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13 Affordable Digital Marketing Tactics That Work

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13 Affordable Digital Marketing Tactics That Work

The web is one of the best places to go if you want to promote a product or service but are on a limited marketing budget.

The two main reasons are a) it offers low-cost or even free traffic and b) there are plenty of occasions to be promoted through other people’s websites and social profiles. Here are 13 ideas on how to tap into that potential.

1. Create blog posts that rank and convert 

Blog posts that rank and convert are ones that simultaneously:

  • Rank high in search engines for things people search online – This is the part that gives you free traffic. 
  • Feature your product/service as the solution – This is the part where you can turn website visitors into customers. 

For example, our complete guide on keyword research was designed to explain how to solve the title problem using Ahrefs. And because it ranks high for relevant terms like “how to do keyword research” and “keyword analysis in seo,” it brings us free traffic. 

Estimated monthly organic traffic for a guide on keyword research

To get free organic traffic to your website, you need a topic with search traffic potential. You can:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and type words or phrases relevant to your niche. You can also choose a country where you want to rank and one of 10 search engines. 
  2. Go to the Matching terms report.
  3. Get keyword ideas along with their Traffic Potential (TP).
Finding topics with search potential

If the list is too long to manage, you can use filters like Keyword Difficulty (KD) or keywords with informational intent (“how,” “what,” “guide,” etc.). 

Using filters to find keywords that mention any of the given words

Then prioritize your keywords based on the ability to naturally feature your product. Here’s a scoring system you can use: 

Business potential scoring system

2. Rank videos in search 

SEO and video marketing form a powerful combo—you get one of the most engaging content types with a free traffic source. 

Videos from YouTube ranking on the first page of Google
Videos from YouTube ranking on the first page of Google.

For this tactic, you need video topic ideas that get search traffic from Google. 

  1. Open Site Explorer and type “youtube.com”
  2. Go to the Organic keywords report; there, you’ll get keywords where videos from YouTube rank on the SERPs (search engine results pages) 
  3. Use filters to find videos relevant to your website 
Finding keywords containing the word "guitar" that YouTube ranks

PRO TIP

If you find a topic that you already rank for, that’s even better. You can “double dip” on search demand if you manage to rank the video too.

"Double dipping" on search demand—article and video on first page

3. Keep your email deliverability healthy 

These days, one of the best ways to convince someone to join your newsletter is to promise them something like this: 

How to convince someone to join your newsletter

And the reason is obvious: Email has got a bad rep from all of those decades of spamming and pushy sales techniques.

Marketers don’t want to send unwelcome emails too. Because this will hurt their “email sender” reputation and lead to lower email deliverability. They may even get banned from their email marketing program. 

To stay on the safe (and effective) side of email marketing, marketers should keep tabs on these metrics:

  • Number of emails sent
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Spam complaints 
  • Email bounce 
  • Engagement metrics (low open rates, replies, forwards, clicks)

That’s why some of the best (yet most counterintuitive) pieces of advice on email marketing are to:

  1. Send fewer emails – Send only relevant stuff you promised to send as often as you promised. Very occasional exceptions are OK. Rarely does anyone go above sending one email per week. 
  2. Delete inactive email addresses from your list – Even though you worked hard to get those emails, you risk low engagement rates and someone eventually unsubscribing.

Guest posting is when you publish on other websites. This gives you a couple of benefits:

  • You get a boost to your website traffic.
  • You expose your brand to a new audience. 
  • The earned link contributes to your backlink profile and can boost your SEO. 
  • You can make new connections in the industry.
Guest post on AWS website

The other side of the deal gets free quality content for their readers. So you don’t need to feel awkward when pitching your articles. 

You can find guest blogging opportunities just by Googling them. You can use search operators to get more relevant results, e.g., (blockchain OR crypto) AND (“guest post” OR “guest article”)

Finding guest post opportunities with Google search operators

It’s easier with Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar and any Ahrefs premium plan. You can then vet your opportunities as you Google them with the help of SEO metrics like Domain Rating (DR) or organic website traffic.

Finding guest post opportunities with Google search operators and Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

5. Pitch to podcasts and newsletters

Podcasts and newsletters are natural places for businesses to be featured in. 

  • Podcasts often interview business owners, managers, and other professionals. 
  • Newsletters don’t shy away from featuring good articles coming from businesses.
  • Some of them directly promote tried and tested products. 
Ahrefs' CMO featured on the "Chase Potential" podcast

You can find podcasts and newsletters to pitch the same way you’ll look for guest posting opportunities (see section above).

