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How to Build Your Brand With Instagram: 11 Tried-and-True Strategies

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How to Build Your Brand With Instagram: 11 Tried-and-True Strategies

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Instagram has demonstrated tremendous growth, with its community reaching over 2 billion monthly users in 2021.

Despite its impressive reach, many business owners are still overlooking its marketing potential. As a result, they’re leaving high levels of engagement, brand awareness, and even profit on the table. But why?

In just 12 months, we used Instagram to gain 400,000 followers for Foundr — which translated to over 70,000 email subscribers. At the end of that period, we were averaging 30,000 call-to-action clicks per month from Instagram, and converting 30% of the users who landed on our website from our Instagram page into email subscribers.

We’ve seen it work, now it’s time for you to get in on the action. In this article, we’ll show you how to build your brand with Instagram. (If you’re looking for more marketing tools and resources for your new business, check out our comprehensive guide on how to start a business.)

1. Build an Instagram strategy.

We listed this as the first step because it is the most crucial step in building a brand on Instagram.

If you lack a clear strategy, you’ll end up with low-performing content and a scattered feed as you struggle to brainstorm new ideas.

To build your Instagram strategy, you’ll need to do four things:

    • Determine your goals.
    • Narrow down your target audience.
    • Research your competition.
    • Develop your content plan.

2. Experiment with the platform’s features.

Instagram is constantly evolving. In fact, every week, the Head of Instagram shares a video discussing new features and product updates on the platform.

In one of his latest videos, he announced that they were testing a subscription feature that would allow people to subscribe to their favorite creators and get access to exclusive Lives and Stories.

In addition to all the new features the social platform tests, there are a lot of established tools, such as Live Rooms, shoppable posts, scheduled Lives, and hashtags – just to name a few.

Our advice is to choose one to two features to test out every month. This will prevent you from getting overwhelmed and allow you to measure the impact of each feature.

For instance, hashtags can help you reach users who don’t follow you but could be interested in your products and services.

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Don’t know how many to use? Data from our latest Instagram Engagement Report suggests brands should only use one hashtag per post.

Having 8 or more hashtags reduced engagement by 70% compared to the optimal number of hashtags: one.

Another reason to test Instagram features is that it can help you reach more users. The platform has admitted to prioritizing accounts that use features the brand wants to highlight, such as Reels.

It’s a win all around: You stay ahead of the curve, discover which features work for you, and you can expand your reach in the process.

3. Jump on trends.

On social media, all it takes is one person’s video or sound to go viral for the rest of the world to join in with their own version.

Most of these trends are fun and harmless with a lifespan of about three weeks or less.

Why should you join in? Well, it’s an opportunity to connect with your audience in a creative and fun way. If you jump in as the trend is rising, it can also give you a quick boost in engagement and reach.

When considering joining any trend, there are two things you want to ask:

      • How can I bring this back to my business and/or industry to make it relatable to my audience?
      • What is the origin of this trend and could it go against our company values?

4. Invest in high-quality creative assets.

A great Instagram post can be boiled down to a formula and requires two elements: beautiful imagery and engaging text.

Beautiful Imagery

Choose images that tell a story or elicit emotion. This image we shared is not only compelling and interesting, but it also elicits emotion and therefore drives engagement from our followers.

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What this will look like for your business will depend on your industry, but think outside of posting images of your own products and services.

Posting about yourself repeatedly on social media is like being that person at a party who talks constantly about themselves. Also, beware of copyright issues.

If the image is not your own, request permission to use it or source non-attribution-required photos. (Check out this awesome list of royalty-free stock photos here.)

Engaging Copy

While you don’t have to add text to your Instagram posts, doing so packs a punch that just an image won’t provide.

the sweet spot for caption lengths to get the most engagement are in the 500-1,000 and 1,000-2,000 characters range

Think of your caption as an additional way to reel in your followers and keep them engaged. It’s a place to add context, share more information, ask a question, and invite comments.

5. Leverage strategic partnerships.

One of the biggest frustrations for most marketers delving into Instagram is that they don’t know how to build a following. After all, without a large number of followers, how can it possibly be an effective marketing channel?

