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6 Strategic Marketing Goals and How to Measure Them

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6 Strategic Marketing Goals and How to Measure Them

Marketing goals can be defined as broad, long-term outcomes that a company wants to achieve via marketing efforts.

Setting clear marketing goals is important, as this can effectively focus your team on a shared vision. But the thing is, you need to choose your goals carefully. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of time on things that bring poor results or even undermine your past efforts.

In this article, we’ve curated a short list of strategic goals that are worth considering in any marketing strategy, along with some ideas on how you can measure them:

  1. Improve product satisfaction
  2. Grow organic traffic
  3. Generate leads
  4. Establish thought leadership
  5. Increase brand awareness
  6. Increase revenue

1. Improve product satisfaction

Any successful marketing needs to be founded on a good product that satisfies existing market demand. Otherwise, none of your marketing efforts will “stick.” Meaning, no matter how you promote the product, you will fail to convince your audience and build sustainable growth.

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Conversely, a product that users are willing to use, buy, and recommend to others will reinforce all marketing activities. In fact, a lot of successful companies have grown solely or mainly via word-of-mouth recommendations sparked by the remarkable value of their products (e.g., Whatsapp, Tesla).

To set yourself on the right path of improving product satisfaction, you need to achieve product-market fit.

Once you know you’re in the right market with the right kind of product, you can start delighting your users with useful features and a great user experience. Keep in mind that even seemingly simple product improvements can go a long way.

How to measure

You can measure product satisfaction in two ways: ask your users what they think or gather relevant data from product usage.

Surveys

In surveys, you should ask all kinds of questions that help you understand how well your product satisfies users’ needs. You can also use tried and tested methods like the popular and uncomplicated Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey.

This survey comprises just one question: “How likely are you to recommend [product] to a friend or colleague?” The answers are given on a 10-point scale.

Scale from 1 to 10. Less than 6 are detractors. 7 and 8 are passives. 9 and 10 are promoters

You can find multiple tools online that will help you distribute the survey and calculate your NPS (e.g., Hotjar, Survicate).

Product engagement

If you’re running an online service, consider measuring product satisfaction with product analysis tools (also called product intelligence tools) like Mixpanel or Amplitude. They work by gathering data from your users’ in-app behavior and allowing you to analyze the data to gain insights from it.

For example, by measuring how often your users reach out for particular features inside your product, you can see whether those features bring value or not. Then, you can discard unused features based on real data or conduct experiments (e.g., tweaking your features or making them more visible).

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User retention

User retention (or cohort retention) is a metric used for measuring the ability to keep customers over a specified period of time.

If your customers go as quickly as they come, this is usually a huge red flag (with some exceptions, e.g., e‑commerce). If you’re not operating in a niche where a short usage period is natural, low user retention is a sign that:

  1. Users don’t find what you’ve promised in your marketing communication.
  2. Your product delivers the promise, but your competitors do a better job.

In these scenarios, it’s likely you’re wasting money and brand equity by providing something people are not willing to stay with. So you need to improve your product fast.

That said, even if you have the best product on the market, the so-called customer churn (i.e., when customers stop using your product) is a natural phenomenon to some extent. The key here is to determine whether you have a healthy retention rate.

Organic traffic, also called organic search traffic, refers to the visitors who come to your website via the non-paid search results from a search engine (e.g., Google, DuckDuckGo).

To take advantage of the organic traffic potential from search engines, you need to publish content based on search demand and the business value of a particular topic (the so-called SEO content).

That way, whenever someone searches for a solution via a search engine, they will find your content and, consequently, your brand and product.

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Here are the top reasons why you should join the majority of marketers who invest in creating SEO content to grow organic traffic:

  • SEO content can influence and even drive the entire marketing funnel.
  • Such content brings almost free, continuous traffic.
  • Compounding effects. A blog post written years ago can get you traffic now and into the future as long as you rank high.
  • How much your organic traffic grows depends more on content quality and creativity rather than budget.
  • The flywheel effect: Content marketing done right can be a self-reinforcing mechanism that helps you get results more easily as you go along.

Let me just add that this is not some hypothesis. At Ahrefs, we’ve been systematically developing search engine optimized articles and videos, and the articles alone bring us approximately 384K organic visits every month.

Overview data of Ahrefs blog

How to measure

We can recommend two types of tools here.

Firstly, measuring organic traffic is best done via Google Search Console (GSC). This is a free tool that gives the most accurate organic traffic data. GSC will show you the number of clicks coming from Google Search, Discover, or News. It’ll also show you the number of times your content has been displayed by Google (i.e., impressions):

GSC search results data of Ahrefs blog

While GSC does a great job of providing these simple metrics, it lacks features and data for comprehensive organic traffic analysis.

This brings us to other types of tools: SEO tools that fill the gaps of GSC, such as the free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

For example, while GSC will show you up to 1K keywords and up to 1K backlinks, Ahrefs Webmaster Tools will show you that and many more data points without any limits.

AWT shows dropdown list of no. of keywords grouped by countries

To sum up, you can use GSC for measuring organic traffic and other more advanced SEO tools for SEO analysis and finding growth opportunities.

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To put things simply, the more leads you generate, the more revenue you make. This is because every lead is a potential customer. However, not every lead will become a customer, so you need a lot more leads to get your desired number of customers.

A lead is anyone who has expressed interest in a product or service by sharing their contact information (e.g., email address) with a company in exchange for some kind of value (e.g., free ebook, free tool, weekly email newsletter with educational materials).

More often than not, potential customers are not instantly ready to buy. This is especially when they have little or no acquaintance with your brand.

When there is a lot of competition in the market, your potential customers are likely to do some research and compare you to others before they make a purchase. Moreover, if your product is complex and/or expensive, people need to make sure the product will solve their problem or will be worth their money and effort.

This is where lead generation comes in. When a person gives you their contact information, you gain an opportunity to contact them directly in the future. You can use that opportunity to nurture your relationship with them to a point where they are ready to buy.

To generate leads, you will need three things:

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  1. Traffic – In other words, visitors coming through your marketing channels.
  2. Offer – The value you are going to provide in exchange for contact information (e.g., free ebook).
  3. Lead capture – A form where people can submit their contact information (e.g., name, phone number, email address).
Infographic of lead generation process: traffic, offer, lead capture

How to measure

How you measure your lead generation depends on your offer. This can be the number of newsletter subscribers, trial sign-ups, app downloads, or whatever else you are planning to provide.

The simplest way to measure incoming leads is via the same tool you use to capture your leads. For example, our email capture form uses Mailchimp’s functionality. It’s the same app we use to monitor the number of leads and send a weekly newsletter to people who signed up.

Email lead capture form

You can also aggregate your data in a business intelligence software like Google Data Studio or Klipfolio. Then view the data next to other important metrics for quick insights, such as the conversion rate from leads to customers.