Additionally, there’s a possibility someone already made a list of places where you send your pitch, so simply try Googling things like “best [your niche] podcasts”.

Keyword "best health podcasts" brings out Google carousel rich result on top of the regular blue links

Being featured on podcasts and newsletters usually won’t cost you anything. But oftentimes, there’s a paid option too. 

So depending on your budget, you can sponsor a couple of episodes, and you can do it repeatedly in different places.

We’ve found out that’s an effective tactic for brand awareness that pays off in the long run—you can read about our experiences with podcast advertising in this article.  

6. Ask bloggers and magazines to review your product

Chances are, you will find plenty of opportunities to get your product reviewed.

  • People look for reviews of brands they are interested in or even trust (still, they need someone else’s opinion before they buy).
  • People look for the best in a given category. Regardless of the brand.
  • People even ask Google the same questions as they would a real person. 
Different ways of looking for smartphone reviews

Aside from simply searching for similar product reviews on Google or YouTube, a good idea is to check where your competitors got their reviews. One reason is that reviewing similar products is a chance for the reviewer to demonstrate neutrality. 

You can find opportunities that fit the bill by analyzing backlinks: 

  1. Plug in your competitor’s URL in Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Backlinks report
  3. Set the “Word or phrase” filter to Ref. page URL: Contains and type in “review”
  4. Hit “Apply”
  5. On the results page, change the mode to “One link per domain” to get a list of websites featuring your competitor’s products
Looking for links from reviews in Site Explorer

Going forward, the crucial part of the process is the pitch itself. Here are a few tips for sending your review pitch. You can:

  • Send personalized messages. 
  • Tell a bit about your company.
  • Send requests via the provided contact channel. It’s a sign that you’ve read the review guidelines and respect the reviewers. 
  • Explain who your product is for and why the reviewer’s audience will be interested. 
  • Provide a full media pack with pictures, videos, and tech specs (if applicable). What may also be effective is offering a live online demo.
  • Show where your product has already been featured. You can also share testimonials from your customers. 

7. Answer journalist requests to get free press

Have you ever wondered where journalists get all those expert quotes? 

Some of them are from services like HARO, where journalists simply post requests for quotes. 

Sample journalist request via HARO
Sample journalist request via HARO.

This is your chance to earn a high DR link and even generate awareness for your business for free. 

Example of a high DR link

All you need to do is sign up for a service like HARO, SourceBottle, or Terkel. Then provide your best answer ASAP.

While using these services, you’ll likely receive a lot of emails. So a nice little trick here is to use email filters.

Using filters in Gmail to get more relevant requests from HARO

Learn more: Digital PR: The Beginner’s Guide to Making Your Brand Unmissable 

8. Leverage user-generated content on social media

Social media is awkward for brands. Brands are like that new guy at a party who is told, “Just blend in, and you’ll be fine.” Maybe except for LinkedIn, for obvious reasons. 

Sure, brands can run ads and perform customer service. But the main challenge with social media is having something to say on a consistent, day-to-day basis. 

One of the best solutions for that is to feature user-generated content (UGC) from customers. 

  • It’s a natural type of content for all kinds of social marketing platforms. Because social media is supposed to be about people, not businesses.
  • You can post it regularly.
  • It’s an effective, non-intrusive form of promotion.
  • It amplifies word of mouth because it provides something to talk about. Authors will tell their friends they’ve been featured by a cool brand. Other users will engage in conversations with the authors.

Here are some examples. Notice they all feature the product one way or another:

A lot of that content will happen organically. Someone will post a photo or video tagging your brand. You can then repost it or ask that person for permission to post on your channel. This way, you may even come across future brand ambassadors. 

But you can also encourage UGC: 

  • Run a contest – It can be a regular contest where the author of the best picture wins (likes from other users can be treated as votes). 
  • Launch an official hashtag 
  • Offer something in return – Examples: a freebie, a discount code, etc.
GoPro's photo contest as a way to attract UGC

The general rule here is that your social media content has to have a human face. So here are some alternative options. 

Option 1. Show the people behind the company and their work. This works great for craftsmen, artisans, and artists. 

Option 2. Give your social media account a personality. Don’t be just another boring company.

9. Try affiliate marketing networks for merchants 

In affiliate marketing, the merchant is the company or person that offers something for sale. And as you probably already know, in this type of marketing, you let other people (affiliates) promote your product for a share of profits from the sales they helped to generate.