There’s one tactic in particular that we used to quickly grow our Instagram following to 10,000 in just a couple of weeks: partnering with other Instagram accounts.

Are we talking about co-marketing or influencer marketing? Both because they lead to the same result: Expanding your reach.

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In addition, both require you to:

      • Conduct research to see if their audience aligns with yours.
      • Review your business goals and determine the KPIs for the partnership.
      • Collaborate on a content strategy.

For example. HubSpot recently teamed up with @ntwrkto celebrate Women’s History Month and promote the Grow Better mission.

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Now that Instagram allows the same post to be shared by two profiles, brands can co-market easily on the platform. Followers from both accounts will view the post, increasing each one’s reach and engagement.

6. Foster a community of highly engaged followers.

Engagement on Instagram comes in many forms, including followers sharing your content, liking and commenting, tagging their friends, and clicking on your calls to action. In this section, we’ll go over some of our tactics for fostering a community.

Post When Your Followers Will Actually See Your Content

Have you ever posted something to social media that you think will do really well, only to be met with crickets? Low likes, low shares, and the only comments you landed were from spambots.

While it’s easy to assume you miscalculated the potential of the post, it could just be that you posted the update at the wrong time.

The easiest way to know when your followers will be active on the app is to head over to your insights dashboard. If you have a business account (you should), you can learn valuable insights about your audience’s demographics and behavior on the app, including location, age, gender, and activity.

instagram insights dashboard showing follower activity

From there, you can schedule your posts based on your audience’s most active days and times.

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Invite the Engagement

A lot of brands will start Instagram accounts and become frustrated when people aren’t engaging with their content.

It seems so obvious and simple, but sometimes actually asking for your audience to engage makes all the difference. You can either include the action you want your followers to take as part of the image itself, or include it in the caption.

Take a look at this example from clothing brand Grass Fields.

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In their post, they share design images and ask their followers to name their favorites in the comments. Not only do they get real-time feedback on their product, but they also get great engagement on the post.

7. Post regularly.

When a user is scrolling on the app, you are competing for their attention along with millions of other brands.

Because of this, visibility is key. With so many ways to share content, from Reels to Stories to Lives, there are a lot of opportunities to reach your audience – each demanding a different level of effort and preparation.

This is good news for brands, especially small ones. While it’s recommended that you share on the platform every day, you can choose how you share based on your bandwidth and which methods are offering the beinstst ROI.

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For instance, an in-feed post likely requires more work than a Story since it will live on your profile.

With a Story, you can quickly engage your audience through a quick poll, a question, a reshared post knowing that it will disappear after 24 hours.

A good rule of thumb: Publish an in-feed post three to four times a week and share on Stories every day.

8. Review your data and optimize your approach.

If you’re already following all the tips we’ve outlined above and you’re still struggling to get meaningful traction on the app, the answer could be in your data.

Too often, brands get stuck in one approach and don’t review their data to see if it’s actually working.

Your Instagram Insights dashboard offers a wealth of information on how each post performed, including impressions, accounts reached, content interactions, and profile activity.

carousel posts overtook both single image and video posts as the most engaging type of post this year, with 62 likes and five comments as the norm.

For instance, say you’ve been posting images for the past month, then you post one video and it outperforms 60% of your previous posts. That’s an indication that your audience may respond better to video content. It’s worth experimenting with more videos.

If you don’t analyze your performance and look for optimization opportunities, there’s a good chance you’ll reach a plateau with no idea how to get out of it.

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9. Share your Instagram profile on other channels.

As you work to grow your following on Instagram, you can also drive traffic to your profile externally.

One way to entice users to follow your page on that platform is by hosting a giveaway or sharing exclusive content.

In addition, don’t be afraid to promote your Instagram on other social platforms. For instance, your website could include a section with your Instagram feed along with a call-to-action to follow your page. You can also include a link to your Instagram profile in your email marketing campaigns.

Wherever you have an online presence, be sure to share the link to your profile so that your audience knows where to find you.

