7 Practical steps towards a digital marketing strategy – Part 1
With the myriad digital marketing options available, it’s easy to be overwhelmed when trying to formulate a digital marketing strategy for your business.
Since this feeling of confusion is a recurring theme for many, I’ve put together a basic outline of the workflow, describing how to bring together SEO, Social Media, Email, Content marketing etc., for an integrated digital marketing strategy.
Note: These are a general guidelines. Every business is unique and will benefit greatly from a customized (see end of post for how to get a customized analysis) rather than a formulaic approach. Nevertheless, the following tips will point you in the right direction.
Getting started with your digital marketing strategy
Once you have decided on your business objectives – be it lead generation, brand awareness, online sales, increase in targeted traffic etc., it is time to lay a firm foundation to anchor your upcoming digital marketing strategy on.
1) Keyword Research
You could be an artist selling your work online, a blogger trying to increase visibility, or a web developer putting together websites for clients. Regardless, one place you can start at, in your digital marketing efforts, is keyword research.
Even with the social media boom, a majority of people looking for products/services, still use search engines like Google to find, review and research their upcoming investment. It is important for any business to think about at least 10 keywords or phrases, that a customer is likely to use, to find goods and services sold by the business.
Fortunately, there are free tools like the ones below, to help you research keywords for your digital marketing strategy:
Google adwords Keyword tool – the starting point for many a SEO keyword research
Google trends – for more insights into keyword search volumes including regional search volumes
Google webmaster tools, Bing Webmaster tools– those who already have a website can find the search queries that brings them most traffic
- Conduct research on more than one search engine e.g.: Google & Bing
- Pay attention to global vs. local search volumes.
- Learn to identify keywords that provide best value. Due to demand, it may not be easy to rank for high search volume keywords. However, maybe other keywords are more relevant for your business
e.g.: ‘Personal Trainer’ may have a high search volume but ‘Personal Trainer Montreal’ maybe more relevant to your business. ‘Personal Trainer yoga in west island Montreal’ is a long tail keyword that may hold the most value in spite of being lower on search volume.
Tip: long tail keywords account for approx 70% of search traffic.
- Try to run an ad on Google, using a few keywords/phrases to see what brings you the most impressions and conversion (pre-defines goals like sales or inquiries) rates. Track about 500 or so clicks for sampling purposes.
- Spread your efforts too thin by trying to rank for each and every relevant keyword, try to identify a maximum of 15 to start with.
- Hesitate to review your list of keywords periodically for conversion rates and goals met (Google analytics is your friend)
- Assume you can immediately rank highly for high demand keywords. More on this later…
2) On page Search Engine Optimization
Incorporate the results of your keyword research into the text of your website. You should try include your identified keywords into the Menus, Titles, Descriptions, Content, Images ‘alt’ tags, e-commerce pages etc., of your site.
If you are using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress or Joomla, you’ll find quite a few add-ons to guide you along. One such free and easy-to-use plug-in for WordPress is the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast
- Look into submitting a sitemap with the major search engines
- Use a CMS or technology that allows you easy access to on page content and optimization
- Have a consistent content creation and publishing schedule. The more the quality content related to your business you generate, the more search engines and clients are likely to find your site relevant.
- Indiscriminately add keywords to try trick search engines. ‘Keyword stuffing’ can backfire on you. Aim for 3-5% keyword density (the number of times the keyword appears proportional to number of other words, on a page).
- Ignore Image ‘alt’ tags, like many rookies do. Add your target keywords to the images on your page.
- Ignore flow of your narrative in favor of your keyword strategy. Irrespective of search engines, if your content does not appeal to your readers, your site will lose relevance and value.
3) Off Page Search Engine Optimization
If all you had to do was optimize your own site for keywords and text, then sites with the most content and keywords would obviously rank higher all the time.
However, on page optimization now accounts less for ranking on search engines, than OFF page optimization, and rightfully so.
Search engine algorithms have evolved to factor how web pages link to each other, in order to decide how to rank them. The more ‘credible’ links you have to your site, from other websites in good standing, the higher your site could rank.
e.g.: A physics researcher publishes his ground breaking work on quantum mechanics. After peer review and validation of his results, a prestigious science publication backs up the research and links back to the original blog post. So do others in the field.
As a result of all these links, the blog post could gain in ranking for keywords like ‘Quantum Mechanics’
Makes sense right?
Obviously the best way to rank highly is to create content that others want to share, link and refer to. Chances are, your clients will find such content to be of value too.
- An analysis of your competitions standing for certain keywords and phrases. Sites like Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs etc., can show you the number and type of back links your competition has. One of the ways to rank higher is creating more, better (higher quality) back links to your site.
- Formulate a consistent content creation and publication schedule, around your target keywords (as much as possible).
- Focus on creating content that is of value to your target market. Content that informs, educates and entertains, does well.
- Consider using diverse media like video, images, animation, audio etc., to tell your stories.
- Write for other blogs or publications relevant to your niche, it can build valuable and relevant back links to your site. This is an era of collaborative business. Guest writing is also a good way to seed external blogs and publications with relevant anchor text that link to your site.
e.g.: If you previously identified ‘high quality camera lenses’ as a high value phrase during your keyword research, you can use these in your guest post to link back to your site. This the phrase will be ‘Anchor text’ to your site. Anchor texts are important for rankings.
- Engage in outreach programmes by commenting on relevant external sites and forums
- Be active on multiple social media platforms so you can expand your outreach and opportunities to create back links
- Look for opportunities to empower your customers to create content for you and to promote them on your online channels. E.g.: A customer video showing how well your product helped in his/her project
- Blindly trust in SEO services that advertise with promises of first place ranking on any credible search engine.
- Unwittingly depend on SEO services that rely on tactics like comment spamming. Similarly link building tactics that include indiscriminate mass submissions to online directories will bring you low-quality links that are considered negatively by recent search engine algorithm updates.
- Search engine algorithm updates also identify and penalize those who try to manipulate rankings using black hat tactics like purchasing links. E.g: Google vs. JC penny. It is better to invest in quality content and genuine outreach than in outdated and unethical SEO tactics that could get your site black listed.
- Indulge only in self-promotion. Look for opportunities to promote your customers and partners to build genuine, mutually beneficial relationships and an engaged online community.
Integrating your digital marketing efforts
As you may have noticed, your keyword research can influence both your on page and off page SEO. You may also have gained basic understanding of how Social media, content creation and online outreach/engagement, overlap with SEO methodologies and play an important part in your online visibility.
In part 2, I will elaborate on the next 4 practical steps to consider in launching an integrated digital marketing campaign;
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- Email marketing
- Paid advertisements.
Like in this post, I will list more tools/methods that can provide you with actionable insights into your digital marketing campaign and help you understand how all these tactics come together to grow your business.
In the meantime, contact us for a free customized digital marketing analysis for your business.