4. Establish thought leadership

In marketing, thought leadership is demonstrating your brand has expertise in its area of business. Effective thought leadership creates a belief among your target audience that your solutions are the best.

Through effective thought leadership, you become an authority in your industry—that status reinforces every message you send out. And so, in the classic conundrum of whether the messenger is more important than the message, you can actually have both.

The more sophisticated and technically oriented the market, the more thought leadership counts. A good example of this is the electric car market. Tesla is an undisputed thought leader in this area. That’s why it surpasses sales of other established car brands with larger advertising budgets. In fact, Tesla is famous for its anti-advertising attitude.

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How to measure

Measuring your progress in becoming a thought leader depends on where you share your ideas. Here, we’ll show examples of two effective channels and their respective metrics.

Quality backlinks

A backlink is a link on one website that links to another website. Backlinks act as votes. Even Google thinks so, treating backlinks as one of the most important ranking factors.

And so if you publish content that gets this kind of vote, you’re on the right track of becoming an authority in your industry. This is because people are digitally voting for what you say, resulting in direct traffic from those pages and higher search engine rankings.

To illustrate, one of the widely discussed subjects in the SEO community is building links through outreach. Our CMO, Tim Soulo, has joined the conversation with an article called I Just Deleted Your Outreach Email. And NO, I Don’t Feel Sorry, which explains how to do effective outreach that doesn’t feel like spam.

That article alone got over 2K backlinks (aka digital votes).

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Backlinks report of Tim's "outreach" blog post

And just a quick reminder—sharing ideas through such articles brings customers:

Registration form reply from customer who said they found Ahrefs via Tim's content

Speaking engagements

Speaking engagements come in different shapes and sizes. These can be either big industry events like BrightonSEO (with some 4K attendees) or more cozy settings with smaller audiences like podcast interviews.

What they all have in common is getting attention from industry professionals and even industry authorities. So the more you speak at those events, the more likely you are to reach people with your ideas (and your name) and become an authority in your niche.

With speaking engagements, you can put your name on the map, attract followers to your social media channels, and communicate with these followers directly later on.

Once you have more budget, you can even up the ante by creating your own conference, especially if you want to popularize an original concept. That’s what Hubspot has done with the term “inbound marketing” and its INBOUND event.

Speaker on stage at Hubspot's INBOUND event

5. Increase brand awareness

A brand is a central concept in marketing, and it’s been this way for decades. This is because brands have powerful effects on consumers:

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  • A brand makes recognizing the product as easy as remembering the word or the shape of a logo.
  • A brand evokes associations with positive experiences.
  • A brand allows for rationalizing the cost of the product.

Building brand awareness increases the odds of consumers associating your brand or product with a specific need.

Just think about it. Starbucks is one of the most valuable brands in the world. For millions of people, Starbucks is the synonym of coffee. So essentially, it isn’t an exaggeration to say its business relies on a mental association between a logo and a need for coffee. That’s how powerful brand awareness is.

And the amazing part is, however absurd this may sound, the Starbucks logo has nothing to do with coffee. Starbucks has even dropped the word “coffee” from the logo.

Pics of Starbucks logos from 1971 to 2011

How to measure

Measuring brand awareness is the domain of specialized research companies. A common method for measuring it is through surveys. However, this option has its flaws: It’s expensive and time-consuming.

Alternatively, you can gauge the overall trend of your brand awareness yourself using online tools. The only caveat is this method will give more accurate estimations for online businesses than the predominantly offline ones.

You can also use a keyword research tool to discover the search volume of your brand name. The reason is this: If your brand awareness increases, more people will want to buy from you and look up your brand on the web.

For example, if you use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, you can just plug in your brand name and instantly get:

  • The number of estimated monthly searches for a specific country (and globally).
  • A graph of monthly searches plotted in time that offers quick insights into trends.
Keywords Explorer overview of they keyword "Twilio"

You can also easily measure your performance against your competitors’ (technically, this kind of comparison is called measuring the share of voice).

List of keywords and other data for Twilio and its competitors

If you’re not an Ahrefs user or just need a point of reference without the search volume data, you can use Google Trends to gauge interest in branded queries.

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So far, we’ve discussed rather indirect ways to increase revenue. Now, we’ll discuss three ideas for increasing revenue directly.

The first way is revising your pricing. If you have solid reasons for thinking you’re not charging enough for the value you provide, you can try to increase prices. Even a price increase of a few percent can result in significant returns if multiplied by hundreds or even thousands of new customers. Word of advice: A good practice here is to keep the original price for any existing customers.

A seemingly counterintuitive way (also quite risky) to increase your profits is through lowering prices (e.g., penetration pricing, loss leader strategy). This can lower the barrier enough for the arrival of new customers (you can even win your competitors’ customers this way).

Recommended reading: How to Increase SaaS Prices the Right (and Profitable) Way

The second way is adding new services and/or products. For instance, a dog food brand decides to expand its assortment by offering dog accessories like toys, dog care products, or beddings. It can even create special product bundles and call it “new dog owner essentials.”

The third way is cross-selling and upselling. Cross-selling means suggesting other products in addition to the chosen product. Upselling suggests a more expensive version of the chosen product.

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Let’s learn from the best here. When you’re shopping for a new iMac, you will first see a standard price for the product:

Standard price and other details for iMac

Then you will be offered an array of upsell options:

Pic of iMac with upgrade options for memory and storage next to it

Followed by an even wider array of cross-selling suggestions:

Other add-ons for the iMac, e.g., AppleCare

How to measure

The easiest way to measure revenue is to measure the number and the value of sales. But a lot of companies also need to measure recurring revenue from subscriptions, the revenue growth rate, and the value of each new customer.

Recurring revenue

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) measures how much you’re earning each month through recurring contracts (i.e., subscriptions).

MRR = number of subscribers on a monthly plan * average revenue per user

For annual plans, you have to divide the plan price by 12 and then multiply by the number of customers on that plan.

For example: If you have 700 customers on a $9 per month plan and 100 customers on a $97 yearly plan, your MRR will be:

(700 x $9) + ($97/12 x 100) = $7,108 MRR

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If you want to track annual recurring revenue (ARR) as well, all you need to do is multiply MRR by 12.

In our example, that is:

$7,108*12 = $85,296 ARR

Revenue growth rate

Revenue growth rate measures the month-over-month percentage increase in revenue. This metric is an indicator of how quickly your company is growing.

You can measure the revenue growth rate for any period you need: weeks, months, or years.

Let’s say you want to measure the annual growth rate compared to the previous year. The formula for that will be:

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(revenue year 2 — revenue year 1) / revenue year 1 x 100 = revenue growth rate (%)

In our example, that is:

($170,592 — $85,296) / $85,296 x 100 = 100% revenue growth rate

Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the total worth of a customer to a business over the whole period of their relationship. CLV can also be used as a predictive metric of how much revenue each new customer will bring on average.