10. Convert your followers into subscribers.

As you know, email marketing is crucial to a thriving business.

Instagram has been an important driver of email subscribers for Foundr, converting around 15,000–30,000 followers into subscribers each month, depending on our promotions.

If you’re familiar with Instagram’s limitations, you may be wondering how this is possible. After all, Instagram doesn’t allow links in photo descriptions.

That’s where a well-crafted bio comes into play.

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Many businesses find it difficult to get followers to click the links in their bios because the tendency is to overload bios with … well, junk. Break that pattern by writing your bio like you’d write a Tweet: short, useful, and packed with intention.

Here’s what we’ve chosen as our bio:

In your bio, you can include a URL that takes users to a link tree or a direct link to your subscription landing page.

Once you’ve put the systems into place, start driving followers to your bio by including calls-to-action in your content.

11. Optimize your bio.

When it comes to Instagram, many overlook the bios and focus on having great content. But your bio is a key point of discoverability so it’s essential you give it some love too.

Say someone is looking for something specific on the platform, with an optimized bio, you’ll make sure your profile shows up in the search results. This means including a business category, a short description of your brand, and a few keywords related to your brand or industry.

How many followers do you need to build a brand on Instagram?

The beauty of social media is that there’s no minimum requirement to get started. This means that you don’t need any followers to get started building your brand.

In fact, that’s how most brands start. Unless you’re launching a sub-brand or using your personal brand to promote your new brand, you will have to organically grow your followers by using the strategies outlined above.

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The key to success is consistency. Nothing will work if you do it for a month and give up. By remaining consistent, you increase your chances of reaching your audience and building a community.

Best Way to Build a Brand on Instagram

Instagram is a social platform with tremendous potential for businesses in almost any industry.

All it takes is a robust strategy, high-quality content, and the ability to pivot when needed.

It won’t happen overnight, but as long as you stay consistent, you’ll start to see your following grow and your community building.

This can have a significant impact on your reach, brand awareness, and ultimately the revenue of your company.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Dec 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How We Increased a Client’s Leads by 384% in Six Months by Focusing on One Topic Cluster [Case Study]

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How We Increased a Client’s Leads by 384% in Six Months by Focusing on One Topic Cluster [Case Study]

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Content marketing is an essential part of any SEO strategy. Without it, how are you going to attract customers looking for answers to their questions, and who are potentially in the market for your products or services?

At Tao Digital Marketing, we’ve recently generated some great results for one of our clients operating in the business financial space, The Insolvency Experts, mainly by focusing on just one “cluster topic” that was a huge money maker for them.

When looking at six month comparison stats (August 2021-January 2022 to February-July 2022), we’ve achieved the following:

  • Leads: 95 to 460 (384%)

  • Clicks: 4,503 to 23,013 (411%)

  • Impressions: 856,683 to 2,033,355 (137%)

  • Average position: 33.4 to 23.6 (increased almost 10 spots)

This was mostly achieved by absolutely hammering one topic area: company liquidation. In this case study, we’re going to explain how we did this step by step, so that hopefully you can generate similar results for your own business!

Objectives

If you really break it down, the objective of all SEO consultancy work is essentially the same: increase the number of leads for a business. This was our ultimate goal.

It’s not just as simple as that, though. We all know you can’t get to number one on Google overnight. So, like other SEO geeks out there, we tracked our successes through additional factors such as clicks, impressions, and average position, to show our efforts were worthwhile.

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In January this year (2022) our goals for the next six months were as follows:

  • Leads: Just over double from 95 to 200 (110%)

  • Clicks: 4,503 to 13,500 (around 200%)

  • Impressions: 856,683 to 1,700,000 (around 100%)

  • Average position: 33.4 to 25 (around eight spots)

Insolvency Experts’ audience is primarily directors of UK businesses that are going insolvent, closely followed by business owners looking for financial advice. The majority of Insolvency Expert’s cash flow comes from formal insolvency processes, such as liquidation, administration, and CVAs (Company Voluntary Agreements), so it was really important for us to push these areas.

