How to Entice Clicks for a Higher CTR


There’s a tendency to regard site rank on search engines as the single most important factor of SEO. After all, if your website is ranked among the top, doesn’t the rest just take care of itself?

But what tends to get overlooked is how other SEO components can play an even more significant role in site performance; for example, your click through rate (CTR). As you likely already know, CTR is a ratio showing how often people who see your ad actually end up clicking it, and it’s very telling of how successful your keywords are.

What many people fail to acknowledge is that your CTR can earn you the traffic of a top ranking spot. In fact, many websites get far more traffic than sites they’re outranked by because a solid headline impression attracted more clicks than competing websites and ads.

With the recent changes being made to AdWords, specifically the keyword function, now more than ever is the time to freshen up your understanding of CTR and acknowledge the impact it has on site performance. Check out these tips and learn how to entice clicks that will drive your site’s CTR.

  1. Use emotion-triggering words in your headlines.

This is probably one of the easiest ways to entice clicks. Users are compelled to click on headlines that employ powerful, emotional words. By generating some kind of reaction-anger, positivity, shock-you compel users to click while also distinguishing yourself from other headlines and links.

  1. Gain exposure through social media ads.

If there were ever a click-happy atmosphere, it’s the social media sphere. First of all, social media ads are all pretty cost effective. For a cheap price, you can generate tons of clicks and exposure. This is a big deal for brands looking to broaden their target audience, because social media ads can be specific on who they display to and how they display.

  1. Create a sense of urgency with countdown timers.

Also along the lines of social media is the idea of using a countdown timer to create a compelling sense of urgency. Marking the end of a sale or special brand event with a countdown timer has shown to significantly boost ad performance and draw more traffic.

  1. Use ad extensions to show reviews.

Review extensions do a lot to help ads by creating visible social trust. The overwhelming majority of online users claim that online reviews influence their buying decisions, so putting a positive review as a built in component of your ad is bound to draw clicks.

  1. Display location symbols.

Location symbols give ads a sense of legitimacy that draws user attention. It seems subtle, but when there’s a list of ads and only one has a location symbol, that’s the one that will likely stick out. Getting noticed is half the battle of getting clicks, and symbols are one extra detail that will drive that attention.

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Keyword Management: Tools You Should Know About


The change in Google Keyword Planner caused a stir among users in early July. As you may or may not have heard, Google has blocked access to the Keyword Planner tool for those without an active AdWords account. Not such a big deal for those with active accounts, but definitely annoying for those relying on the tool without an account.

Given Google’s propensity for digital domination and the time we spend trying to perform better on the search engine, it can be frustrating when access to their tools becomes limited. But there are, in fact, a number of tools out there that can help with keyword management and your SEO strategy as a whole. Here are a few of the keyword management tools you should know about.

Top Tier Tools

I’ve referenced Ahrefs before because its range of tools is broad and hugely successful for many users. Ahrefs boasts the biggest and most accurate database of backlinks and as such delivers highly detailed and specific data. The keyword component of Ahrefs is reportedly highly accurate and offers a scoring system. Ahrefs has a free trial that will get you access to their keyword tool.

The SEO powerhouse has Keyword Explorer, which gives you everything you’ll ever need to know about prioritizing and targeting keywords. Through a clean and user-friendly interface, the Moz keyword tool has metrics, suggestions, volume estimates, and more. Access to Keyword Explorer is paid, and the number of keyword reports depends on purchased plans.

OnPage is another great tool I’ve previously mentioned. It allows you consistently track your keyword rankings and better understand how it’s affecting your website traffic. OnPage updates right alongside the search engines at a constant rate, so their keyword monitoring function will keep you on top of what’s working and what’s not. OnPage has a free plan that offers monitoring of up to 5 keywords, with several paid plan options as well.

The nice thing about SEMrush is that it gives you a lot of room for exploration. The main features of this keyword research tool include phrase matches and related keywords, long-tail keyword exploration, and search volume estimates. SEMrush would be an ideal tool for people working across multinational and multilingual digital environments. Accessibility varies depending on the plan purchased. Although there isn’t a free option, both monthly and annual plans are available.

Lower Tier Tools

Google might dominate the search engine world, but there are still people who cater their optimization efforts towards other search engines, such as Bing. And, even if you’re not optimizing on Bing, their keyword tool can still be used to find related keywords. It’s free to use, and the only thing you need to make sure of is that your website is verified in Bing’s Webmaster Tools.

