The internet is a vast and confusing place.
Millions of people with millions of ideas, arguments and products all competing for the same clicks, likes and shares.
It’s easy to get lost there, and it’s even easier to go unnoticed.
But let’s be frank: cyberspace is also filled with inaccurate and misleading bits of junk advice.
This is particularly true when it comes to digital marketing and strategy.
Everyone thinks they know how to boost your web traffic by 500% – but very few of them actually do.
Still, it can be tough to sift out the good stuff from the bad, the amateurs from the professionals.
So we thought we would help you out.
Here’s our guide to differentiating a smart, astute digital marketing company from a truly sub-par one.
If you see any of see any of these seven, extremely common ‘tips’ for maximising your online presence on a company’s website, turn and run.
- Don’t know what they’re doing
- Have lifted their content from the nearest passing blog, or
- Have nothing useful, original, or insightful to offer you.
Tip 1. Streamline Your Site.
“Search engines such as Google love it when you use images that are simple and clear, and that relate directly to your content. It makes it more straightforward for them to identify what your website is and what it’s offering. And that, in turn, makes it much easier for people to find you.”
Many factors come into play in terms of determining your spot on the SERP.
Letting search engines know that the images on your site relate directly to the article is obviously a smart thing to do, but it’s just one of many things that you can do to search engine optimize your article.
With a limited budget, you should make sure that your agency is focused on the most important factors.
Why are we so sure that a variety of factors affect SEO? Watch this short clip from Google.
Tip 2. Blog All The Time.
“Your online presence needs to be consistent and up-to-date. You need to publish engaging material, regularly. Studies suggest that doubling or tripling the number of blogs you post every week could double or triple your traffic. Plus, it’s a huge turn-off to scroll through a site in June that hasn’t been updated since January.”
Blogging is inefficient if it isn’t done right.
What does “done right” mean?
It means the blog itself should scratch someone’s back.
The only reason people use search engines is to find the answer to a question.
If your blog is about the daily life of your company, you won’t get any traffic for it, because, in truth, nobody really cares about the daily life of your company.
Instead, your agency should research topics that people care about and provide you with a list of niche topics to write about.
What are “niche topics?”
They are topics that people are searching for right now, but that none of your competitors are writing about.
How do you find those topics?
Haha – you pay us! 😉
Seriously though, this process actually requires data from multiple search engine databanks, and then it needs an experienced digital marketer to convert it into useful information.
So it is much easier to outsource this task to a reputable agency.
Tip 3. Quality Content.
“Google can assess the ‘credibility’ of your content, so make sure that your material is accurate, concise and – above all – useful to your readers. Don’t write lengthy posts about irrelevant subjects, and only publish writing that is neatly structured and grammatically correct.”
How do you define quality?
What does “useful content” even mean?
When advice starts to sound subjective, you have to stop listening.
Tip 3 might not be wrong, but it’s hardly groundbreaking.
And we can do better.
Here’s how we usually define if an article is useful or not.
We drop the article into a web content discovery engine, like Stumbleupon, Digg, and see how people react to it.
If the reaction is great, and the like / impression ratio is good, then we start sharing the article to your followers and even send the article to influencers in your industry to help them come up with the next article they are going to publish.
If you watched the video we embedded above, you’ll know that Google cares a lot about content and website credibility.
Raising the credibility of your website simply means having other credible websites refer to your website.
Some agencies think that SEO is nothing more than a numbers game, so they ignore this fundamental concept and keep shoving stock content to readers.
But this is useless.
Under these circumstances, people won’t refer you to your site, nor will they share the article with their friends.
This might be OK for sub-par agencies, because it’s your money they’re wasting.
If our company wasn’t built, fundamentally, on a commitment to Do What’s Best For Our Clients, we would 100% do the same thing.
Trust us, we could produce 60 articles a day if we didn’t care about quality.
Tip 4. Long-Tail Keyword Variations.
“If you’re looking online for a new TV, do you Google the words ‘new TV’? Or do you use a longer and more precise formula along the lines of ‘Sony HD flatscreen Vancouver’? Most people use the latter. These are called ‘long-tail keywords’, if you include more of them in your website’s content, you will increase the likelihood of appearing on a more specific set of search rankings – and that will boost your chances of attracting traffic.”
