What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the use of a software platform to automate repetitive marketing tasks. These platforms are typically associated with email marketing but can also automate tasks within lead segmentation, lead scoring, and sales processes.

You interact with marketing automation every day. If you’ve ever left something in an online shopping cart for more than a few hours, you’ve almost certainly received an email trying to pull you back to the purchase. If you still don’t return and complete the sale you may have even started receiving offers and discounts to your inbox trying to sway you back. These marketing events were triggered by your actions and sent autonomously from an automation platform.

As you visit sites and engage with companies online, your actions are most often recorded and segmented so the company can help you along the buying process effectively. If you visit pricing pages, download eBooks, subscribe to newsletters, and more, you’re helping the company understand who you are and how they might earn you as a customer.

What does good marketing automation look like?

Good marketing automation is an organic and natural extension of the company/customer interaction.

Typically, marketing automation begins when a customer exchanges their contact information (name and email) for something that they perceive as being valuable such as an eBook or blog subscription. This process is called lead generation.

When the customer subscribes to your blog they’re expecting to receive content similar to that which led them to subscribe. They’re expecting valuable, relevant information. They didn’t give the company license to endlessly fill their inbox with deals and promotions. When you do send this valuable, relevant content, you might link to further learning about your product or service.

If the customer does start visiting pages about your product, then sending resources like FAQs, webinars or other comparable content can be helpful and timely.

Maybe, the subscriber starts visiting competitor comparison pages, perhaps even pricing pages. You might send them an email asking if they have any questions about your product. And you might send an email from one of your sales representatives with their calendar availability. Testimonials, video demonstrations, and more can be helpful and powerful content to receive when making a purchase decision.

All of these actions can take place autonomously. With little to no sales engagement. Helping your customer along the sales process naturally and empowering the customer to make decisions.

What email marketing can accomplish:
Attract and build a list of leads and potential customers
Automate repetitive tasks like rescheduling and abandoned carts
Automate CRM tasks like lead status, customer type, and buyer stage
Provide timely updates and promotions directly to interested buyers
Nurture and propel leads through the buyer’s journey
Build and nurture customer relationships through timely and helpful content

What email marketing won’t accomplish:
Email marketing doesn’t open the door to list-buying. Cold-outreach may still have a place in some sales plans. But it’s widely considered ineffective and self-damaging to buy lists and perform cold-outreach.
Email marketing won’t move customers directly to ready-to-buy stages. Only 27% of leads sent to sales are qualified to buy. Email marketing helps customers move from stage to stage in the buyer’s journey; it doesn’t move buyers straight to the ready-to-buy stage.

How does marketing automation fit into the customer journey?

Every business is different, so exactly how automation fits into your buyer’s journey will be unique. But for most businesses marketing automation is the framework that sits between almost every marketing event.

Marketing automation can help capture new leads, nurture leads, close deals, boost up customer support, and encourage customer evangelism.

What is the value of marketing automation?

Effective email and marketing automation is consistently one of the highest-return marketing actions. This is because email marketing is one of the few channels that businesses typically can access where they can go to the customer instead of waiting for the customer to come to them.

By meticulously assisting your customers through the buyer’s journey, you build trust and empower them to make purchasing decisions. According to the Direct Marketing Association, companies typically see a $42 return for every $1 spent with an effective automation strategy. With marketing automation, you can build a business that creates customers for life.

How do you get started with marketing automation?

If you’d like to learn more about how marketing automation can help you and your business, and how to get started, you can read more from our eBook on the marketing automation fundamentals.

If you’d like to speak with an Epic Marketing representative about what we could do for you, fill out the form at the bottom of the page, and we’ll get in touch!

Facebook Ads Not Delivering? Use The Ultimate Checklist

There are so many possible reasons why your Facebook Ads are not delivering and it can be so frustrating trying to figure it out. Being a marketing agency means that we see problems like this pop up on accounts for all kinds of different clients. We are always happy to take on more work, so feel free to reach out if you’d like help from one of our specialists. However, if you would like to try fixing the delivery issue on your own, I created this checklist for you that you can go through to get your ads up and running again.

Menu:

Ads Are Disapproved
COVID-19 Ad Disapprovals
Your Ad Has Too Much Text
You Forgot To Publish Your Ads
Your Billing Method Failed
You Reached Your Spending Limit
You Reached Your Budget
Your Campaign Ended
Your Audience Is Too Small
You Recently Edited An Ad
Your Ad Is Stuck In Review
You Have Too Much Audience Overlap
Your Ad Falls In A Special Category
Your Ad Is Low Quality
You Used Accelerated Delivery
Other Reasons

Ads Are Disapproved
There are a lot of reasons why your ads might get disapproved. Facebook’s official list of ad policies is here, but I will list some of the most common reasons that ads get disapproved:

  • Too much text in your image; tool listed here
  • Your product is not allowed to be advertised on Facebook
  • Your ad copy is inappropriate or not allowed; Facebook doesn’t allow overly sensational copy, bad grammar, or content that assumes the viewer’s personal attributes
  • Your image or video is inappropriate or falls into the Adult Content category

Occasionally, fixing the problem is as easy as removing a question mark, but sometimes you really need to dig deep into Facebook’s Ad Policy page to find the exact reason why your ad is being disapproved.

If you’re wondering what your error is, you can hover over the red warning triangle for more information. You can also click “Edit” on the disapproved ad and you should see a specific reason listed there as well.

COVID-19 Ad Disapprovals

Businesses in all industries have been affected by COVID-19 in some way. If you are like us and are still able to run Facebook ads during this pandemic, you might have run into the same problem that we are seeing. Some ads that merely acknowledge COVID-19 are getting disapproved for “Controversial Content”. The specific Facebook policy is designed to stop price-gouging of sensitive products like hand sanitizer and medical masks, but in some cases ads are getting disapproved by mistake. That full policy from Facebook can be found here.