Our strategy

1. Research “company liquidation” search volume and related queries

We first picked this client up in November 2020. Initially, our focus was on the basics: updating all the top level pages (such as service pages and guides) to make sure they fit the intention of the user and clearly explained the services that Insolvency Experts offer.

Researching what works well at present

One of the pages that our content team updated was their company liquidation guide. After updating, the page started to perform very well in the SERP, and ranked at position #4 for “company liquidation”. Clearly, this sort of content was working, and we wanted to hit it even more.

After pulling some research together, one of our strategists proposed the idea of a “Company Liquidation Content Hub”, as the company liquidation guide was ranking for a lot of long tail questions:

Screenshot showing ‘what’ queries in Google Search Console, such as ‘what is voluntary liquidation’ and ‘what happens to a director of a company in liquidation’

After cross referencing with the monthly search volume for these questions, she added some of these as H3s within the guide to see how they would perform. They resulted in so much more traffic that she decided they warranted their own individual guides, hence the idea for the hub. This would mean we weren’t putting all of our eggs into one basket, and that we could also internally link all of them together for users wanting to read more.

Users that are further down the marketing funnel don’t want to scroll down a huge guide to find the answer to their specific question, and we were certain that this would positively affect bounce rate. We therefore made sure that nine times out of 10, the H1 contained the question that was being answered.

Infographic explaining the sales funnel, starting with reach followed by act, convert and finally, engage

In order to further target those at the bottom of the marketing funnel who want to speak to someone quickly, we placed regular “Contact Us” CTAs throughout the content so that they don’t have to scroll right to the bottom of the page to get in touch with Insolvency Experts.

An example of a piece of content with a ‘Get Free Liquidation Advice’ CTA in the middle

Undertaking a competitor analysis

We also conducted a competitor analysis on this topic, focusing on three key players in the industry that were all ranking well for the phrase “company liquidation”. We found that the key competitors had the following:

Competitor A – 38 indexed articles on liquidation

Competitor B – 23 indexed articles on liquidation

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Competitor C – 47 indexed articles on liquidation

Insolvency Experts only had six indexed articles on liquidation at the time, so it was clear we needed to be on their level – this was an obvious content gap.

Pitching the content hub to the client

We suggested this idea to the client alongside a forecasting spreadsheet created by our founder, in order to justify the resource that was needed to push the client as high as possible in the rankings for company liquidation.

This spreadsheet broke down a huge list of keywords alongside monthly search volume, average click through rate for positions 1-10 on the SERP, domain authority of competitors who are currently ranking for these keywords, and average conversion rate on the site at the moment.

Table demonstrating projected revenue for Insolvency Experts depending on where they ranked on the SERP

This unique formula would then allow us to explain to the client that for X amount of work, we predict we can get you to position X in X timeframe, and this would result in approximately X annual revenue. After pitching this to the client alongside infographics and current performance statistics, they told us they loved our ideas and agreed to let us go ahead.

2. Plan the content after client approval

After the client gave us the go-ahead, the next step was to plan all of this work based on search volume, and therefore priority order.

It’s easy to get lost in all the data within SEO, so it was incredibly important for us to have a solid plan and timeline for these changes. Topics were going to range from How to Liquidate a Company with No Money through to Administration vs Liquidation.

How we communicate planned works to our clients

In order to orchestrate clear communication between ourselves and our clients, we create a Traffic Light Report, which is a live Google Sheets document detailing all work to be undertaken for the current and next quarter. This is split into sections for technical SEO, content, and digital PR/link building (the three pillars of SEO).

This includes justification for each change we make, as well as a link to any live changes or documents. It also details when this will be done and if the action is with us or the client. The tasks are coloured in green for live changes, yellow for action needed, orange for in progress, red for anything on hold and clear for not started.

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Here’s an example of what the content section of Insolvency Expert’s traffic light report looks like for their current quarter (July-September 2022):

Screenshot detailing content to be undertaken between July-September 2022, and justifications for each action

Scheduling the tasks

We then scheduled these topics for our various content writers to work on using our project management software, ClickUp. Within each task we placed a link to a skeleton document consisting of H1s, H2s, and H3s, as well as a title, meta description and keywords to include.