Long-Tail Keywords generally have a low search volume and may not be the most effective way of boosting your traffic.
However, you have to use long-tail keywords throughout your articles.
This presents certain difficulties.
For example, here at the Coding Bull we once found a keyword with 50 clicks a month.
But Google isn’t stupid.
There’s a reason it has grown so rapidly throughout the last 15 years.
You can’t just load your content with LTKs.
Google added a readability factor to its ranking algorithm, with the aim of improving its user experience.
Google doesn’t want to lead anyone to a website that has an article with great SEO score but terrible writing.
Yoast helps all WordPress websites work out if Google likes the way an article is optimized.
You can read up on what they have discovered about this “readability factor”:
If your article doesn’t get a good readability score, no matter how insightful it is, Google simply categorises it as a bad article, which makes sense.
You wouldn’t expect an essay with a strong argument but weak grammar to score an A, right?
Tip 5. Backlinks.
“Backlinks are the links that you provide on your website to other websites. They are useful because they help Google accurately categorise your company. If you run a small organic grocery store, you might want to ‘backlink’ to the website of a local food producer. Google will interpret that data, bundle it together with other relevant search info, and then use it to direct people in your area who would like to purchase locally sourced produce from a small organic grocery store to your site.”
Oh my god, please be extra careful when it comes to backlinks.
You don’t want to be screwed like one of our previous clients:
You need to know if your agency implements a black hat link building strategy or a white hat one.
Don’t know these two hat colors mean?
If not, read this blog:
Backlinks have to be chosen carefully, not least because inappropriate and/or irrelevant sites may have end-up lowering your rankings.
Tip 6. Utilise Google Data.
“Use the resources Google has to offer. ‘Google Analytics’ shows you when your site’s traffic has spiked and enables you to identify which words and themes have caught the internet’s attention, and there’s even a handy Google guide – ‘Steps to a Google-friendly site’ – that will help you optimise your site for Google’s use.”
Any experienced agency would know that Google Analytics don’t provide the most accurate organic search data for your website.
Have a look at this photo. This is from one of our clients:
Out of 4617 clicks, the Google Analytics tool couldn’t tell identify nearly half of the keywords that people use to reach our client’s website.
Accurate data isn’t cheap, but it is beneficial for smart decision-making.
Google Analytics data is the way it is because it is free.
You should always consult other marketing data sources (such as SEMRUSH – $250 CAD per month) in order to fully analyze your SEO game.
Many agencies don’t care about the accuracy of the data because they simply tell you SEO is a long term game, so if you don’t see results right now, don’t worry, give it 6 to 8 months.
Because we do a lot of data mining before we commission our copywriters, we have a good sense of how an article will rank in Google searches.
As a result, 30% of our clients are surprised by how much more confident we are than our competitors when it comes to SEO results.
Tip 7. Be Responsive.
“It’s important that prospective customers can engage with you and ask questions about your products and services. Once you’ve started that conversation, your customers are much more likely to share your posts on social media, drawing more potential customers towards your site.”
Bam! This is officially the dumbest thing we’ve have ever heard.
If a website is built right, it should keep your sales rep from having to answer any product or service related questions.
The design process should take account of how your customer will interact with the website, so we strategically place the content at the right places to the maximize conversion rate.
Hence, this advice is simply a classic quick fix for a website agency that doesn’t communicate with its digital marketer.
However, it is a waste of resources to fix a problem that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
This happens because it is rare to find an agency with strengths in branding, website building and digital marketing, so business owners like to hire multiple contractors to do the work.
The problem, however, is that these different actors will never talk to each other – let alone revise their work to complement the work from another agency to maximize your investment in digital marketing – because they’re not paid to.
Strictly speaking, there’s nothing really bad about any of the advice here.
If you applied it all steadily and consistently over many months, it might help you grow your website’s traffic.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that for any digital marketing worth its salt, these factoids are so obvious, so run-of-the-mill, so completely unremarkable, that they wouldn’t even think about trying to pass them off as insider knowledge.
So, keep your eyes peeled.
If someone looking to secure your business cites any or all of this junk advice as evidence of their digital expertise, you can immediately identify it as evidence of the exact opposite.