The main policy summary states:

“Ads must not contain content that exploits crises or controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes.”

Our ads definitely aren’t exploiting this crisis, but still some of our ads and our clients’ ads were getting disapproved for this reason. I tested removing words like “COVID-19”, “pandemic”, and “hand sanitizer” and republished them. In some cases, that worked.

You also have the option to request a manual review. As long as you are not exploiting a crisis, once an employee at Facebook views your ads they should easily be able to see that your ad is okay to run. I have been able to fix ad disapprovals for controversial content this way several times. In my experience, it has taken 24-48 hours for decisions to be made after submitting an ad for manual review.

Your Ad Has Too Much Text
Facebook wants their ads to feel more organic, so they restrict how much text can be overlaid onto your image. This is an issue that comes up fairly frequently with clients who don’t know about this rule. They want to the name of their business really large, or they want to promote a big wall of text because they want customers to know every single thing about the sale they are running.

You can fit plenty of copy into the Headline and Text portions of your ad, so follow Facebook’s rule and keep the amount of text on your image to 20% or less.

If you want to test your image to see if it follows the 20% text rule, Facebook has a text overlay tool that you can access here.

You Forgot to Publish Your Ads
If you manage Facebook campaigns long enough, this is bound to happen. Go back to Ads Manager and see if your ad is still a draft or if it has been published. You can review all current drafts by clicking “Review and Publish” in the top right corner.

Your Billing Method Failed
Sometimes a payment fails, credit cards reach their limits faster than normal, and the payment method needs to be reauthorized. Open up Ads Manager and check to see if there are any red warning messages. With that information in hand, open up the main menu, go to Settings, and click Payment Settings to manage your billing method.

You Reached Your Spending Limit
Spending limits can be useful tools, but if someone else sets them without telling you, then you might find yourself wondering why your ads aren’t running.
There are a few places in Ads Manager where you can set and edit spending limits.

  • The account level (Found in Payment Settings)
  • The campaign level (Click Edit on any campaign)

You Reached Your Budget
You can set lifetime budgets at the campaign level. If you forget to add more to the budget or to create a new campaign, then you might be surprised when your ads stop delivering at the end date you set.

Your Campaign Ended
Like the previous tip states, you can set lifetime budgets at the campaign level. If you forget to add more to the budget or to create a new campaign, then you might be surprised when your ads stop delivering at the end date you set.

Under the Delivery column you will see that your campaign says “Completed” when it has reached its end date. You can duplicate the campaign and start again or you can edit the completed campaign and add new end dates and an increased budget.

Your Audience Is Too Small
This error usually doesn’t come with its own special warning, so it can be easy to overlook. If you narrow your audience down too much by geographic area, gender, age, interest, or some other demographic, then your ad set might be too small to run at all.

Check out the Audience Definition section at the Ad Set level to see what your potential reach is. If it says your audience is too small here, then you might need to make some changes.

You Recently Edited an Ad
Facebook ads often take up to 24 hours to get approved and start delivering again after you make an edit to them. I know it can be tempting to make changes every day, but it is best to plan ahead and make edits less often.

Your Ad Is Stuck in Review
Facebook ads often take up to 24 hours to get approved and start delivering again after you make an edit, but has it been longer than that?

During busy online sales times like Black Friday, approval times for new ads can take even longer. I have seen ads take up to two or three days to get approved and start delivering during those busy times. If you have an important campaign coming up, don’t wait until the last minute to publish your ads.

If that is not the case, try duplicating your ad and often the new ad will get approved quickly.

You Have Too Much Audience Overlap
If you are running too many ad sets with very similar audiences, then your ads might not spend their full budgets. Luckily, Facebook has an audience overlap tool that will let you see how much your audiences overlap.

Open the main menu in Ads Manager and click on Audiences. From there you can select up to 5 audiences, click the three dots, and click Show Audience Overlap.

I have seen this problem mainly when advertisers are using a lot of look-alike audiences that they don’t really realize are very similar.


Your Ad Falls in a Special Category
“If you’re based in or targeting the U.S. and are creating a campaign that includes ads that offer credit, employment or housing opportunities, you must choose the category that best describes your ads.”

If your product or service falls into one of these 3 categories, then you will have to deal with some restrictions. You can find more information here, but before you can run your ads at all, you will have to designate which category you fall into or your ads might get disapproved.

You can find these settings at the campaign level.

Your Ad Is Low Quality
“Low-quality ads on Facebook, such as ones that include clickbait or direct people to unexpected content, create bad experiences for people and don’t align with our goal of creating meaningful connections between people and businesses.”

You can read more about Facebook’s policy here.

Just know that low quality ads might work for a little while, but eventually they will get disapproved and can even lead to your ad account getting suspended if the content is bad enough. Promote the best product you can and create ads that have honest, enticing copy and imagery.

You Used Accelerated Delivery
Accelerated Delivery is an option at the campaign level of your ads. If you select it then Facebook will “spend your budget and get results as quickly as possible.” It sounds pretty good, but you may be left with no budget at the end of the month if you are not careful.

Other Reasons
There are a lot of reasons why your Facebook ads might not be delivering or why they are disapproved. If you make it through this whole checklist without finding the solution to your problem, then you have found a truly unique issue and I’d love to hear about it. Fill out our contact form with your issue and we can work on it together.

Why SEO Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

Have you ever questioned whether or not you need to invest in SEO now, or if you can simply hold off until your company scales? This is a common question that I hear all too often when talking with business owners. In this post, my goal is to share with you a few reasons why it’s critical that you start investing in SEO today and not wait. Out of respect for the privacy of our clients, I have altered the names and company information associated with any specific examples that I’ve included in this post.

