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How to Target Millennials Through Paid Ads

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Millennials are something of a mythical bunch in society. Much is said about their behaviors and preferences, yet many of the stories seem to contradict. Even narrowing down what age group millennials represent is challenging, and many people have differing views.

This confusing picture makes it challenging to target millennials through paid ads, but don’t let it put you off. Let’s look at who millennials are and how you can use that data to create targeted ads that will convince them to convert.

When Were Millennials Born?

Millennials are defined as “people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.” The Pew Research Center further defines the group as those born between 1981 and 1996, though that time period has shifted over time.

Millennials are now the most populous group in the US, making up 21.97 percent of the population, and this trend is set to continue well into the 2050s.

This makes understanding millennials crucial to creating paid ads that actually drive revenue.

What Makes Millennials Unique?

One of the key things that make millennials unique is their relationship with technology.

Millennials were born into a world where modern technology hadn’t yet taken hold in daily life like it has today. However, they did grow up in an age where technology was transforming the way we live, so they aren’t new to it.

Generation X adapted to digital technology as adults, and Generation Z have never known life without the smartphone or super-fast internet, but millennials have a foot in both worlds.

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The rapid shift to a digital world means millennials’ lives have followed a different path to those generations before and after them. This has influenced them in many different ways.

Of course, it’s hard to ascribe common characteristics to such a diverse group, but some traits seem to be common in this generation, including:

  • connected
  • tech-savvy
  • curious
  • in need of instant gratification
  • collaborative
  • seek transparency
  • crave authenticity
  • care about diversity and sustainability

Keep in mind; this is just a rough picture of millennials. There are still individual people with unique politics, education levels, likes, and dislikes. However, these insights need to inform your paid ad strategy.

Why You Should Target Millennials Through Paid Ads

If you successfully target millennials through paid ads, you’ll engage 21.97 percent of the US population and 2 billion people worldwide. While millennials are more receptive to certain products, this is a huge market for virtually any business.

However, millennials pose several challenges to marketers. First, it is a large, diverse group, and secondly, they’re so accustomed to advertising that some think they’ve become immune to it.

Nobody is immune to advertising, and millennials click paid ads every day. The trick is finding the right strategy.

It starts with understanding your target audience. If your product doesn’t solve the problems millennials have or fit their view of the world, then this group shouldn’t be your primary target.

For example, businesses that provide traditional weddings and razor blade manufacturers have a notoriously difficult time advertising to millennials. This isn’t because this generation is immune to advertising, it’s because the products aren’t as closely aligned to the people’s wants and needs (think of the proliferation of beards in society today versus 20 years ago).

Instead, it’s businesses in travel, tech, fast food, and other sectors where the products match millennials’ specific pain points that are finding success.

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If millennials are a key part of your target audience, then paid advertising is an effective option, because it allows you to reach these people where they’re “hanging out.” Ninety percent of millennials are on Facebook, making it exceptionally easy to reach these people with your message.

A key part of marketing is getting your message seen, and millennials give you ample chances to do this.

6 Strategies for Targeting Millennials Through Paid Ads

To successfully target millennials through paid ads, you have to remember this group is very tech-savvy, and they’ve grown up with online advertising.

They see through the cheap gimmicks and aren’t coerced into clicking for no reason. Therefore, you should focus on offering genuine value. The strategies you use to target millennials through paid ads must add to the experience, rather than just serving your own purposes.

Here’s a few ways to successfully target millennials with paid ads.

1. Run Ads on the Social Media Platforms Millennials Use the Most

The good thing about millennials is they are easy to reach. A huge percentage are active on social media, but to make the most of this, we need to understand what platforms millennials are using.

In the past, this was pretty easy. People had Facebook, Twitter, and maybe Instagram. There weren’t many other popular options. Today there are dozens of social media platforms, with new ones popping up every day.

Let’s look at what percentage of millennials use some of the most popular platforms weekly:

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  • Facebook: 87 percent
  • Twitter: 42 percent
  • Instagram: 71 percent
  • Snapchat: 52 percent
  • YouTube: 86 percent
  • Pinterest: 42 percent

Additionally, LinkedIn’s audience is 38 percent millennials aside from these platforms, and 19 percent of millennials are using TikTok.

There are plenty of opportunities out there to target millennials through paid ads. The ability to reach this group isn’t difficult; the tricky part is getting your medium and message right.

These platforms rely on marketing revenues though, so they’re constantly innovating and finding new ways for advertisers to engage their users. For example, Pinterest Story Pins, or Instagram filters let you offer the experience millennials are looking for.

2. Create Paid Ads That Appeal to Millennial Values

Many studies point to millennials closely held values, and three that are commonly referenced are personal responsibility, diversity, and sustainability.

It’s no surprise, given that millennials make up such a large percentage of the population that these values are being highlighted more in advertising. We often see ads that reference issues that are close to millennials’ hearts, such as climate change and equality.

If your brand is active in these issues, then this is something you should be highlighting in your advertising.

Take Allbirds shoes. they entered the highly-saturated shoe market in 2015, where they faced huge competition. Through a highly-effective advertising campaign that played on their shoes’ sustainable credentials, sales have exploded, and today the company is worth $1.4 billion.