Affiliate marketing needs very little upfront investment. Most of the costs are performance-based (you pay only if you make money), so you can start practically risk-free. 

One of the options is to create your own program. But that may need quite a lot of work and an established brand to attract affiliates. 

So probably the easiest way to get started with this type of marketing is to join a network like ClickBank, ShareASale, or GiddyUp. They provide the tech and affiliates as well. 

You simply set up your profile, upload your product info, and you’re ready to get discovered by influencers in your niche or select the ones you’ll like to work with (depending on what your network offers).

Then affiliates are ready to include your product in their content (if they think it’s worth recommending). For example, here’s an article on setting up a home recording studio by Musician on a Mission. 

Example of affiliate marketing in a blog post
The Focusrite 2i2 is an affiliate link. It’s a great product, by the way.

According to Site Explorer, this article gets an estimated 10K organic visits (and this is probably not the only traffic source to this piece). There’s definitely potential in affiliate marketing. 

Overview of article on home recording studio setups, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

10. Create link bait content 

Not to be confused with clickbait content. Link bait is content designed to attract backlinks. It’s something so valuable and interesting that bloggers and journalists want to link to it.

Example: This report on side hustles in America from Zapier. It’s a 637-word research that earned 2K backlinks from 910 domains, including some very high DR ones. 

Referring domains report showing domains with high DR

There are two main benefits of link bait content: 

  1. The earned backlinks will help the link bait content rank higher on the SERPs (since backlinks are a key ranking factor).
  2. You can distribute some of the link authority from your link bait to other pages and help them rank higher on the SERPs too.

The easiest way to identify link-worthy content is to see which pages attract the most backlinks on renowned websites in your niche.

  1. Enter your competitor’s domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Best by links report
  3. Look for patterns like repeating types of content; you can also look for well-performing content you can recreate
Best by links report showing six pages with the most referring domains

You can dig even deeper and learn which parts of the content attracted the most backlinks. 

  1. Enter the Anchors report
  2. Look at the anchor that got the most referring domains
Anchors report showing most often occurring anchors in linking pages

Learn more: What Is Link Bait? 7 Successful Examples 

11. Repurpose your content

Repurposing content allows you to get more mileage from your content by sharing it on other marketing channels and in other formats. It’s a bit like franchising your content; a book becomes a movie, then a video game, then a series on Netflix, and so on. 

To illustrate, our blog post on SEO checklists gets an estimated 7.2K visits from Google each month. 

Estimated monthly organic traffic for a post on SEO checklists

But we didn’t stop there. We repurposed the article into a video that gave us an additional 211K views on YouTube (not to mention likes and comments). 

Views on YouTube for a video on SEO checklists

The list of possible content “transformations” is quite long: 

  • Blog posts into Twitter threads
  • Blog posts into videos (and vice versa) 
  • Individual videos put together into a complete course
  • Ebooks into email drip campaigns 
  • Ebook excerpts into guest posts 

And so on. 

We’ve got a full guide on content repurposing, where you can get some inspiration for repurposing your content. 

PRO TIP

When repurposing your text content into video, you can prioritize topics that get your videos search traffic from Google. Here’s how to find them:

  1. Go to Site Explorer and enter your domain
  2. Go to the Content Gap report 
  3. In the first two input fields, put your domain and youtube.com; then leave the last input blank
  4. Hit “Show keywords”
  5. On the result page, set the filters to two intersections; this way, result page will show keywords where you and YouTube both rank 
  6. Feel free to use the filters to get a more refined list, e.g., word count from 2, volume from 500, keywords include “seo”
Setting filters in Content Gap report

To illustrate, the Content Gap report shows us we can potentially create a video on “how does seo work.”

Content Gap showing a keyword where YouTube ranks #9 and Ahrefs #34

12. Amplify your content 

Making great content is only part of the job. You need to promote it too.

It sounds like obvious advice. But lack of promotion (or distribution channels, for that matter) is a common problem in content marketing. Marketers tend to end up with great content nobody knows about. 

Amplifying content effectively relies on catering to the platform you use for promotion (i.e., sharing the type of content that people expect to see). 