Before we dive in, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Chayden Young and I’m the Accounts Director here at Epic Marketing. You’re likely wondering why Epic’s Accounts Director is writing an article on SEO. That’s a great question! In addition to managing our account management team, I also spend a portion of my day talking with prospective clients and am typically their first point of contact with Epic. Being on the front lines, I get the opportunity to learn so much about what companies are already doing to market themselves and can quickly see many of the opportunities in front of them.

I recently had a new client meeting with John, a business owner looking to expand his company. John had been working incredibly hard to establish his brand and a reputation for quality work and great service. I asked John what he was doing from an SEO side to promote his services. His response, while not so unusual, is representative of a widespread and all too common concern. John responded, “I’m not really doing a lot with SEO. I’m not really big enough to worry about it and have heard it’s a waste of money.”

After listening to John’s perspective on SEO, I realized that there are businesses out there that still don’t truly understand the value of SEO. Search traffic can be one of the most valuable marketing avenues a company can pursue. While the size and scale of these search campaigns can vary greatly, you should be investing in a base SEO strategy for your site. Your competition isn’t stopping SEO efforts and you can’t afford to ignore the value of search traffic to your site.

“you need to be investing in SEO today”

John and I continued talking and discussed why he hadn’t been doing SEO. He said, “when I first started my business, I was under the impression that SEO was something only large companies did. I didn’t really see the value in it. I’ve got a couple of friends that got burned by one of those $250 SEO packages.” A warning to those who might be tempted to go with the ultra-cheap SEO companies out there, It’s not worth the risk. Companies charging extremely low rates keep their prices low by providing a low-quality service that can harm your site. After being on the subject for a while, we came to the conclusion that John needed more information on SEO and specifically how it should play into his mix of customer acquisition channels.

Now I was on a mission to prove to John the value of SEO and how a quality SEO service can elevate his business to a new level. Returning to John’s point on how he believed only large companies focus on SEO, I knew that I needed to start there. Why does it seem like SEO is something that big successful companies focus on? It’s because it works! Aligning your website content with people searching for your products and services is one of the best ways to capture high-quality leads or direct sales. These people are looking for you, why not make it easy for them to find you? The value derived from this strategy can be immense and in the long run, cost significantly less than a paid advertising approach. SEO is an investment in your web presence, not a flash in the pan that builds no sustained value over time.

At our next meeting, I came a little more prepared. This time I brought an in-depth search report of people that were looking for his services on a monthly basis. It finally hit him how important it was for him to try and capture a small portion of this search market. He decided that he couldn’t wait any longer, because the longer he waited, the more he fell behind his competition.

We helped John build a new site that was optimized for SEO from the start. After his site was launched, he started to receive not only an uptick in organic traffic but a noticeable increase in leads from his site.

This story has an awesome ending for John. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that still let SEO be an afterthought. I don’t care if you just invented a brand new technology that nobody has heard of or your industry is as old as the dinosaurs, you need to be investing in SEO today, and if you don’t know where to start, you need to partner with someone who can generate the right results for you.

5 Basic SEO Tips Every Business Owner Should Know

Generally speaking, SEO helps your business be relevant to a target audience, increase site traffic, build brand awareness and improve user experience. SEO is a long term strategy that requires serious dedication. Approaching SEO can be scary, but it’s ok to start small. Small changes can gradually lead to great success. Here are a few “starting small” SEO tips:

Know Your Current Ranking

It’s hard to know if your SEO strategy is working effectively unless you know your current position and THEN monitor progress. Before starting a new strategy, track your current rankings.

So – how do you monitor your ranking? There are various tools designed to help you do this. If you’re just getting started, there are a number of free tools to help! You can start with tools like Traffic Travis, RankWatch, and RankScanner. One thing to note with free trackers – they don’t store your rankings over time. So, every month (or however often you are checking), I suggest exporting the list and comparing it the next time you check. There are also some great tools that cost money like SEMRush, WebCEO, and Ahrefs. These paid tools often have more features in their database. This could include things like audits, keyword research options, competitor information, etc.

Pay Attention To Keywords

It’s hard to discuss SEO basics without mentioning keywords, they should be the center of every optimization strategy. Keywords are search terms that people use to find relevant content online. Understanding how your target audience is searching and the keyphrases they’re using will help you better know what kind of content to optimize your website with. Use the keyphrases, and their synonyms in the headings, subheadings, meta descriptions, image descriptions, and web content.

It is important to note that using too many keywords could adversely affect your ranking. Google could label your site as spammy and penalize you for keyword stuffing. Always try to strike a balance. The balance I try to stick to is a keyword density of 2-2.5%. The content you write for your website or blog, shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords, it should be informative and answer the questions the user came to your site to get answered.

Create Internal and External Links

Most beginners underestimate the importance of links. Links are an integral part of SEO basics because they help to increase traffic to specific pages of your website. When creating content, always incorporate relevant links to other pages on your site and link externally to other authoritative sites. Ensure you use keyphrase focused anchor text that highlights what is contained on the page you are linking to. This will increase the chances of your page appearing when internet users search for the anchor text.

seo for beginners

Include Relevant Image Info

A key to SEO is understanding how bots crawl your website, but more specifically, your images. Bots (also known as crawlers) only read the text and overlook images. So file name, alt tags and image descriptions help them to know what the picture is all about. All image elements should include the key phrase, but also describe what the image is. Google is smart enough to know when you’re trying to trick them by stuffing more keywords. Your site or page could be penalized for making your content hard to understand for sight-impaired people.

Post Fresh and Relevant Content

An effective way to ensure your site has fresh content is by adding a blog that focuses on relevant topics. The blog will attract a significant number of readers, educate them on the subject and convert some of them into loyal customers. A blog gives you opportunities for internal and external linking and allows you to demonstrate your authority on the subject matter.