This tool might be older than the hills, but it’s incredibly simple and easy to use. It pulls keyword ideas and search volumes and is completely free to use.

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5 Golden Tips for Social Media Engagement


Among the most important tasks of digital marketers is bringing their brands to life. Part of that task involves being personable and relatable-someone users can identify and engage with comfortably. Sounds obvious, right? Well, despite knowing that, many still struggle to cultivate an engaging social media presence. This is problematic, because if social media is a key outlet and your presence on platforms is failing to engage users, the content and/or services you have to offer will likely be underutilized.

Aside from mastering the art of being charming in 140 character tweet, there’s more to curating an effective social media presence that inspires engagement. By balancing more analytic aspects of social media engagement with an anecdotal presence (and in addition to a polished management practices), you can learn the ins and outs of social media engagement. Check out these tips and see what works for your brand.

  1. Use scheduling tools.

There’s nothing more tedious than having to manually push content every time you create something new. When you’re reposting and publishing while also trying to engage with your audience, something is likely to suffer.

That’s why tools like CoSchedule or Sprout Social can be so helpful. Such tools allow you to create custom messages for your posts so and/or manage interactions with other people from a clean, user-friendly platform.

  1. Get personal.

Speaking of custom messaging, being personal and unique when posting content is key to encouraging user engagement. Nothing says “spam” like a social media account that cranks out content with a comment, description, or any indication as to what the piece is about or why someone would want to click on it.

Be enticing and personal in every post, and look for ways to drive clicks. Framing your posts with a question, a quote, or some other text will drive the engagement you’re looking for. You might even take the Larry Kim route and use emojis to lure clicks and engagement!

  1. Use compelling language.

Also along the lines of creating personal and custom messages for your social media posts is the importance of word selection. As you’ve likely noticed based on the kind of content and posts you click on, there are certain words that jump out to people and compel them to click and engage.

Go back and look at which headlines and posts have drawn the most engagement, and see if there are specific adjectives or verbs that helped you achieve those interactions. As a principle of psychology, the human brain is wired to respond to captivating words, such as “free” or “amazing.”

  1. Pay attention to data.

One of the best ways to assess and strategize future performance is by looking at past performance. At the very least, spending some time looking at Google analytics can show you what has or has not worked and potentially offer some guide posts for the type of content engaging users the most.

Try finding a common ground in your most successful posts. Was it the wording you used? The content format? Then look at what hasn’t worked in the past, and try and identify why.

  1. Handle the hard stuff.

You might be surprised at how addressing negative user engagement can inspire positive user engagement. When user interaction turns sour, one of the worst things you can do is ignore it. Every form of engagement matters!

Use the negative attention to draw positive attention, and showcase your brand’s ability to problem solve. It will show that there’s a person behind the social profile who cares about their audience and is invested in bringing the brand to life.

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Why People Think Link Building is Dead (And Why It’s Not)

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Many brands and site owners are dropping the practice of link building for more appealing and complex SEO tactics. But as alluring and effective as the world of paid search, content marketing, and other SEO practices can be, link building still remains a fundamental way to improve the ranking of your website. So, if link building is still such an integral part of optimization, why are people shying away from it?

One major reason people turn away from link building is for fear of penalties. Thanks to black hat/spam link building scams, the practice has earned a reputation as being somewhat of an inauthentic, fraudulent tactic. Coupled with big brands that have received link building penalties, and link building starts to look like a fast track to getting on Google’s bad side.

Another reason people are rejecting the practice is the belief that link building simply doesn’t work. Because link building (when done correctly) doesn’t return instant results in a site’s ranking, it gets written off as an ineffective SEO method. The average site owner doesn’t have time to waste on practices deemed outdated and unsuccessful, so they opt for PPC or SMM and ditch link building altogether.

Despite these commonly held opinions of link building, the practice still plays a crucial role in SEO and can make the difference necessary to boost your site ranking. In fact, a recent report clarified that links back to your website are among the most important ranking determinants to date.

In case that study isn’t evidence enough, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google (Andrey Lipattsev) confirmed the holy trinity of site ranking signals: RankBrain, Content, and Links (in an unspecified order). Links are part of the backbone of the internet, and effective link building should remain a part of your SEO strategy for the foreseeable future.

It’s important to remember that there is a right way and a wrong way to link build. Trying to get a surplus of low quality links is a good way to end up on Google’s penalty list and take your site ranking more than a couple steps back. There’s no high quality way to automate link building, so when building a healthy network of link signals, keep these tips in mind:

  • Create worthwhile, helpful, high quality content that is worthy of a link on another site.
  • Engage with other sites actively and participate in discussions, comments, and forums-be a regular!
  • Use link building in conjunction with your other SEO practices. Don’t just rely on any one practice.