3. Write the content while implementing technical SEO

By this time it was around April 2022, and it was time for us to fully attack the content portion of our task list. Since then, we’ve written 18 pieces of content around company liquidation, and still have quite a few left to go before we consider this area of focus complete.

As part of our uploads, our technical SEO adds FAQ schema, which has helped Insolvency Experts showing up for several featured snippets (more details in results section).

Analyzing as we go along

Once we covered the big topics in the first couple of months of writing, we started to use Low Fruits to find smaller queries which are estimated at around 10 or fewer monthly searches. We’ve had a lot of success targeting lower search volume phrases, as these users seem to be more focused and lower down the sales funnel, so are more likely to be better engaged and convert better. A lot of the time they are pleased that you have answered their very niche question!

The below is a screenshot from a keyword analysis. We trawled through hundreds of keywords to pull out the ones relevant to the client.

A screenshot of queries from LowFruits.io featuring questions such as ‘can you still trade while in liquidation?’ and ‘can you trade out of insolvency?’

We then used Low Fruit’s Keyword Extraction and SERP Analysis tool to give us further details on a select few key terms.

These terms are shown as having a search volume of either 10, less than 10 or 0. Of course, we know that this is still hugely important to cover, and targeting these will bring in a very niche reader who is much more likely to convert due to the nature of the long-tail queries.

Finalizing the hub

Our plan is to finalize the hub this fall, and ensure that everything is internally linked. There will also be a menu change to make the addition of the hub very clear. See screenshots below for the current hub vs. how it will be presented once all content is ready (screenshot taken from their staging site in Kinsta, our hosting platform where we make design changes so that the client can approve them before they go live).

Current ‘hub’ in the menu:

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Screenshot of the current ‘liquidation’ drop down menu, featuring four pieces of content

How the hub will look once all content is complete:

Screenshot sharing newer version of liquidation hub menu from Kinsta staging site

As part of our content process within ClickUp, we have a recurring task to check a new URL in Google Search Console two weeks after upload. This allows us to see if we have the “Google Spike of Acceptance”, which is a sharp incline of impressions/traffic indicating that the content will do well, before it falls then slowly rises again.

A screenshot showing the ‘Google Spike of Acceptance’ in Google Search Console - a sharp spike of clicks and impressions after upload

If we don’t see this spike, we carry out multiple checks, including: Is it an orphan page? Are there any technical errors? Is it indexed? If it is not indexed, we push the URL through Index Me Now.

If the issue is just that the piece isn’t getting picked up, we will take another look at the content to see if there is something else we can do to improve it, e.g. tweak the H1 or expand the content.

4. Build links to the relevant pages and homepage

Once we’d uploaded the content, it was time to build links to the priority pages and homepage in order to build the domain authority.

We wanted to really hone in on generating links for our company liquidation page. The page has 36 backlinks, many of which were built through link building efforts. This was largely done by working with business site publications and creating natural anchor text that would help with certain keyword rankings.

Example of a guest blog titled ‘The Advantages of Business Liquidation’

As well as building links specifically to the company liquidation page, we also built links to the main URL in order to boost overall domain authority. This was done through answering queries through platforms such as HARO and Response Source, as well as working with the client to create relevant, time-specific thought leadership pieces. Here’s an example of a HARO request we responded to, the topic being “Recession-proofing tips for small businesses”:

Although the site’s domain authority tends to fluctuate between 30-33 depending on links lost and general algorithm updates, the links to specific pages have still resulted in an increase in rankings, detailed further below.

Results compared to objectives

Although we knew that our strategy was going to work well based on our experience with our other clients, we were very pleasantly surprised by the huge positive effect our work has made, which enabled us to smash the targets we set!

Leads

Goal: Increase from 95 to 200 (110%)

Result: Increased from 95 to 460 (384%)

As a result of creating incredibly useful, lengthy content and placing regular CTAs throughout the content, we managed to almost quadruple the amount of leads coming through to the client in the space of just six months.

