You don’t need a bunch of paid fancy tools to do basic keyword research for your website or blog. Google Trends is a great introductory keyword research tool for any business owner that is producing and posting their own content.
When you’re creating a blog post, you want to make sure the terms you are using match the terms that people are searching for. Since sometimes you can present yourself using a number of different terms, it’s a good idea to use a keyword research tool. For example, when we became HubSpot certified partners, we thought about changing the wording on our home page from “Digital Marketing Agency” to “Inbound Marketing Agency.”
Within Google trends, we went to the Explore Tool. Here is what we found:
While the Explore Tool doesn’t give us hard number as to how many people searched for these terms, it can push us in one way or the other when we can’t decide which term to use. In this case, the clear winner is “digital marketing agency,” so we kept our main page titles as they were.
The “inbound marketing agency” traffic is growing and it’s not a term we will ignore, we just will focus on it with our blog content rather than the home page of our website.
The tool also points out major news headlines that could have contributed to a rise in traffic for that term. Other interesting features are how much regional interest there are in those terms and what some related search terms are.
Google trends can also just be used if you’re curious about what people are searching for. It gives real time information about the top searches. It’s pretty easy to get lost down the rabbit hole when using this tool, so be careful of that if you’re on work time.
When it comes to marketing, there are no one-size-fits-all strategies. Every strategy needs to be customized depending on the goals and needs of the company. Just like the strategy, a company’s marketing budget also needs to be highly customized.
Marketing budgets tend to be somewhere between 2% and 20% of gross annual revenue. That’s a big range. How does a company decide on their number? Here are some things to take into account when developing a marketing budget.
Organize and Analyze
First, you want to take a look at your efforts so far. Figure out what percentage you spent on marketing in the past few years. Has that number stayed steady, increased or decreased? What has been the outcome and how does it correlate with your sales numbers? If you’re able to track the performance of specific campaigns, that’s great. If not, then start tracking. The best data you can look at when planning is your own.
You also want to take into account how much time you and your staff has spent on marketing. You may only be paying a couple bucks a month on email marketing, but maybe it takes a staff person 10 hours to create and send an email campaign, and another 2 to analyze and report on it. If that’s something you would like to take off of your staff’s plate and outsource, make sure you take that into account when developing a marketing budget.
Make sure you have clear, time oriented goals. If you just want to grow, that’s not enough. Everyone wants to grow. How much are you going to grow by? What does your growth plan look like for the next 12 months, and how much money and time are you going to put in to get there? What is your ideal return on investment?
Once you have your numbers set, the next step is to find a marketing company that you can trust, and share these numbers with them. If they are the ones coming up with the marketing plan, they need to know your goals and your budget. This isn’t only so they can come up with the best plan, but also so they can measure their efforts effectively. When you outsource your marketing, the relationship should be transparent on both sides. You will need to share your vision with your marketing team, so make sure you are comfortable with them at the get-go.
There’s a common situation that tends to happen when organizations are ready to make a change with their marketing efforts. It could be that the year is ending and it’s time to reevaluate those numbers. You’ll want to figure out if your marketing dollars were well spent and what the outcome was. What channels were most productive and which ones failed miserably? How do we exclude the noise and determine a strategy that will give us efficient results? What would it take to achieve those results?
When we first sit down with a VP of Marketing or Marketing Manager, our questions are centered around the organization’s goals. If the person in charge of marketing is not included in company goal discussions and are not prepared to answer these types of questions, we will assign them homework so that we can discover together if their organization is ready to hire a digital marketing agency like us.
If you have been given the task of hiring a digital marketing agency for your company or organization, discuss these things with your CEO first. Marketing is not just arts and crafts, so don’t be afraid to get that CEO involved.
Contractor or Partner
When thinking about hiring a marketing agency, does the organization need a contractor or a partner? Are you explaining your goals and challenges, and counting on an agency to get you there? Or do you know exactly what needs to get done and you just need someone to execute.
The marketing team needs to have a clear idea of what the CEO envisions for the company. What would their ideal marketing partner do for them? If you don’t know this, you run the risk of allocating a lot of time and effort vetting out a company that the CEO doesn’t want to partner with.
Some organizations will tell their marketing team to go out and get a bunch of quotes. But you want to make sure you know your ballpark before you contact an agency. Some questions to ask your CEO would be; How much did we allocate to marketing last year and to which channels did that investment go? Are we looking to cut expenses or become more aggressive? What amount of sales are we looking to bring in from our website or inbound marketing campaign? These are key questions that will save everyone time.
It is helpful to know what the CEO expects in regards to timeline. For some organizations there is an urgency to go live due to upcoming events or recent changes. Others just want to make sure it’s done right. A clear understanding when a project should start and when it should launch is vital.
Last but not least, what are the CEO expectations for the hired marketing efforts. You would be surprised that by the time the meeting takes place, no one in the room has a clear focused answer on what the organization is looking to achieve. You could be aiming for retention, increasing traffic, more leads, higher conversion rates, better qualified leads, brand recognition, more sales, or all of the above. What percentage does the organization want to increase these by? Make sure this discussion takes place with your CEO. This way your future marketing partner gets a gauge on how aggressive they would need to be to meet the demands in the ideal timeframe.
Before you schedule your first meeting with a marketing agency, make sure you have these things ironed out. A qualified agency shouldn’t be giving you a proposal unless they know the answers to these questions.
Just like everything on the web, SEO is changing. What used to be reserved for developers and programmers is now the job of a great content writer and a content management system.
What’s the difference between one time SEO and ongoing SEO?
SEO done one time is usually done at the launch of a website. Using keyword research, you can find out which keywords you’d like to rank for and make sure each page of your site is optimized appropriately.
Depending on your market at the keywords you want to be found for, it can be effective to let a site simmer for a few months after these initial SEO efforts. However, in most cases, you’ll need to hit the ground running and start with some ongoing SEO.
In the past, ongoing SEO has been more technical. It also used to be what we now consider spammy. Your webmaster would keep up with Google algorithm updates, and build links. The more links you had pointing to your website, the better your site would rank. SEOs would list their sites on directories and link lists wherever they could find them. Some would even build complex networks of websites, all linking to each other to try to outsmart Google.
Create Great Content
Now, the way to practice ongoing SEO is through creating great content. It’s done by knowing your customers, knowing their problems, and offering up solutions on your site. The more great content you have, the more potential search terms you can be found for.
The more focused your content is, the better chance you have of ranking. Nowadays, a common human behavior is to ask Google anything and everything. So, if you get to know your audience, and understand their problems, you have a starting point to figure out what they’re searching for.
The Technical Side
There is still a technical side to ongoing SEO. You want to make sure you are using all the best SEO practices when you publish your content. You start with the key phrase you want to be found for, and place it in the URL, title, content and alt tags. Then, you want to monitor its performance. By taking a look at your traffic you can decide if you need to update a post.
Other forms of ongoing SEO involve taking an audit of your site. We use a tool called Raven here at Schall. Their site auditor tool crawls our sites once a month and comes back with all the things we can do to improve their performance. Moz also has a great blog post with instructions to perform your own site audit.