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A 3 Step Guide to Guest Posting


If you’re looking for a highly effective way to breathe life into your marketing strategy, guest posting might be your next move. For those unfamiliar with it, guest posting is simply having a piece of your content featured on another person’s website. Though simple in concept, guest posting can bring a broad range of benefits to both the reach and engagement of your content.

Despite being a relatively low maintenance content marketing strategy, there are certain things you should keep in mind when getting started. Refer to this simple 3 step guide when you’re seeking out guest posting opportunities.

  1. Identify industry authorities.

First and foremost, start by identifying the key influencers and authorities within your industry. More often than not, the people in your field flock to the same online sources for tools, tips, and news. Such authorities have an existing following of users, making it the perfect catapult for you to grow your audience.

Guest posting is also a great way to build mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals in your industry. Site owners are always looking to share new content, so you have as much to offer as you have to gain. The more popular or credible the website is, the more difficult it will be to get featured as a guest writer, but even one solid guest post could dramatically increase your traffic. Start by making a list of the industry authorities whose sites you refer to regularly and could contribute a worthwhile piece of content to.

  1. Develop an outreach approach/pitch.

Perhaps the most important part of guest posting is developing an outreach approach and pitch that the site owner won’t want to say no to. Crafting an email that’s more friendly and helpful than it is pushy is the best place to start. Here’s an example of a very general outreach email:

Try and highlight why guest posting is a mutually beneficial idea and how you fit into the niche of their users.  It also helps to include links to your relevant posts in the email, as well as links to specific pieces of work they’ve done that interest you. It’ll show that you’ve done your homework and can contribute in an effective manner.

  1. Prep your content.

When your work is going on another person’s website, there’s extra incentive to produce really strong content. It’s the first thing users of a brand new audience will see of you, and in order to reap the fulls range of benefits from guest posting, you have to make a click-worthy impression. Moreover, you want to position yourself as a contributor of value to the site owner so they’ll want to feature your work again.

Make sure your content is the best it can be by first developing your topic in detail, and then supplementing it with compelling evidence. Guest posts are a great place to populate your writing with data, proof, examples, and other convincing information. It’s also important to consider the format of your guest post to ensure that it offers clear and actionable utility for both the website owner and users. Checklists, guides, how-to’s, and infographics are all great structures that people can easily read, digest, and share.

Why It Works

A huge part of why guest posting is so effective as a marketing strategy is the trust factor that goes along with it. When your work gets featured on another noteworthy website, it gives you greater brand authority. Building that trust among users is essential for broadening your audience, and even more important for building connections with other influencers.

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Blog Writing Best Practices for SEO


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

As an SEO company, one of the most frequent questions we get from our clients is how they should be managing and writing their blog. While there is some variation to what does and does not work for different forms of content, there are certain best practices that can help enhance your blog from both an SEO and user perspective. If you aren’t already, put these tips into practice for a blog that’s as helpful as it is successful.