There are multiple models of calculating CLV. Without going into too much detail about each alternative, here’s a fairly simple formula to calculate CLV:

customer lifetime value = average order value x purchase frequency rate x average customer lifetime

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Where:

  • Average order value is your total revenue divided by the number of purchases.
  • Purchase frequency rate is the total number of purchases divided by the number of customers.
  • Average customer lifetime is the number of days between the first and last purchase date, divided by 365.

Final thoughts

Marketing goals, by nature, are usually grand and ambitious. Hence, they can be quite intimidating.

But no worries. You can overcome that problem by setting achievable goals and breaking your overarching goal into smaller bits. You can see how it’s done in practice using SEO goals as an example in the below article:

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.




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Google Announces A New Carousel Rich Result

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Google Announces A New Carousel Rich Result

Google announced a new carousel rich result that can be used for local businesses, products, and events which will show a scrolling horizontal carousel displaying all of the items in the list. It’s very flexible and can even be used to create a top things to do in a city list that combines hotels, restaurants, and events. This new feature is in beta, which means it’s being tested.

The new carousel rich result is for displaying lists in a carousel format. According to the announcement the rich results is limited to the following types:

“LocalBusiness and its subtypes, for example:
– Restaurant
– Hotel
– VacationRental

Product

Event”

An example of subtypes is Lodgings, which is a subset of LocalBusiness.

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Here is the Schema.org hierarchical structure that shows the LodgingBusiness type as being a subset of the LocalBusiness type.

  • Thing > Organization > LocalBusiness > LodgingBusiness
  • Thing > Place > LocalBusiness > LodgingBusiness

ItemList Structured Data

The carousel displays “tiles” that contain information from the webpage that’s about the price, ratings and images. The order of what’s in the ItemList structured data is the order that they will be displayed in the carousel.

Publishers must use the ItemList structured data in order to become eligible for the new rich result

All information in the ItemList structured data must be on the webpage. Just like any other structured data, you can’t stuff the structured data with information that is not visible on the webpage itself.

There are two important rules when using this structured data:

  1. The ItemList type must be the top level container for the structured data.
  2. All the URLs of in the list must point to different webpages on the same domain.

The part about the ItemList being the top level container means that the structured data cannot be merged together with another structured data where the top-level container is something other than ItemList.

For example, the structured data must begin like this:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "https://schema.org",
"@type": "ItemList",
"itemListElement": [
{
"@type": "ListItem",
"position": 1,

Mix And Match

A useful quality of this new carousel rich result is that publishers can mix and match the different entities as long as they’re within the eligible structured data types.

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Eligible Structured Data Types

  • LocalBusiness and its subtypes
  • Product
  • Event

Google’s announcement explains how to mix and match the different structured data types:

“You can mix and match different types of entities (for example, hotels, restaurants), if needed for your scenario. For example, if you have a page that has both local events and local businesses.”

Here is an example of a ListItem structured data that can be used in a webpage about Things To Do In Paris.

The following structured data is for two events and a local business (the Eiffel Tower):

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "https://schema.org",
"@type": "ItemList",
"itemListElement": [
{
"@type": "ListItem",
"position": 1,
"item": {
"@type": "Event",
"name": "Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise",
"image": [
"https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg",
"https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg",
"https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg"
],
"offers": {
"@type": "Offer",
"price": 45.00,
"priceCurrency": "EUR"
},
"aggregateRating": {
"@type": "AggregateRating",
"ratingValue": 4.2,
"reviewCount": 690
},
"url": "https://www.example.com/event-location1"
}
},
{
"@type": "ListItem",
"position": 2,
"item": {
"@type": "LocalBusiness",
"name": "Notre-Dame Cathedral",
"image": [
"https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg",
"https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg",
"https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg"
],
"priceRange": "$",
"aggregateRating": {
"@type": "AggregateRating",
"ratingValue": 4.8,
"reviewCount": 4220
},
"url": "https://www.example.com/localbusiness-location"
}
},
{
"@type": "ListItem",
"position": 3,
"item": {
"@type": "Event",
"name": "Eiffel Tower With Host Summit Tour",
"image": [
"https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg",
"https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg",
"https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg"
],
"offers": {
"@type": "Offer",
"price": 59.00,
"priceCurrency": "EUR"
},
"aggregateRating": {
"@type": "AggregateRating",
"ratingValue": 4.9,
"reviewCount": 652
},
"url": "https://www.example.com/event-location2"
}
}
]
}
</script>

Be As Specific As Possible

Google’s guidelines recommends being as specific as possible but that if there isn’t a structured data type that closely matches with the type of business then it’s okay to use the more generic LocalBusiness structured data type.

“Depending on your scenario, you may choose the best type to use. For example, if you have a list of hotels and vacation rentals on your page, use both Hotel and VacationRental types. While it’s ideal to use the type that’s closest to your scenario, you can choose to use a more generic type (for example, LocalBusiness).”

Can Be Used For Products

A super interesting use case for this structured data is for displaying a list of products in a carousel rich result.

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The structured data for that begins as a ItemList structured data type like this:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "https://schema.org",
"@type": "ItemList",
"itemListElement": [
{
"@type": "ListItem",
"position": 1,
"item": {
"@type": "Product",

The structured data can list images, ratings, reviewCount, and currency just like any other product listing, but doing it like this will make the webpage eligible for the carousel rich results.

Google has a list of recommended recommended properties that can be used with the Products version, such as offers, offers.highPrice, and offers.lowPrice.

Good For Local Businesses and Merchants

This new structured data is a good opportunity for local businesses and publishers that list events, restaurants and lodgings to get in on a new kind of rich result.

Using this structured data doesn’t guarantee that it will display as a rich result, it only makes it eligible for it.

This new feature is in beta, meaning that it’s a test.

Read the new developer page for this new rich result type:

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Structured data carousels (beta)

Featured Image by Shutterstock/RYO Alexandre

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A Complete Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

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A Complete Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

A mobile strategy is critical to your business presence, considering the saturation of mobile devices.

This is where app store optimization (ASO) comes into play.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What is app store optimization?
  • How does app store optimization work?
  • How do you optimize for Google Play & Apple App Store?

Whether you are new to app store optimization or simply keen to refine your approach to ASO, this post shares practical insights that are proven to maximize app store success.

What Is App Store Optimization?

Downloads, usage, and in-app spending continue to rise, but many users prefer to use a select few apps more consistently.

Discoverability has never been harder, but the rewards of locking in loyal users are bigger than ever – so maximizing visibility in app stores is crucial.