For example, let’s say you’ve created a paid online course on photography. Here are the steps you can take to amplify that course. You can:

  1. Create a series of SEO blog posts that link to the course so that you can get free traffic from Google. For instance, “best material backgrounds” or “car photography.”
  2. Write a guest post for a photography magazine where you mention your course. 
  3. Use Instagram and/or Pinterest to show samples of great pictures taken using techniques explained in the course. 
  4. Use TikTok to show highlights of the course, i.e., sharing small, digestible tips that can be demonstrated in a few seconds. 
  5. Reinvest some of the course revenue to buy ads on Pinterest. It’s still quite cheap to buy ads there (compared to other big social media platforms), and it’s great for visual content.
  6. Share the beginner part of your course for free on YouTube. You can then amplify that with YouTube ads. Check out the thread below for a cool pro tip for YouTube.

13. Create a lead magnet 

A lead magnet offers something valuable to a website visitor in exchange for their contact information. When the visitor provides that information, they become a lead.

Some popular examples of lead magnets are free trials, online tools, templates, checklists, ebooks, free consultations, courses, discounts… you get the idea.

Example of lead magnet—customer support hiring calculator

Having a lead’s contact information allows you to contact them directly and “nurture” them to become customers or brand fans. It’s a staple tactic for products or services where customers need more time to research their options and make a decision. 

Example free legal consultation form on a law firm's website
Example: free legal consultation form on a law firm’s website.

The first thing you need to consider is finding a topic for your lead magnet. This can be either something that shows organic traffic potential or otherwise resonates with your audience. 

A noteworthy benefit of the first type is that it allows you to get free traffic from search engines. You can find ideas for that with a keyword research tool by adding some common lead magnet types in the filters.

Using filters in the Matching terms report to find topics for lead magnets

To learn more about researching topics for lead magnets and how to drive traffic to them, check out 17 Lead Magnet Examples + Tips on Topics & Traffic Sources

Final thoughts 

Some of the best places to look for digital marketing tactics that work are other websites, especially your competitors. Here are a couple of competitive intelligence tools for the job:

  • Ahrefs – For analyzing any website’s SEO, content marketing, and Google Ads strategies
  • MailCharts – For email marketing analysis 
  • Brand24 – For social media analysis
  • Visualping – For monitoring website changes

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter



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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Olga Strel

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Google’s Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

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Google's Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, Gary Illyes, Analyst at Google, revealed that the search engine takes a binary approach when assessing a website’s lastmod signal from sitemaps.

The revelation came as Illyes encouraged website owners to upgrade to WordPress 6.5, which now natively supports the lastmod element in sitemaps.

When Mark Williams-Cook asked if Google has a “reputation system” to gauge how much to trust a site’s reported lastmod dates, Illyes stated, “It’s binary: we either trust it or we don’t.”

No Shades Of Gray For Lastmod

The lastmod tag indicates the date of the most recent significant update to a webpage, helping search engines prioritize crawling and indexing.

Illyes’ response suggests Google doesn’t factor in a website’s history or gradually build trust in the lastmod values being reported.

Google either accepts the lastmod dates provided in a site’s sitemap as accurate, or it disregards them.

This binary approach reinforces the need to implement the lastmod tag correctly and only specify dates when making meaningful changes.

Illyes commends the WordPress developer community for their work on version 6.5, which automatically populates the lastmod field without extra configuration.

Accurate Lastmod Essential For Crawl Prioritization

While convenient for WordPress users, the native lastmod support is only beneficial if Google trusts you’re using it correctly.

Inaccurate lastmod tags could lead to Google ignoring the signal when scheduling crawls.

With Illyes confirming Google’s stance, it shows there’s no room for error when using this tag.

Why SEJ Cares

Understanding how Google acts on lastmod can help ensure Google displays new publish dates in search results when you update your content.

It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if the dates are deemed untrustworthy, the signal could be disregarded sitewide.

With the information revealed by Illyes, you can ensure your implementation follows best practices to the letter.


Featured Image: Danishch/Shutterstock

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

There’s one thing standing between you and several days of SEO, socializing, and Singaporean sunshine: your boss (and their Q4 budget 😅).

But don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Here are 5 arguments (and an example message) you can use to persuade your boss to send you to Ahrefs Evolve.

About Ahrefs Evolve

  • 2 days in sunny Singapore (Oct 24–25)
  • 500 digital marketing enthusiasts
  • 18 top speakers from around the world

Learn more and buy tickets.

SEO is changing at a breakneck pace. Between AI Overviews, Google’s rolling update schedule, their huge API leak, and all the documents released during their antitrust trial, it’s hard to keep up. What works in SEO today?

