrating ABM Into Your Full Marketing Plans

Favorite thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“My favorite thing about a February conference in Scottsdale is the chance to wear my cactus shirt.”

Heidi Bullock

Heidi Bullock, Group Vice President of Global Marketing at Marketo


Influence Trends & Tactics:

“We live in an age when there is too much content being published and most consumers don’t pay attention to the content that actually reaches them. Enter the role of influence in marketing: credible experts that have active networks paying attention. Brands that develop influencer relationships increase trust, content quality, reach and engagement. But how? That’s exactly what my presentation, “Influencing the Influencers: Top Trends & Best Practices for B2B Marketers” will provide.”

Presentation: Influencing The Influencers: Top Trends & Best Practices For B2B Marketers

Favorite thing about a Winter conference in Arizona:

“The best part of Minnesota Winters is leaving for somewhere warm, so the bar is not too high to be happy at a resort during February in Scottsdale.”

Lee Odden

Lee Odden, CEO at TopRank Marketing

@leeodden (hey, that’s me!)

If you’re wondering how you might learn from this group of marketers and escape whatever the Winter weather is in your area, then be sure to look up the B2B Content2Conversion Conference happening February 20-22 at the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The post Hot Content Marketing Topics From Top B2B Brands at #B2BMX appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

In a Content Marketing Slump? Spice up Your Program with These Tips

How can you turn out haute cuisine content on a fast food production schedule?

Your content team-especially if it’s a team of one-can be on the hook for creating a vast quantity of content. Between sales enablement, eBooks, white papers, and blog posts, it can be overwhelming.

The temptation to churn out uncreative but passable content is hard to resist, especially if you’re behind on the editorial calendar. This kind of rushed content can lead to each piece having a same-y feel-same format, same voice, same structure.

Not only is bland content hard for your readers to stomach, it’s not particularly inspiring to create, either. If you’re feeling like a short order cook instead of a celebrity chef, try these tips to spice things up.

#1: Freshen Up Your Research

A great content marketing initiative starts with thorough customer research. When you started your strategy, it was based on solid intel intended to help you create best answer content. Research shouldn’t be a one-and-done proposition, though. It’s important to keep evaluating, optimizing, and adjusting.

If your audience is unenthusiastic about your content, it’s time to refresh your research. First, see how your published content is performing. What’s resonating with your audience? How can you expand on the topics that are getting the most attention?

Then, revisit your sources for customer information-everything from Google analytics to customer surveys. See if there are questions that still don’t have answers. Or better yet, look for opportunities to answer questions they haven’t asked yet.

#2: Find a New Point of View

Ever feel like you’re repeating yourself in your content? Ever feel like you’re repeating yourself in your content? It’s understandable. You have the same team writing content to support the same solutions with the same talking points-at some point it’s going to feel repetitive.

So if you ever feel like you’re repeating yourself in your content, seek out new voices in your organization. Interview someone in sales, someone in customer service, someone in the C-suite. Sit down for a face-to-face if possible, and record audio for a podcast or create a video at the same time. You’ll end up with a fresh take on your content, a new authentic voice, and a spot filled in the editorial calendar with minimal effort.

#3: Balance Your Funnel

Part of a solid content strategy is developing content for the entire marketing funnel:

  • Attract content has broad appeal (while still being relevant to the target audience). It seeks to gain attention and define a problem.
  • Engage content is for people who are already aware they have a problem. It seeks to educate and entertain, while promoting the idea that the reader needs to take action to solve their problem.
  • Convert content is for those who are committed to solving their problem, and focuses on why your particular solution is the right choice.

Frequently, marketers feel pressured to write the bulk of their content for the Convert stage, as that content links most directly to revenue. But the majority of content consumed is in the Attract stage-so it makes sense to create great top-of-funnel content with clear next steps.

Conversely, if you find your content is getting a lot of social media love and pageviews, but it’s not translating to revenue, you may be missing the middle or bottom of the funnel. Balancing out your content load to cover the entire funnel will help guide customers to a purchase decision, while adding much-needed variety to your content offering.

#4: Change Up the Format

If your content is solid but is failing to inspire engagement, it may be the structure, not the content, that’s the problem. Try changing up the format: If the white page isn’t getting traction, distil the main points into an infographic. If the podcast is failing to connect, transcribe it into a blog post or add a visual element. If your blog posts are a snooze, add some fun images.

If you can serve up a variety of creative content forms, you can keep your audience engaged (and stave off your own boredom, too).

#5: Let Your Customers Do the Talking

Study after study shows that modern buyers want content that is authentic and transparent, like a handmade artisanal window. It’s definitely worth bringing your unique human voice into the content you create. But one of the best ways to create truly authentic content is to let your customers do the job for you.