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App store optimization (ASO) describes the process of optimizing the listing pages for your mobile app in app stores like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

You may come across alternative phrases like “app store marketing” or “mobile app SEO,” but they all refer to the same thing.

The goal is to maximize the visibility (and downloads) of your app for relevant searches – basically, SEO for your mobile app rather than your website.

In many ways, the optimization process for ASO is very similar to SEO; in others, not so much.

Ultimately, ASO aims to maximize app installs while product development works on monetization, engagement, retention, etc.

An effective app store optimization strategy keeps new users coming in while your development team (hopefully) keeps existing ones active and spending.

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With the right retention rates, app store optimization acquires the new users you need to drive meaningful growth.

The goal of ASO is nearly always app downloads, but supplemental goals can include items such as:

  • Increased brand exposure.
  • Positive app reviews and ratings.
  • More frequent and increased volumes of app reviews.
  • Audience engagement.
  • Additional marketing channel diversification.

How Does App Store Optimization Work?

If you’re new to app store optimization, it might help to think of it as SEO for your mobile app.

Except, rather than optimizing a website to show in search engines, you’re optimizing your mobile app listings for the relevant app stores.

In this sense, you could argue ASO is more like optimizing a Google Business Profile to show in Maps and local results.

The other key difference is you’ve got two major mobile app stores to optimize for: Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

These aren’t the only two app stores worth considering, especially if you’re developing apps for other devices (TVs, games consoles, etc.), but they are the biggest – by far.

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According to Statista insights from Q3 2022, here are the top three app stores based on the number of available apps:

  • Google Play: 3.55 million.
  • Apple App Store: 1.64 million.
  • Amazon Appstore: 0.48 million.

As a result, most ASO guides focus on optimizing app listings for Google Play and Apple App Store. Aside from being the top two platforms, the optimization process is a little different for each.

This is mostly due to each app store having its own algorithm – much like different search engines.

In practice, most app store algorithms are more alike than they are different. So, the basic principles of app store optimization apply to all of them. However, some stores may use the odd ranking signal that others don’t.

To keep this guide simple, we’ll start by running through the most common ranking signals for app stores, in general.

Then, we’ll take a closer look at Google Play and Apple App Store to see how they’re different.

Organic Optimization: Your ASO Foundation

The key ingredient missing from many ASO marketing delivery approaches is organic search optimization and integration of app stores within the broader organic marketing mix.

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There is more overlap between ASO and SEO than direct competition between the two.

The integration of these areas, and the application of consistent focus on ASO, can support numerous search marketing gains.

You may be surprised to discover that many of the traditional search engine optimization tactics that work for search engine performance, such as Google and Bing, can also be directly applied to ASO.

Examples of this include:

  • App name, title, and URL optimization.
  • Keyword research for ASO.
  • App rating and reviews generation and handling.
  • Deep linking within mobile apps.
  • Indexation of Apps in Google search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Click-through rate (CTR) optimization.

The biggest marketing mistake, however, when it comes to integrating SEO and ASO is overlooking the role of the website in driving volumes of referral visits directly to your store page and app downloads section.

Your website should be seen as the driving force behind leading people throughout the information-seeking and buying funnel from your main online entity (your website) through to an engaged, ready-to-buy/download audience (your app store).

As content levels are limited within the app stores themselves, the more you can leverage your website content to increase app awareness and discovery to build external app authority and visibility, the greater the value, traffic, and downloads your app will receive.

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The Most Important App Store Ranking Factors

Like search engines, app stores don’t reveal the details of their algorithms to the public.

That being said, the following seven ranking factors are key, functional components of all major app stores:

  • App name or title.
  • App descriptions (including keywords).
  • Installs.
  • Engagement.
  • In-app purchases and events.
  • User reviews.
  • Updates.

You can break these ranking factors into three categories: discovery, conversion, and validation.

Discovery signals help app stores connect your app with relevant searches. This includes your app name /title, description, keywords, and other contextual signals.

Conversion signals tell app stores that your listing compels users to download your app – a strong indicator that your listing should show for more relevant searches.

Finally, you’ve got validation signals (engagement, in-app purchases/events, reviews, reports/flags, etc.). These help app stores determine whether users get a positive experience after installing your app.

Positive validation signals (strong engagement, positive reviews, etc.) are an even stronger indicator that app stores should show your app to similar users.

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What Do Users Want From An App Store Listing?

Optimizing your app listing for visibility is one thing; getting users to actually download your app is something else entirely.

The catch-22 here is that installs directly impact your ranking in app stores.

The more people install your app, the higher it should rank. This, in turn, should result in more installs, higher rankings once again – and so forth.

So, what are the key factors on your mobile app page that determine whether users hit the install button?

  • App icon: On most app stores, your app icon is the most visually prominent element on results pages and recommendation lists.
  • App details: This includes your app name/title and, usually, some short descriptive text explaining the purpose of your app.
  • App rating: Most platforms show the average rating/review score for your app in search results and at the top of your app listing page.
  • App description: With Google Play and the App Store, users can see a brief description on your listing page and they can click to see the full description – so that first sentence or two is crucial.
  • Visuals: This includes any feature images, screenshots, and demo videos that you can add to your listing, showcasing the key benefits and user experience of your app.
  • User reviews: Unless users are already familiar with your app, they’re probably going to browse through some reviews from existing users.

Here, you can see this in action.

Screenshot from Google Play, February 2024App Store Optimization Elements for ASO

Much like SEO, app store optimization is a careful balance of optimizing to maximize visibility in app stores while prioritizing the needs of your users.

Google Play Vs. App Store: Key Differences

Google Play and the App Store are more similar than different when it comes to app store optimization.

Firstly, the ranking factors are very similar, and the differences are mostly technical – for example, Google and Apple handle keywords differently.

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Here’s a quick summary of the main ranking factors for Google Play and the App Store.

App Store Google Play
Listing Listing
App name App title
Subtitle Short description
Long description
Keywords (app name, keyword field) Keywords (all inputs), incl. keyword density
Ratings & reviews Ratings & reviews
Listing CTR Listing CTR
App performance App performance
Downloads Downloads
Engagement Engagement
Uninstall rate Uninstall rate
In-app purchases In-app purchases
Updates Updates

As you can see, there’s not much of a difference here – in fact, most of your time will be spent on things like specifications for icons, videos, and other assets for each app listing.

As a general rule, Apple is more strict with its developer guidelines and it’s usually harder to get an app approved for the App Store.

So, if you’re promoting iOS and Android apps, optimizing your listings for Apple’s guidelines will often satisfy both app stores while maintaining consistency and reducing workload.

Now, let’s take a closer look at app store optimization for Google Play and, then, the App Store.

