There are very few people in the industry that have experience and understanding of digital marketing, analytics, SEO as deep as Andy Crestodina's. He's been in the web design and marketing world for over a decade and in this webinar he shares his advice with complete beginners.
Andy has been in the web design and digital marketing space for over 15 years. He's helped thousands of people do a better job getting results online. He's a true evangelist for content marketing and has a huge experience in SEO and analytics.
The best content marketers I know have long lists of articles that are unfinished. These are like collections, When they see something new, they see an idea, they hear someone talk, they see an example..they put that example into that idea. I have this blog post that I’ve written that took me more than a year.
I have 50 partially written blog posts, there are 50 ideas in the back of my mind and whenever I see something relevant to one of them- an image, it might be a new tactic, some report or some tool, some influencer- I put that into that article. I think the best content it made very slowly. It’s not really written it’s assembled.
The construction is made out of many small pieces. And the way to do that is to start far in advance and to have many-many partially written articles in a collection. I have my in a spreadsheet, people use different methods. But to me, that leads to higher quality.
Content is the point, it’s the purpose. My company builds websites and your company builds websites. And this is a container, this is the platform, this is the tool but tool for what. It’s all about what we put inside it. A content strategy is critical. If you miss this, your website is just like pretty pictures.
Everyone should have it even if they are not active in content marketing. Your content strategy is about the pages, your sales pages. There’s two kinds of pages on the internet. There’s pages that sell stuff and pages that teach and help.
So content marketing is about pages that teach and help to bring people to the pages that sell. So there’s two kinds of pages, two kinds of keywords, two kinds of visitors. Two kinds of goals in analytics. But content strategy is mostly about content marketing content. It’s usually people talk about the pages that are helpful. Yes, we have to have it.
Step 1 is to have your content mission statement. Which is where you say “We are where audience X gets content Y for benefit Z”. Example: Startup Hub is where people who are building websites for their startup get practical marketing advice so that they can get better results from their work, so that they can attract these larger audience. You write that out: audience X gets content Y for benefit Z.
And if you like it, you can link to an article I wrote about the mission statement. And then make a list of topics, make a list of keywords, list of influencers, make a list of locations that you want to publish on or networks where you want to be active. Finally, you should understand your audience with personas in a very basic way and at the end you have a publishing calendar. What you publish, how often, what formats.
So those are the basic building blocks for a content strategy. Your mission statement, your list of topics, keywords, influencers, locations, your personas and finally your publishing calendar.
Use keyword research to inform your idea, make it better, more detailed so there’s ways to, you know, start with inspiration. Another way is to start with the keywords. You know this is a complimentary topic to what you do.
So you’re doing templates. What are the topics related to templates that people are searching for? So you keyword first. Totally possible. A little bit harder to write because you didn’t start with energy, you didn’t start with the idea. But still sometimes very effective.
Another way it to look at your question and answer websites or these online tools that show you what people search for. Quora.com is an amazing source of topics. Keywordtool.io. Put the word “template” into keywordtool.io and it’ll show you everything Google suggests. You know, Google suggests, you type in a phrase and it suggests other phrases. This crips all of those out of Google suggests. It shows you what people are searching for – it’s fun.
Other source is your own analytics. So if you have search box on your website and you set up analytics you can see what people are looking for. Maybe those are topics you haven’t published about yet. But here’s the best source of topics. In conversation people ask you questions.
Like you just asked me a question. Well,have I written about that yet? Use your audience to give you topics! If i haven’t written this article, I have actually written on what you asked me, but if I haven’t have, I’d be think “my audience is asking me this question”. The best place is in sales conversations. So if your audience is asking you questions during sales: how long does it take, how much does ti cost, is it guaranteed..you know.
You need to publish that stuff first to make sure your sales pages are answering your top sales questions. Every one of those sales pages should emulate a conversation as if you’re talking to a prospect.
Example: a while ago I kept a notebook on my desk and whenever I talked to someone on the phone- my phone is here- and they complained about a web design company I wrote down the complaint. I did this for a year. At the end of the year I had like 27 different complaints. Great, now I need an article, what am I doing? This list is almost finished – I’ll just make this the article. So I’ll write the article about web design complaints.
Are people searching for that? Yes. I ranked #1 for web design complaints. Probably ten times a week people find that article and read it. It’s a little bit of traffic forever, right? That was just the article that was most ready to be finished. As you collect these things, you find those that are ready to be finished. The best way to do it is to be more strategic.
Say, I’m publishing on these topics, like something about color for example. This month I’m focused on color. I’m going to write a blog post about color, I’m going to publish a guide about color, I’m going to write a guest blog post about color, I’m going to make an infographic about color, I’m going to make a video about color and then you have a better chance of ranking – strong internal linking.
You have a better chance of deeper visits- more relevant internal links. You have a better chance of getting shared, because you connected with people who care about that and keep their attention for longer. Smarter marketers actually build hubs of content on interrelated content and it is built into their publishing calendars.
So as long as it aligns with your mission statement – do it. But if it doesn’t align, if it’s too far outside – cut it out.