Content must be fresh, relevant and engaging. The idea behind a blog is not only to show search engines that you’re an active member of your community but also to become a resource for tips and tricks in your industry.

Even though SEO can be a complex topic, with a base knowledge of what your SEO starting point is, you can create a long-term game plan to scale the SERPs. If you’re on information overload, contact us today! Our team of SEO experts is ready to help.

SEO Glossary

Whether you’re new to SEO, or a seasoned manager, SEO terms can sometimes be hard to digest. The amount of terms that you deal with in any campaign is enough to hurt your brain.

We decided to create this handy guide for SEO newbs and SEO directors alike. And while this is a comprehensive list of the most common SEO terms, there are hundreds more that we aren’t hitting on. Hopefully, this can be a great starting point for you.

Feel free to click through the letters to get to the spot you’re most interested in learning about.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

#

301 Redirect – a 301 redirect is used for a URL that has been moved permanently. These types of redirects pass roughly 90% of link equity. This is the most recommended redirect for SEO.

302 Redirect – a 302 redirect means that a URL was found and has been moved temporarily.

404 Redirect – a 404 error means page not found. This means that the page a browser was requesting isn’t found by the server.
410 – Redirect

A

Algorithm – complex data used by search engines to deliver results for a certain query. With a combination of algorithms, search engines are able to deliver ranked pages based on a number of signals and ranking factors.

Algorithm Updates – This is when search engines change certain signals and ranking factors for the current algorithm.

Alt Attribute – code that gives information to search engines and screen readers (accessibility for the visually impaired) to understand an image on your site.

Analytics -Analyzing and interpreting data to impact action in future strategies based on what has or hasn’t worked in the past. Learn more here.

Anchor text – Clickable word or phrases of a link, giving information to both people and search engines about what the website they’re clicking to is about.

Authority – Combo of signals search engines utilize to rank a website properly.

B

B2B – Business to Business. B2B SEO is the science of reaching professionals through search engines. It should answer 3 things: what are people looking for? How can we satisfy their needs? How do we convince Google that we can satisfy their needs?

Backlinks – Backlinks are inbound links that originate from someone elses’s website. If you link to Google, that’s a backlink for Google and vice versa. **Backlinks are one if the main signals in the algorithm right now to increase your rankings.

Black hat SEO – Going against Google Webmaster Guidelines. These are risky, spammy SEO tactics.

Bounce rate – The number of people who come to your website and leave without visiting another page. These depend widely on your industry, and although it’s not a direct ranking factor, it indicates website issues.

Broken link – a link (whether page or image) that leads to a 404 not found page. If you haven’t implemented a redirect (301), or if your website goes offline, this can create a 404.

C

Canonical – To reduce duplicate content, adding a canonical URL shows search engines which URL is the preferred page when multiple pages have similar (or the same) content.

CTR – Also known as click-through-rate, shows a percentage of users who click on an organic search result to visit your website. Calculated by dividing clicks by impression and multiplying by 100.

Citation – Also known as a local listing, citations are an online reference to your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Your NAP consistency plays a large role in your local relevance in search.

Competitor Analysis – When auditing a potential clients SEO efforts, look at competitors and what they’re doing that you aren’t doing and vice versa. There are SEO competitors (competing for the same keywords and search visibility) and direct competitors (companies that sell similar products and services to the same target audience).

Content – words, images, and videos that convey information to be consumed by your audience. Aside from link building, content is the most important ranking factor on Google. Search engines reward useful, informative and engaging content.

Conversion – this is an action completed by a user on your website like completing a purchase, downloading content, subscribing to a newsletter and filling out a contact form.

Conversion Rate – The rate that users complete a website action. Calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic and multiplying by 100.

CRO – Optimizing opportunities for conversions on a website (homepage, landing pages, etc.).

Crawling – a program search engines to use crawl the web and more specifically, your website. Bots, spiders, and crawlers collect information and add it to a search engines index. The 3 types of crawling programs are:
• Google bots
• Crawler
• Spider

D

Directory – A list of websites in related categories that allows your website inclusion (free and paid). Slowly this type of link building isn’t as valuable as it used to be.

Disavow – If your website somehow gets hacked or includes a number of spammy and low-quality inbound links and can have negative harm on your rankings. You typically don’t have control over these links, but you can ask Google to ignore those links through their disavow tool.

Do-follow link – a link that passes link juice and doesn’t contain the nofollow attribute.

Domain Authority – Your strength and authority of your website, with a score between 0-100. It takes a lot of time to build up this “strength”, but it helps your rankings significantly.

Duplicate content – When more than one webpage contains similar if not the same content as one another (same website or completely different website).

E

Ecommerce – Buying and selling products online.

Editorial Link – Also known as a natural link, this is a link given by another website without you asking for it.

Engagement metrics – Ways to measure how users interact with your website. These include things like:

• CTR
• Conversion rate
• Bounce rate
• New vs. returning visitors

F

Featured Snippet – who/what/where/when/why/how query answers that Google shows in a block about the organic search results.

G

Google
• Analytics – Program to analyze and interpret data to impact action in future strategies based on what has or hasn’t worked in the past.
• Hummingbird – 2013 Google algorithm with a goal of understanding the context of queries instead of just keywords.
• Panda – 2011 Google algorithm update with a goal to reduce low-value content visibility.
• Penguin – 2012 Google algorithm update with a goal to reduce the visibility of overly-optimized sites, especially those with low-quality links and keyword stuffing.
• Pigeon – 2014 Google algorithm update with a goal to improve the relevance of local searches.
• Rankbrain – 2015 algorithm change that adds machine learning, the third most important ranking signal.
• Search Console – Program that helps you monitor your site for indexing errors and site speed.
• Trends – Google trends allows you to explore data for trends, stories, and topics.
• Posts – Google Posts is a feature that lets you include a post with your local listing to tell customers and potential customers about: Events, Products, Promotions/specials, Announcements.
• Tag Manager – A program that allows you to add tags and snippets of code to a website without the use of a programmer or web developer.