App Store Optimization For Google Play

To give your app listing the best possible start, you’ll want to dedicate the most time to the following nine elements:

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  • App title.
  • App category.
  • App descriptions.
  • App icon.
  • Feature graphic.
  • Screenshots.
  • Promo video.
  • App rating and reviews.
  • Google Play Android Vitals.

We’ll take a closer look at optimizing each of these elements, but always refer to official Google guidelines while managing app listings for Google Play.

App Title

Optimizing your app title for Google Play will feel familiar if you’re used to optimizing website titles for search.

You want to start with the product/branded name of your app and then include a brief description – in no more than a few words – using your primary keyword.

Google Play SearchScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Search

You can use up to 30 characters in your app title, but try to keep it as short and punchy as possible.

Prioritize accuracy over keyword targeting and highlight the key benefits of using your app.

App Category

Selecting the right category for your app is essential for matching with relevant searches.

For example, let’s say you’re promoting a heart rate monitoring app. In this case, “Health and Fitness” is the most appropriate category.

Google Play example 2Screenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play example 2

When users specifically search for “heart rate monitor,” the keywords in your title are a stronger signal.

However, your app category can help your app show for more general searches like “health and fitness apps” or “productivity apps.”

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Crucially, users can also browse categories in the Google Play store to discover new apps without searching.

Google Play Categories ExampleScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Categories Example

For more info on selecting the right app category for Google Play, take a look at this Play Console Help page.

Short & Long Descriptions

In Google Play, your app listing includes two descriptions: A short description that shows under the About this app preview and a full description that users can reveal by clicking on the arrow highlighted below.

Google Play Descriptions - ExampleGoogle Play Descriptions - Example

You can use up to 80 characters for your short description and 4,000 characters for your full description.

In your short description, try to describe the core functionality of your app in the most compelling way possible.

Accuracy is key here, but you want to convince users to install your app – so highlight the most attractive benefits.

Your full description provides a more in-depth summary of what your app offers.

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Remember that most people won’t click through to read the full description, and those who do are looking for information, not a sales pitch.

You’ll find Google’s official guidelines for creating app descriptions under the “App descriptions” section of this Play Console Help page.

App Icon

App icons show on the left side of search listings in Google Play and the top-right of app listing pages.

Google Play App Icon ExampleGoogle Play App Icon Example

These are the most prominent elements on app store results pages.

Ideally, you want an app icon that either visually describes the role of your app or leverages your brand image as a differentiator.

Designing a unique icon is more challenging if your app has a specific purpose and many competitors – e.g., a heart monitoring app.

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Google Play example 3Google Play example 3

If this applies to your app, use design principles like contrast to make your listing stand out from other results.

Notice how Pulse App’s Heart Rate Monitor app stands out from the other listings above?

This is thanks to a combination of simple iconography with strong contrast, using a black background to stand out from the white Google Play results page.

Compare this to the REPS app, which uses similar iconography without a black background, and the Bodymatter app, which uses a black background but a more complex design.

Google Codelabs has an excellent tutorial on designing and previewing app icons. It includes best practices and tips for making an icon that stands out on results pages and the latest Android features, such as adaptive icons.

Feature Graphic And Promo Video

Feature graphics show on your app listing page and can also show for branded searches, paid ads, or recommendation sections on Google Play.

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Until recently, you could only use images as featured graphics, but you can now use promo videos in their place.

Google Play Feature Screenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Feature

This is one of the most visible assets on your Google Play listing, so use feature graphics to capture attention and showcase the best of your app.

Google suggests:

“Use graphics that convey app or game experiences, and highlight the core value proposition, relevant context, or story-telling elements if needed.”

You’ll find more guidance on creating feature graphics under the Preview assets section of this Play Console Help page.

App Screenshots

App screenshots show in the same horizontal panel as feature graphics on your app listing page.

They’re designed to showcase the best features of your apps while showing users what the in-app experience looks like.

Google Play Screenshot ExampleScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Screenshot Example

You can include descriptive text in your screenshots to emphasize the key benefits of your app’s most important features.

Keep things descriptive, though.

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Google prohibits the inclusion of performative or ranking text in screenshots, such as “app of the year” or “most popular…” and promotional information like “10% off” or “free account.”

If your app supports multiple languages, you’ll need to provide screenshots for each language version, including any translated descriptive text.

See the screenshots section of this Play Console Help page for more info.

App Ratings & Reviews

App ratings show prominently in results and at the top of the app listing pages in Google Play. Besides this, you’ve also got a prominent Ratings and reviews section as the largest element on your listing page.

Google Play Rating ReviewsScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Rating Reviews

Aside from being a ranking factor, app ratings and reviews are one of the biggest trust factors that help users choose which apps to install.

You don’t need perfect review scores but a positive (3.5+ stars) is a great asset for rankings and installs.

Your review profile also allows users to view the feedback left by others – and how you respond. Once again, how you deal with user problems is often more important than the scores or feedback itself.

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You’ll need a framework in place for generating regular reviews and replying to them, engaging with reviewers, and solving user issues.

Your replies are also visible, so avoid generic responses – show new, potential users how good you are at dealing with problems.

In fact, don’t take inspiration from Google’s own support team for Google One. Privacy is great, but the tone of the reply below is more dismissive than helpful, and the exact same response appears throughout replies.

Google Play Review ExampleScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Review Example

This feedback can also help you develop a stronger product, and users often edit their reviews, following updates or resolved tickets.

Always remember: Long-term revenue is the goal, which starts with quality app experiences, engagement, and retention.

Google Play Android Vitals

Google provides an extensive toolkit for optimizing your mobile app. Its Android vitals initiative sets out the most important usability metrics that affect the visibility of your app on Google Play.

If you’re used to optimizing websites for search, this will sound a lot like Google’s Core Web Vitals.

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The principle Android vitals is similar in terms of performance affecting your search ranking, but this is a far more extensive initiative than Core Web Vitals, as it stands.

Android vitals are broken into two key components:

Core vitals

All other vitals

To maximize the visibility of your app in Google Play, keep the user-perceived crash rate below 1.09% across all devices and 8% per device, with the user-perceived ANR rate below 0.47% across all devices and 8% per device.

Google Play Bad Behaviour ExampleScreenshot from developer.android.com, February 2024Google Play Bad Behaviour Example

Take a look at the official Android vitals documentation page for more information.

App Store Optimization For App Store

For the App Store, we’ve also got nine key elements to optimize, but they’re not quite the same as Google Play:

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  • App name.
  • App subtitle.
  • Categories.
  • Keywords.
  • Description.
  • App icon.
  • App previews.
  • Screenshots.
  • App ratings and reviews.

One of the key differences here is how the two platforms handle keywords. While Google analyzes your whole listing for keywords, Apple provides a single field for you to add keywords.

Again, always refer to official Apple documentation when optimizing listings for the App Store.