The traditional case study is one way to go about it, as long as you give it a compelling narrative. Case studies can get too by-the-numbers if we’re not careful: “Customer had problem. Customer got our solution. Customer saw results.”

Focus on the people behind the story, instead: “Bob has a degree in Library Science. Now he’s ordering supplies for an oil rig. Lives are on the line if he gets the wrong brand of toilet paper.”

Letting customers tell their own stories works even better than case studies. You can use a custom hashtag on social media to collect submissions, then offer recognition and praise to anyone who submits a story. If your brand has a presence on visual sites like Instagram, you can quickly gather enough photos and stories to make a truly compelling blog post.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

With the sheer volume of content most marketers are called on to produce, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. If you feel like your content is turning bland, add spice: pepper in fresh research, ask your co-workers for sage advice, gingerly experiment with new formats, and curry favor with customers for user-generated content. With these five tips, you can have a tastier content mix in no thyme.

Need help creating and executing your culinary content strategy? Learn more about our content marketing services.

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

In a Content Marketing Slump? Spice up Your Program with These Tips |

The post In a Content Marketing Slump? Spice up Your Program with These Tips appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid

SEO Checklist to Avoid Mistakes

With so much content being created, published and promoted online every second-as well as consumers becoming increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers-competition to capture your audience’s attention has never been more fierce.

As a result, quality and strategic SEO has probably never been more important for helping you be the best answer whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

But as seasoned marketers know, SEO has gone through a tremendous evolution since its early days of keyword-focused content. With more than 2 trillion searches happening on Google every year, today’s SEO is about finding the perfect balance between user-centric content and convincing search engine crawlers that your content is supreme.

Of course, on the journey to creating the perfect content for both humans and search, you may make some mistakes. But the good news is that may are easily avoidable.

Below we dive into some of the most common SEO mistakes, as well as tips for helping you avoid or remedy them.

#1 – Optimizing content around one keyword.

In the “old days” of SEO, it was common practice to optimize web pages with a specific keyword that you wanted to rank for. Today, that practice not only provides a poor user experience for your audience, but it’s simply ineffective since search engines are becoming increasingly better at determining search intent.

Tip: Simply put: Do not optimize any pages for just one keyword. Instead, think bigger about the need your content can fill and hone in on keyword topics that include a variety of relevant and related search terms.

Think bigger about the need your #content can fill and hone in on keyword topics. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO

Click To Tweet

#2 – Neglecting dated content.

Let’s face it. You’ve probably created a ton of content in the last couple years that you haven’t touched since it first published. But you could be leaving opportunity on the table if you’re not regularly looking for ways to refresh it and keep it relevant for searchers.

Tip: Dig into your analytics to find your top and worst performing pages and blog posts, paying special attention to evergreen topics. Then conduct some keyword research to discover new opportunities for updating that existing content to continue or improve ranking momentum.

#3 – Forgetting mobile users.

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, much of your audience is likely using a mobile device to find good content. If your content isn’t mobile friendly, the user experience will be negatively impacted.

Tip: Take steps to ensure that your website and its content is mobile friendly and responsive. Also, focus on creating content for users that would typically use a mobile device.

#4 – Not optimizing for site speed.

This one is pretty simple. Faster sites have a better crawl rate and provide a better user experience.

Tip: Use site speed tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, or WebPageTest to analyze your site speed score. Some of the most helpful tips to improve site speed include leveraging browser caching, optimizing images and minifying JavaScript.

#5 – Failing to include relevant and helpful internal links.

If you’ve attracted people to your content, you have a captive audience that’s interested and probably looking for more. As a result, internal links are critical to keeping people engaged and signaling that you have more to offer.

Tip: Always be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other content on your website. In addition, use keyword variations for anchor text to expand visibility for the keyword topic that content represents.

Be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other #content on your website. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO

Click To Tweet

#6 – Failing to include relevant and helpful external links.

Just like internal links, external links have the ability to provide your users with more helpful and relevant content. In addition, quality external sources can also signal credibility to search engines and users.

Tip: Make sure that all external links open in new windows to allow users to venture to other content, but also make it easy for them to go back and stay engaged with your content.

#7 – Serving up hard-to-read blocks of content.

Users are often looking to find and absorb content quickly, and move on if they are unable to easily see the value in the content they’ve clicked on. In addition, studies show that people read online content in an “F” pattern. As a result, large blocks of text can be a big turn-off for many, especially those using mobile devices.

Tip: Utilize headline tags to break up content. This will not only make it easy for users to scan content, but also send a positive signal to search engines.