  1. Unique, Quality Content.For a while now, we’ve heard over and over that content is king. However, you can’t crank out unoriginal, boring content and expect significant user engagement. What’s more, search engines value high quality content and give well-constructed pieces much greater consideration in their rankings than they do poor bulk content. Avoid copying and pasting other content that you find on the internet unless you are quoting a publication. Always try and add your own spin to whatever you’re writing about, especially if it’s a popular topic, and foster strong content writing habits that will make regular production of blog posts a more natural process.
  2. Be Engaging.If you write engaging content, your readers will want to keep coming back. Not only will they want to come back, but they’ll also be more willing to share what you write with their friends. A big part of creating engaging content is providing users with information that’s actionable, specific, and offers utility. This is why content like listicles, checklists, and infographics are so successful; they’re easy for users to quickly absorb and apply, which then makes them more likely to share the content with others.
  3. Social Tools.Incorporating social sharing tools into your blog posts gives your readers an easy option to share content on their social media accounts. This is also important because search engines analyze social signals to determine which companies or websites people like and share as a means of determining the legitimacy of sites. These signals are incorporated into search engine algorithms, so having social sharing tools built into your posts is a must. You can add social sharing sidebars to your content through websites such as com and
  4. Length of Posts.Even though search engines are looking for content with substance, they do give consideration to the word count of a post. Length isn’t always a true gauge of the quality of a post, but it doesn’t hurt to shoot for somewhere between 250-600 words. Quality content will fair far better than fluff pieces with little depth, but high quality long form content does tend to do better. In short, there isn’t an ideal length for blog posts, because it depends on what you’re writing. Instead of paying attention to length, try and treat each piece of content as an individual resource, and accomplish the end goal of that post in whatever length works the best.
  5. I always recommend allowing comments, because you want to stay connected to your readers. You also get an SEO benefit from the comment content being added to the page, because search engines like it when pages are updated and added to often. If you choose to allow comments, make sure you moderate often and have a comment spam solution in place.
  6. Spelling and Grammar.Search engines pay close attention to spelling and grammar, as well as informed users. There are several low quality websites that outsource their writing needs to content shops that churn out low quality content littered with improper spelling and grammar. Sniffing out and devaluing that low quality content was and is one of the primary objectives for the Google Panda Updates. Moreover, a polished and knowledgeable website should be as free of such errors as possible in order to be considered an authority.
  7. Linking Strategies.When writing your posts, don’t forget to look for opportunities to link to other content within your website-even better if you have the opportunity to link back to that content with a keyword phrase you’re trying to rank for on the linked page. It’s also encouraged to link outside of your website if there’s an authoritative source on the topic of your post. Obviously, you won’t receive as much of a benefit as you would if you were linking to your own website, but the post could earn some trust points with engines. As a rule of thumb, try and limit yourself to 1-2 links per 200 words.
  8. After you have written your blog post, title, description, and keywords, you also generally have the option to set tags. Tags can be used for categorization by the search engines, but probably don’t hold much weight. Content will be the ultimate guide for their algorithms. When you do tag, try and keep the tags limited to ideas, concepts, locations, events, and product names. It’s also important to avoid overusing tags. 10 tags should be plenty to categorize a blog post, but aim for 4 or less.

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5 Easy Ways to Get the Most out of Pinterest


Pinterest is an E-commerce giant. The shelf life of a single pin is far greater than that of a tweet or Facebook post, making it an ideal avenue for reaching consumers. Moreover, it’s a major point of inspiration, exploration, and exposure. Users on Pinterest are naturally open to seeing, interacting with, and archiving all kinds of content.

Despite boasting an impressive 1.65 billion active users, there are still many businesses that haven’t yet made sense of using Pinterest for profit. The platform can sometimes come across as an intimidating platform of frilly indulgences, when it’s actually the golden goose of free marketing for businesses. Here’s how you can get the most of Pinterest and cash in on the platform’s $11 billion value.

  1. Connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your Pinterest profile.

Pinterest is a platform that blends very naturally into others. Pay-per-click advertising and branding practices have made social media platforms promising avenues of e-commerce. Connecting your Facebook and Twitter profiles to your Pinterest page will increase overall brand visibility, while also showing that you have contributions to the culture and musings of your industry.

  1. Make your web content Pinnable.

Almost every brand has a content marketing strategy that populates their website with helpful visuals and articles. As long and you’re providing that content, make sure your visitors can Pin it so they can easily save the ideas, products, or information for later reference. Adding Pinterest widgets to your website makes it easy for users to quickly pin the content they want and continue browsing through your pages.

  1. Keep an eye on your Pinterest profile analytics.

Tracking your success and understanding what works/what doesn’t work is hard to do without referencing some concrete data about viewers.  With that information built into Pinterest Analytics, you can see everything from which boards are performing the best to the kind of devices people are pinning on. Using the analytics provided, you can strategically base future pins and promoted content around that information.

  1. Theme your boards to complement user/industry insights.

To get the most out of Pinterest, users have to see you as a fellow Pinner and resource of information that’s valuable to them. Theming your boards to reflect the interests of your users allows you to not only archive images, articles, and links that reflect the trends and interests of your audience, but it also gives you a clear way to engage with your users. By seeing and contributing to what they’re Pinning, you can gain insights to help steer the direction of your business.

  1. Utilize rich Pins (but not too much).

Rich Pins are hugely successful for businesses and brands on Pinterest. In short, it’s a Pin that includes extra information right on the Pin itself, which allows the user to see more details without being redirected to another page after clicking the link. You’ve probably seen several rich Pins that include a photo and a full recipe right there on the Pin.  There are currently six different kinds of rich Pins (Apps, Places, Articles, Products, Recipes, Movies) and you can get started by adding the necessary information to your website meta tags. It’s important not to make every Pin a Rich Pin. Use these strategically and in ways that will inspire the most engagement while serving the most utility.

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