Guest Blogging – Link building tactic involving writing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink to your website.

H

Heading – Heading tags separate content into sections. H1 is the most important with H6 being the least important.

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language. Code elements used to improve SEO for websites.

HTTP/HTTPS – HTTP is how data is transferred from server to browser. HTTPS is the secure version of that. HTTPS is also a small ranking factor for Google.

I

Inbound links – Link pointing to one website from another website.

Index – A database that searches and retrieves information from a website to then use to match a user to the right query.

Internal link – Link from one page to another page within the same site.

IP address – IP stands for internet protocol. Every computer that’s connected to the internet has an individual, unique IP address.

J

Javascript – a programming language that can be embedded into HTML to add dynamic features to a webpage or site to make it more interactive.

K

Keyword
Cannibalization – In simple terms, it’s self-competition that happens when multiple pages on your site rank for the same query on the search engines. It can hurt your authority and lower your conversion rates.

Density – How many times a keyword/phrase appears in the content of a webpage. While there is no ideal percentage to help with rankings, it’s said to keep it between 2-3%.

Research – discovering relevant keywords to your focus SEO strategy. This can be done through research tools, analytics, competitor sites etc.

Stuffing – writing content that uses a keyword or phrase excessively.

Knowledge graph/panel – A box that appears at the top of the search results on relevant queries. Queries that have a quick, easy answer. These are things like song search, lyric search, recipe search, and celebrity searches.

KPI – Key performance indicators are ways to measure the results of your SEO strategies. These are things like the number of sessions, conversions, traffic, pages per session etc.

L

Local SEO – Local SEO targets potential customers within a specific geographic area. Optimizing content with localization, local listings etc.

Landing page – The first page a user lands on after clicking on a link from the search results.

Link building – Process of building high-quality backlinks that search engines use to evaluate the authority of your website.

Log file analysis – Assessing data kept in a log file to see trends, user movements through the site and understand how bots are crawling your site.

LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing is the keywords that are semantically related to the main keywords. You can see a list of LSI keywords for a keyword you use in a query at the bottom of the SERPs.

M

Metadata
• Description – the meta description is the sentence or two that shows up under the title of your website in the SERPs. Should be relevant, reinforce what the page is about and contain keywords or phrases.
• Title – the meta title, or title tag, needs to be unique to every page and describe what important ideas are covered in the content. Should keep between 8 and 10 words.
• Keywords – meta keywords is a tag that is used to highlight keywords or phrases that the page is targeting.

Metric – a way to measure the performance of campaign to see if it’s successful or not.

N

Negative SEO – an extremely harmful practice where webspam techniques are used to hurt a competitor.

Niche – Small group of people in a specific market or industry.

No follow/no index – a tag that tells search engines not to follow a specific external link or index a specific page in the index.

O

Off-page SEO – SEO strategies done outside of the website including: social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing etc.

On-page SEO – strategies put in place inside the website including optimizing images, metadata, content etc.

Organic search – the unpaid listings that appear in the SERPs, typically underneath the ads at the top. These results are analyzed and ranked by the algorithms and shown in the results based on a specific, related query.

Outbound link – a link that directs your website visitors to a different page on a different website.

P

Pagerank – PageRank measures the importance of a page based on backlinks to it. Each QUALITY link adds to your PageRank.

Page speed – The amount of time it takes for a website or page to load completely and is a big ranking factor.

Paid search – advertisements that appear above the organic search results.

Penalty – Search engines penalize websites for spammy tactics. This penalty prevents these spammed sites from ranking high in the results.

Pogo-sticking – When a user bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed.

Q

Query – the phrase or keyword that users enter into a search engine.

Quality content – Content that helps you achieve your SEO goals of high rankings that generate leads or sales.

Quality link – A backlink that comes from an extremely authoritative, relevant website.

R

Robot.txt – a text file that tells search engines which areas of a website should be crawled and ignored.

Ranking – where, in the SERPs, your website appears in the organic search results for a certain query.

Reciprocal links – when two different websites have an agreement to exchange links with one another.

Redirect – a way to let search engines know that the location of a page moved. Users will then be directed to a new, but a relevant webpage.

Responsive website – a website that automatically adjusts to the size of someone’s smart device.

Rich snippet – structured data added to a website that provides additional context to a certain webpage to enhance a listing.

S

Schema – structured data or microdata that gives more context to search engines and helps show the positive tactics like positive reviews, events, products, location etc.

Search engine – a program that allows users to search queries and find answers and relevant information. Here’s a list of the most common search engines:
• Google
• Yahoo
• Baidu
• Yandex
• DuckDuckGo
• Bing

SEM – a term describing visibility in search engines that includes both paid and organic strategies.

SEO – making a business appeal to both users and search engines with a combination of technical and on-page marketing.

SERP – the page on search engines that displays after a user conducts a search query.

Sitemap – a way for crawlers and bots to navigate your website.

Status codes – response codes sent to a server after a link is clicked. Common codes are:
• 200
• 301
• 302
• 404
• 410
• 500
• 503

T

TLD (top-level domain) – end of a given web address. Like
• .com
• .org
• .net

Traffic – users and crawlers who visit your website.

U

URL – the web address entered into a browser to go to a webpage.

URL parameter – an added piece to a URL that tracks where traffic comes from like: facebook, twitter, google listing etc.

User Experience – the feeling users are left with after being on your website and interacting with your online presence.

V

Voice search – voice search requires you to use your voice to ask questions and conduct online search queries through smart devices.