8. Forgetting about image optimization.

The images on your website or blog add an important visual element that can positively impact user experience. But they can also help you tell your story to search engines.

Tip: Cover all your bases by making sure image filenames and alt text contain relevant keywords. Also, to ensure your page loads quickly, optimize the image size for each screen size and/or lazy load the images.

9. Not having unique content.

While it can be tempting to reuse some of that great content you’ve already created, be careful. Search engines will not be fooled, and you could be penalized if you duplicate content across pages.

Tip: Don’t publish duplicate or similar content to your site, including title tags and meta descriptions. When it comes to the technical stuff such as title tags and meta descriptions, just take the little bit of extra time it takes to create something unique. When it comes to full pages of content, if you have existing content that fits, take a repurposing approach to make it personalized and different.

10. Focusing on quantity over quality.

In today’s competitive world of content, it can be tempting to try to out-create your competition. But publishing more content than the next guy doesn’t guarantee results, especially if that content isn’t a quality piece that actually helps your audience.

Tip: Create a content strategy that includes audience and keyword topic research. In addition, study the other content that is already out there and look at what your competitors are doing. This will allow you to identify content gaps and help you create content that fills them. In addition, shoot for writing longer pieces (600 to 1,000+ words), that are optimized for scanability and include visual elements.

11. Not optimizing URLs or site structure.

Many marketers leave the title of the page or the post as the URL, which can lead to long URLs that do nothing to help your search rankings.

Tip: Keep URLs short, concise and optimized with keywords. In addition, make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl.

Make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl. #SEO

Click To Tweet

12. Neglecting broken or redirecting links.

During our technical crawls and site evaluations, TopRank Marketing often finds that many sites have broken links or links that redirect instead of linking directly to the target page.

Tip: Conduct a technical audit to identify all broken links and internal links that redirect to a different page. Then update with links that connect directly to a target page. This will help search engines crawl your site more efficiently.

13. Not auditing the redirect rules for a site.

For websites with multiple redirect rules, there’s an opportunity to remove redirect chains and errors that make it more difficult for search engines to crawl.

Tip: Audit the redirect rules to make sure you’re properly using 301 or 302 redirects and remove any redirect chains you might have.

14. Focusing on meta keywords.

Meta keywords are not used by Google and can be a sign of spam from Bing.

Tip: There typically isn’t a reason to add meta keywords to your site. If you choose to utilize the meta keywords field, make sure you limit the amount of keywords to less than five.

15. Forgetting analytics or misusing metrics.

Data is an incredible tool to not only measure the impact of our marketing efforts, but also help inform those efforts. So, neglecting our analytics reports outright or not using the right metrics can have a costly impact.

Tip: Use the right metrics to inform your content and SEO strategy, and decrease the importance you put on vanity metrics. In addition, leverage Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to get a better understanding of what people are actually searching for.

16. Not allowing your site to be crawled

This one is pretty obvious. If you’re site is blocking search engines, your content will not be found in search results.

Tip: It’s simple. Don’t block your site from search engines in your robots.txt file or a “noindex” meta tag.

17. Not taking advantage of Local SEO.

All businesses have an opportunity to take advantage of local SEO and visibility. At the very least, your business should claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.

Tip: At the very least, focus on getting local citations by using tools like Moz Local or Whitespark.

18. Incorporating too many PDFs.

While PDFs are a great way to provide users with information that can be easily downloaded, it’s not ideal for search. First of all, most websites don’t track PDF views in Google Analytics, making it difficult to see if that content is having an impact on users. In addition, PDFs don’t allow you to create a custom experience for users easily.

Tip: Change PDFs to HTML format to be able to create a consistent experience and get the most search benefit from each content asset on your site.

19. Not optimizing for other search engines.

While Google is pretty much the King of Search, other search engines-including those within social media channels-deserve your attention, too.

Tip: Take steps to optimize your content for other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. In addition, optimize the content you’re putting out on social media sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube.

Optimize the #content you’re putting out on #socialmedia sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube. #SEO

Click To Tweet

20. Not focusing on getting quality backlinks.

While link building and link earning gets a bad rap sometimes, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines and links deliver interested users to your content.

Tip: Conduct outreach to relevant influencers and websites to earn quality links back to your quality content.

21. Having too many blog categories or tags.

When you create a blog category or tag, you’re essentially creating a new page on your website that can be indexed by crawl bots. However, if those categories or tags don’t have a decent amount of content associated with them, you could be signaling thin content to search engines and it could potentially hurt your crawl budget.

Tip: Remove categories or tags that contain orphaned content, and retag or recategorize that content within a relevant and more robust category.

How do you find the perfect balance between quality, user-centric content and optimizing for search? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid |

The post SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.