If you’re going to focus on one piece of content, if you’re going to improve one page on your website you’ll get more value from improving that page than any other page. This page gets 50 visits per day and this gets 1 visit per day. You’ll get 50 times as much value by improving the page with more visibility.
That’s where you make the video, that’s where you add research, that’s where connect with influencers. So repurpose the things that are already working and you’ll get better results. It’s like saying “I’m terrible in cooking but I’m really good in sports. Maybe I should spend all my time cooking”. That would be a terrible idea, right? I’m a big believer in improving old stuff, getting new ideas, creating a related post and then linking, internal linking is good so that you’re starting with a natural advantage. Here’s another example.
If I wrote an article about color and it was successful and 500 people shared it. Also I wrote an article about designing buttons. How this color affects click through rates. Who do I share that with? I go to BuzzSumo.com and I find the list of the people that shared the first one. These are the people that I can promote my new article to because I know they already know me, they already like me, they already shared me, they’re already interested in the topic.
So when you publish something, if it’s related to something older, you have a chance to link to the new stuff, you have a chance to connect with influencers who already liked the first one.
But while they are there, you want to maximize the conversion rate. So that they sign up and you can get them to come back. That conversion rate from visitor into subscriber.
You want that sign up box follow the three “P”’s. Prominence – the box is very obvious. Maybe a different color, maybe big, maybe it’s sticky – it stays there. Promise – you tell them what they are going to get – advice for startups- and how often they’ll get it – you get it every two weeks. The third P is Proof. Tell people that someone has already subscribed, put a testimonial from some previous subscriber: “This a great newsletter, thank you so much, Jeff publishes the best stuff, so glad I subscribed”.
Once that’s done turn on the content promotion machine. Now work hard to drive traffic cause you’ll get more value from every visitor after your site is optimized to convert visitors into subscribers. So where does this source of traffic come from, new visitor it’s probably search.
You have to understand this one important part about keyword research which is competition. If you’re targeting a phrase, only target a phrase if you have a chance of ranking.
So now when you research key phrases, search for the phrase that you’re targeting, turn on MoZBar, it’s a Chrome extension it will show you the domain authority of all the high-ranking pages. Now, if you’re a startup you basically need to target some really specific phrases, long phrases answering 5-7 words questions. Try this.
Put your topic into answerthepublic.com – here’s another tool and it’ll give you the list of questions people ask related to your topic. Answer those questions on your website. Write a great blog post that answers this long super specific question. You might get 20 visitors a day from this blog post because you’ll rank for it.
There won’t be very much competition. And when you write your article, use the full question in the title and use the full english sentence to write complete natural answer. So “How do you get your first 1000 daily visitors?” – that’s your title. And your answer is “You get your first 1000 visitors by bla-bla-bla”.
So that’s SEO trick to use full natural sentences in questions and answers for SEO.
Social media visitors are not very targeted, they don’t take action very often, they don’t know what they want. Visitors from search, they’re typing in the keyword – they want something. Visitors from social media they’re kind of clicking around, they don’t really care so much.
I think the best benefit of social media is networking. It’s finding influential people, sharing their stuff, commenting on their stuff, collaborating with them, saying hello, thank you, building relationships. Online networking is the best thing about social media. The best social media marketers, they aren’t dumping links on the internet, they are using social media like a phone, they are having conversations and now when you build that relationship and I know Jeff and Jeff knows me.
If I’m writing an article about this topic – templates I ask Jeff for a quote, Jeff sends me a quote, I include him in my content. Now my blog is a networking tool. Who shares my article? Jeff does. Why not? He’s in it, he loves it, I’m giving him exposure. So then maybe Jeff thinks of me later when he’s writing an article if he includes me – voila, I just got the link, from that i get the authority, that makes my entire domain more credible.
Use social media as a networking tool to get influencer marketing benefits. Shares from big brands, big names, to get awareness with journalists and writers and content creators. That gives you a long term SEO benefit and that’s my favorite part about social media.
Look at your analytics, no one’s going to your testimonials page. That’s a terrible idea. Put testimonials everywhere on your website. And make them relevant to the claim that they support.
If you got a page about webinars, you got to have testimonials about webinars on that page. You have a page about design, you want a testimonial about design on that page. Testimonials sometimes include keywords. That’s good for searches. Another trick, make sure that your contact page has a form not a link. The form should send people to a thank you page. That thank you page url you can put into analytics. Now you’re tracking conversions.
Never make a contact form with a message, make a contact form with a thank you page. So that you’re sending people to a page, now you can make destination goal in Google Analytics, it takes only a second. I think if you search for “how to setup Google Analytics” somewhere on the bottom of page one there’s link to the article that I wrote.
Simplify the design. Don’t add things without taking old things away – keep it clean. Use descriptive labels. Your navigation shouldn’t say about, services, blog, contact – it’s way too generic.
Use the navigation that’s descriptive. Use faces, put yourself there. Put your background, tell your story, talk about your passion. Make people care. Make sure there’s people, make sure there’s yourself on the website. Be human. And if you’re setting up social media don’t tweet from behind a logo. Don’t use your brand logo as your twitter picture or your Facebook profile picture. Put a face. It’s just way more personal. Especially if you’re small.