How to target millennials through paid ads - allbirds facebook ad

There’s no crazy marketing strategy, it’s just clear messaging that hits on people’s (millennial’s) values.

3. Be Upfront and Honest in Your Paid Ads Targeting Millennials

Millennials grew up in the digital age, and for the most part, they’ve seen all the tricks. They’re used to gimmicky advertising tricks to get their attention, and they learned to filter these out.

What cuts through the noise with millennials (and this is closely related to their values) is being honest and upfront with your advertising. This group knows if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, so there’s no point in over-promising and under-delivering.

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This ties in with creating paid ads that appeal to millennials’ values; if you’re not serious about sustainability, or equality, or whatever it might be, then millennials are more likely to hold you to account.

This group grew up in a world of big (often faceless) corporations, but thanks to technology, they have a chance to see behind the branding and see the values behind a company. This can be a great opportunity for your advertising, but it’s got to be done in a clear, honest way.

For example, Allbirds doesn’t just use convenient slogans about sustainability in their paid ads. It’s a theme that’s central to its entire customer journey, and it delivers on its promises.

how to target millennials through paid ads - allbirds website

4. Create Funny Paid Ads to Target Millennials

Fifty-five percent of 13 to 35-year-olds send memes every week, and 30 percent do so daily. That’s a lot of memes!

Humor plays a huge role in millennial culture, and it’s something you can use in your paid ads. Funny ads are nothing new; just take a look back at some of the classic TV ads, but for some brands keep things very straightlaced online.

When used in content and ads, memes can have many benefits:

  • They allow you to be creative.
  • It’s an easy way to show your brand’s personality.
  • They increase engagement.
  • They’re easy to use.
  • They are shareable.

People enjoy humor, and there’s certainly a place for it when you target millennials through paid ads. Just make sure your ads reflect the values of your business and resonate with your target audience. Otherwise, it can backfire.

5. Take Your Cue From Millennial Trends

The boozy brunch, avocado toast, and emojis are just some of the reported millennial trends in recent years. When 21.97 percent of the population enthusiastically gets behind something, you can bet it’s a factor to target with your marketing.

If you keep seeing something crop up in popular culture, then check it on Google Trends and see if it’s worth factoring into your marketing.

how to target millennials through paid ads - google trends

Remember that millennials are cynical consumers of advertising, so if it’s a reach to link your products to the trend, it’s probably best to leave it alone rather than look like you’re just trying too hard.

6. Ask the Millennials in Your Office for Help

One of the best ways to learn about your target audience is simply to ask them questions. Millennials now make up the largest proportion of the workforce, so there are bound to be some in your office.

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Obviously, your co-workers have jobs to do, but it won’t hurt to run a few ideas by them. Millennials are a very diverse group, so they won’t be able to speak for everyone, but they might be able to give you some ideas about what works and what doesn’t with this generation.

Examples of Paid Ads Targeting Millennials

Brands are always trying to reach millennials through paid advertising, so there are lots of examples, some of which have had tremendous success, and others that are best forgotten. Let’s take a look at the best and the worst of the bunch.

The Good

Here are a few ads that nailed millennial marketing.

NFL and McDonald’s: Bad Lip Reading

This is a great example of brands capitalizing on millennial trends in a positive way.

In 2013, a series of YouTube videos found huge success by taking video footage of normal events and overlaying them with “bad lip reading.” One of the most successful videos was “The NFL: A Bad Lip Reading,” which has over 72 million views.

Rather than take offense at the light-hearted fun, the NFL embraced the trend and teamed up with McDonald’s to create their own version.

how to target millennials through paid ads - bad lip reading

Airbnb: Belong Anywhere

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and was valued at over $100 billion when it went public in 2020. Part of its success has been a product that is closely aligned with the values of millennials, and its advertising continues to capitalize on this.

Messages such as “Let’s Keep Travelling Forward,” and “We Accept” fit perfectly with the ideals millennials respond to, and this has helped bring the company great success.

The Bad

What does it look like when millennial marketing goes wrong? Here are a few ads that missed the mark.

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McDonald’s: Fish Fillet

It was widely accepted that McDonald’s missed the mark with its fish fillet ad because it’s seen as emotional manipulation.

Emotion is a big part of any ad, but it’s got to be done in the right way. This ad just seems like McDonald’s is using a child’s grief to sell its sandwiches, and that’s something millennials will see through.

Pepsi: Kendall Jenner Protest Ad

Millennials tend to feel a personal responsibility to make a positive change in the world, but brands that exploit that drive will suffer. For many people, this Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner did just that.

Aired during a time of heightened tension around America, the ad seemed to trivialize the cause of the protests and struck the wrong chord with millennials.

Conclusion

Millennials are a diverse, tech-savvy group that were brought up with advertising, so it’s no surprise that it takes some fine-tuning to get your targeting right.

When you take the time to understand millennials, discover what values they hold dear, the platforms they engage with, and the types of content they respond to, then you will find you can successfully advertise to this group.

For some businesses, millennials simply won’t be part of their target market, but with this group making up over a fifth of the population, the majority of businesses are going to have to learn how to target them through paid ads.

Have you had success advertising to millennials?

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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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