App Name

In the App Store, your app name simply provides a recognizable and memorable name for your mobile app.

You don’t need to worry about keywords or descriptive text here – that comes later.

App Store NameScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Name

For now, concentrate on coming up with an app name that’s easy to remember and spell while somewhat describing what your app does.

Apple offers the following advice:

“Choose a simple, memorable name that is easy to spell and hints at what your app does. Be distinctive. Avoid names that use generic terms or are too similar to existing app names.”

You can use up to 30 characters for your app name in the App Store, but try to keep it as short and punchy as possible.

App Icon

As with most app stores, the app icon is one of the most prominent elements as users browse the iOS app store. Apple provides extensive design guidelines for app icons and it’s more strict than most.

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App Store IconScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Icon

So, if you’re promoting your app across the App Store, Google Play, and any other platforms, you might want to start with Apple first. In most cases, this makes it easiest to maintain a consistent design across all platforms.

Generally speaking, the same design principles apply. Keep it simple and impactful with intelligent use of iconography, color, and contrast.

Look at your competitors and try to come up with something that stands out from the other apps your target audience is likely to see.

Subtitle

Your app subtitle provides a brief description below the app name. Use this to highlight the purpose and benefits of your app in the most compelling way possible.

App Store SubtitlesApp Store Subtitles

This is your first opportunity to excite potential users about your app, so try to make an impression here. You’ve only got 30 characters to work with, which means punchy subtitles tend to do best.

You’ll want to test and refine your subtitles over time, paying close attention to CTRs and installs as you try different variations.

Categories

As with Google Play, categories are key for discoverability in the App Store.

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You can assign primary and secondary categories for iOS apps to help users find your app; the primary category has the strongest weight. – so choose the most relevant one.

App Store Categories Screenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Categories

Apple provides extensive guidance for choosing app categories. Make sure you follow Apple’s guidance because selecting the wrong categories violates the App Store guidelines.

In some cases, you may find multiple categories that match your app.

For example, if you’re running a photo-sharing social media app, you could select either Photo & Video or Social Networking as your primary category.

In such cases, Apple suggests considering the following:

  • Your app’s purpose: Your primary category should be the one that best describes your app’s main function or subject matter.
  • Where users look for an app like yours: Understanding your audience will help you identify the category in which they will likely look for your app. Will they consider your app more of a social network or a photography app?
  • Which categories contain the same type of apps as yours?: Research how similar apps are categorized — users may already know to visit these categories to find this type of app.

If multiple categories accurately reflect the purpose of your app, you’re unlikely to run into any violation issues.

At this point, it’s more a question of which category matches the search and everyday use of your app – not only to maximize visibility but also to set the right expectations for users who install your app (think engagement and retention).

Keywords

While Google Play looks for keywords throughout your app listing (similar to how Google Search analyses web pages), the App Store provides a dedicated keywords field.

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You can use up to 100 characters to add keywords (separated by commas – no spaces) to help users discover your app. Apple offers the following advice for choosing keywords:

“Choose keywords based on words you think your audience will use to find an app like yours.

Be specific when describing your app’s features and functionality to help the search algorithm surface your app in relevant searches.”

Apple also recommends considering “the trade-off” between ranking well for less common terms versus ranking lower for popular terms.

The most popular keywords may generate a lot of impressions and traffic, but they’re also the most competitive, which can impact CTRs and installs.

App Description

Your app description should provide a short, compelling – and informative – description of your app, highlighting its main purpose and benefits.

Similar to Google Play, you can use up to 4,000 characters in your app description, but users can only see the first two lines (and most of the third) without clicking to see more.

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Apple suggests the following:

“Communicate in the tone of your brand, and use terminology your target audience will appreciate and understand. The first sentence of your description is the most important — this is what users can read without having to tap to read more.”

App Store Description ExampleScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Description Example

If you want to update your app description, you’ll have to resubmit your app listing, so it’s important to try and get this right and only make considered changes.

You can also add up to 170 characters of promotional text to the top of your app description.

Crucially, you can change this text at any time without having to resubmit your app listing, making this a great place to share the latest news and info about your app – such as limited-time sales, the latest features, or fixes from the last update.

App Previews

App previews are the App Store equivalent of promo videos.

You can add up to 30 seconds of footage to illustrate the key benefits of your app and the experience of using it.

App Store App PreviewScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store App Preview

Again, Apple has strict guidelines and specifications for app previews – make sure you tick all the right boxes.

As with most things, if you’re listing your app in the App Store and Google Play, getting your app preview approved for the App Store first should mean you can use the same format for Google Play – as long as you include footage from the Android version of your app.

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Screenshots

You can add up to 10 screenshots to your app listing for the App Store.

If you don’t have an app preview, the first one to three screenshots will show in search results, so make sure these highlight the core purpose of your app.

App Store ScreenshotScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Screenshot

In your remaining screenshots, you can focus on the main features or benefits of using your app.

Try to stick to one feature or benefit per screenshot to communicate each purpose clearly.

App Ratings & Reviews

Once again, app ratings and reviews are important for maximizing visibility and installs in the App Store.

If anything, user reviews are more prominent in the App Store than Google Play, but we can’t say whether this has any meaningful impact on downloads.

App Store ReviewsScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Reviews

The same general principles apply here: try to develop a regular stream of reviews and manage a positive app rating.

Again, you don’t need perfect scores, but you do need to respond to user reviews and address potential issues.

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Prioritize negative reviews and respond as quickly as possible with responses that deal with issues – avoid generic, unhelpful responses.

Extra App Store Optimization Tips

App store optimization is an ongoing process that needs ongoing attention. Getting your listings approved for app stores is only the beginning.

Maximizing visibility and – more importantly – revenue from your mobile apps requires a complete product development strategy.

Here are some final, additional tips to help you drive long-term success from app store optimization:

  • Know your KPIs: Don’t get distracted by the wrong metrics and KPIs – know what you’re optimizing for and center every decision around your business goals.
  • Prioritize user experience: Visibility is one thing, but you’re not going to maximize it or take full advantage of it if people uninstall your app or rarely use it – so make sure quality product development and UX design are at the heart of your ASO strategy.
  • A/B test key app store elements: Test and optimize the most important elements on your app listings to increase visibility, CTRs, installs, and retention (descriptions, videos, screenshots, reviews, etc).
  • Master each app store’s analytics system: Google Play and the App Store both provide capable (albeit in different ways) analytics systems to help you improve visibility, revenue, and product quality – so make full use of them.
  • Promote your app with ads: Both Google and Apple provide dedicated ad systems for their respective app stores to get your app in front of more eyes.
  • Promote your apps outside of app stores: Use other marketing channels to promote your apps – social media, app directory websites, app review websites, affiliate marketers, tech publications, etc.
  • Localize your app listings: App stores can connect you with global audiences, but only if you optimize your listings for each target language and location (this is called localization) – with translated text, screenshots, videos, etc.