W

Website navigation – How websites help users navigate through the site. There are a few different ways to implement navigation:
• Main
• Footer
• Breadcrumbs

White hat SEO – SEO tactics that specifically comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Word count – The number of words that appear within your content. Low word count can signal search engines of a low-quality website.

WordPress – a popular website management/creation software platform.

X

XML Sitemap – a text format sitemap that search engines can read.

Y

Youtube – Second largest search engine that usually ends up with more search traffic than Yahoo and Bing combined.

Hopefully, this list helped you learn something or help you figure out an issue you were having with one of your campaigns. If we’re missing any super important terms that you use on a regular basis, let us know and we’ll get it added!

Most Popular Dessert by State in 2018

Current Mood = Dessert

If asked, picking one single dessert to eat for the rest of your life would be painfully hard. There are thousands of dessert variations to choose from, and like – #FOMO. 40% of consumers surveyed in a USA Today report say they eat desserts after a meal at least twice a week. 78% say they are more likely to eat dessert to treat themselves and 60% say they order dessert when they’re feeling happy.

Recognizing the challenge of different search queries (searching for recipes, places for dessert near you, etc.), we compared the top 3 searched desserts in each state utilizing the information found in Google Trends for the entire year of 2018. Mixed with some keyword research (some of these desserts sounded too absurd to be real – I’m talking to you, Florida and Georgia) we were able to finalize a list of the top dessert in each state throughout 2018.

A top choice by 1/5th of the states in the U.S. was a certain British pudding that, unbeknownst to me (and the entire staff at Epic Marketing), exists and apparently is delicious. Research showed and shocked our team to discover that Jell-O was not the top dessert in Utah, especially since it seems to be culturally popular! But hey, we decided that maybe Gelato is a distant cousin to Jell-O.

fav dessert by state

How did your home state compare?

National vs. Local SEO

Search Marketing started in the 1990’s and has gradually gotten more intense. Back then, it was as simple as keyword tags and keyword stuffing for you to rank well. In 2004, link farms started and helped you rank even higher on the search engines. In 2011, social media marketing joined in and since then, search engines have gradually intensified their algorithms, making it harder to rank using the tactics above.

In 2018, none of the things listed above will fly in your SEO strategy. If anything, doing these things will hurt your efforts. Understanding the strategy and techniques behind an effective SEO campaign is imperative for you to survive in the ever-changing online world. Whether you’re a national company or a local brick and mortar store, SEO will help your business succeed. However, there are different strategies and techniques for both of these types of campaigns (hence the reason for this blog post). Let’s dive into differentiating your strategy based on national vs local SEO.

What is National SEO?

National SEO is useful for businesses that aren’t focused on servicing a specific geographic area but want to reach a national or global clientele. Your main focus here is your brand. You’re constantly competing against other national brands, so you need to make sure your brand is just as strong if not stronger.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is about bringing visitors to your business or area. So if your business wants to focus 100% on local clients, local SEO will provide long-lasting growth. Local SEO allows you to target potential customers within a specific geographic area. With this, you’re speaking directly to the people who are in proximity to your business and therefore more likely to buy your product.


Local and national SEO share the same goal – rank higher in the SERPs to increase conversions and traffic. The differences they have has to do with how they reach this goal. Since the purpose of both national and local SEO is to optimize for search engines, it’s clear that they would have some similarities.

National and Local SEO Similarities

SEO Strategies

Backlinks are effective for both local and national businesses; they continue to weigh heavy in the ranking factors. The means to which you get backlinks differs slightly for both of them though. It’s important to focus on keywords/key phrases when writing guest posts. Depending on whether your campaign is local or national will affect the types of keywords, phrases, localization you use. As with the guest post itself needing to be specific, it’s also important to choose the websites you post to carefully. For a national campaign, I wouldn’t recommend using local directories or local websites.

Both local and national SEO campaigns can benefit from backlinks from resource pages and also creating resource pages on their own websites – each campaign will just be targeting different sites for different reasons.

National and Local SEO Differences

Keywords

National SEO: these campaigns typically have a much larger budget than small businesses and a lot more manpower which is what helps them succeed when they try to rank for generic keywords.

Local SEO: these campaigns have less manpower and would be smart to focus on geo-specific keywords since that makes more sense in terms of who their potential client would be.

Citations

National SEO: the algorithm runs a little different for a national campaign and having local citations won’t help their campaign at all.

Local SEO: Maintaining NAP consistency throughout citations is important and any inconsistencies can decrease your local SEO value. These citations weigh heavily in regards to local search results and the algorithm behind it. There are an enormous amount of citation sites available to add more value to your campaign.

local listings

Social Media

National SEO: Often times, national campaigns have more resources available which in turn usually means that they have better management of their social media accounts.

Local SEO: Social media can be a hard thing to manage or gain any sort of engagement from on a local level. It’s important to at least have business pages set up.

**For both national and local campaigns, social media can assist with your link building efforts in terms of social sharing.

The future is uncertain. Algorithm changes happen hundreds of times a year and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Having a solid foundation of SEO should be a priority for your business. SEO is not dead, as some people believe. Websites will continue to compete for attention and placement in the SERPs. If you have knowledge and experience to increase your rankings, traffic, and conversions, you’ll see reap the benefits. First things first– choose a national or local SEO strategy.

SEO and Voice Search

There are over 1 billion voice searches performed monthly, and that number is likely to continue to grow. Thirty-five times more voice searches were performed on Google in 2016 than in 2008. So if you’re wondering if you should implement a voice-first website, the answer is a resounding YES. Throughout this blog we’ll give you a few tips and tricks to optimize your current site to be SEO voice-search friendly. But first a little background.