You could watch a YouTube video or two, maybe even attend an hour-long webinar. Or, much more effective: you could spend two full days learning from a panel of 18 international SEO experts, discussing your takeaways live with other attendees.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve speakers from around the world.

Our world-class speakers are tackling the hardest problems and best opportunities in SEO today. The talk agenda covers topics like:

  • Responding to AI Overviews: Amanda King will teach you how to respond to AI Overviews, Google Gemini, and other AI search functions.
  • Surviving (and thriving) Google’s algo updates: Lily Ray will talk through Google’s recent updates, and share data-driven recommendations for what’s working in search today.
  • Planning for the future of SEO: Bernard Huang will talk through the failures of AI content and the path to better results.

(And attendees will get video recordings of each session, so you can share the knowledge with your teammates too.)

View the full talk agenda here.

There’s no substitute for meeting with influencers, peers, and partners in real life. 

Conferences create serendipity: chance encounters and conversations that can have a huge positive impact on you and your business. By way of example, these are some of the real benefits that have come my way from attending conferences:

  • Conversations that lead to new customers for our business,
  • Invitations to speak at events,
  • New business partnerships and co-marketing opportunities, and
  • Meeting people that we went on to hire.

There’s a “halo” effect that lingers long after the event is over: the people you meet will remember you for longer, think more highly of you, and be more likely to help you out, should you ask.

(And let’s not forget: there’s a lot of information, particularly in SEO, that only gets shared in person.)

The “international” part of Evolve matters too. Evolve is a different crowd to your local run-of-the-mill conference. It’s a chance to meet with people from markets you wouldn’t normally meet—from Australia to Indonesia and beyond.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve attendees by home country.

If you’re an Ahrefs customer (thank you!), you’ll learn tons of tips, tricks and workflow improvements from attending Evolve. You’ll have opportunities to:

  • Attend talks from the Ahrefs team, showcasing advanced features and strategies that you can use in your own business.
  • Pick our brains at the Ahrefs booth, where we’ll offer informal 1:1 coaching sessions and previews of up-coming releases (like our new content optimization tool 🤫).
  • Join dedicated Ahrefs training workshops, hosted by the Ahrefs team and Ahrefs power users (tickets for these workshops will sold separately).

As a manager myself, there are two questions I need answered when approving expenses:

  • Is this a reasonable cost?
  • Will we see a return on this investment?

To answer those questions: early bird tickets for Evolve start at $570. For context, “super early bird” tickets for MozCon (another popular SEO conference) this year were almost twice as much: $999.

There’s a lot included in the ticket price too:

  • World-class international speakers,
  • 5-star hotel venue,
  • 5-star hotel food (two tea breaks with snacks & lunch),
  • Networking afterparty, and
  • Full talk recordings to later share with your team.

SEO is a crucial growth channel for most businesses. If you can improve your company’s SEO performance after attending Evolve (and we think you will), you’ll very easily see a positive return on the investment.

Traveling to tropical Singapore (and eating tons of satay) is great for you, but it’s also great for your team. Attending Evolve is a chance to break with routine, reignite your passion for marketing, and come back to your job reinvigorated.

This would be true for any international conference, but it goes double for Singapore. It’s a truly unique place: an ultra-safe, high-tech city that brings together dozens of different cultures.

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Little India in Singapore

You’ll discover different beliefs, working practices, and ways of business—and if you’re anything like me, come back a richer, wiser person for the experience.

If you’re nervous about pitching your boss on attending Evolve, remember: the worst that can happen is a polite “not this time”, and you’ll find yourself in the same position you are now.

So here goes: take this message template, tweak it to your liking, and send it to your boss over email or Slack… and I’ll see you in Singapore 😉

Email template

Hi [your boss’ name],

Our SEO tool provider, Ahrefs, is holding an SEO and digital marketing conference in Singapore in October. I’d like to attend, and I think it’s in the company’s interest:

  • The talks will help us respond to all the changes happening in SEO today. I’m particularly interested in the talks about AI and recent Google updates. 
  • I can network with my peers. I can discover what’s working at other companies, and explore opportunities for partnerships and co-marketing.
  • I can learn how we can use Ahrefs better across the organization.
  • I’ll come back reinvigorated with new ideas and motivation, and I can share my top takeaways and talk recordings with my team after the event.

Early bird tickets are $570. Given how important SEO is to the growth of our business, I think we’ll easily see a return from the spend.

Can we set up time to chat in more detail? Thanks!

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