In the six months before our liquidation project began, our Leads Dashboard within WhatConverts shows that Insolvency Experts had five liquidation leads via phone call and 10 leads via their contact form on a liquidation-focused page.

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In the six-month period since we’ve been working on the content hub, they have had 38 liquidation leads via phone call and 52 leads via contact form on a liquidation-focused page.

Result: 660% increase in phone call leads and 420% increase in contact form leads.

Previous six months:

Screenshot of the leads dashboard within What Converts showing that five leads were generated before work on the content hub began

Current:

Screenshot of the leads dashboard within What Converts showing that 38 leads were generated after work on the content hub began

Clicks

Goal: Increase from 4,503 to 13,500 (around 200%)

Result: Increased from 4,503 to 23,013 (411%)

By creating highly relevant content that matched the user’s search intent, we managed to almost quadruple the clicks over the space of six months, doubling our original 200% goal.

The site has received 29,400 clicks overall across the past 12 months. Below, you can see the huge spike in clicks and impressions from January onwards when we really started to focus on the liquidation content.

Screenshot showing spike in clicks and impressions once focus on ‘company liquidation’ began

Impressions

Goal: Increase from 856,683 to 1,700,000 (around 100%)

Result: Increased from 856,683 to 2,033,355 (137%)

Again, by creating highly relevant blogs, Google started to understand the relevancy of our content, so the number of impressions hugely increased. Along with the 137% increase above, over the past 12 months (August 2021-August 2022) the site has received 485,000 impressions for the query ‘liquidation’ alone.

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Google Search Console Graph detailing huge spike in impressions between August 2021-August 2022

The main company liquidation guide that we updated had a total of 732K impressions over the past 12 months, too, with a huge spike from February onwards, when we updated the guide.

Google Search Console Graph detailing huge spike in impressions in February for the updated company liquidation guide

Average position

Goal: Increase from 33.4 to 25 (around 8 spots)

Result: Increased from 33.4 to 23.6 (increased 10 spots)

This increase is due to the relevancy of our content and the amount of keywords each piece ranked for. As mentioned, the main company liquidation guide has worked incredibly well, ranking for 181 keywords, 67 of which are page one (37%). It now has the number one spot for the term “company liquidation”. See below for an example of queries the page is showing up for.

Google Search Console Screenshot sharing queries the company liquidation guide is appearing for, such as ‘members voluntary liquidation’, ‘liquidation of company’, ‘how long does liquidation take’ and more

The page also shows up for six featured snippets as a result of us implementing FAQ schema.

Screenshot showing the company liquidation guide appearing in a featured snippet query for ‘process of liquidation’

335 clicks and 93,663 impressions have come from the FAQ rich results alone.

Screenshot of Google Search Console showing ‘FAQ Rich Results’ within the search appearance column

In the six months before we updated the guide, it pulled in around 650 clicks and 227K impressions. In the six months following, it brought in around 1,180 clicks and 382K impressions. We’ve practically doubled clicks on one single guide.

As mentioned, this particular piece of content has 36 backlinks, and actually ranks ABOVE the official UK government company liquidation guide, which has a domain authority of 93 (about 60 higher than ours). Clearly, we’re meeting the searcher’s intent and giving them what they are looking for.

Screenshot of the SERP showing that Insolvency Experts’ company liquidation guide appears above official UK government advice.

In the six month period before we started work on liquidation, Insolvency Experts had an average click through rate of 0.5%. Over a six month period of us working with them, this more than doubled to 1.2%.

Another success worth noting is that 3 out of 6 of our latest articles have an average page view duration of between 9 and 10 minutes! The other half are averaging around 5 to 6 minutes, which is still very good. Clearly, users are wanting in-depth information on this topic.

The “What happens to a director of a company in liquidation?” guide, which went live in May, is now the fifth most clicked page on the site. when filtered on GSC by the term “liquidation”.

Overall, we’re extremely pleased with the results we generated, and so are Insolvency Experts — the company liquidation department is now inundated with queries and they are rushed off their feet!

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