The Rapid Growth of Voice Search

The number of voice searches continues to grow rapidly, as 41 percent of adults say they have only started using voice search during the last six months of 2017 and 19 percent reported that they started using it at some point in the first half of 2017. By comparison, only 11 percent of people say that they have been using it for more than three years.

How is Voice Search Different than Traditional Search?

There are many ways that voice search and traditional search are different, but five things naturally rise to the top. Voice search users:

• Use conversational speech

• Ask queries based on location

• Provide a better understanding of their intent

• Count on featured snippets

• Want personal assistance

How successful companies can implement voice search SEO

User Queries

Traditionally, companies have relied on between one- to three-word search phrases to connect with users. As users turn to more voice searches, longtail keywords will become more important. Concentrate on answering questions that might be asked by people if they picked up the phone and called your company. One study looked at over 1,000 voice search queries and found that what and how-to questions were the most popular followed by when, where, who and why questions.

Location-based Voice Search

Since about 69 percent of all voice searches are done from a mobile device, it naturally follows that people may be looking for locations close to them. Therefore, brick-and-mortar companies should start by making a landing page for each of their physical locations. That page should include local landmarks like popular attractions, local schools and other places of local interest. Make sure that you have claimed your Google My Business account for each location. Use Google Posts to keep these listings updated with sales or special events. Use schema to connect websites to local locations and name, address, phone number (NAP) consistency through citations (these are all aspects of SEO).

User Intent

With traditional searches, it’s very difficult to determine user intent. For example, a person might type “recliner” into the search box, but Google and other search engines have no way of knowing what the searcher really wants to know. They could want to know where to buy a recliner, how to make a recliner or how to make a recliner comfortable for sleeping. Since voice searches are typically longer, it is easier to determine the user’s exact intent. This allows companies to do search engine optimization for voice search based specifically on each query type allowing them to meet user intent better.

Featured Snippets

In January 2018, Google announced that 80 percent of Google Home answers came from featured snippets. While snippets may be paragraphs, lists or tables, most of the ones used for voice search are either paragraphs or lists. Since most featured snippets come from pages that rank in the top 10 places, it is important to use white-hat search engine optimization methods to make sure that you are one of the top-ranking websites. Again, using schema, claiming your Google My Business and having a content strategy all seem to improve the odds of ranking higher in your niche. Aim at answering questions succinctly, stick to the facts and present them in a well-organized manner. Creating a list of frequently asked questions is often a great place to start but keep your answers under 45 words when possible.

Provide Personal Assistance

Siri, Echo, Alexa and Google Home are all programmed to remember important facts about the user. Companies must find a way to tie their SEO for voice search into what customers are wanting to accomplish, with their phones or smart devices. Think about how you can create pages that will allow potential customers to order your product or service using only their voice. Make it easy for them to connect with a person who can further handle their questions. Show how your product will help keep them safer or more entertained. Prove that your product is based on the latest research.

While many companies are still trying to cope with making their sites mobile-friendly, the forward-thinking companies are already optimizing for voice search SEO. The trend is only going to get stronger over the next few years. Optimize for voice search now and stay ahead of the trend. Your ROI will be well worth the time and effort. Contact our SEO experts at Epic Marketing to learn more about what we can do to escalate your business!

3 Fundamental Pillars of SEO Techniques

Moz recently stated that Google changes their algorithm 500-600 times a year. If their algorithm changes this frequently, shouldn’t your SEO strategy be changing too?

SEO is fundamental to boosting your organic search rankings and building your presence online. When done right, SEO can improve your company’s bottom line (leads, sales, etc.).

So what is SEO and what makes up a good SEO strategy? These are the three fundamental pillars of SEO and our techniques for building on them:
Structure
Content
Authority

SEO Pillar #1: Structure

There’s a technical side of SEO that people don’t really talk about, but it’s crucial for your long-term SEO efforts. Whenever we approach a new website or client we do a website audit to find the technical issues that either prevent Google from indexing it or that go against Google’s best practices. Here, we look at things like:

• Broken links
• Broken images
• Site speed
• HTML tags
• Internal linking
• External linking
• Sitemap errors
• Robot.txt errors
• Schema implementation

Fixing these errors make it easier for Google to crawl your site, rank you in the correct location and industry niche, and increase your visibility online.

SEO Pillar #2: Content

Google likes to know that your business is an active, relevant member of the web. To be seen as active, you should be releasing new content regularly and that content should be up to date. Google favors new content over old content and they want to know that you’re relevant to the industry you’re trying to rank in. Your content needs to be informative and focused on concepts that relate to the users intent.

If you want to do this effectively, you need to start by doing keyword research. There are a lot of resources to use for keyword research, but a few that Epic’s digital team uses are Google’s AdWords Planner, Answer the Public, and Ahrefs’ keyword explorer tool. Focus your time on keywords and create content that will benefit your users. There are 5 main types of searches that businesses should be aware of as they try to target content toward specific customers:

search engine optimization utah

Search intent is a big part of content creation and through trial and error, you’ll find your sweet spot.

Content is also where you have the chance to really localize your business. Localizing your content and site (technical SEO techniques), helps Google know where you’re located, what services you offer in that location, and ultimately decides your place in the local pack for certain keywords.

digital marketing utah

Through unique, quality content, keyword research, and listening to customer demand, you can own your industry online.

We’re hoping your question “What is SEO?” is getting answered slowly..

SEO Pillar #3: Authority

The higher you rank for relevant keywords, the more potential clients and current customers will see you as an authority. Google ranked you well because of the authority they think you have and the industry knowledge portrayed on your website (along with all of the technical factors we talked about). To gain higher authority, you can do things like gain backlinks from high authority sites, social references from respected accounts, have a content marketing strategy, make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) listings are consistent through quality citations, and last but not least, do competitor analysis.