Conclusion

The mobile app industry still shows growth despite smartphone penetration being way past saturation.

Smartphones aren’t the only devices in people’s lives anymore, either.

Apple Vision Pro launched with over 600 compatible apps, opening another space for mobile experiences beyond the confines of traditional smartphones.

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App store optimization (ASO) will become more complex as new devices and app stores emerge.

However, the rewards will also grow, and the companies already mastering ASO for today’s app stores will be first in line to benefit as emerging technologies bring new opportunities.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

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SEO

How to Get SEO Buy-In: 7 Actionable Tips

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How to Get SEO Buy-In: 7 Actionable Tips

For many SEOs in agency, in-house, or enterprise roles, 20% of their job is actually doing SEO, the other 80% is about soft skills like getting buy-in.

I always say that 20% of my job is actually doing the SEO, and 80% of communicating, getting buy-in, and moving the boulder so that [stakeholders] can succeed

Tom Critchlow

At Ahrefs, multiple team members have worked in these roles, so we’ve compiled a list of our top tips to help you get more buy-in for SEO projects.

Start by identifying all the key influencers and decision-makers within the organization. You can check out the company’s org chart to figure out who’s who and who calls the shots on projects that impact SEO.

The executive team will likely be at the top of your list. But, we recommend working your way up to getting buy-in from executives by first working cross-functionally with decision-makers in engineering, product, editorial, marketing, or web accessibility teams.

They can each help you implement small parts of SEO that together can be a sizable contribution to the overall SEO strategy. They can also support your requests for funding or initiatives you pitch to executives later on.

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To build relationships with decision-makers in these teams, consider the following:

  • Who’s in charge of budgets and projects? → Learn what they’re working on and how you can help each other with specific projects.
  • What do they care about? → This is the “what’s in it for me” factor. Align your SEO recommendations and requests to these things.
  • How can they help implement your SEO recommendations? → Identify the 20% of SEO they can easily help with using current resources.

Here’s an example of what that might look like:

Who’s in charge? What do they care about? How can they help implement SEO?
Engineering Jane Doe, Head of Engineering Jane cares most about rolling out new features on time and minimizing bugs.  Jane’s team can resolve many high-priority technical SEO errors if she sees them as bugs.
Editorial Joe Blogs, Senior Editor  Joe cares most about publishing quality, brand-relevant content that leads to sales. Joe’s team can create or optimize SEO content with buying intent to maximize traffic on commercial queries.

Too often, SEOs lead with “I need X…” and end with “…for SEO”. Cue dramatic groans that echo company-wide.

Adapting your language and how you communicate is a minor action that can lead to big results in your mission to get buy-in for SEO. Communicating only what you need can often come across as an order and feels like extra work for someone else. Plus, it gives them no sense of why they should care or what’s in it for them.

Try this instead…

→ Highlight opportunities: “There’s an opportunity to do X that helps with your goal of Y”

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→ Leverage FOMO: “If we don’t do X, you’ll miss out on Y”

→ When speaking to executives:I intend to achieve X by doing Y”

It also helps to give your project a fancy name. Every time you talk about the project, mention the name, repeat key facts, and highlight the most exciting opportunities the project opens up.

Repetition is gold as it helps non-technical stakeholders tie goals and results to an otherwise intangible initiative.

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Most executives and department heads have no context for understanding SEO metrics like search volume, share of voice, or even organic traffic.

They don’t have an existing mental model to connect these numbers to. Therefore, when we start sharing SEO-specific numbers in meetings, many non-SEO stakeholders can’t easily approve specific actions or know how to make the right decisions—all because they can’t connect the numbers they’re already familiar with to the conversation about SEO.

Easy fix. Modify the metrics and actions you talk about to those that non-SEO stakeholders already understand.

For example, executives are likely churning over and obsessing about MBA-style metrics. CEOs think about things like revenue, market share, and profitability. Sales managers care about MQLs, SQLs, and so on.

Here are some examples of how to translate SEO lingo for non-SEO stakeholders. These are inspired by Tom Critchlow’s interview on Voices of Search.

Monthly traffic → Lifetime traffic value e.g., “By creating X content, we can get Y monthly traffic predict Y lifetime traffic value.” HINT: Multiply Ahrefs’ Traffic Value metric by 60 to get a 5-year estimate, a common timeframe for calculating lifetime metrics.

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Example of Ahrefs' traffic value metric in Site Explorer dashboard.

Share of voice → market share e.g., “By doing X, our share of voice SEO market share has grown Y%. We’d like funds to do more of X.”

Traffic growth → revenue growth e.g., “We can grow organic traffic predict Y% revenue growth from SEO if we hit X traffic targets. These are the project milestones that will get us there…”

It depends → forecasts e.g., CEO asks “What’s it going to get us?”… “It depends. I made a model that forecasts approximately X% growth in Y months.”

It doesn’t matter what specific metrics are used in your organization. You can adapt SEO metrics to the ones everyone in the company is already thinking about. The main goal of doing this is to take SEO from being a mysterious “black box” activity to something measurable and relatable to non-SEO stakeholders.

How to demystify SEO for executives.How to demystify SEO for executives.

Devs and engineers are essential SEO allies within any organization. And while you can often skip the lengthy relationship-building phase and jump straight into tech fixes, how you frame your requests still matters.

Don’t be the kind of SEO that constantly gives them extra work “because it’s good for SEO.”

Instead, tie in your requests to what they care about. Fixing bugs is an easy approach to take here because devs already understand and care about these things for reasons unrelated to SEO.

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Jackie Chu’s 2023 MozCon presentation outlined this brilliantly. A bug typically:

  • Delivers a confusing brand experience
  • Impacts customers (humans and bots)
  • Impacts other channels, like SEM

If pages can’t render, that’s a bug. If there are content differences between mobile and desktop, that’s a bug. Anything that needs improvement in Ahrefs’ Site Audit is, you guessed it, a bug.

That said, not all bugs are created equal. If you bother devs with a load of super minor or unimportant issues 24/7, they’ll learn to ignore you. So, make sure to prioritize and only ask for bug fixes that matter.

You can easily do this by filtering your Site Audit results by importance:

Ahrefs' Site Audit tool showcasing the ability to prioritize tech fixes.Ahrefs' Site Audit tool showcasing the ability to prioritize tech fixes.

Submit:

  • Errors as high-priority
  • Warnings as medium-priority
  • Notices as low-priority

You can also show your dev team how to interpret each issue listed and find the steps they can take to fix them by clicking on the “?” next to specific issues.

Example of a tip for how to fix hreflang issues in Ahrefs' Site Audit.Example of a tip for how to fix hreflang issues in Ahrefs' Site Audit.