Being small is an advantage. Being small is more human. Big companies are all trying to be small. But small companies are trying to look big. It’s weird. Everyone should try to look more human.
And how long does it take them to decide? Well, web design is a big decision, takes like a month. I don’t need to email them every day if my buying interval is three years and my sales cycle is one month. Every two weeks, that’s enough.
We have 12 000 subscribers, we have 60 000 monthly visitors all I do is email people every other week. That’s enough for me, you don’t have to pound it too hard. As often as you have helpful, useful advice, as often as you can be consistent.
Don’t assume that you need to publish every day or even every week. Quality is way more important than quantity. After that maybe it’s HTML email with images, maybe it’s text based email. You can test that. It just depends. Try them both, they’re both valid tactics – whatever makes sense for your business.
And they’ll find you and they’ll share you. It’s better to have a small group of people who love you a lot than to have a whole lot of strangers who don’t really care.
So analysis is when you come up with recommendation or an action. Suppose, I want to ask my analytics, should I send emails weekly or daily. Well, I’m going to send emails weekly for a month and daily for a month and then look at my analytics. Should I change this lable in my navigation? Which of my articles gets shared the most? Which of my articles gets the most social traffic?
So you answer these questions and the conclusions are very obvious. I should definitely publish more on that topic. I should definitely send email more often or less often. That’s the difference between reporting, which is just charts – it does nothing and analysis- which is thinking, applying your knowledge and insights, asking questions, testing, finding results and then taking new action.
Another gap that came up this morning. I was talking to a client. We were looking at their website and we wanted to know, people, who come to their homepage, where do they do next? Great question, obvious question, right? Let’s say there’s 7 things in your navigation, which is the most popular? Which is the least popular?
It’s actually kind of hard to tell in the analytics. There’s the Behaviour report, in page analytics report – never know it’s for me – it’s not working right. If you look at the home page you go to Navigation Summary.The homepage is not just the landing page, it’s even for returning visitors who click back and force.
So there’s tools like HotJar.com. It has heatmaps. The heatmap shows you everywhere people click. It colors the area that people are clicking. Which shows you something analytics can never show. Which is, are people clicking on something that isn’t the button?
It can be bad design, it can be slow to load, it can not rank but if it doesn’t answer the visitors basic questions then the visitor won’t take action and no matter what you do it won’t work. You can get a million visitors, if you get a 0% conversion rate you made no money.
You have to have a good mouse trap before you can get the good cheese. You want to build trust, remove distractions, create urgency, remove anxiety, guide the visitors eyes with color, be human with faces, use simple language and words – there’s many-many tricks. If the visitor comes and they are trying to find something and they can’t find it then everything else is irrelevant- this website failed.
Your personality is something you can definitely use. Don’t try to take your personality out of your writing. Don’t take your personality out of your website. Live it in and be yourself. A lot of people they start writing and they sound corporate and it’s terrible – don’t do that. Write like you’re writing to one person.
And there was no CMS at the time. There were no templates t the time. It was 2000 and 2001 and we had to build our own CMS and all those things. It was hard but we loved it, it was all we wanted to do, so we are very happy actually. It was really just wearing so many hats was the challenge.
To find one person that is not just good but great at all those thing – it’s just very unlikely. There are some examples still and tools like TemplateMonster are a great shortcut. You don’t have to be an A+ to get a strong A.
But these days the best work in every category is done by the team of specialists. Where you have an A+ in every group and they work together as a team. If the team work is A+, you’re going to destroy the competition.
There’s competitors there, there’s birthdays and shoes and there’s ads- they are not going to come back. If a visitor leaves your website and goes to Youtube they don’t return, they’re gone forever. They are not going to come back. We love traffic from social, we don’t want to send traffic to social.
So let them engage on your website with comments and shares, with likes. You know, where there’s traffic there’s hope. So keep your visitor – that’s the first goal. How do you keep them engaged? Optimize those actions for conversions. Build an email sign up form that follows the three P’s. It’s more important to get a newsletter subscriber than to get a Facebook follower because email is not a company, it’s a tool, you own your email list.
You don’t own your Facebook likes, you don’t own your Twitter followers. The only thing you own is your website, your content and your list.Every other source of traffic: Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – these are companies. They are trying to make money, they aren’t trying to help you. So definitely focus on email.
We should all make sure that we do that. Sometimes that results very quickly. It depends on how competitive the phrases are. Next step is to have a content strategy that aligns your content and further key phrases. That’s more medium term.
And for long term, build relationships with people who create content. Every time you see someone on social media, every time you see someone on LinkedIn or Twitter or whatever – pay attention to the content creators. 1% of the people on the internet make the internet, make content.
They are bloggers, journalist, editors, academic researchers, podcasters, webinar hosts – we are the ones who make the internet. So those people pay close attention, follow them, share them, comment on them. You want to build relationships with them because they might want to make content that might mention you which maybe has links. And those links drive the rank, rank drives traffic, traffic drives leads.
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