Doing a deep dive of your competitors’ site and rankings can help you find content gaps on your own site. We use a program called Screaming Frog to analyze their content. Pair that with Ahrefs’ content gap analysis and site explorer tool. This allows you to view your overlap areas with competitors, where you rank and they don’t, and what they rank for that you don’t. This is a great tool to help you create content that you know that your potential customers are interested in. The site explorer tool allows you to see their organic search, backlinks, referring domains, and paid search. Finding the gaps in their online marketing strategy can play to your benefit.

After you’ve put a strategy into place using the SEO techniques we’ve talked about above, measure your success. Did it work? Here are some KPI’s to look at on a monthly basis (if not more often):

• Traffic by channel
• Top entry pages
• Rankings
• Conversions from organic traffic
• Time on site
• Average page views
• Bounce rate

No one expects you to change your SEO techniques 500-600 per year, but adapting to the changes in search engine algorithms is essential to boosting your organic rankings, increasing your reputation online and to understand what is SEO. If you have any more questions, reach out to our SEO experts here at Epic Marketing.

Content Marketing Strategy Must-Haves for Your Website

Content marketing is its own kind of marketing beast. If it’s fed properly, it can be as majestic as a lion, king of the jungle and ready to engage. If it’s not given the proper digital diet and care, the content on your site lags like a sloth, unuseful and unseen at the bottom of Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages).

The good news is there are simple techniques that content marketers can use to help your website gain traction with search engines. These techniques provide the nutrition your site needs to continue to grow and thrive in the online jungle.

Here are five common components that you may want to incorporate into your content marketing strategy in order to help your site dominate search in your niche.

Too busy/lazy to read the whole thing? Here’s an infographic.

1. Call to Action

According to Optimizely.com, a call to action (or CTA) is a prompt of sorts that ask the viewer to act on a specific request. Some typical examples of CTAs include:

• Sign up now
• Buy now
• Learn more by clicking here
• Contact us today

The CTA is a common feature of the sales funnel and is one of the most important features. It increases sales and newsletter memberships. A simple call to action also allows you to extend the reach of your marketing efforts without having to do much.

The best CTAs are easy to read and stand out on the page according to HubSpot. Take, for example, DropBox’s bright blue sign-up button that stands out against its all-white background.

dropbox logo

Other effective calls to action include Panthera’s “Join the pride today,” which appeals to cat lovers; Quick Sprout’s “Are you doing your SEO wrong?”; and OkayCupid’s bright green “continue” button on the dark blue background.

2. Local Relevancy

When it comes to digital marketing, few techniques can help a local business owner out as much as having local SEO content on their website. As Yoast points out, most people who use local search terms aren’t looking to buy online. Instead, they need information that will direct them to a local brick-and-mortar store, where they can take the next step.

To attract these customers, you’re going to need to do a couple of things. First, you need to make sure that you’re using unique localized content for each page. Basically, this means that even if you have an office in two different cities for the same business, the content for each page won’t be carbon copies of each other.

You’ll also want to add your business’s contact information (name, address, phone number, email, etc.). Moz additionally recommends that you put a Google map on your site. All of this type of information helps search engines categorize your site correctly.

Additionally, you should be using keywords/ keyword phrases with a local flair. For example, if you’re a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas, make sure that your business’s website uses words like “Fort Worth dentists” or “dentists in Fort Worth” throughout.

3. Internal Links

The internal linking strategy that you use on your site is important. It shows search engines like Google the relevance of pages, the relationship between pages and the value of the pages.

There should be a lot of links to the most important topic-related pages, the ones that pass the most link value. From there, link to subpages about similar content. You want Google to see what pages have similar topics and information.

The anchor text used in linking is also important. Anchor text is the clickable text that your reader sees. It should contain keywords or relevant content to what it’s linked to. The content around your anchor text says more about relevancy to Google than the anchor itself, so be sure that you aren’t over-optimizing.

4. SEO Components

SEO elements like metadata, subheadings, alt text, and other components also help your website rank better by making it easier for search engines to categorize your content.

Metadata includes title tags and meta descriptions. Title tags indicate to search engines what your page is about. It’s currently recommended that title tags stay below 70 characters and include localization. Meta descriptions are written so the reader can understand what information your content is going to give them. These typically include a CTA and it’s recommended they stay below 140 characters.

Another important thing to have are headings. An H1 is the title of your page. It’s an HTML code that search engines crawl to understand what your page is about. It’s similar to a title tag, and oftentimes are the same. You should only have one H1 on each page so search engines don’t get confused about the topic of your page. Subheadings should be labeled as h2, h3 and so on.

For example, let’s say you’ve written a blog post about Alice in Wonderland. In this example, this is the H1 for your page. Some of the subheadings that might appear on your blog post would be “Alice Meets Hatter,” “Alice Cries a Pool of Tears,” “Alice Meets the Red Queen.” These subheadings give the reader a preview of what they’re going to read next. In this case, the content will be about the Mad Hatter, the pool of tears, and the Red Queen.

Finally, visual elements like photos and illustrations should have alt text that tells search engines what the photo is about. Going back to the Alice example, if you have a photo of Alice in her pool of tears, the alt text and file name should include that.

alice in her pool of tears

content marketing utah

5. Up-to-Date Content

Keeping the content on your website up-to-date is important because it signals to search engines that your website is current and you’re actively contributing to the web. Along with helping you build your reputation with search engines as an expert in your niche, it also helps keep your site at the top of the SERPs as long as the content is relevant and useful.

Typically, search engines favor new and relevant content over old and outdated content. And given the fact that millions of new pages of content are created daily, content updates are one of the simplest things you can do in your content marketing efforts to keep your site on top.

By incorporating calls to action, local relevancy, internal links, SEO components and up-to-date content you can make sure you have a majestic lion. It’s good to be king.

Content Marketing Strategy Infographic