Too many SEOs pitch projects without considering everything that’s needed to make them happen. You’re more likely to get buy-in if your pitch is specific and shows decision-makers the exact details around things like the project’s cost, resources required, and expected timelines.

For example, say you need 100 articles published within three months. Make sure you chat with your editorial and development teams first. See if they can fit this project in and what resources they need to make it happen.

Then, build those resources into your pitch:

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→ Instead of: “I’d like to publish 100 articles on the blog within three months and estimate I’ll need $X per article”.

→ Try this: “To get 100 articles on the blog, which we estimate will contribute to $X in lifetime traffic value, we’ll need to hire a freelance writer and dedicate two development sprints to the project within the next three months. Jane from engineering and Joe from editorial are collaborating on this with me, and we estimate a cost of $Y.”

Need to convince the Jane’s and Joe’s in your organization to partner with you? No worries. Check out the next point.

SEO is chronically underfunded and underresourced… but so are most other teams. You can become an ally and help other teams get more resources because they’re helping implement your SEO strategy.

They get more of whatever they need (people, money, resources). You get their help with SEO tasks, and they get prioritized. Win-win for you and your new BFF.

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You can get the ball rolling by pitching a small test or project that is easy for the other team to get on board with.

Avoid this → “I need 10 of the articles you’re working on each month to do X for SEO”.

Try this instead → “There’s an opportunity for us to do X, and it will allow you to meet Y KPIs. Can we run a small test (and build a case for the execs) so you can hire another writer to work on this project?”

Small tests are a great way to warm up a new contact within your organization, especially if there’s a clear benefit they’ll receive if the test works.

Test results are also very helpful when pitching to executives down the track. If you can demonstrate small-scale success in one area, it’s much easier to get funding for bigger projects that can piggyback on those early wins.

Even if the initial pitch is for another team to get funding, you’re getting your foot in the door for bigger projects. Plus, you’re essentially getting free SEO if you can leverage the other team’s resources for your benefit.

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A good habit for every SEO to develop is to link everything to strategic objectives. We need to get better at pitching the strategic value that our projects deliver instead of the actual work we need to do.

No one cares about the hundreds of technical fixes we need to work on. But everyone cares about revenues dropping if we don’t get support for technical fixes that affect conversions (and SEO, of course, but they don’t need to know that).

Key note here: strategic objectives go beyond metrics. They include things like:

  • Entering international markets
  • Becoming the market leader
  • Expanding X division

You get the idea.

Here are the tactics we’ve found that help position SEO as strategically valuable.

Compare against competitors

This tactic has a very high success rate in our team’s experience. When ideating this blog post, Tim, Patrick, Chris, and Mateusz all cited great success with this approach, and my own experiences echo this.

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It works for literally any SEO activity you’re pitching, especially if you’re in a fierce market with SEO-savvy competitors who are already doing the thing you’re recommending.

For example, you could try the following different pitch angles:

→ Closing the gap: “If we did X, we’d be able to close these gaps with our biggest competitor in Y months…”

→ Reverse engineering: “Our biggest competitor did X. If we dedicated Y resources, we could close the gap and outpace them within Z months.”

→ Becoming a pacesetter: “There’s a gap in the market and none of our competitors are leveraging it. X resources would allow us to take Y actions that give us a competitive edge and make it difficult for competitors to catch up.”

No matter your angle, an easy place to start is in Ahrefs’ Site Structure report. Here, you can see what strategies your competitors are using along with high-level performance metrics, like organic traffic and the number of referring domains that different website segments get.

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Example of Ahrefs' site structure report.Example of Ahrefs' site structure report.

Compare against internal departments

Another great approach is to bring your pitch back to what’s going on in other areas of the organization.

This is a great tactic to benchmark the value of SEO in a way that is immediately apparent. It’s also a great way to get easy buy-in if your company’s strategic objectives focus on specific divisions or products.

Here are some pitching angles you can try:

→ Expanding a division: “We need X resources to help division A expand to the level of division B.”

→ Improving KPIs: “Product A has a high cost per acquisition. We were able to lower CPA by X% for product B using SEO. If we had access to Y resources, we could repeat these actions for product A.”

→ Learning from mistakes: “We learned lessons A, B, and C from a past product launch. If we had X resources, we could help launch the new product for division A without repeating past mistakes.”

Forecast opportunity costs

Opportunity costs are the lost benefits you experience when choosing an alternative option. When it comes to getting buy-in for SEO, it can help to show what the opportunity cost would be if decision-makers chose not to invest in SEO.

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It’s super easy to do this using Ahrefs’ traffic value metric.

Example of Ahrefs' traffic value metric in Site Explorer dashboard.Example of Ahrefs' traffic value metric in Site Explorer dashboard.

This metric shows you how much you’d be spending on paid ads to get the same traffic you do through SEO. It has opportunity cost baked right into it!

You can use it in a few different ways. My favorite method is to look at a successful segment of the website and use its metrics to forecast potential success for a new segment you want to optimize or build-out.

For example, here you can see how the French segment of our site compares with the Spanish segment.

Comparing two website segments using Ahrefs' competitor comparison features.Comparing two website segments using Ahrefs' competitor comparison features.

Want to launch into a new international market? Use these metrics to build a case of what you’d be missing out on by not expanding.

Want to improve an underperforming segment of your site? Show that segment vs a segment that’s skyrocketing to your executive team.

My second favorite method is to use the Traffic Value metric to pit SEO against Google Ads or other marketing channels and showcase how SEO compounds over time and costs less in the long run.

Realistically, if there’s a marketing budget to be had, and it doesn’t go to SEO, these are the alternative channels it will likely go to. So, positioning SEO as a worthwhile channel to invest in can get you a bigger slice of the budget.

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For instance, you could pitch something like, “Our forecasts show that we could reduce our cost per click to $X (traffic value / traffic) by investing Y resources into SEO instead of [another channel].”

If your website is fairly new or you don’t have existing successes to leverage, you can do both of the above by using a competitor’s website as a proxy until you start getting some results that you can use in future forecasts.

So, your pitch would be more like: “X competitor is saving up to $Y (traffic value) in Google ads costs by using SEO. We’re leaving money on the table by not investing in SEO.”

Key Takeaways

Good SEO is about giving people what they want. Getting buy-in is the same, just for a different audience.

The more you help others in your organization get what they want, you’ll also get what you want.

When it comes to collaborating with other departments, it comes down to helping them meet their KPIs because they’re working with you. It builds a positive relationship where they feel happy to help you out in the future and are more likely to prioritize SEO projects.

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As for getting buy-in from executives, understanding where they spend most of their mental energy and aligning your projects to those things can go a long way.

If you’ve got any questions or cool tactics to share, reach out on X or LinkedIn any time!



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